weekend and travel plans

This weekend was one of relaxation after traveling. I did a lot of nothing, with some exercise thrown in to assuage the guilt.

I had taken a week off from working out thanks to my travel last week and it was much needed. On Saturday, I got back to it with a total body strength routine and some spinning and I was feeling those DOMS on Sunday. A run/walk combo helped stretch out my sore legs in particular, but they were still achey on Sunday night and this morning! I have a love/hate for this kind of pain, but it is the good kind of pain. I guess it was time to mix things up with my plan.

I was also able to catch up on sleep, which had gotten messed up when I took a red-eye to Boston last Friday. I don’t sleep well on planes, especially with my legs feeling a bit cramped. I had a couple of hours to nap once arriving home before my mom and I got mani/pedis for my cousin’s wedding. It was dancing time at the beautiful ceremony and reception and we were up past 2 am, which meant I was awake for the better part of 24+ hours and jet lagged. Whew. But it was well worth it.

The rest of my break was spent with my family, shopping, going to movies and dinner, and spending some quality time. It’s always hard to leave, but it was great to see everybody. Even though it’s a long flight from coast-to-coast, particularly east-to-west, it was nice to gain three hours of the day on the way back.

I captured some snapshots from the plane:

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It was hard to not include the wing of the plane in my photos, so that accounts for the odd angles.

Somehow, it’s Monday again. Enjoy it!

Running on Running

Oh running, you awkward bird. Sometimes I love you, sometimes I despise you, and so often, I love and hate you within steps of each other. Regardless, when my feet hit the pavement (or treadmill, ick) and I pull up to a stop, I’m so happy I got through it at all. For me, as running presents my biggest fitness challenge and the one thing I never believed I would be able to do until I did it, it always feels like an accomplishment. And isn’t that the reason we keep going? Not just health, both of the physical and mental variety, but also because it requires that we test our endurance, our power, and our strength. Running, walking, swimming, biking, lifting, dancing, and all of the other great movements our bodies allow us, they are empowering and sometimes that means it’s a struggle.

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My clients will often ask my thoughts on running and my most common answer is that it’s love/hate, but in a way that’s a gift to my body. I try not to do things that don’t feel good or beneficial. This doesn’t mean that DOMS are not very real and sometimes a symptom of working out, but there are always limitations, whether physical or emotional, that come with exercise and it’s all about what feels good and what your body needs and wants to endure to get to its finest health point.

Running also provided me with an excellent excuse to get my booty outside in the sunshine and take advantage of the day yesterday. Not that it’s not completely acceptable to spend some time soaking up the sun in the backyard, but really there’s only so much unproductive lounging you can get away with on a Monday afternoon. So after a grueling, but satisfying strength training session focused on the back and biceps, I headed home and outside for a run. It wasn’t my finest or my fastest. I had run a nice four miler the day before so my legs were questioning my motives, but it was worth it.

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My rest day was also worth it this morning because even though exercise always starts the day off right, gets the good feelings flowing, and keeps you strong, especially when that work includes motivating people to exercise, muscles need time to revover.

If nothing else, exercise is an easy way to do something good for yourself whether it’s for twenty minutes or an hour.

What are you going to do for yourself today?

Early Morning Workout Calls

Thus far, I have proven successful at this whole waking up early and working out thing. Tuesday was a true test of determination due to the cold, wet, and slippery driving conditions that could have been reason enough for me to roll over and sleep longer. Thing is, I didn’t sleep well the night before for whatever reason and when my alarm went off, I was ready to get up.

Last Thursday when I took my regularly scheduled rest day, I found I felt more tired during the day even though I slept a whole hour and forty-five minutes longer than usual. There’s something about starting the day with a workout that pumps you up and keeps you energized. The trick is getting up in the first place.

Because I had not woken up on Thursday, I found it more agonizing on Friday when my alarm went off, but once I was awake, I was feeling strong. I fit in a great dumbbell strength circuit before heading over to do a Plyometrics cardio workout, including jump rope, box jumps, jumping jacks, high knees, and skater jumps.

On Saturday, it was cold and rainy, which meant I wouldn’t be able to fit in my long run. As much as I missed my one chance at an outdoor run, I improvised at the gym with a ton of interval training. For each move, I performed an exercise for twenty seconds and rested for ten seconds for four minutes. This included box jumps, kettlebell swings, squats, lunges, bicep curls, mountain climbers, push ups, Russian twists, jump roping, and bicycling among others. I finished off my workout with a few sprints on the treadmill before slowing down the pace and ran for twenty minutes. I left feeling nice and sweaty.

I was battling a few odd ailments on Sunday, including a pretty bad headache and a twinge in my ear, so I decided it was in my best interest to take a day off from the gym.

This ended up being the right call and I was good and ready to wake up on Monday and get going. I went through my usual barbell workouts, four sets of ten reps, and was able to move up my weights on a few of the moves. I contemplated running for my cardio, but didn’t have the right shoes, so I did twelve minutes on the elliptical and followed it up with another version of Plyometrics. Now that I have more of a set routine, I can workout for about an hour and fifteen minutes, which is a perfect amount of time!

As I mentioned, Tuesday brought a snow-covered car and frozen windshield, but the heat was quick to warm things up and I took it slow driving to the gym. To kick things off, I went through a body strength workout of step ups, lunges, dips, squats, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, Russian twists, and hundred v ups. For a little extra ab work, I did some planks. My intention, like every Tuesday, was to swim, but the weather didn’t keep people away like I predicted, and the pool was so crowded! Not wanting to waste any time, I threw my workout clothes back on and ran up to the treadmill to fit in a long run. My only obstacle was trying to keep things interesting while I whittled away forty minutes. Loud, fun music helps things along!

For my Wednesday workout, I grabbed the kettlebells and went through an exhausting circuit workout that included for one set- swings, goblet squats, elbow to knee shoulder presses with step ups, high pulls, and lunging arrows, and another set of kickback rows, tricep pullovers, mermaid raises, hundred leg lifts, and Russian twists. For some cardio, I spent some time jump roping before taking to the elliptical.

Thus far, I’m digging the morning workouts and how it makes me feel. As time goes, it will either turn into a certified habit or steer me towards evening workouts. As I said before, it’s a choice when I want to workout, but not a choice whether or not I workout at all. Choose options of the usual when, where, what, how, and why that work best for you and get to it!

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!

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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!

For Exercise, Attitude Is Key

It took a few days, but it appears that I have caught up on my sleep. I felt fine throughout the day, except for my workouts where I felt weaker and drowsy. Part of this lack of motivation might stem from needing to freshen up my workouts, which is on the agenda for this weekend.

Last Thursday, I swam my fastest mile ever in just over 42-minutes. That sounds really slow, but a mile in my pool is 36 laps, back and forth equalling one. Swimming is a long process and can be boring, but I just kept going through storyline plots in my head. It also helped (time and focus) that I incorporated some sprints into my routine. It’s amazing how out of breath you can feel from swimming. I also had two kickball games, the first we won by a run and the second we lost by eight runs. I can’t say that felt spectacular but it was a fun season!

On Friday, I ran through another routine, starting with a quick barbell circuit of squat presses, bench presses, and deadliest among other moves. After, I moved on to three different kettlebell circuits. These are good because they work on both a cardio and strength level. When I get home, I went out for a quick two-mile run, anticipating that I wouldn’t have time on Saturday, before dropping some family off at the airport. It was good to get that extra workout in because it was Halloween and you better believe I indulged in some chocolate!

Saturday was a sister birthday celebration because we were born 9 days (and 3 years apart). We started with a shopping trip at Target to finalize Halloween costumes before making it in for a pretty intense Yoga class. It wasn’t an intensive workout, but it left me feeling a bit sweaty and much more alert and relaxed. I could have fallen asleep on that mat at the end (which is ironic because that’s how I slept that night and it wasn’t as easy).

Even though it was one of the meager forced trips, on Sunday, as I mentioned, I was able to go through a dumbbell circuit that included body strength moves in-between, followed by a measly 15 minutes on the Elliptical and a quick walk in the freezing cold. I didn’t feel better or worse for having gone and had I felt truly awful, I would have skipped it. However, sometimes there are just days where motivation is low, especially when weather is poor, and just the art of keeping to routine will make a huge difference to your approach.

Monday, I did my medicine ball routine. I couldn’t muster up the energy to do Burpees or work through my sets with my usual power. Sometimes, to get through certain moves that are trickier, it is good to envision yourself doing them and talking yourself up. In this case, I knew I would struggle through the rest of my workout if I did them, so I felt I was justified in skipping. It’s not as though I skipped out on an entire workout! I finished up with a 35 minute swim where I didn’t keep track of laps. My mom and I ended the night with a run/walk combination in the dark and it wasn’t that late!

On Tuesday, I did an hour of Yoga before going out for a four mile run that was a bit of a struggle, but finished strong. For me, my best mileage comes from the middle to end when I’m feeling my strongest. After all this time, it can still take my body awhile to adjust to running and not feel like it’s death. I’ve learned that if I stick through the first mile or so, I will usually get myself into a good rhythm and it won’t feel quite as burdensome. Quality music and a positive attitude will always help!

Today, I felt much stronger and revitalized, so I went through my barbell strength routine, a body strength/core combination workout, and finished up with five minutes of jump rope and five minutes of box jumps interval style. For my strength routine, I’m noticing that I am able to go up in a lot of weight. I’ve been rotating between four sets of ten and three sets of twelve, depending on the day, and they seem like the magical numbers. If I were to do lesser amount of moves in each routine, I would up my number of sets, which might be on tap for this next workout plan, in addition to more ab work and Yoga. I haven’t decided yet!

Tomorrow, I will write that post I promised about my excitement for November. Exciting things to come!

I Like To Move, Move- Updated Workouts!

Writing this out, I understand that these workouts might seem intense. Keep in mind, I dedicate/have a lot of time in order to workout and I always listen to my body’s signals. This month’s workouts are great because they can be broken up into segments that people can pick and choose to their liking. I always get excited about formulating new workout plans, and these have definitely kicked my butt in a good way!

Day One:
Strength (Using Barbells)
– Rows
– Bicep Curls
– Front Deadlifts
– Snatch and Presses
– Squat Presses
– Bench Presses
– Lying Tricep Extensions
– Front Shoulder Presses
– Shoulder Raises
– Leg Press

Body Strength
– Step Ups
– Lunges
– Deep Squats
– Dips
– V Push Ups
– Leg Lifts
– Single-Leg Hip Lifts
– Sit Ups

Cardio (HIIT)
– Jump Rope
– Treadmill Sprints
– Bike Sprints
– Rower Sprints

Day Two
Strength (Using Ball and Medicine Balls)
– Burpees to Throw Downs
– Wall Throws
– Lunge Twists
– Single-Leg Deadlifts
– Squat Swings
– Rollouts
– Elevated Hip Lifts
– Hundreds
– Russian Twists
– Mermaid Raises

Body Strength
– Box Jumps
– Dips
– Rope Swings
– Leg Swings
– Jump Rope

Cardio
– Swim or Elliptical depending on time

Day Three
Strength
– Yoga

Cardio
– Run

Day Four
Strength (using cables)
– Pull Downs
– Chops
– Rows
– Tricep Extensions
– Flies
– Leg Presses

Strength (using kettle bells)
– Swings
– Goblet Squats
– Alternating Knee to Elbow Shoulder Presses
– Single-Arm Snatches
– Front Rows
– Bench Presses (on ball)

Body Strength
– Box Jumps
– Push Ups
– Mountain Climbers
– Leg Lifts
– Backwards Lunges
– Split Squats to Standing Kickbacks

Cardio (HIIT)
– Jump Rope
– Treadmill Sprints
– Bike Sprints
– Rower Sprints

Day Five

REST

Day Six
Strength (using dumbbells)
– Bench Presses
– Flies
– Hammer Curls
– Front Raises
– One-Leg Rows
– Deadlifts
– Shrugs to Lunges
– Shoulder Presses
– Tricep Extensions with Calf Raises

Strength (using barbells)
– Plie Squat Presses
– Leg Presses
– Angled Bench Presses

Body Strength
– Hanging Leg Raises
– Box Jumps
– Split Squats
– Lunge Twists
– Push Ups
– Spiderman Climbers
– Mermaid Raises
– Alternating Ankle Grabs
– Single-Leg Hip Lifts
– Russian Twists

Day Seven
Strength
– Yoga

Cardio
– Run

For sets and reps, it depends on how I’m feeling that day and how much time I have to workout. Lately, I’ve been trying to push my workouts to the next level, so I’ve varied between 4 sets of 12, 5 sets of 10, and 3 sets of 15. The heaviness of weights also depends on the amount of reps per set.

On most days, I end my workouts with a series of planks- front planks, side planks, reverse planks, and also include shoulder stands and full bridges. I also try to walk as much as possible to fit in as much movement throughout the day.

Soon, I am going to start studying to become a personal trainer because I think I have a unique background and the drive to help a lot of people. For me, exercise is energizing, fun, and stress-relieving. I like testing my body and proving how strong I am. It doesn’t always have to be this intense, depending on your preference. Please feel free to use some of these moves and incorporate segments into your own workout.

It’s All Fun and Games Until You Fall On Your Ass

Last week, the games for the kickball league I joined began. I had been discussing my past kickball abilities in a slight braggish tone because I remember tearing it up on the blacktop way back in elementary school. It didn’t seem to matter that that was about 15 years ago because it shouldn’t be hard to kick, catch, or throw a ball or run the bases.

I felt confident going into the game, but I was thrown off by the ball’s size upon arrival. This was not the standard sized kickball I remember in my past. Part of me wanted to commandeer the game and throw in the size that I am used to, but in the end, I decided that it shouldn’t make too much of a difference.

We were up to kick first and I got up in the first inning. As the ball rolled slowly towards me, I took a slight running start and I’m actually not sure where the ball went because I was running. All those home runs I envisioned kicking cleared out of my mind pretty quickly because the ball was heavy. Yes, I’m strong, but I don’t think I will be knocking it out of the softball field anytime soon no matter my strength. That might be the point of the extra-large kickball.

Regardless of the weight, the ball flew, somewhere, and I took off running towards first. I’m happy to report that I was safe and ready to run those bases. The guy kicking behind me sent out a nice line drive, but the fielder was too close to second base for my liking and I was nervous that I’d be thrown out. That would just be embarrassing. I revved it up and stepped on the base, safely, and then all of a sudden I was on the ground.

Listen, I’m a klutz. I fall all the time, on my own, completely unassisted, but this time it wasn’t my fault. The base was not tied down and the way I stepped on it caused it to go flying, which means I went down, hard, budging my shoulder. I think I jammed my shoulder so hard that my wrist didn’t hurt when I think it should have, neither did my leg all that much. My shoulder took the brunt of the fall. A small spot on my hand remains the only physical indicator of injury, but let me tell you, I was in pain. At first, I sat in shock and thought I had broken my shoulder or collarbone. No one had noticed though because there had been a play at the plate that was far more important.

My wound:

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I limped off the field, terrified that I had somehow managed to break myself in a game of kickball and opted not to play the field. It definitely hurt, but I could still move it and feel my fingers, so I decided it wasn’t broken. I even made a catch in the field later on that sort of bounced off my chest and there was this terrifying moment when the ball was just bouncing around in my arms, but I held on for dear life. I also kicked two more line drives that were easily caught and I’ve realized that in order to succeed in this league, you need to kick it on the ground because it is immensely hard to throw and fielders will be more likely to make a mistake that way.

The next day, I took a nurse-mandated rest day (my mom) and though the pain wasn’t sharp, it was nagging at me the entire day. I took another rest day on Saturday just to be sure, but also mostly because by the time I got home for the day, it was raining outside and the gym was closing. On Sunday, I met my workout buddy, Nouha, for a strength training routine, but we only did three sets of ten and I stuck to lighter weights than usual. Oddly enough, the only exercise that aggravated my shoulder at that point was the jumping jack. It was just the way my shoulder was angled that caused some pain, but it wasn’t too bad. After that, I took myself to the track and legged out four miles in the beautiful sumfall (summer-fall, ha!) air with little to no pain.

Workout buddy:

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On Monday, I went to the gym to swim laps, a little hesitant that it might hurt, but it felt fine for most of my swim. It wasn’t until the very end that it felt a bit sore, but nothing serious. Then I got home and read an article online about how a person must be in awesome shape if they can do a pull-up, which both my brother and sister can do, but I still can’t. I’ve actually never considered working on it, but with the article, and my brother’s pull-up bar taunting me in the background, I was motivated to try it.

I kind of just hung in the air for a little while, my core and arms aching, trying to lift myself up, which I suppose is some sort of accomplishment, yet not the big bang. Now I’m determined, except of course that I overstretched my ailing shoulder, preventing me from going to a hot yoga class that night.

The only exercise I have encountered that I cannot do in any way is the pistol squat. This means that you stand on one leg, squat as low as you can, with the other leg laying out in front of you in the air. My brother can do this. It is physically impossible for me to not fall on my behind attempting it. I’ve been doing split squats to try to get to that level, mostly so I can just prove that I can.

No fear about the pain as I was feeling just fine and back to my regular strength workout on Tuesday with no pain. I did go to the pull-up machine, but I did the half-ones where you hold yourself up and lift or swing your knees. I was going to attempt another pull-up, but that motion did flash warning signs of pain and stopped.

I was back to the track on Wednesday, but my body was feeling tired. When I finished at a little more than two miles, I walked one more and was wondering why it seemed so difficult to go further this time. Upon further inspection of my running app, I noticed that I had actually run a good 30-40 seconds faster than I normally do, which is a big deal in running. I’m not sure if I outpaced myself or what, but the speed didn’t feel bad, just my legs were tired (and I needed to pee). Let me tell you, if you have to go even a little when you run, you feel it. The moment I stopped, I was fine.

New fitness mission: do a pull-up and a pistol squat.