One year anniversary of my ridiculous accident. (+ a few pics)

Three days ago on the 25th of July I sort of “celebrated” the one-year anniversary of me slamming a steel door on the back of my ankle. It was a dumb accident followed by a dumb action plan that resulted in no cardio for over six months. I’m linking to the posts in case you’re new and you’re interested in reading of these follies of yore.

Seriously can’t believe it’s been a year. Really. It seems like a whole forever ago!

The wound healed poorly, of course, because that’s what happens when you fail to go to the E.R. within six hours of cutting your foot halfway off. The scar still intermittently burns with pain and itchiness, but I got my doctor’s permission to ignore it after she had it thoroughly checked out in February. It hasn’t kept me from my workouts since.

Today, I grabbed some screenshots from the video clips I recorded during my Body Pump workout. Please excuse the lighting situation here. I’ve got a huge window in front of me, with light oddly filtered through its closed gray blinds.

I didn’t record more than a few minutes of back, biceps, and shoulders, and the recordings weren’t great. They were tests, more or less, and these few pics are more vanity shots than workout shots. I’ll get a proper LIVING ROOM GYM WORKOUT post together at some point.

First, though, we have short hair!

 

Back to short hair and loving it, and yeah, I’m working out in the living room these days, which is rad.

 

Next, we have deltoids we never had before, thanks to the gym shutting down and forcing me to work out with dumbbells at home. (I’d rather say “thanks to the gym for shutting down” than “thanks to the virus for creating a pandemic.”)

 

Pandemic delt gains. I’m looking at the T.V. on which I’m playing my workout streaming on the Les Mills Roku channel. [28 July 2020]

 

Next, we have a glance at the phone (camera) to see whether it’s recording.

 

Testing, testing. [28 July 2020]

 

Now I know where I’d situate the phone for said forthcoming workout post, right?

Then we have clean and presses, 15 lbs. (Body Pump is high reps with light weights. I have no idea what weight I’d be able to lift in a bodybuilding workout scenario.)

 

[28 July 2020]

 

Aaand we have the biceps track about to start (10 lbs) and I’m still looking at you guys, apparently. I wasn’t smiling like this at the end of the biceps track! It was awesome, though.

 

[28 July 2020]

 

By the way, if you’re familiar with Les Mills Body Pump, this was release #104, my new favorite.

A splendid week to you, friends. If you suffer an injury that creates a bleeding wound, please go to the E.R. in a timely manner. I learned my lesson so you don’t have to.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 8. (Fitness updates!)

I finally have fitness updates for you who’ve asked for them, and for anyone else who’s interested!

Our garage gym is at the top of the list of things for which I’m incredibly grateful during this quarantine. The virus has changed everything about my fitness regimen, and in a good way. I’m still doing Les Mills workouts via their On Demand (online) home workout subscription, but I’m using different equipment and lifting heavier than I was before. On the cardio side, I’m solidly back into Body Combat, and I’ve added a new class. I do three days of weights and three days of cardio per week, minimum.

It’s heating up outside, but that’s what the living room is for when I go to do my afternoon cardio workouts! Mornings are cool enough to comfortably lift weights in the garage.

I’m loving doing three of my six weekly workouts “with” my friend Jessica. Since our gym closed and we haven’t been able to hang out in Saturday morning Body Pump, we’ve been hanging out on the phone during Saturday morning Body Pump, instead. We both have home gym set-ups and Les Mills On Demand. We get on the phone in front of our online class and hit “play” at the same time and put our phones on speaker. We don’t talk during the workouts. It’s an invisible companionship and accountability thing. We have to show up, because the other one is expecting us. It’s rad.

Other changes:

–The new cardio class I added to my regimen is Body Step. (Thank you for suggesting it, Jessica!) The step and four risers are the only equipment I’ve had to purchase.

Those of you who’ve been here a while, remember when I tried to establish myself in a Sunday morning step class? I made the effort because it was the only other cardio class that fit into my schedule, but I didn’t love step enough to want to give up my Sundays. It’s different now that I can customize my schedule, and also, my new step aerobics experience is insane in the way that I like my cardio. The reason, of course, is that it’s Les Mills.

Step aerobics: We’re going to kick your butt with our hardcore workout!
Les Mills Bodystep: Hold my water.

Les Mills incorporates squats, lunges, regular burpees, snatch burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and variations of dynamic planks into their step choreography… and that’s just what I’ve seen so far. They also have you pick up a weight plate or two from time to time.

In other words, Les Mills Body Step is not your grandmother’s step aerobics class.

–Body Pump: I’ve ditched the barbell, and, along with it, my February whim of sticking with light weights. I’m now lifting the heaviest dumbbells possible in our barbell-less garage, as in, “to failure” in every Body Pump track. We have dumbbells up to 30 lbs, so I can start heavy and quickly drop my weights down to lighter ones when I need to.

The luxury is that I no longer have to decide beforehand what weights I’m going to use in the next hour so can bring them to my spot on the floor. If I want to change my weights during the track, I don’t have to run back and forth to the equipment area, disturbing others while weaving around them. Body Pump is fast-paced lifting (which is why light weights are also effective), so the track would be over by the time I’d get back to my spot with the new weights. Neither do I have to worry about being that person spreading into neighboring peoples’ spaces with my cluster of weights.

All of the weights are within reach, and they’re dumbbells, so I don’t have to waste time messing with the barbell. I can do drop-sets easily, and so I do.

Dumbbell-only Body Pump is also intense and challenging because it involves more in the way of stabilization, I’ve noticed. I feel like I’m working my core a lot more with the hand weights.

 

Post-workout selfie [05/05/2020]

 

Bad lighting, I know. I’m totally washed-out here! I can’t technically explain the blinding whiteness of my right leg, but my apologies to your eyes. I’m standing in front of the open back door, peering down into my phone that was situated on a case of emergency water at about stomach-level. I’m rarely thrilled with the lighting in my pics, but I’ve yet to develop an interest in learning how to fix it, so that’s on me.

ALSO, I cut my bangs again, and I’m not hating it.

April Favorites coming Thursday!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 4. (Quick FUN tip: planks!)

The hour is beyond nigh for this post, and my brain is wrung out.

Hello. I’m writing this from a forearm plank position… just this one sentence. Did you know that this was possible? Neither did I. It never occurred to me before, anyway. I’m not sure why it did now. I’m going to blame it on the virus, which I don’t have, by the way.

(I’m in a weird mood. Please bear with me.)

If you’re not familiar with the plank position, then this is for you:

What you do is you set your laptop on the floor and lie down in front of it on your stomach, like you do, all stretched out and comfortable, your forearms resting on the floor. [<– That is not a part of the plank position. This next part is. –>] Then you flex your feet forward so your toes (actually more the balls of your feet) are planted on the floor, and you raise your body up so you’re supported only by your forearms/elbows in the front and your toes/balls of your feet in the back. Your fingers would be left free to tap the keyboard. Except I’m not suggesting that you do that. That is not a part of the position.

I won’t be writing in the plank position, either. It was just an interesting thing to try. It got me thinking, though, that it might be cool to watch something on the computer while lying on the floor and holding a plank every so often.

I grabbed this image in a hurry just to show you what I’m talking about. This is not an ideal demo pic. The quality and lighting are lacking, for one thing, and for another thing, I’m wearing this big, baggy shirt that’s draping to the floor. It’s rather unfortunate, but just to give you a general idea:

 

forearm plank shenanegans [09 April 2020]

 

Right?!

Watching videos or episodes or movies or whatnot is a sedentary activity, but if you lie on the floor with your computer and elevate yourself to a plank position for even one second, you’re suddenly doing a one-second, full-body strength-training workout while watching whatever you’re watching. You’ll feel your entire body working to keep itself propped up. This is not easy. If you can do it for even one second, you’re a rockstar.

It may not seem fun, but it is! What if you were to try it and hold the position for one second, and then, a little while later, decide to do it again? What if you were to continue doing it every once in a while, holding the position for just a second each time? You would soon notice that you’re holding the position for two, three, four seconds at a time. At some point, you would challenge yourself to hold the position for ten seconds, and then longer, because you’re a human, and humans like a challenge.

Humans like a challenge, and humans wouldn’t enjoy eating snacks in the plank position. That was the thought that struck me. I’ve eaten way too much in the way of snackery while watching T.V. or whatever. Doing this plank thing would be a satisfying diversion. Really!

I just thought I’d offer a fun suggestion for all of our housebound butts. Everything is different and weird now, anyway, so why not?

 

 

Cicadas are rad, and other random thoughts. (Plus a mini gym update!)

Sorry again about Tuesday’s late-night post, guys. Today is a new and better day, because today, I’m not operating in crisis mode. All is well, and I have a few thoughts to share. I also have gym updates.

Thing 1: It was 112 degrees today, and it’s been thereabouts for weeks now. This kind of heat ushers us into the cicada season part of summer in the desert. Cicadas hold a special place in my heart because I associate them with life in Arizona; to me, they’re emblematic in that way. I find them enchanting with their beautiful, diaphanous wings, their benignly short antennae, and their large, round, wide-set eyes that give them those adorable little faces. I’m delighted by the way they rattle their songs without care or concern that they sound like loudly malfunctioning electronics. Cicadas are nature’s industrial music artists, and as appropriate, they crank it! I love them.

Thing 2: I crawled out from under my rock to find that Jake Gyllenhaal is in the new Spider Man movie. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Thing 3: Netflix drops Money Heist Part 3 on July 19 – next week Friday!!! Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) is my second-favorite series (the first being The Americans). If you enjoy the crime thriller/action genre and haven’t yet seen Money Heist, I highly recommend it. Watch it in its original Spanish with whatever subtitles you need. This series is abjectly brilliant.

I enjoyed the season 3 trailer this morning:

 

 

Thing 3: I keep thinking that today’s Friday because I didn’t need to be anywhere, and I went to Body Pump yesterday morning. It feels odd, switching up a gym schedule I’d had for so long. It’s invigorating. Change is ultimately good, even if I balk at the idea of it sometimes.

Tomorrow is Friday, so it’s Body Combat. The next morning will be Saturday-morning Body Pump, as usual. This works well. I’d rather do Pump the day after Combat than the day before.

I’m so grateful to be able to incorporate such a schedule preference.

(Cue gym updates)

It’s been a good gym week! Monday, we had a sub who challenged us to go up one weight increment on the all-dumbbell biceps track she’d chosen, and I did, and I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have to drop down to my regular weights. I suppose this means that I should always use the higher weights…? I know that’s what it means. I’m just a bit daunted. I’m doubtful that I can maintain that weight through every biceps track, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t start out with it.

For Body Pump yesterday morning, I went to a location I’d never visited before. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that its floors are gorgeous, which seems like a weird thing to admire in a gym. The Body Pump instructor had his unique personality and teaching style, which I thought was interesting. It was a good work-out. I’m glad, because that’s going to be my regular Wednesday morning class.

I took a selfie in the locker room beforehand:

 

Body Pump at a new-to-me gym location

 

Everything isn’t different, though! I’m fortunate to be able to keep my former-gym Tuesday/Thursday Pump instructor, as she teaches my Monday class at the new gym!

I like to stick with professionals with whom I click in both formal and friendly ways. A hairstylist who knows how to cut my hair. A tax preparer who knows how to make filing taxes painless and fun. A realtor who’s always, unequivocally the best. And inspirational, authoritative group fitness instructors who set challenges.

Happy Friday Eve, all!

 

 

Posting on the 4th of July. (Gym updates, because.)

First things first: Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

Trivial things second: gym updates, to duly relay how it went when I did the back-to-back Combat/Pump class thing again last weekend. How it went was, it didn’t. I got real with myself at the last minute and admitted that I’ll never have 200% to give in two hours, so it wouldn’t make sense to waste my time and stress my body.

This morning’s workout rocked. Our instructor put together a 4th of July-themed tracklist, and somehow, she motivated me to increase certain upper-body weights yet again. On my way out, I CANCELLED my membership at that gym. My second gym is now my only gym! I’m not sad about it. It was a great five years overall. I won’t have to miss anyone, either… I may have cancelled my gym membership, but I didn’t cancel my gym friends. Most of us have migrated to the same new gym. ALSO, I get to continue taking Body Pump with the aforementioned badass instructor, because she teaches at my new gym, too!

Starting next week, my new workout schedule is going to be M-W-F and either Saturday or Sunday. Two of the classes will fall on consecutive days, but it’ll be better than the three days in a row I’d done for so long.

For our pic today, here’s Yours Truly using a wall as a headrest and repping a favorite metal band. I live in jeans and oversize t-shirts.

 

In my natural habitat

 

That is all. Have a safe and fun weekend, my friends.

 

 

Fitness Updates check-in, because I am a rocket scientist.

Consider this to be Part 2 of last Thursday’s post. I didn’t think I’d have much to report, but here we are!

I went ahead with my crazy idea to do Body Pump immediately after Body Combat, and now I’ve got documentation for myself (which I’m sharing with you) regarding how that went: it was really, really, really hard. End of documentation. Not exactly the notes you’d find in a rocket scientist’s journal.

Conclusion: Sunday’s double-class combo was a learning experience.

Body Combat was the first class. I threw myself into it, as usual. I always feel like I have energy to spare after a workout, but now I know that whatever’s left is not enough to fuel another 50 minutes with the same drive I applied to the first class. It was a struggle to get through Body Pump without decreasing my weights, and I was amazed that I did it! I’d just never felt so tired during a workout. Even more disconcerting, I was hungry during the workout. How does one deal with hunger during a workout?! It was a strange sensation. It made me feel weaker.

On the way home from the gym, I stopped by the water store to refill six five-gallon jugs of water. It probably wasn’t the brightest idea to haul 30 gallons of water home at that point, but I really thought it would be okay. My mind insisted, the classes are over! You’re not at the gym anymore! You can do the usual stuff! One of those three statements was a lie. My mind lied. It was not a good idea to do “the usual stuff.”

I shuffled slowly through the rest of the day, stopping to rest between steps. I had to gather energy for the next few steps. I had to take a few breaths to overcome dizziness. Oh, and the pain! Weirdly, all of my lower-body joints flared at once.

I felt like I was going to pass out as I did the laundry and some minor household tasks, yet somehow I managed to assist Callaghan in moving some Very Heavy Things in the house. It had to be done, and again, my mind said, Drive ON, Soldier. Since my week at the War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center, I’m now very aware of how my mind does this… but I don’t think of it until after the fact.

The next day was yesterday. I felt that I had energy, but the day ended with no alleviation of the joint pain. Muscle soreness also became a factor. I finally took some Advil and flopped onto the bed with my phone. I had a feeling I would report on my experiment in today’s post, so I took a selfie there in the moment of grade-7 pain.

 

Joint pain everywhere from the waist down. Just lying here waiting for the Advil to kick in.

 

I do pride myself on how well I can flop on the bed and stay there when I’m in pain. Haha!

I took more Advil the next morning – this morning, that is – and I went back to Body Pump and I smashed my workout, because today is a NEW DAY. Last night’s pain? Ancient history, thanks to sleep and ibuprofen! Today’s Body Pump workout went well. It was kind of awesome to note the difference in how strong I felt this morning compared to how I felt in Sunday’s class post-Body Combat.

This leads me to my spin-off experiment plan, which is to do the double classes again this Sunday with just one change: I’ll skip the last track in Body Combat (core, aka ab-work), and I’ll take that time to sit and eat a protein/energy bar. I’m hoping that a little break for rest and food between classes will be restorative enough! I don’t see a need to do TWO core tracks, anyway. The one at the end of Body Pump will suffice. I do Combat for the cardio; why work abs twice in two hours?

 

 

Dreaming of a greener day (Fitness updates!)

I’ve had this glute/hamstring issue on my left side for months now. It’s still there, even after taking two weeks off. In fact, it’s getting worse! I finally said to myself, Self, wouldn’t it be great to get in your four workouts per week without doing consecutive days?

The only way to do four workouts per week with a day of recovery between workout days is to double up classes.

Thus, I got the insane idea to do what a lot of people do and slip a day of back-to-back Combat (cardio kickboxing) and Pump (weight-training) into my schedule. This is a scenario I’ve avoided for years. IT JUST SO HAPPENS that my schedule needed re-vamping, anyway. My “primary” gym (whose name rhymes with LA HOT MESS) finally dumped Body Pump from their schedules. Hoards of Body Pump orphans flooded out into the streets in search of new classes, bloating the available ones at the OTHER gym’s various locations. (I haven’t gone to a weekend Pump class since the last one on June 1st, but I’ve heard reports of the over-crowding at these other gyms.)

So I looked at those gyms’ schedules to see where weekend back-to-back Combat/Pump classes are offered, and I decided on one to try. It’s a bit further away going south, but that means that I can skirt around the construction zone that is my entire neighborhood here in NW Tempe. I’m fine trekking out to a south Tempe class! I was specifically looking to go either north or south; I found both, and they’re both on Sunday mornings, which is also fine.

I chose the south location because its first class, Combat, starts at 9am, which is what I’m used to. I’m looking forward to it. The instructor (easily findable in the local Les Mills crowds on FB) looks to be a complete badass, also in keeping with what I’m used to.

So that’s the main fitness update this time. It’s more a gym update than a fitness update, but it’s a big change and a big deal for me to try the back-to-back class thing. I’m dropping my recently adopted Friday morning Combat class so I can take a rest day after Thursday’s Pump. Maybe this will help the situation in my left glute/hamstring. I don’t think that doing Combat and Pump one after the other will aggravate the problem, but we shall see.

As for last week in Palo Alto, I didn’t get to work out, after all, because the on-site gym was closed the whole week. (I found out when I got to its doors.) There was a lot of walking and stair-climbing in my day-to-day, though, so I did get to get moving!

 

 

L’amour est bleu. (Fitness updates!)

Today’s post is brought to you by a “fitness updates” request. It’s been a month since my last one, anyway!

In short and in summary, I’ll just say this: If you’re looking to start working out, consider trying a Les Mills group fitness class, if you can get to a gym that offers Les Mills classes. I’ve seen people of all ages and levels of fitness in those classes!

For the at-length, actual “fitness updates” version, I’ll start with…

Les Mills Body Pump (strength-training with weights): How about I think back on today’s class, just for fun? Our leg track was set to a song that’s also used in Body Combat, which is why I thought of Body Combat while doing squats this morning. It also came back to me how in the On Demand video, the male lead announces that his female co-lead is “the only monster on the stage,” and how I thought this to be an odd thing to proclaim. It’s definitely a strange remark to hear if you’re oblivious to the fact that the song’s refrain begins with “She’s a monster.” I don’t pay much attention to lyrics in these classes. Context is everything, right?

This morning’s chest track was a Guns N’ Roses song. [-nothing further-]

The back track was one I didn’t remember at all. From the music to the moves, I recognized none of it. It was like doing a new release back track! Loved it.

I’m unable to bring the triceps song back to mind, though I can remember the workout combination.

The biceps track was set to a song by Pink, whose songs in Body Pump challenge the part of my brain that finds the beats. I’m not sure why this is the case with Pink and only with Pink. It’s like her vocals are so powerful and independent, they leave the beats behind. I always pick up on them or sense the timing eventually, though. It happened to be easy today.

I don’t remember this morning’s lunge track song, but the workout involved a little plyometric action, which I enjoy.

And the shoulder track? It was that one with the French vocals, “L’amour est Bleu.” It’d been a while since we’d done that one, and it was interesting to revisit it after my weight increases. I could note how my shoulders have strengthened since the last time we did that track.

This brings me to the update part of the “updates”: I’ve increased some weights since my last fitness updates post a month ago. I’ve gone heavier on legs, back, and shoulders.

Body Pump’s effects are most notable to me in terms of strength, but clearly the workouts change your physique, too. When you turn around and catch someone staring at you as you’re walking away and he gets all flustered and says, “Nice backpack!” you know that there’s something other than your backpack going on back there. (Either that, or the car wash guy just really admires my backpack.)

[I just realized that my account of this morning’s class was more about the music than about the workout. Ah.]

Les Mills Body Combat (cardio kickboxing): I did this class at my (new) second gym for the first time last week. It was cool, literally. Between the superpowered A/C and a huge, noisy fan, the room was so chilled that I hardly broke a sweat! It was a good workout. It was a new release, so that’s always fun, but I must admit that I’m not going to be sad to say allez, au revoir to this release. To me, it’s death by mountain climbers, and that isn’t fun. Of all the moves I’ve done while working out EVER, mountains climbers are my least favorite. They’re great for conditioning, but UN-FUN.

Step + Abs (cardio/aerobic): I haven’t gone. The last step class I did was on March 17. I always intend to go, but there’s always something or other, and now it’s been five weeks since I’ve worked out on a Sunday! I only managed to make up for it once. Life has been happening, as life does.

And that’s okay. I’ll keep trying to get to Sunday morning step.

Even one workout a week would be better than none. 20 minutes of exercise (i.e. brisk walking) would be better than no minutes of exercise. File this in “habits worth developing.” Also, “things that are fun before we know it.”

 

 

What’s new at the gym? (Fitness updates!)

Mercury retrograde ends in two days. I’m getting ready to throw confetti.

[…]

Fitness updates!

Me (one week ago): I’m not joining a second gym for just one class. That wouldn’t make sense. No.

Me (yesterday):

 

Second gym.

 

Who even am I?

Body Combat is leaving our gym for good, so I went looking for a replacement. I wanted to find a Combat class that’s held on a weekday morning… my one requirement. The so-called silver lining to Body Combat’s departure from my gym is that I’m DONE fighting traffic through downtown in the evening, when a 12-minute drive takes 50-55 minutes no matter the route. This is not normal. I do not live in L.A., and I don’t have to play that game, I say!

Not to mention that it’s been a long time since evening classes made sense in my schedule. Body Combat was my one and only.

With this second gym, I have more options than ever all over Phoenix. Hey! Maybe one of the two gyms will open a location specifically in NW Tempe. I figure it’s a matter of time, considering that everything else is being built here.

In Body Pump news, we did the new release (#109) on Saturday, and I’m intrigued. There’s an unusual challenge: a new move with a mysterious timing relationship to the music. I wasn’t able to decode it during that first run-through. How do the beats work with this move? I hope to feel it this Saturday! It’s a great workout, 109. It destroyed my shoulders.

As for Step Plus Abs, I’ve settled into making that class a martial workout, as that’s a surefire way for me to burn up some energy. I quietly go beastmode in there. If she offers a fancy variation to a move, I don’t take it… I stick with the basic version and just do it hardcore. There’s enough footwork happening as it is, and there aren’t too many variations throughout the workout, anyway, so I’m still getting in that agility training.

Them’s my updates! I’ll sign off on a note of fitness motivation (I love this one):

 

 

 

 

I went to a step class. (Fitness updates!)

I did a step class on Sunday morning because I wanted to add another group fitness workout to my workout week. It had to be cardio (preferably kickboxing; definitely not Zumba),* and it had to be on Sunday morning. I combed the schedules for all of my gym’s Phoenix locations and found the Sunday morning “Step Plus Abs” at a location as near to my house as my regular gym. Yay!

Turned out that the class title on the schedule is a misnomer, as there are no Abs in “Step Plus Abs.” It’s just Step Plus. The instructor let me know at the beginning that it was “advanced” step.

I’ve taken step before, but I went to Sunday’s class assuming that I’d forgotten how to do it. I was right. The only familiar moves were “basic right” and “basic left,” so BASICALLY I remembered nothing.

The first person I saw when I walked in was a woman I recognized from Body Pump, who asked whether I’d ever done step, to which I replied, “Yeah, but it was a really long time ago.” She smiled mirthfully and said, “You’ll be fine, then.” I answered with “We’ll see!” while looking into the future and seeing myself clueless. Because when I say I did step “a really long time ago,” I’m talking about 25 years ago, as in, decades ago. 25 years ago, I was 25 years old. 25 years is long enough for me to forget how to do step.

The class was kind of fun. Weirdly enough, I worked up a decent sweat (not Body Combat-level sweat, but enough to roll down the sides of my face), but I still had a full tank of gas at the end of it. I was breathing normally. I was speaking effortlessly. I felt like I’d exerted no energy at all. How is it possible to sweat and also feel fresh and energized after a workout? I didn’t feel anything the next day, either. My muscles gave no indication that I’d moved my body in ways it’s not used to moving. I felt nothing.

It wasn’t a challenging cardio workout for me, but it was still cardio. Any cardio is better than no cardio! I kept going with step-knees and step-kicks when I got totally lost, so I did maintain continuous on-and-off-the-step movement for 50 minutes, or whatever it was.

I’ve decided that I’m going back to that Sunday morning step class because:

  • There’s no regular Sunday morning kickboxing class at any of my gym’s locations
  • Step isn’t high-impact, but it’s a sweat session nonetheless
  • It’s easier getting myself to a group fitness class than onto a treadmill
  • Step class amounts to some crazy-ass agility training

Agility training is an important component of fitness, I feel, and step class is nothing if not that. The instructor had us skittering all around the step bench and up across it every which way with intricate footwork in complicated patterns and switching directions and feet straddling the bench and turning and turning back and up the step and down the step and now do the same thing on the other side and so on and so forth. There’s choreography, and it’s fast. There’s terminology, and you have to know it. Your brain has to be fully engaged in order to keep up.

Step is sweat-inducing physical and mental agility, and totally different from what I normally do.

I’d still like to find a morning kickboxing class somewhere in the week, though! (And not on a Body Pump day!) I’ll keep looking through the group fitness schedules for my gym’s nearby locations, in case anything changes.

In lieu of a pic relevant to this post, please enjoy this ridiculous pic from the day my hair freaked out after I washed it and it ended up complimenting my t-shirt.

 

Basking. [18 Jan 2019]

The End.

*I’m not dissing Zumba. It’s just not something I’m interested in trying right now.

 

 

Finding the fury. (Fitness post)

I don’t love cardio, but I need to do more of it – my fitness refrain over the last 12 months or so. Followers of my group fitness endeavors, remember when it was the opposite? When cardio was all I did, and I wanted to add strength-training? Now it’s strength-training (Body Pump) three times per week, and one cardio (Body Combat), the latter being consistently sporadic for one reason or another.

I don’t love cardio, but I do love combat sports training, which happens to be straight-up cardio when you do it as a group fitness class. I made it to Combat this week and realized why the focus there feels so different than my focus in Pump: it’s because my focus in Pump is inward. In Combat, it’s outward. It’s the same degree of focus, but projected in opposite directions.

This realization adds a dimension to my “I need to do more cardio” refrain. The balance of strength-training (Pump) and cardio (Combat) attracts me more in an energetic sense than a physical one. Eastern Philosophy 101.

My mental focus is different in Combat because in combat sports training, I’m focused on an opponent (hence the outwardness of it). This means that I have to first work myself up into a state of anger, or at least strong annoyance. That’s my pre-Combat prep: hone in on an opponent so I can direct my energy at a specific target. Sometimes, I’m mad at more than one entity or situation, and then I’m fighting multiple opponents.

Thus, my best cardio workouts are fueled by rage.

I get the most out of cardio when it’s combat-oriented and I’m fighting to the death. By the time class is over, I’m flying high on victory. I’m a finisher, and I won. It’s a post-workout euphoria that’s different than the post-workout euphoria I experience after a good Pump class; I need equal amounts of this euphoria in my life, and that’s the actual reason “I need to do more cardio.”

Everyone has a fitness epiphany in them somewhere. Find yours… find it to get your fitness journey started, or to refresh your fitness mojo. Whether you need to get off a couch or a plateau, finding what drives you to action can help.

 

[30 Jan. 2019, post-Combat water-guzzling]

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

Back at the gym again. (Fitness update!)

I worked out over the weekend! It was great. Our Saturday Body Pump instructor happened to choose one of the easier workout releases… one that was awesome to do after being out for a while.

My legs, though!

I expected to feel the workout after having done nothing for a month, but I didn’t expect to feel it only in my legs. I used my warm-up weight for the entire workout, too. Dropping my heaviest bar weight – legs – all the way down to 5 lbs should have benefited my lower body more than anything, but noooooo. (Channeling John Belushi in Saturday Night Live.)

On Sunday, I could hardly walk. Yesterday was the same. This morning, I got up and thought, geez, how could my legs forget completely after just one month of sedentary life?! My legs are acting like they’ve never lifted a thing in their lives. It’s like my legs spent a month chilling on a beach in Rio, and now they’re mad that I yanked them off their lounger and put them back in the gym.

I popped a handful of Advil for the pain before I went to the gym this morning, feeling hopeful because I was walking a little more normally than I had been in the last two days. I was ready for whatever our Tuesday/Thursday instructor would throw at us, which turned out to be release 106.

Then class got underway and I found that I didn’t just yank my legs off a beach lounger in Rio and put them back in the gym on Saturday. I also sent them to an overzealous grocery store butcher who just couldn’t wait to run my quads through their new meat tenderizer.

In class this morning, I could bend my knees slightly. That was it. Those were my squats. My range of motion was basically zero, and the pain was intense despite the Advil.

There was a pretty rad bright side, though: I put more weight on the bar for upper body when I realized that my legs were out of the picture. Doing clean and presses and power presses using only upper body strength revealed that my upper body is stronger than I’d thought it was. My thing about overhead shoulder presses with the bar really is psychosomatic. The back track in release 106 involves a lot of overhead shenanegans, and I had no problem doing it without lower body assistance using a heavier bar than I use for shoulders.

Also, I figured out my Saturday mistake right away: I’d gone as deep as I usually do in the leg track. This was apparently the wrong answer for my first time back.

As for my upper body after being out for a month? Nothing. I’ve felt nothing. As far as my upper body is concerned, it never left the gym. Weird, right?!

I’m so glad to be back.

November Favorites post coming on Thursday!

 

 

NO SUMO CAT. (Also, garage gym. And Body Pump.)

We’ve been watching the September Grand Sumo Tournament Highlights, and once again, Nenette spends the first few bouts glaring at us before leaving the room. With this behavior repeated day after day, tournament after tournament, she has formed a clear pattern and sends an undeniable message. Nenette hates sumo.

Does she really hate it, though? Maybe she’s bristling at the volume and frequency of our shouting while watching it. Or maybe she dislikes the Japanese language… we do a lot of our shouting in Japanese, because we shout the  wrestlers’ names, all of which are Japanese – including the wrestlers who aren’t Japanese. We also say the names of the winning moves. And the wrestlers’ ranks. Anyway, it’s hard to say which part of the equation she hates. Maybe she’s bothered by all of the above.

 

No sumo.

 

Speaking of combat sports, the seasons are changing, and the garage gym will soon be usable again. Measures have to be taken first: fall cleaning. The mess in there! Thick layers of dust coat the floor mats and the equipment, and somehow, there are piles of mesquite pods festooning the whole place, even the far inside corners. Monsoon season did a number on the garage this year… with the garage door closed. The mysteries of life, I’m telling you.

Now my thoughts segue into my gym workouts. Of course!

Let’s talk about Body Pump 107. I did this latest workout release for the second time on Saturday, and I have an idea of what not to do. I should not spend the entire back track fixated on the lone dumbbell sitting in the corner in front of the person in front of me. No matter how confused I am that my weights seem to be too light, I should not obsess over the dumbbell in the corner.

Here were the thoughts racing through my mind during the back track:

  • I think I’m doing this right, but how can I be when the dumbbell feels so light?
  • I’m doing something wrong. I’m not working my back at all.
  • Now I’m really not working my back, because I wasn’t focusing on the weird new moves in this weird new routine. Pay attention.
  • Is that dumbbell in the corner Jessica’s? Would she mind if I were to run up and grab it?
  • What is that dumbbell, anyway… is it a 12.5? A 15? It must be one or the other, because the 10 lb one is green.
  • Is it blue, or is it purple?
  • Whatever it is, I should go grab it.
  • No, I should not.
  • Clean and presses. Why is my bar-weight also too easy? I’m back to my original bar-weight, which is an increase from what I’d been using.
  • Maybe it feels light because I missed both Wednesday and Thursday’s workouts.
  • Should I try to increase my back weights next Saturday?
  • Did my back weights feel too light last Saturday?
  • Will I regret increasing my back weights on Saturday if I make it to all of my workouts next week and my muscles aren’t as rested?
  • Ten clean and presses in a row, though. I might regret increasing my weight.
  • But it’s not challenging at all!
  • Maybe it’s not challenging today, but it will be next week at the same weight.
  • I’m thinking in circles.
  • I’m thinking too much.
  • Is anyone else obsessing over their back weights in this release?
  • The back track is over, and I didn’t work my back. The weights felt too light. I kept messing up due to distraction. My mind wasn’t integrated with my muscles.
  • Maybe my weights felt too light because I did everything wrong.
  • I cheated myself out of a decent back workout.

Welcome to my brain.

 

Fitness goal progress… small, but still progress. (+ shorter hair!)

The thing about this Tuesday/Thursday blog schedule is that I go to the gym those mornings, so when I get home and sit down at my desk, I’m still thinking about the workout.

It’s 7pm now and I just got home after being out for a few hours, but this is what I wrote after the gym this morning, for anyone interested:

(Since I wrote about Body Pump last week, I figured, why not?)

The leg track we did in class this morning was a fabulous confidence-booster! It involved just a pulse/single squats combo.* (Everything in the leg track is squats.) Pulses are always easier… unless they’re in sets of 16, that is… but today, I managed to do them deeper than before, proving to myself that I can stay down there at the bottom of the squat for every rep. This felt like a great step toward my goal of conquering the slower bottom-half squats so I can increase my leg-weight. Go me.

Goals, right?!

Thank you to all of you virtual and in-person gym buddies and instructors who inspire and motivate me!

*I’m talking about the leg track from #100, and I’m sorry if this makes no sense because you’re not familiar with Les Mills Body Pump. CliffsNotes version: I was more mindful than usual during my workout this morning, and it was awesome.

In other news, I got my hair cut short:

 

The hair, it had to go. (4 Sept. 2018)

 

On a final note, I’m sorry that this is all I’ve got for today. August Favorites coming Thursday!

 

 

My at-home industrial dance Body Combat experiment! (Cardio updates)

Well guess who finally did something about her cardio game that’s been almost MIA since 2017.

Last week, I went to Body Combat for the first time in seven weeks, guys. Seven weeks. This week was the second time. Remember when I used to go 3x/week? Yeah, so do I.

Let’s review: I’d dropped Mondays for writing schedule reasons. Saturdays because I switched Combat for Pump. That left Wednesdays. Once a week means hit or miss. This year, it’s been more of a miss.

Before last week Wednesday, I only went to Body Combat 11 times in 2018. I did the math (my talents are many – I can plug numbers into an online percentage calculator), and only 10.67% of my group fitness workouts this year were comprised of Body Combat.

Illness/hospital/medical testing. Medicinal side effects. Other scheduling conflicts. Being out of town. Class cancellations. Logistical issues. Holidays. You name it. Missing a Body Pump class here or there isn’t that big of a deal when you go 3x/week, but if you go to Combat only once a week and you miss it, that’s a whole week gone.

With the summer heat, it’s been something like four months since I’ve worked out in the garage.

Updates:

Finally, just this week, I endeavored to start a Body Combat practice at home using our Les Mills On Demand subscription. Thanks to inspiration I took from my friend Jessica (hey girl), I realized that I could do it in our dining room, which has a tile floor. No A/C in the garage, no problem.

How did I do it? The main thing I needed was a motivating factor to get through the workout without someone leading, so put a twist on it: I muted my laptop and did the workout to my own playlist. I’ve been listening to a lot of industrial/industrial dance music lately as I’ve cycled back to my first electronic music passion, so I thought, what if I were to do a Body Combat workout to industrial dance music rather than to Les Mills’ (mostly) trap remixes? (I do like dubstep and trap, by the way, and drum & bass… I’m not dissing Les Mills’ music.)

It was weird. I’m used to listening to what the instructor’s saying. Muting the workout, I could only watch the screen to see what I was supposed to be doing. Unsurprisingly, I missed a lot as I tried to keep up with what they were doing while also trying to adapt the moves to my music. I never stopped moving, though. I worked up a sweat. My triceps were sore the next morning… very sore! Evidently, something got done.

It was fun to experiment with the music. Now that I’ve done it once, I know what to change for next week’s (industrial) Body Combat workout at home.

Meanwhile, last night’s Combat class at the gym was amazing. I’m getting back into it! Here’s a commemorative post-workout, cartoon-filtered selfie:

 

Sweat life (8/29/2018)

 

The cartoon filter reveals how I sweated my eyebrows off! Haha!!

I’m relieved to get back to regular cardio one way or the other. I’ll keep up my home Body Combat workouts, and I’ll get back into the garage as the weather cools down. Onward, then.

 

 

Les Mills Body Pump updates.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a gym post, so this week I’m making up for it: today, I’m going to regale you with my totally unsolicited Les Mills Body Pump self-evaluation.

(Garage gym posts forthcoming after the weather cools down!)

It’s going to seem like this post would only be of interest to anyone who knows, follows, and/or cares about Les Mills Body Pump, but there’s a universal “moral of the story” to it: fitness is a mental sport.

Here’s my progress up to this point:

Legs: I haven’t added weight to my leg bar since my last increase over a year ago, and I don’t know when I will…

because I haven’t been able to get low and stay low for bottom-halves* (as opposed to pulses, which are faster and therefore easier). I can handle bottom-halves when they come in sets of 2. When they come in sets of 4, I’m done after the first two. Then I fake it at mid-range. Sometimes just hearing the instructor say “bottom halves for 4” kills my mental game and I give up before I even begin and end up doing the whole set at mid-range because my mind got there first and said NOPE. NO BOTTOM HALVES. At least 50% of my problem is a mental block, I know. Maybe more.

I want to overcome this and be able to do all of the bottom-halves at the bottom before I increase my leg bar weight. I don’t like to do stuff half-way.

*Bottom-halves: a type of Body Pump evil involving dropping to a deep squat and then coming up only halfway before dropping again for the next rep, and the reps are really slow.

Chest: I haven’t changed my chest weight, either, even though I probably could. My reason for this is ridiculous: theoretically, your back weight should be heavier than your chest weight, and mine is not. Because…

Back: the history of the weight I put on the bar for the back track makes no sense. I actually graphed it out. It looks like the Big Dipper.

 

history of my back weight bar in Body Pump

 

(In case it isn’t obvious, I’m not one for precision when attempting to draw.)

My bar-weight for the back track went up from 7.5 lbs to 12.5 lbs, then dropped back down to 7.5 after a case of tennis elbow during which I did nothing involving upright rows. The broken line connecting the 7.5 to the 10 at the end means that I sometimes venture up to 10 lbs… if I know there won’t be consecutive sets of power presses. If I know there’ll be lots of power presses, I’ll stay at 7.5.

This is another mental block. I used to put 12.5 lbs on each side of that bar, so there’s no reason why I couldn’t do it now. I’m stronger now than I used to be, but at the moment, my back weight is, at the most, the same as my chest weight. For some reason, I’m reluctant to commit to even the 10 lbs. Once again, the only one in the way of my progress is me. (Note to self: get out of my way.)

Triceps: my triceps weights are the same as they’ve been since I last increased them many months ago, and I’m fine with this. There’s more variation from one triceps track to the next, so there’s no telling when my regular triceps weight is going to be almost too challenging. There’s no such thing as a 12.5 lb plate in our group fitness room, anyway, as far as I know. I suppose people will grip a 2.5 lb plate on top of the 10. I also suppose I’ll try this when I feel like the 10 lb plate isn’t enough of a challenge anymore.

Biceps: I think I need to start using 10 lb dumbbells for single-arm curls, at least at the beginning of the track. Last time I did single-arm curls, I noticed that the 7.5 lbs didn’t feel as challenging as they used to. From now on, I’ll start with 10 lbs and drop to 7.5 when needed. If I can only do half of the first set with the heavier weight, so be it. As for my biceps bar, it’s heavy enough most of the time.

Lunges: I still can’t get my lunge form right, so I haven’t increased my weights at all. If anything, I’ll decrease it (I choose my lunge weight on a case-by-case basis). I think that my problem with form might be structural to some extent. There’s a mental block in there too, I’m sure.

Shoulders: as with triceps, there’s a lot of variation between shoulder tracks, so I’m fine where I am for now. My rear delts are the strongest part of my shoulders, so I’ll sometimes go up a plate weight for those. For the rest, I’d rather stick with my current weights and make sure that my form is as good as I can make it before I increase.

As for the bar, I’m keeping my current weight until I-don’t-know-when. My shoulder bar is too easy when doing upright rows, more of a challenge when doing push presses, and almost too much of a challenge when doing straight presses. Ideally, I’d have two bars for the shoulder track.

Abs: abs are abs. I have nothing to say about them.

That’s how my Body Pump progress looks at this point. My impediments come more from my mind than from anywhere else, I think. I know.

On Thursday, I’ll talk about Body Combat and my nearly non-existent cardio.

Finding it within. (Fitness update, of sorts.)

We’ve been here before. You’ve heard this from me before, if you’ve been reading my blog for a little while: I want to get more cardio into my life, on different days than my usual workout days. I would love to work out five days per week rather than the four (sometimes three) that I normally do. It’s funny that for all the thinking I’ve done about this, I still haven’t taken action.

I have “reasons,” of course. Time – there’s always something more urgent to do. Transportation – I usually don’t have the car on my “off” gym days, ruling out cardio at the gym. Medical – I’m supposed to avoid the sun as much as possible because of my new medication, ruling out the outdoors (walking, running, hiking). Heat – there’s no A/C in the garage, ruling out jump-roping at home. Space – we have nowhere to put a treadmill, ruling out steady-state cardio in the house.

Being honest with myself, I know that all of these reasons amount to excuses, because there are

Things I COULD do:

1). “No equipment necessary” cardio workouts here in the house.

All I need to do is bypass the thinking about it part and go straight to the GET IT DONE part (favorite motivational motto; thank you, Funk Roberts). My workout subscription (Les Mills On Demand) offers a plethora of workouts along with Body Combat, my cardio workout of choice.

If I didn’t have that subscription, I could go to YouTube and enter “cardio workout” in the space field. My head would spin looking at the list that pops up and trying to decide which workout to try first. There are limited-space workouts, no-equipment-necessary workouts, beginner workouts, advanced workouts, 15-minute workouts, low-impact, high-impact, HIIT, Abs and core, cardio, strength-training, and you name it – all free on YouTube.

When I think about my reasons for not achieving my fitness goal of adding at least one cardio morning to my weekly schedule, I realize that they really are just excuses. I have the tools I need to get it done: Space in a room. A screen. The internet.

The awesome thing is that there are so many different get it done tools. I have one badass friend who incorporated fitness into his week by getting a bike and making a habit of riding it to work.

Maybe you have fitness goals, too, and you’re not meeting them because, like me, (insert your “reasons” here). Your budget doesn’t allow for the expense of a gym membership, for instance. Your life is a huge time-crunch. You feel unwell a lot of the time (I know it’s hard to get motivated when you’re dealing with chronic illnesses or medications that cause nausea, fatigue, pain). You feel overwhelmed by the idea of starting a fitness routine and “failing.” Sidenote: There’s no failing involved when you start a fitness routine. If you miss a day or a week, if you can only do five minutes at a time, if you can only exercise one part of your body, whatever the case may be, you’re still doing something, and that is never a fail.

There really are work-arounds for most obstacles. It’s my belief that if you allow yourself to fall in love with exercise, you’ll find them.

 

I did one of Funk Roberts’ MMA workouts. (Garage gym workout!)

I thought I’d do something different in the garage this week and do one of Funk Roberts’ workouts.

Funk Roberts is a Canadian MMA Conditioning Coach and Certified Personal and Metabolic Trainer who creates and posts workouts on his YouTube channel. I’ve been a subscriber for a couple of years, at least, but I’ve never done one of his workouts. I don’t watch all of his videos… mostly just those that don’t involve gym equipment that I don’t have.

As an MMA conditioning coach, Funk Roberts creates his workouts to get you into fighting condition. I love his tagline: “Get It Done!” I find this to be motivating. I need to get it done. At the moment, I’m nowhere near fighting condition. I think I’m in better-than-average condition, and that’s great, but there’s a ton of room for improvement. Getting back into fighting condition is my main fitness goal these days.

When Funk Roberts posted his recent Ultimate Full Body HIIT Workout (“full body metabolic workout”) video, I thought, that’s one I can do here at home! I knew I had to try it.

I did the workout on Sunday. By the end of the following day (yesterday), it hurt to stand up straight. I went to BodyPump this morning feeling wary of the ab track and anything involving the glutes. My glutes were fine for BodyPump, but my core wanted none of it. I actually stopped in the middle of the crunches at the end and flipped over into plank, instead, because it was less sore that way.

I’ll post some screenshots of me attempting the workout, but take a look at his video, too, so you can see what I was attempting! I appreciate that Funk Roberts keeps his workout videos short. He gets to the point with no filler content and lays out the workouts with clear instruction.

Without further ado:

 

 

Here are stills of me attempting the workout, in order. I went light on the weights because I didn’t know what to expect. In some cases, I didn’t know what I was doing, at all.

1). Dumbbell Burpee Snatches.

 

Dumbbell burpee snatches (1)

 

Dumbbell burpee snatches (2)

 

Dumbbell burpee snatches (3)

 

This one wasn’t difficult for me, but I felt awkward because I’d never done snatches before, and I wasn’t sure I was doing them correctly. I’ll increase my weights when I can perform the technique more smoothly. The weight I used here (8 lbs) was not challenging.

 

2). Plank Side Raise to Forward Raise.

 

Plank Side Raise to Forward Raise (side)

 

I actually felt this one destroying my abs as I was doing it. I used 5 lb weights, and while they were light for the shoulder-work, itself, the fact that you’re stabilizing yourself with your body set up like a lopsided tripod makes it a killer core workout.

 

Plank Side Raise to Forward Raise (front)

 

3). Side to Side Rotational Lunges.

 

Side to Side Rotational Lunges

 

Otherwise known as absolute hell (for me) and not something I’m doing again without shoes. Yes, please laugh. I am! Seriously, though, I felt all kinds of clumsy and wrong doing these plyo twisting side-to-side lunges. I always feel like my lunge form is wrong, anyway. I’m always working on it. This is a great core workout (obliques, especially)!

 

4). Zottman Curls to Hammer Curls.

 

Zottman Curls to Hammer Curls (pronated)

 

I’d never heard the term “Zottman curls” before. As Funk Roberts says in the video, they’re done with a pronated grip (palms down). I’m assuming that this works the forearms. The 10 lb dumbbells I used felt appropriate given the speed component.

 

Zottman Curls to Hammer Curls (hammer)

 

5). Glute Bridge Chest Press Pull-Overs.

 

Glute Bridge Chest Press Pull-Overs (start)

 

I loved this one! This was one of my two favorite exercises in this workout. I used the 10 lb dumbbells this first time, and they weren’t challenging. Next time, I’ll increase the weights to 12.5 lbs, at least.

 

Glute Bridge Chest Press Pull-Overs (press)

 

Glute Bridge Chest Press Pull-Overs (pull-over)

 

6). Predator Hops.

 

Predator Hops

 

This was my other favorite exercise. The technique is fairly easy, so I could go faster and get more out of it. This whole workout is supposed to be done for speed, and I probably only achieved that in half of the exercises. This was one of them.

 

7). Ab Walk-Outs.

 

Ab Walk-Outs (mid)

 

Ab Walk-Outs (extended)

 

I didn’t feel that I was getting anything out of this one. It wasn’t difficult. This says to me that I wasn’t doing it correctly. I’ll study Funk Roberts’ example again to prepare for the next time!

 

8). Kettlebell One Arm Swings to High Swings.

 

Kettlebell One Arm Swings to High Swings (bottom)

 

This one also felt too easy, and in this case, I know it’s because the kettlebell we have is way too light. 8 lbs isn’t enough. I’ll go back to Ross and get one or two heavier ones for next time.

 

Kettlebell One Arm Swings to High Swings (top)

 

As a whole, this workout was hard. I couldn’t go as quickly as I wanted to go, and in some cases, I barely finished the third round. Here’s a walking-back pic, because a picture speaks a thousand words:

 

Dying.

 

This isn’t even at the end of the workout. This is me hauling myself off the floor and lurching toward the timer somewhere in the middle.

Based on this experience, my impression of Funk Roberts’ workouts is that they’re hardcore and well-designed. I’m definitely coming back for more! I can also incorporate some of his techniques into my standard garage gym workouts, alternating rounds of his exercises with bag-work.

I’m loving the Les Mills On Demand, but it’s always good to changes things up in your fitness routine.

 

Back in the gym! (Autoimmune B.S. notwithstanding.)

Today, I feel the need to report that I went to the gym this morning. It felt momentous and amazing, even though I haven’t missed that much… I just missed last week Thursday and this week’s Tuesday and Wednesday. Today felt momentous even though I did what I could in the garage last week, and even though I did make it to the gym on Saturday. There are lulls in the doldrums of agony, and you can bet I’m racing to the gym when they occur!

It just felt like a long time. The thing is, as I was realizing this morning while talking to my BodyPump instructor, I have a lot of physical energy, so I feel like I’m literally jumping out of my skin when I’m grounded by stress-induced autoimmune flares such as the one I’ve been dealing with lately. My body is full of energy at the same time that it’s grounding me with joint pain. It’s like a librarian surrounding me with all the books I want to read, then setting a ring of fire between me and them so I can’t get to them. That would be a sadistic librarian. Autoimmunity makes for a sadistic body.

Maybe I’ll post more in-depth about my current autoimmune situation in a future blog post. Right now, I’m enjoying this almost-100% feeling. Things aren’t completely settled down yet; I have more appointments lined up, and lab-work pending review. I’m taking each day as it comes, doing what I can, when I can. I have a lot of writing catch-up to do, too, as a result of all of this.

I’m just so grateful for the V.A. hospital, which has been treating me very well, and for my rheumatologist there, who’s the best I’ve ever had.

And BodyPump this morning was awesome, as usual! I love seeing my people there as much as I love the workout!

 

So happy to be at the gym this morning! I took this before-workout locker-room selfie thinking “BodyPump in 15!!”

 

The rest of the week’s looking fabulous, too. Callaghan’s birthday is on Saturday, so there’ll be shenanegans of some sort in honor of that. He would love to know what’s involved. He’s not going to know until then. Heheh.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

What I ate on a gym day. (Full day of eating!)

Let’s talk about food! Because in my last “What I ate” post, I said I’d do a gym-day version if anyone was interested, and several of you expressed interest. (Thank you for that!)

Yesterday was a typical weight-training (BodyPump) day. I ate seven times.

Without further ado…

 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

First: (Just like last time, as it’s the same every day) Alarm. Get up. Take thyroid medication (for Hashimoto’s/autoimmune hypothyroidism) with a full glass of room-temperature water.

(Wait 30 minutes because of the thyroid med.)

 

Breakfast (pre-workout): A peanut butter sandwich: 2 slices of Dave’s Killer organic thin-sliced 21 whole grains and seeds bread with creamy natural peanut butter. Lots of peanut butter! This pic only shows one slice, since I actually took it on Wednesday before BodyCombat. I always have a full peanut butter sandwich before BodyPump, and just one slice before BodyCombat (cardio).

 

Peanut butter sandwich (the second slice of bread is invisible)

 

Post-workout: (I think of this as a second breakfast) I always have a protein shake after weight-training, and my protein powder of choice is the vanilla Vega Clean Protein. I throw a scoop into a shaker bottle, add cold water, and shake it up. Nothing fancier than that. This is my favorite protein powder… it’s not gritty in the slightest… and I enjoy it plain.

 

Protein shake

 

(By the way, I drink Xtend BCAAs during my weight-training workouts. I forgot to put that in!)

 

Lunch: Apologies for the redundancy… like last time, I had pasta for lunch. (More often than not, I have a sandwich.) Yesterday it was whole wheat thin spaghetti with almost the same sauce of olive oil, fresh sauteed garlic, sea salt, dry oregano, and a lot of nutritional yeast (nooch).

Instead of broccoli on the side, I had these plant-protein meatless balls… Gardein classic meatless balls. (3 meatless balls have 15g protein. I had 5.) These are delicious. You’ll see them again in my upcoming October Favorites post.

 

Pasta with meatless balls

 

I sopped up the remaining olive oil with a slice of this sourdough bread (the only white bread I’ll eat, since sourdough doesn’t wreak havoc on the metabolism the way regular white flour does)… not to mention, I love sourdough bread.

 

Sourdough bread

 

…followed by a small bowl of fresh raspberries and blueberries.

 

Fresh berries

 

 

After lunch: My usual tablespoon of apple cider vinegar stirred into a tall glass of cold water.

 

Apple cider vinegar

 

 

Mini-meal 1: A banana. Just one!

 

Bananas

 

 

Mini-meal 2: One organic Honeycrisp apple… another thing you’ll see in my October Favorites post.

 

Honeycrisp apples

 

(I took this pic of the apples a day or two earlier because of said October Favorites post!)

 

Mini-meal 3: A small bowl of walnuts and sunflower seeds.

 

Walnuts and sunflower seeds

 

Nuts and seeds every day, gym or no gym.

 

Dinner: A huge spinach salad with tomato, mushrooms, red onion, Kalamata olives, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and dry oregano.

I love a big spinach salad for dinner, especially on weight-training days. Did Popeye ever motivate you to eat spinach when you were a kid? Spinach is Popeye’s trademark get-strong-to-kick-ass superfood, after all. A plant! Bluto had no chance against it. I love fresh spinach, regardless.

 

Spinach salad

 

I went on a little Popeye spree on YouTube last night and entertained myself for about 20 minutes. Here’s a quick clip:

 

 

 

Dessert: Seedless red grapes.

 

Seedless red grapes

 

 

After dinner: Another glass of apple cider vinegar water.

 

apple cidar vinegar

 

I can see lip balm smudge-marks on the rim of the glass! These pics are not the best I’ve ever taken… but they do the job.

That’s it for a typical gym-day. Oh, and as always, I drank water all day long. I can never drink enough water! I’m grateful to have it.

BOB’s first time. (Garage Gym workout!)

First garage gym workout of fall 2017!! I tried out our new Body Opponent Bag (BOB) last Friday. We acquired it just when it got too hot for the garage this year, so I’m glad the long delay is over.

Here’s what I found out about BOB: he’s taller than I remember him to be.

Here’s what I found out about me: I’m shorter than I remember myself to be.

Which I knew, actually. That’s right, Surly Measurement Guy. I stand corrected. (Pun not intended.) The V.A. recently confirmed that you were right: I’m 5′,4″ now.

[For reference, I’m 5′,4″/114.2 lbs – weight as of yesterday]

At his shortest setting, BOB’s got a couple of inches on me. I experimented with the height differential as well as with distance.

Punches are no big deal at his height, but because of his wide base, I’ll have to take matters into my own hands to properly train elbow strikes, as they’re mostly inside-fighting techniques. As evident in the pics below, I didn’t do well with elbow strikes just standing in front of him. I’ll modify for this in the future.

The work-out: I mostly practiced upper-body strikes. I worked in a few kicks, but I didn’t really train lower-body this time. For my cardio warm-up, I ran in place, alternating sets of high knees and those jumping toe-taps (?) (whatever they’re called) on BOB’s base.

This was a 45-minute work-out. I didn’t wear shoes because the mats had been cleaned, but my feet still turned black. Eh. Desert dust… a small price to pay for living in paradise!

 

Superman punch

 

First height observation: My superman punch puts me a couple of inches in the air, so my straight-right lands almost perfectly on BOB’s face.

 

Straight right, aka cross (orthodox)

 

Straight-right (aka cross, if you’re right-handed) from standing.

 

Punch to body

 

Going for a punch to the body. Self-critique: I’d drop my stance a little lower to get my head out of the way. Most people like to hit back when you hit them. If BOB could trade punches, he’d clock me pretty easily in this position.

 

(between rounds)

 

See how I’m kind of knock-knee’d? This is why my lunges suck. I’m always trying to modify the position of my feet in order to get my form right and maximize the benefit of the exercise, but I still have a hard time with range of motion in lunges.

 

Spin punch chamber

 

I practiced some spin-strike techniques; this practice makes for a great exercise in judging distance. Here, it looks like I’m taller than BOB. Optical illusion.

 

Up elbow

 

This is ridiculous. I landed these upward elbow strikes, but you can see that I’m open to all kinds of pay-back shenanegans. BOB’s wide base keeps you from getting inside where elbows are the most useful. I’ll find a way to correct for this.

 

Back elbow chamber

 

This is slightly better; with a back elbow, it’s easier to jump in to close the distance. Back elbows are useful when you want to get out of a close situation you’re losing, though. Like when people elbow others out of the way to get through a tight crowd.

 

Standing stretch

 

I used BOB as a stretching apparatus. I stretched on the floor, too.

 

Stretching (and selfie)

 

Multi-tasking: stretching and mugging for the post-workout selfie.

 

Walking back

 

The walking-back pic. I’m still doing them, I guess!

A word about food: I used to include a post-workout food pic at the end of these posts, and once again, I forgot. There will be lots in the way of food pics this Friday, though, as I’m going to do a food-centric post.

 

Is it Monday yet? TGIM! (Writing-Fitness balance: on changing routines.)

This week, I let go of my Monday evening workout. It was hard. I’d been doing that class for over three years… Monday/Wednesday kickboxing, non-negotiable.

You know how I feel about routines, and you know how I feel about kickboxing. This decision was not easy.

But it was a long time coming. I looked at my 2016 planner and saw that I’d been thinking about it since early November… because I’d just tried BodyPump, which is weight-training, which I’d spent a year trying and failing to do on my own. I finally realized that nothing was stopping me from going to a twice-weekly morning Pump class. It was life-changing. It got me thinking about re-vamping my entire workout schedule.

I did it slowly, starting with switching out Saturday morning kickboxing for Saturday morning Pump. I wanted three strength-training workouts per week, rather than two.

Then I had a few Monday evenings off when the Monday kickboxing class was between instructors, and I realized what Monday really is, now: it’s my favorite day of the week. My best workday. The ideal day to stay home all day and get shit done.

Monday has become my “third weekend-day,” my working-weekend day, my relaxed yet productive transition into the week. It’s my bubble of creative energy day. It’s my fresh-start day. I wake up filled with anticipation and ready to get ALL the ideas down. I’m writing before I even get out of bed on Monday mornings. I can multi-task all day on Mondays, no problem.

I realized that it’s TGIM around here, not TGIF. I had to make changes accordingly!

Easier said than done.

Since I’m slow to see things that are right before my eyes, I first had to have this argument with myself. (We all do this, right? Argue with ourselves, weigh pros and cons, etc.?)

Here’s how my argument went:

  • Monday is my best workday now.
  • And?
  • Leaving the house on Monday interrupts my best workday.
  • Why not just stay home on Mondays?
  • Because it’s Monday. I have to go to the gym.
  • Why?
  • Because it’s Monday.
  • Really.
  • I always go to the gym on Monday.
  • Okay, but why?
  • It’s what I do! Kickboxing on Mondays and Wednesdays!! I love it!!!
  • That’s not a real reason.
  • Because… I need at least two cardio workouts per week.
  • Can you find an alternate day for the Monday cardio?
  • Well, yes. Fridays or Sundays would work.
  • Then do it.

End of argument. Why had I been reluctant – even afraid – to give up Monday evening workouts? Because changing a routine is scary when your mental health depends on the stability routines provide. But I was able to work through it.

I’ve had my boxing gloves hanging up in my office, and now that’s metaphorical as well as practical. I hung up my Monday night gloves for writing.

 

Writing-training balance: boxing gloves hanging in my office (along with my hats and kukui nut lei)

 

The process of making this decision turned out to be a good exercise (pun not intended), so I thought I’d share it with you who may also have a hard time making changes to your routines.

I followed this thought-path:

  • Recognize (when something isn’t working anymore.)
  • Think (of how to fix it.)
  • Detach (to make it easier.)
  • Consider solutions/alternatives.
  • Wait for the immediate “obstacles” to come to mind, because they will… then
  • think beyond them.
  • Think creatively.
  • Do this by asking yourself questions and answering honestly.

Some people would call this “Follow your heart.” Others would call it “Adjust your thinking.” I call it “Wake up and realize that you’re the only one stopping yourself from making changes in order to do what you need to do… you can do it.”

Making changes isn’t easy for we who need routine in order to keep ourselves stable; routine is necessary, but it can also be an impediment. It makes it hard to see when change is needed.

Now I just need to discipline myself to get my ass to the gym to do cardio on my own. That shouldn’t be difficult.

 

Looks like it’s officially off-season in the garage.

Here’s that (promised) status update on the garage gym: it’s not happening this summer. A/C installation, I mean.

We’ve had A/C and insulation professionals come to evaluate the situation, and after looking at their estimates – the total cost of the cooling project – we decided to hold off on it this year. We figured we’ve put enough into the house in 2017, and we still have some costly, out-of-the-ordinary agenda items on the books for the summer. For one thing, we’re going to be chasing that eclipse in August, a pursuit that will take us out of state. Surely some moola will be involved there.

So that’s that! It’s fine, of course. Talk about a first-world problem. We have a roof over our heads and A/C in the house. We don’t take that for granted here in the Valley, where it’s already been so hot that numerous flights had to be canceled this week. We live 10 minutes away (if that) from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, pretty much under the flight path, and it was eerily quiet for a day or two. It was like someone shut off the volume switch in the sky.

There may be a garage gym post yet, though, before October! Certain types of workouts will be safely doable in there if done very early in the morning, workouts that don’t involve much movement. Knuckle-conditioning… I could document a Part 2 of that. Stretching, maybe. We shouldn’t do more than that, even if early. After all, one wall in there is the metal garage door, which transforms the garage into an oven.

Happy Friday, All!

Mind as muscle. (Working out: suggestions from a non-professional.)

This is for anyone who’s decided to start working out, has started working out, and is now wondering, “How can I continue to do it?”

I’ve been asked. There’s no single answer. I can suggest, though, that one way to stay committed to working out is to stay interested in working out, and one way to stay interested in working out is to focus – not on other people, and not on yourself, but on what you’re doing.

That’s the key: In order to follow through on your commitment, you have to stay interested.

 

Fire in stone

 

1). Here’s my first suggestion:

Don’t compare yourself to others. 

Those people working out around you? Ignore them.

2). My second suggestion is the one that’s the most important to me, personally:

Focus on the fight in front of you.

Don’t focus on all the fights, all at once. Just on the one directly in front of you right now.

If you balk at the word “fight,” remember that “fight” is a common word, and that most of the time, we don’t use it in a violently combative sense.

Fight cancer, fight fatigue, fight the urge to laugh, fight the impulse to say what you’re thinking, fight for air. Fight for equality and justice and rights, if you’re so inclined. Fight for your family. Fight to defend yourself. Fight to stay alive. Fight back.

Fighting is a mental endeavor, first and foremost.

When someone says, “You have a lot of fight in you,” that’s high praise. It suggests that you’re mentally strong. You persevere. You don’t give up. You’re brave.

Imagine taking that perseverance and bravery with you when you go to work out. Imagine setting small goals to achieve your long-term goal in increments. Each small goal is a fight. Focus on it, and you may find that your interest is held because you’re immersed in a moment that has an end goal.

Fitness goals come from somewhere. They come from your mind. They come about because you’ve thought about them. You had a thought that became a decision that led to the statement “I’m going to work out.”

That’s a testament to your strength, already! You’ve declared that you’re going to work out, and it was your mind that got you over that hurdle. Your mind already did the hardest part, so you can trust it to help you follow through.

What about confidence, though?

I remove confidence from the equation because I don’t consider it to be the means to an end. I would suggest, “Just focus on what you’re doing. Don’t worry about confidence.”

After your workout, you can exult in the confidence you’ve gained knowing that you gave your ALL to that workout.

Your confidence will increase each time, developing gradually as a result of what you’re doing. Eventually, you’ll carry it with you into your workouts without even knowing it. It becomes a force that you can access subconsciously.

Going into your fitness endeavor trying to believe “I’m confident” is setting yourself up to focus on that. Your focus should be on what you’re doing, not on how you think you should be feeling.

My two suggestions are interrelated: If you compare yourself to others while you’re working out, your focus will no longer be trained on what’s in front of you. What’s in front of you is the goal you’re aiming to achieve in that moment. It’s your fight… use it to direct your focus and to keep your focus where it can benefit you the most.

Medicine Ball – “Let the Good Times Roll” (Garage gym workout!)

How long has it been since I’ve posted a garage gym workout?! I think the last time was actually on a beach, and that would’ve been in November. This is long overdue.

The digs

We gave up on keeping the mat in the garage dust-free. Let’s be real: this is Arizona, where your interior abode gets dusty quickly no matter what you do. A dust-free garage in the desert? Not going to happen. It was a losing battle, especially since we don’t have a lot of time, so we finally bought some cheap, light, and flexible slip-on shoes, which we wear only on the mat. We do sweep the mat and clean it every once in a while, but in between cleanings, footwear is a must.

Disclaimer and apology

Every time I put together a garage gym workout post, I struggle to explain things clearly and then I get to a point where I say to myself, “Self, why do you do these garage gym workout posts when you’re clearly not a trainer and therefore unable to explain how these exercises are done?” (Please to note the former and accept my apologies for the latter.)

The workout

A medicine ball is a versatile and affordable piece of workout equipment, and you don’t need a lot of space when you use it! You can work with a medicine ball for 30 minutes and get a full-body strength and conditioning workout. Ours is 8 lbs, so it’s a lighter one, but believe me… after several sets of each of these exercises, that ball is heavy.

When thinking of which exercises to do, a core and body-weight strength workout came together naturally. Doing stuff with a medicine ball involves a lot of core work, as you have to use your entire body to balance. All of your muscles are engaged. With several rounds of jump rope thrown in for a warm-up, I got some extra conditioning in there, as well.

[Sidenote: it maybe wasn’t a good idea to do this workout on the same day that I had a kickboxing class at the gym!]

I swear I didn’t intend to wear a shirt that says “Let the Good Times Roll” while doing this medicine ball workout. Haha! Get it? Total coincidence.

On with the pics. Thank goodness for the pics; I screenshot the moves at each step to help make up for my lack of ability to explain the exercises.

 

1). Jumping rope (warm-up).

I switched it up during the rounds to avoid boredom.

Jumping rope (medicine ball workout)

Jumping rope (medicine ball workout)

Jumping rope (medicine ball workout)

 

Then I started with the medicine ball:

2). Leaning core twists from horse stance.

Here, I’m leaning on the bag, but I’m not sitting on the base. This exercise strengthens the core (with emphasis on the leg part of the core as well as on the obliques), and it’s usually done against a wall. Using the round punching bag instead allows for more of a stretch, but I only twist as far as I comfortably can while maintaining my stance.

Leaning core twist with medicine ball – starting position (horse stance)

Leaning core twist with medicine ball – holding the ball static in front of my solar plexus while twisting to the side

Leaning core twist with medicine ball – holding the ball static in front of my solar plexus while twisting to the other side

 

3). Burpees with medicine ball.

This exercise involves a squat, a horizontal jump back (with the legs only), a push-up, and a horizontal jump forward (with the legs only), all while balancing your body with your hands pinning the ball to the ground. Then you jump straight up with the ball, land where you started, and repeat.

Burpee with medicine ball – starting position

Burpee with medicine ball – holding upper body firm and pinning the ball down while jumping legs back

Burpee with medicine ball – land in push-up position; do a push-up

Burpee with medicine ball – jump feet back in to starting position (you’ve held the ball firm on the ground this whole time)

Burpee with medicine ball – immediately spring straight up, bringing the ball with you

 

Then you land in the starting position and do it all again, continuously to meet your goal number of reps (I do 3 sets of 10 reps).

 

4). Slam-downs.

This is self-explanatory: you slam the ball to the ground as hard as you can, then catch it and do it again. Be sure to get out of the ball’s way after you slam it down; it will bounce up, and you don’t want eight pounds (or more) of rubber ball smashing your face.

Medicine ball slam-down – top of the move

Medicine ball slam-down – as hard as you can

Medicine ball slam-down – quickly move back to get out of the ball’s way as it bounces up

Medicine ball slam-down – catch the ball; repeat

 

5). Push-ups.

I did both incline and decline push-ups on the medicine ball. Both ways are challenging, but the decline ones are killer: you need all of your core strength to balance in the push-up position and do the push-up with your toes on the ball instead of on the floor. I did them with both feet, then one-legged. I take my time with these push-ups. I have to. It’s not easy balancing on the small, unstable ball!

Incline push-up on medicine ball – top of the push-up

Incline push-up on medicine ball – bottom of the push-up

Decline push-up on medicine ball – top of the push-up

Incline push-up on medicine ball – bottom of the push-up

Decline push-up on medicine ball – left foot on ball (top of the push-up)

Decline push-up on medicine ball – left foot on ball (bottom of the push-up)

Decline push-up on medicine ball – right foot on ball (top of the push-up)

Decline push-up on medicine ball – right foot on ball (bottom of the push-up)

 

6). Under-leg passes.

This is a straight-up ab exercise that is going to be more difficult to explain than it is to do. You basically sit on the floor in sort of a V-position and pass the ball from one hand to the other, back and forth under each leg, alternating the leg lifts to keep a smooth rhythm going. Your legs never touch the ground.

Medicine ball under-leg passes – getting into position

Medicine ball under-leg passes – right leg extended, left leg up with bent knee, holding the ball in left hand and passing it under left leg to right hand

Medicine ball under-leg passes – left leg extended, right leg up with bent knee, holding the ball in right hand and passing it under right leg to left hand

 

7). Hip thrust.

Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, rest the medicine ball on your lower abdomen and push your hips straight up. The resistance provided by the medicine ball’s weight makes this simple move an effective glute exercise.

Medicine ball hip thrust

 

8). NOT PICTURED – Medicine ball swings.

(I film each exercise individually, stopping and starting as I move from one exercise to another, and I accidentally deleted the medicine ball swing part. It’s the exact same thing as a kettlebell swing, but you’re holding the medicine ball instead of a kettlebell.) If you look up “kettlebell swing,” you’ll see what this exercise looks like. I also add to it a little by slightly releasing and catching the ball at the top of the exercise after doing a few warm-up swings.

 

Walking back:

Here’s the usual derpy walking-back pic at the end of the workout. I believe I’m holding the jump rope here, as I finished the workout with a little more jump-roping.

Walking back

 

And of course here’s the post-workout selfie… only I took this one after Sunday’s garage gym workout. I forgot to take one yesterday!

Selfie from the garage gym workout I did over the weekend.

 

La Fin.

Year in review, looking ahead, and my favorite little things (2016 favorites!)

Happy New Year! I know I probably already said that, but “Happy New Year” again. This is my annual year-in-review/resolutions/favorites of my past year’s favorites post.

1). 2016 was exciting, but I don’t have to be wistful about it because the good things are continuing into 2017.

I’m still heartened with deep satisfaction from the life changes I was able to make in 2016. It was a particularly great year occupation-wise. About this, I can only say that I’m thankful every day to experience the feeling of vitality the luckiest people feel when they wake up driven and eager because they know they’re going to spend the day doing what they love, where and how they love doing it. Any work-related stress I experience is self-imposed, productive stress. I keep thinking this is all a splendiferous dream. I’m aware that I may have to wake up one day, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Fitness-wise, adding (Les Mills) Body Pump to my workout routine was the best thing I did in 2016. It took me almost the whole year to get here, but I finally did, and I. Am. Loving. It.

The year was rich and rewarding family-wise, too. We spent lovely time with my family (between my brother’s wedding and Thanksgiving), and it was fun ending the year with my sister-in-law and her boys during their longish visit.

One thing we did with them was the annual Phoenix Zoo Lights, which is great, anyway, but so especially awesome with kids!

 

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016

 

With Legoland now open down the way at Arizona Mills (where we also went with the kids), Legos were featured in this year’s Zoo Lights:

 

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016 (with Lego sculpture)

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016 (with Lego sculpture)

 

On the darker side of 2016: It was a hard year in terms of our furbabies. It involved upheaval, heartbreak, and a lot of time, effort, and money spent trying to make life good for our kitties. It’s not over, but we’re determined. Our focus at the moment is on healing Cita physically. After that, we can focus entirely on healing her emotionally, with the ultimate goal of integrating her into our household with Nenette… yes, we’re going to attempt that again. We are not going to give up.

We’re already doing what we can to make Cita’s environment as stress-free as possible – putting Feliway (comforting feline pheromones) in her air, and Bach Rescue Remedy in her water – so we’re off to a running start. Reducing her stress is helping her to heal, in general.

2). Looking ahead at 2017, I am:

–Starting out the year with an updated workout routine, doing 3 Body Pump classes and 2 Body Combat classes per week, instead of the other way around. It was time for a change, and my body is loving it!

–Continuing work on alleviating (if not overcoming) my PTSD-related claustrophobia via repeated trips to the sensory deprivation tank.

–Speaking more French at home, since I completely failed last year’s resolution and spoke practically no French.

3). I usually do a “favorites of the past year” list; continuing with the tradition, here’s my list of my favorite of my 2016 favorites!

Favorite Random:

  • Les Mills Body Pump
  • Nature’s Wick Bonfire Nights candle

Favorite Skin care, hair care, cosmetics (all cruelty-free… not tested on animals):

  • Derma e antioxidant natural sunscreen with clear zinc oxide SPF 30
  • OGX Healing + Vitamin E shampoo and conditioner
  • The Body Shop Honey and Oat 3 in 1 moisturising scrub mask
  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil
  • The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter
  • e.l.f. Flawless Finish foundation (in Sand)
  • e.l.f. High Definition Powder in Soft Luminescence
  • e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette

Favorite Foods (all vegan):

  • Scivation Xtend BCAAs (strawberry kiwi)
  • Bragg’s organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • Trader Joe’s multi-grain sourdough (with sunflower and sesame seed) bread
  • Eureka! Seeds the Day bread
  • Seedless red grapes
  • KIND Nuts and Spices bar (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)
  • Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter
  • Chipotle Tabasco sauce

Favorite Movies:

  • Hush
  • Ghostbusters
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hacksaw Ridge

Favorite T.V. series:

  • Orphan Black
  • The Americans
  • Empire
  • The Affair
  • American Horror Story: Roanoke
  • Better Call Saul
  • Bates Motel
  • Stranger Things
  • Black-ish
  • Speechless

That’s it for the wrap-up. Onward!

I started Les Mills Body Pump. (First impressions report!)

In workout/fitness news: After over two years of whispering tempting testimonials into my ear, my Body Combat crew finally succeeded in dragging me over to the dark side: I started Les Mills Body Pump this week! I added two Pump classes to my weekly schedule when it suddenly hit me that self-motivated weight-training was never going to happen (it only took me a year to figure this out, can you believe it).

Also (I had to remind myself), I can make my own schedule, so morning classes during the week are totally doable.

And! By the luck of the schedule at my gym, I have a Pump instructor who’s as kick-ass as the class, itself.

 

Les Mills BODYPUMP [pic from lesmillsdotcom]

Les Mills BODYPUMP [pic from lesmillsdotcom]

Now I have a concrete workout schedule of five days a week… three Combats, and two Pumps. [::rejoices::] …plus whenever I can get into the garage.

After this week’s two Pump classes, I’m already hooked! I’d done the class one time before, over two years ago (before we started Combat), but I wasn’t on board for various reasons. (Namely, laziness.)

I felt tight in my upper body after the first class, so I expected to be incapacitated the next day, but it wasn’t that bad. My legs were super sore, and my biceps were straight-up mangled. I didn’t feel anything in my chest, back, shoulders, or triceps. I took four Advil for my legs and biceps before going to Combat and managed to get through without too much trouble.

Back in Pump the day after that – yesterday – I almost didn’t make it through the biceps track, because my bi’s were still struggling to recover from Tuesday… I mean, I probably only actually did 65-70% of the track. I had to rest a lot. My legs were mostly back to normal (thanks to Combat the night before).

I. Am. Loving. It.

Izzy the Trainer advised me to start out with just 5 lb plates on the barbell, which was excellent… she saved me the hassle of fumbling with weights in an unfamiliar format when I had no idea what those weights should be! Now that I’ve done the class twice, I know that I definitely need to increase my weights for chest, back, shoulders, and triceps. I’m not increasing the weight for biceps. I’m not increasing for legs yet, either, because I like going deep in my squats, and it’s already a challenge maintaining that depth during the faster bottom half reps/pulses.

As for the lunges, I’m thinking of dropping down to even lower weights, or using no weight at all, so I can optimize my form and depth. I have a hard time modifying my knock-knees in bent-knee lunge position; it makes me somewhat unstable. If I take it slow, I can adjust my feet and sink down low, but there’s usually no time in class, so I end up doing shallow lunges. (FUN FACT: I was late to walk and wore metal leg braces up to my hips as a child… thankfully. The braces corrected things quite a bit. No complaining here!) I’ll probably start next week with no weight for the lunges, and then work my way up gradually as my muscles adapt.

Some of my first-impression thoughts during my first class:

YAY there’s a warm-up *** Clean and press? What? Wait!! How??? *** Awesome, legs are done. *** [::deep breath::] OMG How long was I holding my breath? – Can’t believe I actually forgot to breathe. *** HOLD UP all that was just the warm-up!! *** Sweat dripping down my elbows. Weird. *** Starting with legs, good. Then they’ll be done. *** Loving the burn from these low-squat pulses!!! *** More sweat dripping down the inside of my arms to my elbows. *** […] *** Okay I totally need a remedial class in clean and press. *** I’m not feeling anything in my back – this is too easy – am I doing this right?? *** Skull-crushers, cool *** Holy crap What is even happening to my biceps right now *** Legs AGAIN?! *** Make sure we’re successful in this lunge track, she said. –  I am NOT being successful in this lunge track. *** Squats, YES. – These I can do! *** Shoulders, hell yeah *** This ab track though!!!! LOVE IT. *** Okay – It’s over and we only did a thousand clean and presses and I had no idea how to do them but I think I faked it pretty well.

…After the second class, I had the clean and presses down.

Good times!!

Functional core-training for combat sports. (Garage gym post!)

PREFACE: Body Combat was canceled on Wednesday, so I thought I’d venture into the garage to do a core-strengthening workout and document it for this category on TALC.

I say “venture into” because it’s been a while since I’ve worked out in the garage. When summer started, I hung in with the heat for as long as I could, and then I tapped out and migrated most of our dumbbells into the house.

It was over 110 degrees on Wednesday at 5:00pm, and it was even hotter in the garage. I opened the garage door halfway and left the back door open. I had a big bottle of water with ice. Still, going out there and doing anything at all was foolish.

THE DISCLAIMER: These posts always come with disclaimers (I’m not a trainer, this post is not a tutorial, etc.), and those all stand for this one, as well, but here’s one really important one that I can’t stress enough: I was reckless in working out in the garage in extreme heat. DO NOT work out in the heat!! Unless you’re doing hot yoga, relegate your workouts to a comfortable, temperature-controlled environment… especially in the desert in the summer.

THE WORKOUT: The core is the body’s center. It covers a large area, pretty much the entire torso – front, back (especially lower back), and sides – as well as the upper legs, hips, and glutes. There are probably hundreds of exercises you can do to strengthen your core, and for myself, I like to change things up frequently.

I also tend to favor exercises that are functionally useful for combat sports, and Wednesday’s core-strengthening workout was no exception.

Here’s what I decided to do:

  • Dumbbell cross crunch
  • Dumbbell bench kick-outs
  • Triangle choke leg raise
  • Reverse lunge to knee strike
  • Crunch with medicine ball throw
  • Dumbbell V-up
  • Kick-throughs
  • Plank hold (2 minutes)

–I defaulted to 8 lb dumbbells for the three dumbbell exercises, because those are the only ones left in the garage besides our 30 lb set.

–The medicine ball I use is also 8 lbs.

–Because of the heat, I only did one set of each exercise (normally I’d do three or four).

That I did this workout in a veritable oven and lived to tell about it is something of a miracle, may I add. I’m not proud of it, either. I nearly met my death by garage cremation; it would’ve been a Darwin Award.

But I’ve got these pics snipped from the workout footage, as usual.

 

1). Dumbbell cross crunch:

 

Dumbbell cross crunch

Dumbbell cross crunch

 

[I’m crunching up and twisting to the left (while punching out diagonally with the right hand) and to the right (while punching out diagonally with the left hand), keeping my non-punching hand up to guard the side of my face. This exercise is great without dumbbells, too.]

My feet are hooked under the 30 lb dumbbells for stabilization. In training gyms, we partner up and hold each other’s feet. Heavy dumbbells are a good substitute.

This works your abs, obliques (sides of the torso), shoulders, and upper back.

 

2). Dumbbell bench kick-outs:

 

Dumbbell bench kick-outs (on MMA dummy)

Dumbbell bench kick-outs (on MMA dummy)

 

[It’s a weird angle, but you can see the red dumbbell between my feet. I’m gripping the handles on the sides of the bag and stabilizing myself with my elbows with my upper body elevated while repeatedly pressing my legs forward and back from a bent position, bringing my knees as close to my body as possible each time.]

Rather than dragging our bench into the camera’s field of vision, I used the MMA dummy. This increases difficulty because the bag is round and therefore unstable.

This works the entire core.

 

3). Triangle choke leg raise:

 

Triangle choke leg raise

Triangle choke leg raise

 

[Stabilizing myself with my arms, I’m keeping my hips up off the floor while quickly switching my feet behind the opposite knee, elevating my hips further while doing the switch and clamping down with the bent top leg. I’m basically alternating my legs while pulsing up with my elevated hips each time. That’s awkward to explain. You can get the idea from the pic.]

Your butt never touches the floor.

This works the entire core, particularly the lower abs, and I also feel this a little in my upper body as I engage my shoulders to keep my arms pressed to the ground.

 

4). Reverse lunge to knee strike:

(This is a two-part exercise.)

 

Reverse lunge to knee strike (lunge - part 1)

Reverse lunge to knee strike (lunge – part 1)

 

[Part 1. I’m taking a deep step back to sink into a lunge, and I’m keeping my lower body facing forward while twisting my upper body to the opposite corner with my arms up and my hands together.]

 

Reverse lunge to knee strike (knee - part 2)

Reverse lunge to knee strike (knee – part 2)

 

[Part 2. In one explosive movement, I’m pulling my arms down diagonally across my body while pulling my rear leg up into a knee strike, pushing my hips forward to drive my knee up high. My arms end up on the outside of my knee.]

This mainly works the quadriceps (front of the thighs), glutes (butt), hip flexors, and obliques.

 

5). Crunch with medicine ball throw:

(Another two-part exercise.)

 

Medicine ball crunch (bottom)

Medicine ball crunch (bottom)

 

[Part 1. Holding a medicine (weighted) ball back behind my head, I’m crunching up as I would doing a standard crunch.]

 

Medicine ball crunch (top)

Medicine ball crunch (top)

 

[Part 2. Getting to the top of the crunch, I’m thrusting my arms straight up to explosively push the ball into the air, then catching it before lowing myself back down to the starting position.]

Again, my feet are hooked under heavy dumbbells for stabilization.

This works the entire core, plus the shoulders.

 

6). Dumbbell V-up:

 

Dumbbell V-up

Dumbbell V-up

 

[Keeping my legs straight and together, I’m raising them at the same time that I’m crunching up my upper body, holding a dumbbell in each hand and stretching my arms up toward my toes before simultaneously lowering my upper and lower body back to the floor.

This primarily works the abs and lower abs, plus shoulders.

 

7). Kick-throughs:

 

Kick-throughs

Kick-throughs

 

[From beast position (all fours), I’m quickly kicking each leg out to the opposite side, keeping my same-side hand on the floor for upper-body stabilization (my left leg is kicking, so my left hand stays on the floor.]

In this dynamic exercise, opposite limbs are coordinated in the movements. The left leg and right arm are in the air while the right leg and left arm are planted on the floor.

This works the entire core, plus upper body.

 

8). 2-minute plank hold:

 

2-minute plank hold

2-minute plank hold

 

[I’m holding a basic plank position on my forearms and the balls of my feet.]

I would normally try to hold this position for 3 minutes, but there was no way that was going to happen in the inferno that was my garage that day.

This works the entire core, plus upper body. Personally, I feel this the most in my upper legs and lower back.

 

And I’m done.

 

Done. Walking back.

Done. Walking back.

 

I had symptoms of mild heat exhaustion by the time it was over… my heart was racing, I had a slight headache, and I was slightly dizzy. My bad decision to do this workout in extreme heat could have earned me a Darwin Award!

It was a good workout, though.

Turbo heart rate – Body Combat Release 68 (Informal Review!)

Les Mills Body Combat 68 is fun. It’s a killer. There’s one part that’s a struggle for me. There’s another part that knocks the wind out of me. I love these challenges.

The music set is probably my favorite of all the releases I’ve done, not because of any particular song, but just the set as a whole. The beat match from start to finish is pretty decent, there’s a great bassline in each track, and none of the tracks annoy me too much. (The tracks have strong hooks, which means they can be either very awesome or very annoying.) That’s one thing this set has going for it: the beat manages to override any vocals that might otherwise make me want to stab myself in the ear. I do like most of the tracks, though.

You move through the cardio set in the hardcore electronic dance/club genre with flavors of drum and bass, trap, dubstep, synthpop, Eurodance, and the like, driven by an aggressive pulse with some cool remixes. I like the set’s cohesiveness in contrast to the releases whose sets take you all over the map with metal, electronica, rap, pop, hair band hard rock, etc. (I dig most of those genres individually, but mashed together in a single workout release? Not so much.) The cohesiveness of 68’s sound set keeps my momentum going; I don’t have to drastically switch gears from track to track. I looked up the music and noted that some of it hails from Down Under, home of Les Mills International. Great job, Les Mills DJ!

Workout-wise, I like 68’s footwork (agility), plyometrics (explosive power), and level changes (reflex and compound exercise). [ETA: There’s some great H.I.I.T. in this release, too.]

So let’s go.

 

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

 

(Grainy screenshots Callaghan and me in this post are courtesy of video footage taken in bad lighting.)

 

*****

Les Mills Body Combat 68

Track 1a: Upper-body Warm-up (“Freak” – Steve Aoki, Diplo & Deorro feat. Steve Bays)

  • Music: No-bullshit, high-octane club music for the upper-body warm-up; there’s no easing into this release with souped-up Katy Perry or Taylor Swift. It might be annoying to some, but it does the job.
  • Boxing combinations with uppercuts, hooks, jabs, crosses.
  • The level changes and small footwork involvement are cool. My upper-body is most definitely warm after this!

Track 1b: Lower-body Warm-up (“Break The Rules” – Anonymous Hotel)

  • Music: Same vein as 1a above. You know this excessively bright and happy music for the lower-body warm-up is meant to lull you into a false sense of security. It can only portend major lower-body mangling in the rest of the workout. And it does.
  • Knees and more knees!
  • Kicks (front snap kicks to push kicks to roundhouse kicks).
  • Down for push-ups… in the warm-up?!
  • These aren’t static push-ups, either. This is a lower-body warm-up, remember… there’s active leg involvement here.
  • Yep. The dynamic push-ups became MOUNTAIN-CLIMBERS. In the WARM-UP.

Track 2: Combat 1 (“Push” – Kronic, East Movement & Savage)

  • Music: Trap, and heavy on the drums. Great track for Combat 1!
  • Switch kicks (knee to kick). Jump kicks. Jump kicks on repeat.
  • Knees and lunges.
  • More knees and lunges.
  • Lower-body burn-out, check.

Track 3: Power Training 1 (“On My Way” – Jupiter Soliloquy)

  • Music: This could be a track that annoys me too much, but it’s saved by the beat.
  • Hard and fast upper-body combinations… uppercuts, jab, crosses.
  • Footwork (scissors) incorporated into the upper-body combos.
  • Running in place – but it’s not even the halfway point!
  • More.

Track 4: Combat 2 (“My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” – 2 Chainz)

  • Music: 2 Chainz remixed Fall Out Boy’s song, and it’s kickass. This song actually deviates from the set’s general character, but it still fits in there nicely. Great jam for Combat 2.
  • “Bring your mat close-by” is a euphemism for “We’re doing push-ups in the middle of this cardio track.”
  • Low-mid-low block combination.
  • Roundhouse kick add-on to the block combos.
  • Side kicks with a floor tap in between.
  • Double kicks, and here I face the fact that my balance has gone to shit. The tap in between the double kicks becomes a quick squat to involve more leg.
  • This is the part that’s a struggle for me. I don’t get it – my balance has never been so bad. But this gives me something to work on.
  • Double kicks become triple kicks.
  • I don’t feel the burn I’m supposed to be feeling in my standing leg, probably because I completely fail to hold my balance.
  • 2 Chainz takes over the song and we drop down for push-ups (with the same lower-body involvement we saw in the warm-up) in increasing reps.
  • Mountain-climbers. Of course.

Track 5: Power Training 2 (“Dirty” (Metrik Remix) – Dirtyphonics)

  • Music: Drum & Bass. Great vibe, and again, great music for this track!
  • Striking combos with level changes.
  • Plyometrics: Squat jumps, then lateral squat jumps.
  • This is a short but intense track.

Track 6: Combat 3 (“She Got It (Club Mix)” – Vandalism & Angger Dimas)

  • Music: Sick beat. Not my favorite track, but clearly this DJ knows what’s what.
  • Side kick, front kick, back kick combination.
  • Back kick repeaters.
  • I couldn’t count the number of kicks in this release if I wanted to.

Track 7: Muay Thai (“The United Vibe” – Scooter)

  • Music: Okay, after two years of Body Combat, I’m now used to practicing Muay Thai moves to music other than death metal and gangsta rap. Thus acclimated, I can get into this techno/Eurodance jam for the Muay Thai track.
  • Jab, up elbow, double knee combination.
  • Four knees. Two knees. Running man knees.
  • Four levels of running man knees!
  • Downward elbows.
  • This is the part that knocks the wind out of me: Downward elbows IMMEDIATELY following level 4 running man knees.
  • Level 4 running man takes a lot out of me. Downward elbows take a lot out of me. I need a brief pause to recover between the two, but there’s no such thing. So here’s the second major area I need to work on (the first being my balance): Breathing management to get through this track.
  • Ground and pound.

Track 8: Power Training 3 (“Out Of My Hands” – Olympic Daydream)

  • Music: I like the instrumental sequence, and it makes sense for this last cardio track.
  • Jabs!
  • Hooks!
  • Jacks!
  • More jabs!
  • I always like track 8. It’s an opportunity to use everything up, if anything is left.

Track 9: Conditioning (“Turn Down For What” – DJ Snake & Lil Jon)

  • Music: A classic. Great song for a killer ab track.
  • Laying on back: Criss-cross legs in the air.
  • Crunches added to the legs.
  • Laying on side: side crunches (side plank)
  • Flip back over: More. Just more. And flip over again. And again. Maybe I’m exaggerating at this point, but I don’t think so.
  • My abs hate me.

Track 10: Cool-down (“I See Fire” – Sol3 Mio)

  • Music: I looked up this song, and sure enough, it’s famous for representing the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team. (Les Mills is a New Zealand company.) The vocals are beautiful.
  • Stretching.

 

 

*****

In summary: 68 is an intense release.

 

Us being us.

Us being us.

 

I’d give it an 8.5.

Writing Project: Not all who wander are lost. (+ note on fitness routine!)

Er… about that big writing project I started a few years ago. I dragged it off the back burner. Don’t get all excited – it’s embryonic; it doesn’t look like anything yet. Eventually, it will look like a novel. (I hope.)

I’ve put together a loose agenda that includes a loose daily word count goal and a loose deadline. Everything has to be loose, because everything, as Heraclitus said, is in flux. You can’t nail down that which is in flux, and I’m not even going to try.

In my experience, creativity and prioritizing cancel each other out. Maybe it’s better to say that creativity often sabotages prioritizing, and prioritizing sabotages creativity. In the last few weeks, I’ve found that setting myself up for that clash (by attempting to prioritize my creative writing projects) shorts my brain connections and I wind up going around the house like a droid opening the mail, of all things, and organizing my workout clothing drawers and emptying the dishwasher and making playlists on SoundCloud and so on.  You know. A rose by any other name is still procrastination.

So instead of fixed times, my agenda holds broad ranges of dedicated writing time, and I can shift between the project, poetry, and blog posts (which includes taking pics) as inspiration strikes me.

I’m setting my focus on that big project, though. I purchased a Scrivener license to help manage the ungainliness of it. I even did the full-length version of their interactive tutorial. If it sounds like I mean business this time, it’s because I do!

Nenette’s involvement is essential because I don’t have a choice in that matter.

 

All the water is Nenette's water.

All the water is Nenette’s water.

 

I’m happy to be in a position where I have to apply time-management strategies to solely creative projects. It’s a new challenge, and a very welcome one, at that.

Also, I’ve been thinking about dragging you along on my journey… any of you who may be interested, that is. Sharing the process with you may come with a side benefit of holding myself accountable for progress. I’ll see how things develop as I establish a rhythm!

Note on training:

In addition to my writing schedule, I’ve been hammering out a workout schedule supplemental to Body Combat three times a week. I’ve started a habit of beginning my days at the gym in order to re-create the daily walk I did when I was transporting myself to a job outside of the house. Getting to work used to involve 20 minutes of fasting cardio Monday-Friday, and my body loved it. Fasting cardio is somewhat controversial and not for everyone, but it works for me, so I’ve added that back into my life by going to the gym and walking on the treadmill (and doing a little on the stair-master) before breakfast every weekday morning.

ALSO-also! I’ve been taking 30-40 minutes out of my lunch hour to lift weights in the garage. New Year’s resolution strength-training finally underway, for real! I’ll still post martial arts/combat sports posts here since some of you enjoy those, but just to check in on that New Year’s resolution – the strength-training has been going well. It’s feeling really good to stick to that commitment.