Couch Potato To Wonder Woman: Month Two

Image: Charmaine Morgan Photography

In an effort to transform myself from Couch Potato to Wonder Woman, the first step was to get off the couch. The next step was to make it a lifestyle.

What did I do?

Starting of slowly was super important, and it has allowed me to build more activity into my routine as my energy levels rise - yes, rise! You'd think with all the workouts I'd be an exhausted mess, but it turns out all those fitness bloggers weren't lying - exercise gives you energy. I mean, I knew this from a scientific standpoint - endorphins and all that - but I think there was a part of me that didn't want to believe it, that was using it as an excuse. No more.

But first - roadblock.

Three full days of bedridden nausea/headaches/bodyaches/fever/depression - you name it. My body and brain went full "nope" on me and I started panicking. February is a short month. How do I come back from this? Do I try and keep going anyway (bad idea)?

Rest. Is. Important.

You're going to get sick. You're going to get sore. Life happens. Roll with it, and just pick everything up from where you left off. A few days without working out, or a few crappy meals isn't going to undo all of your hard work. This is a lifestyle change, not a short-lived "fad" plan you need to stick to religiously to get results.

After I recovered, it was time to get back into it. Here's the activities I engaged in this month. So many activities.


Yoga

As you may have read last month, I used to think that yoga was a boring thing pseduo hippies did so they could talk about their chakras in a room full of people paying them for their "wisdom".

Now, thank to the lovely Adriene of "Yoga with Adriene" on YouTube (I may have referred to her as "my yoga instructor" to my amused co-workers on more than one occasion) yoga is a daily part of my life. I'm definitely more bendy, my posture is better, by upper back pain is gone and I find I understand my body more - helping me in all my other activities. I evangelically recommend yoga to everyone who feels a bit "blergh".

I'm not at "fancy silhouette on the beach" poses level yet, but give it time. I'm so gonna be one of those people - and I'm not even sorry.

I do a 30 minute video every morning, and a 20 minute video before bed. This is the one I use after a big day of hiking.

Yoga 5eva. #namaste


Hiking

Speaking of hiking, my little group is growing! Every week we alternate between the mountains and the sea, and the hikes are getting more and more intense.

I get to spend time with friends, explore our beautiful country, and expand on my badassery with survival skills - like removing a gazillion leeches off my feet.


HIIT

With my endurance up a little from hiking, I was ready to tackle some high intensity cardio workouts - in the comfort of my own home where no one could judge me, of course.

Fitness Blender are brilliant, and have a whole bunch of workouts depending on what you're after. I get bored easily, so love this one. It only takes 25 minutes and no exercise is repeated.

I did these videos in place of tennis this month, since my tennis was super busy. In the past I would have just not done anything at all. Yay for progress!


Weights

I gave my weights routine a really good crack this month. Twice a week - and I'm more than ever. I don't make eye contact with anyone at the gym, still. The super-fit people still intimidate me and I always feel like they are juding me.

I put a good podcast in my ears, and lift. I've found if I do weights first, then a Fitness Blender video (while I'm still on an endorphin high) then finish it off with yoga I feel amazing on days I don't have a more "structured" workout - like hiking or axe throwing.


Axe Throwing

For real. I'm in an actual, real life Axe Throwing League.

Competitive axe throwing is tough. My axe throwing arm (lol) and shoulder were sore for an entire week after my first session. It requires a good amount of strength and co-ordination (of which I have very little at the moment) and a whole lot of perseverance (of which I proudly excel at).

I seriously do feel like a badass. Wonder Woman with axe throwing skills. Hell yeah.


Running

Well, let's call it jogging for now. I am slow. I take so many breaks. And you know what? It doesn't matter. Because I'm still out there, still giving it a go.

I used to get teased a lot for how I run when I was at school. My legs do this funny "flick out to the sides" thing. But you know what? Who cares.

My legs work. I am grateful for that. And I'm using them.

I genuinely surprised myself at how far I can run (only 1km without stopping for now, but wow - that's huge for me). Oh, and I just scored some decent running shoes (although it should be obvious, I do not recommend Converse) - so that might help even more.

Before y'all recommend Zombies Run to me - I worked out how to cheat, so there's no point in me playing the game anymore. I'll stick with blaring Prodigy and Beyonce in my ears while I pretend I'm better at this than I am for now.


Roller Derby

Hands up if you've seen Whip It and wanted to be Ellen Page. *raises hand*

That's how I ended up here. Roller derby name suggestions are welcome.

Not content with being in one kind of league, I also joined a roller derby league. I have it on good authority I'm likely to end up with many, many injuries from this completely badass full contact rollerskating sport that I'm yet to fully understand.

But for now, I'm taking it slow (like everything else in this challenge) with some learn to skate classes. It turns out you do a lot of squatting in roller derby, and because you skate in one direction, you end up with one of your glutes and thighs bigger than the other. So I'll have one axe throwing arm, and one roller derby lower half. I'm going to have to balance this out in my weights sessions.


What did I eat?

Let me remind you once again why I listen to my personal trainer/nutrition and health couch, Thor.

The dude clearly knows what he is doing.

He has me eating more calories than I have in my life, from a selection of good foods - here's a reminder of some examples of what's considered "good":

    Fats

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Coconut oil
  • Cheese (yes!)
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Dark Chocolate
    Protein

  • Lean red meat
  • Lean poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk & Cheese
    Carbs

  • Rice
  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Oats

I just have to hit a macro intake - a certain amount of carbs, fats and protein worked out specifically for me by my trainer on a daily basis. I know how much I'm having by logging it in MyFitnessPal, but am quickly learning even without having to use the app what I can eat to get my macros balanced.

I love cooking, and rarely eat out, so it hasn't been a huge challenge for me. I eat oats with fruit for breakfast, have sandwich ingredients in my office kitchen at work (avocado, roast beef or chicken, salad stuff, cheese with a nice soy and linseed bread), snack on bananas, nuts, yogurt and more cheese.

For Dinners, I've managed to get myself obsessed with saving money cooking from Sarah Wilson's Simplicious book, which focuses on "just eating real food". I have a fridge and freezer full of stock, par-cooked vegetables, pre-sliced fruit, serving size portions of roast meats, homemade pesto and a whole bunch of other ingredients I pull together that meet my macro requirements. She makes it look prettier than I do. Meals like this:

This:

And this:

Also, I've managed to develop a slight obsession with boiled eggs. They are perfect little protein packs you can take on hikes, have in your bag, or in the fridge at home - just waiting for you to feel a bit hungry but not want to feel to full before a workout or before your main meal.

Surely I give myself a cheat day, though? Nah. I suck at those. Before I know it I'll have eaten an entire tub of ice cream, half a batch of homemade choc-chip cookies and one of those giant KFC family buckets. And I'll feel awful. What I do is give myself a "cheat meal" after my giant epic hikes. Although something strange is happening, even with those.

Image: Rae Johnston

I'm okay with just something indulgent, like a hot chocolate. I don't want to eat fried food anymore. It makes me feel sick. And this is coming from someone who used to eat a ten pack of nuggets for second breakfast.

Progress!


So...do you have any results?

This month I lost a grand total of *drumroll please* 2kg. That's double last month, and brings my total loss in two months up to three kilograms - but it's still not the huge drop you'd expect from someone doing daily yoga, grueling hikes, axe throwing, jogging, roller derby, HIIT training, and eating almost perfectly. There's infomercials that tell me people lost more weight than that in less time just standing on a vibrating platform.

But you know what? Those infomercials lie, and I'm perfectly okay with what the scales say. Last month I was a little let down, but this month I genuinely feel so much more comfortable in my skin I don't give a damn what the scale tells me.

My progress photos aren't a whole lot different to last month either (excuse the 6am bleary-eyed husband potato photos. I might have to do these properly for you one day).

Image: Rae Johnston
Image: Rae Johnston

I've now lost 4cm from by bust, 4cm from my hips and 12cm from my waist. My body fat percentage is down a total of 3.2%. I'm now officially "healthy" according to all of those (often inaccurate, but anyway) online calculators.

I feel incredible. I love my new lifestyle, I have way more energy than before, and I'm wasting far less time scrolling through social media. I feel like I'm living my life - gaining new skills, opportunities and confidence. I know I sound like an awful #inspo influencer, but I promise I'll always keep it real, no matter how bendy and fast and strong and badass I get.

What's next?

Let's take a look at "The Plan":

  • Strength (I'm lifting twice a week now, and am slowly upping my weights. The axe throwing is helping, too!)
  • Flexibility (Daily Yoga is my religion now. I will be able to hold my foot above my head soon)
  • Endurance (Hiking, running, derby, axe throwing - I can break a sweat and not feel like I'm dying)
  • Eating food that fuels me (I definitely have the basics nailed, now might be time to go more in depth)
  • Killing a man with my bare hands AKA badassery (I'm throwing axes, surviving in the wilderness and am on my way to being a terrifying Roller Derby player)

This month I definitely amped it up a little, so now it might be time to set some concrete goals. Do I want to run 5km? Complete a two day hike? Diversify my workouts even more? Focus on specific muscle groups? Finally start martial arts? I'm open to your suggestions!

You can follow along, even join in, with #couchpotatotowonderwoman on Instagram. Speaking of which, check out these legends:

There's a whole bunch of people doing this now, which is super motivating.

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or there's extra info you'd like to know - just let me know in the comments below.

Until next month, Lifehacker.

Couch Potato To Wonder Woman

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Couch Potato To Wonder Woman: Month One

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Comments

    Derby name suggestion: X-Rae Spex!

    I'm stuck in a bit of a rut at the moment, so these articles are filling me with ideas. Thank you.

    'grats, Rae. 12cm off your waist in 2 months is amazing.

    Can I make a suggestion for tracking? Get a DEXA scan. They aren't that expensive (in some cases free, depending on your health insurance) and they give you a really solid idea of how you progressed physically. It can help eliminate the "I only lost Xkg" thoughts, because in all likelihood you've gained some muscle mass and bone density. Plus, it can show you the reduction in visceral fat (the fat that sits around your organs), which is hard to gauge any other way. Plus, the before/after comparison photos are really, really cool.

    All that only matters if you want to see the proof. How you feel about the change is more important.

      I'm interested purely from a science/technology standpoint too - so that definitely sounds like something I'd be keen to take part in!

        Yeah it's definitely well into the "nerd fitness" space. Happy to send you my results if you want to know what data you can get.

    You're looking great, and I love all your photos - thanks for the headsup about the yoga videos!

    I notice that running is one of your activities... have you heard of parkrun.com.au? It's a free, weekly, timed, 5km run (or run/walk, or walk, whatever you want).

    It's been fundamental in my own journey to being a better WW.

      I have, but was always worried about being too unfit/not keeping up. I'll definitely look into it now that hiking has built up my endurance!

        The parkrun philosophy is all about participation, not the results. Some people smash it in 17minutes (or less), others are walking over the finish line at 57 minutes. There's kids, prams and dogs. Personally, I walk/shuffle and struggle my way around in 35-37 minutes. But that's better than the 43 I started at, and I have a sexy black (free!) tshirt for turning up 100+ times :)

    I took up roller derby 18 months ago as a way of using/increasing my fitness. It definitely gets your heart rate going - wait until you have to skate 27 laps in 5 minutes. It's also great for your legs, butt and core. As an added bonus, most roller derby people are awesome.

      Everyone is brilliant, I love it already. Can definitely agree with the legs/butt/core getting a workout, even after one class!

    Congrats on the progress so far Rae :)

    I've been doing something similar since January 2nd, though with less intense activity increases due to already playing a sport (hiking is definitely on the agenda though) and am down 5kg since! Haven't checked the measurements properly though I feel like I've dropped a size too.

    +1 on the boiled eggs, was making up batches prior to Christmas for easy breakfast but have leveled up since getting a Sous Vide as a gift. I now batch poach a dozen eggs to have for breakfast for the week with vegemite on wholemeal toast. It's great for advance meal prep for meats too!

    One question though. I've been tracking with myfitnesspal too and was wondering what macro levels Thor gave you to work to as I'm running a little blind there?

      Honestly macros are best tailored for the individual, so I wouldn't want to give you advice on that. I recommend getting in touch with him directly to work yours out!

    Great read, :) I always love people making them a better them for themselves.

    Remember, muscle weighs more than fat, so as you start to gain more muscle mass, your scale may show that you're "gaining weight" so take scales with a grain of salt :)

      Yep, I definitely know that :) Thanks for reading!

    Why yoga over something else like Pilates?

    How do meals work out at home? Do everyone else at home eat the same meals as you or do you get a separate meal from everyone else (i.e. you make 2 separate meals) ?

    Last edited 02/03/17 1:30 pm

      I haven't considered pilates, that's all - and while I was looking for Yoga videos I found these ones, which I love. I haven't ruled pilates out, I just haven't looked into it :)

      We just all eat the same meals at home, and we take turns to cook.

        That's a bit disappointing. You said on your initial "mission statement" that you are going to consult experts. I thought that you will be seeing a physio (or someone else) to get your flexibility measured and he/she will recommend the exercise routine, whether it be yoga or not. I didn't expect you to just pick something randomly and do that. Do you even know if this youtube video that you follow is licensed or authorised to give fitness advice?

    This is fantastic - loved the messaging in part one, and even more in part two. I sincerely hope your tone and these articles keep connecting with women everywhere to encourage them to take up some form of activity or strength training (especially strength training). I spend a lot of time around female bodybuilders and powerlifters, and not a single one of them has ever regretted picking up a barbell and the resulting empowerment. I'm already looking forward to month 3!

    Good work! Keep it up! I've had two consecutive ankle reconstructions done over the last two years, and am now trying to work off those months of inactivity; moreseo on the cardio fitness and belt size than weight. I've always been into hiking, so getting back into it again regularly has been fun. I'm currently planning a 40km 3 day one in the Snowies in a few weeks! Have you considered bouldering as a strength training activity? I'm slowly getting back into climbing again, and it's a fun workout

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