Wow! What a wild week. It seems that following my defense, my body and mind were just utterly and completely exhausted. Finally though, I'm feeling more like myself and am ready to get my body back to where it should be.
My approach to my perfect body may be different than what others might do, but it's what works for me and doesn't leave me feeling terribly.
Since I've been pretty sedentary (relative to my normal activity level) since basically January, my first step is to get my cardiovascular and muscular endurance back to a decent level. Also, I need to accustom my muscles to the heavy lifting and the soreness that occurs when one isn't trained.
In simple terms, I'm increasing my energy expenditure with exercise WITHOUT cutting back on calories from my normal intake OR following an ultra-strict diet plan. True, I eat quite "clean" and healthy for the most part, but I'm not counting my calories and macros to stay within and certain range. I'm just eating well, and listening to what my body needs.
As I said, I've been more sedentary due to my PhD work than I've ever been. As a result, my body doesn't look the way I want it to. I've definitely put on more body fat as my clothes are tighter and my measurements have all increased by at least an inch. It's frustrating for me to even admit this, but I had to cut back on exercise and strict caloric control because I needed to focus my efforts on my dissertation (and do it the best possible... which I did... and I'm very happy for that).
I'm just like any other woman: if I don't exercise or pay much attention to what I'm eating... I gain body fat. There's no special genes in my family tree for me to fall back upon.
The difference with me however, is that I know how to take the fat off and I don't give up because it takes some effort.
So, to start, I'm re-training my body physically. THEN, once I don't feel so sore after workouts and am not so pathetic in the gym and on the trails (I mountain bike).... I'll start controlling my diet more carefully.
During this time, I'm recording what I eat to see how many calories and macros my body is taking in before I start defining what level I need to drop fat and weight. If I try to increase my exercise level at the same time as dieting, I just won't be able to progress.
That's where I see so many women go wrong. They're not trained to begin with and then they try to restrict their calories while increasing their exercise time and intensity. This only results in fatigue, frustration and eventually for most... failure.
If you're out of shape (like me to some extent right now), you have to start slowly with one step at a time.
My plan for exercise is to weight-training for muscular strength 2 days a week (between 4 and 7 reps) and then for muscular endurance another 2 days (between 12 and 20 reps). Then, I'll follow each workout with either 20-30 mins of cardio, or 15-20 mins of HIIT endurance training. On my off-days from weight training, I'll spin for one hour one day a week and/or mountain bike for 2+ hours the other day. One day will be completely off, other than walking with my dogs, which I do almost every day anyhow.
Again, once I'm feeling stronger, and more energetic in the gym, THEN I'll start controlling my food/macro intake a bit more carefully.
For example, this is what I did today, on this cloudy Sunday:
I walked in the morning (8:30am) with my dogs for 25 mins before breakfast. Then, my breakfast (9:15am) was goat's milk yogurt with goat protein isolate, chia seeds, glucomannan and flax oil. I sat at the computer and did some cleaning around the house for the next 5 hours, and in there I ate two meals: one just of steamed vegetables, the other of a salad and 3 oz of pork (at noon and 2:00pm). On my way to the gym in the afternoon, I had a handful of raisins (3:00pm). At the gym, I did my weight training routine of 12-15 rep exercises and then 35 mins of cardio (some was before I trained and some was after). Post-workout (5:20pm), I had whey protein plus cheerios plus raisins (about 35 g protein and 45 g carbs). Then, for dinner (7:30pm), I had a big salad with avocado, olive oil, cucumbers, carrots, 4.5 oz chicken, accompanied by 1.5 cups of steamed green beans. I followed this by a piece of dark chocolate and a few pistaschios. I haven't calculated my calories yet, but I'm at about 1700 to 1900 calories. Once I start dieting, that number will go down. But, for now, I need this so I don't avoid the gym because of fatigue.
Already, within just a week of doing this (being more active for the most part), my clothes are starting to feel loser and I have more energy. My goal is to get down about 8-10lbs overall, and lose at least that inch I gained since Christmas. I know I'll get there because for the first time in my life... I'm not a student!!! Woo-hoo!