I feel like I say this every year now, but I can’t believe tomorrow marks the beginning of the second half of the year. 2019 is halfway over!
I still have a couple more weeks to go before I hit the halfway mark of this 90-day transformation program. Today marks the end of week 4, and it felt like a good time to update you guys on my progress.
I’ve been sharing my prescribed meals and daily thoughts about this program on my Instagram stories, but I’ll give you the broader view here.
In the Week 1 post, I wrote that one of the most difficult things for me was actually eating all of the food on my daily meal plan. It was way more volume and included a TON more meat than I’m used to. That aspect was hitting the wallet kind of hard too.
By Week 3, we had worked out a much better rhythm: lighter breakfast, small morning snack, lunch split into two larger “snacks”, another small afternoon snack, and then a larger dinner. I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to eat a huge dinner and a larger breakfast is better, but my body just doesn’t work well that way. If you’re trying to improve your diet, it’s important to pay attention to how your body reacts to not just what you eat, but when you eat and how much you eat. My body doesn’t like to eat a lot in the morning, but it does need to eat something or I get very cranky. I also end up wanting a mid-morning snack, but again, nothing huge. Small portions at more frequent intervals through the day and then a larger portion towards the end of the day seem to work best for me.
I’m still having to buy a lot of meat for my meal plans, mainly chicken and ground turkey. Luckily, there was a BOGO sale on both at the beginning of Week 4, so I stocked up and didn’t need to buy any more this weekend for Week 5. Salad is another staple. I sorely miss my tortellini, but they did include spaghetti for dinner for Week 5!
I’m already thinking about what maintenance mode is going to look like after I complete this program. I know for a fact that I won’t continue buying this much chicken and ground turkey, so I’m considering the other possible protein options that will still provide the correct amount of protein (since I know I was eating way less protein than I should have been before the program).
I’ve already developed a love affair for Quest protein bars*. The cookies and cream flavor reminds me of a chewy Chips Ahoy cookie. The birthday cake flavor reminds me of those sugar cookies you get in the bakery of the grocery store that have a layer of icing as thick as the cookie (sooo good). The s’mores flavor runs a very close second to the cookies and cream flavor. I also tried a double chocolate chunk flavor. That one was pretty good, but not quite as good as the others. It was kind of like a brownie that was baked with too much flour. During my grocery run today, I picked up the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor. Keep an eye on my IG stories to see what I think of that one.
The thing I like about these bars is they satisfy my sweet craving. After a lunch of salad, chicken and whatever else, I crave a dessert. The Quest bar* is the perfect afternoon snack in that respect. Of course, I end up wanting another one after dinner, but I’ve been able to resist and just have a cup of herbal tea that’s naturally sweet. I know there are plenty of other protein bars out there, but the Quest ones get a thumbs up from me.
The woman handling the meal planning for this program also told me about ready-made protein shakes available at one of those buy-in-bulk warehouses. I’ll be trying those out at some point. It could be a good alternative for protein in the morning if I don’t feel like stuffing myself with egg whites.
On the fitness side of the program, there’s also been quite a lot of trial and error in figuring out what exercises I can do at home that won’t aggravate my knees. Some I didn’t think would be a problem caused pretty bad flareups. I’m to a point where I’ve found at least a few exercise videos that I can do in their entirety without affecting my knees. The second coach of the transformation program who handles the calorie burn goals and provides guidance on fitness also gave me some specific sets of exercises to do this week.
I’ve realized that I don’t do well making up a workout routine. That’s why I liked going to Zumba and Burn classes and now use workout videos online. I don’t want to have to think about what exercises I’m going to do, I just want someone to tell me what to do and for how long. So even if they’re “boring” as the coaches warned me, I’d rather have someone give me a workout set than me have to make one up. Everything is more boring than dancing anyway, but I can’t do that full out so I’ll do what I can do.
My results so far on this program have been really good! I lost almost 6 pounds in the first 3 weeks. I gained about two of those pounds back in the 4th week, but fluctuations are to be expected. Plus, they had raised my daily calories slightly, anticipating me to be exercising and dancing more. Then my knees flared up. The week was also stressful on multiple levels, and the pounds like to stick to you more when you’re stressed. I’ve lost about 1% body fat overall, and we’re expecting to see more of a drop there as I build more lean muscle.
My weekly fitness goal has been to burn 1,000 calories, split up among aerobic, interval and resistance training. This was supposed to be in addition to my dance training. I haven’t met that goal any week so far, but my heart rate monitor app* tells me that I’ve burned 2,934 calories since I started using it in Week 2. So I’ve come close to averaging 1,000 per week if you include my ballroom dancing. I also don’t wear it every time I walk the dogs and there were a couple lessons I just forgot. So a few calories were burned but not recorded.
If you recall, my personal goals for this program were to build strength and stamina leading up to Desert Classic. Losing the few pounds I had gained since my knee injuries was a secondary goal that would easily be achieved through focus on the primary goals. Well, I’m not competing at Desert, as you know (click here if you don’t), but my goals remain the same for the program. The target end date has just shifted.
I’m trying really hard to release the frustration I feel over the physical limitations created by my knee injuries. During my last dance lesson, I couldn’t help but comment that the routine would be a lot of fun if I was actually able to dance it. There has been about 50% improvement in the three months of physical therapy, and I’m told that the rate of progress sounds about right. I’m just impatient. But I know what happens when I get stubborn and push myself, and I don’t want to have to write another blog post saying I won’t be competing at Embassy either.
So I hope I can increase that calorie burn this week, but at the same time, I’m refusing to push too hard too soon. I have a follow-up with my orthopedist and a dance lesson the same evening. I decided to hold off on any additional exercise beyond walking the dogs until then, so my knees will hopefully be calmed down for both appointments. I’ve even changed my solo practice. I’m not going to the studio and instead mapping out the timing and steps of my routines on paper at home. Some weeks, it felt like it didn’t matter if I rested or pushed myself, my knees would flare up either way. I’m hoping that’s just me being frustrated and my extra efforts to rest will make a difference.
Stay healthy, dancers!