Treadmill Run and DELISH Breakfast

Remember the snow yesterday? This is what it looked like this morning:

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I snapped that pick while heading to the gym for some NROLFW Stage 3. The area of focus for today’s workout was definitely the back, and I felt a little sore after. I also did a quick treadmill run. I did a variation of Fitness NYC’s 3s and 5s treadmill challenge. Since I’m trying not to run more than 3 miles at a time until my knee/IT band issue is fixed, I had to modify the workout a bit. Here is what I did:

set treadmill at 1% incline
time (mins)          speed
0-3                          6.0
3-6                          6.5
6-7                          7.5
7-8                          6.0
8-9                          7.5
9-12                        6.7
12-15                      6.1
15-18                      6.7
18-19                      7.5
19-20                     6.0
20-21                     7.5
21-22                     6.0
22-23                     7.5
23-26                     7.0
26-27                     6.5
27-28                     7.0
28-29                      6.5
29-30                     6.0

The run ended up being 3.3 miles. Whoops. 🙂

After the gym, I had THE MOST DELICIOUS BREAKFAST EVER. You absolutely must make these two recipes immediately:

1. caramelized bananas
2. couscous breakfast bake

Then you must combine them (and smear with nut butter, obviously) and enjoy this:

photo (14)

Soooo good.

NROLFW: Stage 1

As described in the NROLFW Overview (suggested prior reading), The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is a 6-month strengthening plan. The plan includes 7 Stages, with two Workouts (A and B) for each Stage.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Stage 1 is the longest stage (6 weeks), and it is intended to give you a foundation to build on for the rest of the program. Stage 1 workouts and my improvements are as follows:

Stage 1, Workout A (repeated 8 times)

Squats
Workout 1: 20 pounds + bar
Workout 8: 60 pounds + bar

Push-Ups
This exercise involved no increases in weight, but I was supposed to work on my form, getting lower to the ground, and keeping my body straighter. I definitely felt as though I improved in these regards.

Seated Rows
Workout 1: 45 pounds
Workout 8: 75 pounds

Step-Ups
Workout 1: 15 pounds in each hand
Workout 8: 25 pounds in each hand

Prone Jackknife
Again, this exercise was about form and not increased weight. I did Workout 1 with 10 reps and finished Workout 8 doing 15 reps with much better form.

Stage 1, Workout B (repeated 8 times)

Deadlift
Workout 1: 15 pounds + bar
Workout 8: 30 pounds + bar

Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Workout 1: 20 pounds
Workout 8: 27.5 pounds

Wide-grip Lat Pulldown
Workout 1: 60 pounds
Workout 8: 85 pounds

Lunge
Workout 1: 20 pounds in each hand
Workout 8: 27.5 pounds in each hand

Swiss-ball Crunch
This exercise did not involve weight but progressively difficult variations. I started Workout 1 doing 15 reps of the easiest variation and ended Workout 8 doing 20 reps of the most difficult one.

Overall, I definitely felt that I became stronger during Stage 1. I also became A LOT more comfortable in the weight room and overcame some self-consciousness when using equipment that I don’t generally see women around (barbells, squat racks, weights over 20 pounds…for example). The 6-week Stage did feel a little long, and I was feeling very ready to move onto Stage 2. Onward and upward!

New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women: Overview

I’ve mentioned my weight lifting workouts on a few occasions, and since I know everyone must be dying to get the full scoop…here goes!

I learned about the New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women (NROLFW) from Meghann over at Meals and Miles.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

You can read Meghann’s final review of the program here.

Basics of the Program
NROLFW is a 6-month strengthening plan designed specifically for women. It is highly structured with specific workouts, sets, and reps that you are supposed to complete 3 times a week. There are seven different Stages of the plan, and each Stage lasts 3-6 weeks and includes two different Workouts (A and B) that are alternated throughout the Stage. It sounds a little confusing, but all of the details for every Stage and Workout are clearly outlined and organized within the book. Example:

photo(105)

Stage 2, Workout A

Then, there are training log sheets that you can print out online (or copy from the book if you prefer) where you track the weight used for each set and workout within the stage.

photo(104)

you can’t see the details, but here’s the general idea

The plan is good for me because I definitely need big time structure in a lifting plan if I’m going to follow it. When I’m on my own, I’ll lift weights here and there, switching it up based on whatever I feel like that day. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t lead to actually getting stronger. Education on how to ‘actually get stronger’ is, in fact, a primary topic of the NROLFW book. Much more than just a listing of workout plans, the first 120 pages of the book are completely devoted to teaching the reader about why weight lifting is important and how to do it in a way that will actually make your muscles stronger. (spoiler: to get stronger you need to continuously be increasing the weight you use. Increasing the number of reps won’t do anything for increased strength, only endurance)

Nutritional Stance
The book also has a lot of information about nutrition and the importance of protein in our diets (both in general and particularly for someone who is trying to gain muscle). I’ve read more than my fair share of nutrition and diet plans, and they generally seem to all follow the same outline: high emphasis on counting calories and making that count a low number, low emphasis on where those calories come from and proper balance of nutrients. Most diet plans I have read about in either books or magazines suggest somewhere in the range of 1,200-1,500 calories a day, sometimes adding in extra ‘reward’ calories based on exercise. I expected something similar from this book.

Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised! The nutrition and food advice given by NROLFW is a refreshing departure from the standard calorie restriction diets promoted to women in essentially every other ‘nutrition’ plan I have read. The section focusing on food is titled ‘You Aren’t What You Don’t Eat,’ and the author, Lou Schuler, goes on to describe typical diet advice as a fatally flawed “war against food.” One particularly poignant argument that Schuler makes has to do with the number of calories women are generally encouraged to eat on typical diet plans.

In a sub-section titled, ‘Calorie Restriction is the Worst Idea Ever,’ Schuler describes an organization called the Calorie Restriction Society. The organization believes that people can live longer, healthier, and better lives by limiting the amount of food they consume. Still, their website has a ‘risk’ section warning against some of the serious dangers associated with cutting calories. Dangers include: depression, loss of strength/muscle mass, deteriorating bone mass, hormonal disruption, diminished energy, infertility, and hunger (duh.). How many calories does the group encourage people to eat? Numbers starting at about 1,400.

Schuler then compares this practice to the first stage of The Sonoma Diet eating plan (a previous New York Times bestselling book with 4.2/5 stars on Amazon). The Sonoma Diet’s initial stage – as well as the general guidelines of nearly every other diet plan I have read in magazines or books – instructs dieters to eat 1,200-1,400 calories per day. Schuler sums it up too well to paraphrase:

Yes, the maximum calories [allowed] in the first phase of [the] diet is equal to the fewest calories eaten by members of a cult who try to live longer by teetering on the precipice of starvation.

That is seriously messed up.

Moral of the story: I am excited to do this plan because the book offers not only a potentially effective lifting plan but also a positive and healthy perspective on food and fitness.

Read details of each lifting Stage here!

Stage 1 – completed
Stage 2 – completed
Stage 3 – completed
Stage 4 – completed
Stage 5 – completed
Stage 6 – in progress
Stage 7 – coming up