Fitness Achievement Unlocked

Happy Friday, folks!

I hope everyone had a great week! This week has been a bit of a mixed bag since Penny is teething like crazy and it’s been really, really tough, but I’m still ending the week feeling really proud of myself. Why? Because for the first time, um, let’s go ahead and say literally ever, I worked out every single day this week! 

Clearly what I need to work on now is not making the same dumb face every time I take a gym selfie hahahahaha

Well, okay, I didn’t go to the gym today as I’m insanely sore (I had my final session with my personal trainer yesterday, and we definitely made sure I went out with a bang, haha!) and definitely need to rest. And I know that for some, 4 days in a row isn’t really anything to write home about. But it is for me! And I’m feeling good about my efforts, as well as about the simple fact that I’ve been prioritizing fitness and turning it into a real part of my life.

From the beginning of my (most recent) health journey, one of my goals has been to make working out part of my weekday routine. I figured that being able to work out every morning would help me in my attempts to create more of a routine, in addition to all of the obvious health benefits. Clearly I’m not quite there yet as right now I still need time to rest and recover (especially when lifting heavy things, like my trainer has taught me to do), but this week gave me a lot of hope that I will be able to get there in the near future!

 

And once I’ve hit that goal and see how it feels, I’ll be able to refine it and determine what really feels best for my body and the lifestyle that I want. Whether that means going to the gym 5 every weekday, switching to every other day (including weekends), mixing in other forms of activity, whatever!

Honestly, I’d love to magically turn into the kind of person who truly loves fitness and looks forward to working out every day, but I’m only halfway there currently, and may never be there fully. I can say I like the way it makes me feel, and some days I even genuinely look forward to working out, but most of the time it’s still a bit of a mental battle. And that’s okay, because I’m coming off of an entire lifetime of loathing exercise. So, I don’t want this all to seem like a big ol’ self-congratulatory shoulder-pat, but honestly I feel like I’m doing pretty well.

 

Anyway, in other news, poor Penny had a really, really tough day yesterday. I think she’s got her first MOLAR coming in (all of her teeth are like, sprouting up in her mouth all at once!), and was absolutely inconsolable when she woke up from her post-daycare nap yesterday afternoon.

Like, screaming, crying, sobbing, arching her back, throwing herself out of my arms… and nothing seemed to comfort her. Not holding her, not putting her down, not giving her pacifier to her, not singing to her, not even giving her a bottle. I just felt SO terrible for her. She was really resistant to taking medicine but I was eventually able to get her to take some Motrin and after it kicked in she did calm down a bit, but it was really rough for a while there.

I didn’t have very high hopes for how the night would go either, but thankfully she seemed to do pretty well. She took over an hour to fall asleep, which is very unlike her, but she seemed to sleep reasonably well and didn’t wake up screaming until like 5 AM — way better than I was expecting! She was able to fall back asleep and dozed on and off until around 7:30 this morning (again, thankfully.)

 

And she seems to be doing better today! Still a little, er, temperamental mood-wise, and her teeth are definitely still bugging her, but she hasn’t had another screaming-crying fit (yet…) so hopefully that means she’s not in as much pain, at least? Guess we’ll see how the rest of today goes…!

And with that, I hope you all have an awesome weekend!

My Gym & MY Gym

Man, the days are really getting away from me lately! Between work & work events, social engagements, and my constant status of “Am I getting sick again?”, time really seems to be moving faster than I’d like. I never have enough time to do everything I want!

One thing I *did* finally get around to doing though, was taking Penny to a class at the local My Gym. If you’re not familiar, it’s like a gym for kids — a play place that offers structured classes for your kiddos to help them develop various skills (and is just a lot of fun.)

My friend Anna asked if I was interested in meeting up for a class (the first one is free), and since it had actually long been on my list of things to do, my answer was a resounding YES! We also got our other friend of ours to join as well, and all of our littles had a ton of fun.

 

I really loved how many different activities and areas the employees at My Gym set up for the kids — they crammed a LOT of fun into the hour we were there! There was a “car wash” where they had a bubble machine going and kids rode a little toy car through a little obstacle course thing, tumbling time, swinging, and a demolition derby!

 

Plus some songs to kick things off, a story to wrap things up, and what they called “separation time” at the end, where they pulled out some toys and encouraged us to walk as far away from the babies as they’d let us. The goal was to get back to the check-in desk area (the kids are always still in sight), but you know Penny. Sean and I probably could have walked right out of the building and driven home and little Miss Independent wouldn’t have noticed or cared, hahahahaha.

I had so much fun with Penny at the My Gym class, and totally want to sign her up for a membership now. The only problem is that it’s more expensive than my own grown-up gym membership! Hahaha. We also were talking about doing swim lessons with her this winter, so I just gotta figure out what makes the most sense monetarily and schedule-wise. Alas, we just can’t do everything!

Speaking of the gym, my routine of working out 3 – 4 times a week was going really well (shockingly so, when you really think about how much I used to hate working out, lol)… until the plague descended and our whole household got sick, that is, and my schedule got thrown off like whoa. So I’m working on getting my motivation back up and my routine back in place — so far, I’m doing okay. The past week+ has had a lot of work commitments that have gotten in the way of me being able to go as often as I’d like, but I went yesterday and have a personal training session tomorrow, so I’m feeling optimistic about this week, at least.

August to October

My ultimate goal is still to get to the place where I am solidly working out 5 days a week and prioritize fitness as part of my daily routine, but you know, I’m still a work in progress, heh. Already I can tell you that while I may or may not have lost much weight recently (I haven’t stepped on the scale in a few weeks because I was getting a bit obsessive), I can absolutely see a difference in my strength, stamina, and endurance!

My clothes seem like they’re fitting a little better too, though while slimming down and losing body fat are obviously pleasant bonuses and additional indicators of my health improving, I’m not trying to make “weight loss” the main focus here. It just so easily leads to really negative thinking on my part — tying my self-worth to the scale, falling back into old, unsustainable habits just so I can lose weight a little faster, etc.

For now, Penny remains my biggest motivation and I’m finding it’s just the right kind of motivation. I want to model healthy habits for her, I never want her to feel the kind of self-loathing and shame that I’ve felt toward my body for so much of my life, and I just wanna, you know, keep up with her!

 

She gets more energetic and exhausting every day, so I gotta work to make sure she doesn’t leave me in the dust! We had another pediatric appointment to follow up on her ear infection and so she could finally get her 12 month shots, and she’s now 23 lbs, 4 oz. So, yeah, I’m gonna keep doing my arm exercises I think, hahaha.

Mia-cation and the Evolution of Balance

I’m back, baby!

Well, actually, I’m back from visiting the baby!

I returned yesterday from my trip to Macon wherein I spent a crapton of time with my wonderful 17-month-old niece, Mia.

It was awesome. What did we do while I was there, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

We played…

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We read books…

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We were extremely fashionable…

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Her, not me, obviously.

We also snuggled…

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And celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with Mia’s first moon cake…

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And we watched Frozen.

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Every day.

Sometimes twice a day.

I mean, I fall asleep and wake up with “Love is an Open Door” stuck in my head.

But those of you who know me also know that I am totally, 100% okay with that. 😀

Of course, since my sister teaches fitness classes, I also ended up doing a few other things. Most of which can be summed up by these extremely attractive pictures:

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She. Destroyed. Me.

In a very positive way, of course.

I went to the gym and was thoroughly worked not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES IN A ROW during my so-called “vacation.” Given how ridiculously lazy I am, you should be pretty proud of me. And on the second day, she taught back-to-back classes, and I DID THEM BOTH. Who am I?!

Actually, if I’m being honest (and aren’t I always?), getting my work out on with Jenny really was a bit of a wake-up call in terms of my fitness. I know that in the (many) months since I quit running and working out regularly, my fitness level has really tanked. And nothing brought that to my immediate attention more than the outrageous pain my muscles were in the morning after I attended Jenny’s first Ab Crunch class. Oy.

IMG_7794-1.JPGOne of these things is not like the other…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, staying active is a real struggle of mine. If given the choice between going to the gym or going on a hike or going for a swim OR watching a Gilmore Girls marathon on TV (DID YOU HEAR THAT THEY’RE RELEASING THE ENTIRE SERIES ON NETFLIX?!?!), it’s not hard to guess what I’m always going to pick.

I mean, even when I was on the rockin’ weight-loss train, it was still really hard to motivate myself just to be active. I had to bribe myself with races just so I had some reason to go to the gym, to hit the pavement, to get moving. And, really, even though I was running and racing and talking a lot about my health and fitness levels (which were, obviously, much improved over what they are now), the main reason I was doing all those things was to aid in my weight loss.

So it’s not too much of a stretch to understand that when I stopped actively focusing on losing weight, my sole motivation for being active pretty much went out the window, too. It is just so, so, so easy to live a sedentary lifestyle. Between my computer, TV, PlayStation, and books, I spend a lot more time sitting than anything else. And while I really do enjoy taking Harry and Daxter out for walks, those fluffernutters are even lazier than I am.

  

Seriously, try going more than a mile with them and see what happens. (Spoiler alert: it involves carrying Daxter home.)

So yes, anyway, the wakeup call. It comes as no shock to you, I’m sure, that I am suuuuper out of shape right now. Even if you take the whole weight factor out of the equation (and I am not truly that oblivious, I do realize they’re associated to a certain extent, but let’s just put that conversation off for another day), I simply recognize that I’m not currently at my most energetic or my peppiest or my most well-rested…est. I’m sure that on some level I’ve known these things for a while, but I haven’t been motivated to do anything about it because, well, I didn’t want to. Simple as that.

As you know, I’ve been taking some time to try and separate myself from my former identity as Someone Who Is Losing Weight, as Someone Who Needs To Be Thin, as Someone Who Is At War With Her Body. Instead, I’ve been honestly trying to embrace and love myself as-is. And that truly means embracing everything — from my large frame, height, and thighs that will always, always touch, to my tiny ears, widow’s peak hairline, and double-jointed elbows.

But life is all about give and take. And as my focus shifted away from the number on the scale, giving me the confidence to feel better about myself, it also was taking a lot (okay, all) of my motivation for maintaining the healthy habits that I had originally cultivated to help me lose weight. Which led to a serious backslide in terms of my overall fitness level.

So, yes, unsurprisingly, when I actually did find myself back at the gym, I got my ass handed to me. But you know what the surprising part was? I really felt so accomplished for getting through those workouts. For going back the next day. For working hard enough to really get sore. I mean, the soreness wasn’t great in that it was a literally painful indicator of how out of shape I’ve gotten (it seriously feels like a totally different person ran Reach the Beach back in 2012), but it still felt good in a weird, semi-masochistic way.

So I started to think about why that was — after all, it’s not like I’ve never worked out before. I’ve done plenty of challenging classes, I’ve been CRAZY sore after a workout before (my brief stint with CrossFit in particular comes to mind). But I’ve never been, like, happy about feeling like I got schooled by a workout. And I realized, sad as this sounds, that’s probably because I’ve never really known what it’s like to go to the gym or try a class or take up a exertion-based activity without the question constantly stirring in the back of mind, “How will this help me lose weight?”

Which I guess actually probably isn’t shocking given that I’ve been basically obsessed with my weight for most of my life, and it’s admittedly really hard to break free of that kind of thinking. But… I think I’m starting to get there. Just maybe. I think I might just be getting to a place where I can see myself taking steps to be active and fit because of how it makes me feel, not because of how I want to look.

So that’s pretty neat. We just have to hope that this feeling will last long enough for me to get into the rhythm of things even without my super fit, crazy active sister here to drag me to class with her, haha. This is new territory for me, after all! I mean, exercise for the sake of… exercise?! Not just with the aim of losing weight?! Egads!

Let’s see how this goes, shall we? I think the main thing I want to bear in mind moving forward is this: embracing my body and loving myself shouldn’t be an excuse for me to be lazy. Loving myself should mean taking care of myself, right? Just because I’m not trying to be thin doesn’t mean I get a pass on making an effort to be healthy, happy, whole, and balanced.

So, all this is really just to say that next time I get a craving to binge-watch back-to-back-to-back-to-back episodes of Revenge, I’ll most definitely still be doing so. I’ll just try to make sure I’m gasping aloud from major plot twist shock from atop a treadmill instead of my couch. #balance

What I’m Doing at the Gym

A week or so ago I received the following tweet:

While I assured her it was absolutely not a dumb question, and gave her the 140-character-limit version of my gym routine, but it occurred to me that some of you might also be interested in hearing about what I’ve been doing during my sweat sessions lately. I knew ahead of time that after the relay, I would be putting running by the wayside (for now) and concentrating on other, more currently interesting means of fitness. In addition to videos and workouts at home, right now that means a big emphasis on strength training!

So when I joined my gym as part of my Lenten resolution to bring an end to my lackadaisical and sporadic attempts at exercising regularly, I also signed up for three personal training sessions to help me get an idea of what moves to do, and how to maintain good form with them. I really wish I had the budget right now to continue with personal training, because it was so immensely helpful! Fortunately, my trainer, Jordan, and I established a great rapport from the get-go, so he still stops by occasionally to see how I’m doing and give me pointers. I pretty much follow variations of all the moves that he had me do during those initial sessions.

I’m at the gym at least twice a week, either attending a cardio class (there’s this Dance Cardio-X class that is SO ridiculous and SO much fun) or doing strength training. I’m lucky enough to have found an awesome workout buddy, Kate. The stars aligned when I met her at a party (through Sean, actually) and she told me she was a fellow Falls Churcher and was thinking about signing up at the same gym as me. Having someone that I’m accountable to meet with, whether it’s a friend or a personal trainer, has been integral in helping me establish a regular routine.

Generally, my weight lifting routines consist of a combination made from some of the following free-weight moves: bicep curls, tricep curls, walking lunges, squats, crunches, leg lifts, shoulder lifts (I’m not sure of the official name, but it’s where you have a weight in each hand, fully extend your arms, and pull them up the side, in to the front, back out to the side, then down), barbell curls, the move where you put one leg up on a bench and use that side’s same arm to pull up a weight (targeting your back muscles), etc. I generally do 3 sets of 10 reps each, though I’m very bad at not losing count, haha. It’s nothing groundbreaking, for sure, and as of yet I don’t have specific workouts that I follow each time (though perhaps that will develop as I put more planning into my strength training, haha).

I usually start out with a couple of minutes on the elliptical or treadmill just to loosen up, and I also will generally throw just a couple of weight machines into the mix as well. My favorite is the leg press, but I also will do a couple of the arm and shoulder machines as well. The free weights I use are generally 10 or 15 lbs if they’re dumbbells, or 20 or 30 pounds if it’s a barbell. On the machines, for arms/shoulders/back the weight is usually somewhere within the 40 – 50 lb. range, and for legs it’s usually within the 75 – 115 lb. range.

Anyway, that’s about all there is to it! There’s still a lot I have yet to try out (I’d like to learn how to use kettlebells and resistance bands better) but for now I’m enjoying feeling like I’m getting just the slightest bit of definition in my still rather floppy appendages, hahaha. If any of you have questions about my gym routine, or if you have any tips to offer, I welcome both! I’m definitely still new to strength training in general, but I love how it makes me feel like I’ve worked hard without feeling like I want to die, the way straight-up cardio does. And for those of you who were utterly bored with this post, I have a delicious recipe coming your way tomorrow!

What’s your favorite strength training move?

Workout Motivation

Yesterday marked my last of three personal training sessions that I purchased when I joined a gym as part of my Lenten resolution. I have actually really enjoyed strength training with my trainer, Jordan, and am a little bit worried about putting in the same effort on my own. There’s no internal argument when I have someone there telling me what to do — I just, I dunno, do it. Ideally, I think I would honestly prefer to work out with a trainer on a permanent, regular basis, but monetarily that’s not very practical for me at this time.

I do know that I want to keep going with weight training, however, because I am actually enjoying it more than I expected. I wouldn’t say I like it, but I decidedly don’t hate it (yet), which is a big step for me! Alas, it will be up to me to (try to) remember all the exercises that Jordan has taught me, and to devise a few workout sets of my own to keep going. I suppose I’ll also be joining the ranks of people who scour the internet for workout plans and inspiration, too. And whaddya know, I’ve already found a few that I am more than happy to get on board with!

katniss and peeta

Theodora‘s company recently sent me a workout plan that was developed by Lisa Wheeler, the Fitness Program Director of DailyBurn. This workout is specifically inspired by The Hunger Games. I know how cheesy it sounds, but honestly the simple act of combining something that I don’t like (exercise) with something that I love (Hunger Games, durr) makes the whole idea of actually, y’know, doing it more exciting. Honestly, I should probably capitalize on this excitement most by taking a full-on archery class (resistance training, whoop whoop!) but we’ll go with what we got for now, haha. And what we got is a free workout that you don’t even need a gym to be able to do!

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ARMS
Exercise: Single Arm Row with Rotation
Equipment: Resistance Band
Description: A single arm row simulates the upper body action in archery by drawing one elbow back (engaging the deep muscles of the back) and slightly rotating the torso. Hook tubing around a stable pole or door jam and place both handles in your right hand. Step back until the tubing has some tension. Pick up your right foot and balance on your left and then begin to pull the tubing back, right hand moving towards right hip. Add a slight rotation to the right, opening up the shoulder.

ABS AND CORE
Exercise: Bear Squat
Equipment: none, just your body weight
Description: The bear squat combines a full plank, which is fantastic for the core, and an explosive leg press. Begin in plank then bend your knees and send your hips back over your heels keeping the knees off the floor (spine is flexed and arms are extended). With a powerful push from your legs, extend back out to plank and hold.

LEG STRENGTH
Exercise: Curtsy Squat Side Lunge
Equipment: Dumbbells
Description: To truly develop strong legs that are functional for running, jumping, leaping and carrying heavy loads, you must train them in all directions. Holding heavy dumbbells in each hand begin with feet together. Step out to the side with your right leg, keeping your left leg straight. Hinge forward slightly but keep chest lifted with the dumbbells on either side of your right leg. Push off your right foot and immediately step back and cross behind the left leg, bending both knees into a curtsy squat.

AGILITY
Exercise: Quick Feet Drill
Equipment: none, just your body weight
Description: To be quick on your feet and have the agility to change direction quickly, you must train the muscles to fire rapidly and with power. This drill is about quickness and endurance and really elevates your heart rate. Begin in the athletic ready stance (feet a little wider than shoulder width with knees slightly bent and a slight hinge forward from the hips) with arms out the side, palms forward. Start moving your feet as fast as you can as if running keeping the feet close to the ground. Keeping your shoulders and torso stable, randomly twist your hips (knees and feet as well!) to the right and quickly back to the center. Repeat to the left continuing to keep your feet moving as quickly as possible.

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As you can see, these aren’t exactly as simple or easy as your basic bicep curl. They are much more complex exercise moves that most definitely fall under the category of a “full body workout”. Each move seems to challenge your stability and balance along with the body part they are targeting – more bang for your workout buck! I’m happy because at least for OMGRIGHTNOW, I have some new moves to test out as I figure out how I work solo in the weight room. My legs are crazy sore (again, sigh) from my training session yesterday, but you can bet I’ll be attempting the faux-archery Arm Row exercise tonight!

How do you do your gym workouts? Do you need a gym buddy? Personal trainer? A workout ripped from the pages of a magazine or printed off of a website?