Fitness Fun: Rock Climbing

 

Hello everyone 🙂

I make it an un official rule for myself that I need to find active hobbies that are fun, and not another means of exercise. Recently, I have really been drawn to rick climbing! I enjoy the mental and physical challenge each wall brings. I feel that every wall I finish, I gain more insight in how to play this “chess” game.

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I think I’ve gone once or twice as a kid, but last year we went at work (with all the kiddos), and I really enjoyed watching them and getting a chance to try one or two wall myself. I’ve gone back enough times now that I’ve slowly invested in all the gear you need. I will, however, say that shoes is the best thing to buy first.

Good shoes= better climbing

The most underworked muscles I feel afterwards are my forearms- from all that grabbing holding, as well as my lats (near your armpit/ rib area), and my trapezius (the large diamond shaped muscle that starts at your neck, and end at your mid back). I have a very difficult time mimicking the same level of soreness when I go to the gym.

Keeping that in mind, rock climbing it actually a total body activity. If you pull yourself up with your arms, you’re sure to burn out fast. The arms determine the route you take while the legs power you up the wall. It is important to realize before getting in the bad habit of neglecting to use the strength in your legs.

I think that climbing has really helped me with upper body work. I don’t go enough to consider it an actual workout, but it helps me with my gym exercises in grip technique as well as expanding my repertoire of upper body workouts. I’m hoping that the strength from here helps me with my fist spartan of the year: Spartan Super in Palmerton, PA.

Hope you all have a nice long weekend 🙂

»<3 «

Treadmill Running: A Survival Guide 

Hey everyone! 

Between winter, safety, and adequate light source- I have been forced to take my running inside. 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I really can’t stand treadmill running. I feel limited and tired. The run is just a chore. 

If you feel like me, here’s how I keep my sanity:

  • Entertainment. Netflix movie (yes, movie), book on tape, podcast- whatever keeps you focused. If you space out too much, you might lose your posture. It’s also helpful for those (like myself) who enjoy the adventure in a run and don’t usually plan the course before they start. 
  • Realistic settings. This sucks, a lot. If you want to be honest with yourself and your training, you need to set an incline of .5 to 1.0. This makes up for wind resistance and slight elevation even on your flattest 5k course. It also helps significantly with shin splints. 
  • Patients. It’s a serious adjustment for most people. The surface is different, air quailities in a gym might not be as great. That super gross sweaty guy running next to you and the fear that some of that sweat might land on you… just know that this too will make you a better runner. 

Hope this helps! Good luck everyone 🙂 

Logging Workouts 

Happy Holidays!!

I hope you all had some nice relaxing family time!

In the midst of the holiday sweat-fest, I’ve started to notice something at my gym. Several people have been carrying around notebooks. As a trainer, I had my notebook/ index cards to keep track of my clients, but for my own personal workouts I log them on My Fitness Pal! Yes, MFP is my favorite fitness companion.

Let me tell you why-

The best part for me (besides logging water intake) is the ability to create your own exercise names to log under the “exercise” tab. I have some pretty unique names.


It’s free, it’s super easy to make an account, and very user friendly! Since I’ve started using this app, my weight progression has increased exponentially and my workout experience overall has been enhanced significantly!

Hope this helps 🙂

 

Deadlifts and Backbends

Happy post-Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone ate plenty and slept well 🙂

The past few years I have dragged my cousins out of bed early to run a turkey trot of our own. This year, more cousins joined us, we made shirts, and I woke up early to spray paint mile markers while strangers walked by and commented on how I was ruining the environment (it rained later that day and most of the paint is already gone, so don’t worry). Fifteen of us set our own personal timers and walked or ran. So much fun!

In other news, I’ve implemented deadlifting into my routine and I’ve noticed and improvement in my backbends!

First let me start off with how my lower back has been. I used to sleep on my stomach and I would wake up every morning with a tight lower back. It wasn’t terrible, just tight. Sometimes I would feel it more when I had run farther the day before. A few months ago I trained myself to sleep on my back, by talking to myself before falling asleep. Yes, I really spoke out loud to myself before falling asleep in the dark in my bed. I picked the mantra “Sleeping on your stomach is bad for your back, sleeping on your back is good for your posture”. I said this 10 times right before I fell asleep for two weeks. Crazy as it sounds, it totally worked!

Even with my acute back pain, I have a very flexible lower back. My full bridge pose is comfortable, and I am beyond camel pose to thunderbolt pose.

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Enter the deadlift.

Deadlifting is a strength training exercise for hamstrings in a quad dominant world. Many people are quad dominant for a number of reasons: posture during lower leg workouts is a big one. First off, make sure you are focusing on your hamstrings in lower leg exercises that call for a recruitment of both sides of the thigh- squats, lunges, etc. Once you feel confident in that awareness, try the deadlift!

Deadlift rules:

  1. Go light to start– yes, you read that right. I’m not saying start with a 10lb flat bar, I mean start with either just the 45lb barbell with maybe 5-10lbs on top. This is for your form. If you start at a heavier weight, you may tweak your back while trying to finish the last few reps. Try a lighter weight so that you can keep the hamstring awareness and also focus on the next few points.
  2. Do a Kegel– yup, that’s right too. This is much easier for women to do. How to do one? (man or woman) next time you need to pee, start and stop your stream before finishing. This helps engage the pelvic floor. Work on this tightening and releasing while maintaining a relatively normal breathing pattern.
  3. This exercise is the reason why they tell you to lift objects with your legs. If you try to hinge at your hips, you will hurt your back.
  4. Roll your shoulders at the top to not only show off your proud chest, but to help maintain a good posture at the top of the lift.
  5. Inhale lift, exhale lower.

The set up:

Approach the bar and stand so your feet are pointing 45 degrees out and the laces are under the bar. Your feet should be hip width distance apart. Squat down until your arms can grab the bar, flipping one hand for an overhand grip and one for an underhand grip. Remember that this is a leg lifting exercise, do not hinge from your back or you’ll really feel it the next day! Keeping your arms strait, rise all the way up and roll your shoulders back. Pause. Lower. Repeat

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Currently, I am on 3 sets of 12 reps with 70lbs. It’s not a lot, but I did practice with the bar before I added weight just to make sure my posture was correct. The results I’ve noticed in one month is the stability I have in backbends and in my posture in general. I can use other parts of my body so I don’t compress my spine when I’m doing any sort of back yoga posture (locust, bow, frog, etc.)

Have a nice Sunday!

» ❤ «

Stress, Hormones, and the Confessions of a Hot Mess 

I’ve become increasingly more aware on the curse of being trapped in a routine. Don’t get me wrong, routines can be great sometimes!! They are safe and predictable. You can prepare ahead for your next day events and you know exactly what to expect. The downside of a routine? It becomes increasingly hard to change once you’ve settled in. 

Since moving home (which will be exactly one year in October), I have established and edited a nice little set up for myself. Everything is color coded on my iCalendar to show me the bright and cheery path for my day. I thought everything was great until one day, I had to skip my usually morning workout to run some errands and I freaked out. No, I’m not exaggerating. I was so anxious and upset because I couldn’t go for one workout. I workout every day, physically it is no problem to take one off. Mentally, well that’s another story. 

Since then, I have been a lot more aware of my stress level. If I have another section of time blocked off for something and I can’t get to it when I scheduled it, I have a really hard time being okay with that. Not surprisingly, my yoga has been a bit neglected. I can’t feel fluid. 

Yesterday I was driving home from Maine (a 3.5 hour drive with some traffic) and I had what I call a “so tired from driving your mind begins to go introspective” epiphany: I need to change things up.

I don’t have the most stressful job, but it feels that way with all the toxic stress I deal with. I have to come in, guns blazing, every single day or else someone tramples over me. “Well, why don’t you quit?” Good question. I can’t quite because I have no real excuse to leave- besides the pointless drama. I work full time, get paid enough to make a dent my student loans, and I get to color. It’s not a bad gig for my current situation.

I decided to do two things that instantly made me feel better: 

1. I started looking into my hormones. Maybe my thyroid meds are throwing me off? Dr. Sara Gottfried has posted many articles and webinars on getting to know your hormones and how to deal with imbalance. Mindbodygreen.com has her Hormonal Imbalance video series and it has been very eye opening. (While it is aimed more towards women, I encourage anyone to listen to the part where she describes how all hormones relate and work together.) What I thought was a thyroid problem was actually a high cortisol level- always anxious or stressed. 

So, I’m always in stress mode. What do I do? Get my life together and find the real source of my stress. 


2.I bought the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. It is not very lengthy, but it holds a lot of valuable information and advice on “keeping your house in order”- which means “cleaning out all the crap in your house and letting go of the emotional attachment you have to things you don’t use or wear”. It’s very liberating to hear someone tell you that it’s okay to donate that sweater someone bought you that you never wore, or that you are allowed to ditch the projects you never got around to finishing. I have an obscene amount of clothes and items I don’t use but hold on to and I finally was able to hold each item in my hand and figure out whether it sparked joy, NOT whether I’ll need it or maybe use it one day. 

These two things in the span of one week have made me feel so much better about my life. Before, my room was a mess, I was always forgetting things, and my life felt rushed. Well, my room is an even bigger mess now hah, but I feel good about all my progress. 

I even had the clarity to blog! Which I miss doing. 

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! ❤ 

Knee Pain & Foot Strain

Hello friends,

Holy guacamole. The summer has been crazy crazy! The after school program I work for has switched into summer mode, and man is it exhausting.

My summer has started off very well! I completed my 5th half marathon in Acadia National Park and it was beautiful! It wasn’t my best time bit I shaved almost 10 minutes off my last race! The GU, stretching, meal prep adjustments have really made these races more enjoyable.

Then, I hiked Mount Lincoln! My favorite 4000 footer hike thus far. It was a 5 hour hike total and the top was crazy windy! I really enjoyed the trail. We crossed a river at five different points just on the ascend!

The fourth of July was celebrated with my annual 4 mile race in Maine with my cousins. This year wasn’t my best time, but I don’t want to stress my knee out. I’m never upset if I’m slower for a good reason. I’d rather have slower times to run my whole life than to burn out quick.

Recently, I also added Mount. Tecumseh to the 4000 footer list- making this number 8. Only 60 more to go!

With all this crazy activity, my body is starting to talk back. But I have found a new love, KT tape! The best way to explain it is a personalized brace for your body. The way you apply this tape is specific to your pain and can be modified for your needs. Research videos of application for better information.

I’m also finding that more and more mornings my feet are very sore when I get out of bed to start the day. I use my lacrosse ball for the myofascial release. This type of treatment is useful for getting more circulation into the connective tissue of the areas that tighten up from repetitive use. The pain is normal but shouldn’t be unbearable. I recommend any person participating in running, hiking, sports, and even weight lifting to use a foam roller as often as they can.

What’s next?

I’m going back to school for Kinesiology and UMass Amherst this fall!

Stay tuned 🙂

»<3 «

ps. I had some cool pictures but for some reason wordpress is kinda on the fritz right now. I’ll update later!

Exercise of the Month: SeeSaw Barbell Press

Hello there!

I hope you all are well 🙂

I’ve recently been revamping my workouts and I cam across a really sweet shoulder/tricep/traps exercise I wanted to share:

The SeeSaw Barbell Press

You can do this with a bar, or dumbbells! The key is to not move your body side to side while moving your arms. It’s also important to move slowly, that’s how you get that tricep burn!

Right now I’m at 3 sets of 16 reps at 20lbs. The lady in this picture looks like she’s using more weight, but I’ll get there!

That’s all I have for now, hope you al had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

 

Recording Progress

Finding the right way to record your workouts is crucial to really seeing and feeling progress.  Before I found my current routine, I was trying to write it all down after the workout and it just wasn’t working for me! I would forget the exercises I was working on or the weights/ reps I was on. It was getting a little frustrating.

Then it dawned on me, doesn’t MyFitnessPal have something?!

Yup!

Me and my interestingly named exercises.

 This has helped me so much! Not only can I change up my routine more, but I don’t have to remember what my weights were at. I’m getting stronger faster, and I’m never discouraged if I can’t up my reps that session. Plus, I can look at that day compared to the last time I did a certain workout and see what effected me.

Time to see some progress!

The Biggest Fitness Plateau

Fitness plateau: (noun) A body plateau refers to a period of time in which your body no longer responds to your fitness or diet routine. Plateaus often occur as an abrupt halt to progress that had previously been results in weight loss or muscle gain. Plateaus are the results of your body’s impressive ability to adjust to stress and change. Your body mass is the major factor that determines your body’s basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which you burn calories for essential body functions. When you reduce your body’s mass through exercise, your basal metabolic rate also declines. Your body burns fewer calories at rest, and weight loss tends to slow or stop completely as a result of your reduced metabolic rate.

Holy. Crap.

I feel like every person whose ever written a blog and gotten sidetracked with life says “sorry I haven’t posted in a while, life has been crazy” blah blah blah.

But in all honesty… I gave up on the blog.

I doubted myself. Why would people listen to some random person online who may not have the right answers and isn’t in banging shape and loves ice cream. More blah blah blah. And then this weird dark cloud took over and I started doubting myself at the gym, at work, in relationships. Big. Dark. Cloud.

And of course big dark clouds bring rain. Lots and lots of rain. I was sad. I felt like I was failing a little. Not a big pity party, but I was disappointed with the way things were going. I expected more from myself because I can do better and try harder.

But now I’m back! Now I’m trying to pull myself out of the funk. I’m really trying because I have goals and a military boyfriend coming home in one month! Blogging keeps me focused and keeps me honest about my progress. It keeps me in check when I doubt myself. 

Sorry I was gone for so long, hope you all missed me!

Sums up my recent Colorado trip.

Daring Smoothing Concoction

Hey folks,

A few weeks ago, the yoga studio invited a couple to come teach us about Ayurveda-more specifically Marma (which is essential Ayurvedic acupressure). They discussed yoga, body types, diet, massage techniques, and so much more. It was all so fascinating! I could share all the notes I took, but we’ll save that for another post.

Okay, so what does this have to do with a smoothie adventure?

One of the biggest things emphasized was digestion. Not just physical digestion of food, but digestion of the total self and others around you. How can you digest your giant breakfast, your own life, and anyone else’s life all at once?

On top of that, they also discussed when/ what to eat during these times depending on your body type. Food consumption between 10am and 2pm- especially in the summer- should be as liquid based as possible. It is the hottest time of the day for the human body internally, and a solid meal at this time will take more energy to break down, leaving the individual slower.

Well, this was interesting. I have been dealing with a weird heat rash that appears every summer right on my stomach. I was told it’s because I am very sensitive to this heat fluctuation of my core temperature. Interesting, no?

I wanted to see if this “liquid lunch” would make a difference for my heat rash, so for the past two weeks I’ve been having very light lunches or smoothies.

Today, I was really struggling. What I call a “two-cup-of-coffee” kind of day and thus this daring blend was born.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ozs of coffee (any flavor-but I chose columbian blend)

I’m not even joking about the next ingredients.

Let me just say though, I was trying to think about blending flavors while still getting benefits and was prepared for something lacking in flavor but bursting in nutrition:

  • 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 2/3 cups of fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 medium sized banana
  • ice

I know, I know. I was kind of terrified too.

I had to try it.

Funny thing is, it just tasted like a sweetened coffee! If I had a better blender I wouldn’t have even known kale was in it! The best name I can come up with is the Caffeinated Kale Smoothie… I’ll work on the name a bit.

The product of this smoothie came out to something quite similar to this.

My Fitness Pal logged the nutrition as-

  • Calories: 423
  • Sugar: 44 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Carbs: 74 g
  • Fiber: 13 g
  • Fat: 4 g

Try it out… if you dare!