Get Fit

Thrill of victory
justifies agony
of da feet, calves
and arms

Need help?

On Jan. 12, Star-Bulletin staffer Nancy Christenson offered to share with readers her attempt to lose weight and gain muscle using a nutrition-and-exercise program. We promised an update each month through April 15. Here's how her first week went:

I've been doing a fairly intense exercise and nutrition program for a week now (see for details), and I'm starting to see results -- mainly in the form of blisters and muscle strain. Something else is starting to happen, too.

I feel a change coming on. But I'll get to that later.

Keeping a daily journal and reviewing past entries is a good way to see how you're progressing, pinpoint your weaknesses and figure out what you need to do to stay on track.

If you haven't taken a "before" picture yet, have someone close to you do it right away, then stick it inside your journal (if you carry it with you) or in your wallet. Look at it several times a day and whenever you're tempted to eat unauthorized foods or skip a workout.

The following are excerpts from the first week of my program journal:


The last day to eat whatever I want. Stuffed myself silly on Girl Scout cookies and potato chips. Barbecued duck for dinner. Stocked up on cottage cheese, fruit, yogurt and Myoplex low-carb protein shake mix for the next few days. I'm supposed to eat six small meals a day of healthful foods, no processed foods or sugars, and plan each day's meals in advance (what time, what foods).

Each meal ideally consists of a portion of carbs and a portion of protein, with each "portion" being roughly the size of one's palm. Add fresh vegetables to at least two meals. Also important: Drink at least 10 glasses of water a day. Avoid oils (including butter). Approved foods include avocado, skinless chicken breasts, tuna, brown rice, natural peanut butter, yogurt, lean beef, salmon (yum!) and other fish. But no chocolate, except on "free day" (Sunday).


9 a.m.: Overslept an hour. Oops. Headed out to the gym (my garage) an hour later than planned, but got a great upper-body workout in. Hit levels 9 and 10 in intensity on all muscle groups. Yahoo!

10 p.m.: Pretty much followed my planned menu, but I did have a small piece of chocolate at work. Arms a little sore later in the day; not too bad.


8 a.m.: Unable to move my arms enough to reach over and turn off alarm. Tried to use my nose to hit snooze button, missed, knocked over a glass of water. Unable to prop myself up. Weakly called out for help. Dog looked unconcerned.

9 a.m.: Finally got out of bed after listening to alarm for an hour. Managed to pour coffee, set mug on desk, slurp from rim of mug. Hit the treadmill.

Aerobic workout was great! Perfect 20-minute workout with several cycles of increasing intensity, ending with level 10 (near exhaustion) and cool-down. Didn't think I could do it, but I did. FEELS TERRIFIC!

10 p.m.: Ate well today. Followed my menu plan. Had more energy than usual, despite not being able to move my arms.


Noon: Was unable to get out of bed for two hours after alarm went off. Finally leaped out of bed to answer the phone, collapsed on floor as calves gave out. Dog looked mildly curious. Arms still sore from Day 1. Ow. Late for work, missed lower-body workout. At least I'm following the nutrition plan.

2 p.m.: Staved off craving for chocolate by looking at "before" photo of myself in a two-piece swimsuit. Ugh.

10 p.m.: I'm gorging on Girl Scout cookies as I write this, after being so good all day. I hate the Girl Scouts, obviously an evil organization.


Blew it today. Was late to work so I missed my aerobic workout. Then a co-worker brought chocolate truffles into my office. I hate him. Ate six truffles, felt great for 10 minutes, then blood-sugar crashed and I felt lousy the rest of the day. Definitely NOT worth those few moments of ecstasy.


Maybe I should just set the alarm for an hour later. Did my upper-body workout -- went well. Hit level 10 in every muscle group. Followed nutrition plan. No cheating! Just one more day until Sunday, my free day. I feel so much better today than yesterday -- more energy and confidence. My jeans feel looser, too, after just one week. YEAH!!

Next week, keep it going. Wow, I can do this.

Nancy Christenson is assistant editor of the editorial section. Share your get-fit stories with her at


Need an assist?

The Nuuanu YMCA will hold a four-session workshop, "Fit for Life," for active older adults, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays from this Wednesday to Feb. 26.

Classes will meet in Room 118 at the Nuuanu YMCA, 1441 Pali Highway (corner of Vineyard Boulevard and Pali). The workshop will teach participants how to increase muscular strength and endurance, increase bone density, improve balance and help weight loss.

Participants should bring a water bottle, comfortable fitness clothes, tennis shoes and a towel.

The cost is $5 for YMCA members and $35 for the public. Call J.J. Bush at 536-3556.

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