Monday, January 30, 2012

January Challenges Recap

Like most people, I set myself lofty goals as the calendar flipped to January.  Make no mistake - I love blogger fitness challenges and virtual races, but I need to evaluate and select wisely.  Does this help me stay on track to reach my 2012 Goals?  Keeping focused on own personal goals is tough for me as I tend to get caught up in the excitement/persuasion of others.  During the month of January, I decided to participate in the following two challenges...

hosted by (Just) Trying is for Little Girls

This challenge is a simple nudge outside my comfort zone of running... and try one new cross training activity each month of the year.  I am all about new experiences!  It keeps fitness fresh for me.  I find the more I cross train, the more I enjoy running days AND the less I get injured from overtraining. Total WIN all the way around.  Since one of my 2012 Goals is to complete my first triathlon, the selection of my first "new to me" cross train was easy... SWIMMING!

I wasted no time taking the plunge with my first pool date on January 2.  My goal was to swim at least two times each week as part of a brick-style workout (coupled with biking or running). During the last month, I completed 10 pool workouts.
Here's what I've learned...
  • Swimming is hard!  Unlike running, there is much more coordination needed amongst the body parts - arm strokes, hip position, kicking and then breathing. Oh-the breathing!! The basic movements of running are natural for humans, right?  It was quite clear with swimming that I was not a natural-born fish.
  • I had to think back to the beginning days of my running.  I didn't run a 5K overnight (took me months to work up to that!). The same holds true with swimming. I started with one simple lap of freestyle strokes.  I alternated with a lap of water jogging for recovery (I was literally panting after one lap of swimming!). The second week, I built up to a 2-1 ratio.  Now in my fourth week, I'm doing 3 laps of freestyle to 1 lap of board kicking where I practice proper breathing technique.  I can now easily finish 1500 yds in 40 minutes.
  • Swim caps are not only awesome, but much needed when you have long hair.  I tied my long locks back in a tight bun to swim, but it still came loose. I can't tell you how difficult it is to detangle swim hair!  Finally I bought myself a swim cap and the hair problem is solved.
  • Swimmers are not nearly as friendly as runners.  Just sayin'... it was a frigid welcome to the pool by the other regular swimmers.  Even after a month, only one guy has warmed up enough to say hello. Weird.
  • Swimming rocks the side muscles of your core!  I felt it instantly after the first workout. I will continue swimming in my regular fitness routine because I think it's made a huge difference in my cardiovascular ability and overall toning of my "non-running" muscles.

hosted by Run to the Finish

Another one of my 2012 Goals is to lose weight, specifically 30 pounds before summer.  If you've been following me for even a little while, you know my failure is not in the exercise arena.  My weakness is food.  This Food Journal Challenge was just what I needed to start the year. Luckily the challenge perimeters were pretty flexible, because I fumbled around before finally finding what worked for me...

  • First I bought a little notebook, eager to jot down everything I ate and journal my "food feelings" for the day.  I did well with that the first week and then it slowly fizzled (lost in the pile of homework, bills and mail on the kitchen counter).
  • As I struggled to keep up the notebook, I started taking photographs of my meals.  Initially, the photos were just a visual reminder of what I ate... so that I could catch-up on my journal.  What I learned quickly was that I had a really hard time taking a picture of a pile of chocolate chips (the only chocolate I could find in the house!) or a greasy plate of pizza. I also couldn't take seconds... I mean seriously, two pictures for one meal!?!?  Then I began sharing my photos in a Facebook album {here}.  Now I felt an urge to make the plates "look pretty and colorful".  It also held me a bit more accountable.
  • Lastly, I logged back into My Fitness Pal.  I used this website (and now iPhone app) several years back when I started my weight loss journey. It's so easy to use (and free!) to track your daily intake and calories.  It forces me to measure out my food portions.  Like so many Americans, my portions were too big.  In fact, I quit using the 11" dinner plates (except for salads).  My dinners are now served on the smaller 8" plates.

Do these monthly challenges make a difference?  I'll let you decide. This morning was my official Week 3 Weigh-In for the 55-Day Weight Loss Challenge at my health club.  So excited with my results this week...
-5.1 lbs this week!
Brings my total to -15.1 lbs for the three week period.
My team in general is doing very well.  The five of us Sole Sisters have lost 51.8 lbs as a group!


  1. Congrats Jess! That's a heck of a loss! You rock! I don't think I'm quite as successful but sure am on the right track :D

  2. Holy moly, 5 pounds each week? You are killing it. I'm so very impressed.

  3. I have hesitated to share my meals a lot because I am such a snacker and mentally all those pictures seemed like too much...umm probably a good indication that it is something I need to address :)

    So excited you are seeing amazing progress in such a short time!! congrats on your hard work

  4. wow girl!!! 5.1lbs in one week is AMAZING!!!!! Awesome job! Love your motivation.

  5. Wow on your weight loss! Thats awesome! I loved seeing your food photos! Erica

  6. Congratulations on your weight loss - that is amazing! Keep up that hard work!

  7. 5 pounds?
    5 pounds ?!
    Girl you are awesome.
    So incredible.

  8. I love your attitude on swimming! Anyone can swim or run if they really want too! Keep it up!!!

  9. It is awesome how much weight you have lost in such a short amount of time. Keep it up!

  10. Great job with the weight loss! How cool that you started swimming, too. It's a great reminder that we all have to work up to something - you can't just jump in the pool and expect to knock out a ton of laps the first time around (or the first ten times around!)

    Good luck with February challenges!! :)

  11. You are very motivating, good luck with your challenges :)

  12. Great job on your challenges! Keep up the good work with swimming!

    That's weird that the other swimmers didn't say much to you, but I guess it's harder to do when you are under water most of the time. As a former swimmer, I guess I would have to agree that runners are more friendly than swimmers!

  13. Wow! That is some serious weight loss! Nice work Jess.

    And I love reading about your swimming workouts - can't wait for the Oshkosh Tri!

  14. Hi there! This is kind of random, but I saw you posted on the blogger help forum about your posts not showing up blogger dashboard after you changed your URL. I am having the same problem. Can you please let me know how you fixed this? thanks!

  15. Congratulations on the weight loss, those are great numbers!!! Good job on your challenges, looks like 2012 started off great! :)

  16. Great job on the weight loss! Do you have a separate tab for your meal/snack pics? I'm already going to the gym a lot, but I'd like to eat more like you too!

    1. There is a link above in the article to my food pictures (on Facebook). (Links are highlighted in purple)

  17. Danggg congrats on that weight loss! Awesome progress. I'm going to try keeping a food journal in February, too. My workouts are totally regimented, but my eating habits could use some improvement. I hope that writing it all down helps me see where I'm going right and where I'm going wrong.

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