Sunday, November 17, 2013

Yoga: "Bullshit rainbow unicorn calisthenics"... or not...

I over actively recovered on Rest Day...

Typically, Sundays are a Rest Day for me, where I sleep in, recharge my batteries and prep for the craziness that will be my life the following week... this week, thanks to the new gym membership, I decided to mix it up a bit and try something different.

I got up early this morning and went to BodyFlow, lead by a high school friend of mine (and fitness inspiration!) Shelley. Supposedly, BodyFlow is supposed to be like Tai-Chi, Pilates and Yoga mushed together. That sounds relaxing and like a good stretch and stuff, doesn't it? Sounds like a great way to start an "active recovery day" right?


They  neglect to inform you that you will STILL get your ass handed to you.

When I got there, I was happy to learn that this was a no-shoes class. While I know many of you are grossed out at the thought of going shoe-less in your gym, I generally find shoes confining and was thrilled to "relax" in a yoga class with no shoesies. ahhhhh....

And that, friends, is where the "relaxation" ended.

Having never done this class before, I entered with an open mind, trotting merrily over to get my loaner yoga-mat. After adjusting myself out of the Front and Center spot (ooops!), I felt good about this. Looking around the room, there seemed to be ladies (and one dude!!) of all shapes and sizes, ready to get their BodyFlow on.

The music started, and I was glad to hear some current tunes, just remixed in a way to make them a little more soothing, or with an appropriate back-beat. We began with some tai-chi breathing and I tossed my energy ball (slightly less than gracefully, I think) around the room. I admit, I was envisioning a CrossFit wall ball while doing this... then, when I chastised myself for thinking of it that way, I moved on to a super villian, throwing energy balls..... also not exactly the relaxing image one is hoping for during the tai-chi session. Nonetheless, I hurdled super-powered energy balls around the mirrored room, avoided catching glances of myself in the floor to ceiling mirrors, and took some deep breaths, as we moved into some yoga.

Now, Blogland, I know Yoga is not my special talent. Even at my fittest phases of life, I just.don't.bend. that way. I want to. I try. I put my weight in my heels in my down dogs, and I try and open my chest in twisting triangles, but good lord.... it's just not a natural progression. I continue to try. Thankfully, BodyFlow didn't seem to have TOO many pretzel moves, instead focusing on more strength/balance yoga... which I do kind of like (... maybe because I'm better at it?).

I breathed into my baby cobras and up dogs, and rocked some steady, deep, Warrior 2's.... balance, though I like it, is not an aptitude of mine at the moment, due to some rehab I'm still doing on my ankle. My "tree" pose, looked more like the ever-serene "tree-in-hurricane" where you spend your 2 minutes (or 3 hours. It felt like three hours!), wobbling, re positioning, touching down, wobbling... However, the Physical Therapist recommended that I stand on one foot as much as possible, to help strengthen those ankle support muscles.... sooooo.... tree, star, eagle stuff, it is.

About 2/3 of the way into the class, I had worked up a little sweat from the exertion, and the close quarters of the group, but was feeling relatively strong. Then it happened. A seamless, unassuming, transition of instructors, where the announcement that we'd be doing some Pilates-style core work, happened.
I didn't even have time to think, "how bad could it be?" before I was down in a plank, alternating knee touches, and leaving a lake of sweat pooling directly beneath my brow - furrowed in burning muscles and concentration.
I attempted to power through, but I won't lie - I had breaks. Core is also another area that's not my favorite (thus, underpracticed...), and I definitely don't look graceful doing ab work.

However, I'd like to use this time to comment on people that "phone it in" during group classes. I don't get it. While I FULLY understand the need to modify, take a break, etc.  I do not understand just not trying at all.... why? Because it seemed to hard? You might break a sweat? what?! Isn't that why you're HERE? ..... Dear women that just laid on their bellies looking around all guilty, while the rest of the class (including the women 2x your size) were giving their best effort at "swimming" and working on our back muscles..... you KNOW you're only cheating yourselves, right? Anyway, rant over. Back to Me.

Just about the time I was convinced that my abs were going to go on strike (this would be right around the time I was doing some sort of planking or something, where I was shaking and sweating...), we moved on to the more relaxing stuff.

The room lights were shut off, the music was more calming and we were lead through a little guided relaxation and stretching.
True to what they say in the description, I felt relaxed and had no other thoughts in my mind...... It was nice. A couple minutes where I just chilled out and breathed.

Overall, I had a great time. I was afraid this was going to be a little on the touchy-feely-hippie side, but instead, I ended up getting a nice, calm workout. My (generally tight!) muscles feel stretched out, I was pleasantly tired, and I could see the potential for strength and mobility gains, if I kept coming to class.
Okay, BodyFlow, You Win, I'll be back.
.... I will still be sweaty, whiny and unbendy for a while, but I'll be back.

Following that, I ran home and ate some lunch, and had a little time to relax and rehydrate, before heading out on Sunday Adventures, Part 2.

A couple of my local Spartans (and Spahtens!) Stacey and Hannah had agreed to take on a 5 mile walk around a local scenic pond, with me. They both ran the Fenway Spartan Sprint yesterday, so it was going to be a lovely, relaxing Sunday stroll (it seems like that's how all my intentions *started* today...).
We did have a lovely time, walking around the pond, with my wee dog in tow - and Stacey's Sloshpipe (I think it needs a name). Clocking in around 25#, SloshPipey McPiperson (?) was rotated through us, every mile or so, or after steep hills. It was a nice way to just push our endurance a little more, without extremely upping the intensity. My FitBit clocked me in at 13K steps, at this point in the day! WIN!

Now I'm home, had a great dinner and am EXHAUSTED. Seriously. I don't feel like I did anything particularly "hard" today... but OMG I'm tired. I blame DayLight Savings Time.

With that, I leave you Blogland, for another cup of tea, and then - following shortly thereafter - my bed.

Rest - equally important in the fitness journey!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden

Left foot, Right foot, left foot, right foot...

It's been a good few days, BlogLand, with a distinct theme: Just keep moving. Try something. Anything. Decide to change.

On Thursday morning, I found myself up EARLY and headed out to go walking with my Mom, step-Dad and my Man (and the dog!). My Mom has recently been motivated by a health scare and is taking some significant steps to improve her health, despite the fact that she's 63, a heavy smoker and hasn't been particularly active for the last few years. It wasn't a long walk, maybe a mile and a half, but we (She!) was outside, moving and making a decision to change. I couldn't have been happier to walk along beside - what a great, motivational way to start the day. If my mother, given the physical/mental obstacles she's working with, can get off her couch, I have ZERO excuses to not get my ass in gear and continue down my path towards my fitness goals. For the last few days, I've used this thought as inspiration to go up and down the stairs and extra time, or skip the honey in my tea, or whatever little thing I need to do to stay on track. Blogland, if you learn only one thing from my list of trials and tribulations on my way to success, it's to compile a long list of reasons "why" you're doing what you're doing - especially those that exist outside of yourself. Whether it's the quadruple amputee many people saw take on a Spartan Race earlier this year, or simply your Momma skipping her morning smoke and taking a walk, supplemental motivation and inspiration is all around you. Take note.

Today was another "Run" day for me (I currently still use that term loosely), so I laced up the sneaks, grabbed the dog's leash and off we went. (it's worth noting that it was November 15, in VERMONT, and I was comfortable in capris and a t-shirt.... WTF? Hellooooo Global Warming.).
The Zombie, Run! 5K app is really a saving grace right now. I'm intrigued with the story line, and the workouts are very approachable, while still moving along my run training, that I don't feel like I dread taking them on.
Today went like this:
5 Minute Warm Up Walk
5 Minute Free Form Run (Run/Walk at your discretion)
THEN (5x)
1 minute run
1 minute walk
10 sec of knee lifts/high knees
8 minute free form run
2 minutes of guided stretches
8 minute free form run
Walk/cooldown for remainder.

I am happy to report, BlogLand, that I successfully completed this workout as written. I ran every second of the run drills, and I ran a lot of the free form runs, in burst of run/walk. I'm really satisfied at how today went, because I feel like I'm making a bit of progress. A month ago, between rehab and pain and out-of-shapeness, running 1 whole minute (much less repetitively) would've been awful and just not doable. I'm also finding that with the small successes again, I feel motivated to keep going and keep pushing to the next thing. I was missing that for a while - without biting the bullet and getting over the initial unpleasantness, it's impossible to find your small successes. I'm glad I discovered this silly Zombie app, it's definitely easing the way.

Also today, I took another step to help hold myself accountable: I accepted a DietBet challenge. The basic idea of this DietBet is that each participants puts in $15, then has the following 4 weeks to lose 4% of their body weight (for me, this is just under 10 pounds...). If you do, then you go in the winners pool and split the pot of money. If you don't, you lose your cash. I like money and I don't like to lose at anything... SO... this seemed like a doable challenge to keep me moving.

UnHappy Scale Face. :-(
Subsequently, I got on the scale today, to determine my starting weight, etc. for this challenge. I pretty much wanted to die. I saw a number that I SWORE I would never go back to.... but thanks to Life in General and the fact that sometimes, Shit Happens, here I am.

While my initial reaction was one of shame, horror and OMFG ?!!?!?!?!!?!??!?!, I am happy to report that it has passed and I have come to a better place with my thought processes. Basically, it is what it is. It is where I am starting. That's it. It's no reflection on me as a human being, it's not a judgement of how awesome I am, or how much potential I have, it's just a number - one that I can, and will, change.

SO, BlogLand.... Starting today, I have 4 weeks (until December 15) to lose 9.9 pounds. It's on like Donkey Kong.

With that, I leave you all, in order to work on getting a better night's rest. Tomorrow, I'm up early to check out a BodyFlow (yoga/pilates/other?) class and then go take a stroll (5 miles...) around a pond with some Spahtens. It promises to be a good day.

One foot in front of the other.... slow progress is better than no progress!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Sic Parvis Magna" - Greatness from Small Beginnings

... And So It Begins... Again.

Dear Blogland, 

It's been far too long. After a long string of illness and injury (and subsequent rehab), I finally find myself back in a place where I'm "healthy" and really ready to get back at it. I've got no more pain, no more excuses....... and exactly no motivation. I have a metric ton of goals and plans and desires, but lately - although I was itching for months to get back on my feet - I'm having trouble getting started. 
I was cruising along with amazing momentum last year, making huge progress, really turning myself into who I wanted to be..... then Life happened. Now, too many months later, I'm back to recommit and gather that momentum all over again. 

Recently, I've found myself sitting around, unhappy, not feeling energetic, distinctly feeling the 35 pounds I've put BACK on (Yes. 35. I want to poke my own eye out. However. It is what it is, and where I'm starting over.), and at a loss at what to do. How do I pick myself up again and get back on the right path towards health, fitness and a Spartan-esque lifestyle? I sat with this question for weeks, as I dabbled in sporadic exercise, but just couldn't get back into the routine. 

Finally, it hit me...Do what worked the first time. Last year, I lost over 90 pounds, was crazy strong, ran up to a half marathon, a Spartan Beast and had all sorts of adventures. THAT is where I want to get back to... so it would stand to reason that a good place to go is back to the start. That's where you come in, BlogLand. I realized that in my slump of a pity-party, I didn't write. I didn't tell you what was going on, and I certainly wasn't holding myself accountable (or letting you help me with that) for all the crap I was shoving in my face, all the workouts I was missing and all the life that was passing me by. SO, for better or worse, BlogLand, you have me back. Buckle Up... I'm moody, cranky, and a little nuts... but I'm determined. 

Today Marked Week 2, Workout 3 of the Zombies Run! 5K training app that I'm currently following, to structure my running progress. It's literally been a year since I've been able to comfortably (no pain, etc.) run a solid 5K, so having a structured program, to help pace myself and prevent re-injury is essential. Plus, having something to "do," like listen to an interactive Zombie story, livens up the time. 

I won't lie to you... Today, it was 29 degrees and a bit windy here in Vermont. Going OUTside (I work from home, so I hadn't really had to go outside today) didn't seem like the most appealing plan. It seemed cold, unpleasant and a lot like WORK. With that, I suddenly was reminded of why I needed to do it. *Needed* to. Not wanted to, but needed to, to get to my goals. Donning my tried and true UnderArmour coldgear (good lord, what would I do with out that stuff?!), I grabbed my Puppers, Dobby (Dobby, because her ears look a lot like THIS, when she's being silly... ), and away we went. 

The workout starts out benign enough with a 10 minute warm up walk, while you intermittently listen to your playlist and hear some plot development from Zombie HQ. Then, we're on to walk/run drills. This workout was 30 second run, 5 heel lifts, 1 minute of walking.... Five times. After that, it was a 10 minute "free form" (run, walk, whatever) run. I'm happy to report that a 30 second run is no problem at all (finally!) and in my "free form" run, I'm once again able to start measuring my run time in MINUTES, rather than seconds. It's been a while. 

I will also admit that a little "saving face" and internal competition fuel me through these workouts. I went running on a busy running path today - so I was constantly confronted with other runners - all of whom (today) looked very fit and scenic as they trotted merrily along. A start contrast to my strong, but steady, thump thump thump (I sometimes hope that having my adorable dog along distracts people from the complete ungracefulness that is me right now.). When I see these other runners, I always push to run just a little more strongly, or a little further than I want ("Self, we're not going to stop until we PASS them..."). Competition, even if it's in your own head, can be a good time, sometimes. 

After the completion of my free form run, I had some time to walk and stretch it out, before returning to my car. I've been feeling good after my runs, lately. No cramping, no aches, no stiffness. I'm pretty proud of that, as it means I'm doing SOMEthing right. 
Overall, I rate today as a complete success. And the wee pup had a great time too, despite the weather. She's not ready for her sweater, just yet!

Further, I'm happy to report that I'm back eating pretty strictly Paleo (with the addition of dairy). The Man and I have been shopping based on a pre-planned menu for the week, leaving no room in the cart for "bad stuff" or random things that don't need to be in the house, lest I shove them in my face in a moment of weakness. 
We've also acquiesced and joined a local SnapFitness. It wasn't my first choice of gym (I REALLY wanted to get back to my membership at my CrossFit gym), but it was the cheapest price tag around, offered a month to month "contract" and would me more than sufficient to serve my workout needs for the foreseeable future. Also, it's 24 hours... that means I have even LESS excuses to not get to the gym. 

The Key Concept here: Setting oneself up for success.
It will be a long road. It will be a bumpy one.... but you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other........

Until Tomorrow, BlogLand!