Bike Riding and Weird Massages

My weekend once again was the perfect combination of active and relaxing, starting with Friday night.

After work, like a champion, I headed to the gym and ran it out on the treadmill. This week, I wasn’t as tired as last, and I had a solid run before finishing it off with a quick Yoga flow. For dinner, I stir fried up some chicken, veggies, and brown rice.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what bad zucchini tastes like, it is not good. Luckily, I didn’t cut the zucchini into too small bites and I was able to scrape it out of the plate!

Some old Saturday Night Live episodes later and it was time to fall asleep, cus this girl was tired! Working 9-5 is hard, ya’ll.

On Saturday, I met up with a friend-of-a-friend for brunch before going to the gym to knock out a lower body workout. I biked over on the beautiful afternoon, then biked on over to a reflexology massage place for my sore feet. My feet were so swollen on Tuesday of this past week, they didn’t fit properly in my sneakers. This massage was $20 bucks, so I was weary of the quality.

Let’s just run this down for you:

An older man began my experience by massaging my forehead. As we know, I have a large forehead, so a long time was spent on this area. At one point, the gentleman began tickling my outer ears, which I thought was strange, but then he stuck his fingers in my ears, and I learned a new definition of “strange.” It was weird, but I didn’t hate it?

The man was clearly head honcho of this establishment as other workers kept coming over and talking to him, which was unsettling in an otherwise quiet situation. At one point, I thought a woman was trying to tell me to do something, so I opened my eyes and the woman hushed me, apologized, then stuck her hand on my forehead for a long time. I was then blind-folded, which I think was to hide the fact that a new worker took over my footwork, though I will tell you, once you’ve had giant, calloused fingers in your ears, you can decipher the difference of the petite, gentler touch of soft hands.

As mentioned above, my forehead is gaping, so it elevated the blindfold to the point of which I could see clearly. It was good that I distinguished this new individual as female when I was then planked on so that the massager could recenter my hips (or whatever the hell it was she was doing?) After some hand work, I rolled over and got all the sore spots in my shoulders and back worked out.

Listen, it was a weird experience, but it worked. For $20 bucks, I will accept your strange scenario and tip you for it.

It was dinnertime when I finished, so I pedaled over to my “local” taco shop before heading home to read and work on a new project. After some grocery shopping, it was time for bed.

Sunday is a great day to be outside seeking adventures. First up, was hike time. I actually went to the same place I did last week, this time with a meet-up group. The day was cooler, but in no means cool, and overcast, which made it great to be active.

Stopping at home for a few minutes, it was time to take my bike out for its first long journey. 18 miles is no joke. I’ve got a bike path, down the street from me, that leads to the huge Southern California coastal bike path that is remarkable. There are no words to describe the views and the feelings inspired by pedaling down this path.

IMG_5858.JPG

My intention was to go to Santa Monica and believe me, I kept waiting to see the enlightening sight of Santa Monica Pier, but as I rolled and rolled, I still couldn’t see it and I almost cried. At a stopover for a water and lunch break, I typed in my GPS location and realized I had ridden in the complete opposite of Santa Monica and had made it to Manhattan Beach. Since Manhattan (New York) is my favorite place in the entire universe (other than home), and I had never been there before, it was fitting.

IMG_5856.JPG

On my way back, I prayed for no hills, and had to stop to capture the above picture. I mean, what?

Back at my apartment and nursing my sore quads, it was time to meal prep for the coming week. Soup! It’s not appropriate in the warm, sunny SoCal environment, but back at home in Boston, it’s fall and prime time for soup.

I’ve had these lentils in my cabinets since back home, so it was time to cook ’em. I found the recipe online and added my own touches, such as doubling the recipe and adding zucchini.

IMG_5859.JPG

I had enough for four lunches of the week and enjoyed the remnants for dinner, paired with brown rice and a dash of cheese.

IMG_5860.JPG

Now I’m all cozy, full, and super sweaty.

It’s Monday, but let’s live like it’s Friday!

Fit Life

Let’s talk workouts! I’ve been going back and forth with how to split my routine throughout the week and I think I came up with the dynamic that works best for me.

*Please forgive the rattiness of the paper in which my workouts are scrolled. It’s been through a lot this week and its appearance cannot be helped.

This week of workouts started on Sunday with some bicep and shoulder action. As last week included six sets of eight- sometimes a drag- this week was four sets of twelve reps so we were focused on endurance and power! Performed in circuit fashion, I did six exercises of each muscle group before continuing on for the next three sets. After my biceps and shoulders had their fill, I moved onto core exercises, which I try to do every day.  For cardio, I had walked with my mom and the dog beforehand, so I headed out.

IMG_5031.JPG

On Monday, it was time for the triceps and chest! Similar set up for this round: six exercises for each muscle group, four sets, twelve reps. Burn! More core work followed up with cardio- heavy ropes, tabata style, and a few minutes on the row machine.

IMG_5029.JPG

Day Three brought us to the leg and back portion of the week. I like the combination of legs/back especially when it comes to deadlifts and bent-over rows because those muscle groups are working hard together to get the exercises done. The difference in this day is that I did not perform each exercise circuit style, but completed all sets and reps of one before moving on. It takes more time, but the set up on these are more complicated than just grabbing a kettlebell or a pair of dumbbells as I had to fix up the barbells and the cables, running all over the gym. I did finish the core part via circuit and got some good jump roping time in there.

IMG_5030.JPG

Today was run day and the weather was spectacular! It’s 70 degrees in early March, no snow or ice on the ground, and I can’t help but feel a little giddy. I snapped these pictures mid-run, so go ahead and be impressed!

IMG_5034.jpg

Since it was so nice, I wanted to extend the run and make it a little more special. I haven’t run around the lake since early fall when I was trekking out for 6.25-10 miles on the regular. As you might remember, I had to cut back because my muscles were overexerted, causing my feet to fall asleep! I’ve kept it to about four miles ever since, but the push felt nice today! 6.25 miles overall!

IMG_5035.jpg

Look at this view!

IMG_5033.jpg

The very worst part of this workout was the final climb back home. I walked it and it’s all uphill and after a long run, I was struggling. Phew! Happiness and a little bit of pain is pretty much the grounds for a solid run!

Since I’m nice, I’ll also give you a sneak peek of Thursday’s total body workout. This one is kettlebell and plyometric heavy and I’m already feeling tired! I tried to incorporate some compound movements into the routine as well. We’ll see how well that jump roping and sprints come out at the end.

IMG_5032.JPG

Friday will include some kind of cardio and then Saturday is a much-deserved rest day!

Happy exercising! If it’s nice out, take it outside, even if it’s just for a walk!

Finding Strength: Uphill, Downhill, On the Way

As of late, I’ve been fascinated with strength. It wields so much power, both in the physical and emotional state. Through my emotional strength, I built physical strength. I don’t succeed if I don’t have the two strengths combined.

Picture this: you’re running; it’s hot; it’s uphill; it’s downhill; it’s uphill again; your legs say no more; your mind says stop; you stop.

Picture this: you’re running; it’s hot; it’s uphill; it’s downhill; it’s uphill again; your brain says no more; your legs stop; you stop.

Two scenarios that happen to me all the time when I run. Sometimes, it depends on the sneakers or the playlist. It could be what you had for breakfast or how much water you had during the day. It’s having to use the bathroom or the workout from the day before. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stop. Sometimes, it’s necessary to keep going. I can’t tell you what’s right in each situation. It’s a matter that relies on the mind-body connection. That connection deserves to be strong.

Strength does not just mean you have the will-power to go to the gym or that you lift heavy things and put them down. It doesn’t just mean that you avoided eating the cookie or you burned 400 calories on the elliptical. Strength does not just mean success and it does not just mean overcoming failure. Strength for you, does not mean what it does for me. It’s immeasurable. It can’t be defined. Strength is your own to build, to learn, to discover.

IMG_3711

Strength is having the will to lead a happy and healthy life to the best of your ability and to what you can control. To quote my favorite show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which you’d know if you were paying attention!), “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” So let’s live it our way.

If I did the math right, which could very well be wrong, then my 26th birthday is 80 days away. I decided to do something productive about it.

Every day, for the next 80, I want to reflect on at least one thing in which I found strength. At the end of each post, I am going to share what I found strength in that day. I would love if you would share along with me. It can be anything that makes you feel happy, strong, healthy, and powerful. It does not have to be about exercise or any other subject in particular. I know it won’t always for me.

Today, I ran 6 miles. Some of it was uphill, some of it was downhill, and some of it was flat. My legs were beneath me, my mind was above, and my spirit within. That run, during and after, gave me strength because it’s the first time I ran in weeks (maybe months) that I didn’t feel like I was struggling to get through. I didn’t feel the need to walk or to give up. I pushed through this block and I found my strength again. It feels good.

IMG_3726

Let’s go for 80 days strong!

Legs As White As Snow

At dinner over the weekend, I wore one of my new dresses and was feeling really good about myself. My calves are my best features as they have been honed by strength training and running and I’m quite proud of them. We were standing around talking before heading out and my aunt asked me if I put anything on my legs. My initial assumption was to believe that she was complimenting them in some way as they may have looked shiny or something, but then she said, “Oh, I thought you were wearing white stockings.”

Listen, it’s been a long, bleary winter. Forgive me if my body is pasty and as white as snow.

I can’t believe at this point that Monday has already come and gone and we are into Tuesday. When my alarm went off in the morning, officially signaling the end of the weekend, I wanted to just snuggle into my pillow a little deeper. I had a bit of trouble falling asleep last night because my mind was racing with writing ideas. This is a positive, but I’m also tired, though as the day turned out, I didn’t feel overly tired.

Instead of rolling over, I rolled myself out of bed and threw on my clothes. I went through my usual routine and once I got to the gym, I started with some plank action. I’m alternating between full planks and forearm planks to mix things up. After, I meandered over to the barbells to run through circuit training. For each move, I performed reps by 10x8x6x4 going up in weight, then finished at a medium weight with 8x8x8. By the end, my muscles were feeling the effects of hard work. To throw in some cardio, I jumped on the treadmill for five minutes of sprints before doing some box jumps, jumping jacks, and jump rope. It was an excellent way to start the week!

Breakfast was a glorious invention my Aunt Dawn recommended. It’s an egg sandwich maker that allows you to cook everything within five minutes. All I had to do was throw in an English muffin, cheese, ham, and an egg. It came out toasty, melty, and delicious. It kept me full for a long while too and I wasn’t hungry again until it was lunchtime! Some fruit added to the meal.

photo 1

I made a couple of stir frys for the week on Sunday and this is one of them. Welcome back chicken teriyaki meatballs! I mixed my veggies with a little teriyaki sauce over buckwheat noodles and happily chowed down for lunch.

photo 2

No extra snack was needed as it was someone’s birthday at work and we had ice cream cake to celebrate. My favorite kind of anything!

For dinner, we broiled scallops- one of the best kinds of seafood!- and enjoyed them with some lobster ravioli. Spinach, peppers, and mushrooms were a nice added touch in the marinara sauce.

  
Nothing really else exciting to report except that I am trying to convince myself that my runny nose, deep cough, and chest burn are all to do with allergy symptoms rather than that terrible chest cold/flu that is going around. I can’t be sick for the beginning of May!

Don’t Be Lazy: Whatever Gets You Through That Workout

When it comes to exercise, and life in general, I try to be kind to myself. Maintaining a positive attitude is the majority of the fight, and yet so often, this is something so many struggle to do.

For my workouts, I don’t see them as a chore or a negative thing, I would say 90% of the time. It’s become such an ingrained habit and part of my life that it doesn’t often take a lot to get me inspired, but I still have days where I would rather do anything else. This is particularly true on tired, dark mornings, though it hasn’t been too bad thus far.

When it comes to exercise, I try to do workouts that I enjoy so that it’s easier to keep doing it. If you don’t like it, you’ll resent it, and then resent exercise altogether. All it takes is a bit of a sense of adventure and experimentation.

To keep myself motivated in those spots I need it most, and sometimes it’s just to keep myself going when I’m bored on the treadmill, I either turn up my music louder, focus on my daydreams, or mutter inspirations to myself. You’ll remember one such time I told myself to “keep running kitten.” That borders bizarre, but it was so funny, it distracted me from that hump and helped me run longer.

One of my favorite mottos that inspired me throughout my weight loss efforts, and remains one of my sayings when it comes to workouts or doing things I don’t necessarily feel excited about doing, is, “don’t be lazy.”

My Nana would always say the old, “Why put off tomorrow what you can do today.” I see my saying as an abridged version that is quick, efficient, and effective. Obviously there are moments when one does need to lay off the exercise or can take a breath and do something later, but I prefer to refer to such moments as relaxation. Unnecessary laziness is poisonous and so gays to succumb to because people are busy, busy, busy and we let things slide. It helps that I’m a bit of a control freak, so I won’t let my mind rest until my to do list is checked off.

This morning when my alarm went off, I would have been content to turn it back on for later and curl back into my blankets. I suspected that if I did, it was quite possible that my guilty conscience would have woken me up anyways and plagued my now sleepless thoughts. Totally unproductive on all fronts. Instead, I grunted, “Don’t be lazy!” And got myself up and moving. Turns out, as it does 90% of the time! it was worth those few painful moments of tearing myself away from my precious bed.

Last week, anticipating I would be away on Saturday, I switched my rest days and ended up waking up early everyday last week. I started on Thursday facing a threat of snow, so decided to conquer my workout at home. My body was not overly excited as I made my way through a body strength workout, rode the bike for a few minutes, then ended with some Yoga. I was feeling tight and sore and didn’t get enough out of my workout to the point I was wondering if it was even worth it. I tend to do better workouts at the gym or out and about for the run. As it turns out, the snow did not come anyways, but I’m happy to reserve such at home workouts for snow days.

Friday, I got to the gym raring to go and went through six sets of eight reps on the dumbbells. For these, I lift heavier weight in shorter bursts, mostly to mix things up from my other strength days. I finished up with a run/walk on the treadmill where I walked on an incline for five, ran for five; walked for four, ran for four; walked for three, ran for three; walked for two, ran for two; walked for one, ran for one; increasing my incline and speed the shorter the intervals. I finished off my sweaty workout with a few sprints at a faster speed.

As I mentioned, I was in New York City on Saturday, and though we were on the bus for a good eight hours, we also did a lot of walking. For whatever reason, my legs were still sore on Sunday, so instead of getting to the gym, I took another day off and shopped instead. I have to tell you, as much as I like shopping, it works me up into a frenzy and as I was speed walking around that mall, I worked up a sweat! Between Christmas shopping and food shopping, I fit in a ton of walking, with a walk with the dog topping it off. I also was standing the entire day, getting various chores done, like chopping up veggies for the week and making meals. Sometimes, you just need that extra day.

I was feeling rejuvenated on Monday morning and had no trouble waking up and starting off my week with a barbell strength workout. I don’t change up these moves very often, except to increase weight or mix up the order of my routine. I’m quite proud of the variety I include and observing how far I’ve come. After, I jumped on the treadmill and got in a full thirty minute run, feeling strong. I started off at a slower pace and increased the speed slightly in five minute increments that kept things from turning boring and kept my body guessing.

It would have been easy to convince myself to just do a workout at home Tuesday morning, except I reminded myself how much of a waste it had been the week before and how I would feel better once I got up and moving. It was definitely one of those, “Don’t be lazy!” days, but it worked, and I made my way through a leg heavy body strength, Plyometrics, and Yoga workout that is still leaving me sore (in a good way this time).

This morning, I met my friend Nouha not-so-bright and early for a dumbbell strength workout and a run on the treadmill. It helped knowing that Thursday is my off day and we are having some family holiday fun later tonight! Speaking of, check in tomorrow for some thoughts and reflections on my favorite holiday traditions!

And remember, when it comes to exercising and the holidays, try to maintain a regular schedule. Don’t be like those resolutioners who rely on one day a year to make changes that don’t last. The best changes are the ones inspired by yourself, not a culture craze.

Baby It’s Cold Outside For A Run, But It Can Still Be Done

Workouts this past week started with that long run I mentioned I was going to do on Wednesday, but then I delayed it until Thursday. I’ve been making the four straight miles a regular routine and my only complaint is that in order to extend it to five, I’m going to have to incorporate more hills. I finished off with a mile walk and a good stretching session.

On Friday, I did a barbell strength workout that included five sets of ten bench presses, dead lifts, front rows, high pulls, squat presses, leg presses, bicep curls, front shoulder presses, tricep pullovers, and then finished up with some dumbbell bent-over flies and tricep push backs. After, I went through a difficult leg workout that included a ton of Plyometrics and left me feeling nice and sore the day after.

Even though my box jumps are still on the smallest box and I will admit that I am not the world’s greatest- or graceful- jumper in the world, it’s still a great workout. With them, I also did jumping jacks, high knees, skater jumps, single-leg hip lifts, squats, lunges, and push ups. I finished the day with a few minutes of jump rope.

After my leg-heavy workout on Friday, on Saturday, my legs were not feeling enthusiastic about the run I set out to do. Not helping was the fact that I was at the track where running is considerably more boring and it was freezing. I have a stand-by plan of attack for running outside in cold weather, which I prefer over the treadmill for as long as possible. I was not yet prepared for such frigidity and headed out in just a light jacket and nothing to protect more pore head. I could only get through two miles before meeting up with my parents and did two more miles run-walking.

Listening to my body, I took Sunday off and instead enjoyed the day with my family. On Monday, I was feeling a lot better and did a dumbbell workout that included bench presses, bicep curls, shoulder presses, front raises, rows, shoulder flies, and tricep extensions in a circuit of six sets of eight. Then I went over to the barbells and completed four sets of twelve of side dead lifts, squat presses, leg presses, and elevated bench presses. When I finished, I did some box jumps and jumping jacks before heading home and doing a quick ab workout.

The next day, I did a quick strength workout using the medicine balls. Starting with the dreaded burpees, arrow lunges, then did wall throws, squats, and standing kickbacks on the bosu. I used the stability ball to do a core/strength combined workout that included knee tucks, kneeling roll outs with my arms, pull overs with the medicine ball, elevated hip lifts, and roll outs lying down with my legs. To finish, I did another circuit that included mermaid raises, hundreds to v ups, ankle grabs, Russian twists, and push ups on the medicine ball. In the pool, I got in a mile swim incorporating a few sprints in there to make things harder and go a little more quickly.

Today, I headed out into the glorious sunshine and very cold temperature for another four mile run. This time, my legs were stronger and I was much more prepared for the cold. I threw on my athletic ear muffs that don’t slip and hold ear buds in place, a wrap around scarf, and two jackets. Though I was nice and warm, my one qualm with running outside in the winter is that my sweat turns clammy and my skin dries out easily. Yuck!

IMG_0052.JPG

I would like to point out that in this picture, my eyebrows are more defined and darker than they normally are. I think it’s because my hair is pulling my skin tighter than usual. Also, I may or may not have ran to a little Christmas music, depending on your reaction. But I will say that listening to Idina Menzel and Michael Buble sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was appropriate. For the record, I was also listening to other music interchangeably so I’m not a complete psycho.

I finished off my run with a two mile walk and then two more with my mom with the dog. When I got back, I did a short Yoga flow with a ton of planks and an ab workout that seemed to do the trick.

Next week for Workout Wednesday, I’ll include my game plan for working out during the holiday season!