WTF Workout?!

August has been a pretty crazy month for me, but while my blog entries cooled down, my workouts continued to fire up!  I’ve been traveling a lot, which means my routine has needed to shift to accommodate my locale.  

The first adventure was a five day intensive Lomilomi retreat.  Lomilomi is a style of Hawaiian massage that I’ve been studying for about two years now.  This was my third class and it was incredibly inspiring.  I knew that I would be in a calorie-friendly environment, as our meals were all vegetarian, mostly made from ingredients found right on the land we stayed at.  Speaking of the land, I already knew about Dreaming Mountain in Johnson, VT, but now that I’ve spent four nights there I’m absolutely in love with it!  I had done a mini-cleanse before the trip, so I had already cut out alcohol, red meat and was strict to my food allergies diet (generally no sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, coffee and a slew of other random things).  This meant that I didn’t feel the need to do my really intense workouts on the retreat.  Instead, I did yoga daily, a martial arts dance that’s part of the Lomi training, and, of course, I was giving and receiving massage daily.  I ended up dropping 5lbs just from living a healthy stress-free active life for a week!

The next adventure was much more challenging.  My company recently opened up a new store in Key West, FL.  It was my job to head down there to set up all the infrastructure.  This meant taking three planes each way to a hot, sweaty tourist playground, working five 12 hour+ days in a row and attempting to stick to my diet and exercise.  The first thing I learned is that the sun rises LATE in Key West, after 7am.  So to keep up my workouts I had to just deal with getting up in an unfamiliar place in the dark.  I did a combination of creating my own workouts in the hotel’s (really spectacular) gym and yoga on the beach.  I should have recorded what I did in the gym but I didn’t think to.  It was nice varying between being in the gym and being on the beach.  I really didn’t get much time at all to enjoy the island so at least doing yoga under the stars, next to the ocean, and then slowly watching the sun rise through my vinyasas was pretty spectacular.  I’ll admit diet was much more of a challenge there, and I made myself outright sick once or twice, but you gotta live too, right?

It’s nice to be back home and back to a more normal routine.  Though, it seems my yoga is going to be ramping up as I’m trying to hit the minimum pre-req hours for a yoga teacher-training I’m hoping to start in January.  I only just found the program and they require 35 hours in their studio before I can enroll.  Since I live an hour away this is a challenge, but I’ve been wanting to get my yoga certification for years now and it’s a teacher I really like.  Wish me luck!

So, today’s workout was really unusual for me.  It’s a little bit of everything.  I started out doing someone else’s workout (some of you may recognize the first few items) and then decided I wanted it to be more dynamic.  This was LONG.  My arms were shaking at the end and I was dripping with sweat.  I feel it’s a good mix of cardio and strength training, though the cardio portion never really ends.  Check it out:

8/27/13 – For Time (My Time = 24:50)
  1. 1 Min High Knees
  2. 1 Min Sprint
  3. 1 Min Low-Jacks
  4. 30 Weighted Burpees (I used 5lbs)
  5. 30 Knee Tucks
  6. 30 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
  7. 30 Plank Side-To-Side Jumps
  8. 10 Prisoner Getups
  9. 10 Weighted Sit-Ups (I used 15lbs first 5 and then 10lbs last five)
  10. 10 Push-Ups
  11. 20 Knee Tucks
  12. 20 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
  13. 10 Side Crunches, Right
  14. 10 Side Crunches, Left
  15. 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Tricep Kickbacks in Lunge Position (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
  16. 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Bicep curls (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
  17. 10 Weighted Lunge Twists, 5 Each Side (I used 10 lbs)

After that, I needed some protein and amino acids!!  Cut to today’s smoothie!

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This beauty contains pomegranate juice, coconut milk, spinach, flax seeds, fresh local blueberries, frozen mangoes, and a half-serving of vegan protein powder (Fat Flush).  I’ve honestly moved away from using protein powders in my morning smoothie because I feel adding flax or chia seeds plus spinach gives me enough protein without making me bloat.  But, today I really killed my upper body so it seems right to add in the protein and help rebuild my muscle tissue.  

I also am on a daily gut repair formula from my Naturopath which includes l-glutamine.  While new research is always coming out, there’s a lot out there showing a direct correlation between l-glutamine and muscle recovery.  It’s recommended post-workout, along with protein and carbs (1:4).  We always hear protein protein protein after workouts, but that’s one time when I think it’s important to have carbs to help with the recovery.  Frankly, I do think there’s such thing as too much protein.  I’m definitely trying to build my muscles, but that doesn’t mean I need to eat 10 eggs and a bucket of protein powder in one day.

What post-workout drinks/meals/supplements work for you?

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Workouts, Strawberries and a Positive Body Image

Another week, another workout!  Yesterday I had the day off for the US Independence Day.  In preparation of a few extra drinks I crafted a high-intensity full-body workout.  I was really happy with this one and felt it was pretty well-balanced.  It was also the first time I tried doing double kettlebell step-ups and I was surprised how much the 50lbs slowed me down.  It was a great exercise for legs, abs and balance; probably my favorite and the hardest of the whole workout.  Want to give it a try?

7/4/13 – Set interval timer to 3 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest.  I used 25lb kettlebells and a 20lb free-weight for the ab twists.

  Buy-In: 1 min high knees
  1. Sumo Jumps
  2. Double KB step-ups
  3. KB Lunge-Row
  4. Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollout
  5. Pull-Ups
  6. Weighted Seated Ab Twists 
  7. Hanging leg-lifts
  Buy-Out: 1 min high knees
 
After that brutal workout (especially in the 90ºF weather we were having) I was ready for a reward.  I found this amazing recipe for vegan, gluten free, grain free strawberry icebox pie.  I grabbed two pints of local strawberries and gave it a go!  I added some raw chocolate to the crust but other than that I used the recipe as written, it is so delicious!  And so healthy!  You have to try it:
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I was really inspired by this blog post from Marianne at myomytv.com.  As someone who follows both her and Zuzka’s workouts it was interesting to see both in the same forum.  I didn’t agree with all of Marianne’s points but I absolutely loved her sentiments about improving our bodies:
 
What do you LOVE? While achieving your strength goals, focus on what you love, not what you want to fix.”
 
THIS.  Thisthisthis.  I’ve mentioned before that I gained respect for exercise late in life, while attending school for Massage Therapy.  I spent my childhood trying to feign illnesses to get out of gym class, and saying “I only run if someone’s chasing me.”  
 
While I dabbled in sports in school, overall I had a very negative view of them.  When I look at the reason for that it really came down to my values not seeming to fit in with the values being thrown on my in gym and on teams.  For one thing, I never understood why people get so brutally invested in sporting events.  I’m all for having fun and rooting for a team, but I can’t connect with the devastation feel when “my” team doesn’t win and how even when a team does win the reaction can be expressed by rioting.  I also don’t understand the amount of corruption in sports with athletes drugging themselves up, dramatically altering their diets to either gain or lose weight, and the perpetuated idea that if you don’t win you’re worthless.  There seems to be a lot of shaming and negative reinforcement in our athletic fields.  I could write a whole entry on this but this is not what’s really goading me right now.  This is about body image.
 
The other issue that really bothers me in the athletic arena is the idea that people should exercise to lose weight, gain muscle, look like that trainer they’ve been ogling over, and basically that they have to change their body to fit some universal image of what “in shape” looks like.  Now let me say right now, I’m not dissing the idea of exercising to lose weight or gain muscle, but I don’t think it should be the predominant driving factor.  I believe that if we all took a more positive approach to diet and exercise as lifestyle choices that there would be higher success rates.
 
I work out and eat right because I love how it makes me feel.  I love the increase in energy.  I love feeling strong and flexible.  I love seeing my body change in ways I didn’t know it could.  It’s also AWESOME that weight loss and more muscle mass comes along with that but if I looked at those two as the defining factors of what makes me fit then I’d always be disappointed.
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Zuzka is gorgeous.  But, if my goal was to look like Zuzka, I would be fighting an uphill battle that I can’t win. I heard a story on VPR recently that discussed a research study done with about 100 women.  They were asked to record their daily diet in a notebook.  Half were given a notebook with a slender woman on the cover and on each page, the other half were given a notebook with just a tape-measure on the cover and each page.  The women given the notebook with the tape-measure lost weight on average.  The women with the notebook with the slender woman GAINED weight on average.  The group conducting the research study said that the women who gained weight just gave up when they realized they could never look like the slender woman.  It actually caused them to over-eat.  Body-shaming does not work.
 
I will never look like Zuzka.  I frankly don’t have the bone structure for it, let alone the genetics to get my body fat percentage that low without working out 5-6 hours per day.  And you know what?  That’s totally ok!!  I look like ME and the more I work out the more I get to discover how my body feels when it’s strong.  I get to explore what I look like when I’m in shape and I get to push my own limits to see what I can physically do.  
 
The line that I’m sure all of you have heard before is Love Your Body.  That’s really it.  If you love your body then you’re going to want to keep it in shape.  You’re going to want to exercise.  You’re going to want to eat right.  LOVE YOUR BODY.  No one else will ever look just like you.  You have the privilege of exploring what your body can do when it’s well taken care of.
 
We all have an inner critic and I know it can be really hard to see past that.  But remember you have a choice.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  It can be really easy.  And it’s a choice you can continue to make.  Did you decide to have a Philly cheesesteak and now you feel like crap?  That’s ok, you can make a different choice tomorrow.  Did you skip your workout for a day?  A week?  A month?  THAT’S OK, because you can choose to work out RIGHT NOW. 😉  
 
Just do me a favor and don’t let your main motivation to be out of shame.  If you work you for YOU there’s a good chance You WILL lose weight and you WILL gain muscle but the bigger point is feeling good in your own skin and letting the pride that you take in yourself be your motivator.  If you truly want to get out of the cycle of working out for a few months and then giving up for the next six months then you need to get past the “90-Day Challenges” and the quick-fix instant-gratification crash courses and really think about the positive effects eating well and exercising have on your body.  Love your body and you won’t have to think about short-term goals, you will find yourself in a healthy long-lasting fitness routine not because society is telling you that’s what you should want, but because that’s what YOU want.

Day 90!!! 8100 Burpees, 64 Miles and Noticing a Change!

Holy shit, you guys, as of about 10 minutes ago, when I completed my last 10 burpees of the day, I officially completed my 90 day challenge!!!  90 burpees a day for 90 days?  DONE!!!!!

This challenge ended up being a great kick-start into more regular exercise, and really pushing what my body could do.  I started running daily again, have been committed to doing Zuzka workouts 6 days a week, completed a 5-mile obstacle course and have been eating extremely healthy along with finally having my food allergies diagnosed.  My body has changed a lot over the past 90 days and while I still have a ways to go I wanted to finally share a pic of my progress.  I’m taking a deep breath as I share this, but here goes (note, I didn’t start taking pics until late Feb, a month into the challenge)…

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Woot to noticeable change!!  My plan going forward is to do Zuzka workouts, or other HIIT in the morning.  I’ve switched my running to mid-day now that the weather has gotten better, any my pup is very appreciative of the exercise.  I’m also learning to do pull-ups and will be heading back out to the obstacle course in mid-May.  Any other ideas for a good challenge?  Let me know!