Year 41 Master Plan – Still Evolving but Getting There

Last week, I wrote about making some goals for my 41st year, which will start on St. Patrick’s day.  My 40th birthday is coming up, and quickly – I can’t believe it.

I’m not particularly happy about turning 40.

When I turned 30, it was a big deal – I was pumped up about it and truly excited!  I felt like I was a true grown-up, which is crazy considering I was still single, living on a great income for just me, volunteering my time when I wasn’t partying and living it up, and sleeping in on the weekends.  I was hardly a bona fide grown-up.  I was a fiscally responsible party girl with no perspective on marriage and kids and real problems beyond having lost my job at the age of 24 during the Enron/Arthur Andersen debacle.

The last time I was down about my birthday, and getting older in general, was when I turned 25 and I hadn’t met any of the arbitrary goals I’d set for myself when I was naively 19 years old and a freshman in college.  For some crazy reason, I had set my goals at being married, having a child or two, owning a house, and loving my job.  When I turned 25 (my god, that sounds so young now, because it IS), I was chronically single, I obviously had no children, I was renting an apartment (but an AWESOME apartment on Wacker and Michigan Avenue in Chicago, so that was not getting me down!), and I was not happy with my job.  I learned on St. Patrick’s Day, 2001, as I cried to my best friend with tears falling into my horrendous draft American beer, that I would never, NEVER, make stupid arbitrary goals again for another birthday.


So here I am, turning 40, and I have not set any insane, arbitrary goals for this birthday.  I am the complete opposite of that 25 year-old girl from 2001 – I am very happily married (he was so worth the wait), I have two fabulous boys (so worth the agony and years of trying to have them), we own a home that we really love, and I mostly love my job (my job is staying home with my boys)!  I don’t know what kinds of arbitrary goals I could have set for turning 40, but I don’t think they’d have included being a stay-at-home mom at the peak of her health and fitness, that’s for sure!

Now that I am where I am, I think it’s time to set some goals for just the next year.  We’ve really eased into a good place with the kids – they’re both in school 3-4 mornings a week, they will both attend summer day camp every-other-week in the mornings, my husband and I can travel without the kids, we go out on dates without the kids and without feeling guilty about it, and we can communicate with both of the boys very clearly which just makes life easier!  In regards to “us,” we really like each other and are in love, and cannot imagine having someone else for our best friends.  In regards to “me,” I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been and I can physically do anything I set my mind to with a bit of training and focus.  Life is good, it’s stable, it’s happy.

So I shouldn’t be dreading turning 40, but I am.  I’m just being honest here.  “I’m 40” sounds so old.  I know it’s not really that old, but is just sounds so old.

I need to do something to get excited about my 41st year.

So, I’ve been thinking about my goals.  I’ve been thinking long and hard about them.  I’ve already set my fitness goals and calendar through July 23rd –  After that, the goals are high-level.  But this goes beyond fitness, it goes WAY beyond fitness because there’s more to me than being fit and strong.

Here are my goals so far for my 41st Year:

  • Fitness (notice goals are not specific to weight and body fat percentages until after the holidays because I just don’t think those are helping me at this point)
    • March 2 – April 30:  Strength Training and Running Preparation
      • 4 Weeks of Chisel Workouts
      • 4 Weeks of Hammer Workouts
      • Get average mile per run to 4-5 miles with ease (I think I’m almost there now, but I won’t be sure until I can get outside to run)
    • May 1 – July 23: Half Marathon Training
      • Finish half marathon in Colorado with a 9:50 average pace (slower due to the altitude)
      • Will do strength training twice a week and stretching once a week
    • July 27 – October 4:  Well Rounded Training with Strength, Cardio, and Stretching
      • Keep Running
      • Refocus on strength
      • Commit to 60% of BOD’s Workout of the Day
    • October 5 – November 22: Strength Training
      • 6 Weeks of Hammer and Chisel
    • November 23 – January 3: Maintaining Weight Through the Holidays – Lots of Cardio
      • Don’t exceed XX pounds
      • Don’t exceed XX% body fat
    • January 4 – March 17:  Prepare for Running Season
      • Return average mileage to 3-5 miles per run
      • Lengthen muscles
      • Trim to XX pounds and XX body fat
  • Marriage
    • Commit to two trips without the kids – even if just weekend trips
    • Go out on date night at least once a month, but shooting for twice a month
    • Spend time together reading or playing games – reduce TV time
    • More hot tub time
  • Parenting
    • Ease up, woman, and stop yelling
    • Fun Fridays now that both boys will be with me on Fridays and in school M-W (and Thursday for my big kid)
    • Workout when the boys are in school so that I can spend my little guy’s nap time with my big kid playing games or doing crafts
    • Spend alone time with my big kid every weekend
  • Reading
    • Read at least one book per month
  • Arts – Expand craft/artistic skills
    • Keep painting!
    • Metal working class to make a ring for myself
    • Glass blowing class to make Christmas ornaments
    • Halloween decorative letters
    • Christmas decorative letters
  • Culinary – Take at least 4 culinary classes during the year
    • Southeast Asian cooking
    • Libations class
    • Appetizers class
    • Holiday cookies class
    • Cake decorating course – buttercream, perhaps?
  • Seasonal – Take advantage of the fun things to do in the area
    • Spring
      • Weekend trip with kids
      • Getaway with my husband
    •  Summer
      • Berry picking
      • Full summer camp schedule for both boys – their fun is the priority
      • Lots of pool time
      • Family trip
    • Fall
      • Apple picking
      • Pumpkin patches (Omaha and local)
      • Farm Halloween
      • Corn maze
      • Haunted forest – are the kids ready?
      • Getaway with my husband
    • Winter
      • Advent activities, but not as lofty as this year’s plan (good God)
      • Snow shoeing
      • Actually take the kids sledding and not leaving it all up to my husband

I expect these to change a bit as I keep thinking about it, but I think this is a good start.  I think doing these things, focusing on my husband, kids, and health, should make my 41st year the best one yet.  At least, I hope it does!  🙂



H&C Challenge – Week 3

Week 3 Statistics (Ending 01/26/16)

  • Days within Calorie Goals per MFP (1390): 5 days
  • Time Spent Being Active (>= 6 hours): 7 Hours 14 Minutes
    • Miles Run:  3.65 Miles
    • Number of Runs (>=3 runs a week):  1 Run
  • Body Fat %:  21.8% (up 0.2% from last week, still down 0.8% from day 1)
  • Weight:  143 pounds (down 1.6 pounds from day 1)
  • Exercise: 
    • Wednesday – 21Df Cardio (29:00); Ab challenge (2:00)
    • Thursday – Max Hammer Strength (36:00); 10 Minute Hammer Abs (12:00); Ab challenge (6:00); HIIT/Fire 30 (31:00)
    • Friday – Chisel Abs (10:00); 5:00 of Hammer Abs
    • Saturday – 21 DFX Supreme Power Strength (31:00); PiYo Sweat (35:00); Hammer Abs + challenge (14:00)
    • Sunday – ISO Strength Chisel (35:00); Chisel Agility (38:00); Chisel Abs + challenge (12:00)
    • Monday – Chisel Balance (40:00); Hammer Plyo (25:00)
    • Tuesday – Max Hammer Strength (36:00); Ran 3.3 miles in 31:32; Walked 0.35 miles in 5:10
  • Notes: 
    • And on day 2 of this week, I’m at 142.4 pounds.  Why couldn’t that have happened when I weighed in yesterday?  GAH!
    • Nutrition is pretty on point this week in regards to calories.  I need to get more fruits and veggies in though
    • Prepped 4 salads for my husband and me on Thursday night for Friday and weekend lunches – it felt good to make those mid-week instead of just on Sunday!
    • My right shoulder is in serious pain – took Friday off unexpectedly
    • Planning out into spring, I’m thinking of starting a 4-week Chisel program followed by a 4-week Hammer program after this one wraps up and it would run from Mar 2 – April 30
    • I’ve lightened my running due to my shoulder and new plans to run a half marathon in July, with training starting 5/1.  I will still run with this challenge, but the mileage goals will kick in in March when I change programs
  • Picture of the Week:
    • I’ve been pretty down lately with a sad shoulder that has stopped weight lifting and most intense workouts for a few days, but as I walked by the mirror two days into taking it easier, I caught a glimpse of this, and remembered that I didn’t build this body in 2 days, and I won’t lose it in two days.  Perspective (and awesome lighting, for the win!)!
Full color
Left is relaxed – normal. Right is flexed.
  • The Week’s Workouts:

Week 3 Progress

Feeling Sorry For Myself, But Keeping Perspective

I’ve hurt my shoulder… Badly. My shoulders are my weak point when it comes to strength. They’ve been causing me problems and trips to physical therapy since 2003. They are super sensitive to stress and both times I’ve done Max Hammer Strength, I’ve thrown out my right shoulder pretty badly. I may be done doing shoulder work with that workout, I think that might be prudent.

I haven’t lifted a weight in two days. I almost skipped everything altogether yesterday but ended up doing ab work. Today, my husband reminded me that rest is good, stress is bad, and I agreed with him to take it easier. I did a 21 Day Fix Extreme workout that didn’t require weights (I felt like a pansy), a PiYo workout to stretch things out, and ab work. Not a big calorie burning day so I really watched it with food.

I felt sorry for myself.

As I was getting dressed in our closet, I caught a glimpse of my almost naked body in the mirror and, for the first time, saw what my husband has been telling me in regards to my abs. All of that nighty ab work is paying off, and skipping a few days of hard weight lifting to stay safe so I can start it up ASAP again is critical. I always feared that skipping a day or two would pudge me up, but my newly acquired perspective on the state of my health and body has given me the courage to rest when needed, which is a really nice change. I looked at myself and thought, “this didn’t happen in a day or two, and resting for a day or two won’t take it away.” I also thought to myself, “I never, ever thought I’d ever look like this.” Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself, but also feeling proud of how far I’ve come these last 19+ months.

Maybe I’ll lift weights tomorrow, maybe I won’t (I did!). But it will be ok if I can’t. And that is a healthy perspective for me, even if I do still feel a little sorry for myself. 😉

Thinking On It

A good blog (and IRL) friend of mine had a birthday yesterday (happy birthday, Jos!) and laid out her fitness goals for the entire next year.  She’s turning 35 in 2017 and wants to be her best self when that happens.  I respect that – a lot.  Being a goal-oriented gal myself, I loved reading her plan and, of course, got to thinking that maybe I should do something similar.  I focus on 8-12 weeks at a time, but never lay out long-term goals and I think, as I turn 40 in March, maybe it’s high time I think further than 8-12 weeks into the future.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I started a spreadsheet (of course I did).  I am going to break up my goals in 8-12 week chunks of time, for the most part, but have a pretty long stretch in the middle and a couple of short stretches just before and after that long stretch.

In Jos’ birthday fitness post, another blog friend mentioned a goal of hers and I thought, “I’d do that with her if she wants a buddy to suffer along beside her.”  A few text messages later and I think 4 of us are going to accomplish a big goal together this summer – and I’m super excited about that!

I have almost 2 months to figure this all out, and I’m thinking on it a lot so I’ll have a plan mid-March.  I’m really pumped up about this, ready to set some serious, attainable goals that will involve lots of different things – even beyond fitness.  I want to be a well-rounded me in my 41st year and beyond.

So… I’m taking notes… setting some stretch goals, refining expectations, thinking beyond my physical strength and abilities, and deciding who this well-rounded 40-something gal should be.

Stay tuned…

H&C Challenge – Week 2

Week 2 Statistics (Ending 01/19/16)

  • Weight:  144.4 pounds
    • Gained 1.0 pounds from week 1, but still 0.2 under starting weight
  • Body Fat %:  21.7%
    • Gained 0.2% from week 1, but still 0.9% under starting percentage
  • Time Spent Being Active (>= 6 hours): 7 Hours 15 Minutes
    • Miles Run:  7.13 Miles
    • Number of Runs (>=3 runs a week):  2 Runs
  • Days within Calorie Goals per MFP (1390): 4 days
  • Exercise: 
    • Wednesday – Chisel Agility (38:00); Fire 45 (45:00); 10 Min Chisel Abs (10:00)
    • Thursday – Ran 3.0 miles (33:00); Walked 0.33 miles (5:00)
    • Friday – Rest
    • Saturday – 10 Hammer Abs, 10 Chisel Abs
    • Sunday – Hammer Conditioning (30:00); Chisel Balance (38:00); Chisel Agility (34:00)
    • Monday – Total Body Hammer (43:00); 10 Min Hammer Abs (12:00); HIIT 20 (19:00)
    • Tuesday – Hammer Power (38:00); Master Cardio (17:00); Ran 3.15 miles in 31:35; Walked 0.65 miles in 10:00; Chisel Abs (10:00); Ab Challenge (1:30)
  • Notes: 
    • We went on vacation for the weekend (Th-Sat) which was great timing because my shoulder was on fire from Hammer Max ISO Strength.  That meant a lot of work had to be made up after 3 days of H&C resting, and I got it done by Sunday afternoon!
    • I ate like crap on vacation.  I’ll be undoing that for a few weeks in the body fat department
    • Somehow still getting over 10,000 steps a day even on days spent in the car for 3 hours – my activity level is high right now
    • Weight the day after vacation was 144.4 – not terrible given the lack of exercise for a few days!
    • Weight started creeping up on Monday and I honestly don’t know why
    • Not thrilled with the weight gain and body fat % gain, but I did take 3 days off, so what do I expect?
      • According to simple calculations, I gained 0.5 pounds of fat, and 0.5 pounds of everything else
  • Picture of the Week:
Week 1 - 3
Top – Week 0 Middle – Week 1 Bottom – Week 2
  • Progress Photos (Week 0; Week 2):

Week 2 Front

Week 2 Back

Week 2 Side

  • The Week’s Workouts:

Week 2 Progress


H&C Challenge – Week 1

Week 1 Statistics (Ending 01/12/16)

  • Weight:  143.4 pounds
    • Loss of 1.2 pounds
  • Body Fat %:  21.5%
    • Loss of 1.1%
  • Time Spent Being Active (>= 8 hours just this first week): 11 hours 49 Minutes
    • Miles Run:  16.5 Miles
    • Number of Runs (>=4-5 runs just this week):  5 Runs
  • Days within Calorie Goals per MFP (1390) (>= 7 days this week): 6 days
  • Exercise: 
    • Monday – Ran 2.5 miles in 25:00; Chisel Balance (40:00); PiYo Sweat (35:00)
    • Tuesday – Ran 3.0 miles in 30:11; Walked at 4.0 mph for 5:00; Hammer Plyometrics (25:00)
    • Wednesday – Ran 3.0 miles in 30:06; Walked 0.25 miles in 3:00; ISO Strength Chisel (35:00)
    • Thursday – TurboFire Fire 60 (67:00)
    • Friday – ISO Hammer Speed (23:00); 10 Minute Hammer Abs (11:00); HIIT 30 (30:00)
    • Saturday – Chisel Endurance (36:00); INSANITY Pure Cardio (44:00)
    • Sunday – Total Body Hammer (43:00); Hammer Abs (12:00); Fire 30 (37:00)
    • Monday – Chisel Cardio (38:00); Chisel Abs (10:00); Ran 4.0 miles (40:00); Walked 0.32 miles (6:00)
    • Tuesday – Ran 4.0 miles (31:30); Walked 0.32 miles (5:00); Max Hammer Strength (35:00); 10 Minute Hammer Abs (12:00)
  • Notes: 
    • I started the challenge at 147.2 pounds but was 144.6 after just one day of working out, so I changed my start weight to 144.6 to be fair to myself and the program
    • By day 3, prior to working out, I weighed 143.4 pounds, so a nice 1.2 pound drop/correction
    • I think you’d have to try to fail at this program. If you do even the base minimum, you will see results
    • Feeling looser after resting from H&C and doing a Fire 60 HIIT – those kicks felt so good at the end once my legs were loose!
    • 142.6 pounds on day 5 – a loss of 2 pounds for the week so far!  Back to my pre-crazy holiday eating (that started on Christmas Day)
    • Another 0.4 lost by day 6, for a total of 2.4 pounds so far which is still due to a correction from the holidays
    • Sunday morning was great on the scale, but I was not good during the day and ate too much hummus.  HA!  It will be interesting to see where I land Wednesday morning
    • Prepped another week’s worth of salads on Sunday night and sent 2 with my friend to get her started on the right foot on Monday!
    • We had the almond crusted chicken 3 times this week – the entire family loves it!
    • xx
    • In regards to food, some days were good, some days were bad, but I ended up netting under my goal every day when you look at average net calories eaten per day
    • I am already seeing results in my abs and shoulders from this program, so I’m going to take progress pictures every two weeks
    • Body Fat is back in the 21%’s!
  • Picture of the Week:
B Boy
My little dude “lifts weights” while I run on the treadmill. He’s always been my workout buddy, riding in the BOB for up to 9 miles at a time, accompanying me to the Y, doing PiYo with me at the house, and cheering me on when I hit the treadmill. He’s the best cheerleader ever! “Go, Mommy! Run faster!”
  • Progress Photos:
1 week and 2 days of H&C + running + clean nutrition = CHANGE
1 week and 2 days of H&C + running + clean nutrition = QUICK PROGRESS.  I am committed to taking progress photos every other week, but may just do them weekly based on this week’s change!
  • The Week’s Workouts:

Week 1 Progress

  • Starting Statistics on 01/04/2016
    • Weight:  144.6 pounds
    • Body Fat %:  22.6% with the handheld (x with calipers, x% with the Tan.ita scale)
    • BMI:  22.6

Trouble Spot – For Real!

I read a good friend’s blog post today about exercise, and fitness, and trying to do better.  In my comment, I mentioned my “trouble spot” that just won’t go away, no matter what I do, no matter what I try.  I’ve lost 40 pounds and it’s still there – the ONE saddle bag on my right side (the left one is almost all gone).  I’m lopsided, and it looks terrible.  The right one was always bigger than the left one, but now it’s like I have one and not another.  I can’t wear normal bathing suit bottoms because it is so awful – I have to wear skirted bottoms (which I really like, so that’s actually just fine).

I mentioned that I’ve tried taking pictures of it to post, but that they always end up looking a little like photos that shouldn’t be out on the internet.  But – in the interest of keeping it real – here is my trouble spot.  Here is the part I keep working on, with very little change occurring.  Sure, it’s gotten smaller over the last 19+ months, but it’s still pretty darned offensive

(I’m posting a nice photo first so my ass shot doesn’t show up in your reader!)

My collection of weights - I added the 5's and 25's just today.
My collection of weights – I added the 5’s and 25’s just today.

Oh good lord:

My behind 2

I Don’t “Diet”

(See comments for why I put “diet” in quotes. I’m referring to modern society’s use of the word, which has morphed into an accepted use of the term as a verb. “Diet” originally meant how you fuel your body and did not mean a temporary change in eating habits, the way people use the term today. The popular use of “diet” as a verb gained it general acceptance and is now defined in the dictionary… Much like the evolution of “ain’t.”. You’ll likely never hear me say, “I’m on a diet,” or, “I’m dieting right now.”. We are all on a diet all of the time, but people generally think of a “diet” as a temporary change in eating habits to lose our gain weight. I am referring to the general use of “diet” here.)

I don’t “diet.”

I eat wisely and healthily, but I don’t “diet.”

I just ate one of my homemade ice cream bars (but with mint chip ice cream this time) and it was worth every.single.calorie.  I refuse to deny myself some of my favorite things in life just because they’re bad for me, and ice cream is one of them.  🙂  Hell, while I’m being honest, I’ll also admit that Diet Pepsi (which I’ve reduced greatly in the last week because it was seriously out of control) and McDonald’s Egg White Delight sandwich (without “meat”) are my other two vices.  Those are the three things I can’t live without – or rather – I won’t choose to live without.


I eat in moderation.  I schedule my daily exercise based on my eating plan for the day, or I modify my eating plan based on my exercise commitments for the day.  It’s all very fluid.  Right now, as I’m committed to The Master’s Hammer and Chisel program for the next 7 weeks, I just can’t get behind the food container system because my allowances change based on the exercise I do each day, and that’s just too hard.  If I’m using the containers, I want to know that every single day, no matter what I do in regards to exercise, I get 3 containers of this, 2 containers of that, etc.  When I tried that, I was starving and there was no way the bracket I was assigned could provide the calories I needed each day to not go into “starvation mode.”  I think the container system is great for people who are new to nutrition and aren’t sure what a real serving of each thing looks like, but I’ve got it pretty figured out.

I count calories and I plan to net (total calories minus exercise calories burned) 1350 calories a day.  Most days I hit that, some days I don’t.  I come in 100 calories under my target quite a bit, and I go a few hundred calories over once a week because I believe in having a “free day” when it comes to nutrition.

Today was my free day.  🙂


I’ve been at this nutrition thing long enough to know what counts as a serving of veggies or fruit (1 cup), a serving of dressing (2 tablespoons), etc.  With that said, when I make mason jar salads, I totally get out the measuring containers because it is really easy to go overboard on salads!  I also know that a serving of carbs is 1/2 a cup of physical food and because that can be hard to eyeball, I usually measure those with measuring cups.  Measuring cups are much easier to use than the square containers, at least they are for me!

  • Fruits and vegetables – 1 cup
  • Proteins – 3/4 cup
  • Carbs – 1/2 cup
  • Healthy Fats – 1/3 cup
  • Seeds/dressing – 2 TBSP

Yesterday was NOT my free day, but we decided to have fajitas for dinner.  I measured out my allotment of sour cream (2 TBS), cheese (1 ounce), chicken (6 ounces), and soft corn tortillas (4) and stuck to it.  Yep – I weighed and measured because I can’t be trusted on “taco night” and I didn’t want to blow it.  I dropped 0.4 pounds between yesterday and today because I stuck to my daily 1350 calorie limit.  My system works for me.


I put a lot of work into figuring out the daily net calorie goal that works for me.  When I was netting 1200 calories a day, my results were hit and miss after my initial big weight loss last year.  When I upped it to 1350 a day, I started dropping weight slowly and consistently again.  My body obviously wants more nutrition than less on the workout schedule I follow (it is very rigorous and more intense than it’s ever been) and I’m committed to giving it what it needs.  It’s no fun being hungry 50% of the day, believe me.

I don’t make special dietary changes based on new years resolutions or choosing a new fitness program – I just want to net 1350 calories each day with healthy calories and calories balanced across fruits, veggies, carbs, fats, and proteins (and some goodies like ice cream!).  Every calorie counts.  Every decision counts.  I have no shame in making an unhealthy decision because I really want something tasty – I just don’t do it every night and I usually save it for that weekly free day.

But I DO.NOT.DIET.  Uh uh  No way!



Normal Girl

There are moments when I look at myself in the mirror and don’t recognize the person staring back at me.  The person looking back is strong, healthy, thin, confident.  Even after 19 months at this daily effort at being fit and healthy, I sometimes forget that that is who I am now – Fit. Healthy. Strong.

I’ve never been a “thin” person – not even as a child.  I’ve written before, now almost an entire YEAR ago, how I still felt like the “fat girl.”  I’m so glad that I don’t feel that way anymore.  I truly do not.  I’ve worked really, really hard to change how I view myself in the last year, and I think I’ve been successful.  But on the flip side, I don’t feel like the “thin girl” either.


When I went shopping with a friend over the weekend, the sales associate was selling some pants to my friend that I’d already chosen to buy for myself and she said, with a nod in my direction, “she has on the S/M, but she’s built like my daughter and is tiny.”  TINY.  No – that’s not me.  I looked around to see who they were talking about, and yes, they were talking about me.

I’m not tiny.


Years and years ago (2006!), when my friend came to visit me for my 30th birthday and I’d just wrapped up my first big weight loss (15 pounds at the time), she tossed her jeans in with my laundry and she wanted me to hang them to dry (this was before I started hanging all of my jeans to dry – thank you, Husband, for teaching me that!).  I remember hanging them up and seeing the size – size 8 in Gap – and thinking, “man alive, those look small.  I’ll never wear jeans that small.”  I didn’t set any goals from it, it was a simple observation and thought – but a memorable one.

Today, while picking up the closet, I hung up some jeans and – I’m serious here – I looked at them and thought they were my friend’s jeans.  It was a total and complete flashback to my laundry room in my old townhouse.  These jeans were small.  They were, dare I say it?, tiny.  And they are… mine.


It’s weird to me, to be honest, that I’m wearing a 4/6 in all brands of jeans.  It’s weird to me that my muscles show in photos when I’m not flexed.  It’s weird to me that I sometimes need tops in a size small so I don’t drown in them.  It’s just… weird.  I’m happy about it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s surreal most of the time.  I don’t see myself as the “fat girl” anymore, but I don’t see myself as the “thin girl” either.  I just see myself as the “normal girl” now.

And that’s better than where I was a year ago, so I’ll take it  🙂