Earth Trekking

First things first: holy mackerel! The entries for the V8 V-Fusion Sparkling Giveaway are still rolling in, so get your comments in before tomorrow morning for your chance to win! I love reading about all the various ways you all like to add sparkle to your lives — you inspired me to add a little to my fingernails while I was playing around in Sephora yesterday!

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Perhaps a little too much, haha.

At any rate, I hope you all had fabulous weekends, despite the ridiculous cold rain that’s been plaguing the DelMarVa region since Saturday evening. Bleh. I spent my weekend up in Columbia visiting my sister!

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Jenny, her husband, and I all got LivingSocial deals for an introductory rock climbing course at Earth Treks Climbing Center a few months back. Since they’re about to move to Houston (SOB!), we needed to use up our deals, so Saturday morning we ventured over to their Columbia location (they have a couple spread throughout Maryland).

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Harnesses. So hot right now.

The first forty-five minutes or so of the class were spent teaching us about how to properly put on our harnesses and tie the appropriate knots needed to strap ourselves in. We got the knot-tying down pretty fast, so it wasn’t long before our instructors had us move on to belaying since one of us would always need to support the climber when it came to that.

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Before we actually began climbing, I thought that belaying would be the more difficult part. I found it pretty challenging, which probably makes me sound like a total n00b to any actual climbers out there (…which is true, haha). There’s a very specific pattern that you need to follow as you pull the slack of rope, and I kept getting confused. There’s also a whole bunch of jargon that the climber and belayer (is that the right word?) are supposed to exchange, which I kept messing up. “On belay?” “Belay on.” “Climbing!” “Climb on.” And so on, and so forth.

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Of course, once I actually started climbing, my tune changed very quickly. It is HARD! It’s fun — really fun, in fact — but it is definitely challenging. You don’t realize how tightly you’re gripping onto the pegs/rocks/things in the wall until you release. Plus, you are using muscles that you rarely use on an everyday basis. My forearms are still killing me!

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After the intro climb in the upstairs (read: easier) area, we were let loose in the main climbing room, where there were various routes marked on the walls with colored tape. There’s a rating system that marked how difficult the routes were, and even though we tried one of the lower-end levels that was recommended for us (a 5.6, I think), it was still REALLY tough. There is a HUGE difference between just climbing up willy-nilly and having to follow a specific path. All three of us needed the two on the ground to help direct us to the appropriate pegs, especially for our feet. It was difficult to see which ones we were allowed to step on when we were looking down at them. I only made it a little more than halfway up on that one, Jenny made it about 3/4 of the way, but Dan scaled all the way to the top!

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Jenny the Monkey

Generally, we Powells aren’t known for our superhuman upper arm strength, so I knew it would be a challenging go for me. That said, I did a lot better than I thought I would initially! Hoisting myself up wasn’t that difficult, it just became really hard when I didn’t have pegs that were easy to grip onto. Some of them had little divets that you could hook your fingers around, but some of them were just rounded, and my grip wasn’t strong enough to utilize them. Rock climbers must have fingers like BICEPS, I tell ya!

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I think it’s also pretty clear that body mass and the way your weight distributes itself really affects how easy it is to climb. A lot of it is mental and feeling confident in the fact that you are fully supported and you won’t fall even if you miss or slip. And of course, since it’s me, I totally slipped at one point and careened off of the wall. It was actually kind of fun!

At the end of the class, they gave us license to go back and do some bouldering, which is free climbing a shorter wall without need for a harness or ropes. I thought this was really, really fun too. The walls only went up like 12 or 13 feet, and they had big fluffy mats underneath to fall onto. I did a little baby route with ease, though there were tons of routes that went up on slants and eventually had people hanging off the ceiling — crazy! I gave a half-assed attempt at one of those before realizing that I was probably being a little overly ambitious. Still, I can totally see why people get into rock climbing. It was fun, a great workout (you don’t realize how hard you’re working until you come down!), and even now I keep thinking back to that first route I couldn’t complete and wish I could give it another shot. Motivating!

The membership fees at Earth Treks were something like $65 a month, which is really comparable to what I pay for at my regular gym right now. They also have a small gym room with treadmills and weights and whatnot, so I could see this as being a great option to have instead of a normal gym membership. If they had a location closer to me, I would really consider switching over! I’ll have to do some research to see if there are any other climbing gyms close by.

Have you ever been rock climbing? There was a rock wall at UREC, the gym on campus at JMU, that I never took advantage of. I kind of wish I had now! Maybe it would have gotten me into the habit of exercising long ago…

Leap Day (Weigh-in)

Hidee ho there, neighborinos! Happy Leap Day! Yes, today is indeed that fabled day that comes only once every four years. According to a rather UN-progressive Irish legend, this is the one day that women are allowed to propose to their men. And according to the radio hosts on HOT 99.5, calories don’t count today, hahaha! Also, please allow me to wish an extra special happy birthday to those of you whose birthdays fall on February 29th!


Here’s a Leap Year tip for you: don’t watch this movie. It was not good.

So I’ve been doing pretty well with my Lenten resolution to exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5x a week. Admittedly, my workouts have been pretty light to start out with: a bit of cardio, some stretching, some light resistance training, etc. Yesterday, however, I had my first real session with my personal trainer at my new gym, and literally got my ass handed to me. I swear, just trying to sit down on the toilet this morning was the most painful experience of my life.

I am sore. The sad part is that I’m sure most of you would look at what I actually accomplished yesterday and roll your eyes, but for me? Daaaaaaamn. I can’t remember exactly how many reps I did, but I did 3 sets of everything after a 5 minute elliptical warm up. I’m sure I’m making up the names for most of these exercises, seeing as how I don’t really know what I’m talking about. But this is how I’ll remember them, so it works! Ahahaha.

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As you can see, we focused on legs, chest, and shoulders yesterday (with just a couple of ab exercises) and man, do I feel it today. Still, being sore like this kind of makes me feel awesome. I mean, it points out how ridiculously out of shape I am, but it also makes me feel like I really accomplished something, y’know? I really feel like throwing real, tangible weight training into my exercise goal is going to help me a lot. Not only is it more interesting than just, uh, running, but I just really like the idea of getting toned and fit (even if all those toned muscles are still sitting under a nice little layer of jelly, ahaha). I also simply want to get stronger. I mean, I know I’ll always be a fragile, delicate special snowflake, but I like the idea of being able to lift a 50 lb kettlebell too! (Sidebar: how does one use kettlebells? I plan on forcing my trainer to teach me since they seem to be all the rage right now.)

Hopefully even just the past week of actual exercise is already paying off. Let’s go ahead and see, shall we?

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 191.4 lbs
This Weigh-in: 190.1 lbs
Difference: -1.3 lbs

Whoo-hoo! Another pound gone, and I’m almost back in the 180s! I honestly couldn’t be happier, especially considering I gained like 6 temporary pounds from all my Harry Potter World debauchery (byebye, butterbeer belly!). I’ve been doing pretty well with my eating lately, so with the regular exercise worked in and whatnot, I have high hopes for the next couple of months! Hopefully this trend will continue, and I’ll be back to my pre-holiday weight and will be hitting new weight loss milestones before we know it!

Tally hooooooo!

I (Re)Lent

‘Tis that time again, folks. While I was busy regaling you with overly detailed accounts of my trip to Harry Potter World, it was Fat Tuesday for everyone else. That means it’s time for (some of) us Christian folk to saddle up and head out on a 40-ish day journey of deprivation in the name of spiritual solidarity. We sacrifice one of our comforts to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, prior to his crucifixion. Last year, I went vegan for Lent. This, as some of you may recall, turned out to be an epic failure for my weight loss, since eventually I got bored of salads and ended up on a predominantly french fry-based diet. No bueno.

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Not that fries

This year, I’m taking a slightly different tactic. Most people see Lent as a time when you give something up — i.e. meat, fried food, chocolate, soda, etc. I, however, have always been taught that as an alternative, you can instead make a specific commitment/change to better your lifestyle — i.e. go to bed an hour earlier each night or stop eating in front of the TV. In my case, this year I am committing to exercising regularly. It should come as no surprise to you all that I am not exactly a rockstar when it comes to exercising. I have an endless list of excuses that I am always willing to whip out, but what it comes down to is that I just. don’t. like. it. Despite my best efforts to jump on various wagons — Zumba, Hot Yoga, Racing — in the back of my mind I always held onto the fact that, hey, I had lost 50 lbs without regular exercise, so why did I need to do something that I don’t enjoy? It’s been difficult for me to convince myself that I do, in fact, need it. After all, here we are, one Lent later, and I’m BASICALLY at the same weight that I was during at this time last year. Fail.

I mean, I know it’s been a process, and I’ve lost a few, and gained a few, then gained a lot, and did a little bit of exercising along the way to train for races and the like. But still, it hasn’t even been a true part of my lifestyle. I think I may have finally (yes, FINALLY) come to the realization that I really need to fully incorporate exercise into my life in a REGULAR, CONSISTENT way in order to boast any kind of actually healthy lifestyle. Not to mention if I still intend on losing any more weight, and boy, oh boy, do I ever still intend that! SO. Here’s the deal: I am committing to a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit? Well, I’m giving myself 40. If you’re fixated on the fact that Lent is about giving something up, just think of it as me sacrificing a small portion of my general laziness (which, as you all know, I do so enjoy!). If nothing else, the guilt that inherently comes with the season of Lent should help me to stick to my guns, right? Hahaha.

What am I doing here? Excitement?

To kick things off on the right foot, I did something I never thought I’d actually do: I joined a gym. A real, live, gotta-pay-actual-monies-to-go-there gym. As someone who generally has no trouble wasting lots of money, I’m not sure that the monetary incentive will really do THAT much to motivate me, but at least it’ll be giving me options. I joined Vantage Fitness in Falls Church, which is a mere 0.6 miles from my house, and despite the start-up fee, I’m pretty excited about it! They have tons of free classes, too — everything from yoga to kettlebells to spin — so I’ll have some choices that will hopefully prevent me from getting too bored. And since I seem to be one of the unfortunate few people that doesn’t actually enjoy running outside, maybe having a treadmill underneath my feet will help me build my stamina back up in time for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and Reach the Beach Relay. In case you were curious about the relay team, by the way, here’s the line-up:

1. Anne P. (Fannetastic Food)
2. Sarah (Sarah Fit)
3. Patricia (Run Foodie Run)
4. Tina (Carrots ‘N’ Cake)
5. Ashley (A Healthy, Happier Bear)
6. Bridget (Yogurt and Berries)
7. Elizabeth (On Tap for Today)
8. Theodora (Losing Weight in the City)
9. Yours truly!
10. Monica (Run Eat Repeat)
11. Ali (Fit Chick in the City)
12. Melissa (Fitness NYC)

We are being generously sponsored by New Balance, and so our team name is thus “Off Balance”! You know, ’cause let’s be honest: 2 days, 6 sweaty girls packed in each van, little to no sleep? If we weren’t all a little unbalanced before the relay, you can bet your sweet bippy that we will be afterward! (It was my name suggestion, too! Wheee!)

I am still steadfastly determined NOT to completely humiliate myself during the race, which won’t be an easy feat since as you can see I’ll be running with not only ACTUAL runners, but fierce ones at that! 🙂 I swore to myself that I’d be able to hold my own, though! And I know that throwing myself into the ring exercise-wise will be the ticket to doing so (uh, duh?). I had a consult with a personal trainer last night (free with signing up) who helped me identify some goals and specific exercises for weight loss too. And then totally duped me into buying a few personal training sessions, haha. Oh well, it’s provably necessary to sustain my motivation anyway. Teach a man to fish and all that. I will obviously be spending some days where all I’m doing is running, but hopefully by mixing it up with some other stuff in between, I’ll be able to cement this good habit FORREALZ. Wish me luck…!

What, if anything, are you giving up/committing to for Lent?

The Plan

Making the New Year’s Resolution (or any resolution, or goal, or intention, or insert-synonym-here) is the first step. Making a plan to actually follow through with said resolution is the second step. Actually following through with that plan? That’s the hard part.

As you’ve seen, I’ve really been trying to get my eating back into gear over the past few days. Calorie counting is back in full force, along with primarily home-cooked and brought-from-home meals. We are all aware, however, that eating is only half the battle. Unfortunately, it’s time for me to face the music with that other pesky part of this weight loss game:

Excitement?

Exercise. (DUM DUM DUM)

I have barely broken a sweat since the Hot Chocolate 15K at the beginning of December, and it’s time to change that. I’ve admitted many times that I really can’t get myself to exercise without some sort of strong motivator, namely races. So! Here is my official announcement of my big racing plans for the foreseeable future!

I will be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on April 1st, something that has been on my list of fitness goals since I started this blog. Can you believe it?! After the 9.3 miles (allegedly) of the 15K, this shouldn’t be too crazy, but again, I haven’t run in a month soooo, I’m going to need to build my stamina back up like WHOA.

What’s more, my goal is not going to be simply to finish this time (what was that about maintaining realistic goals? Ha!) No, this race is actually just going to be a precursor to something even greater, if you can imagine…

I will be joining some incredible, superfast bloggers in a relay for the Massachusetts Reach the Beach race on May 18 – 19! I’ve never done a relay race before, let alone one of this magnitude (200 miles in 36 hours, essentially!) and I am a turtle compared to amazing ladies like Tina, Anne, Theodora, Ashley, and Monica (among others!) who will also be on the team. There will (hopefully) be 12 members on our team, and we will rotate throughout the day and night (!), each running a total of 3 legs. Each stretch can be anywhere from 3 – 7 miles (I’m gunning for the shorter ones, obviously).

This is why my training plan for both the Cherry Blossom and this race will not only include stamina and endurance training, but actual speed training. SAY WHAAAT??! I know. It won’t be anything crazy or completely unrealistic, but I will be trying to hold my own. It’ll just be too embarrassing for me to drag down an entire team of awesome runners and bloggers by being slow. Nothing motivates me like the potential for humiliation! As dictated by the race rules, the team average needs to be 10 min/mile or less. I figure that since a bunch of my teammates will probably be running 8 – 9 minute miles, if I can weasel myself down to around or under 11 minutes per mile, it should still balance out. And hopefully nobody will hate me for it. I’ll be trying really hard guys, I promise! 🙂

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EVERYBODY GETS THIS RED AND SWEATY OKAY SHADDUP.

So there you have it. Two BIG milestones to meet and BIG motivators for me. As part of my training, I’d like to participate in some smaller races, primarily 5Ks, to help encourage the running-without-stopping and running faster, as well as to make training more fun (I hate running but I love races!) Anyone know of any local 5Ks coming up in the next couple of months? I’m eyeing the Love the Run You’re with 5K in Arlington on February 12th (I’ve heard good things about Pacers events!) but am open to recommendations!

What am I doing here?

I should make it clear that I do NOT intend to allow myself to fall into the trap I did when I was “training” for the 15K. Namely, the “I just ran 7 miles, I can eat whatever I want!” trap. This is why I’m going to rely on you guys to help me realize when I’m starting to make those rationalizations. Yes, my caloric intake will probably not be limited to 1500 calories on days when I’ve had a long run, but neither does it allow me to consume all those calories in the form of cupcakes and french fries. So say we all.

What’s your plan for making your resolution stick?

PS: As of today, my new monthly column in the Falls Church News-Press is out! Check out the first edition of Fit in Falls Church today!

A Lofty Goal (Weigh-in)

So let’s talk goals.

I’ll be honest with you and admit that I’ve never been a very goal-oriented person. I guess I’m just not ambitious enough when it comes down to it – I don’t have that truly competitive spirit that drives me. That forces me to finish what I start. That’s not to say that I don’t HAVE goals, of course. I make promises to myself, and I try to aim in the right direction.

On Target
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It’s just never really mattered all that much to me whether I land exactly on target.

And the goals I’ve been setting for myself lately? They haven’t been what I would call revolutionary.

I told myself that I would go grocery shopping today, so I did. Goal!

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I told myself that I needed to cook a healthy dinner, so I did. Goal!

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And I told myself that for these two consecutive wedding-filled weekends, complete with buffets and cake and probably a few too many vodka sodas, that I wasn’t going to worry about losing weight. That I simply needed to maintain.

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Week’s Weight: 186.2 lbs
This Week’s Weight: 186.0 lbs
This Week’s Change: -0.2 lbs

Goal…?

“It’s about the journey, not the destination.”
“It’s the thought that counts.”
“A for effort!”

I’ve never really thought of my aversion to “real” goal-setting as a bad thing. The way I’ve always seen it, the world is simply made up of different kinds of people: some are driven by always needing to be harder, better, faster, stronger. And then there are those of us who are okay with 2nd-through-last place. I’ve always known that I am one of the latter. And I’ve always been okay with that.

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After all, it’s gotten me this far — through the past 60 lbs, a few 5Ks and even a 5 miler!

I did it!Jump Shot Fail

The thing is… I’m starting to think that maybe I’m using it as a bit of a crutch. Another excuse, another justification. The whole “I am the way that I am!” schtick only goes so far, and we already know that my activity level goes from wimpy to non-existant if I don’t have something I should be (but probably am not) training for. While there’s really no denying the fact that yes, I am the way that I am, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still strive. That I shouldn’t reach. That I should settle only for goals I know that I’ll meet.

I think I’m realizing why I generally set the bar low. Yes, it is a great feeling when you’re able to cross something off, when you can say you’ve achieved yet another thing you wanted to achieve. But it is absolutely terrifying when you think that you can’t. I’m proud of the goals I’ve been able to meet thus far, but c’mon. How am I supposed to inspire anybody if the loftiest goal on my list right now is “cook dinner”?

All I know is, I’m tired of settling. I want to strive, I want to reach. I want to try, even if I fail.

15K.
9.3 miles.
December 3rd.

Here we go.