Trying to be there for my son's future through exercise


Have managed to string together 8 days in a row. Getting better at prioritizing my time and interestingly enough, the new development has been me wanting to record the workouts on a calendar. First I did some research (!) to catch up on what has changed in the world of exercise - if its going to be an hour a day, might as well try to do it correctly. The research caused me to start to write down my workouts to make sure I spaced out the strength and muscle builders.

The really interesting thing about this is that I am showing an interest in doing research for something to help ME.

That is way different.

Muscle are growing - have stuck with the Madonna arms 10 minute workout - am seeing actual arm muscles even with using smaller weights than they use in the youtube video.

Sticking with Pilates and Madonna arms for strength - occasionally doing yoga with husband - the Madonna arm muscles have helped a lot with yoga.

Running and walking with the dogs, swimming and those Leslie Sansone walking videos on youtube are for aerobic. Did have to give up Zumba and the other dance videos - I can persuade myself to go in and start the walking videos - they are super easy.


You are an inspiration. Keep it up!


Thanks Hope for asking. The surgery was successful but very challenging with numerous complications. My son and I were in the hospital for almost 4 weeks. It was, by far, the most difficult period of my life. We got home yesterday and I noticed that my son with sz has been picking the hair on his arm. He used to do that before he was treated. I’m pretty sure the surgery of his little brother was the cause of the anxiety. He wouldn’t come to the hospital to visit which was probably a blessing as my younger son was quite ill. Anyway, we made it through…thank God. Now onto recovery at home. Thanks again for asking.


Thanks for updating us TAG, that is a long stay in a hospital - glad your son made it and so very sorry about the complications. Hoping your younger son continues his recovery and that your older son’s anxiety goes down with you and little brother home.


Take good care of yourself as your recovery continues. One day at a time! FYI, people who pull their hair likely have a psychological condition called trichotillomania. Our non-SZ child had it (mostly eliminated now via cognitive behavioral therapy but still has tendencies) and our SZ child may have had it to some extent. From Mayo Clinic: Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), also called hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop…For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the compulsive urge to pull hair is overwhelming. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.


Still hanging in here with the 60 minutes a day. Since I am working to add muscle its been hard to deal with the numbers on the scale not going down. To make things worse, I tried soy milk last week for 6 days after hearing it had plant estrogen and could reduce hot flashes.

Well it did reduce my hot flashes, right away, who knows what it would have done in 3 weeks? I noticed a major difference in 3 days. On day 6 I was so bloated with water weight I couldn’t even button my pants.

Since I have been doing this since early July, this did not make my day.

I can see the muscle growth and I feel stronger. Also a little frustrated - my husband is frustrated with me as well. Tells me I can want to lose weight or I can want to build muscle. The summer intern who does personal training and was fabulously fit (she rented the garage apartment this summer) told me to give it 2 months and if I don’t feel I am losing enough fat - she says I should eat more. Maybe she doesn’t believe me when I say I am not dieting?

The water weight has started to fall off since I stopped drinking the soy milk 5 days ago. Of course, the hot flashes have returned.


Hate those hot flashes. I’ve had similar experience with soy milk reducing them, but have not noticed water weight gain.
Here in the northwest we’re dealing with heavy smoke in the air and outdoor activity is discouraged. I’ve been splitting firewood (with a gas splitter) and hauling and stacking it, which is great exercise, but the smoke is fouling my lungs and sinuses so I’ve had to lay off for a few days.

Thanks for the update- you are inspirational to us all!


So glad the soy milk worked for you without causing bloating - my scale showed me up 2.4 pounds in one week. I always could pack on water weight.

What are your temps like up there? We are currently under siege by mosquitoes!


Highs in the 80s under smoky skies, little actual sunlight, dipping down into the low 60s at night. I usually sleep outside, but haven’t this week. The wind is changing and skies are slowly clearing of smoke, at least for now. The wild fires continue all around. There is always a light breeze where I live, near the water, so that helps.


So sorry about the wildfires, it sounds really nice there except for the fires and the smoky air and skies. We are still a little warm here.


Hi Hope!
Congratulations on the exercise plan, for sticking with it, and for seeing results!
I just wanted to throw in some perspective I’ve gained from being a gym rat for years:

First (and most importantly) stop stepping on scales!
Checking your total weight can be encouraging for someone who hasn’t exercised in years and stands to lose tons of weight (think my 600lb life). For most people, body weight has absolutely nothing to do with overall health and physical fitness. Worse, it can become an unhealthy obsession, induce anxiety, and wear down our positive self-image.
As I say very often, weight is just a number on an iron plate!

Next, I have to give you major props for strength training and gaining muscle!
That’s not easy to do, and only happens when we really push ourselves. You should be very proud!

Finally, tune your workouts.
It seems like your results and your goals are evolving. On the one hand, you want the freedom to eat whatever you like and stay fit.
On the other, you want to limit muscle gain and achieve a specific body type.
True, it’s hard to have both. You have to decide for yourself which goal to work toward (slim figure vs. muscular), and how to get there.
I can attest to the fact that reducing bread and dairy intake (replaced by meat, veggies and fruit) while increasing time spent running / biking can certainly reduce overall weight, increase cardio fitness, and reduce muscle mass.
Meanwhile, increasing bread and dairy intake (sacrificing fruit, a faster burned carbohydrate) while focusing on weightlifting can increase muscle mass.
The good news is, you are very familiar with adjusting your lifestyle to hit your diet and exercise goals. Evaluating what your longterm goals are now and planning a lifestyle change to fit them should feel like familiar territory.

Either way, you got this!
Seeing results and feeling stronger / better / more proud of yourself is the real purpose of exercise. You’re kicking butt!

Bonus motivation:
I read an article about fat burning a couple of months ago. Turns out most of the byproducts of buring fat is actually Carbondyoxide (much moreso than water), exhaled during exercise. Next time you’re huffing and puffing along, unsure of how long you can keep it up, remember that each breath is loads of CO2 from annihilated fat cells!
That knowledge was a game changer for me when I decided to finally get rid of the “Power Lifter’s Belly”. (Why hello, abs!)


This is so helpful! Thank you so much wreklus! You really paid attention to my concerns and have clarified my confusion for me.

After reading your reply, I realize I do want the muscle. Yes, my goals are evolving as I stick with it and I think muscle is the way to go - I want the strength. I lost a lot of strength over the past year- 2017 was rough around here- and its was actually scary to realize I couldn’t get up out of a chair as easily as before. Caught me totally by surprise - why I am weak?. When my workouts stopped and my muscle disappeared, my weight went down, after that it went back up as fat replaced the muscle. Possibly, the tension around here in 2017 had kept my metabolism oddly high. A racing heart will do that;) My son moved to live somewhere else and I think my higher metabolism left with him. Still, I haven’t been well muscled since 2009. Trying to do the work to muscle up evenly this time.

Abs, thanks to pilates, were my strength years ago, this time I want overall muscling - as a female, my muscles stay smooth. (Well unless they are working)

Do you think my long game will work to reduce fat if I am patient and keep working it? Muscles have to be fed to grow, if they continue to grow they will need more calories to sustain them and if I keep my aerobic workouts low impact - is it correct that lower impact will burn the fat and not burn the muscle?

Will keep in mind that I am breathing out destroyed fat as I huff and puff my way through the Aussie that is torturing me with her butt toning videos. Every now and then she gets busy talking to her dog and loses track of the count…

Thanks wreklus - I appreciate these insights!


It’s really great to read that you’re making plans to bring about changes you want!
Personally, I love having the ability to change my body drastically. I recently slimmed down, am now tired of being a lightweight, and am preparing to pack on the muscle again. A process I have put myself through… Maybe 4 times already…
So, I might have just the kind of advice you want!

Foremost, you are right that muscle burns fat basically constantly. Your body needs a huge amount of energy to build and maintain strength. Imagine not just big ol hocks of beef, but the blood vessels, minerals, blood, connecting tissue, skin and even more dense bone structure you’ll need in order to lift weight more easily. Additionally, your body will need lots of energy at the ready at all times (in the form of ATP, stored physically close to each muscle cell). If you don’t have those calories, can take them in efficienctly, aren’t burning it daily, or genetically can’t store any more, you’ll stop building muscle… Or even lose it. ((This is what happens when muscle starts disappearing. Use it or lose it!))

There is a lot of information about how to gain muscle, because no one way works for everyone the same. Some habits help others more, some help you personally more. It’s important to pay attention to your body and take a critical look at what works for you.
In general, building muscle intails some stages:

  1. Conditioning
  2. Bulking
  3. Toning
  4. Maintaining

To achieve a body builder’s physique, one would have to commit years of careful diet and exercise planning and evaluate how effective things are for them daily.
Assuming you’re not planning on taking steriods and becoming a frying-pan-folding beast, you can get away with some generic lifestyle habits ((rather than finding a shady dealer and living in the weightroom)).

Start with Conditioning:
This process can take anywhere from weeks to months, depending upon how active you’ve been over the past years, and whether you’ve ever lifted weights agressively before (and also genetics, etc…)
Your joints, tendons, bones and muscles all need to be prepared if you’re going to build additional muscle. Bones need to increase in density by slowly ramping up the weight you lift in each exercise, as well as by increasing dairy intake (mostly for extra calcium). As bones become harder and stronger, the rest of your body will follow suit.
Use free weights (dumbells, barbells, medicine balls, kettle bells) to increase bone density. The lateral forces (perpendicular to the length of the bone) and the act of stabilizing the weight are a big part of convincing your body to create new, denser bone cells. You actually have to physically crush bone cells to make your body stronger. Not fracture bones… but on a cellular level, kind of…
Increase the weight you lift based on:

  1. Did the exercise cause any injury? If yes, give yourself time to heal and then scale back to a safe weight.
  2. Did your heart rate increase? If not, add more weight. Heart rate is a good measure of progress and intensity, by the way. A heart monitor is a super useful tool.
  3. Did you feel like you could push harder next time without any help, or risk of injury? If yes, it’s probably time to bump up a notch.
    Increasing weight in each exercise is usually pretty rapid, just naturally, at first. Don’t be discouraged when this slows down after several weeks, or months. (This is called “hitting a plateau”, we’ll talk about that when you get there if you want).
    Sacrifice cardio just a little for more time under the bench press and squat rack.

At the same time you work on conditioning, work on “Bulking”, or building up your calorie intake.
This is the double-edged sword of building muscle.
If you eat too much, you’ll lose definition and those abs might just start disappearing. Too little, and you won’t be very happy with the progress you make in the weightroom.
I recommend that you not make too many sacrifices. Given that you exercise frequently, your calorie intake can be adjusted daily, based on the intensity of your last workout. If you’re dizy and can’t lift your arms over your head, grab a milkshake or a burger. If you bearly broke a sweat, stick with salad. You’ll get a feel for how food impacts your progress pretty quickly, so don’t let a little change freak you out. You can always adjust your diet and see results in a couple weeks, as long as you hit the gym more days than not.

The goal of this phase is to increase the weight you can lift in all exercises gradually, but quickly. This phase doesn’t end when you “plateau”, but most people feel happy with their strength and start to want for more definition and lithe appearance once they approach this natural peak of their strength.

When bulking doesn’t seem to be such a big concern anymore, it’s natrual to start wanting that moviestar-esque cut and chisled look.
This would be your tone, or lean phase.
Continue to exercise with the same intensity as always. Rather than looking for strength gains, look for reduced body fat and muscles that seem to pop, even doing daily tasks (like picking up groceries, or brushing your teeth).
Do more cardio.
Clean up your diet.
Forgo the milkshakes and double cheese burgers, opting instead for “healthy food”. A balanced diet is still key, but one that includes less bread and dairy accelerates the lean phase.

Finally, Maintain.
Keep working out. Switch things up before you start getting bored with the old routine. Run further, but slower. Faster but shorter. Lift heavy and fewer reps, lighter and more reps. Have fun with the body you built and always take the time to check yourself out in the mirror! Haha!

For you, personally…
I suspect you are somewhere between conditioning and bulking. Keep working those free weights!
Most women err on the side of too many reps and not enough weight. Shoot for 8 - 10 repititions, 3 - 4 sets with a good amount of effort and an increased heart rate during each set. It will take some practice to be able to predict what weight is reasonable for each exercise. Play it safe and grab low weight for your first set, then bump up if you don’t feel any strain or increase in heart rate.

Consider how you look at food.
As far as your body is concerned, yogurt is warm ice cream, kale is crunchy water, and broccoli is best seen as fluffy, green magnesium. Read labels skeptically, track calorie count by serving size (not package size). And pay attention to how your body reacts to various foods.


Just got my first fitbit. Anyone else have one?


wreklus, Sorry for the delay in responding - I’ve been super busy and extra time has been going toward making sure I got my 60 minutes of working out in each day.

Thank you so much, this is exactly what I need. I did increase my weights and the arms are already showing the difference. I’ve added another 10 minute routine that uses weights - its amazing that 10 minutes of weights every other day can produce noticeable differences so quickly.

This is so much better than dieting - funny, my mind does turn toward better food, I want to nurture those new muscles as they grow.

I keep reminding myself, patience, patience, let the muscles work the fat out while I breathe it out:)


Hi Diane,

I think my watch is like a fitbit - what do you plan to use yours for?


Hi Hope - Do you have an apple watch? We are having a step competition at work. I got mine ahead of time to practice. It really forces me to get the recommended 10,000 steps in a day. Yesterday was 16K - but we went for a hike after work, so that won’t be the norm.


Yes, I originally got the watch so I could check and see if whatever came in was a text from Jeb without getting my phone out. If mine doesn’t count my workouts, I know I didn’t put enough into them.


Wow, @hope !
You have a really great perspective toward exercise!
The incremental progress will keep stacking up as time goes on. Unlike a lot of things, exercise is something you get to keep forever and you get to keep building on past success.
Keep kicking butt! We’re all in your corner!



More of tapping into your experience and knowledge here.

Do you think its better to do two 30 minute workouts, one morning and one afternoon - rather than a single 60 minute workout? My friend was calling it “afterburn” effect, she said her trainer told her that her muscles consume higher calories for a period of time after a workout is over. He told her that having 2 workouts several hours apart gets you twice the afterburn. What do you think?