Archive for the ‘Workouts’ Category

Mission Accomplished!

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Today is Day 7 in my little 7-Day Challenge, and I’m proud to say that I worked out each and every day this past week! This challenge has caused me to remember what it was like when I was training for the half marathon or doing P90X – when, in both cases, I worked out every day, or nearly every day. Here are my insights:

• Planning is essential. In order to fit in a workout every day – or even just on a day that you intend to work out – it’s necessary to think ahead and fit it in when you can. This week, I’ve had other commitments like client meetings, taxi-ing husbands and friends (just one of each) to the airport and back, dinner with friends, etc, and in many cases, if I hadn’t thought ahead of what my day entailed and squeezed in my workout when I had the chance, I would have missed my only opportunity and ended up missing that day.

• I hate doing laundry. After one of my long-term fitness commitments which meant working out on a daily basis, I purchased enough shorts, tank tops and sports bras to get me through 4-5 days without having to wash clothes. But now that I’m pregnant, only a few of those things still fit, and I haven’t bought more of that type of clothing that will fit my new shape, so I’ve had to do laundry at least every other day. It sucks. I hate it. I need more pregnancy-friendly workout clothes. Period.

• When I work out, I feel good. I don’t generally feel good DURING the workout, though some days, I do. And I don’t generally feel good (or excited about working out) BEFORE the workout, but after the post-workout shower? I feel great! And then for the rest of the day! And not just physically, but also mentally. I can look back on my day and say that I did something positive and healthy for myself (and my baby!). Right now, after 7 days of working out, I feel much less like an amorphous blob than I did a week ago.

• Some days I feel better than others. With the exception of Saturday, when I counted my Kung Fu class as my workout for the day, I did Suzanne Bowen’s Long and Lean Prenatal Workout. Overall, I progressed quite nicely with this workout: I was able to do more and more of the workout (today I did damn near everything without  having to pause at all), and generally felt better doing the moves – like I had better form and wasn’t going to die from them. However, Thursday was a bad day. A rather lackluster workout. I simply wasn’t in the mood to do it in the first place, and that didn’t go away even though I pushed myself to do it anyway. I don’t know if it was something I ate (or didn’t eat) or the weather, or what, but I just didn’t have as good of a workout as the other days. In fact, I may have skipped a few moves altogether. But then on Friday? Great again! Ebbs and flows, people: Don’t let it get you down.

• Being physically active makes me want to make healthier food choices. After working out, the last thing I want to do is eat a heavy, calorie-laden meal. I’ve had more salads this week than I have in ages, and I ate them because I wanted to, and they tasted great. Focus on one area of health, and the others seem to follow!

I know at least a few other people were doing this challenge with me – how did you girls end up? Did anyone else do it in secret? That’s cool too – I hope anyone who attempted it was successful. Even if you didn’t work out every day, if you worked out more than you usually do, I’d call that a success.

Now time to schedule my massage reward!


Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

I’m two days into my 7-day challenge and I’ve stuck to my commitment thus far! I like the new workout video I bought (Suzanne Bowen’s Long and Lean Prenatal Workout), though it’s not really yoga. In fact, it’s not yoga at all. I don’t know why I *thought* it was yoga, except that I found it on Amazon after specifically searching for “prenatal yoga dvd” – but probably after clicking on a few links.

Anyway, there are 3 sections to the workout: The first is 20 minutes of standing work which I would have laughed at prior to my pregnancy – it looks so easy! – a lot of slow, controlled movements like leg lifts and squats. But seriously: Now? After how many months of doing very little exercise, gaining nearly 30 pounds, and circulating roughly 4 extra pounds of blood? It’s tough! Not too tough to do, for the most part, but I feel like I’m getting a good workout – I certainly work up a sweat and get my heart rate pumping!

The second section is also 20 minutes, and is mat work. It starts out with pushups, which have never been my thing, but I can power through most of what she asks here, since they’re knee pushups and she breaks them into sets of 8. Very manageable. After that there are some leg lifts and some arm strengthening moves all of which make me feel like I’m doing something, but not so much that I ever feel like I’m endangering the baby. There’s no jumping or jarring movements at all.

The third section is 10 minutes, and is just a bunch of stretching and relaxation moves. I didn’t love this section – I always balk at stretching, I always have. I did it yesterday, but skipped it today. Is that bad? Hmm… now I feel bad for skipping it. Maybe I’ll add it back in tomorrow.

There are a few little things about the video itself that bug me. For instance, the instructions are a voice over, which is fine, except that a few times she says right leg but actually uses her left leg and vice versa. It’s a little confusing at times, but overall, I’d give it two thumbs up.

Of course, this is only Day 2, and I’ve committed to doing it seven days in a row. I’m a bit concerned that I’m going to be sick of it by Day 5, because it’s hard for ANY workout video to feel fresh after doing it over and over again. Hopefully, I’ll see improvement in what I can do in short order which will keep me motivated.

I’ve also decided to treat myself to a massage at the end of the week if I stick to my plan as extra incentive. I *love* massages, and boy could I use one!


Seven Days of…

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

A comment on my last post from my friend Emily who had a baby of her own about a month ago really made me feel better. I was lamenting the fact that I wasn’t doing as well as I had hoped in the exercise department, and she had this to say:

Hang in there! I know I intended to do much of the same in my pregnancy [exercise regularly]. And, like you, had only bits of success. I was way too tired / nauseated for the first trimester and then too uncomfortable in the the third. I did better during the second, but only a bit. I ended up gaining about 40 lbs… and in the month since giving birth I’ve lost 30 lbs and I haven’t done a darn thing to do it. My unsolicited advice is this: everything in moderation. As long as you are healthy and feel good, so does your baby. You’ll lose the weight later… but pamper yourself now. :)

I especially like that bit about pampering myself!

Really, though, I know that I can (and should) do more exercise now than I have been – and I think I’ll feel better both physically and mentally by doing so. My idea is to do something in my air conditioned cocoon to minimize the discomfort by the heat of the summer, and the plan is yoga. I’ve done a little yoga in the past (very little) – a class or two, plus the yoga workout once a week during my 3-month stint doing P90X. I wasn’t great at it, but I didn’t hate it either.

So I did a search on Amazon, reading the customer reviews for a number of prenatal yoga videos, and settled on one that 52 out of 60 reviewers gave 5 stars to: Suzanne Bowen’s Long and Lean Prenatal Workout. It arrived yesterday, and though I haven’t removed the shrink wrap yet, I’m excited to give it a try!

The writer of one of the blogs I frequent, Krissie of Questions for Dessert, has recently issued a challenge to folks to do 7 days of yoga, starting August 1 (tomorrow!). It was just the call I needed to jump start my foray into actually exercising during my pregnancy – and perfect timing since I just got that new video! I’m psyched :)

Anyone else want in on this? It doesn’t have to be yoga, if that’s not your thing. Just commit to doing some sort of workout for 7 days straight. Like Krissie says at the beginning of her post about this, I’m a little worried about successfully carrying out this commitment, so I’m trying to recruit others so that I’m not alone. I find it’s easier to stick to something when you A) tell others about your goal and B) get others to join you. So that’s what I’m doing!

I know it’s short notice, but if you’re going to join me, let me know that you’re on board in the comments and tell me what you’ll be doing! I want to hear about it!

And I’ll let you all know how I do with my 7 days of yoga. Hopefully I like this video and I’m not like the one person out of 60 who gave it 1 star… I’m optimistic about it!

Hotter Than a Match Head

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Last week I had another doctor’s appointment. This one went significantly better than the last one, which began with me breaking down into tears after being weighed (and freaking out my husband with my crazy pregnant lady hormones).

After that ‘rock bottom moment,’ I made a conscious effort to improve my eating habits. I started off with a bang – cooking more & eating out less; eating more vegetables; not eating ice cream for dessert on a daily basis; not eating whenever I damn well felt like it; etc. – and most of that stuck. The cooking has decreased a bit and the vegetables aren’t as plentiful as they should be, but all in all? Not too bad.

The exercise thing in the last five weeks has been better, too, though there is definitely still room for improvement. The heat has been a real hurdle to working out. It’s like all temperatures are amplified: If it’s a little cool, I’m freezing, and if it’s a little hot, I feel like it’s the desert in summer. So when it’s actually hot? I’m completely miserable. The other day I was outside for less than five minutes, and I felt like I was going to pass out. And given my track record with passing out, I was concerned enough to retreat to the sanctuary of my air conditioned cocoon (aka: The Couch). The heat has never made me this uncomfortable before, so I can only attribute it to the growing creature inside of me.

Despite the intense heat of late, I’ve managed to make it to Kung Fu about twice a week, on average. However, it’s so freaking hot in the school that my workouts there are a bit lackluster. (Air conditioner anyone?!) Plus, there’s only so much I can do there anyway: My kicks are little more than knee height because when I kick high my thigh hits my belly and it feels weird; I obviously can’t spar; I refuse to hold body bags for anyone to kick into; I (discreetly) avoid working with people who I feel don’t have good control; I have terrible endurance these days and require frequent breaks; etc. etc.

I’ve walked a few times, but honestly, rarely long enough to consider it an actual workout – more a (reasonably) pleasant way to spend half an hour or an environmentally friendly way to get from one place to another. (I actually really like walking for transportation, but – with this damn heat – by the time I reach my destination I often look and feel like crap. That means I have to be judicious when deciding if this is an option. Hopefully I can do this more when the temps drop a bit – soon, with any luck!)

There have also been occasional one-off bouts of exercise: Lots of volleyball a few weeks back; a kayaking adventure with some friends; a few short hikes. Really though, nothing too crazy. I mean, I know I’m not supposed to do anything crazy, but it would be healthy to increase the frequency and perhaps duration of these exercises.

What I really should be doing is yoga or something similar in my house. That way, I can be in the sweet, sweet air conditioning and still get a good workout in that’s safe for me and the baby. Have I done that though? Even once? I sure haven’t!

Despite all of the things that I could be doing better, I did make improvements between my most recent doctor’s visit and the one before it. And I only gained 4 pounds in that 4-week period. Yay! Still too much, and I still got a well-meaning discourse from my doctor, but I’m making headway.

And I didn’t cry.

I’m a work in progress.

Promises, Promises

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

After learning that the weather in Pittsburgh this week would be unseasonably warm, I promised myself I would get out for a run at least once.

Of couse, I’ve made all sorts of excuses, and now it’s Wednesday night, I still haven’t run, and I’m running out of time!

The last time I ran was on Christmas Day, when I ran about 2.5 miles in New Jersey while visiting my in-laws. I’m a little nervous to learn how much of my running endurance I’ve lost, but it’ll never get better if I don’t get back out there, right?! And besides — it’s not like I’m out of shape altogether. In fact, I feel like I’m in reasonably good shape these days, thanks to Boot Camp.

But running is so different from everything else…

Guess I’ll see tomorrow or Friday where I am with all that! I’ll be busy on Saturday — more on that later!

Sometimes I Forget

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I don’t often have deep conversations with the other women in my boot camp class, for a few reasons: First and foremost, because we’re working out – there’s not a lot of time for chatting. Also, since I don’t really know them, most of the brief conversations are small talk: About the workout, how early it is, the fact that it’s 2º in the cheerleading gym the class is in, etc. And besides, I take the class with someone that I do know, so any talking I do is usually with her.

But she’s out of town.

And the other day, I had a real conversation with a few of the women.

It started out – typically – with talk about the workout. One of them said to me, “You always do the most advanced versions of everything?” It sounded like a question, so I wasn’t sure how to respond. I said – “If I can, yeah. I try to, at least!”

Then she continued by insisting that I DO always do the most advanced versions of everything, and that I always have perfect form (aw, shucks) and that when she’s confused or forgets what she’s supposed to do she just looks at me. So nice :)

Not long after, her friend said something about how she knows I’m married (probably because I’m always smiling… or because of the ring) but if I wasn’t, she’d set me up with her son.

Seriously – these women were giving me a huge head at this point, lol.

After the workout, we were sitting around stretching and they asked how long I had been taking the class. I told them just for a few months – since sometime in November. It seemed to make them feel bad about where they are fitness-wise, since I do the advanced moves but haven’t been going very long, so then I added that I also do Kung Fu. The first woman said, “No wonder we can’t keep up!” (ha!)

Then they asked if I had always been athletic(!), and I told them truthfully, that no – I definitely wasn’t always athletic (if you can call me that now!). I elaborated at this point and told them about how a few years ago, I was significantly overweight. Like, 90 pounds heavier than I am now. They were surprised and… proud?

It’s always weird for me to tell people that didn’t know me when I was fat that I was fat. How do I bring it up? Should I? It often feels like I’m bragging or sharing too much. Sometimes, though, I think it’s important for the other person to know – as in the case of the boot camp instructor and my new doctor. But sometimes I want to tell people because I want them to know that they CAN do it.

But honestly, sometimes I forget.

I forget how big I used to be. How unhealthy I was. How difficult it was to do the simplest things, like get in and out of the car and bend over to pick something up that had fallen. How I could never cross my legs or wrap a towel around myself after a shower.

They asked if it’s been hard for me to keep the weight off, and the answer is a resounding no. Maybe that’s because I still haven’t gotten to my goal weight so I’m still trying to lose and not thinking about maintenance. But I think it’s more that my life is completely different now – for the better of course.

None of those things are difficult anymore. I can do those things a thousand times a day and not think twice about it. I work out regularly – and when I don’t, I feel anxious and lazy. I eat right – and when I don’t I feel sluggish and gross. I find enjoyment in more adventurous and physical activities instead of always preferring to veg on the couch.

I’m completely different.

The other day I bought a 35-pound bucket of kitty litter, and it was a challenge to carry that beast down to the basement. Then I thought about how I used to carry around more than twice that amount of weight with me all the time and it blew my mind.

Because sometimes I forget.

Full Moon Hike

Friday, January 21st, 2011

My brother, Stephen, and I went on an adventure on Wednesday, as we like to do. This time it was in the form of an evening hike in the snowy hills of Pennsylvania by the light of a full moon. Unfortunately, there was a lot of cloud cover so you couldn’t actually see the moon, but I’m confident it was there.

We went with a group of like-minded people led by Venture Outdoors. We didn’t know how many people to expect, but it was a good-sized group – 21 including the two of us and the hike leaders.

It was cold and a bit windy, but it wasn’t raining or snowing, so it wasn’t so bad. Actually, once we got moving I warmed up pretty quickly! Of course, since there were a lot of us, we had to stop a number of times to regroup. That’s logical and necessary to keep everyone together, but a couple of times the break was a few minutes too long and I got cold again. But it wasn’t long before we were back to hiking and my body temperature rose again.

Prior to the start, I was concerned about my footwear: An old pair of running shoes, vents and all. Can you believe I don’t have a single pair of winter boots? I haven’t since I was a child either. Very strange, considering I have always lived in places that get snow a few months every year. I guess I’ve never gotten outside enough in the winter to find them necessary, but the few times each year I had to borrow some or go without was always annoying. After we decided to do this hike I ordered some boots, but of course they haven’t come in yet. Guess I’ll have to plan some more winter activities once they come in! As it turned out, though, the running shoes held up pretty good, thankfully.

The hike itself was invigorating! We covered 4+miles in just over two hours. There were a few breaks, as I mentioned, but when we were moving, we moved at a good pace. Stephen and I were right up front just behind the leader 95% of the time, and I like to think we helped keep the pace quick and steady.

Incidentally, often when I partake in a physical activity, I am pleasantly surprised at how well I do compared to the rest of the participants. I’m by no means perfect, but I’m a lot more physically fit than I give myself credit for. That makes me happy.

The hike was in Deer Lakes Park in Tarentum, PA, which is quite hilly. The hills were difficult at times, not just because they were steep in places, but also because they were covered in snow… and I was wearing running shoes. Of course, I enjoy challenges, so I liked the hills :) I also want to mention that I didn’t fall at all — quite a feat for the girl who, as a child, was ironically referred to as Grace because she had none.

I’ve never hiked in the snow before — or at night, for that matter. It was a neat way to burn a bunch of calories, and I look forward to doing it again. Next time with my new boots, of course!

The best part was spending quality time with my little brother. Hiking in and of itself is great, but it’s even better when done with people you enjoy being around, and Steve is definitely in that category!

I wonder what our next adventure will be…

Promises of An Adventure

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Remember my little brother? He’s the one I chased after waterfalls with last summer. He’s one of my favorite people in the world and he reminded me of that fact a few days ago via text message:

Hey! I want to visit next week. Which day should I come that you’d be available for an adventure?”

How fantastic is that?! Not only does he want to visit me (I wish my family and friends would visit more often… hint*hint!) but he wants to go on AN ADVENTURE!!!

I love adventures.

It just so happens that a mere 2 days prior to his text I received the latest newsletter from Venture Outdoors, a company dedicated to getting Pittsburghers outside. I pulled out their calendar of events and discovered that they’re hosting a Full Moon Hike tomorrow.

It didn’t take much more than a brief text-versation to settle our plans. Stephen will be here tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll be joining a small group of like-minded folks on a 4-6 mile evening hike by the light of the full moon. In January. In the snow.

I’m so freaking excited! Photos and details of our adventure to come :D


Sunday, December 5th, 2010

At Boot Camp on Friday, we did something I’ve never done before: “suicides”. Let me tell you, this exercise is appropriately named.

Often done on a basketball court, this is a speed and agility exercise. There are a lot of variations, but here’s what we did: We stood on a line at one end of a long, flat surface. There were more parallel lines going across the floor about every 5 feet. You sprint to the first line, then sprint backwards back to the starting line. Then you sprint to the second line, then backwards back to the start. Then sprint to the third line, and backwards to the start, etc. There were about 8 lines altogether.

We did this as part of a circuit: The suicides were the first exercise, then we did punches from a horse stance (not at all challenging for me considering I’ve been doing Kung Fu for over five years…), and the third station was step ups or jump ups.   

When the instructor explained what we were doing, it didn’t sound too difficult. But holy shit – run suicides four or five times and you’ll understand where the name came from.

Honestly, I was incredibly grateful for the punching station because I needed a chance to recover. The instructor kept saying that our legs might feel like jello, but it wasn’t my legs that were causing me grief – my chest hurt (not so much that I was worried, but enough to remind me that I still have a ways to go in the fitness department!) 

I didn’t like the pain, but I did, you know? It felt great to push myself that hard. And I love that I found a high-intensity exercise that will help with both my speed and agility, two areas in which I know I could use some help.  

I’ll tell you this much: I’ll be doing more suicides in the near future, whether in class or out. And I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s class!

Boot Camp: First Impressions

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Yesterday was my first “boot camp” class. In case you don’t know what that is, wikipedia tells us:

The term ‘boot camp’ is currently used in the fitness industry to describe group fitness classes that promote fat loss, camaraderie and team effort. They are designed to push people a little bit further than they would normally push themselves in the gym alone. Boot Camps often use bodyweight exercises like push ups, squats, suspension training and burpees, interspersed with running and competitive games.

Honestly, I was expecting something super intense that was going to kick my ass.

It wasn’t, and it didn’t.

That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good workout, or that I didn’t enjoy myself, because it was and I did. But it wasn’t the ass-kicking I expected – and was looking forward to. Maybe I’ve been watching The Biggest Loser too much!

The workout we did yesterday started with a strength training circuit with five stations. The stations included things like pushups, squats with resistance bands, lunges and the like. As the instructor explained what we were supposed to do at each station, he kept offering a modified version for those of us whose “first workout” it was, as well as the more advanced version for people who had been there a while. Well, it wasn’t my first workout ever, and I guess I’m not as out of shape as I thought I was, because I did the advanced version of everything.

After that we did some short distance sprinting forwards and backwards. I particularly enjoyed that part, both because I think it will help my running and also because the classes are in a cheerleading gym and the floor was springy.

Again: I enjoyed it, it just wasn’t super intense. If nothing else, I got a workout in where I otherwise might not have. I prepaid for 12 classes (3 a week for 4 weeks), so I’m trying to be optimistic. Apparently every workout is different, so maybe the rest will be more challenging for me? There were three newbies there, after all (myself and N-Cat among them).

I’ll know better in 8 hours, after my second class which starts at 5:30 am. (Have I mentioned that yet?) I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!