Tag Archives: Boot Camp

Excuse Me: CrossFittin’ Off the List

Slip, slidin' away.
Slip, slidin’ away.

You guys, I’ve been negligent- both in my blogging AND, I’m sorry to say, in my exercising. It’s as if I took the 23 minute shave off my marathon time, gave myself a big pat on the back with it, and then rested my laurels upon it until one day, a few weeks ago, I realized that my clothes were once again getting a little snug.

I’m a little ashamed of myself that I fell into the trap of using stupid excuses to justify why I “JUST couldn’t work out right now, nope, uh-uh, no way.” Here is my list of stupid excuses, in case you want to try them out yourself (which I don’t recommend because eventually you will be in the passenger seat of a car as it drives by a park full of women doing some circuit/body weight training next to a playground while their children happily play in the Hawaiian winter sun and you will realize that if these women can find a way to fit a great workout in, then you should be able to as well, and you will feel very ashamed of yourself for falling into the excuse trap):

  1. I got home from work so late that it isn’t worth it to drive all the way to the gym for only a short workout (why this excuse is bogus: some is always better than none, this applies to both workouts and dessert)
  2. My dog looks so sad and he has been alone all day, I’ll take him for a walk on the beach instead of going to the gym (why this is bogus: you are an adult who can make her own schedule, walk the dog because he looks sad and then go to the gym)
  3. I’m hungry (bogus: eat a snack, then go to the gym)
  4. I’m tired (see number 1, do a smaller workout, some is better than none, and you’re probably tired because you didn’t sleep well because all you did yesterday was walk your dog and you weren’t tired enough to go to sleep at bedtime so you stayed up for two extra hours looking at Facebook)
  5. My leg/arm/insert body part here hurts (this excuse is not bogus, you should skip a workout or do one that does not involve the sore body part, see a medical professional if it doesn’t improve, and follow the medical professional’s instructions for recovery. BUT, don’t keep using this excuse when your leg/arm/whatever no longer hurts, get back to work when you’ve recovered)
  6. Ok, so I know some is better than none, but I got home from work too late AND I need to make dinner which has an effect on the other members of my family (salad counts as dinner and only requires about 10 minutes to whip up. Do a small workout and pick up some lettuce on your way home. Plus, you can delegate dinner duties to other family members, you don’t HAVE to make it all time, you control freak. Maybe Don wants to eat something made by his own two hands)
  7. I just got out of the car after a 40 minute commute home and I CAN’T get back in to drive to the gym (guess what time it is? PUSH UP TIME!!! Also, what about that idea you had to get up earlier to go to the gym before work? Its time to get back on track with that).

So, you can see I’ve been busier talking myself out of going to the gym than I have actually getting my daily dose of Vitamin E (E for exercise). In my defense (here she goes again with those excuses, amiright?), I was keeping up with the running, post-marathon, until a New Year’s Eve trail run on muddy footing gave me a shin splint which I tried to ignore, did not properly rest and then compounded into something more significant. I gave myself a mandatory two-week break from running while I let that heal, but, once it was all better, I kinda sorta forgot to get back into running and gym-ing. “I need a break!” was my justification, “my body needs to rest!”

At that time, the only thing I needed a break from was eating cookies and watching Fixer Upper marathons on HGTV (that Joanna Gaines, though, how ’bout that interior design wizardry she does? And, she’s so goddamn pretty that I just can’t look away). I started to get back into the swing of things when Half-Marathon training got underway, but I was still slumping in my non-running workouts. Getting up earlier in the morning for a pre-work workout is tough, but I much prefer it to having to get back into the car at the end of the day to battle it out for weight bench real estate with the post-work crowd, and I had started to revisit some of the Phase 2 workouts from the Jamie Eason LiveFit program I did a few years ago, but something was still missing. I had the time, I had the facility and equipment, I had the motivation, but I was lacking a very important part of working out: accountability.

Ah yes, accountability. Why do push ups when you know your push up game is pretty weak and you’re embarrassed to do push ups in public? Why work on getting stronger at pull-ups when they are difficult and you don’t like them? Who’s gonna know if you just pick something easier to do? Usually, nobody, and for me, that’s a problem. I’ve got to start making myself do the things that are hard and maybe make me look a little foolish until I get stronger if I want to improve my fitness. I will admit that pride has lately had an effect on my workouts; I know it is stupid to let my concern over looking foolish keep me from improving my health and fitness, but some days it gets the better of me. The gym that I have the easiest access to is a gym that is frequented by Marines and if you ever want to feel bad about yourself, you should workout next to a Marine. As soon as I walk into the gym, I feel old (it seems to me the median age of the Marine population is 20), I feel flabby (I overheard a young man joyously claiming to the front desk clerk that he weighed 190 lbs and had a 29 inch waist and when I looked at him, I believed him), and I feel weak (whenever I have to ask someone if I can use those 5 lb weight plates, he/she looks astonished as if he/she was unaware that weight plates came in such small increments. Guess what guys, they also come in 2.5 lbs).

Ohhh...yay...
Ohhh…yay…

Last week, in a moment of serendipity, I saw an ad for just the kick in the pants that I need: a six week, ladies only, workout challenge class. There are a couple of problems with this class, the main one being that I will have to miss one of the six weeks because I am having laser eye surgery and have been advised not to do anything that involves sweat dripping into my eyes the week following (which for me, as an over sweat-er, means not moving out of air conditioning for a week, guess I’ll be sleeping at the office…), the other problem is that this is a CrossFit challenge. I don’t know the first thing about CrossFit and that is kind of on purpose. I don’t like fads, especially workout and diet fads. I think they have an air of cult about them (which we have enough of here in Hawaii anyway), and, at least as far as the diets are concerned, I don’t think they are all that effective, but, as the musical poet Ben Harper once sang, “before you knock it, try it first.” The other things that I have reservations about are the title of the challenge- it’s called the NEW YOU challenge, and I don’t need a new me, just an improved me- and the fact that there are group weigh-ins and measurements to be taken- those things are kind of personal and, if weight loss isn’t your goal, kind of beside the point, but, c’est la vie.

There are things about this challenge that are really appealing to me; I will be in a class of all ladies (hey ladies!) and I think that will make me feel less like I should just get out of the way so the beefcake can use my barbell, and it is structured so, not only will I be taught the correct form and function of these exercises, but I also won’t waste ten minutes wandering around the gym wondering what I should do today. The timing works out well with my running group, and I still have one day of rest each week (Friday, already the best day of the work week, now maybe the best day of the week). The challenge comes with a meal plan, which, as I suspected it would be, is based largely on the paleo diet; this doesn’t jive so well with my vegetarianism, but I was assured this wouldn’t be a problem. My first class is tonight, and I am looking forward to it with only a little trepidation (stemming mostly from the fact that I must wear my glasses all week in preparation for my laser surgery and my glasses make my face feel clumsy). I’ll let you know how crossing over to the dark side goes! Any advice for sore muscle relief is appreciated- squats (and I anticipate there being a lot of squats) make my running muscles cringe and I’ve got to keep up with the half marathon training if I want to have a great race in April.

Me, after laser eye surgery. These are the expected results, right?
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Ouchie.

Its baaaaack!

Cue the JAWS theme because yesterday I revisited my old friend the ‘Tough Mudder’ workout, and this workout is a blood-thirsty monster. I mean it.

After a bit of fitness leisure time following the Hibiscus Half Marathon (which went totally fine, by the way, I ended up being only about 30 seconds slower than the Hapalua in April) that involved a little travel to the Northeast for a wedding and a lot of beer-drinking and s’mores-eating, I was feeling like I needed to kick things into high gear fitness-wise.

While I was visiting the Shire Vermont, I managed to sneak in a couple of short but lovely runs in the cool New England air, but after a couple of weeks of indulging and several long plane rides, I was feeling a little sluggish and out of shape. Begrudgingly, I accepted the fact that only a hardcore workout would shake things up for me.

In case you have forgotten (and how could you? This workout visits me in my nightmares!) The ‘Tough Mudder” workout consists of doing a variety of painful things an insufferable amount of times over and over again. No, seriously, that is about all you need to know about this workout.

I first became acquainted with this bad boy a couple of years ago when I was participating in a fitness Boot Camp, and it is a point of pride for me that I can actually do it. Well, could actually do it; since I’m a little weak and flabby at the moment, I modified yesterday’s workout so that I could live through it.

I shortened the workout to 8 rounds and split them in half to make this one workout into two shorter workouts. Which exercises did I forgo, you ask? The triceps pushups because, lets be real here, one kind of pushup in a day is one kind too many, and the dips because there is never anywhere convenient to do dips near the cardio equipment. I also swapped the running for ellipticizing since I was planning on going running today.

So, my workout started with 10 squat jumps, then as each round continued I added 10 pushups, 10 burpees, and 10 mountain climbers. Then I swapped to round 2 and started with 10 split jumps, adding flutter kicks, twists, and tuck jumps with each round. By the time I was finished, sweat was dripping into my eyes and I was in full-blown tomato face mode. I slept quite well last night.

Tonight I went for a slow three mile run. My butt and quads complained the entire time and I ran my slowest three miles since the marathon, but I expected that after yesterday. My next goal is to complete the entire workout from start to finish again!

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!

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!

 

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