Saturday, June 4, 2011

End of Week 2, Round 2 of Insanity

Soooo, today is the last workout of week 2. And as Shaun T says in the DVD, I'm scared. I have to do Pure Cardio and Cardio Abs! I remember the first time I did this last time. To say I was drenched is an understatement. I was actually away for Labor Day weekend visiting Washington DC. I had gotten a free room at the W, and I managed to fit in Insanity in the small space between my wall and my bed. Side note - fabulous hotel if you get the chance to go there.

Week 2 has gone well! I only had one food slip, which is amazing in my opinion. I went to a baby shower, so I had some snacks which included a brownie and mini-canolli. Well worth it I must say! I got in all my workouts and then some. I'm now 10 pounds away from my goal and I am confident that it will happen. Although I shouldn't be, I'm worried for month 2 of Insanity. The workouts get so long! I notice though that I'm much more fit than the first time around so the month 1 workouts are tough but not ridiculous like they used to be.

I'll let you know how the craziness goes today. I got new sneakers too... might have to take a photo and post it! They're HOTT. I got black cross trainers. For some reason I feel much tougher in black sneaks. I know, I'm weird.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Round 2 Insanity: Week 2, Day 1

Today was Cardio Power and Resistance, and it went very well! I've noticed that this round of insanity is easier for me. That doesn't mean it's easy... but it's EASIER than the last time. I think that's because of the cardio improvements I made over the year with my running. I've been pushing much more on my runs and it's showing in other areas. I can actually do those ridiculous tuck jump things landing *softly* on the ground. Thank God I live on the ground floor! My neighbors would not be happy with me!

I'm going to make myself some healthy tacos for dinner tonight. I have lean beef and some taco seasoning to make the filling. Avocados are great right now, so I got one of those, a lime, tomato, red onion, and cilantro so I can make guacamole. Add a little salsa and a whole wheat tortilla, and you're all set.

There are some other great seasonal items at the store right now: strawberries, blueberries (not yet from NJ, but still good!), asparagus... I'm loving it! Pretty soon there will be an abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers so I can make a nice tomato-cucumber salad. I like to take those two together, add some light balsamic vinaigrette, some fresh chopped basil, and maybe some red onion. Hooray for summer!

Also, checked in on my weight today, and I'm getting closer! I am two pounds away from the hitting the 140s. Holler!

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend! Be healthy and safe! And say a little prayer of thanks to all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us... today is about them. God bless!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Year of Me

A year ago today, I moved from Pittsburgh, PA to central CT for a job. I had just graduated from business school, and I decided at that time I was embarking on a journey that I called "The Year of Me." May 2010 had been a trying month for me, although when compared to the troubles of others, I really should have felt like a brat. In any case, I decided I was going to spend a year focusing on me... doing things I wanted to do, figuring out more of who I am... and now said year is over, so I thought I'd reflect on where I've been!

In the past year, I ran my first sub-2 hour half marathon. Not bad for someone who's "not an athlete." I put that in quotes because I used to tell people I was not an athlete because I didn't really play sports much when I was a kid. I also ran a 5K in 24 minutes, which is my fastest time ever. I'm lucky to be tall as well because that puts my weight just at Athena status for races (not for long though). Because of that, my 24 minute 5K meant I came in 2nd place. Again, not bad for someone who's "not an athlete."

I signed up for personal training for a few months, and I loved it! Some keys accomplishments:

-Gaining enough strength in my biceps so that 20 lb weights are my norm
-Chest press with 30 lb dumbbells for 6 reps - that to me was insane!
-The beginnings of a six pack that will be seen once I hit my goal
-Believing in my ability to finally hit my goal weight/body fat

All in all, it's been a great year! There's something to be said about moving somewhere where nobody knows you. You learn a lot about yourself because you see how new people react to you. I have a reputation here for being very fit and very healthy. I get comments on my arms and the crazy food I eat (ie produce). People think I'm the type of person who can and will do a Tough Mudder. I never would have thought that about myself before.

I've decided I need a little more "me time" before I conclude said Year of Me. I turn 31 in 2 months, and I am determined to hit my goal by then. With my personal trainers, I decided that my goal weight is 141 pounds but more importantly my goal body fat is 16%. To reach this goal, I've decided it's time for another round of Insanity. I just finished week 1. I'll be back to track my progress as I finish off this round of Insanity and make my way to my goal.

Have a wonderful healthy day!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I'm a bad blogger!

Sorry it's been a while since I wrote... I'm still doing the personal training and loving it. I have a couple of weeks left before that runs out and I'll take a break. It's expensive, so I can't afford to do it all the time. It's been really helpful for me though... I've made some great progress! For example:

-I can now use 20 pound dumbbells when I do bicep curls.
-My running pace has improved by 20-25 seconds per mile on my mid-length runs
-I've learned so many new things!

My trainers want me to lose a little weight, and I will admit I haven't been doing well with that. It's really a couple percent body fat we're looking for. I've been traveling so much recently, so it's been hard to stick to a food plan. I really need to regroup and refocus. I don't do horribly but I don't do awesome either. I think if I could focus and shave off 300 calories a day, I could do it. I have one more business trip coming up. I think I'm going to do my best there, and then when I get back I'll really get to it.

Might need to blog to keep myself accountable! I hope everyone is doing well on their health journeys!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekly Highlights

This week was a great one for the most part. I ran 5.6 miles last Sunday and hadn't run that far in a little while so I took Monday off. We have a Shape Up Challenge starting at work soon, and my team is getting super excited. Some of the women on my team have started doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred during the day, so I joined in on the fun two times. I was a bit tired on Tuesday from working late, but I managed to squeak out 2.5 miles on the treadmill. That was a triumph given that all I wanted to do was collapse on my couch! Plus, my iPod had died so I did it with no motivation in SILENCE. Ugh.

The personal training workouts were great! We did some stuff I had never done before, which is always fun. On my upper body day, we spent a lot of time on clean and press. I had never done that, so it took FOREVER for me to get the technique right. I use a 45 pound bar when I did it, and I was shocked I could even lift that. For those who don't know what it is, you have the bar on the ground in front of you and you squat to pick it up. Then you basically squat again and flip it up and over so you can then do a shoulder press. Seems like a pretty advanced exercise for me, but from what I understand, it's a Crossfit favorite and people of all levels go there. I felt slightly Globo Gym-ish but it was cool once I finally got the technique right.

My other favorite move of the week (really a few moves) was on lower body day. He had me stand in the middle of the cable machine (the one you do tricep pushdowns on etc). He had one side strapped to my right ankle with 10 pounds on it and the other side strapped to my left ankle. From there, I did knee lifts across my body to work my hips and abs. He also had me do forward lunges from that position which was tough! He's still focusing a lot of work on my hips and stabilizer muscles since they're obviously weak compared to some other muscles in my legs. Should help the running a lot! I also balanced on one foot on an upside down Bosu ball. Definitely had a wobbly foot until my leg figured out what was going on. By my third set, I was doing a single leg squat (with no weight) instead of just balancing. Fun!

Food for the most part was great. I took Saturday off though. ;) Probably not a good idea, but I'm human! I was coming in around 1750 calories everyday and sticking to my higher protein breakfast. It's a habit now. It looks like I'm down 2 pounds, which is an accomplishment for me! I'm not sure I'll lose much since I'm at a healthy weight. I'm just looking for body fat reduction.

Must motivate to go on my long run! Too bad it still feels like winter where I live! Have a healthy week!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dietary Changes

At the suggestion of my trainer, I've made some minor tweaks to my diet that have been going quite well. Here's a breakdown of my before and after.

Breakfast Before:
2 slices of whole wheat bread
2 T peanut butter
2 T berry jam
2 cups coffee
1/2 cup soy milk
Nutritional Breakdown: 435 calories, 9 g fiber, 18 g protein, 22.5 g fat

Breakfast After:
1 slice whole wheat bread
1 T peanut butter
2 sliced strawberries
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 cups coffee
1/2 cup soy milk
Nutritional Breakdown: 390 calories, 5 g fiber, 24 g protein, 16.6 g fat

Overall Satisfaction - much more with the new breakfast! I'm less hungry as the morning goes on, and I am starting to believe what people say about eggs for breakfast... people who eat eggs tend to eat less later in the day. Huh.

I've made a few other changes, but nothing as major as breakfast. I've started to have rolled up turkey breast for one of my snacks during the day with fruit. My other snack is usually an ounce of almonds plus fruit as well. I recently stopped eating dairy because it was causing problems with my skin, so I've had to be creative with my snacks.

For one week, I've been eating this breakfast, and I have in fact eaten less during the entire day. My lunch and dinner have not changed much. I usually have homemade soup/chili for lunch and a piece of protein with veggies for dinner. Here's the breakdown:

Average Daily Intake Before:
1900 cal, 102 g protein (21.5%), 190 g carbs (40%), 36 g fiber, 66.5 g fat (31.5%)

Average Daily Intake After:
1720 cal, 108 g protein (25%), 184 g carbs (43%), 31 g fiber, 30 g fat (16%)

NOTE: I also have wine or beer with dinner everyday, so some calories are from alcohol.

It's still a work in progress as I figure out the right snacks for me. Overall, I'm very happy with the changes! My goal with the trainer is to lose a few percent body fat, and I think this will really help. Can't wait to see the end results!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Personal Training -Two Weeks In

So far, I am loving personal training! It's really done a lot for me in terms of variety and showing me my strength. I've had the chance to work with two trainers, each with different styles. The first trainer had me doing much more "traditional" weight lifting with weights that brought me to failure at 10-12 reps. Having somewhere there to push is invaluable! I was able to move up to 15 pound dumbbells for shoulder press, which I'd never do alone. He forced me to do biceps and triceps too, which I HATE! I avoid them at all costs. :) My favorite variation he gave me to add challenge to my workouts was the use of the BOSU ball. I've used it many times before but this time he had me kneel on it without my feet touching the ground while I did shoulder raises, bicep curls, etc. It is HARD to keep your balance!! Awesome core work!

I had trainer number 2 tonight, and his style is what I'd call "exploit your weakness." He had me start with one-legged squats on a high step, and he noticed that my stabilizer muscles were weak because my ankle and my knee wobbled. Soooo, we worked on that for a whole hour. We did some lunges on the BOSU, some outer thigh raises while balancing on a stability ball, and single-leg calf raises. All of it made my legs shake, and I'm pretty sure I'll be super sore tomorrow. The good thing is that I need to work these muscles. When I get pain, it's all IT band related, and he says that working on these muscles will help. My left hip is soooo tight compared to my right so we talked a lot about balancing strength and flexibility on each side. Loved it!

They had me change my diet a bit too, but I'll write about that in another post soon. In other news, we're starting a Shape Up Challenge at work, and my coworkers nominated me to be their team lead. Fun!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's official!

I start personal training tomorrow. I'm going to a place called Excel Fitness in CT. I was sore for over 3 days from my first session. Sounds a little weird, but it was mostly the pullup training we did. My arms and back have never worked so hard. I'm really excited to start my training though! I'll keep you posted on my progress. Hopefully I won't be sore 6 days a week... at least not forever!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Personal Training Session

I had a personal training session tonight that I got for free for attending a local event... great workout! I told him I wanted to be able to do an unassisted pullup, so we started with some bar hangs that I slowly lowered myself from. Slowly is really not the best description in some cases... but I tried! We did one leg squats after that. Next up was incline chest press, but I used one arm as I slowly lowered the bar and both as I pushed back up. Pretty cool! The last exercise I did was using the exercise ball. I started in plank with my arms on a bench and my feet on the ball so I was planking. Then I piked my body so I was in a V with my butt in the air. I'm considering doing more sessions for the variety.

We also tested my body fat and weight, and I'm holding steady on the weight. My body fat could use some reduction. It was on the border of too high and normal. I think that's another reason why I'm considering the training. We can work one on one to drop fat and increase muscle. I need to swap out about 8 pounds, which sounds completely reasonable to me.

Will keep you posted!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Midpoint of Phase 2

I've made my way through half of phase 2. I'm enjoying this one much more than phase 1. Love that it's more challenging and it incorporates a lot of work I need to do to improve my running. It's nice to have something force me to do lunges and squats... much needed! It also has a lot of ab and lower back work in it like planks, crunches, and supermans.

I signed up for a 10 mile race on May 1, so I'm going to have to start training for that soon. One of the phase 2 workouts includes 15 minutes of interval training at the end, so I've been doing that on the treadmill. I still do another 2-3 runs during the week but they're typically only 3-5 miles. Will have to pick it up pretty soon!

My latest food obsession (given the cold) has been soup. Here are is one of my favorites (it's so easy!).

Broccoli Soup with Leeks and Thyme (from Bon Appetit February 2011)

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Saute 3 cups of chopped leeks (white and light green parts only) and 4 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme in the oil. Make sure leeks are soft but still slightly crisp. Remove half of leek mixture and set aside. Add 1.25 pounds broccoli crowns and 3 cups of vegetable broth. Boil covered for 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly and puree in batches in a blender, returning pureed mixture to the pot each time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in large bowls, sprinkling reserved leeks and thyme on top.

So yummy, so light, and so easy! I'm making this today because I've decided I'm going to "detox" this weekend. I traveled last week for work, so I ate a lot of restaurant food. This weekend, I'm going to eat mostly vegetarian and completely healthy. I had 2 cups of green tea and steel cut oats for breakfast. The broccoli soup and a salad will be lunch, plus I have some veggie chili I made as well.

Off to the gym for me now! Have a healthy weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Phase 2 begins...

First, sorry I have been so MIA. Not that you hold your breath waiting to hear what I'm doing... but still! I've been neglecting my blog. I finished up Phase 1 of my lifting book workouts and I'm on to phase 2. I really like it! It's much more challenging than phase 1, so I'm loving that aspect. It also has a lot more leg and core work to it, and I think that's really important for my running. Still on a solid 8 minute mile with no weight loss. I'm going to see if I can push the pace after all the snow melts here. We've been SLAMMED! Makes for challenging outdoor runs, treadmill runs, and CROSS TRAINING! I've started doing Zumba here and there. Super fun! I was a dancer as a kid, so it's perfect for me!

So here's the scoop on phase 2. There are only two workouts in it, and you do them 4 times each. Each exercise is perform 2 x 10 reps. I've decided to keep the highest weights I used in phase 1 to start if it is an exercise I have done before. I've had basically no trouble keeping my weights high.

I did the first workout earlier in the week, and it had step ups, stationary lunges with an elevated rear foot, pushups, front lunges, planks... it added a new exercise to me: the horizontal wood chop with the cable machine. I loved it! In case you aren't familiar, you set the cable to approximately waist high, grab the handle with both hands and your feet shoulder width apart. You then rotate your hips keeping the handle at the center of your body so you twist. I could really feel it in my obliques. I did workout 2 today, and it had some more lunges, lat pulldown (which I managed to maintain at 95 pounds!!!), a row with a rotator cuff exercise tacked on the end... all in all a good workout. It also had me finish with 15 minutes of intervals, which I did on the treadmill. I can feel it in my legs! We'll see how I feel tomorrow...

As for diet, I've made some changes recently. I'm going through what I'm calling my "diet detox." I've basically eliminated processed foods and dairy. Dairy is because of an allergy (skin reactions) and the rest is for overall health. I'm really noticing differences! It is a little challenging to eliminate dairy but it's been worth it. I have soy milk if I need it. I cut out Splenda too which was a big one and I'm drinking more tea. I'll be intrigued to see how this progresses in a few months and if I notice more positive changes.

In health!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Boot Camp!

Yesterday, I went to a local event sponsored by the young professional society in town. For $5, I took a 45 minute boot camp class, had a 45 minute nutrition chat, and I took a 45 minute Zumba class. Not a bad deal! It was at a place called Excel Fitness in CT. Nice people, great training, very supportive, and high energy! I would definitely consider going back.

Boot camp was great! We had three different stations set up, each with 4 exercises. We did each exercise for one minute, then switched until we finished all 4. Then we rotated from station to station until we had done each station twice. A lot of the exercises were classic P90X moves actually. One of my favorites was included... the pushup to side plank. LOVE IT! That to me is the ultimate in strength (or at least that's how it makes me feel). We also did sumo squats, pushups, jump lunges, jumping jacks... I can't remember the rest! All I know is that I was dripping with sweat when I was done, and I'm a bit sore in the obliques, shoulders, and upper back today. Nice!

I also took Zumba, which can be super fun! I was a dancer growing up, so Zumba is a great stress reliever (and workout) for me. I burn around 600 - 700 calories in an hour of Zumba and it flies by. You have to get over the silliness of dancing in front of strangers and possibly looking foolish or messing up. That doesn't matter though... just gotta move!

This week I'll be moving on to Phase 2 of my women's weight lifting workouts. I'll update after I've done the workouts. I'm excited to move forward! In phase 1, I made some great strides like upping my weights and improving my pushups. In the final workout of phase 1, I had improved to using 25 pound dumb bells for my lunges, 95 pounds for lat pulldowns, and 20 pound dumb bells for shoulder press. That is HUGE for me!

Hope all is well! Be healthy, be happy!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Running in the Snow!

We had a beautiful little snowstorm in CT last night. It's maybe 6 inches of fluffy, fun snow. I actually love running in the snow, so I plan to head out with a friend and her dog later on to the trails. I won't be running too fast since I'll be concentrating on keeping myself upright, but there's not much more beautiful than a snow covered running trail. Plus, watching a dog frolic in the snow is so entertaining!

I have a couple more weeks of phase 1 in my lifting plan, and then I'll be taking it up to the next level. These workouts have been very straightforward with very simple moves. Next phase, I add in some interval training as well as some more complex lifting moves. I'll update once I get there!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Year in Review and a Look Ahead

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a safe, happy, and fulfilling holiday season! I spent time with my family of course, and I also got to see some of my closest friends. I couldn't ask for anything more. Now it is 2011, and I couldn't be more excited for it! I thought I'd take some time to reflect on the positives of 2010 as I look to the future. A lot has happened in a year, and I think it's motivating to look back and recognize where I've been. It helps me to move forward! So...

In 2010, I ran my second marathon. It wasn't my best marathon, but I finished and it is definitely the kicking off point of my renewed love of running. I ran my fifth half marathon, and I made my goal of under 2 hours. I ran a 5K in December and hit my PR of 24:51 and I placed second in my division. I improved my average mile pace during a typical 3 mile run from ~10 minutes per mile to 8 minutes per mile (or less). I returned to the gym and focused on weight lifting... forgot how much I love that!

In 2011, I'm going to keep the running and weight lifting going. I haven't decided what kind of races I'll do or when. I'm just going to go with the flow. I'm sure before long I'll be itching to sign up for something. I wouldn't getting even faster too...

Here's to a healthy and happy new year!