Monthly Archives: December 2013

Better check yo’self before you….pants yo’self?

The past week was a super duper hectic one and my time at the gym (however short it may be some days) has been sweet respite from all of the standing in lines, running errands, and counting down to Santa that has filled the largest part of my days.

I’m still following along the same sort of plan that Jamie’s workouts outlined as best I can: a day each for legs, back, biceps, triceps and shoulders, and throwing in some abs and cardio. I also had  the opportunity (due to my car being in the shop and missing the early train to work, oops! Nothing makes you miss your mechanic Dad like having to defer to the schedule of an auto shop) to do an at-home workout. Lacking weights and any equipment other than my own body, I found the at-home workout to be less satisfying than going to the gym, but still felt better having done something. It was also funny to have my cat ‘help’ me do pushups. I ended up doing a facsimile of a workout I outlined last week: a circuit starting at 10 jumping jacks and pushups, subtracting one each time until down to zero, twenty mountain climbers, and 15 crunches (which I swapped for 15 reverse crunches half way through the circuits) for a total of 55 pushups, 55 jumping jacks, 200 mountain climbers and 75 of each type of crunch. The workout took me about 45 minutes to complete and I had the reward of showering in my own bathroom sans shower sandals which is probably the biggest motivator to do an at-home workout. If you are in a bind and can’t make it to the gym, head over to pinterest and type At Home Workouts into the search bar and take your pick!

Drop and give me twenty! Then scratch my ears...
Drop and give me twenty! Then scratch my ears…

I had a pretty difficult time with my cardio workouts this week, specifically the days I ran on the treadmill. I try to alternate between the elliptical, treadmill and stationary bike so that I don’t get bored doing the same thing over and over again. Usually this plan works out fine, but lately whenever I try to run (and sometimes on the elliptical too) I get a terrible side stitch; it seems like such a silly thing to complain about, but some days it forces me to stop and switch to the bike or simply call it a day. I’m not even certain what a side stitch actually IS (and neither is anyone else, definitively, it seems); is it a cramp or simply your body’s way of telling you that cardio is a stupid option when there are couches to sit on and cookies to eat? Whatever they are, they can really throw a wrench in your plan.

Sometimes I can get rid of my side stitch by walking for a few minutes and stretching. Friday was one of those days when I was able to take a break and resume my running pain-free, but, alas, I then experienced a problem of a different kind. Like many people, I have favorite workout clothes (I’m looking’ at YOU super slimming UnderArmour yoga pants) and not-again-I-just-wore-you-last-week-and-you-totally-sucked-why-can’t-I-remember-to-do-laundry-so-that-I-never-have-to-wear-you workout clothes. I found myself wearing the latter on Friday; a tshirt that is a little too short and a little too tight in the shoulders and a pair of yoga pants that used to be my absolute favorite until they started to shirk their duties.

These pants just will.not.stay.UP! I learned in Phase Two that they travel south when I am jumping rope, and I have noticed lately that they shimmy lower than I want when I wear them to walk my dog, but I was attributing that to my bulky winter coat pushing them down and did not realize the severity of this problem until I tried to run in them on Friday.

I started out at a slow jog, hiked up my pants as they slid down and continued  my run…only to have to hike them up again and again. After maybe the tenth time I yanked them back up, I started to time them and my pants were falling down enough that I was concerned about mooning the poor guy who was on the treadmill behind me every fifteen to twenty seconds! I’m not sure if any marketing research has been done in this area, but I’m certain that 100% of people polled would not list ‘slides down until you are showing off some sexy plumber’s crack’ as a quality they seek in exercise attire.

The faster I ran, the faster they fell down, and the higher I pulled them up. Ten minutes into my run, I was dangerously close to Steve Urkel/camel toe territory, and my pants would still not stay put. When I relayed this story to my husband and my Mom, they both thought that my pants falling down must be a good sign because maybe I’ve lost THAT much weight and they are too big for me. While that is a nice thought, there is no way that these pants should be too big for me and I actually think (as embarrassing as it is to admit) that, since I wore these pants as frequently as my laundry schedule would allow when I was at my heaviest last winter, I stretched the elastic out and it no longer has the ability to fully contract. Basically, I turned a fantastic pair of yoga pants into ‘fat’ pants and they have never been able to recover! Needless to say, the pants have been retired as lounge wear; they deserve it.

Despite my wardrobe malfunction, I powered through my run deciding it was better to look like I had a really strange nervous tic than to waste a day when I had overcome my side stitch. As Kenny Rogers, wise man that he is, once sang: you’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em, and I wasn’t going to fold on a day when pretty much everything was lining up so that I could have a great run, but I sure did do a lot of holding onto my waistband.

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time!

Dresden Striezelmarkt at night
Dresden Striezelmarkt at night

I know I’m not alone in this sentiment; I LOVE CHRISTMAS TIME! The lights, the boxes wrapped in shiny paper, the tinsel, the music (played ad nauseam in every store, but a good kind of nausea), the parties, the hot drinks, the cookies and candies… the holidays are the BEST… except that all of the rollicking festive cheer can sometimes hijack our schedules and, even with good intentions, we are sometimes forced to let our workouts slide.

Twice this week I found myself standing in line at the Post Office watching my gym time tick away while I waited to mail packages (TICK, there go the barbell 21s, TOCK, and there go the cable rows). As frustrating as it can be to have to forego planned workouts and improvise, it is still much better than not doing a workout at all especially at this time of year when it seems like the only fruits close at hand are made of marzipan and the only veggies being offered are the garnishes next to the baked brie.

On the days when I was really crunched for time this week, I made sure to do my (stress-relieving!) cardio first, and then fit in whatever weightlifting I had time for after, and on the days when I was ahead of schedule, I made myself do a full-fledged, ball-busting workout.

It's beginning to look a lot like…calories.
It’s beginning to look a lot like…calories.

Sticking to a healthy diet is the hardest at this time of year, especially in Bavaria where everything is bobbing in butter sauce or dusted with powdered sugar. At a dinner event last week, our table was discussing the inevitable weight gain that accompanies a move to Europe (almost thirty pounds in total for me!) and one man, who has lived here for a while,  says he calls it the ‘European Squishy’ which I found quite funny. In effort to avoid returning to my ‘Squishy’ state, I feel like I’m coming out ahead if I pass on a few treats and make it to the gym at least four days a week.

If the holidays are hampering your gym schedule, there are some at-home ways to get your workout in. Jumping rope is great cardio, and a jump rope is cheap and easy to store. I spotted this (painful sounding) strength workout posted on the bulletin board at my gym: 10 pushups, 10 jumping jacks, 10 lunges, 9 pushups, 9 jumping jacks, 9 lunges, 8 pushups. 8 jumping jacks, 8 lunges…all the way down to one of each exercise; this is something that can be done anywhere (even at the in-laws’ house if you are on the road for the holidays). Crunches, sit-ups, mountain climbers, squats, burpees, and long jumps (or jumps of any kind) are other things we can do without needing a gym or equipment, and, if your holidays are feeling a little too National Lampoon, going out for an afternoon jog is a fantastic excuse to snag some alone time! So even when you feel like working out is futile in the face of all the holiday goodies, remember that every little bit you do now will help you be healthier no matter what. Something is ALWAYS better than nothing when it comes to your health.

No more training wheels, uh-oh….

I DID IT! I FINISHED ALL TWELVE WEEKS OF THE LIVEFIT TRAINER! Now what???

The last day of the LiveFit trainer was sort of anticlimactic; it was simply one hour of cardio, and the fact that I had actually completed all twelve weeks didn’t sink in until the NEXT day when I got to the gym and flipped open my notebook to….an empty page.

Instead of a carefully constructed agenda for my day’s workout complete with asterisks and stars marking the supersets and active rests, I had no plan whatsoever. The possibilities were endless, and all that wide-open space to roam free was a little bit daunting. At first, I thought, “haha! See you suckers, I don’t have to BE here, I can just leave if I want, I FINISHED my twelve weeks!”, but that was a stupid thought. Why, oh WHY, would I skip out on my gym routine when I just put all that work into establishing it? Well, honestly because deciding what to do in the gym is not easy. I felt overwhelmed by all of the choices and just when I started to panic, I thought WWJD (Jamie, not Jesus)?

I realized that it was, in theory, a Legs day, and I flipped back through all of the previous Legs days and pieced together my workout based on my favorites of Jamie’s exercises, I call it Legs: Greatest Hits. While definitely not original, I ended up with a good workout and hopefully I will get more brave about designing my own. The rest of the week was much the same; I picked exercises from the LiveFit Trainer based on which body part I was focusing on each day and tried to do forty-five minutes to an hour of lifting and thirty minutes of cardio.

My schedule has gotten a little wonky with all of the festive gatherings of the holiday season, so I am taking two or even three days off from the gym in the coming weeks. In order to be consistent, I will continue to pick ala carte from Jamie’s workouts and follow her schedule as best I can through the holidays, and then I may do Phases Two and Three over again, we’ll see what the New Year brings.

This first week after finishing LiveFit was more difficult than actually doing the program. While I like having the freedom to change things around if, say, the leg press machine has a line of twenty people waiting for it, I am apprehensive about being able to design a workout that gets the job done without overdoing it. Thanks to Jamie, I have some guidelines to help me out.

Now that I’ve moved away from the circuit training featured in Weeks 11 and 12 and gone back to doing fewer reps with more weight, I realize that I have become much stronger even within the last month. For the first time, I put weights on my barbell to bench press (no joke, up until today I used only the barbell, my arms are about as useful as a T-Rex’s) and I added an extra five pounds for my squats. Even though I enter the gym feeling uncertain about the choices I have made for my workout, I usually leave feeling like Wonder Woman, and that, my friends, is pretty badass.

Tomorrow is the big day!

I made it through Thanksgiving weekend! Being in Germany, I had a bit of an easier time than most; in lieu of a traditional multi-course smorgasbord, Don and I, along with a few of our friends, went out to dinner in nearby Nuremberg. That is not to say I resisted all temptations, but, honestly, the holidays are for letting loose, enjoying time with friends and family, and enjoying the tastes of the season.

Me, enjoying some glühwein, the BEST taste of the season!
Me, enjoying some glühwein, the BEST taste of the season!

Tomorrow I will complete the FINAL day of the LiveFit Trainer! It has taken me more than twelve weeks (I believe I started on August 6th), but who is counting? I’m still very amazed that I have come this far; we’ve established the facts that I hate sweating and I’m not naturally graceful and that i’m a little on the lazy side when it comes to being physically active (I just asked Don to carry my computer over to me so that I did not have to get off the couch!), so I expected to make up some half-assed excuse part-way through the twelve weeks and quit, but I didn’t.

After tomorrow, I will be on my own again. It is tempting to start the program all over, as many have, but I think I’m going to try to fly solo for a bit. I will for sure be integrating many of the exercises that I have learned during this program (actually, I will probably be doing many of the exact same workouts, just in different sequences). I am making two promises to myself, and I am putting them out here on the inter webs for all to see so that I don’t skip out on them. Promise number one: I will do pushups at least once a week. I have to get better at these damn things; it is pathetic that I still can hardly push myself up after lowering only a couple of inches and I think it detracts from my credibility quite a bit. Promise number two: I will keep up with this ‘working-out’ thing.