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The last couple of weeks something has really clicked inside me…and the first time it happened it kind of freaked me out.

I was at work, having a really good day, and then smiled to myself and thought: “Wow!  After this I get to go work out!”  What the hell??  Did I REALLY just think that??  What’s going on here?

This was a teeny-weeny sign bubbling up in me that my new exercise habits are starting to gel.  I’m in the gym 5-6 nights a week (and trying to get active outside one night a week but it’s getting a little too cold and dark for that now, despite having virtually zero rain in a couple of weeks – how rare is THAT?).  And when I can’t work out after work, I miss it.  I’m getting more and more comfortable with the workouts provided in this Lean Eating for Women program I’m now about 3 months into – it’s a year-long program actually, and I can’t wait to learn what’s next as we’re only 1/4 of the way done!

Just in these last few months I’ve noticed changes.  I’m making exercise and planning  meals ahead of time a habit.  That still requires a lot of practice, but just like learning a dance step…it gets a little easier every time.  Don’t get me wrong – the workouts are challenging and continue to build upon themselves gradually.  A great combo of weight resistance training, core work and cardio.  When I’m done I FEEL GREAT.  Well, I’ll admit the first couple of weeks were brutal, but not in a really bad way.  I hadn’t done any regular weight training in years (hockey does NOT increase your upper body strength, at least not at the intermediate/novice level I played at for 9 years).

After the first few workouts in the gym I woke up so sore I couldn’t hardly get out of bed the next day (whoops, there ARE core muscles deep in my belly, ha ha).  But I stayed with the program and I didn’t give up.  I knew every time I went back to the gym I would practice the workouts yet again and gradually I’d get more comfortable with them.  Only to have them change right at that time…by design, I’m sure!  Never want those muscles to get too comfy…the constant change and gradual increasing of resistance (without compromising form) is the key.  Gotta love variety.  And I never feel like I’ve overworked a certain part of my body with any of these workouts.

Does exercise actually DECREASE appetite?  In my case, the answer is a shocking YES!  WOW. I’m down about 12 lbs and 11 inches (a combo of neck, shoulder girth, bust, hips measurements etc. all totaled up).  And I DO notice my clothes starting to fit and hang a little better, and I even had to adjust my bra straps because they were getting too loose and slipping off of my shoulders during the day!  Some button front shirts I’ve had for a few years had become too tight and gape-y in the bustline (ugh, so tacky)…and now are starting to fit like they used to!  I have a ton of clothes to sort through to get ready for a big purge and run to Goodwill, and I’m trying to restrain from buying a lot of new clothes right now because they may (I hope) become too big again in the near future.  Now, I have purchased a few new items to give my wardrobe a little boost (I love my cashmere sweaters but after 6-7 years some are starting to look a little worn).  Soooo, I’m sticking with knits wherever possible, as they will forgive through changing sizes (I hope).  A short-sleeved shell for work, a motorcycle-style zip front black jacket and some knit black pants.  OH and a pair of dark denim jeans with a little stretch that fit like a dream and are super flattering.

Know what else I’ve noticed, er…not noticed?  Far fewer (if any) PMS cravings! And less tenderness and bloat, if that makes any sense to my female readers in here.  In fact, when (ahem) Aunt Flo arrived this month (right on schedule and I count my blessings for that at age 46), I was a bit surprised!  I didn’t have any of the normal food cravings, breast tenderness, puffy/irritated feeling that gave me all the signals my period was right around the corner.  Rather, the only ‘symptoms’ I had were midcycle – a flu-like feeling – which thankfully didn’t trigger food cravings.  Is this all the benefit of regular exercise and/or working on improving nutrition?  If so, I’m starting to ‘get it’!

My posture is better and I’m feeling radiant inside.  I continue to gain more confidence in the weight room, navigating through the macho grunts and the regulars.  I can deal with the crowds Monday nights…and on Friday nights it can be pretty much a library it’s so empty!

An 80-something man is one of the regulars, and he walked by me one night while I was doing push ups and joked ‘ya gotta SMILE when you do those.’  HA HA HA.