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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.)
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.
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.
I’m going back to school for Kinesiology and UMass Amherst this fall!
Stay tuned 🙂
ps. I had some cool pictures but for some reason wordpress is kinda on the fritz right now. I’ll update later!
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?!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
This weekend I graduated from teacher training! 200+hours down!
picture with kathy
Each student is asked to present something before graduating about yoga. Anything yoga related. Which really leaves the door open to many possibilities- I had a very hard time figuring out what I wanted to do. So, I kept taking classes, teaching classes, and learning. I figured maybe the right subject would appear and life would be easy. Nope, that did not happen. One month from completion and I was still at a loss.
So, I took a step back and thought about what Ifocused on the most- having a good base.
This can mean physically having a good base in a posture. Working on the feet or the hands and then going from there. I started to focus on getting stronger arms so I could get better at arm balances and inversions.Working with the fingers and toes to hold weight evenly through out for longer periods of time. Learning to trust your body and knowing it’s limits and knowing when to push those limits.
This can mean spiritually and existentially having a good base. Felling like you have a place or a purpose while on this earth that is similar or unique to those surrounding you-and being perfectly okay with that. Believing or not believing in something greater that brings you deeper into the human experience.
This can mean mentally and emotionally having a good base. Grounding within yourself is very important when faced with obstacles and uncertainty. Counting on the strength and security you have from within to get you through trying times, and knowing yourself inside and out.
This is something I have been dealing with for a long time, and teacher training helped me find my base. I’ve opened up to new opportunities because I am secure with myself. Instead of saying no, I say yes, and I’ve taken part in some pretty cool events because of that. Relationships have grown because I am not afraid to say how I feel anymore. I can now say I believe that I am important and if you love me, you’ll listen to what I have to say. Some relationships have even been broken because I know my limits and what I can take and sometimes you just have to let things go.
While training at the gym and learning more and more about yoga, I was honored to have a client and a yoga student who I tried to pass this along to.
Will is in Med school and works here at the desk with me, he’s very smart and athletic, but has crippling panic attacks and consuming anxiety. He asked me to teach him yoga to help him relax and stretch out his legs. I decided to take it a step further with him- to his emotional base. We repeated sun salutation A and B breath by breath. My goal was to get him to know it by heart, so that when he found his heart racing in class he could just sit and do them in his head, imagining his body working with his mind… inhale arms up, exhale fold… We also worked on some fun poses to challenge him and show him how much fun yoga can be!
My client, Donna, came to me as a shy, middle aged woman, who was trying to get fitness back into her life. Her initial goal was to touch her toes, but I wanted to help her physical base all around. Over the months of us working together, her self image and body awareness skyrocketed. It was a slow start, but now she can walk all over the gym with her head held high. She’s confident in her workouts and she trusts her body when I push her outside her comfort zone. She’s still working on reaching her toes, but getting in touch with her body has changed not only her physical base, but her entire base. She even told me that before she met me, she was a “defeated old woman. I helped give her back her life and the desire to really live again”.
I know that I won’t get a lot of time with each student, but if any little part of finding your base can be absorbed from a class, or a series, private session, or even a personal training session, I’ll feel pretty good.
If not, then at least I tried. That’s the best you can do sometimes. »♥«
Boy, has it been hectic transitioning to living at home! My mom broke her ankle really badly and ended up needing surgery. She’s healing, but pretty banged up. I told her when she starts to feel better we’ll do some chair yoga haha. So, while I’ve been waiting to start my new job, I’ve assumed the title ‘Nurse Taylor”. Can you say Cabin Fever?
This past Sunday I did get a little break-okay, a big one. I participated in the Killington Resort Spartan Sprint! So much fun! When I was working at HammerFit we created a team. Just because I moved away doesn’t mean I’m not still part of the team!
The course was set up with a few obstacles, and then a hike to the top via some double black diamond trails. Once at the top, the rest of the race consisted of more tasks as we made our way down the mountain through the wood trails The thing I focused on the most this summer was hiking and cross training my legs. (If anyone is interested in training for this sprint make sure you get some serious hiking in).
So, the week before the race, I hiked Mount Washington.
Yup. That’s right folks.
Washington was AMAZING. It was so beautiful the whole time and so dang exhausting. I’d like to consider myself an intermediate hiker- I haven’t been hiking for very long, but I had done the other 4000 footers this summer. Holy cow was this tough. We drove over to White Mountain National Park, took Tuckerman’s Ravine up, hung out at the top, hiked Lion’s Head down, and drove back to Burlington.
Total time: 12 hours
SO WORTH IT.
It was a spontaneous decision. Alex and I had wanted to climb it, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. When we saw partly sunny at the top in the 5 day forecast, we took advantage of it. Although when we got to the top we could see some wicked clouds. By the time we got back to the car, it started pouring!
After tackling this mountain, Killington was pretty easy! I took the back of the group to help out another girl on the team. We finished in 3 hours and 19 minutes! A few of us want to try to get our trifecta next year and I’m searching for a spring half marathon. My new shoes have really gotten me back in the running game! Not only am I back to hitting the pavement, my times are getting better and my feet aren’t peeling!
Spartan Trifecta: When a participant accomplishes at least one Sprint, Super, and Beast within one calendar year.