Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas & the Devil Machine

This past weekend, J and I drove up to the Ocean State to visit his family for Christmas. Before we left, we came up with a plan of action for our cardio and training: we planned to train at a gym on Friday and Saturday, and get our morning cardio in by walking outside.

On Friday afternoon, we went to World Gym, where we usually train when we're up there. The first thing I noticed this time was that there were NO other women there. Zero. The gym was mostly empty to begin with, but I quickly realized that I was the only female. I shrugged and got to work. By the time I'd finished my workout and was on the dreadmill, I saw a few other ladies on the cardio deck (what is it with women doing only cardio?!).

While all the weights felt suspiciously heavier than usual, it was fun to train at a different place than my home gym. Plus, the lighting in this gym is the best I've ever seen. Everyone looks amazing while they're training! I may or may not have hit a few random poses in between sets. :P

Due to a case of the fleas (on our dogs), we had to head home two days earlier than planned, so we didn't go back to the gym or do our outside morning cardio walks.

Back at home, we both spent quality time with Mr. Treadmill at home, and got ready to head to our home gym to train on Monday. Except we didn't realize the gym closed at 4 pm! Instead of scrapping the workout, we decided to head to Gold's to train. Remember back in September when I got a pass to Gold's because I needed a change of scenery? It's still really nice to have the option to train elsewhere once in awhile!

I tried a new lateral raise machine and discovered that it's the devil incarnate. Srsly. It was a humbling experience as I knelt in front of it (literally), took the pin out of the weight stack and attempted to use the machine with NO weight. It felt SO heavy! After 14 years of training, you'd think I could use a lateral machine with at least some weight! Nope.

Me humbling myself before the Devil machine.
Completely dejected, I finished the set and then tried to raise my arms. Nothing happened. I tried again. I could move them an inch. Clearly the machine was effective. But I still maintain that it's the Devil.

Notice the full weight stack just sitting there while I struggle with NO weight.
It was fun to train at a couple different gyms this weekend, but it sure felt nice to be back in my home gym again today!

Did you train at any different gyms this weekend? How did your workouts go?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Lesson in Preparedness

Remember a few weeks ago when I forgot my gym shoes at home and had to work out in flip-flops? Well, yesterday, when I got to the gym and dug through my gym bag, I realized I'd forgotten a sports bra. And it was Plyo day. Yeaaahhh. Sigh.

I made it through the workout without any mishaps or wardrobe malfunctions (thank goodness!), but it wasn't the most comfortable workout I've ever had.

As I experienced the sinking feeling of realizing I forgot a major article of clothing, I realized that this was a good lesson in preparedness. In that I need to be more prepared, since forgetting clothing seems to be a trend with me.

Tonight when I'm packing my gym bag, I'm going to be adding in a complete additional outfit to keep in my gym locker. I already have some essentials in my locker: deodorant, wrist straps, wrist wraps, comb, jump rope, shampoo, and conditioner. But a spare set of clothes will be added this week so there will be no future "I forgot THIS" posts!

What do you keep in your gym locker?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Christmas Wish

An English major in college and a self-professed connoisseur of words, I have a deep appreciation for words and language. I believe in using the correct words to express yourself, and I believe that the same word can have various meanings and connotations to different people. I love learning new words and incorporating them into my vocabulary. Periodically, however, I get really sick and tired of hearing certain words or phrases.

My current phrase pet peeve is "on track."

I belong to several online fitness groups and forums, so I read comments from a lot of competitors and gym rats every day. People fascinate me, I'm nosy by nature (Facebook is an awesome way to be unobtrusively nosy, btw!), and I love to read, which means I spend quality time every day reading people's posts and thoughts.

What's with the obsession about staying "on track"? I continue to see this phrase over and over and over lately.

As in, "How are YOU going to stay on track this holiday season?" (Imagine the accusatory index finger)

And, "I had such strong cravings for chocolate yesterday that I broke down and ate half a pan of brownies. But I'm back on track today. Yay me!"

Or, "I plan to stuff my face at my office holiday party today, but I'll be back on track tomorrow! Yay me!"

Srsly, if "on track" means to stick to a pre-defined plan for meeting specified goals, why do I keep seeing comments about how people are continually falling "off track" or reading articles about how to "stay on track" during the holiday season?

Does it mean that someone's "track" isn't the right one for them?

Or does it mean that people are weak-minded? Or that they really don't want to achieve their goal badly enough to stay ON track? Why do they need a "track" anyway?

Are announcements of how "on" or "off" track people are really important in the grand scheme of things? By announcing they fell OFF track, are they looking for sympathy? Encouragement? Motivation? Attention?

The odd thing is, I don't see or hear men talking about this - only ladies. Are men not concerned about sticking to some arbitrary "track"? Do they not care? Or do they just focus on other things in their lives instead of constantly obsessing about how they look or whether they're failing as a person for not being "on track" at all times?

I admit that I'm totally guilty of using the expression myself.

I've even written a few blogs about being on or off track. But lately, the phrase has really started to grate on my nerves. There's so much emphasis on sticking to a diet or staying "on track" around the holidays, and while some information is helpful, there just seems to be an over abundance of focus on it lately.

Eating just 1 Christmas cookie instead of 15 just seems like common sense, no? So why do we need to talk about the "on/off track-ness" of it?

So festive!
My Christmas Wish

My Christmas wish is that we all take a moment each day to be thankful for all that we have. Instead of focusing on what we don't have or what we want, or worrying about staying "on track," take a moment to appreciate the beautiful things you DO have in your life. Take a moment to help someone out, or do a favor without expecting anything in return.

To me, the holiday season is about being present in the moment and about giving to those less fortunate. And in my mind, that's FAR more important than being "on track" with a diet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home Turf

Yesterday I discovered some exciting news! The dates of the 2012 shows in Maryland are now official! Ever since the disappointment of Team U and the subsequent reconsiderations of my goals, I've been waiting to find out the dates of some local shows.

I'm not sure whether I actually shared this with you or not, but I realized that my dream of becoming a Figure Pro is just that: a dream. It's not a reality. Before you start lecturing me on the power of positive thinking, please realize that I've been in the industry a long time and I am a realist. I'm not an idealist, nor am I a dreamer. I set challenging goals that I know I can achieve if I push myself. And the goal of becoming Pro isn't something that I can do on my own - it also involves other competitors and a panel of judges. I can only do MY best and be happy about that. I've made my peace with this realization, and I'm content to simply compete for the fun of it. (That's not to say I don't want to WIN, though!)

I love competing and enjoy every second of being on stage. I can't imagine NOT competing. So this coming year, I plan on doing a few local shows in the DC area.

There are a few shows in Virginia that may be a possibility, but the 2012 dates haven't been released yet. So as of now, my first show of the year will be the NPC Met-Rx Maryland States/East Coast Classic on June 30 in Rockville, MD!

I've never competed in a home state before, so will be a whole new thing for me! It'll be exciting to look out in the audience and see a bunch of people I know. I'm ready for 2012!

For you competitors: have you started planning for your 2012 shows yet? Which shows do you have your sights set on so far?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Keenan Family Christmas

This past weekend, J and I flew out to Minnesota to celebrate (early) Christmas with my family. We celebrated Christmas at this time last year too, as flights are about half the cost earlier in December than later in the month.

After several adventures early Friday morning (distracting the dogs while J loaded the suitcases in the car, sneaking out of the house so the dogs wouldn't freak out, getting lost on the way to the hotel parking lot, getting a visit from a police officer for being stopped in the middle of an off-ramp, getting a police escort to the hotel parking lot, racing to park the car in order to catch the airport shuttle, over-tipping the shuttle driver for waiting for us, and waiting an extra 45 minutes for a "mechanical issue" on the plane), we finally arrived in Minnesota.

We spent most of Friday visiting with my parents, then hit up the grocery store, went to the gym to train, and met up with my brother's family for Family Portrait Night at J.C. Penney and then dinner afterward.

The Keenan Klan!
We celebrated Christmas on Saturday! That morning (after cardio), I took my nephew out shopping with me to pick up a few last-minute items (for some reason, airlines discourage carry-on items like snow shovels). Then we opened presents!

Jeffrey & me showing off our new slippers
The boys modeling their new matching Under Armour shirts
I visited a few friends on Sunday, and then we went out to eat for J's birthday, which is next week.

Jess and me - we've been friends since we were kids!
Krissy and me with her daughter, Kali. Friends since middle school!
J finally got to experience the epic Birthday Burrito!
On Monday, we hung out with my parents and nephews, and then headed home.

Chillin' with Baby James
Hangin' with Jeffrey
It's always so much fun to visit relatives and friends! I'm glad I got to spend some quality time with them. Hanging out with them always fills up my Emotional Tank.

A Keenan Family Christmas
Do you go home for the holidays? Do you live near your family? What's your family Christmas tradition?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Case of the Fallen Tree

We make no secret of the fact that Christmas is J's and my favoritest holiday. We both love Christmas decorations, presents (giving and receiving), and family time. This year, in our enthusiasm for the impending celebrations, we decided to put our Christmas tree up in November. BEFORE Thanksgiving.

This is J's explanation: We're adults, so we can set our own rules. We don't HAVE to wait until after Thanksgiving to put up our tree.

Okay, I can go with that.

So we put up the tree and got halfway through decorating it before we lost interest in decorating. (We still haven't finished decorating it and keep tripping over the decoration boxes in the living room).

Our animals, while curious, aren't destructive (unless you count Ginger's magazine shredding habit destructive). While we were decorating, they "helped" by sniffing the ornaments, tripping us on our journeys to and from the decorations boxes to the tree, and chewing on the fake pine cones attached to the tree branches.

Bruno, Nikko, and Ed "helping"
Once the tree was up, Ed decided to check it out further.

Pretending to be "casual" under the tree

Being "sneaky"

Pretending to "just sniff" the pine cone, with no intention of chewing on it. Yeah right!
Last week as I was pulling into our driveway, I realized I couldn't see the tree in the front window. With a sinking feeling, I unlocked the front door and discovered this:

Thank goodness the TV was off to the side!
Now let me be clear: the tree was solidly standing when I left the house earlier. Who tipped it over? It could've been any of the four possible culprits, or a combination thereof. They all looked guilty, if you ask me. 

Surprisingly (and much to my relief), only two ornaments were damaged. Our tree decorating ADD actually came in handy, because we didn't have many ornaments on it yet.

This was the first time I've ever had an animal tip over a tree. I'm still wondering how it happened!

Back to its upright position
Have any of your animals or kids tipped over a tree? Were you there to witness it? Did anyone get hurt? (Hope not!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm Thankful!

Several months ago, I did a "Things I'm Proud Of" post. This time of year seems appropriate for a "Things I'm Thankful For" post. So here goes ...

I'm thankful for the wonderful, challenging, and fulfilling relationship I have with J.

Thanksgiving 2011
I'm thankful for my supportive, caring family. Although they live 1,000 miles away from me, we're still as close as when I lived near them.

My favorite people in the entire universe!
I'm thankful for the fabulous capabilities of video chat! My family and I just started using it, and we're so excited that we can actually SEE each other while we talk 1,000 miles apart!

My brother and his family on their web cam!
I'm thankful for my job that allows me flexibility and the ability to pay my bills on time.

Ed "helping" me work from home
I'm thankful for my health. I realized that since I've stuck to a mostly clean diet for the past year, I didn't get sick for 9 months! And when I did get sick, it was just a passing cold that was gone in a week.

Bringing healthy food with me wherever I go helps me stay on track
I'm thankful for my friends, both online and in person. They challenge, support, and motivate me.

Me with Krissy and her daughter, Kali
I'm thankful I have a platform where I can help others. I love hearing from people who've identified with something I've written, and then used it to make positive changes in their own lives!

FitnessRx Contributor
I'm thankful for the opportunity to travel and spend quality time with my loved ones.

Key West 2011
I'm thankful for my animals who bring so much joy to my life simply by existing.

Ed
Ginger
Bruno
Nikko
So often, we focus on things we don't have or things we want but can't have. This year, let's focus on the things we DO have, and take a moment each day to give thanks for all the wonderful things we have in our lives.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Improvising

Have you ever gotten to the gym, opened your gym bag, and realized you forgot an essential item? It's happened to me more times than I can count. I pack my bag the night before as a precaution, yet I still sometimes overlook important clothing articles. (I can't even begin to imagine how many things I'd forget if I packed my bag in my half-asleep state in the morning!)

As a result, I've trained in the following conditions:

  • Without socks
  • Wearing a regular bra instead of a sports bra
  • In Doc Martins
  • In flip-flops
  • Wearing my hair down instead of in a ponytail (forgot my hair band)
  • In long pants for cardio (which I despise) instead of shorts
  • Wearing jeans
  • Wearing shoes from the lost and found (relax - I remembered my socks, which prevented potential foot diseases)
Do you sense a trend with the shoes and socks?

Last week, I opened my gym bag and searched in vain for my running shoes before I realized I'd left them at home. Since I'd slept through morning cardio time (it was THAT kind of day), I hadn't followed the routine of taking my shoes off and immediately putting them in my gym bag after cardio. All I had with me that day were my 4" high heels and my flip-flops.

Cardio Attire!
I donned my flip-flops and proudly flip-flopped across the gym. It was a cardio-only day, so I didn't have to worry about dropping any weights on my poor lil exposed toes. I headed for the recumbent bike because the combination of the dreadmill and flip-flops seemed dangerous.

I completed my cardio without any mishap, and happily flip-flopped back to the locker room.

Gotta do what ya gotta do!

Have you ever forgotten an essential gym item? How did you improvise and still get your workout done?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Under the Weather

My latest FitnessRx article is about whether or not you should work out if you're sick. According to the research I did, it's okay to work out if your symptoms are above the neck. If they're below the neck, you should take some rest days out of the gym.

This past week, I've been battling a garden variety cold: sneezing, sore throat, coughing, and mild fatigue. I didn't have much energy (although that didn't stop me from doing some Christmas shopping!), and basically felt like pooh. After enthusiastically shopping for an hour or two, I was completely spent, and chilled on the couch for most of the day on Sunday.

On Monday, J had me do an Active Recovery workout because I still wasn't feeling up to par. Oddly enough, I left the gym feeling better than I did when I walked in. It seems like every time I'm feeling a bit under the weather, I have a good workout! Yesterday I did my regular workout, albeit apprehensively. But it went well and again, I felt better when I walked out of the gym. I'm glad I didn't skip those workouts!

Today is my normal cardio-only day, which allows my body to relax and rest a bit. I'm finally feeling better, so the weights better watch out because tomorrow I'll be ready to train hard again!

Do you still go to the gym when you have a cold? Do you feel better after your workout too?

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Dream Come True!

"A goal is a dream with a deadline."
~ Napoleon Hill

Being of a practical nature, I've never been too much of a dreamer. To me, dreams aren't reality - they're simply dreams. I'm more goal-oriented, because I believe in deadlines and in reality. Most of my life revolves around goals and not dreams; however, that's not to say that I don't have any dreams.

One of my dreams has always been to be in a magazine.

This past summer, I joined a leadership group, and through that, I was encouraged to take on some challenges. One of those challenges was finally finishing the Future of Fitness application for Oxygen magazine. I'd started the application last year, but didn't take the time to finish it (it's long!). With a group of motivated women encouraging and gently pushing me, I completed the application and sent it off to Oxygen.

I received two emails from Oxygen, confirming facts and information about me, so I was cautiously optimistic that my application had been accepted.

Yesterday, I heard through a friend on Twitter that I am in the December issue!!


How cool is this?!?!
I immediately checked Barnes and Noble and a grocery store, but neither had the latest issue in stock yet. Turns out, only those with subscriptions have received it so far. The issue should hit news stands around November 20th.

I'm still on cloud nine and can't believe that one of my dreams has actually come true!

The column under my picture!
I realized that I needed to turn my dream into a goal and attach a deadline to it in order to make it come true. Now it's time to make some new goals and take action to achieve them!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veering Off Plan

One of the benefits of having a trainer is that I have a set training plan that's designed specifically for me to help me reach my goals. I don't have to spend hours reading incorrect information on the internet and then using that misinformation to create a training program that may or may not be effective. My trainer already has all the knowledge I need in order to be successful.

Now the challenge is to actually follow that program!

I sat down with J and we discussed what happens when a client veers off a training program because she likes aerobics classes. We also discussed what happens when a client goes against doctors' orders and does an exercise she's not supposed to do in order to properly heal an injury just because she wants to "win" in class.




Do you find yourself adding extra things to your training program too? Are you guilty of taking some classes that aren't on your plan? Or of going for an extra run just because it's your favorite time of year to run outside? How does it affect your goal plan?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Could I Actually Do It?

What was your turning point that led you to fitness?

The topic for this week's Fitness Blog World is about a turning point that made me choose fitness and a healthy lifestyle. I tried to write this blog last week, but struggled with it, because quite frankly, there really was NO turning point for me because I've always been active and athletic.

Growing up, I played tennis and softball in leagues, and in high school, I attempted track, and was on the cheerleading squad and the dance team. In college, I dabbled on the tennis team for a year, and was a cheerleader for three years. Post-college, I joined a gym and took fitness and aerobics classes, weight trained, ran a bit (srsly, this was a short phase), and then took adult ballet classes for several years.

If there's any turning point regarding fitness in my life, I guess it'd be when I started competing in Figure.

Ever since I discovered a bicep in my scrawny arm during my freshman year of college, I was hooked on weight training. Although I wasn't very consistent about going to the gym every day, I trained hard when I was there. In 2005, when several people began asking me if I competed, I decided to look into it. After my initial reaction ("I have to eat the same thing every day for three months?! And I can't have cookies?! What kind of crazy person do you think I am?!"), I was intrigued enough to see if I could actually do it. Could I actually stand on stage in 5" heels and win a trophy?

Turns out I could.

My very 1st trophy
The second I stepped on stage, I was in heaven. The exact words that went through my head were, "I LOVE this!"

That turning point in my life led to some of the most rewarding adventures. Through competing, I've gained confidence in myself, learned to gracefully walk in 5" heels, smile through heartbreaking disappointment, met the love of my life, made some wonderful friends, and won a genuine Excalibur sword.

One of my most prized possessions
I've also learned how food affects my body and that I can be in complete control of how my body looks at all times. When I feed it healthy foods, I look and feel better. When I consume too much Halloween candy, I look and feel worse.

I love knowing that I have the knowledge I need to live the life I want to live. I love having such a strong, solid support system: J, my family, my friends (both online and in person), and the BoB ladies.

I wouldn't choose any other lifestyle over a fit lifestyle!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

FitnessRx Article: It's All About the Booty!

I wanted to share my very first FitnessRx article! I've been writing blogs for FitnessRx for several months, but I haven't written any articles until now. Sometimes I have a difficult time coming up with general topics for the blog, so I often ask my friends what kinds of articles they'd like to read in fitness magazines.

This past weekend, my friend Ani said she'd like to read an article about how to get a great booty. Since this is a great topic for all of us fitness-minded ladies, I wrote an article about it.

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Do each set of exercises three times and then move on to the next set.

Set 1
15 Kneeling glute kickbacks
20 Bodyweight squats

Set 2
15 Standing cable glute kickbacks
10 Bodyweight walking glute lunges (10 each leg)

Set 3
10 Adductor isolation (sit forward in the seat and really squeeze your glutes with each rep)
15 Bodyweight curtsy lunges (10 each leg)

If you need to add more reps to the plyos in order to increase your heart rate, add more. But remember to squeeze your glutes with each rep for all of the exercises.

When you’re finished with the workout, spend some quality time on the stepmill or the stair stepper. Both of those machines also target the glutes and will help shape your lower body to be tight, lean, and toned.

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Give the workout a try and let me know how it goes! And check out the full article on FitnessRxmag.com!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Don't Share My Food

Although I still have the Minnesota tendency of beating around the bush instead of being straight-forward about most things, there's one thing I have no qualms about sharing with people.

I don't share my food.

Ever. For any reason. Doesn't matter if you're two years old and as cute as a button, get your fingers away from my cookies!

All mine! But I'm more than happy to bake you your very own batch!
Some people may find it offensive that I declare this so openly; however, I always follow up with, "But I'm more than happy to buy you your OWN food." And that's true! I will happily buy you your very own chocolate chip cookie or egg white omelet or Twix bar ... but you can not have even a taste of mine.

J finds this hilarious, as I'm a total hypocrite and always want just a "tiny lil taste" of his food. That's because his food ALWAYS looks better than mine! Whether he's dieting or not, I always want to know what his food tastes like, but I freak out like a banshee if he even comes closer than two feet away from my food. I realize this doesn't make any sense, so I'm not offended when he declines to let me taste his oatmeal.

Even my two cutest nephews in the world aren't immune from this. I'm not okay with JJ dipping his fingers into Auntie Kari's sweet potato pancakes, but I will gladly make him his very own pancake.

The same mentality applies to Girl Scout cookies. When it comes time to order cookies every January, I ask J which cookies he wants, and the answer, "Oh, I'll just have some of yours" doesn't fly. I ask him specifically which cookies he wants and how many boxes he wants, because once his are gone, my 20 boxes of cookies will still be off-limits to him. It's not my problem that he ate 18 Samoas in one sitting and now has no cookies left. I will gladly buy him 15 boxes of Samoas, as long as he doesn't swipe any of mine.

Samoas are not for sharing.
I have no idea what prompted this mentality, and quite frankly, I really don't care. It's just how I feel. So I make up for being selfish about my food by being generous and buying other people their very own food. That's fair, right? ;)

Do you share your food? Do you expect others to share their food with you? Do you get offended when someone doesn't share their food with you?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Intuitive Eating Fail

A couple weeks ago, I got so fed up with following a set diet and meal times, I decided to just not follow ANY diet. After too many all-or-nothing diet failures, I just wanted to not feel like a failure anymore. I have a feeling this is more of a female thing than a male thing, as J totally didn't understand how I could feel like a failure if I ate a mini Snickers one day. He kept telling me to just accept it and stick to my diet the remainder of the day. After I smiled and nodded at him, I'd go home and eat whatever I wanted, because after all, I'd already messed up the diet that day, so why not enjoy some treats?

NOT the right mentality!

The "right" thing to do would be to follow J's advice: get right back on track. My mind doesn't operate that way, though. I take an all-or-nothing approach to most things in life, and while this results in some impressive successes, it also contributes to some equally impressive failures.

With failure weighing on my mind, I decided to just scrap a diet plan and just "eat intuitively." Easier said than done!

My Fitness Pal

A few of my friends are using My Fitness Pal to track their food and exercise, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to try it out with my new non-plan eating plan. The last time I tracked my food with an online tracker, it was 2006, and I was prepping for my first show. I didn't keep up with it because I felt it was a pain to have to be near a computer to log all my foods. My Fitness Pal has a corresponding phone app, which is oh so convenient!


After I entered all my information and goals into the program, it gave me a target calorie count. That calorie count is NOT for weight loss though; it's for maintenance - which was NOT my goal! And here's the really weird thing - for every calorie you burn exercising, it adds that calorie back into your daily caloric goal. Say what?! My Fitness Pal is NOT my pal anymore, since it's not supporting me in my weight loss goal; it just wants me to look the same!

With the caveat of disregarding the additional calories that I'm "allowed" to have, the program is actually rather interesting. I distrust the actual numbers for calories burned for exercises, but they're at least a semi-guideline. The coolest feature is the bar code scanner! I just have to activate the scanner, hold up a bar code in front of my phone, and it scans the item into the database. So slick!

Intuitive Eating Fail

So I was using the Fitness Pal app, and happily entering in all the various foods I was eating ... when I suddenly realized I wasn't making ANY progress. My weight was staying the same, and if anything, my arms were actually losing their shape! Not okay!

I decided to be really honest with myself. I was using "intuitive eating" as an excuse to eat whatever the heck I wanted to eat whenever I wanted to eat. That'd be great and all if I didn't have a goal of staying tight! Plus, some of the foods I was eating definitely made my body go into storage mode.

I discovered that I'm not very good at intuitive eating, and it doesn't really work for my stay tight goals. So, I switched back to keto for awhile (with the exception of last weekend) until I reach a target look, and then I'll add some carbs back in.

I'm still using the Fitness Pal app, but moreso for just fun now. Since I'm following a meal plan again (sigh), I don't pay much attention to the calories consumed count. I'll continue using it for awhile, since it's also fun to connect with my friends on it.

Do you use a food tracking app? Which one do you use? Have you tried intuitive eating? Does it work for you?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm Baaaaack!

I've been a blog slacker. I'll be the first to admit it. A year ago, I was averaging about four posts per week. Now I'm barely averaging ONE post per week. What the heck happened?!

I didn't forget about you, friends! I just, well, I just haven't felt like writing much. Ever since the crushing disappointment of Team Universe, I've been in kind of a slump. After going back and forth and back again in my head about which direction I wanted to take with fitness, I wasn't sure I really wanted to document all the mood swings I was having. One day I was excited about the direction I was taking, and the next day I'd be all upset about the fact that I went up a clothing size.

And then I got really busy at work. After staring at a computer screen for eight hours during the day, the last thing I wanted to do at night was to sit in front of my computer and stare at the screen some more. But blogs don't get posted by NOT staring at the computer screen.

Numerous times, I'd log into my Blogger account with full intention of writing a blog ... and then I'd just stare at the screen. I keep a running list of topics to write about when I've got writer's block, but quite frankly, I just didn't feel like writing. About anything.

Even thought I didn't want to be in a slump, I just couldn't muster the energy to pull myself back out.

Things started to change when I heard that there are going to be TWO shows in Maryland next year! A new show is going to be added in June, which is a perfect time to compete. Since I won't be chasing the elusive Pro card anymore, I feel less stress about competing. Of course, I always taking competing seriously, but I'm not putting as much pressure on myself this time, which makes me feel so much lighter in spirit!

My workouts have also changed, and I'm really enjoying them. I've added plyos to every workout, and throw in the occasional cheerleading jump, just to see if I can still do them (I can, but I don't recover as quickly as I used to).

All in all, things are looking up again! I'm feeling more like myself: positive, energetic, and optimistic.

I'm baaaack!

In case I do get writer's block again, do you have any suggestions for topics you'd like me to address?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crossfit, Keenan Style

This week's Fitmas challenge involved four different options for Crossfit-type workouts. Since I didn't participate in Fitmas last week (the kettlebell workouts didn't fit into my training plan), I really wanted to try this week's workout. However ... as J and I looked at the different workout options, we realized I couldn't do any of them either.

Last week, I was diagnosed with Costochondritis, which basically means I have inflammation of the cartilage where my ribs attach to my sternum. Thankfully, it's nothing serious, but I'm not supposed to do any chest exercises for a few weeks. Since all of the Fitmas workouts included pushups, I had to get creative.

Here's the workout that J designed for me:

  • 15 Box Jumps
  • 3 minutes of cardio on the elliptical
  • 25 Bodyweight Squats
  • 3 Minutes of cardio on the elliptical
  • 15 Curtsy Lunges, each leg
  • 3 Minutes of cardio on the elliptical

Do the entire series as many times as possible in 60 minutes.

You know how sometimes you want to tell your trainer to shove it? When I looked at the workout, I wanted to say some not so polite things to J. But I just smiled and said, "You trying to tell me that there's a price to pay for eating all that Halloween candy this weekend?" The wise man just smiled and kept his mouth shut.

Did you attempt any of the Fitmas cross-fit workouts this week? If so, how did they go for you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not 16 Anymore

I came to a startling and humbling conclusion yesterday: I'm not as young as I used to be. Before you roll your eyes and tell me to, "Be quiet, young lady!", let me explain.

I may have mentioned before that I was a cheerleader in high school and college (that's actually how I began weight lifting, but that's another story for another day). One of our conditioning drills in college was doing sets of jumps: toe touches, pikes, front hurdlers, etc. Not only does it help with cardio conditioning, it helps with jump form. (Plus I think our coach just liked to make us work hard for the heck of it.)

I've maintained my flexibility since my cheerleading days, and after stretching out, I can still sit in the splits. So I didn't think anything of throwing a few cheer jumps on Monday during my workout. I was doing a plyo workout that included step-ups, lunges, squats, and star jumps, among other things. On the third set of [my least favorite exercise EVER] star jumps, I decided to switch things up a bit. Since star jumps are almost kind of like toe touches, why not substitute a series of toe touches instead?

Why oh why did I think that was a good idea?

This is NOT me. My jumps are nowhere this good!
I got to about 7 toe touches in a row and then nearly collapsed. I gave myself a stern lecture about not being a wuss and finished 3 more jumps before staggering over to the bench to sit down. About 5 minutes later, my breathing and pulse were almost back to normal.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I discovered that not only were my legs stiff and sore, but my entire upper back was screaming at me! My right trap is so sore, it hurts to even touch the skin. About midway through the day, I realized exactly why I was in such pain.

My body is no longer used to doing toe touch jumps, and the arm motions of the jumps really worked my whole upper back and traps. I can't remember ever being this sore in high school or college! Does that mean that I might be getting older?!

I remember when I was 16, and 30 seemed practically ancient. Heck, I thought 25 was old! Amazing how perspective changes with age, huh?

While I still like I'm relatively young, I'm beginning to realize I'm not as young as I used to be. My body is sure letting me know that! No more toe touch sequences for me for awhile. Maybe the star jumps aren't as bad as I thought they were ... on second thought, nope, they're still awful. But I'll deal with them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One Tabata, Two Tabata, Three Tabata, Floor

When I was in 9th grade, I was recruited by my Earth Science teacher to go out for track. He'd remembered that I was a decent sprinter back in 6th grade, and he was looking for more sprinters for the track team. I informed him that I'd never had any proper runner training, but he was insistent.

The first day of practice, I thought I was going to puke and ended up having to get driven home in the paddy wagon. How embarrassing. After the first week of practice, I had shin splints so badly, I was immediately put on the Injuries List. I didn't mind, though, because it meant I didn't have to run as much as the other team members.

I ended up placing last in both races of the first and only meet in which I ran. Running is not my friend.

So I have no idea why I even attempted the 2nd Week of Fitmas this week.

This week's challenge was two tabata sprint intervals. We were given three options to choose from. Basically, a tabata is a series of exercises designed to increase in intensity, while decreasing in rest period times. I selected the "progressive hill / speed interval workout made for the treadmill." (Note the word "speed" in the description. I should've known better.)

Last week, I did the Fitmas workout at a fast walking pace because of asthma and knee issues. This week I decided to disregard both (major) concerns and give it my all.

I thought I was going to die.

Here's the workout.

Level

Speed

Reps

Work

Rest
0 6.0-7.0 1 2:00 :30
5 3% 6.0-7.0 1 1:30 :30
5 3% 7.5 1 1:00 :30
5 3% 8.0 4 :45 :30 :20 :30
1 8.5-10.0 4 :30 :15 :30
0 10.0-12.0 4 :15 :05 :15
0 6.0-7.0 1 2:00 DONE!

While I didn't completely fail, I didn't do the workout as it was written. Why? Because I thought I was going to die. What I actually DID is in red text.

My asthma kicked in when I got the 8.0 sprints. When I stopped sprinting after 30 seconds, my heart rate was up to 180 beats per minute. WAAAAAY too high! I took a longer rest period to get my heart rate back down to the 150 zone.

I have to admit, it did feel good to sprint again, even though I nearly flew off the back of the treadmill a few times (I'm totally not used to anything above 5.0 mph). I'm proud of myself that I even attempted the workout, even though I won't be doing another tabata, as the challenge suggests.

I'm not happy to say that my shin splints came back full force. I blame it all on 9th grade track.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fitmas: Week 1

I love challenges and I love things with deadlines. That's why when my friend, Donloree, introduced her new Fitmas challenge, I wanted in.

Basically, Fitmass is a 12-week program with different challenges each week. The first week of Fitmas was the Shredmill Challenge. It was designed to be a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout, with different sprint intervals on the treadmill.

My Shredmill at home
I was excited about the workout, but a bit apprehensive too. As a rule, I'm not a runner (although I've been known to do 5K's), so I was concerned about the sprinting aspect of the workout. I was also concerned about the "high intensity" part. Because of my asthma, I have difficulty doing anything with a lot of intensity for a period of time, and then I need more recovery time than most people. For example, instead of a 60-second recovery time for a 60-second sprint, I may require 90-120 seconds of recovery time.

I decided to try the workout, but to modify it a bit to be just IT (Interval Training). Instead of sprints, I did a very fast-paced walk for each of the intervals. The problem was, because I was only walking (albeit very quickly), I didn't need that long of a recovery time.

The lesson here? Modifying workouts does not achieve the goal of the workout. I kinda feel like I failed Week 1 already, but I'm excited to see what Week 2 brings.

Are you doing the Fitmas Challenge too? If you're interested in trying it, contact Donloree to get signed up!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Back and Forth and Back Again

For the past couple months since my show, I've felt a bit lost. I knew the post-contest blues would strike, as they do every year after I compete. What I didn't anticipate was a complete re-evaluation of my fitness goals. Since getting completely blown out of the water in Figure at Team Universe, my head has been spinning in different directions.

My first thought was to add some size in order to be more competitive in Figure next year. Then I realized that I don't actually WANT to get any bigger. Although I may not have the amount of muscle necessary to compete at the National level, I don't feel that adding more muscle to my frame would actually look better. When I get bigger, I tend to lose my shape and turn into a little brick - no waist, straight up and down, and thick from front to back. Looking like a brick is NOT my goal.

My next thought was to try to lose some muscle and perhaps compete in Bikini. (Remember last year when I was tossing around the idea of switching to Bikini?) I went back to doing plyo-type workouts and changed my rep ranges on exercises. Nothing much seemed to change, except I lost some definition in my arms, which I'm NOT okay with.

Then while I was helping one of my friends pose and listened to her talk about her upcoming show, I realized that I really love Figure. While I think the bikini look is beautiful, I've worked too hard to build muscle for the past 14 years to just turn around and diet/train most of it off. Besides, I like the amount of muscle I've got right now.

Like I said ... my head's been spinning.

At this point (and that's not to say that things won't change yet again), I'm focused on retaining my upper body size, but bringing my legs down a bit. Since spot reduction isn't realistic, it'll be interesting to see how this plan actually works. I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Training with Friends

This past Tuesday, my friend, Debi, came to my gym to train with me. Since she's only four weeks out from a show, we did her workout instead of one of mine. I haven't had a training partner since I moved to Maryland two years ago, and I just realized how much I miss having someone there to push me and for me to push them in turn. Sure, J pushes me when he trains me, but it's not quite the same as training WITH him.

Debi and I trained shoulders and did some light leg exercises. I thought my delts were going to fall off by the time we finished the shoulder circuit!

Debi and me
We had a fun time training hard, pushing and encouraging each other, and getting caught up on each other's lives. While it's not feasible for me to have a training partner all the time, every once in awhile, it's nice to get together with friends while still getting in a good workout.

Do you have a training partner or do you prefer to train by yourself?

Monday, September 26, 2011

More than One Adventure

Now that J and I are finished with contest prep and can re-enter the world again, we decided to use one of the many Groupons I've purchased in the past few months (Yep, I'm a planner). On Saturday afternoon, we headed downtown to Madame Tussaud's wax museum.

The Rock - my dreamboat!
Most of the wax sculptures looked very realistic, while others looked ... waxy. It was fun to walk through the exhibits and read more about America's own brand of royalty.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow ... be still my heart!
We thought the museum itself would be exciting ... but getting home turned out to be the biggest adventure.

Unbeknownst to us, there was extensive track work being done on the Metro system this weekend. Several stops were closed, and others were only operating on a single track. Meaning one side of the tracks was closed, and only every other train headed in our desired direction. We didn't think much of it ... until what should have been a half hour trip home took us nearly TWO hours.

We tried to board a train from two different Metro stations before we realized we needed to somehow get around all the track construction. We ended up walking out of a Metro station and taking a taxi to another Metro stop. (A tip for those of you visiting DC: every time you enter a Metro station, you get charged $1.60, regardless of whether you actually go anywhere, or whether you simply look at the 6-person deep line of people waiting to board a train and turn around and walk right out. Also, taxis can charge you $2.50 in addition to the fare if they have to cross state/district lines.) So, $20 and 2 hours later, we arrived home. I don't recommend using the Metro as your main means of transportation on weekends when they're doing track maintenance.

Maybe I should bring this issue up with my new friends?

Michelle and Barack

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Time to Relax!

Seven months ago, I started prepping for Team Universe. Six weeks after I started, J started prepping for the Maryland show. For the rest of the winter, all spring, and all summer, we sacrificed our social lives and focused solely on prep. Now that both of our shows have come and gone, we can relax and re-enter society. So we decided to go on a cruise!

Last Thursday morning, we flew down to Miami and hopped on board the Carnival Destiny cruise ship. I've been on several cruises, but this was J's first. I tried to prepare him for what he'd see and experience, but it's tough to describe exactly how big the boat really is!

We spent Thursday afternoon chilling on the boat, walking around, eating, and relaxing. When we woke up the next morning, we were docked at Key West!

Port of Key West
We walked around, poked our heads in a bunch of tourist souvenir shops, and then decided to hop on a trolley tour of the island. What a beautiful island! Palm trees everywhere and fascinating architecture. J and I decided we'd have no problem living there!

Trolley Tour
We drove past Ernest Hemingway's home, and also saw the southernmost point of the U.S, which is only 90 miles from Cuba!

Ernest Hemingway's Home
We left Key West in the afternoon and the boat headed toward Cozumel. While on the ship, we spent time relaxing on deck, soaking up some rays. It felt nice not to have to be anywhere or do anything at a certain time. After so many months of sticking to such a strict schedule, it was nice (and weird) to feel so relaxed.

Soaking up the rays
We docked at the Port of Cozumel on Saturday afternoon. We'd signed up to swim with the dolphins, so we headed to the Dolphinaris immediately after getting off the boat. I've swam with dolphins before, but this was J's first time. He had the biggest smile on his face the whole time - it was a wonderful experience!

The dolphins performing for us before we got in the water with them
After petting Nautica the dolphin, we hit up a bunch of tourist shops in Cozumel.

We got balloon hats at Carlos 'n' Charlie's
We re-boarded the boat that evening, exhausted from the sun and so much walking. Every night, we got towel animals in our room (which delighted J to no end!), and we got to eat as much food as we wanted (which also delighted J to no end).

Towel bunny
The next day was a "Fun Day at Sea" ... which involved lounging around all day. We went down the ship's waterslide, sunned ourselves by the pool, took a nap, and ate more food. When we woke up the next morning, we were back in Miami.

We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation, and are so thankful we could take the time to get away. Even though we both worked out in the gym in the mornings, it was nice to just simply relax and de-stress for several days. I feel refreshed and ready to work hard toward my new goals!

Port of Cozumel