Monthly Archives: August 2014

Quick & Dirty

Today was a rainy, dreary day, perfect for being glued to the couch, and I managed to resist the temptation to remain pajama-clad from breakfast to bedtime, but just barely. After my ride this morning, I wanted nothing more than to drive straight home and curl up with my dog and cat and a good book. I managed to talk myself into going to the gym as planned by doing one of the short but sweaty workouts from the Boot Camp.

Sweatpants!
Sweatpants!

This workout is perfect for when you’re pressed for time or when you’d just rather be anywhere but at the gym, and I thought I’d share it with you.

The Quick & Dirty:

For one minute each: Jump Rope, Push-ups, Jog in place, Side Shuffle, Burpees, Wall Sit, Plank Walks, Squat, Mountain Climbers, Plank Jacks, Plank.

Then: Sprint 30 seconds, Jog 30 seconds (4x)

Finally: Sit Backs (2s 10), Russian Twists (2s 10), In and Outs (15), Walking Plank 30 seconds, Reverse Crunch (2s 10)

From start to finish, this took me an hour to complete. While it isn’t super strenuous, it is enough to work up a sweat and get your heart pumping. Not only did I get to check ‘go to the gym’ off of my list, but I also got to spend much of my day in sweatpants; I believe this is called a win-win situation. Keep this workout in your repertoire for those days when you’d just rather not but really think you should. That’s all for now; I have a dog who has been waiting all day for a break in the rain to go on his walk, and since it has slowed to a drizzle, we are going to seize the moment!

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Ask not what your body can do for you, but what you can do for your body: Fitness when under the weather

This week seemed endless. I woke Monday morning with a stuffy nose that by Wednesday had progressed to a full blown sinus infection and, in doing so, halted my time at the gym in its tracks.

Monday and Tuesday’s workouts were pretty good despite my inability to breathe (Tuesday featured a return of the Tough Mudder intervals I posted here), but on Wednesday, with my head pounding and sinuses full of snot, I decided the healthiest thing to do would be to call it a day and revisit the gym once this cold was vanquished.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that your body can’t fight two battles at once; it wasn’t fair of me to expect my body to be able to dedicate its energy reserves to both fighting back against an upper respiratory malady and building better muscles. Neither was it fair to expect other gym goers to want to share equipment with me in the diseased condition I was in.

Despite having quarantined myself from the gym and vowing to take it easy, I made sure to stay limber by continuing my daily dog walks and doing some at home stretchy-yoga workouts. Now I am feeling like a fully-functioning human again, I’ve done a little meal preparation to make my mornings go smoothly and am ready to ease back into my routine, the dumbbells are calling!

Made it to the top of the hill! Jack isn't really into selfies.
Made it to the top of the hill! Jack isn’t really into selfies.

Making it Work

 

I didn’t get to finish the Boot Camp.

A couple of weeks ago (halfway into the Boot Camp), my friend from work dislocated her ankle (OUCH! Watch out for those high heels, gals!) and I was asked to work full-time while she recovered. Since there are only three of us who work in the library, it came down to either making a selfish decision for my own benefit (saying “no” and maintaining all of my glorious free time), or making a decision that would benefit the libraries as a whole, my other coworker and myself. I generally prefer to make choices that are for the greater good, so I traded in my Boot Camp, Spin classes, and Monday morning ride for the chance to make a little more money and the sanity of my friends at the library.

I wasn’t happy about it, and I tried to think of ways that I could have my cake and eat it too (If I go to just half the Boot Camp class I won’t have time to shower but I could wear a hat all day and maybe nobody would notice…yeah right), but there just wasn’t a good way to do it. I am fortunate, however, that the Boot Camp class has a Facebook group and the daily workouts have regularly been posted there. Since I have limited time in the mornings to get to the gym before work and after my dog walk, and these workouts are designed for a one-hour timeframe, they have been just the ticket for getting in a productive sweat session in a teeny-tiny amount of time.

These workouts are pretty tough! Actively doing one is a special sort of misery- the sort where your heart rate skyrockets and sweat drips into your eyes- but when I’ve completed one, I feel pretty bad-ass. Doing them on my own, obviously, isn’t the same as doing them in class; I miss the pleasant camaraderie of commiserating with the other gals as we wonder if we will make it through the hour, but I still enjoy the workouts despite my solitary suffering.

Even finishing just half of the Boot Camp, I learned a few things. The most important thing that I’m taking away from the class is that a ‘good’ workout doesn’t have to take all day. Often, whenever I was short on time, I’d let myself off the hook and do something easy like pedal the elliptical for half an hour thinking that with limited time at the gym, there was no way I could do anything productive. But really, it doesn’t have to take take three hours or even two to have a fulfilling workout. In fact, it doesn’t even have to take a full hour; once, last week, I got through one circuit of a two-circuit workout and realized that I was out of time, and, even though I technically only did half of a workout, I still was tired, sweaty and out of breath- my muscles had no idea they hadn’t done a full workout!

What is important to remember about exercise is that some is better than none (unless you are injured, then sit down, for crying out loud!), and an hour of hard core circuit training will give you WAY more bang for your buck than an hour of walking on the treadmill. My new philosophy on these days when I have less than 100 minutes to stretch, exercise and shower is: go big, or go home. There really isn’t a good excuse for not having the time to work out; in about one hour (and I know I probably spend at least an hour each day on Pinterest and Facebook), it is completely possible to get the heart pumping, the lungs puffing, and the sweat flowing. Coincidentally, many of the Neila Rey workouts take about an hour to accomplish if you set your sights on level three, so, go on and take them for a test drive… you know you wanna!

 

 

“Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes… how do you measure a year?”

cupcake

 

Today my blog turns one!

This means that one year ago I become fully committed to reconciling my lifestyle with the needs of my body, and, to insure that I remained accountable and put my money where my mouth is, as the saying goes, I decided to make this attempt at better health and fitness a very public spectacle. One year later, I have a better understanding of what it means to be “fit,” a lengthy list of personal achievements, goals to work toward, a sense of belonging to a community of health-conscious, supportive people, and no regrets.

I have Jamie Eason and a too-tight dress to thank for getting me kickstarted on the road to healthy living, and while some things will probably never change (I still hate sweating even though I make sure to do it on an almost daily basis), I’m super proud of the things that have changed. I’m more confident in the things my body can do and I rely less on the mirror for feedback and more on how I feel. This is not to say that I don’t want to look good  or that I’m not checking out how my jeans make my butt look when I get dressed each morning, but I’m placing a higher emotional value on things like the fact that my rock-hard quads allow me to squat almost 75 pounds and that my overall fitness has improved so that I could conquer this workout (see below) on Tuesday than I am on whether or not I look like Emma Watson (FYI, I do not).

This comes to me from my Boot Camp instructor, Sarah.
Round 11: go into cardiac arrest in a pool of your own sweat. I snagged this bad boy from my Boot Camp instructor, Sarah. I felt like I was going to die, but I did it.

This year has presented some opportunities that I may not have chosen to accept in the past. I had always wanted to try a Spinning class, but had been too intimidated to actually do it because I was concerned that I wouldn’t be ‘good’ at it. I finally tried it and Spinning has become my favorite cardio workout, and, come to find out, it requires no special skills- it is riding a bike without the need for balance or steering, go figure. Prior to this year, I would not have considered signing up for a Boot Camp especially one that was advertised as means of “stepping up your average hour of hard work” (I have grass-burn on my elbows from so much planking), but I mustered up the courage to sign up (even before I found out that one of my friends was also signed up- I was willing to go it alone!) and have been grateful that I did. I’m learning a lot about proper form and getting quite a few ideas to spice up my normal workout routine on a day to day basis.

One year later, I’m still not a Fitness Freak and I doubt that I ever will be. I’d rather curl up on the couch with a good book than lace up my sneakers and do some sweating and if I could manage to live on a diet of cheese and cake without my arteries exploding, I totally would. I still look up to the Fitness Freaks in my life and see them as sources of inspiration in the way that people see Mother Teresa as a source of inspiration- we’ll never be exactly that committed to the cause, but it’s nice to know that someone is and that, if we were willing to put in a lot more work, we could maybe come close- but I’m not yet ready to declare a love for anything exercise related (although Spinning would be the number one candidate for a passionate declaration of love), and I’m still not interested in subscribing to a specific diet (I have learned the importance of eating sensibly, but I’m not bidding the bakery on the corner adieu any time soon).

I’m assuming the first year of making big life changes like the ones I’ve made is the hardest year. I have hopes that everything will become even easier, that I won’t have to remind myself that I’m supposed to eat nine servings of vegetables per day and not nine servings of Ben & Jerry’s, or that going for a jog outside will start to feel more natural and less like an excursion onto an alien planet where I can’t breathe the air or maneuver across the terrain. My goals for the past year were essentially to take control of my health and to trim down so that I could fit back into my clothes, and I can confidently say that those goals were attained. In the upcoming year, I’m hoping to make peace with running and to greatly improve the strength of my cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and I’m also hoping to continue to enjoy my workouts and feel as much pride for the small milestones as I do for the big ones.

When I look back over my year, I see how much progress I’ve made. It used to be a struggle to do ten pushups (even if I did them on my knees), and a few weeks ago I did a workout that called for 176 pushups and I did them all the ‘real’ way. I once measured my runs in minutes and could’t go much faster than a 12 minute mile, now I measure them in miles and average a 10 minute mile. I valued my body by how it looked compared to others and now I value the things it can do for me- the burpees, the lifting, the running, the cycling. I’m giving myself a pat on the back!