I want to backtrack a little and start this log with my progress so far.
As of last June 2017, my fitness activity was pretty much limited to yoga. I'd been practicing on and off for years...sometimes almost every day, and including intermediate poses like headstand and crow variations, but rarely more than half an hour per day and I felt like my progress was stalled. I had never done a pullup, and only kind of faked it through pushups in school
Then, I discovered Kino MacGregor's Be Strong series of yoga videos (levels 1 and 2). These were amazing because they took a similar amount of time, but really focused on strengthening and working toward advanced poses. I did those almost every day for a few months and got a lot stronger, plus I got pretty close to kicking up into handstand unsupported. After a while that routine was hard to keep up, though, because it was fairly grueling in a way I didn't really enjoy, and I had started to see less progress...but I still did the videos occasionally.
About six months later (January 2018) I still felt pretty strong, but was also the heaviest I'd ever been while not pregnant (173ish). I'd experimented quite a bit with diet in the past, partly for health reasons (I've been both vegan and paleo, at different times) and also temporarily to lose weight after having babies, but had never stuck with it for long. I decided to commit at least long enough to see some real results and decide whether it was worth it for me, even though that would probably take some experiments, adjustments, ups and downs. My goal was to lose 23 pounds and hit 155 by May 1.
I started by getting back into an easy yoga routine (fightmaster yoga, yoga fix 90) which was more enjoyable and easier to stick with. I also decided to try a "fasting" diet: two or three days a week at under 600 calories. I know I get antsy if I never feel like I get to indulge in foods that I love, so I liked the idea of restricting enough at times that I could restrict less at other times. I lost five pounds in January, without needing to make any other dietary adjustments.
In February, that started to get old. Three days a week is still quite a lot, and those days were hard to get through. I thought about food constantly. So, my next idea was to try weight watchers. I really struggle with counting everything, because I cook improvisationally and go out to eat and figuring out how to track all that is a real pain. One thing I liked about the new weight watchers program was the way you could eat produce, chicken breast and egg, at least, without tracking...so I tried that for a while. I lost six more pounds over the next six weeks.
That eventually started to feel unsustainable, too, though. I think that because of my food choices (I eat some things that get hit extra hard with points) that my calories were probably too low on this plan, and every weekend I was going over my points pretty quickly.
So, in mid March, my third idea was to try the primal blueprint. I know that protein, fruits and vegetables are good for me and, again, I loved the idea of not having to track at all. I know I don't do well at really low carb levels, so I was shooting for roughly 50-100g per day, and I felt like I was being restrained about my use of dairy fat, avocados, fatty meat, nuts, etc – so I actually thought this was a turn in a healthier direction, and it should work out great.
Also, I started learning more about bodyweight fitness based on recommendations in the primal blueprint. I started with the recommended pushups, rows (I got knock-off TRX straps, and it was my first time really having a good way to do these), plank and squats. I could actually do a few real pushups for the first time in my life, because of my experience with the yoga for strength! While researching to learn more about how to optimize and progress with the exercises, I learned that there were a lot more materials out there, so I tried reddit's bodyweight fitness recommended routine and also Start Bodyweight...by the end of the month my program looked something like this:
plank with feet on wall 3 x 30 seconds
kettlebell swings 8,12,12@15lbs
squats with one foot on a chair behind me 5,4,4
hanging leg lifts with slightly bent knees 5,4,4
jacknife pullups from squat position 4,4,4
Over the month I worked up from one session to about three sessions per week, plus sprinting (realistically I only did this twice in the month - six sets of 20-30 seconds effort followed by up to four minutes rest) and ideally yoga two days a week. My reps went up over the month. I feel stronger and have more visible muscle definition and (AND!) this is my first time being able to do significant work towards pullups in any way. I've always wanted to do them, but felt there was no viable way forward - but now I feel like I can see the path and I know that the path to pushups worked for me, even though I couldn't do those in the past, either. Also, I'm really having fun with this. Even though my workout can take close to an hour, it's actually recommended to take ninety seconds of rest between each short set – so I get exhausted, but only briefly, and I spend a lot of that hour just resting, which I love compared to all the other ways I've been told to work out in the past.
BUT, I didn't lose any weight over this last month, and actually went back up a pound or two which is kind of a bummer. I had high hopes for primal just working out without counting, but apparently that only works because most people are naturally motivated to eat less calories and I guess I'm just not? So, I bit the bullet and started tracking calories and, to a lesser extent, macros (mostly trying to make sure I hit a minimum or .5g protein per pound of bodyweight). I've also been resistant to doing this because I don't want to waste my time, and I've gotten different recommended calorie levels all over the internet, especially because I'm doing strength training and nobody seems to know exactly what to do with that.* I finally downloaded this responsive spreadsheet which keeps track of your actual calorie intake and weight data and creates a real-life, ongoing calculation of TDEE, so that's kind of exciting. I've only been using it to track for a week, but hopefully that will get me somewhere as it collects more data.
Most days I'm having coffee (lightly sweetened, with a little heavy cream), a smoothie with yogurt and protein powder for breakfast, nothing or maybe an apple, a handful of peanuts or a salad for lunch, and something with meat, vegetables, and maybe some rice for dinner. Sometimes a banana with peanut butter and/or a little chocolate for dessert, if it looks ok in my nutrition tracker.
*The research I saw that I trust the most said that it actually possible to lose up to a half percent of your body weight or, for women, one percent per week, while simultaneously gaining muscle, so that's the rate I'm currently shooting for. Also, I know that I may have lost less weight this month because I might have put on some muscle simultaneously, but I was hoping to lose four or five more pounds - so I think that the scale should have been down at least a few pounds after accounting for a bit of muscle, and thus I probably didn't lose much fat.
Final thoughts at this point:
* I did lose 11 pounds and turn some fat into muscle since January, but I missed my goal to lose 18 pounds in four months and even the "realistic" goal of one pound per week by quite a bit
* I'm still not sure what my goal weight is. I'm at 164 today. Another ten? Another twenty? None, but turn some more of my fat into muscle? I know I still want to lose some fat somehow.
* I'm curious to see what the next month will bring, with continued tracking, working out and mainly primal eating. I do feel like this is finally a plan that I kind of trust
* I need to figure out what's going to work for me in terms of sensible indulgences, cheat meals and/or occasional diet breaks, though...pretty sure this is totally necessary for me to plan for so that it doesn't eventually tank all of my progress
*I kind of need a new kettlebell, but they're expensive. Also thinking of buying a dip station and wooden rings, so I need to figure out how to prioritize these purchases for the most progress.