Tag Archives: CrossFit

Sometimes it Sucks

I had a rough week. Following a fun-filled week of stay-actioning with some friends who were visiting from upstate New York, it was hard to get back into any routine, but I had particular trouble getting back into the swing of making fitness a priority.

I’m not sure why all good habits are easy to break and, it seems, that bad habits are easy to pick up, but after seven days of stuffing my face with malasadas and sitting on my duff in a beach chair, I didn’t want to go back to a life of being diligent about eating healthy and making exercise a priority.

Doing what I do best, sitting on my butt, enjoying a beer at the Kaneohe sandbar. Can you blame me for not wanting to come back?

On Monday, I dragged myself to a CrossFit class after work and slogged through the WOD. The coach was someone I didn’t know (and I didn’t happen to catch her name), but, as she explained the WOD to us, she recommended that if we weren’t all that good at double unders (jumping rope and having the rope pass under you twice each jump), we should spend about 90 seconds of each round working on double unders and then move on whether we had reached the prescribed goal or not. The goal was a descending ladder of 150 double unders the first round, 100 the second round, and 50 the final round. After I accomplished about 5 double unders and succeeded in whipping myself in the butt and shins with the jump rope several times, the coach stopped by my area and told me that I should probably just do single jumps. It was a humbling moment, but I filed it away under “things to practice at home” and happily did my single jumps.

I awoke on Tuesday sore and tired; a week of being sedentary followed by a tough workout really whipped my butt (literally- that damn jump rope!), and it took me all week to recover. Tuesday’s workout was a short, solo run, and Wednesday and Thursday were more CrossFit classes where I put in wimpy, lackluster performances. Friday was a blissful day off, Saturday more CrossFit, and yesterday Don and I ran about 8 miles before we dragged our chairs to the beach and enjoyed an afternoon of sitting in the sun, doing many reps of beer-can-to-mouth curls.








Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday’s workouts left me with more things to practice at home: pistol squats and wall walks. A pistol squat is where you squat one-legged, like a bird, with whichever leg you aren’t using extended in front of you. Ideally you begin from a standing position, squat all the way down on one-leg, and then rise to a standing position again. On one leg. Go ahead and try it, I’ll hold your beer.

Wall walks were something completely new to me and seem like the precursor to a hand stand (which seems like the precursor to a hand stand pushup; I don’t like the direction this is headed). You start with your feet against a wall and your chest to the floor almost like you’re in a pushup position (or, if like me you don’t do pushups very often, it’s the position you find yourself in when your dog rolls his ball under the couch and you have to retrieve it), and then you walk your feet up the wall and walk your hands toward the wall until, ideally, your nose touches the wall and you are upside down. I didn’t get that far, or, I guess I should say, I did not get that CLOSE. My nose was probably still about 1.5 to 2 feet away from the wall before my arms got shaky and I got nervous about having my butt and legs at a higher elevation than my head. Progress, like most things about me, is slow, I guess.

After my relaxing afternoon on the beach, I made sure to hit the hay a little early last night because I think, along with not eating super healthfully, that part of what was bringing me down and turning me into a slow little weakling last week was that I was just plain tired. Too much fun will do that to you once you reach your 30’s. It seems to have helped; I felt more solid in tonight’s pre-dinner CrossFit class and wasn’t excused from attempting any of the movements.

I learned another new thing at tonight’s class: the Tempo Press. At first I thought that the tempo press was right up my alley because you take about 3-5 seconds to raise a barbell above your head and I’m really slow at everything, but after a few reps, my shoulders were screaming. It’s a good thing I went to the evening class instead of the morning one because my arms are useless now- I’ve typed this entire blog post with my nose; It seems like tonight might bring another early bedtime for me.

Perfecting those beer curls. Good form is important!



Put Your Muscles Where Your Mouth Is

Yesterday my six week CrossFit challenge came to a close. It was a bittersweet day because, although we were happy to have made it all the way through the course, we were sad about our weekly meetings coming to an end. Much as I suspected, I am not the only one who enjoyed working with the same group of ladies each time I went to class.

The six weeks went by quickly and, as I looked around the gym while we were doing our last WOD (Workout of the Day) together, I was surprised and impressed by how far we had all come in such a short amount of time. Everybody looked stronger, we knew the names of the movements we were supposed to be doing (a big improvement for sure; at many times during the six weeks I felt sorry for our instructors- it must have felt like herding cats trying to get us all going the right direction!), and, most impressive of all, nobody was complaining. Having a group of women, who two months ago would not have described themselves as particularly fit or at all CrossFit savvy, working together on a hot, Hawaiian Saturday afternoon and not hearing any complaints about the aches, pains, and sweat is a big accomplishment!

Our final WOD; do you hear the Eye of the Tiger theme from ‘Rocky’ playing?

Our final workout was a team workout, so, while we didn’t do all of the movements on our own, we did all do the 2 burpees every minute on the minute, and that counts for something, right? As a team, we managed to get through almost three rounds (we had just goblet squats and burpees left to power through, c’est la vie) and, I’m ashamed to admit, that when I first looked at the whiteboard and saw the 20 minute cap, I was concerned we wouldn’t make it through one entire round. Essentially what I am trying to tell you is that this group of ladies and I are a bunch of badass mofos and, when there are tacos at stake, we don’t play around.

Our final WOD was followed by a Taco Tuesday (on Saturday) themed fiesta, and it was well-deserved. No matter where we started from, we all worked hard to make ourselves just a little bit better each time we stepped into the gym. Using the guidance provided through the daily emails, we each tried to find a way to eat more healthfully, and, even from day to day, I could see physical improvement in all of us. There were ladies who couldn’t run the entire 400 m warm-up run on day one, and, by the time we were up to running a mile, Coach Gil said it was the first time he had ever had all participants in the New You group finish in under thirteen minutes. Progress! The first time I tried to do an overhead squat holding just the light PVC practice bar, my shoulders and hips were so stiff I almost fell over, and now I can do them, tentatively, with 25 lbs of total weight. Tentative progress, but progress all the same!

Kettlebell swings. To demonstrate how much I’ve learned, I knew to ask if we were supposed to be doing American or Russian style swings.

I’m excited to see how CrossFit will influence my running (yeah, I signed up to continue. That’s how it is with me, I guess; I sign up for things like this thinking it will be a fun, one-off experiment and I’ll have a funny story to tell about that time I trained for a marathon or that time I did several weeks of CrossFit, but then I really enjoy what I’m doing and see changes in myself that I really like and I’m hooked.) In the short-term, the workouts have made me very tired, but I think that is to be expected as my body adjusts to being challenged in a new way (challenged, tortured, po-tay-to, po-tah-to). I think CrossFit will be good at countering the stiffness that running, just by the nature of the fact that your body is always moving the same way, inherently creates. This must be why so many runners I know also like to compete in triathlons because the swimming and the biking force you to do something a little different, but I’m afraid of sharks and I don’t like to put my face in public pools because they are gross, so triathlons seem to be out for me. Also I think that people would laugh at my cruiser if I tried to ride it in a race. So, CrossFit it is, for now.

I think, in the long run, it will help my running. With a stronger core and more balanced strength, I predict that my endurance will increase and I will maybe even become a little faster. Time will tell. I don’t know if I will see these kinds of results in the upcoming Hapalua half-marathon (ummmm…..it’s next Sunday! One week!) because I am so flippin’ tired, but, I am going to take it a bit easier this week to allow my muscles some rest. Of course, it’s also time to start eating some extra carbohydrates- music to my ears; bring on the pasta! Last year I ran this race in about 2:05, and this year I hope to run it in under 2:00. After my fantastic marathon, I thought that this was a pretty achievable goal, but I’m starting to have doubts. I will be happy to knock any time off of last year’s race, and ultimately hope that I don’t add time, but if I’ve learned anything from having trained for two marathons and, now, three half-marathons, it’s that every day is different, and you’ve got to run the best you can in the moment. Here’s hoping my newly-found CrossFit muscles feel revived and ready to help power me on after a week of rest!

CrossFit: it’ll put hair on your lip!

Stayin’ Alive


View from the gym. Makes it easier to play through the pain when you’re looking at this.

Yes! More than halfway through my CrossFit ‘experiment’ and I’m still standing.

I’m really enjoying the class and am learning quite a bit about CrossFit. Mostly I’m learning that it really IS as hard as it looks and that I really like working out with only ladies. There is something so liberating about showing up at the gym and knowing that nobody is going to be impatiently waiting for me to relinquish the barbell or be silently judging the (lack of) weight I’m lifting; these ladies, like me, have nothing to prove. I’ve heard the same sentiment expressed by others in our group; we’d all like to continue with the ‘ole XFit (is that a thing? like Xtina?), but we’d like to continue with just ladies. Can it be ladies night every night, please?

This CrossFit program has us meeting three or four days a week for an hour long estrogen-fueled sweat sesh. Most days, we start with a short run to warm-up (ahem, I ran my fastest mile on Saturday, 7:35, no big deal [brushes off shoulders]) which everybody but me seems to dread, but I like it because it’s the only part of the class where I feel like I know what I’m doing. Then, we move on to going over the day’s class goal which is usually learning some new movement, like a clean or toes to bar, etc., and we finish the day with a Workout of the Day (WOD for short, CrossFit is so hip that even the workouts get nicknames) that focuses on whatever the day’s skill was. It’s a pretty simple format.

We’re learning the correct form for lots of types of lifts and movements; they all look pretty straightforward when I watch the coaches demonstrate, but, man, I’ve never felt so uncoordinated as when I’m trying to follow their lead. It’s kind of like dancing, which I’m also not very good at, but I don’t let my lack of natural talent stop me from enjoying myself. So far we’ve learned how to jerk, snatch, clean, squat, toes to bar, pull-up, and burpee. Soooooo….many…..burpeeeeesssss.

We burpee if we show up to class late. We burpee if someone misses class. We burpee if we forget someone’s name. We burpee if we row under or over our rowing goal. We burpee if we’re bored. We burpee if we’re tired. We burpee if we’re hungry. Essentially, we burpee for the heck of it. It seems that, much like my parents’ telling me to “go play outside” whenever I started to annoy them as a child, the coaches instruct us to burpee as a diversion technique. I will admit it is pretty effective and they say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I’m not sure if “they” ever did a burpee.

I’m not supposed to eat this.

Part of this program focuses on our diet. We are supposed to be eliminating processed sugar (even maple syrup,  which, since I’m from VT, is essentially a food group) and eating more protein and healthy fats. While I haven’t cut out sugar completely, I have almost done so (as an aside, tea without honey is hardly worth drinking), and I am surprised by the difference I see and feel. Swapping sugars for more protein and healthy fats has made me less inclined to snack throughout the day, and I feel like I have more energy in general. I’ll admit that, as a vegetarian, I’ve found it nearly impossible to completely forgo bread and I’m probably eating more starchy grains, like rice, than I’m supposed to be eating, but, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to maintain her sanity

The first week of the program, I cut sugar out completely, and, after a mini-meltdown when Don asked if I wanted to grab lunch at our favorite restaurant, which serves mainly sandwiches, decided that it wasn’t going to be possible for me to both completely eliminate sugar and maintain my status as a functioning member of society. By the end of the week, tired of hard boiled eggs and avocados, I found myself spinning around the kitchen like a whirling dervish trying to find an afternoon snack, cursing my vegetarianism as I imagined my classmates eating grilled chicken. I was probably one paleo recipe away from spending my afternoons crying into a bag of marshmallows; at Don’s recommendation, I began to allow myself the simple luxury of bread and feel much better now.

So far, this has been a great experience, and I’d like to continue pursuing my dreams of CrossFit competency after the New You program ends. I get a good vibe from the other gym goers and the coaching staff is friendly, knowledgeable and chill. My personal favorite is a gal named Coach Tiff because her whole “thang” is essentially my life goal. She seems really happy to be at the gym, even if she is spending much of her time helping a bunch of sweaty newbies adjust their form, and she is so fit that she looks like how I imagine look when I’m dreaming. That level of fitness takes a lot of dedication, and I admire that. I’m sure, since I’m doing this program and all, that I’ll look like Coach Tiff in a few weeks; thats how this fitness thing works, right?

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).


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?


After a three-day holiday hiatus I finally got back into my workout routine (I was dragged to the gym by Don), and, since I’m still hanging on to this teensy little cold, we avoided the typical cardio heavy-workouts that are my punishment of choice after a few days of slothing around. I took this opportunity of having a gym-buddy accompany me to learn a few new tricks.

Today, Don taught me how to do box jumps. I have seen people doing box jumps before, but, with my well-known lack of coordination and natural athletic ability, had never attempted them myself, and now that I have, I can say they are much harder to do than they look. I chose the smallest box, one about 12 inches in height, and Don promptly- to my dismay- traded it in for one that was about 30 inches high.

It takes a little trust in yourself to do a box jump; you must jump from the floor onto the box without a). losing your balance and falling backward, b). knocking your shins into the edge of the box, c). losing your balance and falling sideways, d).missing the box or e). losing your balance and falling forward. I made all five possible mistakes but eventually got the hang of it (probably to the disappointment of the man running around on the indoor track that overlooks the workout area- I saw you trying to cover up your laughter!).

We spent the rest of our workout playing around with other new things- strength bags, wall balls, and some super tough leg exercises involving the boxes. It was fun to get out of the normal routine and try some new things and also fun to have a companion with me while I got back into the swing of things, and, now that my legs have been engulfed in flames, I can return to my blanket nest on the couch and continue binge watching season 2 of Nashville.

Box jumps! Even cats like them:


This week has been an extremely unremarkable one. While it is always nice when nothing particularly ‘bad’ happens, I hate it when I can’t think back and pick out even one shining moment. It hasn’t helped that every day has been bleak and dreary; the only variety in the weather lately has been how much it rains each day.

a grey day
another grey day

Every morning when my alarm goes off, I listen to hear if rain is pinging off the metal shutters that roll down over the bedroom window, and then I give myself a pep talk extolling the virtues of getting out of bed. The pep talk is usually ineffective and I have to resort to threatening myself with the possibility of having to cut Jack’s walk short and having him be bored all day.

When I finally am able to crawl out from under the warmth of the covers and sixty-seven pounds of combined cat and dog bodies, my reward is to suit up in layers of down and waterproof nylon, a reflective belt and a headlamp to start my walk with Jack. He is also usually cranky about leaving his warm bed to be dragged out into the elements, but he perks up along the way. I try to as well, but it is hard to get pumped-up about another bleak, sunless day full of errands, work, and responsibilities!

As you can imagine, my lethargic lack of motivation has followed me into the gym this week. I usually pull into the parking lot with a hint of excited anticipation, but recently I have felt only dread, and I don’t think I am alone in this feeling. There are a few faces I regularly see who have been absent and the twice weekly Body Pump class has dwindled to just a handful of dedicated attendees. Week Ten follows the same intense schedule as Week Nine, and I started off excited about my new sneakers and ready to go. The sneakers were, actually, part of my problem. You see, on Monday, the first day that I ran on the treadmill with my new kicks, I went a little crazy.

My feet felt GREAT and I had downloaded a new running playlist to my iPod, and one thing led to another and before I knew it, my run was over and I had gone farther and faster than ever before. I was soaked in sweat, but I felt like I had just won an Olympic gold medal; imagine, me enjoying RUNNING??!! Despite my post-workout stretching, the next day I felt as opposite from winning a gold medal as a gal can feel. I was stiff. I was achy. My ankle hurt. I thought I would maybe loosen up as I ran again, but to no avail.

For the rest of the week, I used the elliptical as my cardio in an effort to give my ankle a break, and I’m hoping tomorrow’s rest day will also help. Although I felt bogged down by the grey skies and the consequences of my over-enthusiasm, I did have a few small accomplishments: I completed all thirty of the required burpees and all of the long jumps that I had opted out of last week. Small victories, but “go me!” anyway.  Also, I got some comliments on my bright pink sneaks, and (I can’t believe I almost forgot about this one, this actually was the biggest shining moment of the week!), in the locker room yesterday, a woman asked me if I was “also doing CrossFit at the ‘other’ gym” (we have two gyms available to us, one shiny, new and equipped with a CrossFit area, and the other well-worn and equipped with a retro raquetball court).

Needless to say, I was very flattered that she thought I Iooked like someone who did CrossFit, but alas, it is not really my thing. I did let her know about Jamie’s LiveFit trainer and gave her the website, so I think it was a win for us both. Now that I remember the compliment, I must retract my earlier statement that nothing monumentous happened this week. Being mistaken as someone who looks like they do CrossFit is a great testament to the wonders of the LiveFit program; at this time last year, I could have been confused with someone who maybe won a pie eating contest, but not someone who is at the top of the Fitness Freak foodchain.

It was that compliment that cheered me a little and put into perspective that not being able to run until my heart explodes on the treadmill is not the end of the world. I am looking forward to the coming weeks (the final countdoo-o-o-wwwwn!) and the change of pace that is in store. Something I have learned from this experience is that variety is not only the spice of life in dating (my Granny told me that long ago!), but also in exercising. I hope you have been avoiding the early winter ‘blahs’, they are contagious, watch out!

The rest of Week One: the ‘Bombshell Muscles” and peg legs

On the morning of Day 2, I wake up with an upper body that feels like it has spent the previous day doing a lot of waterskiing; stretched-out, sore, arms kind of floppy. I’m hoping this is a sign that the work I did on Day One was effective. On Day Two of the LiveFit Trainer, we are focusing on what Jamie refers to as ‘the bombshell muscles’, biceps and back, on Day Three, we move on to legs and calves, and we finish out the week on Day Four with Shoulders and Abs

I like not having to decide what I am going to do each time I enter the gym. So many days I stand outside the locker room pondering which form of torture I will choose (Elliptical? Noooo, I got a side stitch yesterday when I did that……Stationary bike? Noooooo, I don’t feel like having a forty-five minute wedgie………….Treadmill? Nooooo, too many skinny people running too quickly, I’ll look like a clumsy oaf). With the day pre-planned, I don’t have to waste time hemming and hawing, and my workout feels less like torture and more like a challenge. Learning how to use the machines and pushing myself to complete the required sets and repetitions is turning out to be pretty fun and appeals to a facet of human nature that can help us all out: our innate competitiveness. Even if you don’t have a gym buddy (I don’t, my Fitness Freak Friends all go while I am still sound asleep), you can compete with yourself to make sure you are trying your hardest.

The thing I am having the most trouble with in these workouts is ensuring I am isolating the right muscle group during each exercise and not allowing other muscles to help out. This is much harder than one would think; it is counterintuitive not to use your core muscles to help you lift something that your bicep alone is having to work pretty hard to lift, and as I look around the gym during my rest breaks, I notice that I am not the only one facing this problem. If, especially when we are doing any of the standing-up exercises that we come to as we move along, for example the front delt raises on Day Four,  we are using our lower back to help lift or give us momentum, we are not exercising effectively for two reasons. Reason one is simply if we are using our back to complete a move designed for the shoulder, our shoulder won’t get any stronger. Reason two is that we are going to hurt our backs. I have decided that I am not impressed with the muscle-bound beefcakes who are grunting and sweating to lift a super-heavy weight but are using their lower backs as a fulcrum to help swing the weight to complete the exercise. Trade down, dude, and save your spine some grief! There is no shame in using lighter weights as you move along and your muscles get tired. It is good to push yourself, but not to the point of a herniated disc.

The workout that left me the most sore was a HUGE surprise to me. I was pretty sore after Day One, but Day Three, the legs and calves workout, left me mincing along like I had peg legs for the remainder of the week. Day Three was a Thursday for me, and on the following Monday, I was still feeling the burn in my quadriceps (their friends call them quads). My legs are the most in shape part of my body thanks to the amount of walking I do daily and my frequent horseback riding , so I felt comfortable challenging myself and did not expect to to be sore at all. Leg press, leg curls, calf raises, no problem. What really got me was the wide stance barbell squat. I underestimated the power of the squat! To perform this exercise, I used just the barbell, no extra weight, and it was difficult to keep my balance when I lowered my body, and then my poor little legs had to propel both body and bar back to an upright position.  My quads griped for several days about being over worked and under paid.

What is your biggest challenge when you exercise? Boredom, fatigue, or maybe, like me, you have wimpy quads that threaten to give out on you instead of push you back to standing when doing a squat?

LiveFit Trainer, Day One: Pushups are F@*%ing Hard

I am beginning this program with great expectations and a little skepticism. I have watched Jamie Eason’s videos and read her email the night before, I’ve eliminated most of my stash of junk food*, and I’ve enlisted the help of someone who knows their way around the Nautilus machines for my first LiveFit workout.

My expectations are high because this beautiful, blonde, Athena is telling me that in just 12 weeks, I could look like she does! Jamie looks amazing (even her eyebrows look fit) and while it would be nice to think that I will resemble her after this program, I must remind myself that no two human bodies are alike and that I have already decided not to adhere to her strict diet and supplementation guidelines, so I will probably not see the same results as I would if I were doing the whole program. If the diet and supplements are something you think you can manage, more power to you, but remember that you are making LIFE changes here, not just temporary changes. We must adjust the program to fit into our life in a way that can be sustained long term; if we are too hard on ourselves, we won’t stick with it.  Here are the changes I am making to my current diet/supplement routine:

1. Less junk food.  At some point I decided a serving of Haribo gummies was one entire package. Perhaps that is why I now resemble a gummy in physique?

2. More fruit and veggies. I’m a vegetarian, so this is actually a little hard, but I have managed to find instances where I am reaching for a processed snack when I should be reaching for an earth-made snack.

3. Eat a better breakfast. No more chomping down a granola bar while I walk the dog in the morning. Its time to dish up some oatmeal or yogurt and fruit so that I make it more than an hour without wanting to eat again.

4. Smaller portions of the not-so-good for you stuff. In Germany, there is a dish called Käsespätzle which is like macaroni and cheese only made with small dumplings instead of pasta and is served with crispy, fried onions on top. When you order it in a restaurant, you get about five pounds of it and usually a small salad. I’m trying to eat all of the salad and some of the cheesy dumplings instead of the other way around.

5. Take a multivitamin with calcium and iron.

Change 3, eat a better breakfast.
Change 3, eat a better breakfast.

These are easy things to do, and things I think I can continue to do for the long haul. We know ourselves best, and if we take a few minutes, we can all find a place in our diet that could use a little work. Maybe you could cut your daily caramel, whipped cream, circus in a cup from Starbucks down to a once a week thing? If pizza is your weak spot, try making it at home where you can control the ingredients. Maybe that ice cream cone on the way home from work is the only thing that gets you through your Monday? Don’t deprive yourself, but try one scoop instead of two and walk around the block while you savor it instead of sitting on a bench. We can exercise all we want, but if we don’t modify our eating habits, all our hard work will be in vain.

I’ve got a plan for where my diet should be headed, and I’ve found a Fitness Freak who is willing to be my tour guide through the gym. Most of the exercises for today are pretty easy to execute once you have watched the how-to videos; the bigger challenge for me today is getting over my self-consciousness at the gym. I really hate looking like I don’t know what I am doing, and I am already at a disadvantage in the gym because I am not lean and chiseled (hmmmm, I wonder which of these ladies has never used this equipment before? The one with the abs on her abs or the lumpy Mrs. Potatohead lookalike?). It should also be noted that if you do not know what you are doing, you could really hurt yourself doing something incorrectly. Day One focuses on chest and triceps which sounds pretty innocuous, until you get to the push-ups. There are two types of push-ups in the workout for Day One, and I’m not sure which type is more torturous.

I struggled to do some facsimile of a push-up on my knees (the ‘girl way’ as I learned it in grade school), arms shaking, sweat beading on my hairline, while my FFF (Fitness Freak Friend) easily did twice as many as we were required to do, even touching his nose to the floor. My push-ups were weak and pathetic, and I felt the same; shouldn’t my arms be able to support the weight of my upper body? No matter, it can only get better.

Upon completing Day One’s workout, I felt pretty kick-ass. I had managed to do all of the exercises and now had a pretty good idea of the layout of the gym and those grunting, sweating, muscle-bound people didn’t intimidate me as much. Never mind that after my workout I could hardly lift my arms to wash my hair, I took a big step out of my comfort zone (a twenty foot radius from my couch) and toward a happier, healthier zone.

*The term ‘eliminated’ might lead some of you to believe that I threw away my stash of junk food. Uh-uh, I ate it. Pretty much all of it. It was the most glorious half hour of my day, but probably counterproductive. Along with my muscles, my willpower could use some strengthening.

This is my first post! Welcome!

Before I introduce myself, I need for you to know one thing: I am not a fitness freak.

I have family and good friends who are fitness freaks; they eat paleo, do CrossFit, and look great in a bathing suit, but I am not one of them. I am a normal person. I eat pizza, and do casual, recreational, unintentional exercise, and I look sort of doughy in a bathing suit.

My name is Liz, and I am embarking on a physical journey to better health and fitness, and I’m hoping your support will help me toward my goals. Perhaps you have goals for better health and fitness you would like to work toward? Great! We can support each other, here, through this blog.

I’m happy that you have found me here on the world wide web. There are sooooooo maaaaany fitness blogs, websites, programs and whatever out there, but they can be pretty intimidating. This one is a friendly blog. It’s an ‘It’s-ok if we don’t know what that weird machine with the handles and the cables and the metal sticky-outie-thingys in the corner of the gym by the mirrors-is’ blog. Its a ‘we’d rather have a glass of wine than a protein shake’ blog. Its a blog for us, the people who want to occasionally eat fried food, have a beer and spend less than an hour a day thinking about (and doing) exercise.

This is my first post, so, welcome and thank you. In my next posts, I will be outlining my two sets of goals and detailing some of the programs and gadgets I will be using to help me out. Hope to see you there!