Can’t Stop Me, Pax!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not going to let something as silly and inconvenient as a Nor’Easter stop me from getting my workout in!

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Living in New England has always made for an interesting time in terms of weather, and yesterday was an absolute mess! Storm Pax plowed it’s way through Massachusetts from Thursday morning through the wee hours of Friday morning, leaving behind tons of snow covered in a thick layer of ice. The conditions on the roads were bad enough throughout the day that it  would have been extremely difficult to leave the house at all yesterday.  So, not only did I have to work from home but I had to workout at home as well. Time to improvise!

Having equipment to workout at home with is key. You don’t need a squat rack, you don’t need a bench and you don’t need a treadmill in order to get a good workout in. In my opinion, you can really get by with a decent set of dumbbells. They are well worth the small investment and they get the job done. I have a couple of pre-weighted dumbbells as well as a cast iron set that comes with two bars, screws and plates allowing me to set my own weight. Additionally, I have a yoga mat and a stability ball. Having a few things at home leaves no excuses!

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I have kind of been on a circuit/super-set high, so I put together a workout of my own that is challenging in that I was quickly hopping from one workout to the next in order to complete a set. For example, one “set” in circuit 1 consisted of 10-12 push ups, followed immediately by 12 v-leg crosses for abs, a 45 second plank, and 10 dumbbell push ups into a row lift. Overall, the goal was to target a few different muscle groups in a short period of time and to not only focus on strength but to also perform each workout rapidly enough that I could get my heart rate going… “cardio,” if you will. Each circuit was performed 3 times, with just a minute or two break between each set.

After I finished all of the circuits, I tacked on two additional workouts – 5 sets of a side lateral-front raise combo with dumbbells and 4 sets of love handle ab bends with a heavy dumbbell.

If you’re stuck at home for whatever reason, I would definitely suggest giving my workout a shot, and maybe even add on a few of your favorites! Also, if you have any questions about any of them, feel free to shoot me a message – I know that some of the names may be a little confusing (like the Stability Ball Pull-ins, which I should have called “Stability Ball Leg Pull-ins”).

I was tired, satisfied and proud of myself for not taking a lazy day just because the snow was trying to beat me!

It’s a journey

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This graphic speaks a thousand words. It is so spot on in regards to the journey that is weight-loss and becoming fit. There are so many obstacles we must face along the way that might steer us away from our original plan, but that’s what makes it an adventure. If it were simple, we wouldn’t appreciate our successes as much. If we didn’t hit any road-blocks, if we didn’t have any bad days, and if it were all smooth sailing, everyone would do it… right?

Back in the Game

I am finally back in the swing of things and am slowly but surely starting to feel strong and healthy again. After having a bit of a set-back from an invasive  surgery, I wasn’t able or allowed to workout for two straight weeks. I also wasn’t sleeping well at all due to the discomfort. During the week following that “red zone”, I started to ease myself back in to a regular gym routine, however, I wasn’t able to do much lifting. I started small doing a little cardio here and minimal and light lifting there, avoiding anything that would cause pressure on my surgery area.

Let me tell you, it was rough! All I wanted to do was lift something heavy and run run run. I’m glad I listened to my doctor, family and a few wordpress followers (thanks, guys!) by not jumping into anything that was too heavy, too soon. If I had given in to my crazy need for a good workout, I could have lengthened my recovery time, thus resulting in more laying-on-the-couch misery!

20140130-090917.jpgWhile I was recovering, I focused heavily on my diet. I always eat well but figured that if I was going to be forced into temporary laziness, I might as well cancel out some calories that I would have otherwise burned at the gym. I tracked what I was eating on MyFitnessPal to get an idea of the number of calories I was taking in, and have continued to do so ever since.

I eat small and often – usually every hour and a half to two hours, depending on what I have. I feel like I eat non-stop but the frequency and portion size helps prevent your body from having the opportunity to store additional calories as fat. For example, 2 large egg whites and some blueberries is only about 75 calories, but for me, it is filling enough to keep me comfortable for the small length of time between that meal and the next.

I also drink a TON of water. I did a small test the other day to see how much water I drink on a typical day. My water bottle is 30oz and on a regular work day I drink at least 2 – 2 .5 of them. In the morning I have a glass and at the gym I have at least one full bottle. At home after the gym I have a couple of glasses as well. So, I figure I am consuming about a gallon (128oz) – if not more – a day. Drinking water throughout the day and with each meal helps make you feel more full, thus preventing you from over-consuming your food. The mind has a sick way of making you feel more hungry than you are, and before you know it you have consumed about twice as much as you needed to feel full, and about twice as much as your body can successfully digest before storing the rest as fat. I also usually have lemon in my water which is great for cleansing the body, digestion and boosting your metabolism.

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My diet consists of lots of fruits and veggies, low carbohydrates, and high protein. I even started to do a little bit of my grocery shopping in the gluten-free/vegetarian section at the market, where I found this new granola that I am obsessed with – KIND Healthy Grains! It’s relatively low in calories (1/3 cup for 120 calories) in comparison to other granola brands that I have had. It’s also rich in Omega-3 and is 100% whole grain – made with quinoa and has chia seeds! I have it almost every morning with low-fat greek yogurt and some kind of fruit mixed in – blueberries and/or bananas is delicious with it.

Now that I am out of my awful no exercise phase, I am weaning myself back onto lifting heavy. My surgery was almost four weeks ago and the discomfort I felt on my first days back at the gym is slowly starting to go away. If I feel any at this point, it’s usually only after the gym rather than during my workout.

I am going to visit my boyfriend on the beach in just two weeks – got to get bikini ready!!

Don’t Give Up

20140123-115001.jpgI have been rather down on myself since I had my surgery a little over two weeks ago. My body did exactly what I had feared during the time that I wasn’t able to exercise. I put on a few pounds, I felt gross and I was extremely unhappy with how I looked.

All I wanted to do was ignore what my doctors told me and go to the gym. I am visiting my boyfriend in a few short weeks and I needed my beach body at its best! However, a few little birdies reminded me that doing so would hinder my recovery and make my wait even longer. Longer? Hell no!

I know this meme is in reference to not giving up on your workout when it gets tough – but I thought that it fit how I have been feeling lately. Despite the set-backs I have experienced, in the end you are better off not giving up on yourself and your body no matter what circumstances you might be in.

Surgery Set-back

20140114-140122.jpgThe gym is REALLY waiting for me. In fact, it probably thinks that I don’t exist anymore.

Having serious gym withdrawals and it’s not due to laziness! I had a personal surgery last Monday and I haven’t been able to workout at all over the past week because of it. I’m going on 8 days straight of no exercise – the longest I have gone without working out since I started my journey to get fit. Not only is it physically affecting me but it is mentally as well!

Going. CRAZY.

Will I gain weight back? Will I lose my running momentum? Will it be easy to ease back into lifting or hard? How long will I be out of commission? Do I have to start slow when I am ready or can I haul ass and get back to where I was? WHYYYYY?

20140114-141152.jpgMy surgeon and every nurse I have spoken with strongly emphasized no exercise for at least two weeks post-surgery. TWO WEEKS? I can’t lift, I can’t run, I can’t do anything but like… walk. And even that is too much sometimes. I came up with the grand idea of swimming but that was quickly shot down by my mother’s nurse friend who overheard me thinking out loud.

Between the pain meds and being sedentary, I feel like absolute crap. I’m extremely sore, I can’t move a fraction of an inch without searing pain, and I am bloated as hell!

Unhappy.

I guess you really can get hooked on exercise because now that I don’t have it, I am a super crank.

Keeping it up over the Holidays

I am happy to say that I managed to keep up with my exercise over the holidays!

The end of December is notorious for excessive eating, drinking and vegging out – all of which I am admittedly guilty of. However, this time around I did not fully neglect my body. Throughout any kind of fitness journey, we all must remember that it is OK to spoil yourself now and then. Countless times over the last two weeks I heard people say they couldn’t eat this or that because they “always gain weight over the holidays”. Umm, hello? We all do. It’s normal!

Multiple occasions filled with socializing with family and friends over holiday snacks, meals and drinks are crammed into one week and they are not typical of our regular diet.  Unless you are used to mimosas, baked brie and holiday cookies on a daily basis (invite me over), of course your body is going to react differently!

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Two of my holiday gym workouts were nothing short of loco. I typically have designated muscle days – one day will be squats, lunges, leg presses, etc. another will be shoulder presses, military presses, front raises, etc. – but I just went at everything. One day I did shoulder presses, curls, military presses, bench presses, a few ab workouts, squats and lunges. I attempted a post-lifting run and pretty much ran two steps, laughed at myself for even trying and crawled to the locker room. So, rather than depriving myself of or kicking myself for having that holiday treat that I really truly wanted, I just made some time to squeeze in my runs and gym trips. When I couldn’t do either of those, I improvised at home. I not only allowed myself to enjoy myself, but I also felt much better.

My other crazy workout was similar in that it had a lot of variety, but I targeted different muscles and tried some lifts that I don’t do very often, such as pull ups and dips. I used to do those on a regular basis and now I almost never do.

Oh, and yes… that IS 270lb leg press, thanks for asking. Multiple sets of 10 reps – cake! Pretty soon I will be adding more plates!

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I made a trip to Montreal between Christmas and New Years with my family. Obviously we had a lot of beer and poutine (which, by the way, is unbelievable). My body hated me after that poutine, but it was so worth it.

One morning while everyone was still asleep, I rallied myself out of bed and went on a quiet run. I almost didn’t go because it was freezing and I was exhausted, but I told myself that I would regret it later if I skipped out.

The streets were absolutely dead – I saw maybe three or four cars drive by – and totally slushy from some overnight snow accumulation. Despite the conditions of the roads, it was awesome, peaceful and felt great. I wasn’t running for time, wasn’t looking to maintain my average pace… I was just running. I went just under 3 miles and shockingly came in just about 20 seconds more per mile than what I typically do. I thought for sure it would be much slower as I was slipping and sliding and navigating my way through unfamiliar streets.

Along my way I came across a beautiful cathedral which was a nice find, and it was really cool to check out the neighborhoods and cafes along the way.

You can always make time for exercise! No excuses!

27:23

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27:23 Time; 8:49 per mile pace; 1002 place out of 3522 runners.

I’ll take it!

The Hot Chocolate 5k for Domestic Violence has come and gone and I am pretty satisfied with how I did. Considering the hills and how FREEZING it was (about 20 degrees I believe), I was hoping to come in under 29 minutes and surpassed that by more than a minute and a half!

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For weeks I had been telling my brother (who runs cross country and completed the race with 7 minute miles last year) that if he felt like I was going too slow for him then he shouldn’t feel like he has to stay with me. However, he made the decision to run with me the whole time despite the fact that he could do better, which I was very grateful for.

He talked me through the whole thing and was an awesome coach! Whenever I felt like I was getting tired, he would motivate me to go faster. When I was running a good pace, he would tell me I was doing a great job and to keep it up. When we passed the 1 mile and 2 mile marks, he would let me know whether or not we needed to pick up the pace in order to break 30 minutes. Little did I know, we were well below 30 and he was just trying to help me do my best!

I planned to run with my ipod to keep track of my time using my Nike app, but I was convinced not to so that I don’t obsess over my times throughout the race. So glad I didn’t! I was able to focus on my stride and pushing myself without freaking out if the Nike lady came on in my headphones to tell me that my average mile was higher than what I wanted.

After the 3rd or 4th hill (I was told there was only one. Lies!), I had a brief moment when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish well. My brother told me how close we were to the finish line and we BOOKED it. I have no idea where that last burst of energy came from, but we sprinted the last .3-.5 mile like nobody’s business.

I felt so great after the race, and so proud that I beat my last 5k time by probably 6 minutes. Now to register for another!

Running, Running as Fast as I can

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The Hot Chocolate 5k For Domestic Violence is this weekend! I have just one more serious practice run before my second road race ever! I’m excited but also a little anxious because I am running with a 17 year old cross country runner…

Since I got my new sneakers, I’ve covered just under 30 miles – not a lot but exciting to watch it add up. It’s amazing to me that some people do marathons, the majority of what I have done, in just one day! Loco!

It feels like I have run a lot more than I apparently have, but that’s probably because I run with higher frequency than I do distance per run. I have been running pretty regularly on the treadmill, always doing at least a mile, but unfortunately have not made it outside as much as I would have liked. Before I go into work, it’s dark. When I get out of work, it’s dark. Not a huge deal but also not the biggest fan of running at night by myself.

It’s December and I live in New England. I expect the race to be cold, and because I have not run outside enough, that makes me nervous! I don’t run well in the cold and I haven’t been training myself to get used to it. I did a short run over Thanksgiving break outside with my brother, and it was freezing and extremely windy! While he ran along like a gazelle, I was wheezing like a maniac at his side. Any tips on cold/windy weather running?

I would love to be able to give a 10K and Half Marathon a shot next year. I just need to find a way to balance serious strength training and serious running. After I ran the Color Me Rad 5k over the summer, I fell off my running routine because I was anxious to lift again. I have lifted less the past few weeks so I could focus on my running, and I am very much looking forward to starting again after this weekend’s race.  I don’t want to lose any progress I make with either!

 

Patience is a Virtue

20131118-192848.jpgLast time I posted a physical progress photo was back in July so I figured it was time to make another comparison, both for personal and blogging reasons.

Top photo, April;   Middle, July;   Bottom: Yesterday, November

Patience and hard work really does pay off! Between July and November I have experienced quite the roller coaster. I have made steady progress with my weight loss and toning, I have had hiccups where I have gained a few pounds or “lost” my motivation for a bit, I have had injuries, I have hopped back into my flow, and I have lost it again.

However, I have found that when you “lose it,” you don’t fully lose it. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing so long as you don’t fall off track for too long, and patience can prove that even if you aren’t seeing immediate results, your body is making subtle changes that will eventually add up and both shock and satisfy you.

Between July and November, there were MANY times that I didn’t think that my body was changing enough, or at all. But, despite my periodic shortfalls, it clearly was!

Patience, iago, PATIENCE! (high five if you catch the reference)