Footie Gloves

June 12, 2012

Or as most people know them– Vibram Five Fingers.

I’ve been talking about getting a pair since, ohhhhh, I dunno. Last August? You know, around the time I thought I wanted to move to Africa and become a fannypack-wearing antelope hunter.

We all know how that turned out.

But yesterday, on my lunch break, I finally bit the bullet and bought a pair. Don’t my feet look cute?

To my pleasant surprise, the color I wanted just happened to be the only color that was on sale. I think the Vibram Gods were smiling down on me. Instead of dropping the expected $110, I got these puppies for a cool $74.97.

I guess there are very few people who prefer to have purple foot gloves to run around in?

Um, score one for me!

Anyway, I went for my first run last night.

I had asked about City Sports return policy (just in case these shoes ended up not being a great fit for me), and they told me I had 30 days to test them out as long as I didn’t wear them outside.

So, treadmill it was last night.

It’s recommended you start off slowly, which I totally did. I went 3.75 in 45 minutes.

Yes, that slow.

And thank God I did.

I felt my calves burning not even a mile into my run. They were already sore by the time I got off.

And this morning. Good lawd.

You know that annoying person at the gym that is always flexing in front of the mirror instead of actually doing anything?

That was me in front of my full-length mirror this morning. I was convinced my calves had become rock hard and uber defined overnight. All over a 3.75 run.

I’m not gonna lie– the run was hard. And for a split second I thought maybe, maybe, these weren’t for me.

But that’s how anything is the first time you try them.

And considering I’m actually excited to go for another run tomorrow (not tonight– my rock hard calves need a break), I’d say that’s a good sign!

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…what I eat on a regular, day-to-day basis.

Oh, you guys. You’re making me blush. I actually have a fanbase!

My question is– do you want the truth? (pizza)

Or the ideal? (um, pizza with whole wheat crust?)

I kid.

Here’s the thing– While I do try to eat healthy on a consistent basis, my diet is far from perfect.

I love cheeseburgers. I would die for baked goods. And alcohol has a pretty regular spot on my beverage rotation.

Given my love for food, I try to take the “you can eat anything as long as it’s in moderation” approach.

Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

(Shameful truth– if I make a pizza at home, I can easily take down at least half of it. I try really hard not to do this, but, you know, sometimes I do. And I may or may not be watching Jerseylicious while doing it. Whatever. Go ahead and judge me.)

However, while I’m not one to be giving out nutrition advice (just yesterday I had 2 chocolate cookies after lunch. What? They were getting old. Someone had to eat them. I don’t bake cookies to throw them away. God.), I will be happy to share with you the healthier side of my diet.

My healthy eating tends to occur Monday-Friday between the hours of 8-4.

Eating right is so much easier when you’re on a schedule, am I right?

And, since today is Thursday and therefore falls into that time slot, I’ve eaten pretty well so far today.

So, let the meal tracking commence.

Breakfast today was my typical go-to Breakfast Sundae. (How is it that even for breakfast, I manage to make it sound like I’m eating sweets?)

I’m a sucker for Chobani Greek yogurt, but the flavored kinds are chock-full of sugar. This made me sad, since the peach kind if my fave.

Enter– chocolate protein powder. Yes, still sugary, but I can control how much I put in, and it adds a little extra protein to boot.

Throw in a few frozen blueberries, and voila! You’ve got yourself a very tasty, kind of frozen, sweet but not-too-sweet-for-breakfast Breakfast Sundae.

Nom nom nom

I also try to eat another piece of fruit along with this. Today it was an apple. A Fuji apple from the grocery store to be exact. I don’t usually like to eat fruit from the grocery store, but I haven’t been home to stock up in a while so Shaw’s apples it is.

And while I’m at it, I might as well start tracking my work outs too.

Wow– look at you guys keeping me on track!

So, yesterday was the big day I decided to officially start training for another half. I’ll be running 4 days a week, which leaves me two days a week to strength train, with one day rest.

Thursdays are a strength training day. Today’s workout was:

Warm Up:
Ankle/Knee/Hip/Shoulder Rolls
Random Stretching
Alternating Back Lunges
Side-to-Side Squats
More Random Stretching
(I have an actual warm up routine I should follow, but that doesn’t always happen. Today was one of those days.)

Main Set:
12x (per arm) 8kg Kettlebell Snatches
15x Bosu Ball sit ups
(Repeat 3 times)

Alternating 3 sets Incline Dumbbell Press/Lat Pulldown
Set 1– 10x @ 30 lbs Press
12x @ 80lbs Pulldown

Set 2– 8x @ 35lbs Press
6x @ 100 lbs Pulldown

Set 3– 6x @ 35lbs Press (meh)
5x @ 100 lbs Pulldown

Cardio Boost:
12x 28 kg Kettlebell Swings
15x 15 lb. Medicine Ball Slams
(Alternate 3x’s through)

Alternating 3 sets Chest Fly Machine/Bent-Over Row
Set 1– 10x @ 70lbs Flies
12x @ 65lbs Row

Set 2–
8x @ 80lbs Flies
8x @ 75 lbs Row

Set 3– 6x @ 80lbs Flies
6x @ 75lbs Row

Final Set– Ropes
100 Alternating
25 Rope Slams/25 Alternating
Repeat 25/25
Finish with 100 Alternating

Took me about 45 minutes, kicked my butt, and I feel good.

So, tell me loyal readers. Do you want to read about what I eat and what I do in the gym? Or should I stay away from the fitness/nutrition stuff and leave that to the pros?

Checking In

September 14, 2011

Sorry I fell off the face of the Earth for a little bit there.

I was on a pretty solid blogging streak there for a while, but my life has been pretty boring recently so I figured I wouldn’t bore you guys with stupid posts about unicorns again.

Your welcome.

Anyway, I’m back. With a sassy new haircut and a new training endeavor I’m going to undertake that you all will have the privilege of following.

First, the hair cut.

There’s something about the fall that always makes me want to chop off all my hair. And I’ve found it tends to happen in 2 year cycles.

I decide I want a new hair style, get my hair cut really short, love it for a week, start to hate it after two weeks, and then don’t get my hair cut for a year in protest.

I then keep it long for another year, swearing I’ll never cut it short again.

Then the itch to cut it starts, and I decide I must cut off all my hair right now OMG I can’t wait one more second to have short hair.

So, I make an appointment, usually for that day because, you know, I’m really patient, and by dinner time, my hair is gone and I’m left feeling much better, but slightly ashamed.

Kind of like a one night stand. Heh.

Side note– the past two times I’ve decided to cut my hair short, the change in length was so drastic two different stylists have asked me if it was because I was going through a break up.

I guess they’ve seen too many girls cut all their hair off in the midst of personal anguish and heartbreak?

Alas, that wasn’t the case for me. Moe was aware of the choppage I was about to do.

Anyway, with my short hair also comes a renewed sense to get back in shape.

OK, I never really fell out of shape.

But I want to get back to where I was when I was training for my half marathon.

I haven’t been totally slacking, I just haven’t been pushing myself as hard as I can.

And this, my friends, has resulted in some unwanted pudge around my waist:

There is a lot going on in this picture.

Recap: Cute hair. Unwanted pudge. Random knives on the wall. Very tasty Post Road Pumpkin Ale. (Try it. Seriously.)

So, it’s time for another half marathon. I’ve found one I’m going to do, I have my training schedule ready to go, and I tested my running legs on the treadmill today to make sure they still worked.

I ran 3 miles straight today. With a rock solid time of 29:05. Not very good.

So, first goal: Get my 5k back to where I’m running under a minute mile.

Here we go!

**Update. I just noticed a small, yet significant typo.

As much as I’d like to say I can run a mile in under a minute, making me the world’s fastest runner ever, I’m not quite there yet. Under a 9 minute mile is a leeeeee-tle more achievable. So, mmmmm, I’m going to go with that.

For the better part of my life after college, my goal has been to be an “effortless runner”.

You know, like one of those people who can just run. Someone who makes it look easy. And fun.

Sadly, I am not one of those people.

Sure, I’ve run a half marathon before (with a time of 2:15, which averages out to about a 10:30 pace. Not bad. But certainly not “effortless runner” status.)

And aside from that, I’ve got several 5 milers and 10ks under my belt.

My fastest pace in a race has been a 9:02 mile. It was a 10k. And boy was I proud. (Side note: this is not where I am now. It makes me sad.)

Anyway, the bottom line is– I can run. I’m just not good at it.

Recently, I haven’t really been focusing too much on my running, and have been concentrating more on strength, flexibility, and functional exercises.

But the past few weeks, I’ve been getting the itch to run another long race. For a while I couldn’t figure out why, but yesterday, in the middle of a set of 28kg kettlebell swings, it hit me.

While my workouts have certainly been kicking my butt, there’s been something lacking.

I just haven’t been feeling…accomplished.

I don’t want to work out just to work out. I need a goal. Something to work towards.

And since I accomplished my push up goal (3 sets of 12 full ones! Go me! Go me!), I think it might be time to embark on another running goal.

Perhaps a…marathon.

Or, maybe another half first. (Baby steps, here, people. Baby steps.)

But, I have also decided that if I’m going to do this, I’m going to this right. I don’t want to run a long race just to run it.

I want to run it, and feel good.

I want to feel accomplished.

So, step one is to work on how I run. After years of running in my Saucony’s, my gait, posture, and overall technique leaves much to be desired.

I basically look like I’m always running headlong into a gust of 30 mph wind.

Which is why I’ll be purchasing this book:

Without boring you too much with science, it teaches you to run from your core, not from your legs. Translation: Less injury. Stronger body.

If you want to read more, go to the Chi Running website. And if you want the book, you can get it on Amazon.

For a little more inspiration, I will also be getting Born to Run:

And along with the books, I’m making the jump to Vibram Five Fingers.

Yes. These things:

Don’t knock ’em til you try ’em. (Actually, I haven’t tried them yet. But, I know they are what I need.)

So, expect a few posts here and there as I slowly wade into the barefoot running craze. My research suggests it’s a very slow process, so a long race might be kind of far off.

But for the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited about the gym again.

And in the words of Martha Stewart, that is a very good thing.

My First Hot Yoga Class

February 25, 2011

It’s the end of February and my winter depression is in full swing. There’s nothing quite like continuous frigid commutes morning, noon, and night to really put a damper on your will to live.

Since a tropical trip is out of the question, I decided that a hot yoga class would be the perfect way to get myself out of my cold-weather slump.

I mean, if I can’t be on a beach in the Caribbean, the next best thing is to be in a small, hot, dark room with strangers, sweating my ass off and getting stuck in impossible, limb-breaking positions, right?

I put the word out that I wanted to try a class, and a good friend of mine recommended a place. It’s a drop-in, $10 per class place– no commitment, just bring yourself, water, a towel, a mat, and money.

The website said all levels were welcome, so I figured I would be ok. I mean, I know the general terms of yoga poses, so how bad could I be?

Note to self: Knowing yoga poses does not make them easier. It also does not make you lithe, flexible, or able to do a headstand. I will remember this next class.

Anyway, I decided to try the 5:45 Hip Hop Yoga class.

Class Description: “A Vinyasa Yoga class set to a pumpin’ and jammin’ Hip Hop Music playlist. Be prepared to open your body and to be inspired from HEAD TO BIG TOE.”

I wanted to be inspired from my head to big toes!

I showed up to class in my best organic, biodegradable yoga pants, new mat slung over my shoulder and water bottle in hand.

I guess I was a little slow getting into the studio because by the time I did, every spot was taken except for the one in the very center at the front.

Another note to self: Next time, bust your way in there first so you can find a spot in the darkest corner in the back. Throw elbows if need be. Just get to a corner!

Not to be deterred, I set up my mat, sat down and looked around.

What I saw was disheartening and a little frightening.

One girl was stretching. And by stretching, I mean she had her leg so far up over her head, I’m inclined to think it was a prosthetic and she was just playing a sick joke on all of us.

And let’s not forget the girl quietly waiting in the corner for class to start. While I was sitting on my mat, she was chillen…in a headstand.

Alrighty.

Class starts. The beginning wasn’t so bad. We sat cross-legged, stretched our necks, and focused on our breathing.

So far so good.

Then we go into downward dog.

Yes, I know this pose. Yes, I’ve done it.

No, I have not done it for 5 minutes straight.

I immediately thought I was going to die.

…and that’s when I started sweating.

For the next hour and a half, I was put through one of the most rigorous workouts of my life.

To any of you who go to the gym, lift weights, have muscle, can run over 4 miles, can swing a 28 kg kettlebell, and think you are in shape…take one of these classes.

45 minutes in, I was sweating so much that even the bottoms of my feet were slippery. So much so that I had trouble doing “warrior pose” for fear of sliding right off my mat and into a giant, defeated heap.

My favorite line of the night was when we were in some sort of wide-leg pose, bending at the hips so our hands touched (or, in my case, dangled listlessly a few inches above) the floor, and the instructor said:

“Now, let your knees fall onto your elbows and just flow right into your tripod, feet in the air.”

Um, what? You want me to balance my knees on my elbows and support my entire body upside down on my hands?

Needless to say, I didn’t do that. The only other one who didn’t do that was the lone guy in the class, who’s bulky frame had about as much flexibility as a rock.

How encouraging.

The final sign that I am in no way up to par with my yoga skills was when everyone else was “relaxing” in the “wheel” position and I was huddled on my mat in child’s pose, gasping for breath (or should I say “focusing” on my “breathing”).

In summary…

Was it hard? Yes.

Was it uncomfortable? Holy shit, yes.

Was everyone super nice, non-judgmental, and understanding? Yes.

Do I think it’s something everybody should do? Absolutely, 100% yes.

Last night was a giant wake-up call. I need to do more yoga.

I’m going again next Wednesday.

Are You a Muscle Cultivator?

February 14, 2011

“If you walk into a gym, sit on a bench and bang out 3 sets of chest presses followed by 3 sets of incline presses topped off with a few sets of flies trust me you’re not weight lifting – you’re body building. And listen carefully, if you walk out of the gym thinking you’ve just gotten a workout because your hairline is slightly damp with perspiration you’re most certainly in denial, and this is the part that I need you to pay attention to…

YOU…ARE NOT…FIT.

By far my favorite line in this article by Art of Strength.

And now tell me– how many of you do that exact workout?

And for those of you who raised your hand, can you tell me why?

Do you even know?

Is it so you can get big huge muscles and walk around under the false pretense that, since you have big huge muscles, you must be in the best physical shape of your life?

Then you, my friends, are sadly mistaken.

Don’t feel bad though– it’s not your fault. You’ve been fed this “bigger is better” bullshit for years, and unless you’ve worked with a trainer who really knows their stuff, you’re probably just learning that this isn’t the case at all.

For all of you who are horribly confused about what the difference between body-building and true physical fitness (and, judging by the workouts I see so many of you doing, I suspect that’s a lot of you), you need to read this article.

A few of my favorite highlights include:

1.) Unless you have a daily need to continuously press 225 pounds up and down while lying on your back (and, right now, absolutely no reason is coming to mind), there is no need for isolated chest presses. Bench, incline, flies– no reason. For those of you who want to argue with me, give me one good reason, besides getting a grossly inflated chest (and ego).

2.) Modern body-building (aka doing the above mentioned exercise) is yet another form of laziness.

Yes, I said it– laziness. In true American form, people have found a way to get bigger, faster,with as minimal effort as possible. Because, again, in true American form, we’re equate bigger to better. Big muscles must mean you’re in better shape…right?

Wrong. Read:

“Do most people have the determination to achieve the goal of becoming a “strong man”? Not if there’s an easier way to do it. Modern body building was borne of a desire to be bigger faster, all at the expense of physical fitness. Granted, the loss of physical fitness was not intentional rather it was accidental and most certainly unbeknownst for many years. Weight lifting, or the “strong man” routines where developed in such a way that the entire body was enlisted to perform the task. Nothing was being isolated, nothing was being left out, the exercises required not only great physical strength but a tremendous amount of cardio vascular strength. It is this cardio vascular strength that was the greatest loss in the transition from weight lifting to body building.

3.) A 165 pound high school senior recently beat his school’s deadlift record by 100 pounds, deadlifting 365 pounds.

It was the first time he had ever attempted it.

He had never spent hours in the gym doing isolated deadlifts, working up to 365 pounds for the sole ability to deadlift 365 pounds. This senior worked exclusively with kettlebells (surprise!). His workouts consisted of non-isolated, total-body movements, strength and cardio combined workouts.

So he’s physically fit in the true sense of the word…and he can still kick you modern-day strictly-isolated-movement body builder’s asses any day.

I won’t go on with anymore highlights, since what I really want you to do is read the article.

Bottom line, having a ton of muscle will do nothing for you, if you can’t even perform the most basic everyday tasks.

All in all, this is about quality versus quantity.

Authentic versus superficial.

Meat Heads versus True. Strong. Men. (and Women :))

I Lost My Sneakers

January 6, 2011

Seriously…I have no idea where they could be.

I wore them to and from the gym last Friday and sometime between then and now, they up and walked away.

And although barefoot running is all the rage right now too (for good reason), I can’t go to the gym and run barefoot on the treadmill or go in the weights area with no shoes because I’m pretty sure that’s against gym policy. Read:

“Closed-toe athletic shoes must be worn at all times on the courts and in the fitness and exercise areas.”

Damn.

In lieu of my sneaker-less dilemma, I’ve been forced to do more kettlebell workouts this week, simply because I can sneak into one of group exercise rooms and do them barefoot without anyone yelling at me to put some shoes on.

So, for now, kettlebells it is. And it’s kicking my ass. I’m actually sore today!

In celebration, I wanted to share a few videos with those of you who might be interested in the good old KBs, but have no idea what to do with them, or for those that are looking for something new to spice up your routine.

Without further adieu:

Video 1:
Kettlebell Basics with Steve Cotter


This guy is insane. Anyone that can do a double-snatch with any kettlebell is awesome, let alone the ludicrous amount of weight he’s using.

Anyway, I like this video because it focuses on the four basic kettlebell movements: swing, snatch, clean, and overhead press. These four exercises alone will kick your ass. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try it. One 30-60 second set of each, 3-4 times through, one minute rest after each circuit. You’ll be dying.

Video 2:
5×5 Finisher

This is an awesome way to finish up any strength training workout:
5 snatches
5 cleans
5 squats
5 overhead presses
5 lunges
(rest 1 minute)
Repeat on the other side of your body

I did this the other day after 40 minutes of regular lifting combined with some kettlebell circuits. Five minutes of this had me sweating more than those 40 minutes did. And I was only using a 12 kg KB. (Green, for you colored-oriented folk.)

This can also be a great workout if you’re really pressed for time. 2 or 3 times through and your heart rate will be through the roof.

Video 3:
Finally, the Kettlebell Meltdown 300 Workout

Not for the faint of heart:
25 V-ups
50 snatches
25 push ups
50 swings
50 burpees
50 clean and press
50 mountain climbers

All in a row, as fast as you can.

Amazing workout, but only for people who are already in good shape, and are comfortable with kettlebells. The guy in this video finished in 11 minutes and 16 seconds using a 24 kg bell. That’s almost 53 pounds he was swinging around. I know– he make sit look easy. Jerk.

So, resolutioners, if you’re looking to get in shape, do it right. Skip the treadmill and stationary weight machines. Please. Believe me when I say, those won’t do anything for your overall health and fitness. If you don’t believe me, read this post, “Resolve to move BETTER”, written by one of the people who introduced me to the glory of kettlebells. What she says is true.

But, before you trot down to the gym and start swinging around a bell like a bat out of hell, always have a certified (preferably RKC or AOS) trainer show you how to use them first. While KBs are a great way to get stronger/fitter/all-around more awesome, they can also seriously hurt you if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. If the trainer doesn’t know what RKC or AOS is, avoid him/her.

Happy training!