Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Weekly Workout Report (46)

Since the Personal Trainer project is now over and done with and I don't have to report my weekly workouts or what I have eaten to Sanna anymore I still need someone to keep an eye on me. Well, that lucky person is YOU. Congratulations! I'm sure you can't wait to see how many times I have exercised each week and how much calories I have burnt. Every. Single. Week. Oh yes, I can already sense your excitement.

I figured the easiest way to share my weekly totals is to take a screen shot from service since I transfer all the workouts from my Polar RC3 GPS heart rate monitor there. The only thing I have to do is to name the exercises, all other information is there automatically. So, here's my exercise totals from week 46:

I have decided to concentrate first in building muscle mass (well, trying anyway) and teaching my body to burn fat (easier said than done, I've noticed!) before returning to long distance running training. That's why my workouts include mostly gym exercise and Nordic walking instead of running for 10 km or more. Long distance running and the minus calories don't seem to help in the muscle mass department at all but for some reason it is not doing me any favors in fat burning either. I guess I will have to experiment a little to see which combination works the best with my illogical body.

Even if I have decided to put the long distance running at the end of the exercise priority list for a while I would still like to maintain (and improve) my running fitness level too. Dilemmas, dilemmas. I want it all - and I want it now... I'm planning to have at least one high-intensity interval training session in my weekly programs and do a bit more cardio at the gym and hope that will do the trick. Fingers crossed!

Normally I have done my interval training by running but on Sunday afternoon I had other things to do so I didn't manage to go out running before it was dark. So, I decided to give it a go on a home trainer bike instead. Oh yeah, that works! I managed to get my heart rate up to the desired level, it was really exhausting and I was absolutely soaked in sweat afterwards. Good to know that I can actually get that done indoors and at home, too.

Next week I'll travel to Wales and England for work, so that will make exercise a bit more challenging and will most likely concentrate in jogging or walking. Let's see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PROGRESS UPDATE (week 19): Personal Trainer Project Summary

Right, back to blogging again. I didn't even realize I haven't posted anything for such a long time! Want to hear my excuses? No? Didn't think so.

The 4 month long project with my Personal Trainer Sanna ended a week ago when I did the last fitness level tests and got the results of my latest Body Composition Analysis. The fitness level test results in squats, sit ups / crunches and push ups had improved again and were on a good level. PP Ergo cycle test gave similar results as well as the fitness test I did with my Polar heart rate monitor. Excellent stuff, ongoing improvement!

And then there was the Body Composition Analysis, which I have started to hate lately. This time my weight had gone down as much as it had gone up the previous time, but the most worrying and annoying thing for me is that my body still seems to be eating the gained muscle mass instead of my fat. I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating that feels since I have been working really hard at the gym. I guess I just have to work even harder... Sigh.

Weight: -1,4 kg / -0,5 kg / -2,0 kg / +0,9 kg / -0,9 kg = -3,9 kg in total
Body fat percentage: -1,8 % / -4,2 % / +0,7 % / +0,3 % / +0,6 % = -4,4 % in total
Body fat mass: -2,2 kg / -4 kg / +/-0 kg / +0,5 kg / +0,2 kg = -5,5 kg in total
Muscle mass: +0,8 kg / +3,4 kg / -2,0 kg / +0,3 kg / -0,9 kg = +1,6 kg in total
BMI: -0,4 / -0,2 / -0,6 / +0,3 / -0,3 = -1,2 in total 

In other words the four months results could have been better, especially for someone with very limited patience. But: the most important result was that I have gone from a couch (well, more like computer chair) potato to someone who exercises 5-7 times a week. Exercise has really become a daily routine and it doesn't feel like something I have to do anymore but something I really want to do, every day. I absolutely love going to the gym, pushing myself there and feeling absolutely wiped out afterwards. LOVE. IT.

Personal Trainer's support was really important especially in the beginning and during the frustrating sick leaves. Sanna also kept changing things up in our mutual training sessions so I got to learn a lot of new tricks for using new and effective equipment and generally getting the most out of my training sessions. In addition I got good pointers for revamping my diet and planning a well balanced weekly training program for myself. I honestly don't think I would have gotten this far just by myself.

Thank you Sanna for kicking my butt and showing me the way to healthier life!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Winter Time Challenge

Well, here we go - the Daylight Saving Time is now officially done and dusted for this year, Winter Time (as we Finns call it) is here again. Blaah. I may have mentioned earlier that I'm a summer person and the sunlight is something that makes me feel alive, so this darker period of the year is always challenging, to say the least. I also hate being cold, living in the country where the temperatures can drop to -30 °C or even lower is pure torture sometimes. Luckily the normal winter temperature is quite a bit milder, around -5 °C or so. Oh yeah, we just got our first snowfall of this winter a couple of days ago. Even though the snow is not expected to stay yet it's still the first reminder of what's ahead of us, once again.

Outdoor exercise becomes even more challenging during the winter months. My good workout routine has come to a hault
so many times before when the days become shorter and the weather colder. Now it's time for me to accept the challenge and keep going through all the four challenge levels, if needed:

Level 1: Darkness
Challenge: It's dark when you go to work in the morning, it's dark when you leave work in the late afternoon. In my opinion running or walking is so much nicer when you can actually see the road. Really. Also, seeing other people and their dogs from a bit further away than just 1 meter is quite nice too, unless you are hoping to get a heart attack. There are no streetlights where we live (well, just 1 km stretch a few hundred meters from our house) so when I say it's dark it really is dark.
Solution: Finding a well lit outdoor track somewhere further from home. There are quite a few well maintained and lit outdoor tracks and paths around my home town so that should be doable. Also going for a walk or run somewhere in the town centre right after my work day is another option, though my knees and shins don't really appreciate running on asphalt.

Level 2: Darkness + ice 

Challenge: OK, so you are running somewhere on a road or path which is nicely lit so you can see where you are going. Imagine having that covered in ice - or as a bonus, first having a good layer of ice on that road and then some water or a really thin layer of powder snow on top. Then try to stay on your feet - rather than on your behind, potentially breaking one of your body parts while landing.
Solution: Buying proper winter running shoes that have good spikes on them. And are warm, too. I have read from some running forums that the winter running shoes might not be the most comfortable to run in, hopefully I'll be able to find a good pair. Nordic walking poles help with the balancing act too, but they can't really be used for running... or can they?

Level 3: Darkness + ice + snow

Challenge: When you have found a perfect well lit outdoor track for running it will eventually be covered with a good layer of snow. What happens to those well lit tracks in Finland then? Most of them get turned into cross-country skiing tracks, of course. And what happens then? You are not allowed to run or walk there anymore, since you're going to ruin the skiing tracks.
Solution: Find yet again another well lit outdoor route, probably somewhere in the town center area, on those asphalt roads (ouch). Well, I still have to get my running training done...

Level 4: Darkness + ice + snow + cold weather

Challenge: Being able to breath without getting your nostrals, throat and windpipe frostbitten. According to the doctors I'm prone to asthma and I get bronchitis very easily so going out in extreme temperatures is not advisable. Going for a 10 - 15 km run in -15 °C or even colder temperatures isn't a good idea.
Solution: There's still that ice hockey arena I told you about earlier, which has a 261 metres long running track. The air is considerably warmer, even though the ice rink still cools the arena down quite a bit. Running that 261 metres 38,3 times just to reach 10 km (or 80,5 times to reach 21 km) sounds so incredibly boring, but I guess it needs to be done.

Luckily I didn't have to try running on challenge level 2 this weekend, since my Personal Trainer gave me a week off from running. And next weekend I will do my running training in Madrid, Spain! No ice, snow or cold weather there, yay!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

PROGRESS UPDATE - (Week 16) Banging My Head Against The Wall

I bet you can guess why I decided to add a quote like that to my blog post? Yeah. I had another Body Composition Analysis last week - and another one this week, mostly to check if the results from the previous analysis were really as bad as they were. You see, I was expecting to get really good results since I had finally had several active workout weeks after the sick leave in early September and had managed to follow my workout program as planned.

When I saw the first results, it looked like it was good news since I had lost another 2 kg in the past three weeks. Wrong! The next thing I noticed was that my body fat percentage had gone up. Whatta...? I had lost 2,0 kg but my fat percentage had gone up? Oh no, that could only mean one thing: I had started to lose my muscle mass! Nooooooooo! I had worked so hard add the gym to gain muscle mass and all of a sudden I had lost 2,0 kg of it. That if something was disheartening. 

I guess both me and my Personal Trainer were hoping that the first results were just some technical or momentary glitch but unfortunately that wasn't the case. This week the results were even more confusing - the muscle mass loss had stopped probably thanks to all that extra protein I had added to my diet but I had suddenly gained 500 grams of fat? Even after burning over 3000 kcal last week just by working out? So... not... cool.

Weight: -1,4 kg / -0,5 kg / -2,0 kg / +0,9 kg = -3,0 kg in total
Body fat percentage: -1,8 % / -4,2 % / +0,7 % / +0,3 % = -4,7 % in total
Body fat mass: -2,2 kg / -4 kg / +/-0 kg / +0,5 kg = -5,7 kg in total
Muscle mass: +0,8 kg / +3,4 kg / -2,0 kg / +0,3 kg = +2,5 kg in total
BMI: -0,4 / -0,2 / -0,6 / +0,3 = -0,9 in total

So, my dear body has figured out that it's an excellent idea to use the muscle mass I have gained instead of all the excess body fat. There is plenty of fat left in my body, all 30 kg of it. Why, for the love of God does my body decide to use my muscles instead of all that fat? WHY? Both me and my poor Personal Trainer are baffled. My Basal Metabolic Rate is more or less 1800 kcal and I eat about 1600 - 1800 kcal per day. So that should already be OK. Plus I workout 5-7 times a week, burning around 2500 - 3000 kcal per week. According to which logic am I not getting rid of my fat mass? Apparently that would be the very own logic created by my body...

After these latest results I really didn't know should I laugh or cry. I felt (and still feel) like I'm banging my head against the wall. Have I not eaten enough? Am I eating wrong food after all? Why was it working before but it's not working anymore? Should I go back to easier workout routine? Am I running too much? Am I not running enough? Sigh.

The contract with my Personal Trainer is on its last stretch and when I look at the results I can't help but feel a little disappointed. But then again, when I think about how exercise has become a daily routine for me and how I just ran 11 km with a reasonable pace last weekend I realise that I have come a long way. That lazy girl who didn't work out for weeks or months is a thing of the past, thanks to this project. Now I enjoy exercising. I enjoy going to the gym and that burning feeling in my muscles. I love the feeling at the end of a long run, when I have reached a new goal I set for myself. I enjoy going for those long boring Nordic walks, because I know they are a bit easier workout sessions but still help me burn fat (eventually, I hope). OK, I still hate the interval running training, though...

Oh yeah, one more thing, just to make it perfectly clear:

 Sooner or later I will find a way.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

RUNNING LOG - Failure And Success

Whoops, I haven't updated my run log for a bit longer than I was supposed to - seems like I have been so busy lately that posting some new blog entries just hasn't been doable.

The weekend a week ago I went to Tampere so I knew it would change my normal running routine and route. I was hoping to find some non-asphalt roads to run on so I headed to Pyynikki, recommended by my brother. Well...
Attempt number 1: Lost in Pyynikki. I tried to find my way in Pyynikki area, since I knew there would be some good jogging paths there. The run started "really well" when I noticed I had forgotten to attach the heart rate transmitter to the belt, but at least I still had the GPS function in use. But: after running for a while and trying to figure out where I'm supposed to go (three different paths, which one to choose?!) my determination hit an abrupt wall - all 200 metres of horribly steep uphill. It was time to change from running to crawling and abort the 11 km mission.

Attempt number 2: Tired, hungover, hungry. The thought of trying to run the 11 km again didn't seem tempting at all after constantly dozing off during the entire 3-hour ride home. Still, I knew I would feel disappointed if I didn't go for the run so after we had arrived home I changed into my running gear and off I went. I really wanted to run 11 km but... no. It felt like my legs weighed a ton each, I was really tired, thirsty, hungry... Maybe the long run wasn't such a good idea after a hint of hangover the same morning, not sleeping enough the previous night and not eating enough during the day. I forced myself to run 8,5 km and then my legs just stopped moving. It was like they had a will of their own and decided to stop right there.

So, after the run I felt a bit like I failed my mission, since I didn't manage to run the 11 km that I wanted to, but I was pleasantly surprised to notice that I had run 8,6 km with a pace of 6:58 min/km which was quite a bit faster compared to my previous runs. Not bad! First time the average pace was under 7:00 min/km, too.

This weekend was a normal home weekend for us so I managed to prepare myself a bit better for the weekly "long distance run". I've had some issues with shin splints (ouch to the max) and also with my calves and my knees lately, for example the interval training on Thursday was so painful that I decided to take time for stretching well before going for the longer run. I also massaged the lower parts of my legs as well as I could the previous evening. Careful preparation seemed to help since running felt easy enough time and woohoo, mission complete: 11 km done and dusted! Average pace was a welcome bonus since it was the best ever on these longer runs. Very pleased with the result, indeed!

I really need to keep on stretching well and also keep massaging my legs regularly, hopefully it will help in the long run, too.

Date Distance Time HR Pace/km Speed/km Kcal
21.10.2012 11.1 km 01:13 164 6:40 min 9.00 km/h 960
14.10.2012 8.6 km 01:00 163 6:58 min 8.61 km/h 781
6.10.2012 10.5 km 01:15 164 7:08 min 8.41 km/h 1016
29.9.2012 10.1 km 01:11 163 7:08 min 8.41 km/h 912
21.9.2012 8.3 km 01:04 156 7:43 min 7.78 km/h 775
2.9.2012 8.1 km 01:01 153 7:34 min 7.93 km/h 666
26.8.2012 7.4 km 01:00 149 8:09 min 7.36 km/h 632

Friday, October 12, 2012

You Are What You Eat?

Changing your lifestyle is not just about working out every day but you have to have a closer look at what you are eating too - and how much. When I wrote down what I normally ate and went through my "food diary" with the Personal Trainer, she only had a couple of things to change, mostly reducing the amount of sugary fruit juices and adding protein to my diet. When the disappointing two-month results were in, Sanna decided to make a new diet for me after all - cutting even more of my (full grain) carbs and the overall portion sizes of basically every meal of the day. It was time to step it up, since the exercise alone wasn't doing the trick.

So what have been the biggest changes? Well, for example my breakfast has changed from porridge with berries or quinoa-spelt muesli to boiled/fried eggs - turkey/tuna/salmon - vegetables - nuts/seeds/olive oil - combo. I have also increased my protein intake considerably, even making myself a nice protein smoothie after my gym sessions. I eat more nuts, seeds and avocado or add extra olive oil or coconut oil to my food. I changed my sugary fruit juices to freshly pressed vegetable juices instead (apple-celery-cucumber-broccoli-kale-ginger, yum!) and have just one glass per day. My portions have become smaller, too. Oh, and I have changed my milk chocolate to raw dark chocolate - but I wasn't eating too much chocolate earlier anyway. Honest!

I also had to readjust my eating rhythm, trying to eat every 3 hours or so to keep the food intake steady. It has definitely helped me since I don't get incredibly hungry anymore. Also, sometimes having just an apple as an afternoon snack didn't really keep me satisfied and I felt hungry again in no time. The added protein has changed that now.

During the workdays my meals are divided more or less like this:

07:00 Breakfast
12:00 Lunch
15:00 Afternoon snack
18:00 Dinner
21:00 Evening snack

In addition I try to drink at least 1 litre of water during the work day and additional 1 litre at home. Plus another 0,5 - 1 litre during a training session, so in total about 2-3 litres or water per day.

Oh yeah, I read this Forty Reasons Your Diet Isn't Working article the same day I had the first meeting with the Personal Trainer and found it quite interesting. Some of the mentioned reasons I already knew, some can be figured out by using common sense, but there were a couple of new tips and tricks there too, if you are interested.

What are your favourite diet tricks - or healthy treats?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

RUNNING LOG - Pain Is Good

Sometimes running can feel nice and easy enough - you feel like you could still keep going after reaching your target. Saturday was not one of those times.

My Personal Trainer Sanna told me to do my weekly longer run a) with a little bit faster pace or b) covering a 100 m longer distance compared to my previous run. Well, I almost managed to do both since the pace was exactly the same as on my previous run but I also ran a little bit further: 10,5 km to be exact. I was actually planning to go for 11 km, but my lower back started hurting pretty badly after the first 6,5 - 7 km or so and it was quite a struggle to keep running. I decided to bite through it but I must say that the last kilometres were not enjoyable at all and my pace slowed down a bit too. I think my lower back muscles were still too stiff and sore after Friday's gym session, which mostly concentrated on training the back muscles. Apparently not a good combination!


Another thing that annoyed me during the run was that we (that's me and my husband) could only go running when it was already getting dark. There is only a stretch of 1 km with street lights around where we live so you have to time your outdoors exercise carefully during the autumn-winter season. For half of the run it was near impossible to see the road clearly and knowing that there are a lot of random potholes everywhere I felt like I had to tip-toe, trying to avoid stepping in them and hurting my ankles or some other part of my body. That obviously didn't help with the pace either...

Anyway - positive thinking: I ran a bit further, the pace stayed on the same level even though my back was killing me and I had to be careful with the potholes. Looking forward to next Saturday and the change in the running scenery - have to find a good route in Tampere!

Date Distance Time HR Pace/km Kcal
6.10.2012 10,5 km 1:15 164 7,08 min 1016
29.9.2012 10,1 km 1:11 163 7,08 min 912
21.9.2012 8,3 km 1:04 156 7,43 min 775
2.9.2012 8,1 km 1:01 153 7,34 min 666
26.8.2012 7,4 km 1:00 149 8,09 min 632

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Brazil On My Mind

T-minus four months and counting - we will be on our way to Brazil in exactly 4 months today! We just booked the flights from Helsinki to Rio de Janeiro and back two days ago so yes, the holiday we have been planning ever since my brother started talking about him possibly moving there for a 10-month long work project is really happening. We are so excited! 

Here's what we have been planning, in a nutshell: a bit over 2 weeks of traveling, 5-7 places to visit. Doable? Let's hope so! We will look into booking South America air passes to cut down the travel time and the total price. Some domestic flights seem to be pretty reasonably priced too, so have to compare them to the flight passes first.

Our first stop will be Rio de Janeiro, to join "a couple" of other people going there for the carnival period. Such a once in a lifetime opportunity, that we decided to go for it. Fingers crossed we will get tickets to see special groups' samba parade at the Sambódromo! Of course there are so many other carnival events happening in the city that we will be absolutely spoiled for choice.

 Photo:, AP / Victor R. Caivano

Since our initial plans also included a visit to Iguassu Falls at the border of Brazil and Argentina, I insisted on going all the way to Buenos Aires too. I've heard some people say that Buenos Aires is their favourite city in all of South America, so of course we need to see it - since we're "nearby" already. And by "nearby" I mean 1340 km / 18 hours by bus / 2 hours by plane from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú... 


The capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is also just a three hour ferry trip away from Buenos Aires so we might pop in there as well. So the trip isn't just about Brazil anymore, it also includes a quick stop in Argentina and possible Uruguay too! We will probably decide on going to Montevideo or not when we see how much time we want to spend exploring Buenos Aires.

We also want to visit Salvador da Bahía, which is more of a historic city where the Afro-Brazilian culture is also strongly present. The historic center of Salvador, Pelourinho, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and apparently the most important historical center of colonial architecture in Latin America. My husband probably wants to see the local capoeira performers in action while we are there. Well, I think I won't mind either!


And finally, we will visit a normal, more quiet Brazilian city to see the local way of life. We will have a couple of nights' stop in Imperatriz, where my brother and his wife will be staying for the most of their 10 months in Brazil. My sister-in-law warned me that there isn't really anything special to see there but of course we must see where they live.


These plans will probably still change, only the dates when we are flying to and from Rio de Janeiro are fixed.

Any hints and tips are very welcome!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Valkee To The Rescue!

Once again we have reached the time of the year when my system is slowly starting its hibernation procedures. I'm a summer person through and through - which makes me wonder why I was born in Finland of all countries..

I have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder - or Winter Blues or whatever people want to call it - for as long as I can remember. Around the time I was in my teens people started talking about autumn or polar night depression/tiredness and I realised what made all of my energy to disappear. The period between the end of September and end of January here in Finland - and during the three years I lived in Scotland - were a complete nightmare. I felt constantly exhausted, anxious and miserable, I snapped because of the tiniest obstacles (like dropping a paper or pen on the floor - how dramatic!) and completely lost my sense of humor. I was graving foods with high levels of carbs and starch, so I was overeating them and gaining weight. I felt like the darkness was consuming me and felt trapped. It's hard to describe the helplessness I felt. Over the years I've tried the bright light lamps, wake-up lights, added D-vitamin etc - and they have helped a little but haven't brought the much needed overall help to make me feel normal again during the autumn and winter months.

I first heard of Valkee in 2011 and like so many other people, I laughed. It does sound absolutely ridiculous, doesn't it? Bright light ear-plugs? You stick them in your ears?! However, I was desperate and the results Valkee had shown already by then encouraged me to give them a try.

It took me a couple of weeks to notice anything and even when I thought Valkee was helping I was still doubting the impact. It was around late November when I suddenly realised "Oh wow. It's almost December and... I feel normal?! No anxiety? No overwhelming tiredness and feeling completely miserable? My husband can tease me and I'm not trying to bite his head off? I don't get rage attacks and throw things around? I haven't even been over-eating!" My husband agreed with my observations, he too had noticed that the "SAD-me" had not surfaced that year. To quote him: "I should send Valkee a thank you letter for giving me my wife back".

This will be my third year using Valkee and I'm never going to give it up. Even the long snowless autumn last year made it even darker and more miserable here in Finland but I felt like my normal self, even in the middle of the stress of completing my Master's thesis. That's another thing I've noticed - it seems like using the ear light has decreased my stress levels too. I have also gotten rid of my regular migraines and other PMS issues. I simply cannot believe the difference a tiny ear-plug device can make.

I have to point out though that I have been using Valkee, a bright light (SAD) lamp and a wake-up light nearly every day during the autumn and winter months, so I'm not totally sure if there is some kind of combined impact, but I do know that just the bright light lamp and the wake-up light didn't make such a huge difference. My husband has been using it for one autumn/winter period too and noticed having more energy - and feeling suddenly cranky or incredibly tired if he missed a day or two of treatments. I have also recommended Valkee for my friends, still warning them that it may not work for everyone, but I have only received positive feedback from them, too.

I know there are people who say that it's fake or it's just placebo, but I really don't even care. It helps me and it has given me back the five months that were missing from my year.
Illustrations by (photosensitive brain areas) for Valkee, 2011 

Do you have experiences of Valkee? Have you even heard of it before? I'm interested in your opinions of the gadget.

Monday, October 1, 2012

RUNNING LOG - First 10km Run

I figured it could be interesting to keep track of my longer runs to see the progress and to keep an eye on the pace and distance development. My running training also includes interval training sessions but I won't write them down here since they are a bit more difficult to compare.

First things first: I have to share a big milestone with you guys: on Saturday I did my first ever 10 km run! I think I did a little "Woohoo!" when Sports Tracker showed that I had covered the distance. I was meant to go for an hour's run, about 8 km long, but I decided to stretch it a little and go for a full ten. I felt fantastic afterwards - and so proud of myself! Just need to push myself a little bit more every time to improve the results. I was actually very pleasantly surprised when I saw the average pace - I didn't expect it to be so much better compared to my other longer runs. Good stuff, well done me!

My weekly training plan includes just one longer run, but there's also the above mentioned interval training sessions and some lower intensity workouts too. And of course the gym workouts, developing the muscle strength.

Anyway, here's my latest four runs. I'm trying to keep my pace as close to 7,00 min/km as possible, hopefully my new GPS heart rate monitor and its clear pace display will help me in that. Can't wait for it to be delivered!

Date Distance Time HR Pace/km Kcal
29.9.2012 10,1 km 1:11 163 7,08 min 912
21.9.2012 8,3 km 1:04 156 7,43 min 775
2.9.2012 8,06 km 1:01 153 7,34 min 666
26.8.2012 7,36 km 1:00 149 8,09 min 632

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

PROGRESS UPDATE - (week 12) Finally!

It was time for another one of those dreaded Body Composition Analysis things yesterday and I had been mentally preparing myself for another disappointment. My weight isn't really going down, but then again I do feel there's a difference since some of the clothes I wear have started to feel looser and baggier. Also, when I summed up my last week's workouts I realised that I had burnt 2700 kcal in total by exercising. That made me realise that I really shouldn't stare too much at the kilos the scale is showing but keep working out and being active and trust that eventually I will get there. Every single workout session burns calories and fat and improves my fitness level.

And then the results: I guess it really pays to be pessimistic - yesterday's analysis showed considerable improvement. Here are the most important figures from 24 August and 24 September results compared to 2 July starting figures (the first figures show the progress after 2 months and the second figures show the progress of last month alone):

Weight: -1,4 kg / -0,5 kg = -1,9 kg in total
Body fat percentage: -1,8 % / -4,2 % = -6 % in total
Body fat mass: -2,2 kg / -4 kg = -6,2 kg in total
Muscle mass: +0,8 kg / +3,5 kg = +4,3 kg in total
BMI: -0,4 / -0,2 = -0,6 in total

In addition, the fitness level tests (restHR, crunches, push ups and squats) showed that I had moved from average range to good.

After staring at the figures and graphs at home I was absolutely amazed to notice that my fat percentage had dropped twice as much during just one month compared to the progress in the first two months. Even better with the gained muscle mass: over four times as much muscle mass gained! Wow. My Personal Trainer has definitely found the right mix for me now - especially if you consider that I spent one week in bed because of the bronchitis and had to start slowly after the sick leave.

I was so pleased with the results that I had to toast myself with a lovely glass of freshly pressed apple-celery-cucumber-kale-broccoli-ginger juice, seasoned with spirulina and wheat grass powder. (I can so hear some of you go "Ewwww!" right now... Trust me - it tastes better than it sounds. Or looks!)

I have to say the graph that made me the happiest was the one showing my body fat percentage being within the healthy range for the first time since the beginning of July. Back then it was nearing the obese range, which was a major wake up call. That one result right there is why I'm really doing this: to be healthy. 

All in all, I'm very pleased with the results and determined to keep going. I would love to see similar or even better results in next month's analysis!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Runner's High?

You can blame this on my recent high fever or possibly runner's high. Something I have always thought of as impossible and utterly unreachable for me has really started to fascinate me lately: running a half marathon! I realised after completing my first successful 60 min run/jog (covering 7,35 km, pace 8.09 min/km) that hey - if that workout felt so easy, if I'll try a little harder each time and if I'll keep doing these workouts regularly throughout the winter season... I just might be able to handle a half marathon in May 2013, right? Right? That would be absolutely amazing for me and something I would feel very proud of for years to come. Yes, I really want to do this!

Now I just need to get myself some proper winter running gear. Speaking of which, I would love to get this Nike 21st C. Windrunner jacket to be really visible in the dark Finnish autumn and winter evenings. Asics winter running shoes are a must as I hate running on ice and snow when the shoes are slipping all the time. You can't even call it running! Also, freezing your toes during an hour's run is not a good idea...


Well, there's always the possibility of running indoors, too. I'm not exactly compatible with a treadmill (serious balance issues) but there is an indoor running track at Kouvola ice hall that is available for the general public. The shorter length of the track (261 metres) is the only real downside: If I want to run 10 km I will have to do 38,3 rounds on it. *Yawn* But then again - no slippery and dark roads, no extremely cold weather, no blizzards or pouring rain. I think I can live with a bit shorter track!

I did some research about the average half marathon times for beginners and I also found a little table for calculating your own goal time at (in Finnish). If I would go with the slowest time the goals would be as follows:

Goal time on marathon: < 6.00 (8.34 min / km)
Training per week: 30 - 40 km
Goal time in 10 km test or competition run: 1.00 - 1.15 (6.00 min/km - 7.30 min/km)
Goal time on half marathon: 2.15 - 2.45 (6.24 min/km - 7.49 min/km)

Doable, right? I already managed to run 8,06 km in 60 min (pace 7.34 min/km) before my sick leave. Basically I just need to push a little bit harder every time I go for a run to get to 7.00 min/km or so and to be able to cover longer distances, too. Let's knock on wood now and hope for a healthy and injury-free training period and maybe you will see me completing something I thought I could never ever do. Now I'm just waiting for the Helsinki City Run registration to start, download some jogging music suggested by and go go go! 

Who's with me?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In Sickness And In Health...

You know what? Being sick sucks. You know what sucks even more? Being sick when you have finally managed to get a good workout rhythm going and you are looking forward to constantly improving your fitness and getting better and better results.

On Monday I was supposed to have another workout session with the Personal Trainer, but I started feeling tired and quite strange in the afternoon. First I thought it was just some muscle pain from Sunday's Body Pump workout, but nope. By the time I got home I knew I was properly sick and the fever kept climbing all the way to 38,6 °C. Tuesday and Wednesday showed some signs of the fever letting go - until it jumped right back up to 38,4 °C on Thursday morning! I mean... WHAT the ****?! So off to the doctor I went and oh yay, bronchitis acuta something something was the verdict. And since according to my blood test it's a virus based decease the antibiotics would not help. Therefore I was only ordered to... wait for it... REST. *insert facepalm* I have been doing that for three days now! It's so boring! Help!

By my calculations this is now the third time I have gotten sick during this whole Personal Trainer project: in Belgium in July, in August after returning to work from the holiday in Spain and Norway and now in September. My resistance power has completely gone down the drain and the only major thing I am doing differently is exercising! Isn't that supposed to help your body's resistance power and not weaken it?!

Anyway, let me introduce you to my Sickbed Buddies: woolly socks (a must), warm blanket, herbal drops, sinus rinser, some medication, loads of green or white tea with a good spoonful of honey (and I hate honey so I must be really sick) and thermometer. Of course my entertainment should also be mentioned: my laptop and tablet PC, magazines, mobile phone, TV... I noticed that playing Angry Birds fits my current mood perfectly.

Rinsing my sinuses this morning felt so good, after waking up with a terrible sinus pain and head ache. Sinus rinsing can look and sound a bit tricky but it's actually quite easy when you get the hang of it. Another thing I have tried to do to stop the bronchitis is breathing in some steam. You know the old trick, right? Boil some water and put it in a bowl, cover the bowl and your head with a towel and breathe. Apparently inhaling the steam through your mouth helps the steam to get to the bronchial tubes more effectively.

So, as I mentioned I'm supposed to rest until I'm healthy again. And I'm already so bored! Any suggestions for resting and entertaining myself at the same time? Or better yet - any suggestions for anything (legal) at all that would cure me faster?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Positive Attitude Required

Sense of humour and positive attitude are even more important in the middle of all the frustration than when you're getting good results and the training goes really well. Anyway, I thought I'd gather some motivational and funny pictures and quotes to keep myself smiling and to boost my motivation a little.

Some of these have been shared on Facebook by my friends or I have found them on Google search, so unfortunately I don't necessarily know the sources. Let me know if you do and I'll add them here.

Keep smiling! And keep exercising!

Monday, August 27, 2012

PROGRESS UPDATE (week 8) - Frustration Overload

Gutted. Frustrated. Annoyed. Dangerous times for my motivation and determination...

It was time for another Body Composition Analysis on Friday before another training session with the PT. I tried to stay realistic but I really had my hopes up, considering the amount of exercise I have done in the two months' time and also sticking to my healthy (enough) eating routine. Anyway, remember my first progress update? Yeah well, forget about that one. Completely. The time of the month (if you know what I mean) and the bloating it causes made the analyzer think it was new muscle tissue, not just some extra fluid in the body. ARGH.

So, the two actually comparable Body Composition Analysis results showed that I had lost 1,4 kg from the beginning of July. Woo-frigging-hoo, that's 1,4 kg in 9 weeks or so, miserable 156 grams per week. Oh yeah, and get this: according to the results I have only gained 1 kilo of muscle tissue in the same time. 111 grams per week. *The crowd goes wild* And get this: while I had lost 1,9 % of body fat and gained 200 grams of muscle in my arms I had lost 100 grams of muscle tissue from my legs! What the hell? I have done a gazillion squats, I have walked and jogged... and I get this? I mean... seriously?! What the hell does my body want me to do to let go of the fat and build more muscles? Is it punishing me for treating it so badly before that now it has decided to hold all the fat as hostage or something? Dear body, I'm really really sorry, my deepest apologies. Let's cooperate now, please!

Considering the disappointing results it was time to bring out the big guns. Sanna made a new gym programme for me in more or less five minutes and informed me that some weeks I'll need to hit the gym as many as four times. Bring it on! After the initial disappointment and feeling somewhat depressed I'm now more determined than ever. Extra jog or walk some evening? Sure. Add more weights at the gym? Got it. Do some additional abs training at home every morning? Why not. Let's make this happen!

I am an "I want it all and I want it now" type of person so I was hoping to see proper progress in a very short time. Ha. Ha ha. Yeah right, as if that would even be possible, considering the total fat mass I'm carrying and also wanting to complete this project in a healthy way, not by starving myself for 7 months. The slow progress and my non-existent patience are not a good combination, but I'm trying my best to keep my motivation up and just push myself even more.

Let's end on a more positive note - my overall fitness level has surely improved, otherwise I would have not been able to jog a full hour yesterday, including steep uphills. And - I have gained 800 grams of muscle tissue on my mid body and 100 grams per arm. So... are those... muscle outlines?!

(Apologies for the blurry picture.) 

Back to the gym to pump that iron!