Sunday, July 03, 2011

Video Blog: Arms (and some talk about Total Body Conditioning)

After Total Body 

Hi, I know it's been a while since I posted a video blog. I recorded this one a while ago but never had time to post about it, so here it is. I recorded this one because I had been getting a lot of questions/comments about my arms. Check out the video and then read the (very lengthy!) recap.

I tend to avoid answering these types of very specific questions for the same reason I rarely talk about what I eat - there are just so many variables involved, especially in "how I got a certain body part to look a certain way". Before answering, I like to set up expectations and always throw out the disclaimer that no one will have the exact same results. Just a few factors that will affect your results are your genetics, form, consistency and I think even what you eat plays a factor.

Also, keep in mind, you have to lose a certain amount of fat before the muscles even become visible. I'm sure some of mine are still hidden under a layer of... extra stuff. But that's ok because even the muscles that are not visible to the naked eye are making me stronger and helping me burn calories. Did you know that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn - even at rest? This is why - typically - men lose weight faster, because they have more muscle mass.

In fact, when I first joined the gym in 2006, this was the MAIN reason I joined the gym. I thought "If I can get just a little muscle tone, I can lose weight faster" I had no intention of getting fit or healthy or strong or changing how my body looked/worked or that I'd become a cyclist or a runner. That really is what first got me to the gym - the desperate hope that if I had a tiny bit more muscle, I could lose weight faster. And I think this is important to note, again, to set up expectations: working out doesn't equate with losing every week. In fact, for the first 3 months I was on plan my weight went up and down from week to week. I did not let that discourage me though because I knew I was in it for the long haul. I knew I was doing the right things (moving and eating better) and I knew that eventually the scale would catch up. Because sometimes I'd see it in my clothes and in the mirror before it showed up on the scale. And I was ok with that. And it's why I tell you repeatedly: stop obsessing about the scale. Just work on your choices.

So even though I am often hesitant to answer these types of questions, I wanted to address it a little since it comes up fairly often. Here's the answer:

Basically I only workout my muscles once a week, and that's in a class called Total Body Conditioning. It's my favorite class! We work (I think) every major muscle group - quads, glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, calves, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders and abs. Our trainer Aynsley tells us to 'overload our muscles' - using the heaviest weights possible and doing the exercises with perfect form, but stopping when we can no longer hold perfect form. She tells us all the time that if we can finish a set, our weights are too light.

I started off doing this class with my 'heavy' weights being 5 pounds. I eventually went up to 8 pounds, then 10 pounds. And just yesterday in class I challenged myself - using 15 pound and 12 pound weights. I started off doing 1 push up, I can now do 15. I hold plank - even when she tells us to take a break I do not. I stay up there because I can! I do every thing I can in that class with the most perfect form possible because I want to get the most out of it. That class has made me stronger and I am pretty sure it completely changed how parts of my body look. I love that class and look forward to it every week.

The only other thing I think I can attribute to my arms and shoulders looking the way I do is riding my bike. That bike is 50 pounds on its own, but closer to 60 when I have my lock, bag and whatever else I'm carrying around with me. I tend to grip the handlebars pretty tight, so it's like a constant workout for my arms and shoulders.

You can see some shoulder definition when I take photos from my bike, especially in the right shoulder (the one holding the camera)-

Note: shoulder muscles!

While I'm at it, I'll very briefly address my abs as well. I get questions about them too. Quite honestly, I would never say I have good abs. But I know that occasionally something shows up in a photo that appears to be ab-like, as seen here. 
Beer & Fries: Meal of Champions!
June 18, 2011 At Nathan's in Coney Island, with beer & fries.

If you look on my left side you can see a tiny amount of oblique definition that sometimes shows up in photos. I assure you that further down my stomach I do not have any definition because there is still a lot of skin/fat. Again, as for 'what I do/did' to get this to happen? I have no idea. But I think the combination of having a fairly small rib cage/waist area (less fat) means those muscles show up a little faster for me. But as for actual oblique work, I only do about 5 minutes, once a week, in Total Body Conditioning. That's it.

So in summary - just work out, be active, and challenge yourself. In all likelihood you'll change parts of your body and wonder "Wow! How the heck did that happen?!" just like I did!


  1. Give yourself, your arms & your abs a little more credit, woman! You're doing more work and earning that definition more than you think you are.

    Keep in mind that while you may only be spending a few minutes a week doing actual concentrated ab work, the whole time you're on your bike, jogging, climbing skyscrapers, galavanting around the tri-state area, and generally kicking ass (in heels!) , your CORE is doing the majority of the work to keep you up & power your limbs :)


  2. I dont know why I have never noticed this before, but I LOVE the Boo Berry tat on your arm! :)

  3. Not an arm comment (but nice guns!)--

    That's a Yakkay helmet you're wearing, isn't it? SO cute! I have a bike fashion business in Spokane, WA (other side of the country) and hope to carry those.

    I found you because I compiled a list of women's bike blogs ( Blogs and Love your glamour and inspiration.


  4. Ive been reading your blog for a couple years now if I can remember correctly - I found you quite awhile back. You have come SO far and you are just aboslutely gorgeous and have done such an amazing thing with your body :)

  5. fabulous as always my beautiful babs! you have great arms and abs but honestly it's that glorious smile that gets me every time! thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us all! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  6. You are so beautiful! I always see your pictures and think you look great, but this is the first video I have seen and seeing you more "in person" it is striking!

  7. I love that your "ab-like" photo is you holding beer and fries! Haha. Too awesome.

  8. Great video!
    And really great arms.

  9. Shayna from San DiegoJuly 05, 2011

    Do you still do Pilates and Punk Rope and other "organized exercise?"

  10. You are doing a great job and you arms and abs look great. Love that you mention you have to lose some weight before those muscles will become visible. Too many people think that can just work a specific area and will lose weight in that area.

  11. You look fabulous! I was in a WW meeting the other day and the TM mentioned your blog to me! You are famous- even in TX! P.S. You would love it in Austin, and should you ever come, we need to go out together :)

  12. You were smart to lose your weight at the age you are now. I'm a lot older than you. I have lost about half of the weight I need to lose. My arms are still huge but they are so flabby with like the whole back half totally stretch marked out of any possible return to any kind of normalcy. it's just losse and flabby and is only going to get worse with the rest of my weight loss. If only I had done this sooner there might have been more elasticity left to the skin. It's a bummer.

  13. AnonymousJuly 06, 2011

    I love Total Body Conditioning! You should try TruDog's class on Thursday nights at Grand Central NYSC (if you are a NYSC member)

  14. I've been using 5 pound weights at home and am ready to move up to heavier ones. I'm all about the more muscle = more calorie burn (good for weight loss, and being able to eat more once at goal!) Wish I had a Total Body Conditioning class to go to - I'll start looking!

  15. AnonymousJuly 07, 2011

    You caught my eye (just like you do everyone's) but because you remind me of my best friend. You really are inspiring to us short girls. I'm 5'4" and have ran out of room to spread this. Thanks for putting yourself out there for me. :)

  16. I love your blog and I'm a guy!

    I just wanted to say I totally agree with what you said that the mirror and the fit of your clothes is just as important as the number on the scale.

    After all, we want to look and feel better, and that really has a lot more with being able to get into the clothes we like and liking the person we see in the mirror, than a random number on a scale.


  17. Great job!!! So motivating because you look great! Weight Watchers works- I did it for a month and lost 10 pounds! I gained it back of course, so I need to start it up again. after seeing you, I just might!

  18. no coments about ur header...OMG UR BLOG ITS AMAZING!!!!! Followwww you right now!!!

  19. i was like WOW! I loved your blog!
    I can't wait to be back in WW after my baby is born!

  20. I have been following you for a while girl.. I love you! you are truly inspiring and I heart your tenacity!
    Love the muscles!
    I am amazed at how our bodies "find" themselves..
    I am just noticing my colar bones.. it's awesome!
    I have lost 20 pounds on ww's so far.. I've lost 50 all together..
    I saw your story on the ww's site.. you rock girl!

  21. This morning I went to log my breakfast in my points tracker...and there you were on the WW home page!!! Your success story turned out really great!

  22. i just saw your success story up on ww! i haven't read it yet, but the picture is stunning!