Wednesday, November 30, 2011

“Really it comes down to your philosophy. Do you want to play it safe and be good or do you want to take a chance and be great?” ~ Jimmy J

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 132:

I "slept in" until 8:30am this morning, BlogLand, and it was AWESOME. Yep, it was a Rest day around here, and I must say I was glad for it, this week. I have really grown to love my training time (actually looking forward to it 99% of the time) but every once in a while, a break is welcomed. Although, I do think it's a little funny that I now consider 8:30am "sleeping in".

So, I have no crazy WOD to report on, but I did want to take a couple minutes to tell you about some pretty awesome gear I have recently acquired. Personally, as a newbie to this whole "active lifestyle" thing, I generally know I need things, but never know what's good to buy or just seems good... thus, I rely a lot on the recommendations and reviews of people that I know. SO. I thought I would contribute. A few things that I've field-tested lately:

First, as the weather goes crazy here in the Northeast (seriously, it's the end of November and it was 50 degrees today and the snow was melting. WTF?), I realized I was unprepared to run outside without some more tops. As I have learned from some of the Veteran Spartans, cotton (in general) is a no-no. In short, it absorbs moisture, rather than drawing it away from your body. Bad. Wicking, Good.

I ended up buying the Moving Comfort Mobility Long Sleeve (in Spartan red, of course...). I was a little concerned about the sizing, as I've never bought this brand before, and I'm definitely not a small sort of person (I prefer "statuesque" or "Amazonian", thank you...). I'm 5'9" and generally wear a women's size 14/16, at this point (down from about a women's 24. Wow. That sucks to say out loud.). I ended up ordering the XL, according to the size chart. When I got this in the mail, yes, I immediately ripped it out and put it on. The fabric is soft and awesome, and the fit was okay. Personally, I think I would've preferred one size up if that had been an option (as I generally don't like the 'imperfections' to show more than they need to...), but given the fact that I am still on the downslide with my weight loss, I decided to keep it. For anyone considering buying one, I would say they are generally true to size; I am a bit more... top heavy (more on boobs later...)?... than your average chick, so I think some of the smallness of this top stemmed from there.

Next, I took this long sleeve top out for a run. Literally. First awesome feature: "fitted cuffs" with "hidden thumb hole". I appreciated that immediately, upon setting out on that brisk morning. Better than some of the other running tops I have, THESE hand-covering-sleeves actually extended longer down my hand, even tailored to a hand-fitting point. Excellent design.
This is where I reiterate that I am a hot, sweaty mess when I workout. In this shirt, I didn't feel like a sweaty mess - as promised, it did seem to pull the sweat away from my skin, while still keeping me warm in the chill 35 degree breeze. It also has some convenient, slightly stretchier, "venting" panels that I found really added to the comfort (along the sides and under arms).

The only minor flaw I discovered was right at the end of my run. I had managed to put my car key in the 'handy' obligatory tiny pocket. However, Moving Comfort has decided to locate this pocket in a frustrating place (at least for me.). It is on the back of the shirt, to one side... but slightly higher up (not down close to them hem). For me, this made it difficult to get back to my tiny pocket, without twisting the whole shirt around, and discombobulating the orientation of the zipper. That said, during the run, I never noticed my key was in there. Mild, dealable annoyance. I ultimately decided that this annoyance was offset by the extra bonus: this top seems to be made slightly on the longer side. That means, no mid-run shifting/pulling on of clothes! Yay!

Overall, the Moving Comfort Mobility Long Sleeve gets two thumbs up from me. I will definitely be buying more of these - particularly after I drop a few more pounds and the XL is roomier.

Next, we're onto Boobs. Yep. We're going there. We've talked about sweatiness, tears, fat, flab, injuries, weight and emotional turmoil... We were going to get to boobs eventually. I also really feel that for a female athlete (or aspiring one), they are a huge consideration. If The Girls aren't Locked and Loaded during your run or your workout, and you're experience Crazy, Slap-Me-In-the-Face Bounce syndrome, it really makes things unpleasant. Plus, guys, you may not believe this, but it just downright hurts. We need to keep those Ladies in check. Thus, begins the Quest for the Holy Grail... er... I mean, Sports Bra.

Now. Where are all my well-endowed Chicks out there? You know what I'm talking about. You can NOT just walk into a sports store and know that you're going to be able to walk out with a sports bra that fits - particularly if you are a fuller-figured lady. Again, keeping it real, I'm a real person: wearing a women's size 14/16, and sporting a 38DD. Yeah. I am not the ideal sports bra fit model. I also downright refuse to do the double-up trick, with layering sports bras, for added support. I feel that if one is actually doing its job, one should be enough. Therefore, it was an EPIC quest I went on.

Ultimately, after much debate, I ended up trying two different styles by Moving Comfort (which was a highly recommended brand, to me):

First, I tried the Moving Comfort Rebound Racer. This is your standard racer-back style bra; It pulls over your head, but has a 2 hook back closure for added support/adjustability. This turned out to be a blessing and a curse, it would seem. As I pulled this one over my head the first time, I experienced the dreaded - "Oh No, I'm stuck in my super-tight twisted up sports bra that will only let me loose if I manage to dislocate my arm in 6 places and reach around" issue. After much faux-panic in the comfort of my room, I did get this bad boy on. And it was ON, I'll tell ya. But then I realized I needed to clasp the two hooks in the back. That was a slightly less traumatic of an adventure, but because of the extreme heavy-duty elastic band, it was a little less than "easy".

However, I will give Moving Comfort some big bonus points here - the front-adjustable straps. The comfy (slightly padded!), wide straps have velcro adjustments that stay underneath the straps, maintaining your cute-factor (CLEARLY my first priority in a sports bra). The adjustable straps did make it super easy and convenient to get everything situated just so, and ready for evaluation. First, minimal uni-boob syndrome. I wouldn't say The Girls were clearly defined, but you definitely did not have the ugly uni-boob issue. Really, I was so caught up in the fact that my boobs were Seriously. Not. Moving. That I did 5 burpees in the midst of this, just to try it out. Nothing. My boobs were going NOwhere.

... so I went for a run. Again, I will sing the praises of Moving Comfort, here. For the active, full-figured lady, bouncing and chafing are an issue (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.). I ran over three miles that day and there was NO bounce. NONE. 38DD's, cemented to my chest. I swear, this is unheard of. I would tell you that I was in love with this article of clothing, except for the tiny seam rub I developed on one side. However, I am willing to chalk that up to the "newness" of the bra, and reevaluate that, once I wash and wear a few more times.
The only real down-side I had with this Rebound Racer was the entry/exit portion of the thing... getting out of it was much like getting into it... a WEE bit tricky, and not for the stiff or un-limber. I was able to manage it, and will continue to do it because of how well it kept the Girls in check during my run... but, I would not necessarily seek out this bra again, in light of:

The Moving Comfort Fiona. Yep, I found it. The Holy Grail. The Ultimate in Boob Control. The Breast-Master. ... okay, I'm done, but you get the point.
I paid just over $40 for this bra, but it was worth every cent of that. I will buy more, just as soon as my paycheck rolls in. Here's why:
The Fiona had all the good points of the previously mentioned Rebound Racer - cushy, front-adjustable straps, somewhat stylish construction, etc. - BUT, it was a regular rear-closure bra. No need to try and wrestle it over my head. While I typically like racer-back styling, I found that the straps for the Fiona were set slightly closer in, making the style equally as comfortable as a racer back, with less hassle. Further, unlike the Rebound Racer, due to it's different back styling, the Fiona had a better handle on the side/back bulges (again, let's not pretend you have no idea what I'm talking about. Just keeping it real!). Where I felt that there was potential to have some unsightly side/back bulging in the racer back, the Fiona kept that all nicely under control with some soft, sleek, moisture-wicking fabric.
And, it goes without saying, I took this one for a run as well. LOVED it. I can honestly say, I have never run feeling less like an episode of Baywatch. It was GREAT. I could focus on my stride, rather than whether or not I was going to knock out an innocent passer-by.

Overall, Moving Comfort gets a gold star from me, thus far. I have decidedly liked all their products that I've sampled, even going so far as to LOVE the Fiona sports bra. I found their prices to be competitive with other comparable active wear (and felt I got what I paid for), and so far so good on a few cycles through the laundry.
I will look forward to trying some more of their products... perhaps some leggings/tights of some sort, next? Hmmm.

So, there you have it. Now, I'm watching the mail anxiously for a pair of hot pink calf sleeves I bought... I'm hoping to alleviate some of the excessive calf cramping I've been having these days. There is also a visit to the Under Armour Outlet in my future... Oh my. What girl doesn't love shopping - even for active wear!

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