Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

The Things We Do for Charity

Ok, so maybe we didn’t make a huge personal sacrifice yesterday, but it was still not something we were looking forward to.  Every year, my sisters, my husband and I walk in an MS Walk.  It’s always around mid-April when the weather is a little bit questionable.  We’ve been blessed with a beautiful day for the walk in the past. We’ve had cold years.  We’ve had windy years.  This year was our first cold, windy and rainy year. 

After weeks of drought, the rain returned with a vengeance on one day where we really needed it to stay away.  We all secretly hoped the others would say let’s just not walk this year, but no one stepped up and off we went.  Dressed in a windbreaker and poncho, I spent the first half of the walk holding my poncho hood up to keep the cold rain from hitting my face.   It was an easy decision to only do the short loop – 2.7 miles and get out of the rain as fast as we could.  After the walk, it took a good 45 minutes before my hands would work properly after being frozen stiff.

I’m either proud of myself for sucking it up and participating or embarrassed that I actually voluntarily walked in the cold rain for so long.  I haven’t decided.  At the end of the day, the National MS Society got our donations, and we have a good story to reminisce about during next year’s walk.  Hopefully, yesterday’s experience will be the worst we ever have.

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Mom, Employee, Exerciser and Blogger – Where are you?

This was the view that greeted me as I walked outside for my morning run. Yes, that is the moon. At a crisp 59 degrees, I had a glimpse of Fall. Personally, I love the Fall. I like sweaters and sweatshirts bundling up under the blankets, but I don’t want any Fall in August. I’m not ready to run in the dark. It is impossible to get out of bed for a run when it is freezing cold out and dark.

Since I enjoy blogging, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I also enjoy reading blogs. My interests are, of course, exercise, cooking, and any ideas to be more green. The green topics aren’t as plentiful as food and fitness. There are tons of blogs written by women about their daily fitness and cooking activities. Unfortunately, they all happen to be in their 20’s and aren’t juggling 2 kids, a job, and a blog. Since I just described my life, you can understand why my daily fitness activities are greeted with the moon smiling back at me.

I’m on the hunt for more blogging women like me. Maybe they’re just too busy to include blogging in their daily schedule. If you are one or know of any, please let me know where I can find their blogs.

Your Body Wants to Be Challenged

The other week I was reading Whole Living magazine, and there was a 1 page article on how to walk or run faster. In a nutshell, it explained how to do a speed workout. Interval training isn’t anything new, but it can be effective to improve running times. I’ve never been much of a speed workout person. When I’ve been consistent in my running, I do try to do a speed workout once a week, which in reality results to about once a month. I run for fitness not to win any races, so I haven’t seen much use for speed workouts. However, something in this article has been swirling around in my brain ever since I read it:

“Your body wants to be challenged.”

I have never thought about that. Our bodies want to be challenged. I thought that our bodies liked to sit on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother while eating Nutella on animal crackers (yes, this is the most amazing combination!). When you really stop to think about this idea, it does make sense. You’ve heard about people working out for few months only to hit a plateau in weight loss. That’s because our bodies are adaptable. They adapt to fitness routines. They adapt to diets. You need to change your workouts to surge past this plateau. Essentially, you need to challenge your body.

I can’t get this idea out of my head. So, this morning, despite snoozing for 15 minutes, after my alarm went off, I rolled out of bed, strapped on my running shoes and challenged my body with a speed workout. Instead of thinking about improving my pace, I was thinking about challenging my body, which is what also went through my mind as I ran up a ½ mile incline.

I was going to take a picture of myself smiling, but I was working some pretty scary bed head. Here are my feet ready to go.

Not only was it a beautiful cool morning (temp around 62), I was greeted with a glorious morning sky.  One of the benefits of early morning runs are seeing the sunrise.  Now if only I had a video of me bobbling my iPhone and my leap of trying to catch it before it hit the ground only a few short inches from a storm drain while ripping my headphones out of my ears, I could have given everyone a nice chuckle.

Bye-Bye P90X, Hello Sidewalk

I’m not surprised that my passion for P90X has waned. It’s only been 5 weeks. I’m very proud to say that my husband is still going strong, but I missed my laid-back, tv-watching, early-to-bed (if you can call 11pm early) nights. We were in a routine of putting the kids to bed and then heading to our pseudo-basement gym and working out. Sounds great, huh? I had a workout partner that was committed to the exercise. How much more motivation did I need?

One issue for me was that I don’t enjoy exercising at night. Exercising when you feel your best is a cardinal rule for sticking to a fitness routine, and I was breaking it. I am a morning person, always have been, and despite many attempts to make me into a sleep-late, up-all-night person, I am still a morning person. If we were working out at 7pm and then having some downtime before bed, I’d be ok with that but lifting weights at 9pm just doesn’t mentally work for me.

The workouts themselves are challenging or maybe I should say that they are as challenging as you make them. The truth is that I don’t really like lifting weights or doing hundreds of pushups. I like to move. Cardio has always been my thing. Even though it is 2011 and very uncool, put me in a step aerobics class, and I’ll be in my glory. I won’t deny that the plyometrics session is a really intense cardio workout, and I will admit that I loved the kenpo workout, but I just didn’t like all the other workouts enough to stay committed.

I knew that I was faltering with the workout program and thought that a week off would give me the rest I needed physically and mentally to hop back on the P90X train. After that week, I still hadn’t found my motivation and instead started finding excuses – “I’m fighting a cold”, “I have so much to do around the house”, “I need to run an errand”. Now I really didn’t know what to do. I need exercise in my life but what should I do if P90X isn’t it. I decided it was time to strap on the running shoes and hit the pavement again.

I got up early yesterday morning and headed out for the first time since the beginning of June when I did a 5K with my sister. I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all of my P90X workouts, I felt strong but wasn’t sure if I had the stamina to run for any period of time. Imagine my surprise when I knocked out a 5K like it was nothing. It wasn’t a fast run (I’m not a very fast runner), but I was excited to be out there moving. It was humid and I worked up a sweat for 6am but felt great.

For all of you morning –haters, you don’t know what you’re missing. Early mornings are special. There is something about the sun just coming up and the quiet of the neighborhood that is a unique experience. We walk regularly in the same neighborhood, and people are always out working on their lawns or playing with the kids. The mornings are empty of that. You might pass a few other runners that you wave to because you’re both part of that special morning club of runners (kind of like how motorcycle riders wave to each other). You’ll definitely see people out walking their dogs and maybe an occasional walker. I confess that as I did my little wave to the other runners that I felt a little bit of a fraud. After all, it was only my first day back.

I returned home feeling pumped for 2 reasons. Number 1- I had actually gotten back on the saddle and number 2 – I didn’t feel like I was starting from the couch. My body felt like it was ready for the runs. I guess I can thank Tony Horton for that. Then today came, and boy, am I sore. My quads are sore. My back is sore. My abs are sore. While I worked all of these muscles in P90X, I guess running is just too different of an exercise, and my body really wasn’t quite that ready. Oh well. Muscles heal. It just keeps getting better from here, and I’m still psyched for my run tomorrow morning.

The Vegan Experiment: Day 27

Day 27

Breakfast: Brown rice salad (this is the last of it!)
Snack: Cashews
Lunch: Lemon pepper tofu and avocado on toasted whole wheat bread, crackers and hummus
Snack: Pretzels
Dinner: Veggie burger with guacamole and tomato, farro salad and carrots

I’ve already established that being on a vegan diet has given me higher and more consistent energy levels throughout the day. While more energy can just make your day more enjoyable, it also gives you the motivation to exercise. Starting regular workouts after you have a baby is really challenging for the average mom, so it is important to find other opportunities to make normal activities higher intensity to compensate for not being able to hit the gym or go for a run.

The easiest exercise that I do is play with my son. As a 2-year-old, he is always moving and loves to be chased or picked up. When I’m not running with him, his other favorite activity is to be bench-pressed. I know that you are impressed that I can bench a 30 pound 2-year-old. I’ve decided that I need to step it up a little bit more and after my sister giving rave reviews of the Reebok Easytone shoes, I decided to try them out for myself. I agree with her that you can definitely feel something going on in the legs.

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Now when I run my errands, instead of throwing on sneakers or boots, I put on my Easytones. They are comfortable, and if I wear them for an extended period of time, my calf muscles definitely feel like they have gotten a workout. I recommend them to anybody looking for an easy way to boost up the amount of exercise you do during the day.

Tony “P90X” Horton – Do I Love Him or Hate Him?

I’m on day 3 of the P90X workout. Only 87 more days to go. Ugh. For those of you who aren’t familiar with P90X, it is an intense workout regime created by Tony Horton that can be done at home with few pieces of equipment. When I say intense, I mean intense. My husband started the program a few weeks ago, and I’ve joined him in his daily workouts exactly 3 days ago. This workout program consists of workouts that range from 60 -90 minutes and are executed 6 days a week. That’s right – 1 day of rest. Day 1 was chest, back and abs. Day 2 was plyometrics. Day 3 was shoulders, arms and abs.

Needless to say that by now, my entire body hurts. Every time I stretch my arms, my chest and back scream. I can barely raise my arms.  Getting up from a seated position causes my legs to tremble and my hips to groan. Let’s not even talk about going up and down the stairs. The worst pain is without question my abs. The pain isn’t just a twinge here and there. Stretching my back causes a ripping pain deep and the entire length of my abdominal wall. Last night, I got into bed and wanted to roll over to my other side, but my body was too physically tired and sore to move. I just fell asleep in the position that I was in. I think that the motivation to keep going is to make all this pain worthwhile. I can’t imagine enduring this agony only to quit , decide to start again later and go through it all again.

I share all of this torture with you not to discourage you from trying the workout or to illicit pity. I’m sharing it to brag. I’m proud of myself for surviving these workouts and still wanting more. It’s a huge time commitment, and I’m worried that the need for a good night’s sleep might trump the desire to stick with the program.  Fortunately, my husband is committed and there is nothing more motivating than having someone else work out with you. I think Tony Horton would be satisfied with me when I say that I will do my best.  I did take a before picture of me that I might be willing to share on day 91, if I make it to then.

Tonight is a 90 minute yoga workout that my husband tells me is grueling. I don’t even want to think about how I will feel tomorrow.

What crazy workouts have you tried?

Step it Up

 A new research study came out this week that highlights Americans as taking significantly less steps per day than other countries.  For a nation where 63% of its inhabitants are overweight, is this really a surprise to anyone?  I will add one concern to this study.  It only profiled 1136 Americans.  That seems like a pretty low number to base comprehensive study results on, but it still is a good opportunity to talk about getting people walking.

I wondered how many people know how many steps they take per day.  I own a pedometer and have a pretty good idea of my average number steps on days where I don’t consciously exercise and the average number of steps I walk or run.  Another opportunity that many people are not taking advantage of is company –sponsored step challenges.  My friend’s company started these years ago.  Employees who wanted to participate received a pedometer.  They recorded their daily steps over a determined period of time and winners got prizes.  My husband’s company did the same thing 2 years ago, and finally, my company started it too.  We use www.virginhealthmiles.com, and our pedometers have a USB connection that uploads our steps so no cheating is involved.  Working for a company with more than 100,000 geographically-disperse employees can make these challenges less motivating because you don’t know your competition.  What I like about the website is you also have the ability to create your own challenge.  Currently, I have a challenge in progress.  12 of my immediate co-workers are involved.  It’s full of trash-talking, bragging, and other motivational language to get us all moving.  Who doesn’t like that competition?

 Back to the statistics….on average Americans take ~5000 steps a day.  Why is this so concerning?  Well, I’m  sure that many of you already know that we should be taking 10,000 steps a day to support optimum health.  10,000 steps equal about 5 miles.  If you are like me and you drive to and from work and sit a desk all day, walking 5 miles a day just doing what you have to do is nearly impossible.   To walk 10,000 steps a day, you actually need to exercise.  You don’t need a hard workout.  You don’t need to go to the gym.  You just need to walk.  Walk with your dog, your husband, your child.  Better yet, walk with your iPod and set your own pace.  If you feel inspired, spend the $10 and buy a pedometer.  Challenge yourself to walk 10,000 steps a day.  You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel just by walking.