I heart you, patella strap, I do

That’s right – who knew a little ‘ol patella strap would make me so happy on an otherwise dreary, slightly sleep-deprived Tuesday morning?

Yes, my friends – this is my #TheLittleThings thanks for the day.

I’ve been so worried about my knee issues, as you all well know by now, so when I got up to do an STS Legs workout from Meso 1 (typically a really intense leg workout any old day, but with an injured knee, even more so), I was a little bit nervous about how things would go.

I promptly strapped on the patella strap my husband was good enough to pick up for me yesterday and wouldn’t you know, with the first round of lunges my knee felt MUCH better. More cushioned and supported during the more knee-intensive leg work (i.e. lunges, squats, slide-back lunges…you get the drill).

Gave me SUCH confidence that this knee ‘o mine will be good as new in no time. That is, if I try, try, TRY not to push it too hard over the weekend. I still want to try to run but we’ll see how the rest of this week’s workouts go. Tomorrow is a cross-train day (spinning) which should be a good test.

So long story short? My 25 days of the little things “thanks” today is a big old shout-out to my newfound love-fest with my patella strap.

And you thought I’d never be able to write an entire post on a patella strap, didn’t you? 😉

#TheLittleThings

“Christmas” in, um, October?

Something that makes this self-professed workout-a-holic fitness blogger giddy?

The promise of new workouts to come.

It’s like “Christmas” in October!

What could I possibly be referring to?

Cathe Friedrich’s new workouts that I pre-ordered right after hearing all about them at the Cathe Road Trip this summer. (yes, I’m a total sucker, could hardly wait to get to my laptop to pre-order them!)

I was just watching the video clips – been so busy with work and with auntie life that I hadn’t even had a chance to watch them since they were posted to Cathe’s site a couple weeks ago.

They look awesome!! And they are just what I need now that we’re heading into the cooler months, forcing me to seek more indoor workouts to do that don’t involve the dreadmill unless absolutely required. 😉

Since I’m such a fitness dork, of course I’m going to recap them for you briefly here:

  • Intensity – This is Cathe’s longer, even MORE intense version of some of her STS Shock Cardio workouts she put out a year or so ago. From the looks of the video – it’s gonna be killer, but lots of fun and lots of variety (mix of step, bootcamp moves and plyo…ohhh plyo how I love to hate you!).
  • High Reps – After watching the video clip for High Reps, this TOTALLY looks like it’ll be very similar to Group Power. Ten songs choreographed to ten workout segments working full body at low weights, high reps (aka an endurance weight workout). Ahh, LOVE this!!
  • STS Total Body – Using the same premise as Cathe’s BEST (in my opinion anyway) weight training series yet (STS), STS Total Body uses 65-80% of your one rep max weights to give you a killer total body workout. This will be PERFECT as a complement to my current 3 1/2 month STS rotation. I can add it in as a fourth weight workout, or add it in when I’m not even doing an STS rotation at all. Love.
  • Lower Body Blast – I have a feeling I’m going to die doing this workout, but I am equally excited to give this one a whirl. I have a feeling it’ll be similar to one of my “oldie but goodie” favorites of Cathe’s – Butts & Guts. An intense lower body workout that I am SURE will leave me with major DOMS.

I know, I sound like such a dork gushing about these workouts but they just look like such fun, and I honestly really do need a workout refresh for what I currently use for at-home workouts in between my gym visits for Ride, Power, Kick, etc. These will come in especially handy when it’s cold and miserable this winter…I seriously am NOT looking forward to winter because it totally limits my outdoor workout activities which is such a depressing thought! BUT – with a few new workouts to add to my at-home fitness library, well, I think I can handle that this winter. 😉

On a similar note – STILL haven’t figured out what my next challenge is gonna be quite yet, but am hoping that the promise of new workouts this fall will at least keep me from feeling bored. Until that next “dare to be great” moment comes along. 😉

On this day, one year ago…

…I wrote my first ever blog post.

And was instantly hooked.

I cannot BELIEVE it’s been a year since I started EatDrinkBreatheSweat – I honestly can’t imagine my life without it.

It’s my place to think “out loud.”

It’s my place to explore my motivation and my passion for working out.

It’s my place to inspire and motivate anyone who needs a good push, or anyone who simply likes to “compare notes.”

It’s my place to push myself, working towards new challenges.

It’s my place to meet up with all of you wonderful bloggy friends.

It’s mine to make it whatever I want it to be.

And I love it. For far more reasons than I could even list. It’s changed me in some pretty amazing ways.

To celebrate the year that was, I figured I’d point out some of the highlights, some of my favorite posts or memories from this year, and over 18,000 visitors later:

  • I accepted the challenge that was Group Kick for what it was – an out-of-my-comfort-zone challenge that pushed me so far mentally and physically. I not only accepted the challenge, but I kicked the crap out of it. I’m still so damn proud to be Group Kick certified (more updates on where things stand here later…), especially since it was something my sister and I did together, I’ll never forget the experience.
  • I discovered why I run, rediscovered why I run, and conquered what would turn out to be the toughest physical challenge of my life in the Wicked Half. And yes, I’m still very much considering another half (my answer still is “we’ll see!”).
  • I met some unbelievable bloggy friends:Naomi from The Tao of Me – my first-ever blogger meet-up. She’s such fun, such a running inspiration (hello marathoner!) and I can’t wait to meet her again since we all know a return visit to SF MUST be in my future! Heather – my sister from another mother, for reals. We met and experienced the Cathe Road Trip this year, her first time, my third time and I cannot wait for our return trip to workout weekend because there is NO doubt we’ll have just as much fun as we did this past year. And finally, meeting both Alicia from Poise in Parma and Elina from Healthy and Sane – such a fun blogger brunch, and I seriously cannot wait to “watch” Alicia conquer her first marathon in January! You got this girl!
  • I’m rediscovering my love of STS, one mesocycle at a time. Now that I’m in my third round of STS, I’m realizing just how much I missed a rigorous weight training regime. There is nothing quite like STS – the burn, the intensity, the fire you feel both during and hours (and days!) later is unreal. Like I said on Facebook this morning: *roarrrrr* This is me post-STS workout, as in “I am woman, hear me roar!” (Yes, I’m a dork).

Wow. Seeing the past year stacked up in front of me, blogger-style and I’m actually kinda floored. It’s been an amazing year in so many ways. I cannot wait for what the next bloggy year has in store for me. If it’s anything like this past year, it’s bound to knock my socks off. 😉

Happy blogoversary to ME!

Still seeking: dare to be great moment (but)

Yes, I’m still seeking that “dare to be great” moment – that next big challenge to work towards.

STILL not sure what that might be.

But…in the meantime, it’s time to SHOCK it.

And by shock it, I’m talking about another round of Cathe’s STS (Shock Training System). It’s been too long. Ever since kicking my half training into high gear this summer, weight training has taken a bit of a back seat. And for good reason, right?

But now it’s time to focus on those weights. I’m really excited to see some strength gains over the next three months of the new rotation. I started the first mesocycle today (remember – the first phase is about muscle endurance –  so lower weights, many reps) and whoa, sooo many push-ups!! Push-ups are my nemesis. Love to hate them. Can’t wait until I can get through a full round of push-ups on my toes, vs. my knees. Mini-goal #1. 🙂

Secondary goal? Improve my core strength, like whoa.

I was commenting to my sis that my core is the one area of my body that I describe as weak. I HATE describing anything about me as weak. It’s time for that to change.

So – I mentioned that I lose patience with pure pilates or yoga classes but I’ve always loved taking Core Fusion classes at Exhale Spa in Boston. My workaround for that? Hello Core Fusion DVDs!

My sis and I split a three-pack of the Core Fusion series which includes:

BODY SCULPT A twist on traditional strength training, this total-body workout targets everything from the arms and shoulders to glutes, hips, thighs, and abs.

PILATES PLUS Integrating your core with every move, this Pilates-based program is a quick and effective way to get a thin, sleek physique.

THIGHS & GLUTES Lift your buns, tone your legs, and trim your waist–these exercises firm and tighten in all the right spots.

From what I can tell, body sculpt will be most similar to the live classes so I’m psyched for that. But I’m also psyched for the other two programs and can only hope that by rotating these into my workouts each week, my core will be weak no more. 🙂 Mini-goal #2.

As you can see, I’ve now got two mini-goals at play here. BUT I still want that “big” challenge to work towards. I don’t know why, I just LOVE having something to look forward to and work towards. Part of me is still leaning towards embarking on another half marathon but my knee is still telling me “no” so we’ll see. And yes, I’m STILL open to your ideas for what my next “dare to be great” moment may be since I clearly haven’t found it yet. 😉

 

A strength training maniac, maniac!

Alright, call this my ode to strength training, or me just geeking out after a good workout, but I gotta say – drop sets, I heart them. SO effective and always leave me with that jello feeling afterwards (which, yes, I love dearly).

After being away from consistent weight training for just one week (last week left me thrown off after the long weekend, my workout “schedule” was a mess!), getting back to the weights this AM was a welcome change. Since I chose yesterday as a mandatory rest day as I was STILL so pooped from that 9+ miler on Saturday, I wanted to get a doozy of a weight workout in this morning. And doozy it was!

Essentially, I’m in the last week of Cathe’s STS meso 2, which as many of you know by now, is all about hypertrophy – building muscle definition so weights are heavier than meso 1 and include less reps per set. I started the morning off with an upper body-based workout – including chest, shoulders and triceps.

Things started off just fine with the chest work:

  • pushups – standard, wide, narrow grip (note to self: need to work on these, couldn’t do them all on my toes, boo!)
  • flat bench chest press: set of 3 @22.5 lbs per dumbbell
  • incline chest flys – set of 3 @20 lbs per dumbbell
  • incline bench press – set of 3 @ 22.5 lbs per dumbbell

It was the shoulders that killed me – all done in drop-set fashion. Basically, a drop-set includes three sets of one workout done with progressively lighter weights, essentially to work that particular muscle to total failure by “tricking” the muscle into thinking its still lifting at the heavier weight. This is an ideal way to “shock” the muscle, thus promoting additional hypertrophy (i.e. muscle definition). Here’s how it looked on me:

Seated overhead press drop sets:

  • set 1: 15 lbs @ 10 reps
  • set 2: 12.5 lbs @10 reps
  • set 3: 10 lbs @ 10 reps

Incline bench front raise drop sets:

  • set 1: 12.5 lbs @ 10 reps
  • set 2: 10 lbs @10 reps
  • set 3: 7.5 lbs @ 10 reps

Seated lateral raise:

  • set 1: 12.5 lbs @ 10 reps
  • set 2: 10 lbs @10 reps
  • set 3: 7.5 lbs @ 10 reps

Seated rear delts:

  • set 1: 15  lbs @ 10 reps
  • set 2: 12.5 lbs @10 reps
  • set 3: 10 lbs @ 10 reps

Doesn’t seem like very heavy weight, right? Well – it’s not. That is, until you start drop-setting and then my shoulders were on FIRE. God, I love that feeling!!

From there, I completed the upper-body work with triceps:

  • flat bench triceps extensions using the barbell (set of 3 @ 25 lbs total)
  • close grip push-ups (set of 3; body weight only)
  • double-arm kickbacks (drop-sets again – @15, 12.5 and 10 lbs, respectively)

Whoa nelly! By the end of this workout, I was dripping. But wait, there was more to come. I crazily decided that a quasi-full body workout was the best way to start off the week considering how badly I’d missed strength training last week. So I proceeded to do an STS leg workout, done in triset fashion, too.  Trisets are another fave – basically, 3 groups of 3 leg exercises done 3 times, for a total of 27 rounds plus a round of calf work at the end. LOVE to hate the low-plane lunges in the last round, they kill me every.single.time.

After that, not to be outdone, I had to get my abs in since those went amiss last week too…and with a vacation coming up where I’ll be bikini-clad most of the week, I thought it a smart move to work those abs.

So – clearly I’m a total strength training nazi today. But sometimes, you just gotta do it, ya know?

What’s your favorite type of strength training workout and/or technique?  Do you love weight training as much as me? Not gonna lie – I used to be a cardio FREAK who hated weight training, but since STS came into my life (and to a certain extent, Group Power), I’m a big fan of both cardio AND weights and realize and embrace the value of incorporating both into my workouts. But you knew I’d say that, huh? 😉

There’s something to be said for a good sweat…

…I can’t quite put my finger on it. Hmm. Oh wait, yes, I can!

A good sweat…

Drastically improves my mood.

Makes me feel strong.

Proves that I can conquer a new challenge (hello, half marathon, Kick, anyone?)

Leaves me feeling equal parts empowered, equal parts wobbly armed (or maybe that’s just from today’s STS workout – literally arms are shaky as I type this)

Is nothing to take for granted.

That last one is super important to me. I am constantly reminding myself that I am downright lucky to be healthy and able to tackle workout after workout after workout. I feel very blessed to have the ability – physically and mentally – to continually push myself and I think that’s the deeply seated reason why I’m so motivated.

Wow. I’ve finally uncovered the answer to the question: “What motivates you to workout so much?” Because I’m able to. Plain and simple. Of course, this all came to me as I came down from my workout high this morning – thank you STS, you kicked my butt once again! But hey, at least now I have the answer to the question at last, right?

Oh, and btw – as a quick update on my “weekly fitness goals” – tonight I’m going to Core Fusion for the first time in eons. I discovered it a year or two ago and was going fairly regularly until it got to be a little pricey and given the studio I go to is in the city (about 40 mins from my home),  I lapsed. But – given I desperately need to kick-start my core work, Core Fusion it is. Wish me luck – I ALWAYS get so nervous before the class. It’s a total body ass-kicker and I LOVE it, even if I do modify some of the moves (um hi, can barely touch my toes…), it’s an incredible workout. I’ll report back tomorrow. 😉

Switching it up

First – I need to say thank you for all of your loving words of support and encouragement after my last post on Nala, I totally appreciate it (more than you know) and I know my sister was really, really touched by all of your thoughts and prayers. So, thank you. I am working very hard to keep the faith strong for the both of us so please continue saying your prayers and sending positive thoughts her way for Nala.

********

Moving on to other thoughts rolling around in my brain today – I’m on the topic of switching it up, or shocking the system. Yup, you got it – I’m quasi back on the STS train, and LOVING it. As you know, I took a hiatus from STS after doing both a 3-month and 6-month rotation in an effort to give my body something new to focus on – which also happened to be around the time that I was intensely into my Kick training. After rotating Group Power into my regime as my main weight training element, I found that the endurance it built was great but after doing it for about six months or so, my body was definitely getting used to it. I wasn’t as sore anymore, I was adding more weight here and there but just felt a little bit stagnant after awhile.

Essentially, my body was telling me it wanted a shock, so shock it I’m doing! I started doing my own “version” of STS last week which so far, I think I’ll do as follows:

2 weeks at Meso 1 (reminder – this is all about endurance building so high reps, lower weights)

2 weeks at Meso 2 (hypertrophy phase, meaning less reps – usually 10 or 12 per set, and higher weights)

2 weeks at Meso 3 (strength phase, meaning even fewer reps – usually only 7-8, and the highest weights of all)

So far, it’s working out great.  I’m in the second week of Meso 1 and am feeling those DOMS like whoa in my legs, in particular. For some reason, Meso 1 leg workouts KILL me most of all. I was on the Ride bike this morning in sheer agony until I got warmed up – my thighs, of all places, were on fire! Not a bad thing given I don’t particularly *love* my thighs (who does??), but still. 😉

In addition to three days of STS strength training, I’ve been trying to focus on running since that Wicked Half will be here before I know it (eek), mixed with Ride and Kick once per week (since I’m not on a regular teaching rotation right now, I’m taking the class to keep sharp – plus the new release just came in the mail so we’ll be starting group practices again soon too, oh boy!).

So – that’s my story of late, shock it, baby! Love to know what you do when you feel like you’re starting to get a little stagnant in your current routine – do you add a new cardio challenge? A new weight rotation? A little of both? What’s your poison? 😉

DOMS – now that’s what I’m talking about!

DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) – oh, how I love thee.

Yes, call me strange, but I LOVE when a workout leaves me so sore it’s hard to walk, blowdry my hair or get out of my chair to grab something from the printer at work (which actually inspired me to write this post, ha!).

To me, it’s a sign of a really good, intense workout if it leaves you whimpering (in a good way, not an injured way!) the next day. The culprit behind this particular instance of DOMS? The random STS legs workout (from meso 1 – endurance) I decided to do yesterday vs. heading to Group Power at my gym after the two-week self-imposed hiatus I took from weight training. I chose to work legs yesterday since my left shoulder is very sore (I think from all the hooks in Kick) and thought it would only exacerbate things if I tried to get through Power. Boy – STS did NOT let me down, not like it ever could. It’s an incredible workout in and of itself. And wow, did I miss it!

And, if you couldn’t tell – I feel so much better after last night’s rambling blog post, about everything. I already feel so much more excited by my workouts versus viewing them as a stressful event. Even Kick seems less frustrating today – probably because today’s workout involved running through all of the tracks, only to find that I not only know all of my “assigned” tracks for Saturday’s class but I pretty much know all the other ones too, without even really trying!

To me, that signals huge progress and I’m proud of that accomplishment in and of itself. I think looking at these small things as victories is important, and something I probably wasn’t doing enough of lately – and instead, was focusing on the big honkin’ goals like passing the BTS video assessment and getting my own Kick class. I’m jumping too far ahead of myself – little victories and celebrations is the way to go, I’ve decided. So today’s victories – embracing the DOMS and also, realizing that learning all ten Kick tracks in two weeks was totally doable, afterall. 🙂

Something I’ve realized from blogging – I’m much more of an emotional person than I think I realized. I have such reactive tendencies (again which I think stems from my Type-A ways and lack of patience) that rather than taking that all important step back to consider the bigger picture, I get caught up in all the little details instead which is why I’ve been such an up and down-er of late.

It’s so funny to me the things I’ve already learned about myself since I started blogging last fall. Who knew, huh??

Letting go of…schedules?

By now, you all know just how Type-A, routine-oriented, highly-scheduled I tend to be. (wow, typing up that explanation really makes me sound pretty, um, un-fun huh??).

So anyway, I’ve been trying very hard to enjoy this “thinking differently” mantra I’ve started to embody in recent weeks. My sister is in a similar mode at the moment too – trying to let go of that routine or “schedule” sometimes, and realizing that the world will NOT end if things don’t go according to plan.

My highly scheduled, routine-oriented self was put to the test yesterday. Scott and I were hosting a family cookout at our place for my aunt and cousin who were in town for the weekend, as I mentioned on Friday. We went to my friend’s play that night (which was awesome, btw) and didn’t get home until late which meant no “prep” for Saturday was done that night, obviously. We set the alarm clock for 8am so we could knock out a long run (was aiming for 6 miles) before getting all the prep work done for the food (including picking up the steak tips we planned to grill), finishing up some last minute cleaning, etc. I LOVE to host cookouts and parties and strive to make each get-together as fun and as filled with good food and drinks as possible. So, given my type-A tendencies, I always like to leave plenty of time to prep, get all the food ready to go so I’m not busy in the kitchen the whole time my guests are over. What fun would that be, right? So, I’m sure you can see where this is going, here, huh?

Well, let’s just say Scott had other “plans” for us first thing on Saturday (sorry trying to avoid a TMI moment here LOL!). By the time we got out of bed, my “schedule” was all thrown off. And for some reason I was REALLY tired still, like my body was just yelling at me to slow down. My head, however, was spinning a mile a minute. Just to give you an idea for how crazy I can be about schedules, I literally had my morning planned out in my head as follows:

8:00 – wake-up

8:15-9:15- run 6 miles with Scott

9:15-10:00 – eat breakfast

10:00-11:00 – prep the salad, roasted potatoes, veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, etc. while Scott runs out to get the steak tips

11:00-12:00 – shower and get dressed

12:00-1:00 – Get the table and chairs out from the basement for their return appearance on the deck, get the table set, etc.

1:00-on – let the party begin

Well, it didn’t quite happen that way. And of course, Scott knew my brain was working a mile a minute so he was pretty proud of me when we decided it was probably smarter to nix the run to get everything else done. I ended up going with him to the butcher near our house (a new one we wanted to try) which was fun and even better than splitting up to get things done for the party. We don’t get a lot of time together on weekend lately so we do make a point not to be apart if we don’t have to the rare times we do have a Saturday together (insert “awwww” here). So, it ended up being such fun going to the butcher with Scott – he LOVED it, it was like meat heaven to him which was just hysterical to watch. Like a kid in a candy store. 😉

We told eachother that once the party was over, we’d get that run in since it was just SUCH a gorgeous day yesterday. But, after all was said and done, we were pooped. But because Scott is such a trooper when it comes to my, ahem, “quirks,” he agreed to go change to hit the road for our long-awaited run. We set out on our usual course and less than a half mile in, we stopped, laughed at eachother and ended up going for a nice walk, hand-in-hand, instead. It was perfect.

Now, not gonna lie (and Heather can fully attest to this!), I did have an “ack, two rest days this week??” moment where I started to feel badly for not sucking it up and getting the run done. But, after taking stock of the day and remembering those little “moments” Scott and I shared in lieu of our run, it was so worth it. Just what we needed, actually.

And now, just like Heather said to me last night, I managed to get an amazing workout in this morning (Ride which was killer today and after that, I popped an STS workout in, just for kicks) and it feels great. And, guess what? The world did not end. I did not magically gain 5 lbs overnight because I rested two days vs. one last week. Instead, I’m sitting here reflecting on an awesome day with my family and, especially, with Scott.

So, long story short? Sometimes it IS ok to let go of that schedule. I think I need to do it more often, actually. Hmm, something to think about. 😉

At home, at the gym – is there a difference?

I’ve been mulling something over since this weekend where “Kimmie” our Kick fitness director mentioned something that really got me thinking. She mentioned to my sister during practice on Sunday that her arms were looking great (and by default, mine too, ha!). Jolene mentioned our obsession with STS and the great results we’d both seen in the past year of doing the program before taking time off to switch it up with Power at the gym.

Her reply? Well, for one, she’s skeptical of workouts like STS (she mentioned P90X first, to which we both exclaimed that that workout is nothing in comparison to STS). Her view is that those workouts just aren’t as effective.

She pointed out that we’d done STS for an entire year and saw results, but what kind of results?  She pointed out that since we started Kick training in December until now, three months later, the results we’ve seen have been pretty noticeable. Her point is that Group Power, Group Kick, etc. have been the real “it” workout that’s done us the most good.

So two things are rolling around in my mind now.

1 – Can I really say that Power and Kick have done MORE for me than a year of STS training?

2 – Or, was the past three months’ worth of results really just a result of seriously kicking up our training regime and less a result of WHAT we’ve been doing, but how MUCH we’ve been doing it?

I want to say that it’s a combination of things that have proven the most effective for me, and for my sister. And I think I’m right here (but I’d love your collective two cents). In the past year, let alone the past three months, I’ve really taken my workouts up a few notches and that’s what’s made the biggest impact. I’ve also been better about eating balanced and “cleaner” for about 75% of the time (can’t be 100% perfect, right, how boring would that be??) which has also helped.

My other question, and the basis for this very blog post is this:

Working out at home?

Working out at a gym?

What’s better? Is there a difference?

I actually think that it doesn’t matter so much the environment in which you’re working out but the intensity of your workouts (i.e. how hard can you and will you push yourself). Looking back in retrospect on the past year of STS training, I think that I could’ve probably pushed myself harder, paid closer attention to how I felt with each rep, within each mesocycle, than I probably did at times. And that is NOT a ding against STS because I firmly believe in the program (and duh, in Cathe!) and will continue to weave it into my workouts. But, I think that working out in a group setting has forced me to look at my workouts differently, especially now that I’m an “instructor” I feel like other gym members look at me differently, with a higher bar, than before. So I push myself harder to meet and exceed that bar.

Long story short, I don’t think you have to do one or the other to be successful at reaching your fitness goals. I think it comes down to personal preference (where are YOU most comfortable working out?), what motivates you to push yourself (group classes where you’re sort of “competing” with others in the room? or feeling like your own personal drill sargent in the privacy of your own home?), and how you want to balance working out with your personal ife, professional life, etc. (is it easier for you to squeeze in a workout during a busy day by going to the gym at lunch? Are you a morning person but hate hitting the gym that early?).

What do you think? Is there a difference in workout environment that’s most responsible for the results you achieve? Or are other variables involved, like I mentioned? Do tell. 🙂