A moment in time

*Warning: very long post with many bad selfies*

About a year and a half ago, I set out to lose 15 lbs. I had no desire to be skinny; I just wanted to be less chubby. I figured 15 lbs is do-able.

 

Somewhere in this process, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can learn a new trick. I learned that it’s not just about the weight. I learned that I will always be learning. And I learned that health and fitness is a journey, not a destination.

Fat Angela

I have so few photos of myself, so I stole this from Sherry. This is taken in June 2016 when we were in Morocco. It was after this trip that I decided I needed a change.

Fat Angela 2

I was having the time of my life. The kids were growing bigger, my career was stable, I was having fun traveling and skiing. It’s not like I looked myself in the mirror everyday and hated my life.

I can learn a new trick

For 15 months, I kept a detailed record of everything I ate and every exercise I performed. I weighed how many grams of chicken breast I was eating, and used a heart rate monitor for every workout for an accurate count of calories burnt. I used a combination of Garmin Connect and My Fitness Pal app to help me track everything. Everyday I aimed for a caloric deficit. I had to do this. You know how people say, “Listen to your body”? I can’t. I can’t listen to my body, because I can’t hear it.

I remember years ago, one time I had lunch with my BFF Karen. She ordered a burger, as did I. (Karen, I think that may have been the first and last time I saw you eat a burger!) I wolfed my burger down whole, barely listening to what she was saying. By the time I looked up to take a breath, she had set half her burger down. She was done. No longer hungry. She left half her burger and never ate the rest of it.

I was amazed. How does she do that? If there’s food on my plate, I finish it. That’s just how it is. But this woman did not finish her food!!!!

The difference is, Karen listened to her body. I, on the other hand, only know to eat whatever is put in front of me, and eat it quickly. She controlled her food. My food controlled me.

Anyway, Garmin Connect and My Fitness Pal app tell me how many calories I have left for the day. The more I exercised, the more I could eat. Otherwise, 1200 calories is all I get for the day. I did not have to “listen to my body”, since I could not hear it anyway.

After diligently tracking everything I ate for 15 months, I was finally getting the hang of it. I was starting to get a feel of what I should eat and how much. I was finally starting to hear a whisper of a voice when I am satiated. I learned that I can be trained to listen to my body.

Less Fat Angela

Doing the P90X3 agility workout in November 2016. 6 am everyday was my “me time” in the gym. 20 lbs down.

It’s not just about the weight

I started with a goal to lose weight. I was 40, and have a less-than-perfect family health history of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular conditions, cancer, etc. My heart valve doesn’t close completely. I sit on my butt all day at a stressful job. It’s only a matter of time before shitty health problems took over my life.

I look at these two small human beings that I am beyond blessed to have, and damn, I want to be here for a good long time to embarrass them and watch them grow.

The first thing I did was increase my running volume, and starting spin classes at a studio. I often run early in the morning, and come home as the kids are just waking up. Savanna got savvy quickly to check if I was sweaty before she would give me a morning kiss. I loved that the first thing they see in the morning is mommy coming home from a run.

Then I started following some workouts from Beachbody, streamed over the internet. The kids sometimes watched me go through Fix Extreme or P90X3. Then one day, they joined me during my workout. Now if I work out at home, I’m bound to have one of them jump in with me.

When I bought a road bike and started cycling more, Josh told me he is crazy about cycling and he wanted to ride everyday with me. He is always asking how many kilometres we have done, so he can do just a bit more to beat his last record.

I learned that it’s not all just about losing weight. It’s about influencing my kids through action to live an active life, and do better than yesterday.

Josh working out

Josh doing Fix Extreme workout with me.

Josh cycling

One of many bike rides with Josh.

back

May 2017. 25 lbs down. Lots of strength training in the gym, before the cycling addiction started.

The learning never stops

When I first started with working out regularly, I ate a very high protein, low fat, and low carb diet. I cut out all rice, bread, pasta, and noodles. The only carbs I would eat is a small amount of fruit, and baked sweet potato. Mostly I ate a lot of chicken breast and low fat cottage cheese. No avocado, no nuts, very little cooking oil–the fat content scared me.

That worked, along with the workouts. Weight came off. I was happy.

Then I started cycling. Then I was told to eat carbs on long rides.

Wait, what? Carbs? Isn’t that bad for me?

I learned that on a long ride, I need carbs that will quickly convert to energy. If all I eat is protein, I won’t be able to handle a long ride. Well, damn, ok, I’ll eat some carbs.

That worked. I was still losing weight.

I read 6 different books on sports nutrition, from one end of the spectrum (body building) to the other end (vegan Ironman racing). I got 6 difference sets of advice.

I learned that the sport you train for may dictate some of what you eat. I learned that I need to eat a balanced diet to keep the rest of me happy. Mostly, I learned that I will never stop learning about the theories and sciences of what works and what does not.

Books

How much of what am I eating today?

Angela running

September 2017. Going for a run while on a business trip.

It’s a journey

When I lost the 15 lbs I set out to lose, I was happy. I was having so much fun with my workout routine, I just continued.

Today, I don’t feel like “I’m done”. I feel like I am just beginning to learn certain sports, and there are so many other things I want to learn. I took a cycling clinic last summer, and met some incredible women who inspire me to ride more, ride faster, run, and try different sports. I joined a bunch of rides with a local bike shop and met some kickass ladies who eats hills for breakfast and run at speeds I can only dream of. I just signed up for swimming again, because damn it, I’m gonna learn this!

When I signed up for the 122 km Whistler fondo 7 months ago, I thought to myself, “If I can do this, I can do anything.” That’s how huge and unreachable the fondo was to me. And guess what? I did it.

So what else is so huge and unreachable for me today? Maybe I can do that a few months from now. Who knows?

Angela dressed

November 2017. 32 lbs down.

Today is just a moment in time in my journey. I wanted to document these thoughts, because some days are harder than others to be motivated. Like this morning when I had to get my butt out of bed for a run–that was brutal. But then tomorrow morning I scheduled myself to ride my bike on the rollers, which I am really looking forward to!

 

 

 

 

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90 days of P90X3

90 days ago, on November 7th, I started going through Tony Horton’s P90X3 program. Today, I am happy to report that I am done! Forgetting all the results that come with the program, my favorite part is that I feel so much stronger. I can snowshoe without dying on the steep parts, my back pain is gone, and even the tendinitis in my right shoulder is nearly all gone.

What surprised me is how much I enjoyed the whole process. Not that I know much about these modern fitness stuff, but I thought the program is very well rounded. Some days are heart thumping cardio, some days are weights, some days are pilates or yoga, some days are stretching, and some days you just get your butt kicked.

They make it really easy for lazy people like me. A calendar gives me the workout I’ll be doing every day. I don’t even have to think about it. When I’m traveling, I throw the resistance bands in my suitcase and work out in the hotel room. Sometimes I worked out in the hotel’s gym.

The workouts are about 35 minutes a day, 6 days a week, which is really manageable for someone with a busy schedule.

So, here are the results from the past 90 days:

Body fat: dropped 1.8%

Thighs: dropped 3″ in total

Arms: dropped 2.75″

Chest: dropped 1.5″

Hips: dropped 1″

Waist: dropped 2″

Weight: dropped 8.4 lbs

Lastly, the part that I am *most* excited about, is the influence of the regime on the kids. Most of the time I finish my workout before the kids wake up in the morning. But on weekends sometimes I sleep in a bit and they do see me workout, and they have both been interested in following along. I hope with all of my heart that this instills in them the need for a healthy lifestyle.

Day 5/365 {Kickboxing}

Many years ago, I tried a particular variation of a kickboxing class. It was the kind of class that you don’t wear wraps and gloves, and you just punch and kick the air. It was fun, but it felt like something was lacking.

Then back in the fall, I tried a place that requires wraps and gloves, and you get to punch and kick the large heavy bags. I was hooked. There was something about giving the bag a solid punch that just makes me scream “yeaaaaaaaaah!” inside, with a big goofy smile.

day-5-of-365-angela-chang-photography

Tony Horton is going to kick my butt

Being 40 has been a great ride so far. One of my resolves this year was to get healthy.

I went to try out a spin class near my place back in August. The spin studio instructor asked me if I wanted to sign up for home workout streaming videos. Since I had lots of work travel plans this fall/winter, I figured it would be a great way to keep up with my fitness goals while on the road.

The videos ranged from yoga to body building, from pilates to cardio workouts. I tried a few, and got hooked on 21 Day Fix Extreme. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed going to the gym and actually working out. I am loving just feeling stronger.

I finished the 21-day program last week. But since I still have lots of room for improvement, especially in my core strength (or the lack thereof), I decided to pick another workout series to follow.

One of the series in the video library is called P90X3, done by a trainer named Tony Horton. Apparently it’s on late night infomercials often. Anyway, I like the idea of doing an intense but short workout everyday, and following a calendar of what an expert tells me to do.

So today, November 7th, will be Day 1 of the P90X3 workout. This program goes on for 90 days, which will take me through Christmas and all the way into February. 90 days! The little devil sitting on my right shoulder is telling me I’ll never make it.

I feel like I need to put this out there so I have some accountability. I know at least some of you will ask me how the program is going. So, here I go. I am getting ready to get my butt kicked.

funny-leg-day-zombie-apocalupse