Yesterday I posted one of my favorite pictures ever, and it got me thinking about the photos I usually get at each race.
Then I remembered I did get a photo of myself before my first 5K in March. I traditionally use my regular Before photo when comparing Befores and Afters, so I thought, "Let's contrast with a During photo." (Click to enlarge.)
At the time of the March photo I weighed 212 lbs. It was one week before I started my introductory bootcamp classes and 2 weeks before I started going twice a week.
At this point, I had already lost 70 lbs from when I joined Weight Watchers 6 months earlier. The first thing I think when I look at that photo: "Wow, that doesn't look like someone who already lost 70 lbs."
In the current photo I weigh 158 lbs, so in the seven months of running three times a week and bootcamping twice a week (and Weight Watchers-ing) I've lost 54 lbs. It sure seems like a lot more pound-wise than that comparing the two photos.
And that, my friends, is why strength and interval training is very, very good.
I know I could reach my current weight without bootcamp, but I'm convinced it would have taken much longer. And when I got to this weight, my body would not look like it does now. Running would have taken care of my legs, but that's moot because I doubt I would have been able to continue running: My core and legs were not strong enough to sustain it without pain.
In that first 5K I wrote about suffering from what I thought was major hip pain when running outside, but I think it was more of a glute thing. Bottom line: My core and legs were not sufficiently strong enough to allow me to run pain-free.
Gradually, safely, strengthening them through bootcamp allowed me to run faster, further and better - pain-free. I would have been forced to bail on running long before now without bootcamp. It was just too painful to run outside.
Now bootcamp may not be your thing and that's perfectly fine. You may not be interested in running and that's fine, too (and probably very smart when you get down to it). However, there are many other ways to get in your cardio and strength train so you can firm up and build lean muscle that will slim you down in ways you never imagined.
Many of us eschew strength training because it's hard. I always say, "If bootcamp were a DVD, I'd fast-forward through 75% of it." It was true when I started and it's true now.
It's challenging, and I am inherently lazy and I cannot self-motivate to push myself to do what I need to do when it comes to strength training. I can get myself out of bed, in the dark and on the road to run three times a week, no problem. But getting myself - with no one watching - to pick up some free weights or drop a dozen squats? Not me.
That's why I turn to a professional twice a week. Someone who lays out a challenging circuit, ensures I have proper form and keeps me honest, so I don't, say, hook my feet under a spin bike for extra leverage during full sit-ups. Um, theoretically, that is.
Anyway, do something you like and more importantly something that challenges you when it comes to cardio and strength training. Don't forget about strength training, it's hard but it is worth it. Believe me.
And, I didn't live in the gym, either. Bootcamp is 45 minutes tops (including warm-up and cool-down) twice a week. My runs are, depending on distance, 30 minutes to an hour, three times a week. Five hours a week. That's doable.
This is embarrassing to admit, but I held off on strength training for longer than I should have because I was worried that in building muscle, my weight loss would slow. It obviously did not.
And, just for fun, I tossed in my regular Before photo below for the panoramic perspective. If you want a better look, click to enlarge.
Not to belabor the "Oh my God I Love That Photo" theme I've got going on, but one more thought: I think what I love the most is I look strong and fit. Not "skinny" or "thin." I always thought I wanted to be thin and/or skinny. I was wrong. I wanted to look exactly like I do now: healthy.