Quick Update (Weigh-in)

Not a ton of time today (as has been the case every day this week), but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget to pop my results up on the blog today. So here we go, quick like a bunny:

(Re)Starting Weight: 236.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 223.7
This Weigh-in: 222.2 lbs
Difference: -1.5 lbs

And the train just keeps on rolling! Huzzah! Let’s just hope that this isn’t some kind of weird streak of stress-related weight loss due to my crazy schedule right now, hahaha.

See you guys on the flip!

Aerial Yoga

Alas, I fear I must now face the stark reality that I will never, ever be a Cirque du Soleil-style aerialist.

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My coworker Kimberly and I went on a fitness adventure by trying out Aerial Yoga at Spark Yoga in Arlington.

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As you can see, aerial yoga is yoga that utilizes aerial silks in all of the moves. The description on the website reads:

Ready to fly? Decompress your spine and your mind by practicing yoga from a hammock suspended above the ground. Classes may include inversions, upper body exercises, and adventurous tricks using aerial hammocks.

Now, I’m no yoga pro, but I’ve been to enough classes and done enough at-home DVDs to know my way around a sun salutation or two, and my understanding was that this “beginner’s” level aerial yoga class would actually make things a little easier because the silk helps to support your weight and whatnot.

Plus, hello! It just looked fun!

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Weeeeell, as it turns out, my assumptions were both true and not true. But mostly not true. Sure, certain stretches were made simpler (and deeper!) by utilizing the silk. It was cool to do things like put your foot into the fabric while sitting on the ground (so it was kind of like up in a sling) and stretch, or putting the silk under your arms and falling leaning forward into a cobra pose. Plus, doing child’s pose while sitting in the “bucket” felt pretty fab.

But all the other stuff we were expected to do? Nottttt so much. As it turns out, putting a strip of fabric underneath your pelvic bone and downward-dogging on top of it actually kind of hurts. Not to mention the part where the instructor told us to then lift our legs off of the ground, so ALL OF OUR BODY WEIGHT was being balanced on our pelvic bone. And since I obviously have quite a bit of weight on me still, I couldn’t really do that (it REALLY hurt!), so then I started feeling pretty bad about myself when I saw all the other girls in the class suspended over the ground with ease.

I think the biggest problem with the class as a whole was that the instructor is so advanced in her aerial abilities (she was — is? — a professional aerialist and pole dancer) that I don’t think she considered giving out any modification suggestions. I mean, even when I did CrossFit and P90X and all that ridiculousness, there were always modifications for folks who weren’t as strong or as fit, and I didn’t get any of that at aerial yoga. And, hey, maybe it’s just that there aren’t really modifications possible with aerial yoga, but if that’s the case they should probably advertise that the class is for those who are already a little more advanced in yoga to begin with, right? I mean, throughout a large percentage of the class, I just kind of sat/dangled there not really knowing what to do (and feeling worse and worse about myself) while all the other girls got their Cirque du Soleil on. Womp womp.

Thankfully, the last 10 minutes of the class were somewhat redeeming. You end with savasana, but you do it inside the silk, so it’s basically like lying in a hammock/being wrapped up in a little cocoon. The instructor comes by and swings you gently back and forth, and you get to just lay there. Unfortunately, while I think the goal of savasana is to clear your mind and get into a good mental space, all I could do was fixate on how crappily I performed throughout the entire class. It was still nice and comfy though.

Anyway, as you can tell, aerial yoga really didn’t end up being for me, but I think a seasoned yogi or just folks who are lighter and more flexible might have a more enjoyable experience. And I guess for now, I’ll just stick to regular on-the-mat yoga whenever I need a fix. Blessedly, while I was whining to Kimberly after the class, she reassured me that she faced a lot of similar problems, so it does help to know that I wasn’t alone in my misery, haha.

Have you ever tried aerial yoga?

CrossFit Part Deux

I’d say “Guess what I did last night?” but I’m thinking the title of this post kinda gives it away, huh?

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Please ignore my heinous bug bite.

Yep, a mere six days after my first CrossFit experience, I made my (not so) victorious return to the “box”! The amazing people at CrossFit Annandale are generously providing me with a scholarship (free attendance) in exchange for me sharing my workout experiences, so I figured it was time to get back in the figurative saddle.

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That picture just about sums it up. On the bright side, I felt roughly 83% less throwy-uppy after this time. That means I’m already improving, right? Hahahaha.

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I think I ended up picking a really good class to make my second one, because the types of moves we did and the muscle areas we targeted were completely different than last time. I can see why CrossFitters claim that they never get bored doing this kind of workout, for sure. Yesterday’s workout was much more focused on arms, shoulders, and back, whereas last week’s was all about the quads and glutes.

We started with a warm up outside in the parking lot where we did high knees and butt kicks, then some walking stretches, then a quick round of push ups (on knees, for me) and squats (I’m getting better at these already!). Then we headed inside for the regular workout part, where we alternated between bench pressing and “toes to bar” crunches. Sorry there aren’t any actual workout photos, but I felt a little sketchball asking for someone to take pics of me again, haha.

Since I have never bench-pressed anything in my life (and it was only my 2nd time and all), Coach Tony spent a lot of time taking me through the proper way to do it. I gotta say, I’m really impressed with the amount of personal attention you get at CrossFit. I know that it’s probably different for me because I’m still such a n00b and need help with, um, everything, but still. I think I would liken the experience to group personal training.

Anyway, for the bench press I started with just the 45-lb bar, then added 10 lbs of weight after my first set. I was VERY wobbly, since I’m not used to having to hold up something that can tilt above me, but I think I have the basic idea down for sure. I really need to work on my breathing rhythm most, I think, since exhaling at the wrong time had a definite effect on my ability to push the bar back up.

The toes to bar things were NOT something I could do, however. They involved dangling from a pull-up bar and lifting your feet straight up until they touch the bar where your hands are. Er, yeah. I couldn’t even do the whole dangling from the bar part. So Tony had me do leg lifts on the ground instead, which works the same lower abdominal muscles (of which I have roughly zero, haha). At least I’ve done those before!

After a few sets of those two moves, it was time to move onto the Workout of the Day (WOD). Yesterday’s WOD was an “AMRAP”, which stands for “As Many Reps As Possible.” In essence, we had 10 minutes to cycle through the 3 different sections of the WOD as many times as we could manage.

The first part was to do 5 ring dips. This involves hoisting yourself up on dangling rings, dipping your body weight, and pulling yourself back up. Because my upper arm strength is about the same as my core strength (I’m weeeeeak!), I did dips on a bench instead, and did twice as many (10).

The second part was to do 10 pull ups. Again, can’t do them (yet!) so I did seated pull-ups using the rings that I didn’t use for the actual ring dips (confused yet? Hahaha). I also only had to do 5, which was good, because they were still really hard.

Finally, the last part was to do kettlebell swings! I’ve been seeing/hearing about kettlebells for a long time, so I was actually excited to get to do this. Coach Tony helped me out with my form for a while, and I did a lighter weight than the other girls (16 pounds instead of 35), but I did the regular number of reps (20).

So, ring dips, pull ups, kettlebell swings, repeat! I got through my modified-for-a-weakling cycle 4 times, plus an additional 5 shoulder dips. Whoo! Unlike last time, however, where I was able to do the same exercises as everyone just with lower weight, I did feel kind of lame having to modify so many moves, and by so much. I mean, I know that I’ll get there eventually, and it’s not like anybody made me feel bad about it (other than myself), but still. I guess that’s just something I’ll have to get over, eh?

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After the WOD was over, another coach helped me with stretching and mobility exercises for a good 15 minutes, which was awesome. He showed me how to foam roll my lats, do shoulder mobility using a long skinny PVC pipe, and use a lacrosse ball for my back. I think that this was crucial in me being less sore today. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still sore (which means I’ll be even MORE sore tomorrow!), but it’s not as bad as last time AT ALL. And again, this workout didn’t really make me nauseous or anything either. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I didn’t put forth the same amount of effort though!

We’ll have to see how long it takes me to fully recover this time, haha. ‘Til then, CrossFit!

Introduction to CrossFit

My body.

It hurts.

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Yes folks, last night I had my very first taste of CrossFit in all its glory. Admittedly, I’ve wanted to see what CrossFit is all about for a while. Goodness knows I read about it on enough blogs, and everyone I know who does do it seems to be OBSESSED with it. After I posted my first HLS Recap explaining how I didn’t get a chance to participate in the CrossFit workout because of the timing of my presentation, blog reader Kiera emailed me and invited me to come check out the box where she does CrossFit: CrossFit Annandale.

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I have to say, after just one session I can already kind of tell why people are seriously drinking the CrossFit kool-aid. My entire body is sore today, but it’s in an I-feel-like-a-badass kind of way (though going to the bathroom is not really fun after all those squats and lunges, I tell you what). Granted, I did feel just a tiny bit throwy-uppy near the end of the WOD (Workout of the Day), but I can definitely say that I survived, and I even — gasp! — kind of had fun! What?

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So, let’s talk specifics. I went to attend the 7:00 PM class last night (the first one is free!) and got there a little early to check things out and speak with the owner, Jeremy. I got to see the end of the previous class finishing up the WOD, and when they had all cleared out, we jumped right in! Each hour-long workout is structured into three parts: warm up, skill/strength training, and finally the WOD. CrossFit Annandale does have two nights a week where they offer a WOD-only workout, too, for those who may be more crunched for time but still want to be able to “get after it” (that’s a CF saying, right? Ahahahaha).

We started out with a warm-up that consisted of about 3 minutes of various plank exercises. So obviously, considering my core strength (read: none), this entailed me holding a plank for about 8 seconds at a time, crumpling to my knees, then trying again. But hey, it’s about the effort, right? And it certainly got me warmed up in a jiffy.

After that, we moved into the strength/skill part of the class. We partnered up (I immediately grabbed ahold of Kiera, haha) and we alternated between sets of 5 front squats with a weighted bar (I did a 35 lb bar with 10 extra pounds on it, so 45 total), and 10 dumbbell external rotations, which I did with a 5 lb weight. Since I was still getting used to the moves and am totally new at this, Coach Jeremy said it was fine for me to keep my weight light. I had absolutely no problem with this.

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I need to work on keeping my elbows up, I know, but hey, I’m a n00b! I’m learning. 😉

I have some occasional issues with my left wrist (my dainty blogger’s wrists, ahaha), and after three sets with the bar pulling my wrist back, I knew I needed to change it up. Jeremy showed me a way to complete the set by holding an upside-down kettlebell instead, which kept my wrists straight. I had go to down to a 35 lb weight though, since 45 pounds on a bar and 45 pounds crammed into a kettlebell definitely feel different!

After we completed our last set, it was time for the WOD. Yesterday’s WOD was as follows:

1. Row 1000 meters.
2. 20 overhead walking lunges with 25/45 lbs (women/men)
3. 30 burpees

Because at this point I was already pathetic-looking (not to mention mega-sweaty), the supernice coaches modified the WOD for me. I rowed 500 meters, did the 20 walking lunges with a 10 lb overhead weight, and did 15 burpees. And still, even in exerting half the effort as the other people who were there, I still teetered on the “Am I going to throw up?” line for a little bit, hahaha. Guess I haven’t been working out as hard as I thought lately, eh?

There are only three rowing machines and there were at least 10 of us in the class, so we went in heats. I watched the first two heats go before jumping in. Extremely unflattering photo barrage in 3… 2… 1…

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Newflash: I already hate burpees. I got through the rowing and the overhead lunges fairly quickly, but the thought of having to crouch, then flatten, then crouch, then jump (and clap!) afterward made me literally nauseous. I got through one burpee before I had to sit down and take a breather. After a little water (and a little whining), however, I finished the rest of them. My total time for my modified WOD was 9 minutes and 10 seconds.

So there you have it! The workout was definitely rough, even modified for a beginner like me, but it also was a lot of fun. I know, “rough but fun” sounds a little oxymoronic, but it’s true! The other attendees and the coaches were all crazy friendly, and spent a lot of time with each individual person: correcting our form, encouraging us, joking around, etc. I can understand why people enjoy CrossFit so much — it’s a very communal workout, and socialization automatically makes things more fun (and lessened the intimidation factor by about 1000 for me).

Once my muscles stop screaming every time I sit or stand or turn or walk or reach for something or, you know, do anything at all, I will definitely be going back. I know I don’t have the best track record with sticking with one particular kind of exercise, but who knows? People must be fanatical about CrossFit for a reason, right? It’ll be interesting to see how my own relationship with exercise, as well as with my body in general, changes as I continue. I’m really not used to such epic strength training, even when I was doing weight training at the gym, so I feel like this will either do wonders for my weight loss, or throw my body into a state of total and utter chaos. Either way, I’m excited to see how it goes!

Do you do CrossFit? Have you thought about it, if you don’t?

Office Gut

Happy Thursday, amigos! Just one more day until the weekend. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.

So! As most of you are already aware, blogging about the Hunger Games-like trials and tribulations of weight loss (ha!) is not actually my full-time gig. Though believe me, if someone were to offer me a livable salary to take photos of my dogs and write about how frustrating it is to lose the libbies, I would most certainly NOT turn them down! Alas, however, as that is not the case, I have to have a little thing called a day job. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the concept.

My particular breed of day job involves working for a government contractor in our nation’s capital. It is just as interesting and invigorating as it sounds. I spend the majority of my day glued to my desk, staring blankly at my computer monitor. And between my actual job, blogging, being part of the iPhone generation in general, and taking up the hobby of writing a book in my spare time, I’m finding that I’m spending more time than ever seated. And, y’know, computer…ing.

Sure, it’s great that I’ve replaced hours upon hours of TV and gaming time with something productive (ish) like writing, but it’s still time I’m spending literally resting on my laurels. I’m still making it to the gym 2 to 3 times a week, and often oing workout stuff at home in between, but I’m finding that my efforts there still aren’t really enough to fully counteract the 10+ hours a day I spend on my butt. I think I first saw this infographic (fair warning, it’s really long, so feel free to scroll on through although it is fascinating) on Mary’s blog like, forever ago:

Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

I’m pretty sure that after I saw this making the rounds for the first time, I quickly proceeded to ignore it and crawl into a state of denial about my habits. But not anymore! Consider this my official declaration of making an active effort not to spend all my young life in a seated position. As such, I’ve already implemented the following habits:

1. Taking the stairs

Okay, well, this needs a caveat. I work on the 10th floor of my building, so let’s not get crazy: I’m not taking ALL the stairs. But I *am* taking the stairs to and from the parking garage up to the main lobby, and that’s three flights up and three flights down each day. Certainly not groundbreaking, but it’s a start! Maybe one day I’ll start getting brave and tackle the actual stairs up to my office. I’m sure it would give me coworkers great pleasure to see me red-faced and sweaty at 8 AM. 😉

2. Walk through the office

One of the worst things I’m finding is that my efforts to slim down and save money by bringing in my lunches has actually proven detrimental to this whole sitting-all-day-thing. When I bring my lunch, it’s often salads and sandwiches and stuff that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or heated up (or that I’m too lazy to heat up. Oops.) and thus, I just end up spending more time at my desk. I’ve started to force myself to walk back through the office more often, often just to do things like go talk to a coworker about something face-to-face instead of just calling them. Basically, I’m just trying to counteract my natural laziness.

I’m also trying to refocus on my hydration efforts so that I’m more motivated to walk back to the kitchen to get water, which is obviously a healthy effort for multiple reasons.

3. A moderate amount of office-appropriate exercise

At one point, I was really motivated to try and turn my time spent working into time spent working OUT as well. So I tried to turn my desk into a standing desk, and at one point began doing lunges down rows of empty cubicles. In a dress. (It was kind of fun.) Neither turned out to be particularly sustainable, however, since my desk is at the front of our office, and I have high-visibility. Whenever I did need to sit down to work on something, nobody could see me tucked behind my little nook (arguably this wasn’t a bad thing, but you know, the job is as the job does.)

As for the office lunges, well, as amazed as you may be to hear it, even I have a threshold for humiliation. So instead of that, I’m trying to work in movements at my desk that are slightly less attention-drawing, like stretching. It may not be burpees, but it still helps get the blood flowing and that’s something. Before it got ridiculously, outlandishly hot, I was taking fairly frequent walking breaks outside as well, although it’s not particularly motivating to do so with current weather conditions. I know, I know, excuses, excuses. I’m working on it!

So there you have it. Sitting = the enemy. Well, one of the enemies of our computer-driven lives, that is. I’m pretty sure all this typing and computer-based activity is also giving me carpal tunnel, but that’s another whale to tackle at another time, eh? Hahaha… ha.

Anywho, I’d LOVE to hear what you guys to do maintain your sanity and stability while whittling away at your day jobs. One thing I’m sure may occur to you, and that I’ve already thought about, is going to the gym in the AM. I know that if I went and worked out every morning BEFORE work that I’d probably feel less guilty about sitting at my desk all day, but… c’mon. We all know that just won’t happen. It was enough of a struggle just to get myself into the habit of going to the gym AT ALL, and sleeping is just too good, mes amis.

Hopefully these efforts (among others that I will hopefully pick up from you?) will help continue to keep the office gut at bay while I figure out what I’m doing… both with my weight loss, and with my life. You know, until my novel is a national bestseller or something, and then I can pay someone else to figure it out for me. 😉

What are your tips for staying loose and getting some non-sitting movement in at work?