Breathe

“The hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it.” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) 

These past two weeks have been bordering on terrible, with a few good things sprinkled over, but thus has been 2016. It’s an actual thing, people hating on 2016. There’s been a lot of major celebrity deaths, bad political happenings, and a general consensus of unhappiness.

Seventeen days into 2016, I lost my beloved cat. A few months later, I lost my aunt and one of my best friends in the world. I also became a personal trainer and moved across the country. I made new friends, tackled challenges head on, took off on adventures, and made memories with family. I’m still living and breathing and pursuing dreams. This year, I learned the true depth of a human’s ability to adapt. I am both proud and sad considering this revelation. Do we adapt because of our strength or because, in time, we forget?

There is not happiness without sadness, joy without anger, or relief without fear. Nothing is more challenging or damaging than forgetting the specialness of life, but mundanity and exhaustion are very real.

I keep waiting to snap out of my funk, to get out of my own way, and to be given a break. And I’ve got an amazing life. Being so far away from my people does not help.  I’m learning, adapting, and delving into my own strength, and those shared by loved ones, and beginning to understand that life doesn’t care who you are or what you need. Life is one big trial and error experiment and I’m realizing my failures are just as, if not more, important than my successes. Instead of feeling bad for myself and moping, I’m persevering. Some days are harder, or easier, than others.

“But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”(Harry Potter).

A Moment and then Movement

Before I begin this week’s Workout Wednesday, I want to take a moment and tell you that today would have been my Nana’s 90th birthday. We lost her thirteen years ago earlier this month and I still miss her dearly. No doubt she is celebrating with a drink and her sisters up in Heaven. My family speculates that she is where I get my penchant for celebrities, parties, and conspiracy theories. There really was no one quite like her and I am grateful for the eleven years I did have with her, reading People Magazine over her shoulder, trying to learn how to write the letter A with her frustrated because I kept writing it upside down, watching her try to get off the moving log ride at Storyland in time then having to go again because she couldn’t and then again when her horse in the merry go ride stopped at the highest point, and the time she had to swat the ants off my ass when I sat in a pile, laughing and muttering obscenities under her breath. Everything she did, she did with a smile, gentle care, and with a touch of sarcasm, which are other facets I hope I get from her. She was one of the strongest, most selfless, and most loving people that I have had the pleasure of knowing, and so it is with bittersweet emotions that I say, Happy Birthday.

Now to take a more judging stance, at the gym, I just witnessed a man stack the barbell with a ton of weight, do two reps, wait five minutes in between each set and only do that three times. He struggled through them and didn’t even complete them fully, which makes me question what his intention is.

When weight lifting, I’ve read many different accounts, and I myself feel as though it is important to push yourself, but only to a point. You want to be able to get through a number of reps, rest, and do a couple of sets of each move. If you put on too much weight and can’t do the moves properly or fully you will hurt yourself and/or make very little improvement. To each their own, I suppose.

From what I’ve read, if you can’t do a move at a certain weight at least five times in a row properly, then it’s too much weight. It just gets me when people feel as though exercise is about killing yourself, when what you really want to do is improve. Working out and pushing your body is so important, but not to the extent of your health!

This past week, I played kickball and found out that I’m actually pretty clumsy. As I was running to first base, I almost tripped over myself (the ball was caught in the air anyways) and then I stumbled trying to field as well. I did make one pretty good catch and was feeling pretty good about my abilities until of course I was running to second on a play and remembered my fateful fall. I am glad to say I have made a full recovery and there has been no pain in the past week!

The next day, I did some strength training and a quick elliptical workout. Since my college roommate was visiting for the weekend, on Saturday, all we did was walk around, which is acceptable, but I was raring to go on Sunday.

That day, I did another strength and elliptical workout, along with some core exercises. I’ve been trying to increase my plank, and I am now up to about a minute and fifteen to a minute and thirty, though I feel like last week I was doing two full minutes. I think that this is partly because instead of only planking once, I include them in my core circuit so in the end, I’m actually doing more time spread out.

Monday, I was loving the fall air and went out for a run after a long walk with the dog. I came back and did some body strength and core moves, including some Yoga.

The next day, I went to the gym and did a few moves with the medicine ball, including my hated burpees. This move is the pits, but I included a quick ball lift and throw down to make it even more fun (sarcasm noted). At the end, I did some box jumps and jump rope before heading down to the pool to swim laps. It feels as though it takes a long time to swim a mile, and maybe it is, but I have been getting faster. Only 43.5 minutes this time around and I was huffing and heaving by the end of it. I completed my day with an even longer walk with the dog, which left me feeling a bit parched.

Today, I went through another strength workout. To change it up a bit, I incorporated eight moves using heavy weights and performed them in five sets of ten reps and then did eight body strength moves in four sets of twelve reps. I was feeling nice and sweaty, but strong, after and went out for a quick two mile run to try and improve my speed. My legs were feeling tired, but I’m definitely seeing an improvement! I topped it off with a mile walk to recover.

The biggest issue I’ve been dealing with these week are respiratory problems that seem to be correlated to my allergies. I have always suffered through spring, but never summer or fall before this past year. An allergy pill will usually help, but I needed to switch products because during random parts of the day and night, my lungs felt as though there were pressure on them and at times I was wheezing. I can handle to disgusting nose dripping because I can just blow it away, but the constricted breathing is scary. Luckily, they did not happen at times during my workout, and I never would have exercised in that moment, so it leads me to believe that it’s not anything more serious than allergies. With a new brand, I have been feeling improvements. Let’s hope there won’t be any allergies in winter at least! I want to eat apples again!

Good Sweat, Bad Sweat, What’s the Diff?

As I’m sure you know by now, exercise is my main stress reliever. This past week, I’ve been incorporating more core work into my routine as well as some intervals. I haven’t been as organized when it comes to scheduling, but rather focused on doing what I feel like on that day.

This week I had two runs that felt a bit on the painful side. Today, I was going to run at the track, but I chose the time when school gets out so it would have been a crowded, jammed mess- and that’s just the parking situation. Instead, I ran around my neighborhood, up and down and up and down even more hills. Then I went on a nice long walk with my friend Molly. When I went with my mom to walk the dog around the block, very short, it was growing cooler outside, which is very exciting. I love throwing on a sweatshirt and Yoga pants. Though it is kind of a pain to be cold in the morning when you leave for the day and hot and sweaty when you’re heading home or out and about. All about the layers!

I also started today off by meeting my friend Nouha at the gym to do a quick couple of minutes on the bike, followed by an intensive body strength and core workout that worked up a nice sweat and burn. This included jumping jacks (250 total!), prison squats which we affectionately entitled “Pipers,” alternating lunges, alternating standing kickbacks, push-ups (no more modified for me!), mermaid raises, leg lifts, hip lifts, sit ups, and everyone’s favorite, Russian Twists. We did five sets of ten reps. After, I did a 3.1 run that was hot and sweaty because I didn’t realize how warm it was until I was already on my way.

Yesterday, I worked the polls all day and didn’t have time for a workout. This was the perfect time for me to take my rest day because on Monday, I was feeling a bit off and weaker than usual. On Monday, Nouha and I did a strength workout using dumbbells, four sets of twelve reps. I followed this up with a few minutes on the bike and elliptical because my body wasn’t feeling any high intensity intervals. Finishing off with a strong core workout left me ready to relax and recover.

On Sunday, I pushed myself through four miles on my hilly route. My legs and lungs weren’t feeling as strong as they usually are, but I made it to the end, up a very steep hill that left me clutching my side for breath. My allergies were definitely in effect, but didn’t hurt me until the point I stopped running and started to walk. After a long recovery period, I did some Yoga moves before bed.

I found myself arriving to the gym just in time for the storm to roll in on Saturday. I heard the thunder looming, but the minute I stepped through the doors, the rain started pouring. Lucky me for once! I performed a strength workout using the barbells, nervous about clutching a large metal sticks with thunder and lightning striking outside, but I’m probably just paranoid. Before the gym closed, I finished off my workout with a quick ten minute sprint session on the Elliptical. I believe I mentioned I took a short break from swimming while the pool was being renovated, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

My scheduled rest day had been on Friday because it was so hot! That Thursday, I had a nice long run just as the sun was going down for the day, so I wasn’t quite as drippy or gross. I’ve learned that there is a good sweat and a bad sweat. The good comes from hard work, the bad from heat and humidity.

My fitness goals for fall is to extend the length of my runs, despite any hills, and to be able to perform my push-ups all the way touching the ground. TBC!