Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Food and Exercise, Exercise and Food

Since I have still been getting some questions about the food and exercise program I am following during the Zero Excuses Challenge, I thought I'd share just exactly what the program is like.

Each day we do 3 exercises:  one for the upper body, one for the lower body, then one for the core.  That is followed by any type of cardio we choose, but done in interval style where you go hard for a minute then easy for a couple of minutes.

As the challenge has progressed, the number of reps and how we do the exercises has changed up a bit.  The first two weeks we did the upper immediately followed by lower body then rested for 45-60 seconds.  Repeat for the prescribed number of sets.  Once that was all done, we did our core work.

Week 1 we did 2 sets of 25 reps for the upper and lower and 4 sets of 10 reps for the core.
Week 2 we did 3 sets of 20 reps for the upper and lower and 4 sets of 12 reps for the core.

Last week it changed so that we did the upper, lower, core one after the other as 1 set then rested and repeated.  We did 4 sets of 15 for upper and lower and core.  This week it has gone to 5 sets of 12. 

I have to say, I'm already using much heavier weights than the first week and my planks have gotten to the point where Monday morning I did 5 one minute planks.  Proud of that.  I'm also extremely proud that I'm sticking to it.  As ya'll know, I am a cardio queen.  I think the reason I'm finding it easy to stick with this is that it only takes 15-20 minutes to do which still leaves me plenty of time to run 3-4 miles when I'm done.

If you'd like to see the exercises in action:  Here are the links to the videos Rich did for us.  If you watch even a portion of them you'll see he did them fron his own couch.  Even if you don't have access to a gym, there are Zero Excuses!

Wednesday - no link because Wednesday is a cardio only day and we shoot for 45 minutes.

Also, I find the stretch from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning and then again from Thursday to Friday really hard.  I've been pushing the morning workouts and with the addition of the Muay Thai classes in the evenings, I wake up Wednesday and Friday feeling too pooped to pop very tired and really hungry.  Those are the days where I have to just gut it out and get the workouts over with. 

I have to say, if you're a person who says I don't have time to strength train and do cardio, you should try this program.  It takes less than an hour a day - even if you choose to do 30 minutes of cardio at the end. The bonus for me is that this week I am finally feeling my clothing a bit looser and I noticed in the big mirrors at Muay Thai last night that I'm developing some definition in my arms that wasn't there before.  Bye, bye grandma jiggle!!

As for the food, other than my Thanksgiving indulgences I am really sticking to the Paleo style of eating.  I do try to make things for the dinner meal that Mr. Helen will eat and he adds carbs from pasta, potatoes or rice.  Here's what I've eaten so far this week:

Omelette made with 3/4 cup egg beaters, 1 cup mushroom pieces, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 tsp. evoo
1 cup homemade tomato basil soup
Large tossed salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, lettuce) with 3 oz. lean ham and 2 T balsamic vinaigrette
6 oz. Swiss Steak over 3 cups baby spinach, 1/2 cup roasted carrots
About a gallon of water

Omelette made with 3/4 cup egg beaters, 1 cup mushroom pieces, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 tsp. evoo
4 oz. grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup roasted carrots, 1 cup roasted zucchini, 1 cup roasted asparagus, Tangerine
Banana with coffee
Creamy chicken curry (a recipe I've made for years and it's made with coconut milk so its very Paleo!) over 3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup 0% Fage with 3/4 cup blackberries
Another gallon of water...

Normally if I'm going to eat a higher carb fruit like banana, I try to do it in the mornings. However, on Tuesdays, I've been eating one in the afternoon because in addition to my morning workout, I'm taking a Muay Thai class at 5:45.  I feel like I need the little bit of extra carbs as fuel for that class.

I'm not saying that's perfect, but it's what I'm doing and it's working.  I have to say it has been a nice reprieve from the calorie counting I'd been doing for years.  I still haven't stopped missing grains, but I am no longer craving them the way I was.  I will definitely reincorporate a few things (my beloved oatmeal!). Once this challenge is over I am becoming more and more sure that low-glycemic eating will be the way for me to go with a Paleo week or two every month mixed in until I can get all my weight off.

Weight off or no, the real test of all this for me is going to be that bloodwork in January - that's my real goal.


  1. Looks like this is working great for you. I find it all very interesting. Paleo has a lot of the same principles as what I'm doing.

    This week I've worked out 3 mornings in a row. This means I have to get up about 15 minutes earlier than I normally do. Depending on the workout I just start work max. 30 minutes later than normal (it's flexible). This morning I wanted to stay in bed but said to myself: it's only 15 minutes more sleep, what's the difference. What I'm trying to say here is that working out early in the morning before work works best for me. I have no more excuses why I can't workout.

    Keep up with this Helen, you're doing great, it's working for you.

    Oh and about you wanting to visit Tuscany/Italy someday: flight tickets from Italy to Holland are cheap so I'd suggest an overnight trip to visit ME :)

  2. If I were the kind of person who did a challenge -
    I would be in! They DE motivate me somehow.
    But your plan looks great - and fun and healthy!
    Love the Paleo week thing.

  3. I am so proud of you for sticking with this challenge - and look - you're excelling at it!!! I see you reaching your goal in 2012 and that is just fantastic! You've definitely hit on what works for you based on how your body is responding. And yay for looser clothes!!!

  4. "5 one minute planks" OH MY GOSH, you are the Queen of the Planks!! I avoid them for months, and then go back to them and huff and puff my way through 30 seconds. I'm not kidding. I'm going to add them into my rotation right now!!!

  5. Helen, you are amazing!!! And just KILLING this challenge!!!!!! And results are already showing! YAY!!!! (I think you should wear the imaginary woo hoo" crown for the day!!! - IMAGINARY WOO HOO CROWN??? What the heck was in my coffee this morning??? :) )

  6. "I'm not saying that's perfect, but it's what I'm doing and it's working."

    Love this!!!

  7. 5 planks??? You are amazing. I thought I was the plank queen :) Thank you for posting your meals. I never thought to have things "over spinach". What a great idea!

  8. Dammit - I really need to figure out how to set up google reader so I see when you post!

    I think your eats are great - I am doing my best with what I have in the fridge this week - today I had a meatball salad! Not kidding and it was delicious!

    I woke up late today and had to switch gears. I did 45 minutes jogging/running at lunch - which included a 38 minute 5k which isn't too bad! I plan on doing my core and strength tonight. :D

    I think you are doing awesome!

  9. I need more planks!!!

    or so screamed the back last night when I tried to sleep :)

    I need.
    Im in with you.
    starting at ONE.

  10. Wow, no wonder you're kicking butt on this challenge. Between the workouts and the food, it sounds like it was made for you! :)