Weekly Rundown x 2

I didn’t do a Rundown post last week, not because I didn’t have time, but because it seemed like the same thing over and over again.

Am I in an exercise rut?

 Nah, I just wasn’t sure I had anything new to say about the same exercises. I still love my exercise and have no desire to change it, although I am always willing to try something new.

My weeks seem to be a combination of treadmill running (three or four times), weights (once) and yoga (once). I have to work hard each day to make the time to fit my exercise in, but that isn’t that new either.Although it does seem worse recently.  There are always errands to do that get in the way. Which is why I also seem to be taking two days off during the week rather than one.

I was excited that not only did  I manage to run longer than I thought I could on the treadmill  Saturday, I followed it up by a 30 minute run on Sunday. I have been  trying to run every other day to give my leg a break, unless I was doing just a mile or so before yoga or weights. It was nice to see that my leg was strong enough to do two long (comparatively) runs in a row. (It was a bit sore for the next run, but it just needs to suck it up and strengthen, already)

And I added Burpees back into rotation. They really made a difference to my shape and strength when I did the Burpee challenge in June, so I thought I should do them a couple of times a week. That hasn’t happened, as I am only doing weights once a week at the moment and that’s where I added the Burpees. I am doing 5 Burpees in-between my arm sets. I do three sets, so I am currently doing  15 Burpees, and definitely need to increase them each week.  I ought to work in my weights more than once a week too, but it’s just more fun to run or have a yoga session.

I did have a fun excursion planned for this previous Sunday, but Mother Nature, once more, stepped in to change that.

We had received more  snow than normal at this time of year, which is great for snowmobiling. Not a lot of trails around here, so we had planned a trip a few hours north on Sunday.

My husband had bought a new–to him–sled in December and he was aching to get on it. Since he had a new sled, I got his. My sled was a similar model several years older than his, and since it currently goes into reverse and won’t come out of it, I was happy with the change. We had gotten to play around our back field, but were really looking forward to a long day out.

Then it rained for 18 hours. All that snow melted, and flooded.

And I do mean flood. We live near the Kennebec river, and the fact that we no longer had anything to snowmobile on was not the worst thing to happen in the area:

Image result for hallowell flooded cars   Image result for hallowell flooded cars Cars parked along the river behind local businesses. Many of the businesses flooded too.

We did get some more snow this week (big surprise!), so my husband is headed up North this weekend for snowmobiling. Not sure those cars are out yet. Or will be anytime soon.

 

 

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Happy Surprises

I love it when I realize I am  in better shape than I thought!

I’ve been playing around with the pre-set workouts on  my treadmill, and today I decided to try the forty minute intensity session. I haven’t run for more than thirty minutes since I started running on the treadmill. And my last runs on the road weren’t that long either, since I was running out of time and daylight. So I really didn’t think I was going to finish the forty minutes.

I’d done four of the six workouts, but I hadn’t done the final two, which are each forty minutes. Mostly that was a lack of time. Most of my workouts are done after work, and I am limited by both my energy and all the other things I need to get done at night (feeding the horses, feeding the husband, laundry, errands, etc).

I’m happy when I get any exercise in, and thirty minutes seems to be the most I can devote to my workouts at night recently.  The holidays are over and life should return to normal, but my new normal seems to be sitting down between 6:30 and 7:00 at night–and I get out of work at 2:45!

But I had nothing going on today.  Since we were supposed to have an ice event today (it didn’t show, but absolutely no complaints), we got all our errands tucked away yesterday and today I planned on laundry, napping and movies.

Eventually this afternoon I convinced myself I really should get on the treadmill. I was dithering whether I would walk, run or do a preset. I decided to do the forty minute #6 preset workout, but I convinced myself I didn’t have to do all of it. Of course, once I hit twenty-five minutes, I figured I could finish it.

That carrot trick works every time. I’m so easy to fool.

The workout starts with two minutes of walking at 3.4 MPH, then hops to 5.3 MPH and alternates that with 6.5 MPH, then alternates 5.3 MPH intervals with 6.8 MPH intervals. I think the intervals are a minute each, but I try not to pay too much attention to time because if I watch the clock, then it feels like the workout is taking forever. I do know that there were three of the 6.5 intervals and thirteen of the 6.8. The final three minutes are walking as well, at 3.1 MPH.

When I finished the forty minutes, I decided to do a cool down of walking at 2.5 MPH for ten minutes. Followed by eleven more minutes of yoga stretches. So, in all, sixty-one minutes of exercise!

And I didn’t die. I felt awesome 🙂

A New Year of Exercise

A lot of exercise resolutions are being made this month. And, sadly, many will be broken next month. So here is my little bit of advice to keep you going on those resolutions.

First, make sure your resolution is what you want, not just because everyone around you is making their resolutions and you think you should as well.

Then, figure out what works for YOU.

I did a lot of aerobics in the ’90s as they were the “in” thing. Here’s what I learned–I hate aerobics. I would start an exercise program, then quit in a month. Then I felt bad, so I  would start again and then quit again,  and  keep going through that cycle. Not surprisingly, I neither got in shape nor lost weight.

When Billy Blanks started his Kickboxing revolution, I tried that too. I found I liked kickboxing, but more as the sport itself than speeding up the moves to make an aerobic  (there’s that word again) exercise as Billy did. I did get myself a freestanding punching bag with a book and kept up the kickboxing, with the emphasis  on form rather than speed. Hmmm, maybe I need to add that back into rotation….

The first time I actually enjoyed exercise was when I got my Springer pup and I had to walk her energy off several times a week. Then I decided walking took too long (I am basically an impatient person), so I began running. Ah, that fit!!

Once you decide what works for you, there are still more pieces to nail down. When you have the time to exercise is a big one. Be flexible.

I used to exercise in the afternoon, because I was not a morning person. But I have changed over the years, and I found it nice to get it done before heading off for my day. Then I started working at 6:30 in the morning and I shifted back to the afternoon sessions. I miss my morning workouts, but not enough to get up at 3:30!

I do try to plan out my week–I’m kinda OCD that way. I figure out what exercise I am going to do each day, and what day I plan to take off. But I let my week dictate what I can do and if I really don’t want to run a certain day, then I weight-lift instead and run on the weight day. If something major comes up, I switch my day off and workout on my planned day off.

Be open to new forms of exercise, you never know what might surprise you. My friend  recently took up kayaking. That is not terribly surprising, except that she can’t swim and has avoided water-based activities for a long time. But she loves it! Whatever it is your friends talk you into may not be your go-to exercise, but you could enjoy it and add in occasionally. If not, then you know not to try it again!

You might have noticed that I use the word flexible quite a bit. Nothing should be written in stone except your intention to exercise in some form and in some consistent fashion.

Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t dread your chosen exercise, and there are  certainly enough out there to try a new one if you find yourself skipping workouts.

I love running, yoga and riding my horses. I tolerate the weight-lifting because I know I need it to do my loves to the best of my ability. I know not everyone will love, or like, running. Or yoga. You might even hate them. So go find your love.

 

A month of Burpees

I had been toying with the idea of creating/doing a Burpee challenge for a while now. So last month I did.

I gathered a few friends too, but some dropped out due to injury (not from the Burpees!) while others popped in and out. I felt that doing a lot one day to catch up wasn’t the goal of the challenge, the goal was to do them every day–which was harder than just “catching up.” I didn’t say anything though, I was just happy they tried. I did have one coworker who made it through the whole month with me 🙂

I started May 31 with 5 Burpees, then added one each day during the month of June. I was supposed to end with 35, but somewhere between 10 and 14 I miscounted and realized I was doing 15 on the day I should be doing 14. But I kept the extra, and ended on June 30th with 36.

I did some research while coming up with the challenge, and here’s what I learned:

1. Burpees are named after their creator–Royal H. Burpee, who was an employee at the Bronx YMCA in the 1930s.  He used the exercise in his doctoral thesis for Columbia University in the subject of applied physiology in 1940, while the Bronx YMCA introduced it to their members.

2. I hate Burpees

3. Burpees are used in Spartan races if a racer can’t complete an obstacle as a time penalty, 30 for an elite athlete and 10 for those running in the general population. Burpees are also often used in CrossFit classes as a penalty if a participant is late.

4. I hate Burpees.

5. Burpees were used by the US Armed Forces as a measurement of fitness for applicants during WWII. The exerise let them assess the strength, coordination and agility. Twenty-seven burpees in one minute was considered poor physical form, while forty-one was considered excellent. I believe that would be the original Burpee, not  with a push-up. (I haven’t tried, not sure I really want to know)

6. I hate Burpees.

7. There are dozens of variations. Royal’s original was a 4 beat:  squat with hands on floor, kick feet back to a push-up position, jump back to squat position, jump up. A newer version (the one I did) has a push-up and a higher jump added. Do a search, however, and you will find Burpees with weights, jumps onto steps, jumps over obstacles and many more additions to make a Burpee more difficult. Like it needs help!  Check out Lifting Revolution’s blog to see some variations.

8. I hate Burpees. And push-ups, I definitely hate push-ups.

9. “On May 17, 2014, in Greenwood, South Carolina,  a gentleman by the name of Cameron Dorn broke two burpee world records. He performed 5,657 within a 12-hour period. He also completed the most burpees in a 24-hour period, finishing with a whopping 10,105. Another world record was achieved on October 21, 2013, in Portland, Oregon, by Lloyd Weema. He broke the burpee world record for the most chest to ground burpees performed in 72 hours with 9,480.”*  Yeah, I am not trying that.

10. I am in much better shape after my month of Burpees. They helped my core and arms tremendously. Although I have avoided push-ups since grade school, I can do them now–and they aren’t scary anymore.

I will keep Burpees in my rotation from now on, as I definitely don’t want to lose the fitness I gained.  Straight up push ups will also be thrown in. My core is solid after all the push ups, and my knee bends more after all those squats, as well as bending the leg while jumping in and out of the push-up position. I am glad….glad that I did it, and glad that it is over!

Added up, I did 628 Burpees over the course of the month, which was both a surprise and made me feel incredibly good! And I just saw an email from Shape with a Burpee challenge, so apparently I am right on trend. Who knew?

Shape got creative with the variations, giving you 7 different types of Burpees. The challenge is to do 10 reps of 1 variation each day of the week, with an increase of reps by 10 each week. So, 700 Burpees over the four-week period. Wanna try? Here’s the link: Shape Mag

*Dr. Axe

Thursday Thoughts

Shake it up.

Whatever your routine is, do something different. Why?

I have a neighbor who walks down Blinn Hill every day. It is a mile down from his house (plus his long driveway) and, thus, a mile back up. Sounds like a workout, right?

Not if you do it every day. 

It was hard at first, I’m sure. But now he is not even breathing heavy when he gets to the top. His body has adjusted to the work of climbing that hill. If he went down the other side, which is not as steep until the last 300 yards, it would work his legs differently. If he did something crazy, like getting on a bike, well, that would really shake his body up.

So try something different. You might find a new love. And your muscles will let you know you shook them up.

Water Therapy

I’ve had two water therapies  now.  And I enjoy it immensely.

The pool itself is rather small–if  Michael Phelps  did a flip and push-off at one end he would probably  hit his head on the other before he could start swimming. And if he dove off one side going across, he would probably land on the other side of the pool!

Of course I don’t need an olympic size pool, as I am not all that big. The pool isn’t too deep, but if one is as short as I am, one can’t do a proper squat in it. As soon as my knees bend, my chin sinks into the water. Generally I have to stand on the steps to do the knee bending during our sessions.

The water is lovely and warm–rather like walking into a bath. The exercises seem so easy while I am in the pool. But my leg definitely feels it afterwards. I didn’t get any increase in bending this week– 😦 — but my leg is stronger, so I guess we have to go with that.

And I am so hungry afterwards! The first time I considered it  a fluke. The second time I was tearing my car apart looking for food. The next time I will bring a healthy snack, knowing I will by dying for it!

 

 

The hard part about exercise is figuring out how to track it. Shall we be old fashioned and keep a journal? Or get a snazzy new gadget? I suppose we all have our favorites. Some of us put in our blog, keeping ourselves honest!

I still need to track it so I know what I did, when, and for how long; so I can write about it.  I definitely don’t remember for more than a day. I have two methods: I have an app on my phone that tracks each session, and I do keep an old-fashioned  journal too.

But how does one decide? My journal is great because not only does it show in a weekly format what I did, but gives me a place to write down how I felt about it and whether I tried anything new in the session. My app is wonderful because I get a digital readout of how long and what I did.  It also sends me a monthly reckoning of calories burned, minutes exercised and miles run–if its not what I wanted to achieve, I can always strive harder the next month.

That works for me. What will work for you? There are literally thousands of apps, and many gadgets that hook up to a computer program to track your health; not only your exercise but sleep and eating patterns.

I admit, I lucked out with my app. I use Endomondo, which I love because  A) it’s simplicity and B) the amount of exercises it lists. It actually has riding  (a horse) in it. It has all my exercises, plus many more. All I could find that it is missing is that it has no gardening activity (yes, trust me, cleaning out leaves is a workout).  It has a lot of training programs and challenges too, and makes a great way to connect with others.

And the Bands! I do have a simple pedometer/watch that the hospital gives all its employees, and it connects to a website where I can track o’ so much, and connect with other hospital employees. I have become addicted to counting my steps and seeing how many I can get in a day. But does not even compare to a Fitbit, or Apple Watch or Jawbone, or one of the many more. For a great comparison of wearable trackers, check out this Self article. Your head will spin with all the choices out there.

But there is one important thing to keep in mind with an app, journal, or band: you must utilize it. Getting the coolest tech with the neatest website doesn’t mean you will get up and use it. There are four prime things to look for when you are picking out a band:
1. The wearer must have the desire and motivation to want the wearable and able to afford it.
2. The wearer must be able to wear it and recharge it easily.
3. The device must be accurate at tracking the data it’s targeting.
4. Data needs to be presented in a meaningful, user-friendly way that also motivates further action.*

What do those mean? Well, you probably need to plug it in every night when you plug your phone in.  Pick out a reasonable band, taking into account not only the up-front cost but also whether there is a monthly cost to have it connected. Same thing with an app, my Endomondo is free. However, there is a $5 monthly upgrade, but I decided that I didn’t use enough of those features to make it worth it. I did try it, which I suggest everyone try. But don’t be afraid to get rid of it if you are not utilizing all the features.

You also need to be able to understand what it says and how to set it up. Small buttons and tiny readouts are not for everyone.  Plus what it tells you must be usable to you. I don’t track food, so I could care less about calories burned. But to some people that would be a must.  I do care about time and distance, so it is important that my tracker have accurate clock and GPS.

In the end, take your time and  think about what is important to you when you exercise. Think about what kind of information you want to track–time, sleep, weight–and pick out a program/band that will do that for you. And then USE it 😛

 

 

 

*Self

 

 

Quarterly Check In

So it’s the end of March and we all know my resolutions have been derailed. But how are you guys doing? Did you make a lot of New Year Resolutions? Are you sticking to them or have they already gone by the wayside?  I ran down some tips on keeping your momentum–or rebuilding it  🙂

Focus only improving performance, strength, speed and consistency this year. Take the emphasis off the aesthetic results, and put it in becoming the best athlete you can become.* Once you concentrate on how you feel instead of how you look, you may recognize improvements much quicker.  And that will help you keep going.

Do what you love! If you’re not a runner or a cyclist, don’t force yourself. If you feel unstoppable on the dance floor, dance! If you feel like a kid when you’re in the pool, swim more! The exercise that burns the most calories is the workout that you can see yourself doing daily.*  Many fitness experts will tell you that the key to getting fit is finding exercises that you like and find enjoyable. Thankfully, there are so many ways to exercise that you are bound to find ones that you like.** I believe I have mention this before, so I will let those quotes stand alone.

Resolutions, like goals, should be SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic/relevant, time-bound). Secondly, and equally as important, is to make sure you actually care about the fitness resolutions you are setting. Don’t set them simply because someone else is setting it. Create goals that mean something to you.*  One helpful way to stick with it could be not overdoing or wearing yourself out. Pick manageable times and workout schedules that you can stick to without getting overwhelmed.** Scheduling your workouts is very important. If you miss more than a few, you will feel like you might as well quit. So finding a time to do them when you can actually do them is important. Start small and work up–one to two times a week in the beginning. Soon you will be looking forward to those times of working on yourself and you will want to do them more often.

“Healthy” can mean different things to different people, but generally, feeling good, looking good and taking care of yourself fits the bill.** Trying to focus on these things can make one’s life much happier.  There are ways to work around stress as well: visualization to deep breathing, to simply zoning out to calming tunes. Being prepared with an effective stress relief tool in your mental toolkit can be very useful when you need a breather.**  Once you integrate stress control and exercise into your life, you will be amazed at how much happier you will be. I know I was.

 

*Self

Gearing Up

We all made our resolutions and now it is time to follow through with our fitness plans. What is the first thing we need? Well, gear for our chosen sport of course!

And here is my words of caution: don’t go over board.

You love Wii tennis, and decided that you need to take up actual tennis. After buying all the necessities for tennis, you realize you couldn’t hit a real ball with a four-foot racquet.  Now what?

   +   +    = 

Or you get talked into a Polar Bear Dip (you crazy person, you) and realize you love the water.  Instantly you buy the best bathing suit ever and a year’s membership to the local Y; only to find you sink like a stone to the bottom of the pool.

Now, I am definitely not saying don’t try something new. But also to try moderation.

Can you play tennis in your sweats and sneakers? Yes. Will you look as cool? Probably not. (No one looks cool learning a new sport anyway)  Do you need a racquet? Yup. (Although you can probably rent a racquet until you find out how you like the game in the real world)   The biggest expense would then be the lessons, and that is the one thing you probably should spend the money on.

And I am not suggesting you try swimming at the Y with your beach bikini.  But maybe a decent regular suit until you decide you are ready for the Olympic trials. Or your first Triathalon. Or just when you realize you really love it and will be there three times a week without fail.

I went out and bought a bicycle once. Had to have it. Spent all my birthday money on it. Didn’t take too many rides  to realize I really didn’t like bike seats! That bike spent a lot of time in the garage.  So when I started running, my first shoes only cost $30. And each year they have cost more. That’s ok, I know I am in it for life now 🙂

I’m not suggesting that when your exercise-fanatic friend cleans out her closet you need to take her leftovers. The one thing I do suggest on spending a bit of money on is the exercise clothes. Most can be used for a variety of sports, so if you change your mind from yoga to kickboxing, no problem.

And, I have learned, it is good to keep your exercise clothes separate from your regular wardrobe. After running a couple of times in one of my long sleeve tees, I wore it to work. After I warmed up a bit, I realized I smelled. Well, I didn’t smell, but the tee did!  All the running tees immediately went into the exercise shelves so I didn’t wear them to work again.  A lot of the newer sports fabrics are made to not retain the sweat scent after washing.

 So go crazy and buy those  wild pants,the more you love them, the more you will want to wear them!

Back to Basics, part B

Last week I did a post about form. But of course there is so much more to form. Today I am going to tackle another basic: breathing. It is very hard to get anywhere without being able to breathe evenly. So, how do we get there?

We can all pant. That is never an issue. But when you pant, you are breathing shallowly, which means not as much air gets into your lungs; and quickly, which means what air does hit your lungs doesn’t stay there long enough.

Before running, try this exercise: “lie down on the floor, placing a hand on your belly and breathing deeply. If you feel your hand rise and fall slightly with your breathing, you are belly breathing. If your chest moves up and down rather than your belly, you are not breathing deep enough. Focus on your hand and try making it rise and fall.”**

A good way to see if you are breathing appropriately is the CDC suggestion “that if you can comfortably talk during your running workouts, but not sing, you’re performing at a moderate intensity, which is often appropriate for longer endurance runs. If you can’t say more than a few words without pausing to breathe, your running intensity is vigorous, the CDC notes, which is appropriate if you’re running at a rapid pace for shorter periods of time”*

While this is a great way to see if you are breathing too quickly, what do you do if you are? Everyone needs to find their own way, but I can make suggestions you can try to find your own way. I use my yoga breathing. Being a bit of a geek, I love that Sara Ivanhoe compared the proper way to breathe for yoga to breathing like Darth Vader, deep in the back of your throat so it echoes a bit. Now, I don’t practice my Darth Vader impression as I run down the road. But I do try to inhale deeply, pause, and then let it back out. That does not work all the time, and I can tell when I have not been doing it. I try to take that deep breath for every two to three shallow breathes I take.

Another way to try a ratio is matching your breath to your strides. Many successful runners “prefer a 2:1 stride/breath ratio, according to a review published in 2013 in PLOS One. More specifically, authors of this review note that many runners prefer to take two running steps for each breath they take during workouts.“* This ratio doesn’t work for everyone, so play with it to see if you prefer a 2:2, or a 2:3 ratio more. Focusing on your breath will help you keep it even.

Breathing properly can also help prevent side stictches.Many side pains come from your incomplete breathing. When you expand your lungs, you also engage your diaphram. Your diaphram is a muscle that moves with your lungs during breathing. When you increase your breathing dramatically, your diaphram may spasm, resulting in a side stitch. If you breathe evenly, and keep your posture upright so your lungs  can fully expand, these spasms are less likely.

If nothing seems to help, especially if breathing becomes difficult, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor.  “Asthma or exercise-induced asthma and allergies are very common, so when you feel you can’t catch your breath, if you cannot inhale or exhale productively, if you experience any wheezing, or other symptoms that are uncomfortable or concern you, please check with your doctor.”**

Whatever method you choose, remember it won’t happen over-night. Just stick with it!

 

 

*fitday.com

**runnersworld