ME TIME

Me time.

20140630-152549-55549461.jpgI have always known that “me time” was important, but I have never appreciated it as much as I have over the course of the past month.

I have been busting my butt trying to find a balance between what has basically become two full-time jobs while still squeezing in the essential workouts. Let me tell you, it has been rough! However, while working two jobs has been exhausting and a tough bite to chew, exercising truly keeps me going. I swear, I would be going even crazier than I already am if it weren’t for the 1-2 hours breaks I take for ME time at the gym.
Both of my jobs are in front of a computer. I sit at a desk and stare at a screen. All. Day. All. Night. It makes me feel flat out LAZY because the only time I get up and stretch my legs is when I am walking to the bathroom or the fridge. Usually these short walks are more like hobbles as my legs recover from my previous leg day – always a great reminder that I did well – but it’s not enough of a break! Sometimes I will take a push-up or squat break, but it just doesn’t satisfy me.

20140630-152549-55549426.jpgThe most wonderful time of day falls between my full-time job and my at-home gig, when I make a pit stop at LA Fitness. It is amazing and I cherish it more and more by the day. Not only am I getting my heart racing and my muscles burning, but I am also decompressing and relaxing before I start work again. Throwing on a pair of headphones and tuning the world out as I work myself tired is the best. It’s the best way to work off my stress and frustrations from the day, it’s the best way to stretch out those stiff legs and back after sitting in a chair for hours, and it’s the best way to pump myself up and feel ready to hit the ground running again when I get home to work even more.

If it were not for exercise, I think I would just go absolutely LOCO and not be an efficient and concentrated worker. I look forward to this me time so much every day!

 

 

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Workout buddy… Finally!

20140326-094736.jpgI finally have a workout buddy!

One of my best friends joined LA Fitness this week and I couldn’t be more excited to find a gym partner in her. Well, so far. We’ve only gone together once – this morning – but I have high hopes that she will stick with it.

We met at the gym at 5am this morning and I have to admit, I was unsure what to expect. She would always tell me that at her old gym she only did cardio and at home she would do workout videos for “abs in 30 days” or something. I wasn’t sure if she would humor me and try weight-lifting. Much to my surprise, she did everything I threw at her, no questions asked. When something was too difficult or she felt that she had done enough sets, she said so. But I was proud and psyched to see that she would at least give each workout a shot.

We started with a quick half-mile run, followed by deadlifts super-setted with push ups, weighted lunges, leg press, glute kick-backs, roman chair leg lifts super-setted with love handle ab bends, and ended with a short cool down on the stair climber.

She was very enthusiastic and excited about trying new things, and mirrored my love for getting it done early in the morning. While it’s hard to get up at that hour, working out before anything else is so refreshing and gives you such a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. “I’ve already squatted my own body weight and ran 3 miles, what have you done?”

It’s also nice to be held accountable to someone else, so that when you really don’t want to go, you don’t really have an excuse because you’re gym buddy will be waiting.

Our next date is tomorrow morning!

It’s interesting being the “teacher” instead of the “student” for a change. Sure, I am not an expert, but I definitely feel like I am at a point where I could whip someone into shape if they trusted me to do so and had the dedication necessary to make a transformation. Maybe she will be my new project.

A ‘Quick & Mellow’ Ride

20130916-141903.jpgMy plan was to have a quick and mellow gym visit yesterday. Quick and mellow? No such thing!

I was too sore to lift weights yesterday, and I am pretty sure I pinched a nerve between my elbow and wrist. So, I opted to hop on the bike and get in some cardio. Ever since my 5k training passed, I have been lacking in that department.

I was GOING to ride the bike for a half hour or so, just to get my heart beating and my body sweating. Well, that half hour quickly turned into an hour as I found myself yearning to see how far I could get and how many calories I could burn.

I maintained a steady pace, slipped in a lot of HIIT, heavy hills, etc., and finished my ride at 16.26 miles and 524 calories. Not great, not terrible. The furthest I have gone in an hour is a little under 18.5 I believe. Given the fact that I haven’t done that in a long time… I will settle for 16+!

I was sweating like crazy, my feet were numb and I was walking like a zombie. So much for an easy day at the gym!

Mexico Mode!

I am officially in Mexico vacation mode! I will be jetting off to Tulum in less than 4 weeks, and am heading full throttle into training hard and eating clean. I feel way more bikini-comfortable than I did a few months ago, but I definitely have a ways to go before I get to where I want to be!

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This morning I started off this new-found beast mode with my first attempt at drop-setting my lifts on my own. For those of you who don’t know what a drop-set is, it’s basically a pyramid style workout . You can begin as if you are doing your regular workout (ie. 4 sets of squats at specified reps, beginning small and adding weight as you go). However, when you reach the top of your workout (the heaviest), you are far from finished!

The drop-set starts at your heaviest weight. You do as many squats as possible until your muscles have reached failure. You then rack the barbell, reduce the weight quickly (20-30lb increments if squatting), and immediately begin your next set without resting. Again, you don’t stop squatting at this level until you literally cannot squeeze in another rep. You do this until you have reached the lightest weight (barbell, 45lbs). Essentially, the goal is to prolong your exercise by ending at a lower weight once you have pushed yourself to failure with the heavier weight. Ideally, each set includes many more reps than what you typically do.

The first time I gave this concept a shot was with the trainer/boyfriend. We did this with chest presses and side laterals, but he handed me the weights as I went, making the system much faster. If I had done today’s workout with someone there to help me switch out my weight, it probably would have been even harder than it was. But I am too much of a chicken to ask for help.

I went to LA Fitness at 5am, and my workout was as follows:

Warm up on cross ramp

Push ups (real ones, yay!) 4 sets/10 reps
Squats, 5 sets beginning at 75lbs and ending at 145lbs/ super-setted with 15lb dumbbell curls
Drop-set Squats, 135lbs to 45lbs
Military press, 30-50lbs, 5 sets
Drop-set military press
Hamstring Curls, 65lbs, 4 sets/12 reps

Cool down, quick 5 minute bike ride

By the time I finished, all I wanted to do was chop my legs off and lay right there on the floor for the rest of the day. People can work around me, I thought. My legs were wobbly, I was walking into things, and I probably looked like a lunatic.

20130826-125721.jpgIn addition to confusing my body and challenging myself at the gym, I am eating even cleaner than I had been in the past! Way more fruits and veggies, structured meals, “calorie counting” – but not neurotically (just to have an idea of just how much I am consuming), and even more water and green tea (if that’s even possible.

Mexico, here I come!

Morning Burn

I had another successful gym session at the ass-crack of dawn this morning! I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get up because I fell asleep no earlier than 1AM last night (this morning). Why was I up so late if I was waking up at 4:30 you ask? Oh, you know, just agonizing like a maniac over what I was going to do at the gym at 5AM. WHY. Who loses sleep over that??

Lucky for me, my oh-so-wonderful trainer dropped everything he was doing to come up with a really hard workout for me to do so that I could stop stressing like a freak and get some shut-eye.

And hard it was.

I have been trying to incorporate more super-setting into my workouts, so today I was assigned just that. I super-setted dumbbell rows with push-ups, pull-downs (probably not the technical term, but I don’t know what is) with bicep dumbbell curls, and squeezed assisted pull-ups, single leg deadlifts, hamstring curls, and a weighted ab workout in between.

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By the time I got to the pull-down/dumbbell curl combo, I felt like I was walking on death row. WHAT IS HE DOING TO ME?? THIS IS HOW HE IS GETTING RID OF ME?? I thought.

Despite the feeling of my muscles tearing and an impending puke, I trucked through it. I lifted a decent amount of weight and was psyched when I would hop on a machine and have to add-on some pounds to what was left there from the last person. That’s always an exciting feeling!

In addition to the extreme exercises, I am concentrating more on my diet. I am eating a lot more fruit, and eating small and frequently.

I am at my lowest weight… almost 26lbs down. My goal is to hit 30-32 by the time I go to Mexico mid-September. I hope I can do it!

Early bird gets the worm!

Today I was feeling really motivated. 5AM workout. Leg day. Killed it.

I got to LA Fitness just as it was opening this morning and had a really great workout. Squats, deadlifts, weighted lunges and a little bit of ab work. Safe to say that I was crawling out of there, and it was all before the sun came up!

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The gym was empty for the most part for the first hour of my workout. Just the way I like it! No waiting for the squat racks, no toe-tappers behind me making me feel like I have to rush, no need to dodge a whole ton of people – which is typical when I go at peak time after work; just a few others minding their own business.

I have been maxing at 135lbs with my squats for the past few leg sessions because for a while, I was training for my 5k and avoiding too much heavy lifting. I finally added on some extra pounds today and did my last set at 145. Deadlifts were maxed at 135lbs (I have only gone up to 145lbs) because I forgot my gloves at home and I felt like the palms of my hands were going to tear.

My weighted lunges are a tad different than what they used to be. In the past I would hold two 15lb dumbbells at my sides, but now I carry a 30lb small barbell across my shoulders. Eventually I will try carrying a plate above my head. Last, I did a few sets of the ab crunch machine. Not my favorite ab workout, but better than nothing. I couldn’t imagine doing the Roman chair or anything that involved lifting my legs!

My “cool-down” was a couple of sets of burpees and jumps up onto a platform. This did it for me. After I finished those, all I wanted to do was collapse on the mat!

It feels pretty darn good to get my gym session in before my day really begins. It makes me feel so accomplished and productive! I may need to make early morning sessions a regular thing, Happy Tuesday!

Jelly Legs

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Yesterday I completed my first double workout day…

OUCH.

I ran a little under 2.5 miles at 5:45AM, then did a 5:30PM spinning class at LA Fitness. The day before was a leg day so if yesterday afternoon’s hobbling around wasn’t enough… I’ve got plenty of that ahead of me today.

My legs are absolute jello. I swear! I have actually lost my balance and they have buckled awkwardly a couple of times while walking. Using the bathroom when I woke up this morning was quite the challenge.

I am feeling it, big time. But I am SO glad I did it.

I have done spinning classes before, but every instructor is different and it had been a while. I think I did a good job for my first time back on a bike and it was really nice to be in a class with people my age. The last few that I took were at the Y, and I was younger than everyone else in the class by at least 15-20 years. The instructor was so-so and while it was a good workout, I didn’t feel challenged. In this class, everyone was working really hard, the instructor was awesome and it motivated me that much more to push myself to my limits. During my ride I was sweating so much that I was thinking, “hell yea! There goes 20lbs!”

With the combination of my run, my spinning class, and my leg day the day before (squats and stuff), my muscles feel absolutely torn. I love it.

I can’t wait to take another class!