Things that make me go “hmm”

“Things that make me go “hmm”

Change.

It always makes me pause, hesitate, struggle to accept it.

Change can be scary.

Change can also be very good.

But it’s still change nonetheless. And that is hard to swallow sometimes.

This applies to all area of life – and yes, workouts too (but you knew I’d go there!)

If you stick to the same routine day in and day out, yes – it’s boring. It usually gets the job done. But – your body also gets sooo used to it. Before you know it, your workouts aren’t even all that effective anymore. And what’s the point of that, right? The point of a workout that consistently changes is that it always challenges you, constantly throws you for a loop, constantly shocks the system (in the best way possible).

Funny – but this is exactly how other changes in life impact you, even the temporary changes. (I know, I know only I would relate a workout analogy to all of life…how sage am I?? sorry – a little slap-happy tonight, forgive me)

Another example? Even though I struggled to find a balance amidst the chaos (my sis blogged about this very issue of “chaos” in her blog tonight too, totally on the same wavelength this week) while my sister and my niece were staying with me, ultimately – that “change” opened my eyes in ways I never thought imaginable. And granted me with a special gift I could never repay: memories. moments. That will last a lifetime.

Despite how much I HATED not being able to run for weeks on end, that forced change in workout routine? It opened my mind up to new approaches to my workouts that I’d never have considered or been willing to consider had I not been injured and forced into change. As a result? I discovered that working abs really isn’t all that bad, and in fact – Core Fusion is my newest love, one that I strive to find time to fit into my workouts each week now. Because it works. Because it invokes change. Because it’s different.

Long story short? I urge you all to embrace change – you never know where those changes will take you. Big or small, all change does is invoke new learnings, and really – is there anything at all wrong with that? Other than it being a titch scary or uncomfortable at times? (Ok, a lot of the time)

Just something making me go “hmmm” tonight (in my best attempt at being all sage and wise and all…)

 

Defining “strength”

If you could define strength – how would you define it?

This is the thought that popped into mind last night as I was drifting off to sleep (or trying to).

Funny how some of the best blog post topics come to mind at the oddest of times.

But back to my question – how would you define strength?

My description varies depending on what I’m applying it to:

Physical strength means:

...being able to hold a plank for a full minute without wavering.

lifting increasingly more weight — and noticing the difference — during my most recent STS session. And the feeling that invoked. Confidence. And yes, a smidge of girl power. 😉

pushing past both physical and mental boundaries to reach new goals (hello freezing cold 5-miler on Thanksgiving and a first-time PR!) and realizing the strength that facing such challenges takes.

holding my niece in her favorite pose when she’s cranky – her facing me with my two hands under her armpits holding her out and up above my body in a slight swaying motion (imagine a person who is scared to death of holding babies – like Joey on Friends – and how he’d hold a baby – as far away from him as possible, no cuddling whatsoever. THIS is my nieces favorite “I’m cranky” pose and it’s killer on the arms after a few minutes of this, lemme tell ya).

But mental strength? Now that is something else entirely – something I totally admire when I see it in others, and more so than when I see physical strength in others.

Mental strength means:

knowing when to say good-bye to a relationship (friend, boyfriend, husband, wife…) and being strong enough to admit it to yourself and gaining the inner strength and confidence needed before making the physical move towards a separation, a divorce, an ended friendship.  I’ve witnessed it not just in my sister (who I admire more than she probably will ever know), but in some of my closest friends, too. And, I’ve had my share of ended friendships. None of that is easy. It takes guts. It takes inner strength. It takes confidence. And yes, balls.

recognizing and being able to separate yourself from negative influences in your life. It could be a job that makes you really unhappy. A financial situation. A distant family member or friend. Being able to take away your focus on the negative things in your life just long enough to realize that God has his next play in your own personal chess game planned and ready to go. It’s having faith, it’s trusting in a higher power (or whatever you happen to believe in) that this too, shall pass.

experiencing a loss – a death in the family, a failed fertility attempt, a lost memory. This is probably what takes the most inner strength, mental strength AND physical strength to move on both mentally and physically. And it takes time. A lot of time. And it hurts.

Why am I saying all of this? I’m not sure. I guess it’s just a good reminder for me – and all of you – that we each have our own version and story of what strength means. And it’s important to embrace it – physically, mentally and yes, spiritually, too.

Sometimes it just takes a good reminder to see it. But it’s there. We all have it.

Strength.

It’s (new) Cathe workout review time: Intensity

Well kids, Christmas came early for me this year.

I got all four of Cathe Friedrich’s new workouts on pre-order (which I ordered wayyyy back in July after the Cathe Road Trip!) and they arrived in the mail just before Thanksgiving. Happy turkey day to me. 😉

As a reminder, her four new workouts are: Intensity, High Reps, Lower Body Blast and STS Total Body.

While I am totally excited to try them all, the first one I tried was Intensity. Mainly because the other workouts are weight oriented and I haven’t quite figured out how or where I’ll fit them into my current STS rotation (I am probably rotating in STS Total Body as a fourth weight workout during the week I think, though). Plus, I needed a good cardio workout to burn off some of that holiday cheer. 😉

I have to say, when I popped the DVD in, I was slightly apprehensive. Mostly because I haven’t done any sort of step workout since the Cathe Road Trip and I’m one of those love-to-hate-t0-love HiiT workouts. Since this workout would be mainly step and Hiit, I wasn’t sure if I’d love it or not. But I went in with an open mind – this IS a Cathe workout afterall, how could it disappoint, right??

And it didn’t.

Intensity is definitely Cathe’s best cardio workout of her newer cardio-based workouts, in my opinion. The step moves were not overly intricate so even this rusty stepper could keep up. And it mixed in some fun plyo moves to keep the heart rate pumping. It also broke up the step moves nicely (another plus for this fair weather stepper!). And the HiiT work? Well, I’ll get there in a minute.

First – let me tell you how this workout breaks down:

The first quarter of the workout is all step work – again, nothing overly complicated, lots of fun moves and mostly moves that even a rusty stepper would remember.

The second quarter was step mixed with some plyo work in between each step routine to keep the heart rate up which I love, love, love.

The third quarter was high-impact HiiT, or the more traditional HiiT work we all know and hate love. I have to say – I loved this section more than I anticipated i would. It worked me hard – especially in my legs which are already SO sore from STS legs yesterday (note to self: do not attempt Intensity as a means to “stretch” sore STS legs, it doesn’t work LOL).

The final quarter was low impact HiiT which I LOVED and appreciated that Cathe thought to add this to the mix. I appreciated it especially since some of the higher-impact HiiT work can be tough on knees and joints (though I will say, despite my recent knee issues, none of the high-impact stuff bothered them, hooray!) so the fact that Cathe mixed in lower impact HiiT was awesome. I’m sure my fellow Cathletes will agree with me. 🙂

Whew. Now THAT is kickass cardio workout, is it not??

What I loved about this workout most is how FAST the hour flew by. Each section was well-chore0graphed, fun and effective as a calorie-burner and can easily be broken down for shorter workouts, too (Cathe is great at developing solid premixes too – this one has a handful of them I’m dying to try when I’m tight on time). I really just loved that this was Cathe in her element – she has always been my go-to for cardio work when running outside or a group fitness class isn’t an option or I’m just looking for something different. She just kills it in this workout and I LOVED seeing her back and rocking the cardio work. Totally brought me back to the Road Trip this summer, too – this is exactly the kind of stuff we did for the whole weekend with her. Uh, intense much?? 😉

So anyway, this is an awesome, awesome, awesome workout and I highly recommend it! I hope you’ll give it a whirl – even if you’re not a Cathlete…yet. 😉

A Thanksgiving day PR

Well, it finally happened.

I PR’d my first race!

And, quite fittingly, it was my third time running the Wild Turkey Run on Thanksgiving Day.

So, five miles later and I PR’d at 51:28 which is just about :30 seconds faster than I ran it last year.

Not a HUGE leap but still – a PR! I’ll take it!

I’m especially thankful and totally felt that rush of gratitude around mile three (more on this mile in a sec) when I realized I was running and my knees did not hurt. Not a bit. So I picked up the pace, with a happy grin on my face that I, quite simply, am able to run. Again. 🙂

It’s #TheLittleThings, right?

So back to mile three, though. I was overcome by pride and giggly emotion at this spot on the route.

Why?

Because this is the loop that winds through the cutest neighborhood where ALL the neighbors come out to whoop and holler as we pass by with music blaring, horns blowing. A total riot…especially since, in lieu of a water station they have a bloody mary and beer station instead. HA! And no, I did not partake. 😉

Once we got past mile three I could see up ahead that we were winding our way towards that fateful spot in mile 12 of the half marathon where I took off like a bandit. Running up that hill and around the bend, I saw the finish line where the half took us this past September and wow, what a rush of emotion *again*. I, of course, physically felt WAY better passing by that finish line than I did during the actual half, but I digress. Just being there again brought me right back and pretty much confirmed that I will definitely do another half next year. I just can’t help myself!

One thing I did learn from this race is that I definitely had more in the tank at the end than I should have. I am so used to holding back during a longer run or race that I was holding back expecting the race to be a lot farther than it was. I did kick it nicely at the end but realized quickly that I should’ve been kicking it more throughout that last mile because I definitely had it in me. Lesson learned for next time!

Anyway, I’m psyched at the PR and ready to go off and celebrate all of the things I’ve been thankful for this year. I hope you all have an awesome, relaxing and food-filled day surrounded by loved ones.

XO!

I am thankful

Wow.

Thanksgiving is almost here and I’m actually kind of surprised by this overwhelming feeling of thankfulness and gratitude I”m feeling in looking back on this past year. Joel Osteen sums it up nicely in today’s daily devotional, actually:

No matter what may be happening in the world around you, you can always find something to thank God for. Gratitude is a powerful force that opens the door to God’s blessing. Having constant gratitude proves your faith in God because not only do you thank Him for what He has done in the past, you thank Him for what He will do in the future. It’s that kind of faith that pleases God. Constant gratitude also shows humility because when we are thankful, we magnify God instead of magnifying our problems. It gives us proper perspective and opens the door for God’s grace, favor and supernatural empowerment.

Even though this year isn’t quite over, that “winding down” feeling is certainly upon us. So, I thought I’d take today’s post to list just a handful of things that I am most grateful for from this past year – some are big things, but many are #TheLittleThings because let’s face it, those “little things” all add up to one gigantic feeling of gratitude and grace, am I right?

I am thankful:

  • For my family – that is stronger than ever, especially after what we’ve collectively experienced due to my sister’s serious infection this fall after the birth of the most beautiful little niece ever (see her blog recap here if you’re interested in her perspective – it’s unreal to re-read it myself and I was there to experience it!)
  • For my “sister friends” – who are also family to me in so many ways. This past year has proven to be one of those “take me or leave me” years for friendship and it’s actually been great to see who those true friends are in life that will stick by your side through thick and thin and will love you just the same.
  • For my sisters – we have bonded in ways I never thought possible this year. I honestly have no idea what I’d do without them and I”d rather not even think about it.
  • For my husband – who is, by far, the most loving, caring, and devoted husband ever. I love him so much. He keeps me sane when I go off the Type-A deep end, he makes me laugh (often at myself) and loves me as deeply as I love him. And damn, he sure makes a rockstar running partner, too (he better strut his stuff tomorrow – that 5-miler is going to be freezing!!)
  • For good health and ability – I am healthy, fit and strong. I’ve recovered from what was, in the grand scheme of things, a very minor knee injury and I’m back to being able to throw myself into new and fun challenges (hello, tri, hello another half??)
  • For memories – the EPIC trip to wine country being just one of them. Endless trips to the lake in Maine. A return to the Cathe Road Trip. Among others. I am thankful and grateful for those opportunities to travel, I know I’m lucky to be able to afford them. I do not take it for granted.
  • For challenges – conquering Kick, conquering the Wicked Half. Both proved to me that I am stronger (mentally and physically) than I give myself credit for. Also proved to me that I have a wicked competition streak too. 😉

Whoa. This is just the start of the running list of things I’m thankful and grateful for this year. I could go on and on. And THAT is an amazing feeling.

I’m humbled by it.

Contented by it.

Centered by it.

Thankful.

 

Sending a breakfast SOS!

So – I had much grander plans for tonight’s blog post but let’s just say life got in the way of said grandiose bloggy plans.

It happens, yes?

Instead, I’m dedicating this very short post to send a very urgent SOS.

I am in DIRE need of new, fun, healthy breakfast ideas.

I’ve come to the very sad conclusion that I am simply overnight oatmeal-ed out. <—yes, that is the technical term for it, btw

How can that be???

Well – it happened. Today was my last round of overnight oats for awhile I’m afraid. I could barely eat them. I am THAT sick of them (despite my attempt at sprucing them up with some canned pumpkin mixed in this time too, how sad!).

So I’m sending all of my fitness and foodie bloggy friends a desperate request.

PLEASE send me your best, most favorite, most satisfying breakfast ideas.

I’ve tried…high-protein energy bars, the infamous breakfast cookie from Fitnessista, high-fiber cereal with banana, greek yogurt (but this is typically my afternoon snack, and dare I say I’m also sick of that?? A problem for another day I ‘spose) and of course, oatmeal.

If possible, I’m looking for a portable breakfast with a good mix of complex carbs, healthy fats/proteins and anything that will excite these oatmeal-ed out tastebuds again.

Thanks in advance. I promise to return the favor one day!! 😉

(more) confessions of a fitness blogger

I have *another* fitness blogger confession to make.

While there are so many things I love about blogging, there is one thing I don’t like about it.

It causes me to compare myself to others, and not in an entirely healthy or balanced way, either.

Let me explain.

I’m a very competitive person, this much you all know, right? I like to constantly challenge myself, this much you also know, yes?

Well – lately I’ve found myself criticizing myself and really struggling to keep and maintain a healthy and balanced outlook on my life and my approach to health and fitness. I’ve had doubts.( Interestingly enough, my fellow blogger friend Tina just posted something sort of similar on her blog today, too. Check it out.)

And I’ve pinpointed the main reason for it: I’ve been comparing myself to other fitness and healthy living bloggers who take a much more restrictive (for lack of a better word) approach to fitness and healthy eats.

You all know by now that this is one fitness blogger who loves to eat, loves to drink, loves to be merry (as my blog tagline so very clearly states!). So, I’ll never be that blogger who eats a very strict diet and very rarely indulges. Instead, I’d go out on a limb to say that I indulge on a daily basis. Now I’m not talking about a “pigging out” style indulgence – but something as simple as a piece of chocolate after dinner (or two…) or a glass of wine “on a school night” if the day was particularly stressful. And thus far, I’ve been proud of that.

I’m also proud of my approach to fitness. Yes, I workout almost everyday (I’ll admit I used to take rest days very infrequently but I’ve since realized that a rest day is just as important as a workout. Your body needs active recovery between workouts to perform at it’s best the next time you hit the gym, the weights, the pavement, etc.). And yes, there are some days that I’ll do a workout in the AM (STS for example) and then take a spin class or a Kick class at night. But that isn’t a daily thing for me – but maybe a once or twice a week thing for me. I try to maintain a balanced, smart approach to my workouts. And regardless,  I certainly fuel my body accordingly.

So why am I reiterating all of this to you here? Well, it’s partly to remind myself that I am, indeed, still “doing the right thing” if you will. I’m not letting that pendulum swing too far to the left or to the right…in other words I’m not swinging towards an overly restrictive diet and an overtraining route to fitness, nor am I swinging too far to the other end of the spectrum and getting too lax with my eats and my workouts.

It’s balanced. It’s me.

I’m also saying all of this to remind all of you (IRL friends, bloggy friends, anyone else out there poking around on this here blog!) that it’s a slippery slope. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all – of being the most “restrained” fitness blogger there ever was amongst your circle of blog friends. It’s also easy to let those thoughts swirl around in your head, those comparative thoughts that poke holes in your confidence, causing you to doubt yourself and your approach, as well as your reason for being so committed to healthy living to begin with.

I’m here to say that I’ve been there – and I could feel myself veering towards that unhealthy mindset recently. Hence my “confession” to you all here tonight. It happens. You just have to be able to recognize that you’re prone to overly comparing yourself to other fitness bloggers (and in some cases, your IRL friends, colleagues, etc.) and remind yourself why you’re the awesome person and fitness blogger that you are, unique in every sense of the word. <—pep talk to self.

Long story short:

I am who I am.

I’m balanced.

I’m healthy.

I’m fit.

I’m happy.

I’m strong.

I’m content.

And for that, I am proud of who I am, and thankful for taking a needed step back today to realize it. #TheLittleThings.

(and now, where’s that piece of post-dinner chocolate I was looking for…)

Ahhh, runner’s high

I’m baaaack!

I finally got my run on this weekend after patiently waiting for my knees to recover. And, all that waiting was totally worth it!

I loved everything about it – from putting on my cold running gear (Under Armor running tights, my Wild Turkey Run dry-weave top from my first 5-mile race on Thanksgiving three years ago) to strapping on both of my patella straps,  setting my heart rate monitor and double-knotting my laces.

I felt at home and excited to hit the road.

And slightly nervous, too.

Nervous that my knees wouldn’t be ready (they were).

Nervous that I’d suddenly lost all of my running endurance I built up during half training (it’s still there, a wee bit rusty but nothing a couple weeks back in the saddle won’t fix).

Nervous that I’d lost my love of running after being away from it for what felt like eons (I didn’t).

Instead, it was an awesome run – not more than 4.5 or so miles, along a very familiar route near our house. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but it was just so nice to find my groove again with my favorite running partner by my side checking in on me every so often to make sure I wasn’t stubbornly running on a knee that wasn’t quite ready yet. (Hmm, does my husband know me well or what?? hehe)

And, even though my knees did ache just slightly by the end, it was nothing like it had felt before. I promptly iced them down and they felt fine the rest of this weekend. I even chose today as my rest day to make sure my knees had plenty of time to recover.

Of course, now I’m itching to run again before our third annual appearance at the Wild Turkey Run near our house on Thanksgiving. I am totally jazzed for Thursday’s race this year. Not only because it’s our third time running this race and it’s always a lot of fun (and a great way to kick off a foodie filled day!), but because I’m able to run it (I was worried I wouldn’t be able to this year) and I’m hoping to run it faster than I did last year (51:45 last year). That’s the goal, anyway. 🙂

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As we inch closer and closer to Thanksgiving, I’m feeling especially thankful this year, a feeling I plan to recap on Thanksgiving Day. But for now, I’ll leave you with my #TheLittleThings for this weekend – an awesome time with some of the best friends this girl could ever ask for last night at “Friendsgiving” at my best friend’s house. Great food, great wine, lots of laughs…what more could you ask for in life really, right??

Take one! With wine in hand!

Take two! Check out that spread!

One week later – results and ruminations

Well – it’s been one week since I threw down the Core Fusion gauntlet on myself.

Just one week later and what have I got to show for it, hmm?

  • I feel stronger and dare I say, taller? (I use “taller” in relative terms, I am *just* 5’3″ afterall)
  • My core feels more like a core and less like a hindrance
  • I notice the impact it’s had on my other workouts (namely Kick, actually)

You’ll note that I don’t have pictures or anything to share (I didn’t take any, nor did I take measurements) – I mean really, it’s only been a week since this little “challenge” began and besides that, I’m not necessarily looking for just “surface” results here. I’m looking for strength and a core that will take me places. Not six-pack abs (this reminds me of Tina’s recent post on abs, which was awesome btw, and I totally agree with her).

So – for all intents and purposes, my Core Fusion challenge this past week has been a successful one. And for reasons that I’m proud to share as I stated above – and I’m psyched that I finally found a core workout that I’m confident I’ll stick with. FINALLY!

It is interesting, though (this is where my “ruminations” are coming in for the day…), that after just one week, I have a great new outlook on my goals for the cold winter months ahead. While I’m still planning to commit to a triathalon this coming summer as well as another half marathon at some point next year, I’m also excited about the little goals I’ve tucked into the back of my mind. I’m feeling a little bit less antsy and a lot more focused and I love that. I’m focused on building a strong core this winter, building additional strength through my third round of STS (starting meso 2 next week, woo!) and getting back into running now that my knee appears to be on the mend (can I get an “amen!”). Oh yeah, and how can I forget my quest to learn how to swim at the ripe old age of 31?! 😉

Clearly, I”m in quite the thankful mood today. Pretty fitting given next week is Thanksgiving – which I cannot believe is already upon us! I’m excited to run the Wild Turkey Run for the third year in a row now – it’s a great route, and is actually right around the same spot as the Wicked Half starts so I’m sure it’ll bring back loads of memories, too!

If I could share one #TheLittleThings thought for today (I feel like this entire post has been one big thank you, actually!), I’d say this: I’m thankful for the opportunity I have to continue to push myself physically, I realize that not everyone has so many fitness options at their fingertips and am so grateful for that. This is probably why I am so motivated to find new challenges to try, among other reasons. 😉

TGIF!

 

 

Motivation mojo – where are you hiding?

Let’s call this a mini “Confessions of a Fitness blogger” post, shall we?

I’m not always motivated to workout.

*GASP*

I know, I know. Despite what you all may think – I do have moments where I fight with myself to get ‘er done.

Case in point – here’s what’s been running through my head the past hour or so…

God, what a day. I really need to get my workout in tonight.<editor’s note – was supposed to hit Ride this AM, but the rain, coupled with a slight scratchy throat and I nixed it for fear of coming down with a cold which would be bad, bad, bad>

<sigh> But I’m hungry. And tired. And grumpy. And I miss my couch.

Buuuut Sunday was my rest day and today was supposed to be a cardio day sooooo…

And that’s where I stopped and thought to myself:

SELF! What is your motivation today???

Well – my friends, my only motivation for working out tonight is to SHAKE OFF this mood I’m in. As I’ve said a million times before, nobody ever regrets going to the gym when all is said and done.

And so, that’s that. I WILL get my cardio groove on tonight, probably in the form of a Kick workout in front of my TV. It always does the “shake-it-off” trick, that’s for sure.

AND since this blog is oh-so-good for that thing called accountability? You bet your ass I”ll be back tomorrow to report back on how that workout went. 😉

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#TheLittleThings for today – I’m thankful for this blog for letting me be me. For letting my voice shine through, even when in the form of a “confession” like tonight’s post turned out to be. AND a huge thank you to all of you for helping me to surpass the 20k hits to my blog which I happened to notice last night. How cool! Here’s to 20k more hits and then some. 🙂