And so it goes – 2014

January 2, 2014

Ah.  The obligatory – “NEW YEAR NEW ME!” post.    In all honesty – these are some of my favorite posts to read that are written by others and some of my favorite to write.  I’m a New Years Resolution junkie and am constantly bugging my friends and family with “whatcha gonna change? How are you going to change it? Huh huh huh??”  – so here goes.

2013 was a tricky one for me, it took a lot from me and my family.  So, I’ve decided that 2014 is my year.   

In the spirit of rising to the challenge, I went to town on resolutions for myself, but since this is a lengthy post as it is – I’ve decided to break down the resolutions over the next week or so, hopefully interspersed with legit posts to get back on track.  So lets start with list number 1:  probably the easiest and most relevant to this blog.  Fitness resolutions.

Fitness:

1.  Be active each day.  Whether or not its a scheduled day of training or just getting out for a long walk, doing yoga or a hike – I want to feel like I’ve moved each day.

2.  Be committed to lifting.  This year I re-discovered my love for traditional weight training and I started to put some efforts into creating an at home gym that I could  workout in, in lieu of a gym membership.   I slacked off a bit over the holidays and worked through some confusion of how to eat and train in order to get the kind of body I want.  Its a work in progress and although I have a sneaking suspicion I used it as a coping mechanism this summer, I really do enjoy lifting and have great respect for female lifters.

3.  Run 5 miles a week – that’s 260 miles in a year.  A few years back, I opted to train for races as my goals and did fairly well.  Last year, I didn’t sign up for any races and my running dropped significantly.  This year, I’m trying a new to me tactic that I’ve seen floating around before, which is set a weekly mileage goal.  Its a concrete goal that I can work for, without having something to train for specifically.  I’ve kept my goal fairly small (cough cough: attainable and maintainable cough cough:), because I know my mind’s ability to overwhelm itself when I’m thinking about too stressful of a goal.   And  since I have a hard time admitting that a few miles and not 3-4-5 miles is worth the time, I’m trying to remember that its not how I get to the goal, but that I achieve it.   In preparation for this, I bought myself some fancy new kicks to start it off right.

4.  Put at least 20 miles on the bike a month – that’s 240 miles in a year..  We have bikes.  Mine is my baby.  We have not explored the trails nearly enough to make its purchase worthwhile.  Biking is something my husband and I both truly enjoy, both by ourselves and with friends.  So this year, in an effort to get out on the bikes more, I’ve set a monthly mileage goal.  Anyone who’s hopped on a bike, know that its definitely not a difficult goal to meet and I have big plans of crushing this mileage goal.  But at the very least it’ll get us out for a weekend ride 1-2 times a month and that’s really what is most important.

5.  Incorporate Yoga and Insanity into weekly workouts.   I have a tendency to have tunnel vision when it comes to my “training”.  If I’m weight training, then I absolutely cannot replace a lifting day with a cardio day or yoga day, etc.  I also have a really hard time saying “OK well, Wednesdays are Yoga only”, because whether I’m lifting or running, its hard for me to give up a day of training, period.   But I enjoy yoga, and damn it Insanity was expensive.  So as a tie in to goal number 1 – I’d like to include more flexibility to my fitness routine, which will go a long way for making it a lifestyle habit, rather than a training for a specific goal habit.

So far – its been only a day since yesterday, so I haven’t really gotten a chance to put these resolutions into practice, although I got a head start on a few and lifted at home on Monday and Tuesday, which while not a lot – was better than nothing.  I have plans to get in a workout tonight and am thinking that an easy little run is in order. I’ve got some shiny new Nike Frees and 5 miles to get in by Sunday, eh?

So there you have it, my fitness resolutions (give or take a few).  I tried to keep them concrete and obtainable, which I think is so incredibly important for tracking progress.    I’ve got a hefty list of other resolutions that include personal, foodie and work related ideas, but they can wait for another day.

I hope everyone had a wonderful set of holidays and that they stayed relatively healthy 🙂 and here’s to 2014.

xo

 

 

 

 

 

Deck of Cards Workout

November 18, 2013

I like working out, I really do (ok, maybe not cardio so much…).  But I also like my weekends and sometimes, a workout is the last thing on my mind on a cozy rainy Sunday morning.  Just like anyone and everyone else, I can definitely struggle with motivation.  So this Sunday – I definitely was not feeling the scheduled workout, but as the day wore on – my guilt settled in, especially knowing that I really wanted to get back into the swing of things and really see some gains and the key to that – is consistency, aka – NOT skipping a workout on Sunday just because.    But I definitely wasn’t up for a full fledged workout downstairs in the chilly basement…where there was no football watching to be had.  Priorities – I gots ’em.  So I reached back to when I first started working out pretty seriously and had to travel to a friend’s house that weekend.  One of the workouts I did was called a “deck of cards” workout.   They’re pretty standard workouts, with a ton of different ways to do them.  The first time I did them, I followed Jamie Eason’s deck of cards workout and did a set of plyometric exercises, totaling the number of 3 cards to get my “number per” exercise for each exercise.  I’ve also seen workouts that incorporate two moves (say, pushups and burpees) and you assign red or black cards to each exercise.  For my workout today, I borrowed from this workout and used a different exercise for each shape.  The original workout called for trying to get through as many of the 13 card sets as possible, each number on the card dictating how many of each move you do.  I chose to up the ante a little bit and add in a second set of exercises and switch between the two for each set of 13 cards, for a total of 2 rounds per workout set and added in 20 mountain climbers at the end of each set.  I finished up the deck of cards and was definitely winded, but strangely craving more.  So after a quick break, I came up with 2 more workout sets and went for a second time.    Here’s what my final workout looked like for today:

Picture1

For the sets that required weights (squats, curls, presses, etc) I kept the weights super light, since at any given time I could be doing 20+ lifts at a time.  The rest of the exercises I did with body weight only.   To give you an idea of how this works – one of my card draws for Workout 3 looked like this.

unnamed

I stuck to the original number values of

J= 11, Q = 12, K = 13 and Ace = 14 (there are no jokers in the deck for this!).  So that was 23 lunges per leg, 12 tricep extensions, 12 upright rows, 2 + 10 jumping jacks, 10 upright rows, 9 lunges per leg, 28 upright rows, 2 + 22 jumping jacks and finally rounded out the set with 20 mountain climbers.   After this workout, I pulled another 13 cards and did repeated for Workout #4, switching between the 2 for a total of 2x per workout (i.e. the entire deck of cards, sans jokers).   Excluding the small break, the whole thing probably took me close to 45-50 minutes.

It may not seem like a lot, but as you work through each set and keep the pace up, you are definitely winded by the end of workout.  Especially when you get the higher pulls like 23, 24, etc.

I finished up feeling proud  that I had at least put in some time getting my heart rate up and I especially appreciated the change of pace.  Not to mention a chance to catch some Football in the process 🙂

Hope ya’ll had a healthy weekend!

xo

disclaimer:  I am not a licensed fitness professional or trainer – this is a workout I designed for myself and felt comfortable doing given my level of experience with weight lifting.  Please only pursue workouts that YOU are comfortable with and are appropriate to your level of fitness.  The great thing about workouts is that they can be tailored to anyone’s skill level!

My 100%

November 15, 2013

I read somewhere once that you should always give 100% everyday to whatever it is you’re doing.  But the kicker, is that what is your 100% one day may be nowhere near your 100% the next day.

That, I have found – is so so true.

The good news is that my trip to the dentist was remarkably uneventful – I say remarkably, because the level of sensitivity and pain in my teeth was enough to have me double over at different points in the day.  If you know me, you know my tolerance for dental pain is also pretty dang high.  I’m not being a hero, rather the opposite.  I hate going to the dentist, so I have adapted to tolerate almost any level of pain in order to avoid it.  Case in point:  I let an abscessed tooth go for over at least a year – and I’m willing to bet longer than that.  So I put on my brave face and called up the dentist.  Turns out – the pain wasn’t an abscessed tooth, but in all probability a nasty sinus infection that I’d been fighting off for a few weeks now, that suddenly decided it wanted to be BFFs with the nerves running to my teeth.  Thanks for that.

So – while the dentist was thankfully uneventful (I did stay for my cleaning though! Gotta be better about these things.), i’m still left fighting off this sinus infection that isn’t symptomatic enough to warrant antibiotics, but pesky enough to make this blast of cold weather we’re having one of the most painful to date.  I try to keep my medication overload to a minimum, choosing instead to fight unhealthy with healthy.  But my efforts have certainly been a bit subpar to my normal standards.

So this week, my 100% looked like significantly lower intensity workouts and zero traditional cardio (the movement set my teeth throbbing).    I lifted far less weight than I normally would aim for.  But I worked out.   And I attempted to have nutritious and healthy balanced meals each night.  Sometimes, my 100% was a bowl of soup, but soup with greens and protein.  Sometimes, like last night, my 100% looked like a heaping bowl of pasta, a beer and NO workouts.  Turns out, I’d been blaming a lack of motivation and will power when it was probably my body saying “‘scuse me, but you’re sick, yo”, ok and maybe a little bit of lack of will power 🙂

Yes, I probably could have pushed a little more this week, but in the end – I would’ve been even more miserable than I already was.  I am proud that I got in my workouts and plan to keep on getting them in.  I’m ok that I have to modify them right now, because its not the end all be all of workouts and it feels better to do something than nothing.  And eventually, when I’m feeling better, the workouts will ramp back up.  But for now, this girl just wants to sleep! Its reassuring and kind of cool to be able to acknowledge a mental progression of sorts.  A year ago, I would’ve been so angry with myself for not putting in a full workout I had planned.    Growing up is cool.

Happy weekending y’all!

xo

 

At home vs At the Gym

November 11, 2013

Man is this post long over due….

I “recently” (cough cough: early October: cough cough) spent some time out in Salt Lake City, Utah for work and while I was there, I had the pleasure of some of the best vegan food I’ve had in a long time and even managed to not step foot in a Starbucks once the entire time I was there (A staple for conference goers everywhere…), choosing to explore the local breakfast and coffee options instead, a personal accomplishment of mine.

On top of all of that, I had serious first for me, which was being dedicated enough to a workout to take advantage of a hotel gym to keep up with my scheduled sessions.    Since it was the first time I’ve set foot in a gym other than my basement for the first time since February, I thought it’d be fun to compare my experiences between the two.

First things first: Cardio. 

I have a treadmill at home, but the week I was in Utah was the first that my training program was adding some medium intensity cardio back into the mix.   There are a few things that I came to realize.

1.  Never underestimate the value of a good quality treadmill.  I have my brothers hand-me-down treadmill in my basement, for which I am extremely grateful.  But its a rickity and wobbly machine that doesn’t have proper incline control (read:  none at all).  But I think the most important thing I realized while in Utah, is that good treadmills are a bit softer on the knees.   For 3 days in a row, I banged out solid cardio sessions which were enjoyable and a good workout and I was actually a bit sorry to see the time end.  Compare that to at home, where its painful, sluggish and slow.  Lesson learned, a) get outside and run b) save up for a decent treadmill (sure beats fighting for one at the gym!).

2.  Somewhat related to being on the treadmill, is the fact that I was willing to be on a treadmill.  One of the reasons I first started running is embarrassingly non-inspirational.  I waltzed into my apartment gym ready to elliptical my little heart out.  The only problem?  No ellipticals were free.  No problem, I’d just hop on a bike and work out (steadfastly avoiding that treadmill), but they were full also.  Strangely, the row of treadmills was empty, but people will milling about stalking ellipticals like it was their job.  So instead of wasting my time, I reluctantly got on a treadmill (and voila! A blog was born…).  The moral of this story?  Is I saw my previous self walk into that gym every.morning.   The amount of eyerolling, foot stomping and exasperated sighing that I witness simply because the ellipticals were occupied was both amusing and disheartening.  I was suddenly very grateful that I had the ability to work out in so many different ways.

Next up – LIFTING.

Oh man. I didn’t think I’d ever miss weight lifting machines as much as I have in the past few months.  I love free weights and will forever believe they are the best form of lifting.  But lately I’ve felt a bit limited with the exercises I can safely do (like heavier weights for squats), or even think about about doing (lat pulldowns, leg press, etc).  There are some quick fixes, hamstring curls/leg extensions with dumbbells etc, or front/hack squats to replace the quad targeting for leg extensions, but I have been absolutely missing targeting my back muscles or incline exercises.  Funny though, while it was really nice to use those machines (and do a proper pull up/chin up, I managed to eek out 3-5 each time (leg kicking and all), after which a separate gym goer promptly walked over and banged out about 30 without breaking a sweat – sigh.), I found I missed simple things, like my squat bar (seriously, what gym doesn’t have a barbell.   I also had the pleasure of a workout partner for the week.  Which came in VERY handy after spending hours wandering around a city and eating delicious food.  Sometimes a little outside influence is necessary 🙂

I came back thoroughly proud of my workout dedication and extremely burnt out.  As I worked through some minor jet lag and general conference/travel exhaustion, the last thing I wanted to do was prep meals, wander downstairs after work and lift  heavy.  I took a glance over my workout logs (another reason I am super glad I kept them) and realized that it had been about 7 weeks straight of very intense lifting, 5-6 days a week.  For someone who’s used to those workouts, it starts to be second nature, but for this little gal, it was definitely time for a breather.   I also glanced over my food logs and was a bit skeptical of the amount of calories I was taking in (and with the lack of cardio in the first part of the program, not burning off as much).  I did a few more calculations and reading and came to the conclusion that I was probably taking in about 500 more calories than I truly needed, which would explain my overall discontent with body image and feeling sluggish.  I was so focused on protein and carb ratios, that I completely overlooked my veggie intake also.  Instead of my clothes fitting better, they were beginning to feel a bit too tight.  Oops.  So for the 2 weeks or so after my conference, I worked out moderately, but really focused on not focusing too much on the diet. I ate what felt healthy (and much much lighter).   My natural caloric intake came back down to a far more reasonable intake amount and I now feel a TON better.  After a few days of 100% no workout rests, I kept up my workouts, but instead of 5-6 days a week, I cut back to 3-4 days a week and kept the weights a little lighter.    Slowly but surely I’m working myself through the burnt out phase.  I’m keeping an eye on inspirational sources and trusting my food instincts a lot more, instead of focusing just on numbers.  Certainly nothing groundbreaking, the body is this crazy thing that requires a lot of fine tuning when it comes to workouts.  So its just a general moving forward and tweaking as I go.  Which I’m proud of doing, rather than saying “nope! not for me, peace out, workouts!”

Now that I’m starting to feel a little more inspired, I’m beginning to pay a little more attention to my at home gym.  I’m still not convinced that I need a gym membership, so I thought I’d give a peek into how I’m getting through some hurdles I’ve found.

The Squat Rack

The Squat Rack

My biggest concern  when working out at home is safety, especially since I workout solo without spotters.  As my weights for squats went up, the need for a “squat rack” became pretty apparent.  I have two sets of 10 lb weights, a set of 5s and a set of 20s.  And anything above 25 lbs it gets a little sketchy trying to clean and press the bar on to my neck (body pumpers will know this move).  So the solution, was this rack.  It puts the bar just below shoulder height for me, so that I can easily get under the bar and not have to worry about getting the weights up and over my head.

My "incline" set up

My “incline” set up

One of the staples of weight lifting, is to target the same muscles from different angles.  Think, regular bench press vs an incline bench press. The above set up is my quick fix for any incline exercises until I get a bench that can be adjusted for different angles.  Its just my exercise ball propped against an old fridge (or wall, etc) in the basement.  Its definitely not perfect, but it works for now.

Exercise bands

Exercise bands

My last quick fix so far is the use of exercise bands for exercises like tricep pushdowns or seated rows.  The above set up is what I use for the pushdowns, if I’m doing a row, I wrap the bands around a pillar instead of a ceiling beam (which incidentally is also where I try to build up to some efficient pull ups).   The obvious downside to this fix is the lack of added weight resistance.  I do find with the tricep pushdowns that if I’ve worked my arms out hard enough previous to this exercise that the bands will be extremely sufficient in fatiguing the muscles.  But for the rows, lat pull downs, etc, I usually end up wishing I had more weight to pull.  I usually try to find different exercises that target the same muscles that use dumbbells instead.

So there you have it – that’s the current state of my at home gym, with a pretty decent set of dumbbells to go with.  I’m happy with what I’ve pulled together so far, but next up on the list is definitely a proper pull up bar, a bench and I’ve seen a few online tutorials for putting together a lat pulldown machine.  I also think I’d like to seriously look into a decent treadmill or elliptical machine.  Its definitely not perfect and I absolutely miss the amenities of a fully equipped gym, but I also don’t miss waiting for a machine (cardio or otherwise) and the added few steps of working up the motivation to get out of the house and to the gym.   Plus, you can’t beat having 2 four-legged furry workout buddies to keep you company!

Happy Monday ya’ll!

xo

p.s. How is it the 2nd full week of November already?? I’ve been doing my daily “I”m grateful for…” but keeping it private, in a little notebook that I carry with me everyday.  I’ve really been enjoying the practice and plan on keeping it up even after November is done.

p.p.s.  Thank you so much to whoever nominated me for the Mobbies ( A Baltimore based Blog award).  I’m super sorry I haven’t been too timely with posts lately.  The above mentioned burnout recovery involved some nights of complete self reflection.

 

 

A healthier December

December 4, 2012

So, um – yum?  Cheesy kale, roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms with ume vinegar and a mix of lentils and baked beans…My first attempt at cheesy kale, and getting back on the whole foods, semi-macrobiotic diet train.  Oh how i’ve missed you plate full of veggies, beans and grains!image

For the month of December, i’ve decided to consciously make a healthy decision instead of the unhealthy alternative each day.  I’ve been in a bit of a workout/healthy living slump lately and I can’t exactly figure out why. 

Arguably my cardio has waned since my last few races over the summer.  And now, suddenly, I’m finding my love of Bodypump is starting to taper off also.  There are more than a few reasonable points of explanation for this, which  I found myself thinking about instead of going back to sleep yesterday morning after deciding I wasn’t going to head in to class…(sigh). 

1.  Getting up at 5 in the morning is just not appealing to me right now.  Its not enough sleep, its not enjoyable to get ready in the dark and stumble out the door and rush to the gym.  And I’ve found I missed having my (albeit short) morning with Brandon. 

2.  The benefits are no longer what they used to be.  Yes, the class did help me to tone up and yes, it provided variety and a sense of accomplishment and comraderie during a time that I didn’t have that at all when I was working.  It filled that void, but I’m finding that maintaining tone, is not the same as building muscle definition, which is something i’ve been looking for more of lately.  As for the sense of accomplishment and comraderie, well – since changing positions at work, I’m a lot more satisfied in that department these days. 

3.  Watching people do the lifts so blatantly wrong, and not be corrected for it was irking me to no end.  I realize that the instructors probably aren’t allowed to say much, but that doesn’t stop it from bothering me.

So,  my conclusion, is to take these feelings to heart and forgo the body pump class for awhile.  I’m not saying I won’t go back every now and again, but right now, I’ve found myself leaning towards the more traditional style of lifting, heavier weights, fewer reps – which I’ve always enjoyed.  I had started my own collection of weights awhile back and am looking to expand on that in the next year or so and really get back into developing lifting routines for myself that are challenging and fun. 

Which leads me to my healthy decisions thus far for December:

Over the weekend, while grocery shopping, I put the quick and easy solutions for snacks and breakfast back on the shelf and promised myself I’d get back into making my own food, instead of opening up the box sitting on the pantry shelf.  The result?  A fun and new holiday twist on some baked oatmeal i’m excited to share soon.

And now, yesterday’s healthier choice:  You already know I didn’t go to bodypump yesterday morning.  But what I did do – is come home and work my way through a solid lifting routine with my own weights at home.  Here’s what I did:

lunge w/ single arm shoulder press and leg lift combo ( 3×10 per side, I shamelessly copied this move from www.fitsugar.com)

Rolling side planks for 2 minutes (again, fitsugar.com

Squat with hammer curls (3×10)

Oblique tricep pushup (3×10 per side, fitsugar.com)

Chest fly with v-crunch (3×10, fitsugar.com – is there a pattern here??)

Single leg dead lifts (3×10)

It was tough to get through, but felt great afterwards and this morning too.  I’m not sore or achy, but can definitely tell I lifted.  With these conscious efforts to eat healthier and get back into a solid workout routine, I’m hoping to stave off any impending “MUST LOSE WEIGHT AND GET BACK TO THE GYM New Years Resolutions” 🙂

xo

 

A thank you

August 21, 2012

This is the only evidence I have to share with you, of Sunday night’s perfect end to a great weekend.  Vegan Grilled Cheese with some spicy peanut eggplant soup, from Veganomicon  Well, sort’ve.  I adapted it a bit, the most obvious being I pureed mine with an immersion blender to make it “creamy”.  Its pretty amazing what eggplant can do for a soup without having to add any sort of milk to it.  But I digress.

The perfect ending to a great weekend.  And a tasty lunch addition for the next day 🙂

Also.  EXCITING NEWS – I finally have something to share in the world of workouts! Ready?

 

ow.

 

Profound, yes?

Seriously though.  I used the momentum of my satisfaction from this weekend and carried it into the start of my week this week.  Yesterday morning I was up and out the door in time to make it for my 6 am body pump class.  Getting up was pretty sucky, but being there was anything but.  Oh, i’m not saying I won’t pay for it – because I am.  S.O.R.E.    But its a good sore.  Its a satisfying sore.  Its accompanied by the complete contentment that comes with putting in  a great workout, starting your day and your WEEK off the right way.  Its the trade off for feeling bad ass in the morning and empowered and unapologetically happy for the rest of the day.   Don’t ever offer to take this sore away from me, it reminds me I can still work hard and it reminds me that I still have to work hard.

I’d like to say I got back to this point on my own.  I’d like to say that I never got away from this point.    What I WILL say is thank you.  Thank you for relentlessly going to the gym each day, for being proud of your workouts, for getting in those longest runs of your life.   You’ve truly been an inspiration.

xo

 

This little girl is s.i.c.k. 😦 Or something like it.  I’ve been nursing a sore left neck/face for the past few days and its getting a little better, we’ve moved on from super sore to a little numb?  Weird.   In all honesty, I think i’d prefer the full on sore to the numb.  Lots of rest today!

 

This weekend we FINALLY worked our way back to Lancaster to pick up the two little four legged creatures.

 

 

Clearly they are thrilled to see us.

We also got to say hi to this sweet little thing, who has recently adopted Brandon’s parents.

Ladylike: youz doin it wrong.

 

And of course no weekend at home is complete without the requisite “mom you cooked too much” dinner.

Fruit, baked beans, asparagus, corn on the cob, veggie salads and a Field Roast sausage for me, yum! The best part about these dinners are that we somehow seem to acquire the leftovers!? 😀  Darn…

As for my Marathon Monday update…

I have been  L.A.Z.Y.  Does that count as a legitimate training week??   To be fair, vacation was last week and there was a LOT of walking and two bike rides, one 15 miler and a 25 miler.  So that counts for SOME cross training, but as far as miles logged on the road or treadmill – yikes.    Its probably been a good 1.5-2 weeks since i’ve pounded the pavement and there’s no excuse other than I just didn’t.  It was way too hot to safely and effectively run outside.  When you’re breaking 90 by the early AM, its not the time to run.  Luckily its supposed to cool off this week, so I’m ready to get back into it.

I was supposed to go to Body Pump this morning, but with the issues I’ve been having lately with the muscle fatigue, lack of sleep and soreness, I opted to try and get a little more rest – because I didn’t want to hinder, rather than help recovery.  I did feel guilty enough to fit in a small lifting workout this morning at home instead though.  Doing 3×10 sets with heavier weights for squats, tricep and bicep work and some shoulder work. I finished off with some dead lifts and  I threw in a few plank sets too for good measure.   It wasn’t a complete body workout like I love to get with Pump, but sometimes its nice to get some heavier lifting in too.  Plus, despite not making it to class, i still managed to get in a fairly decent lifting workout for the day.  Now…who wants to motivate me to start running?? 🙂

xo

 

ps – Hail storm in the middle of a heat wave?  Ca-ray-zy.