Monthly Archives: July 2014

Summer [Boot] Camp!

I survived the first week of Boot Camp, and between the crazy hot temperatures and a staffing debacle at work, it is actually kind of miraculous. Per the usual, I woke early on Monday morning to muddle through my daily dog walk, a little studying for my online classes, and a quick ride with my four-hooved friend before the start of Boot Camp, and I was getting a bit nervous about what to expect from the class. I’m probably not the only one who, prior to entering a new fitness class, is gripped with panic that she’ll be in way over her head and struggle to keep up with everybody else in the class who is on the same level of fitness as Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. Fortunately, that was not the case and the class is composed of moderately fit people who, like me, are looking for ways to stay engaged with exercising and become a little more fit.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

The Boot Camp, so far, features circuits of body-weight strength exercises. I think that this was an insightful decision made by the instructor because not only are circuits great for strengthening your cardiovascular system without doing traditional cardio exercises like running or ellipticizing*, but these ones are also good take-away exercises that you can do anywhere. I think both of these things are important for maintaining a fitness regime; lets be completely honest with ourselves: cardio is boring. Unless you have deep thoughts you want to sort through, getting up the motivation to head out for a long run is kind of hard, so, on the days when you do not have any deep thoughts (or maybe don’t want to be left alone with the ones you DO have), circuit training is a great way to do cardio and strength training simultaneously, and the cardio is sneaky because, with the distraction of the exercises, you hardly notice you’re doing it. It is also important, in order to maintain a dedication to fitness, to be learning exercises that require only our bodies and about six square feet of space to accomplish; you can do these exercises when on vacation in a hotel room, in your office on a lunch break, or even in your house should another Polar Vortex snow you in this coming winter. No excuses!

I must confess that I made it to only two out of the three Boot Camp classes I had hoped to attend this week (I mentioned a staffing debacle at work; it also made me miss my Tuesday morning Spin class, is this a situation where I should use a hashtag? #firstworldproblems), but the class has a Facebook group where Sarah, our teacher, can post the daily workouts, and I was able to complete the one I missed on my own although it wasn’t as fun as doing it in a group (no one to commiserate with). Overall, I think I’m doing alright in the Boot Camp. I was reintroduced to my archenemy the burpee (I haven’t done a single one since it was mandated by Jamie Eason) and found them more manageable. Pushups I’ve come to terms with, and we were introduced to squats of all shapes, sizes, and colors. There were jumping squats, there were power squats, pulsing squats, wall-sits, and walking squats, and my buns were super sore the next day. On Fridays, we do a fitness test so we can keep track of our progress, another great motivator, and this Friday, Sarah treated us to some water with an inspirational message taped to it (see photo above) to celebrate the end of week one.

Post-Boot Camp lunch, salad bar with tofu I brought from home. Protein me up!
Post-Boot Camp lunch, salad bar with tofu I brought from home. Protein me up!

Another thing about the Boot Camp that I really like is Sarah’s teaching style. She demonstrates all of the exercises and makes sure to give us pointers on our form when we get sloppy, and she doesn’t say stupid things like “think about that bikini” to motivate us. When you are far away from the size you feel like would look good in a bikini, comments like that can be deflating. Instead, I’ve heard her say “this is YOUR workout, make it count”, and this is great because it puts the onus on us. Even though we may feel like our biceps are about to burst, why not do two more push-ups? We’ve carved out this bit of time during our day to devote to our health, why not make the most of it?

Taking rest day to the max.
Taking rest day to the max.

Last week’s classes have me really looking forward to the weeks to come. I’m excited to see how much progress I make, particularly in running (yes, we did do some traditional cardio because, well, it’s necessary and some weirdos people really like it). Running outside is not my forte, and last week it felt extra hard, so I’m hoping it starts to feel a little less hard. This weekend, I had a super duper, much needed rest day on Saturday (complete with some Bourbon Slush Punch from Smitten Kitchen) and today I spent some time at the pool and got some good laps in. I feel ready to take on Monday and whatever Sarah has in store for our Boot Camp class.

 

*I might have made this word up

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Swimtastic

First one in the pool!
First one in the pool! Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Lately, on weekends, Don and I have been swimming laps at our local pool (auf Deutsch: Schwimmbad). We (mostly me) like to get there early to beat the crowds of other lap swimmers; Don would probably be content to sleep in and deal with the crowds, but I prefer to exercise in uncongested areas where I don’t run the risk of swimming into somebody. Also, (and I know that this is probably irrational but if it is not and there are studies or tests proving me right, please don’t tell me about them), I feel like the more crowded the pool is, the dirtier the water is. Maybe it’s because I grew up swimming in a lake and therefore believe that all forms of outdoor swimming are far superior to pool swimming, but pools kind of gross me out. Probably when you think about all of the bird and turtle poop, fuel from boats, dead fish, and seaweed that is most likely in a lake, the lake water is dirtier than the pool, but I cannot reconcile my beliefs with this and I get a little panicky when some pool water (or as I think of it, Human Soup) accidentally gets in my mouth or up my nose.

This weekend, I managed to be the very first person in the water! It really set my irrational fears at ease. Don’t ask me how far I swam because I don’t bother to keep track of my laps. Instead, I just swim laps at a comfortable pace until I get tired or bored (yesterday it was about 70 minutes of swimming), and then I go sit in the hot tub and let my muscles take a break.  I intentionally don’t keep track of my laps for a couple of reasons one being that I just don’t care, and the other being that I like the mental break from trying to push myself further.

My new suit
My new suit

Growing up on a lake, swimming was never a structured activity governed by time constraints and, after a week of trying to run just a little farther or just a little faster, or lift a little heavier, or trying to squeeze one last set of repetitions in, I enjoy not having the pressure of going a certain distance in a certain amount of time while swimming. It not only gives my body a break from normal workout wear & tear, but it also gives my mind a break from trying to make myself be ‘better’.

Starting the day with a swim yesterday (a steamy, sunny, summer day), was just the ticket. It was refreshing and I got to wear my new TYR swimsuit for its inaugural swim, and afterward, since it has been too hot lately to eat any heavy food, I whipped up a yummy Watermelon salad for lunch (you can get the Food Network recipe here) that was both healthy and hydrating with juicy watermelon, cool cucumber, fresh mint and a little feta. I’m looking forward to eating the leftovers for dinner tonight! Tomorrow morning, I begin my first day of Boot Camp. I’m still not sure what it will entail, but I hope I’m prepared.

Watermelon-Cucumber salad with mint
Watermelon-Cucumber salad with mint

 

H 2 the izz-O

A few weeks ago, I was having trouble motivating myself in my workouts. Even on days when I walked into the gym with an interesting plan and the ambition to really ‘kill it’, that ambition would peter out not long after my workout began. At first, I blamed it on the post-vacation blahs. You know the feeling; you have a fantastic time in a new place, eating wonderful food and seeing wonderful things, and when you return home, everything seems so ordinary and a little boring in comparison. When the ‘blahs’ started to drag on a little too long, I reconciled myself to the fact that, in addition to missing the sweet freedom of vacation, the temperature here in Germany had risen drastically while I was out of town and my body just hadn’t had time to adjust.

Then, the temperature dipped back down into comfortable sweatshirt weather and I-just-got-back-from-the-BEST-vacation became I-had-a-really-fabulous-vacation-a-couple-weeks-ago and I still was having a hard time finding my groove. Everything in the gym felt difficult to do; I wasn’t able to lift as much weight, I was running more slowly and for shorter distances and spending less time at the gym in general, and I was baffled as to why. I was eating well, sleeping well, and, I thought, getting enough fluids.

It wasn’t until I started to consistently get headaches in the afternoons following my lackluster workouts that I realized maybe I was not well hydrated. I had increased the amount of water I was drinking, but I guess not enough to keep up with the amount I was losing and the super high temperatures. I started making it a point to drink lots of water and a little Gatorade throughout the day (I use the powdered Gatorade so that I can dilute it a little more), and now things are back to normal.

We’ve got to watch out for dehydration in the summer, especially when we are exercising. We lose even more through sweat and respiration when it is hot and humid than we do during the cooler months (because, duh, we sweat more and breathe harder when it is hot out. I don’t why this wasn’t obvious to me!?), and we must be sure we are replacing those fluids in order for our bodies to function properly and replacing them with things that actually hydrate us. A Dunkin Donuts Iced Latte may be a refreshing treat, but the caffeine and sugar it contains dehydrate us further, the same goes for sodas. Nothing does the job better than good, old fashioned, H2O.

Now that I’ve watered myself enough, I’m feeling FANTASTIC and am making up for my lazy days of being under-hydrated. In addition to my normal weightlifting/cardio routine, I’ve started to step up my running a bit more with some interval training and have added some sporadic swimming into the mix. In another week or so, I will be starting a fitness Boot Camp (as opposed to a weightloss Boot Camp) at my gym. The gal working at the front desk when I signed up didn’t have much information on the Boot Camp (she was on vacation when it was presented and it was her first day back when I signed up), so I actually do not know anything about it other than it is focused on fitness improvement. I could probably ask about it again, but I think I’m going to let it be a mystery and see what fun (and pain, probably some pain) awaits me. In the meantime, I’m going to stay hydrated and get a dose of fitness inspiration from tonight’s World Cup game (Deutschland v/s Argentina for the big one, Schwarz, Rot, Gold, all the way!).

 

This cat is getting ahead of his hydration needs