Monthly Archives: May 2015

Last night, I remembered the grueling Tough Mudder workout that I loved to hate from last summer, and I realized that it would be a great way to maximize my workouts in a hotel gym that lacks both space and equipment. Burpees and push-ups and squat jumps, oh my! When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t feeling my best, so I compromised by tackling just half of the prescribed workout, and that was enough to get my heart pumping and sweat streaming into my eyes. I think Jack was doing an impression of me after my workout in the video above.

I was a little grumpy about the fact that just half of the workout- when I’ve done the ENTIRE thing before- was a challenge today, but I was pleased that the running parts were not as tiring as they were last summer and I was running at a faster pace than I had 10 months ago. Looks like all that running for my 10k paid off!


Taking it Outside

I must confess that I haven’t been putting the beautiful Hawaiian weather to good use and have been working out inside since we arrived. Not only are the temperatures much hotter than I am used to, but our hotel is also in a location that isn’t very conducive to exercising outside. The hotel is next to a busy highway where traffic doesn’t stop (even for pedestrians in marked crosswalks) unless the light turns red, and where many homeless people have made their camps under the overpasses.

Part of the fun of going outside for a run is taking in the scenery, and since the scenery along the highway consists of fast food wrappers and broken bottles, I haven’t been all that motivated to take to the great outdoors beyond going out with Jack for his early morning walks. Since the small size of the hotel gym (I think it was converted from a suite into a gym as it is twice the size of our hotel room) and its limited equipment options were making me a little stir crazy, I was pretty psyched when Don had the long weekend off and we could go out and about on the island and do some fun things.

Koko Head as seen from Diamond Head
Koko Head as seen from Diamond Head

Our most ambitious activity was a hike up the Diamond Head Crater. Diamond Head is one of O’ahu’s most notable landmarks and this hike, while on a marked trail with hand-railings, is not for the faint of heart. As usual, the weather was hot and Don and I were glad to have packed our water bottles for the trek. We saw quite a few tourists hiking in flip flops, crocs, dress shoes and street clothes (dresses, jeans, stuff you shouldn’t be wearing on a hike), and by the time I made it halfway up the crater, I was feeling very sorry for them.

Waikiki as seen from Diamond Head
Waikiki as seen from Diamond Head

I think because the hike is only a mile and a half round trip, people underestimate how tough it is; by the time Don and I reached the summit, we had climbed 84 floors. Even though it is a short hike, it is a very steep one and the terrain is challenging because the trail, while marked with handrails, is a footpath created by the erosion of people walking on the crater so it is very uneven and narrow. When we reached the top, we were rewarded with wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean, Koko Head crater in the distance, and Waikiki. Working out with Mother Nature was a welcome break from the confines of the hotel Fitness Room. Although we were tired and sweaty by the time we climbed down (who am I kidding, we were tired and sweaty before we even reached the summit!), it was great to feel the sun on our shoulders and breathe in the fresh seaside air. I hope your long weekend was equally satisfying!

We're just a small island in the middle of a big ocean
We’re just a small island in the middle of a big ocean


Bosu Buddy

Moving is an absolutely terrible experience, but Don and I finally arrived in Oahu about a week ago.

Now that the frantic flailing at the airports to get the cat & dog on the planes with us, and the waiting in endless lines for passport control as the clock ticks closer to boarding time, and the struggle to fit ourselves, our luggage, and two kennels on airport/hotel shuttles is over and the four of us are snuggled into our room at a motel where we will live until we find housing (advice to anyone considering a move to Hawaii- don’t get a dog that will weigh more than 20 lbs when fully grown!), I finally have time to resume some facsimile of my workout routine.


The island of Oahu is a beautiful, tropical place. The air is perfumed with the fragrance of flowers that I can’t yet identify, the ocean is visible from the highway, and the Polynesian sun is bright… and hot. Good lord, it is so HOT here! I have to take Jack for a walk immediately after breakfast before the pavement has time to heat up and scorch his little doggie paws, and I melt into a puddle of sweat after sitting in the sun for only a short time. I know I shouldn’t be surprised at the heat, but arriving into full-blown Summer after coming from the cool German Spring was a shock to my system. I had imagined I would do a lot of running to stay fit while we settled into island life, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to brave the heat yet. Luckily our hotel is equipped with a gym.

As far as gyms go, this one is very small and outfitted sparsely. There are two treadmills, one elliptical, one stationary bike, a couple of exercise balls, a set of dumbbells, and one of those weird do-all exercise machines that nobody really knows how to use. I was Bosu downdisappointed to discover, on my first trip to the fitness room, that both of the 15 and 20 pound dumbbells are missing from the set, so there aren’t many options for weight training for me. Because of this, I was delighted to discover a Bosu ball leaning in a corner of the gym.

For those who are not familiar with the Bosu and all of the wonderful things it offers, it is basically half of an exercise ball that has a hard plastic platform on the flat side. The rounded portion is inflated and has a little give, and is strong enough to support your bodyweight. You can incorporate the Bosu into your workout pretty much any way you see fit (and safe). The great thing about the Bosu is that when you use it with ‘traditional’ exercise moves (for example I’ve been Bosuusing mine for push-ups and squats) it makes them more challenging because along with the effort of the original move, you are also using your core muscles for stability.


As I said, I’ve been using the Bosu to pump up the effort required for push-ups and squats. For both exercises, I turn the Bosu ball-side down. When doing a push-up, I grip the platform by its little indented hand-grippy thingies, do my push ups and the ball wobbles from side to side as I struggle to maintain my balance. For the squats, I stand on the flat platform and do my squats on top of the Bosu while trying to maintain my balance- a word of caution, be careful getting on and off the Bosu!  This has helped me use my own body weight and the Bosu upchallenge of maintaining stability on something that is intended to be unstable to keep my muscles strong along with the exercise I’m getting from the cardio equipment. I’ve seen the Bosu used with other exercises, so you can get creative and see if one will help you step up your workout!

Since the gym is usually absolutely empty and the hotel has free wifi, I have been contemplating bringing my computer with me and letting Jessica Smith school me in at-home working out. Earlier today, I found this squat challenge from Refinery29, and I think I’ll give it a go with my Bosu buddy. In the meantime, does anybody have any recommendations for sunscreens they absolutely love?

Life's a beach.
Life’s a beach.

Hotel Chef

The last several days have been pretty hectic with packing up the remainder of our household goods, super-cleaning the apartment (and crossing our fingers that we are rewarded with the return of our hefty deposit!), and moving our family of four (two humans, a dog, and a cat) into a hotel room. Now that we are settled in the hotel, we are just waiting for the day when we can fly back to the states. Unfortunately there are still odds and ends of paperwork that we need to take care of before we travel, so we can’t just head out immediately.

Queen-sized bed for four?

Although there are a few upsides to hotel life (for example someone else comes in to clean for me!), eating has been kind of difficult. Our room is equipped with a fridge and a microwave, but the selection of easily microwavable foods in grocery stores is pretty limited. Don and I have been eating a lot of salad bar meals and have had a few microwaveable dinners. Nothing gourmet comes out of the microwave, but our ratings of the nuke-able options (based on taste alone, not nutritional value because I don’t believe any of these meals are particularly nutritious) are as follows: Amy’s Organic microwavable meals get two thumbs up, Kraft Easy Mac gets two thumbs down, Ramen noodles with snap peas and shredded carrots added to the broth get two thumbs up, Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger is awarded two thumbs up, and Campbell’s Soup at Hand gets one thumb up, one thumb down. Honestly, the salad bar is the real winner but it is unfortunately only stocked during lunch time.

I am counting down the days until I can be reunited with a real kitchen that has a real stove and real knives to chop things up with and real counters on which to do the chopping- I don’t actually know when that will be so my countdown is imprecise. In the meantime, I have been browsing recipes both online and in cookbooks at the library and in bookstores. I found a tasty sounding arugula, watermelon and goat cheese salad recipe in a cookbook at the post office that I’m looking forward to making (it sounds perfectly refreshing for Hawaii’s climate), and earlier today I found this recipe for ‘samosa’ mashed potatoes and this one for a quinoa salad with ginger sesame dressing. Feel free to go ahead and make these and let me know how they taste so that I can live vicariously through you!

Hotel living