Who Are You Running Against?

stopwatch-259375_1280

It has been so long since I have written a post that my blog page fell off my commonly clicked sites. Hmm…Time to write. My lack of writing has not meant lack of living, thinking, or cooking. Just distracted with new developments.

Recently we discovered that I am pregnant…again with our now third child. This has been an exciting curveball, as I also signed up for my first half marathon. My swollen feet will be lined up at the starting line in just 2 weeks, 6 days, 22 hours…etc. This is not how I imagined things would be happening, but here we are. It has been a real challenge to keep up my regimen for training. Honestly it has dwindled down to a few strength and agility exercises here and there, along with the occasional run. Never have I felt more disappointed in my efforts. What only helps is when my eyes pass over a story about a 9-month pregnant rock star who runs a marathon and delivers a few hours later. What human strength and perseverance!

Then something occurred to me. A new perspective was brought about after a recent 5k. The crowd was huge and people of all sorts of fitness levels came out for the fun run, but for me I pay to compete with myself. Or so I thought. All this time of training and years of hitting the pavement I have been comparing myself to the best I know. Their performances push me to achieve as good a performance. When I fall short of whatever unrealistic expectation I set, the belt tightens and more rigorous guidelines apply. Perfection has kind of always been something I knew I could never be. I’m too ____(You name it)___. However, I somehow deceived myself into thinking that if I were only ___(You name it)___ I would be able to meet these ridiculous goals.

Before you get worried that I am a highly demanding person, you have to know that I am only this way with myself. When it comes to others my eyes are pretty accurate and I tend to extend others far more grace. My husband says that when I look at myself it is like looking into a fun house mirror. The races I have been running up to this point have been races against myself by comparing myself to unrealistic expectations. For this race I decided to change my mentality. This race I accepted that I am pregnant and haven’t been at my best. The race I run needs to be against the self I am now and not the person I wish I could be.

Crossing the finish line of the 5k, an amazing feeling swept over me. My eyes glanced at the timer and it said a time of 23 minutes. This was not my fastest time, but somehow it was acceptable. The old me would reprimand myself all the way home and come up with a solution to fix it for next time. This time being healthy and carrying a baby was success enough.The other runners began to fade from my concern and being strong in the moment became at the forefront of my mind during the run.

One friend reminded me in a conversation recently that you never know how you will feel on race day, and that feeling is a big indicator of your time and performance. Sometimes training your mind is an important factor forgotten in race prep. To be healthfully competitive, you have to race against who you are today. Maybe in a session you had a 5:30 min/mile, but the day before the race you sprained a muscle or became ill. Is it fair to beat yourself up for not performing as well as your best training time? Think of the successful races as a reward for your training and not just what you run for.

No matter if you are running a race, striving for weight loss, or are working on other health-behavior changes, we all need to cut ourselves some realistic slack. When we beat ourselves up, we are not helping, but hurting progress. We all have a bad day or fail a meal (or several). It is not about where you messed up, fell short or even if you won. The important factor is how you ran towards your goal. So, be strong in the moment and hold on the best you can. Let less than perfect be okay. Each moment is a new opportunity to improve and enjoy the journey you are on. The end result will take care of itself.

Advertisements

That Guy…Annoying and Effective?

 

weights-79587_640

 

We all know that annoying guy/gal at the gym who yells or grunts every rep. Maybe you worry about him or maybe you just want to throw something at him. Before you do, you should know he may be on to something. Grunting and yelling out loud has been shown to increase strength and let off steam. That’s right. It is annoying as heck, but it is the tool that can help you power through those tough training moments. Word to the wise (grunters and yellers) for etiquette sake, save it for the last reps or toughest moments. For the skeptical and annoyed, you may want to give it a try. You may just find it works for you. If you are like me and feel completely uncomfortable yelling, bring some ear plugs and do what works for you. Now you can at least appreciate the technique.

Is Plyo for You?

plyometrics

Remember when you used to play hopscotch, leap frog, or basketball? A fitness trend is bringing those memories back in an adult version. Recently there has been a lot of hype about plyometric workouts in the fitness realm. For those of you who have not been exposed to it, plyometrics is a jumping, dynamic movement performed as powerfully as possible. It has gained popularity and buzz for good reason. Plyometrics have a lot to offer for strength training and can bring about cardiovascular improvements as well. These movements rely on your ability to cover a certain distance at high intensities over a short period of time. It can really be great for increasing speed and strengthening those muscles. Jumping has shown to increase energy overall and mobility when done right.

So it sounds great right? Before you jump into plyo there are a few things you may want to consider. One consideration is the strength of your ankles, knees, abs, shoulders, and even wrists. When performing high intensity exercises, you must have your support systems in good shape. Otherwise you risk injury. Secondly, is balance. This is actually two-fold. Balance in the sense of equally strong/trained opposing muscle groups. Imbalance here could result in injury. The other type of balance is how well you can stabilize yourself in a position where your base of support is compromised. You will not perform most plyo exercises slowly, so it is important to know that you can handle sudden changes in balance without falling or injury to tissue. Your range of motion also matters here. In order to move through the full range of motion, you should have the flexibility to do so. When you do not take form seriously, you can get seriously injured. Do you have the right shoes? The shoe needs to support your ankle, so running shoes are not a good option. A court shoe or cross trainers may be good options. Shoe specialists can help you find a perfect shoe for you.

Never be afraid to be in a stage of progression. Life long fitness is better than a get-fit-quick scheme that leaves you unmotivated and injured. If you feel you are not ready for it, start with stabilization exercise and basic posture exercises. Incorporate yoga to ensure you have a good range of motion. Lastly, add cardio in for endurance and overall health. For those who feel they are ready to start, Begin with smaller movements and build up to more dynamic ones. It is helpful to use isometric exercises in between plyometric exercises to help avoid injury and increase stability.

If you are not sure what programs are best for you, talk with a trainer and work together on a plan. Most importantly keep it fun, safe, and challenging.

Performance v. Health

pink-fitness-1419880-m

As children we grow up with athletes projected as the ideal picture of health. We grudgingly eat our vegetables to grow up and be strong like the athlete we admire so. What we are not told, is how unhealthy some of the rigorous training can be. An athlete is trained to handle these rigorous activities and lifestyle habits, via progression over years. However rigorous training on that scale poses many safety concerns for the average American looking to get fit and healthy. In America we look for fast results, as fast results are demanded of us. We assume those who drop weight fast are on the right track to health. While discipline is certainly a worthwhile characteristic to strive toward, when it becomes a controlling force bleeding into other aspects of life (relationships, jobs, etc.) it can be negative. Health is about balance and well-being. When you push your body to do too much too soon, you can end up with injury, illness, and sometimes even death. Don’t freak out because of the “D” word. I have reassurance for you ahead.

Health to me, is defined as the state of overall physical condition and well-being, and is influenced by many factors. Factors influencing health and wellness can include psychological, physiological, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental, occupational, and more. Health has become the target many Americans aim for as preventable diseases have grown in prevalence and been uncovered. So much information is available out there and at the tip of our hands. Too much information. It is easy to get overwhelmed and confused by the excess. It can be frustrating and hard to achieve the results you want. When extreme products/programs/services are offered we jump at the chance to make up for lost time. We are willing to make extreme sacrifices on our bodies for the sake of “health.” All the while we are damaging our bodies, esteem, and future capacity.

When a product or program throws around fancy terms like “performance,” “metabolic,” “fitness,” (the list goes on…and on) we get a moment of excitement. I could become like the athlete I admired as a child in just 20 minutes a day. Maybe I can look just like the model who graced the cover of my favorite teen magazine; I could be the next cover model on Vogue or Shape with the purchase of this product..and become wealthy and find perfection. Suddenly everything looks sunny and even your dog is perfectly dressed and children pristine. It is important to be realistic when setting goals. We all know that many of the people gracing the cover of products are photo-shopped and still secretly hold the image as realistic, even expected. Stop it! Where have I heard that before? 😉

Any change worth the emotional, financial, time efforts we throw at it should be effective and a step towards something better. Our expectations need to be readjusted. Be willing to take the path less traveled. It only seems daunting because we choose to see it that way. What about enjoying the ride? Remember as a child how you dreamed of being grown up and in a profession you loved. Now there are days, where at least I wish I could be 5 again at Grandma’s. Sometimes there is fulfillment and adventure in the journey to a healthier you. You discover you have more guts than you thought you did. You can do that pretzel yoga move. It is not impossible for you. Yes, YOU! It may take time to work out bugs and navigate barriers, but it is worth it. In the end you will build confidence, reduce stress, have more energy, and find new things you enjoy and can enjoy for life. These are benefits you cannot accomplish by racing to get to the finished product. You will either get burnt out, injured, or bored. Don’t rush through even a workout. Take time and think about your form and progress. Calm your mind from all the racing it has done. You can maybe work through one problem as you are working out, but remember this should be a time to relieve stress.

Some workouts push you to your true max and provide for great strength gains. Those workouts are not healthy to do every day. You have to build a foundation of health and grow from there. A strong sturdy building has an excellent foundation. True health should not mean injury after injury. Anything we do poses risks for injury, but there are things you can do to mitigate them. When you have a good foundation of strength you can then move on to more complicated moves. The progression continues as you challenge your body in new ways. When your muscles are not all being trained equally, your risk for injury or worse goes up drastically.

It may not be flashy, but slow and steady wins the race. Why did our grandparents share the tale of the tortoise and the hare? There is a reason flashes are impressive and die quickly. Be a growing fire that burns for good. Enjoy the journey to getting healthy and don’t be afraid of taking baby steps or reasonable leaps. Speak with a professional and see what is right for you. Bring a friend along and take the road together and spread the word: It’s okay if I am not Alex Morgan or Michael Phelps. I am me. No one else can do what I am here to do, and I can be fit and healthy one day at a time.

P90X2 Phase 3: Performance (Final Phase)

p90x2 phase3

I have come to the end of the series with a new mindset, body, and attitude towards straight forward fitness routines. The amount of time it would take to get these results at a gym would be twice as long. It cuts through the time wasters and acknowledges that people have little time to dedicate. The intensity is high and the energy you gain is great. Once again I did not use supplements or Shakeology pushed by Tony Horton.

Ending Phase 2 Stats: weight: 134lbs Waist:28 Total inches: 162
Ending stats for phase 3: weight: 127 waist: 27.5 Total inches: 157″
Pre-P90X2 Stats: weight: 145 Waist:30.5 Total inches: 168.5″
Ending results: Loss of 18 pounds, 3 inches off my waist, and 11.5 total inches lost.

Phase 3 Training Schedule: Day1: P.A.P. Lower Day2: P.A.P. Upper Day3: X2 Yoga Day4: Rest or Recovery + Mobility Day5: P.A.P. Lower Day6: P.A.P. Upper Day7: Rest or Recovery + Mobility

Equipment Needed to Perform:
-Again P90X2 does offer versions of exercises without much equipment. These usually still require different band resistances.
-Balance/Stability ball -up to 2 Medicine balls -Chin up and pull up bar -Resistance bands -Plyobox/ sturdy chair -Hand weights -Yoga mat – Door Hook Anchor for resistance bands – hand towels

This system really works. My body has changed and molded and I am in the best shape of my life. I can run faster, jump higher, dance longer, do a proper push-up, perform modified pull-ups, and balance on a tight rope! Well, the last one has yet to happen, but I do have pretty incredible balance now. Talk about flexibility skills. If you have tight muscles, everything from Neuro-integrated stretching to good-old-fashioned yoga will increase your range of motion.

This level of fitness in phase 3 is really for those who have performance-based goals. This is beyond being healthy and fit. This is about being able to run the best time of your life. I ran a 5k, Color Me Rad, at my best time ever. My time was 20:30, something I thought was impossible for me. I have always been slow and steady. I got that time with a foot that had been “R.I.C.E.-ing” all night, the night before the race. (R.I.C.E.= Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.) Heck my goal was to be under 30 minutes! It is also about being able to have incredible agility for sports like basketball, tennis, football, dance, racquetball, etc. The training for a combination of cardiovascular endurance, and power gains is very scientific and Tony Horton nails it.

The overall drawbacks to this system are few but important to me to share. Obviously I do not support the idea of supplements without consulting a nutritional professional. Here Tony really pushes his Shakeology. One reason you don’t want to get nutrition from shakes is that you are not really learning how to eat well. You are fooling yourself into thinking it is a meal. Then when you are done, either you have to continue with shakes for the rest of your life or you can teach yourself to eat well. Another issue I had with the system was the nutritional suggestions. The first bit is quite restrictive and not helpful for healthy change. When you make drastic changes and severely restrict yourself, most people cannot sustain it and gain weight back plus some.The best way to counter this is to listen to your body. If you are hungry, eat! Then choose to eat well. Replace some ingredients in your food with healthier options. Slow and steady wins the race of weight-loss. Your body has to have time to catch up with your changes.

This system is recommended for those who have a solid base of fitness. You can definitely improve where you are and build upon it for a while. Once you get a feel for the routine, you can increase repetitions, push yourself to move faster, and hold those difficult poses longer. If you buy this system and put in the time, you cannot help but see results! Money well spent. If cost is something that would keep you from buying it, check out ebay. Sometimes you can catch a good deal. You could also get a buddy involved and go half way on it and have accountability!

Phase 3 Rating: 10/10
P90X2 Overall Rating: 9/10

Was this review helpful? If so comment below or share! Thank you!

To Run or Not To Run?

running shoe

 

This sounds like a silly question for this blog. Well I am here to help you improve your quality of life based on research and personal experiences. We all know that running has so many benefits and can be a great staple for cardiovascular fitness. While the benefits can be numerous, there can also be negatives. Not just from running, but keeping the same routine. Let us take a closer look before you lace up and hit the pavement.

Running is not bad. I would like to be clear. The benefits and studies surrounding running outweigh any negative I could present. I love running myself. I never thought to stop and look at how it could affect me negatively. As with any program or exercise, the more you do the same thing the more prone you are to plateaus and increased risk of injury. You can avoid this by simply changing up your program every once in a while. Great runners do not just run to get better times and performance. They know that some strength training and multiple types of cardio will give them the best results.
Other Cardiorespiratory Fitness-boosting exercises:
-Plyometric exercises (power exercises. jumping or explosive movements)
-Dancing (make it a date, take a class or lessons, play dancing games on your game console, etc.)
-Play a game of basketball with some friends
-tennis
-step-aerobic class
-cycling

The more ways you learn to get that heart rate up to cardiovascular levels, the better you can cope with injury. Let us say you get an injury from running and damage your achilles. Having multiple types of exercises in your routine increases the chance that you will find something low-impact enough to continue exercising with your injury. Sometimes when an athlete gets an injury he or she can get withdrawal symptoms of mild depression, anxiety, and even lowered self-esteem (1). By having variety you increase the chance you will be able to cope and modify to find something you can still do.

For some, especially women according to a psychological evaluation, safety was an important factor (2). There is truth to why women would be afraid of running outdoors, because we have all heard of abductions while running. However, there are things you can do to help ensure a safer run according to active.com (3). These are some of their suggestions:
-Do not run alone
-Change up your route
-Carry runner’s pepper spray
-Take a self-defense class
-Run against traffic
-Do not run with earphones.

With all of this said, running has far too many benefits to not be included in any exercise program. Taking steps to prevent the few possible roadblocks make it still an excellent choice. With the right shoes and armed with this information there is no reason to say “No” to running! So get out there with confidence and a better chance for success. Happy running!

References:
1. Psychological Effects of Running Loss on Consistent Runners, Study done by Connie S. Chan of University of Massachusetts and Hildreth Y. Grossman of Harvard University, 1998.
http://www.amsciepub.com/doi/abs/10.2466/pms.1988.66.3.875?journalCode=pms

2.The Benefits and Costs of Serious Running, Wayne F. Major. March 11, 2011.
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/04419057.2001.9674226#.Uf-oUpK1GSo

3 .http://beta.active.com/running/articles/6-running-safety-tips?page=1

P90X2 Phase 2 Review

P90X2_ecard_main1

This regimen really pushes you. Many people could honestly stay in this phase of training and continue to see results. Tony Horton continues to provide a challenging atmosphere with modifications for most exercises. You definitely need to feel very comfortable with Phase 1 before attempting to move on here. This phase offers some nice alternate workouts to exchange. Again I did not partake in the Shakeology or supplements. I do not feel it is right for me. I ate how I always eat while training.

I have completed Phase 2 and here are my 60 days stats:

Ending stats of Phase1: Weight: 135 lbs Waist: 29″ Total inches: 162″
Ending Phase 2 Stats: Weight: 134 lbs Waist:28″ Total inches: 160.75″

Results: Lost 1 lb, but noticed a dramatic change in strength and definition. My overall ability to perform functional tasks with ease increased. Got down to a size 6 for the first time!

Phase 2 Workout plan:
Day 1: Chest+Back+Balance &X2 Ab Ripper OR V Sculpt& X2 Ab Ripper
Day2: Plyocide
Day3: Rest OR X2 Recovery + Mobility
Day 4: X2 Shoulders + Arms & X2 Ab Ripper OR X2 Chest +Shoulders +Tris & Ab Ripper
Day5: X2 Yoga
Day6: Base + Back & X2 Ab Ripper
Day7: Rest OR Recovery+ Mobility

What I like about this set up is that it builds in workouts that you have gotten the hang of in the previous phase. The Plyocide and X2 Yoga are back. This helps motivate you to continue and exceed previous performances. It motivates you by unveiling a new routine with some familiarity and you think “Okay I can do this!” The two also provide a base for overall strength and power. Ab Ripper returns like a two-headed monster here. Make sure to plan for the extra 15 minutes if you are tight on time. If you are wondering why you may initially be doing worse at it than in Phase 1, remember you are now performing it 3 times a week instead of one. Once you get used to doing it 3 times a week, you begin to perform better.

The new and ugly routines are fantastic for the results you want. If you are not a Pull up King/Queen at this point no worries. This phase gives you a solid base for becoming one. If that does not sound interesting to you, fret not because there are plenty of other goodies in Tony Horton’s bag. Plyometrics are used outside of Plyocide to boost heart rate and burn those calories. It is a fantastic set of exercises to get you looking your best. Though the numbers do not necessarily reflect a high change, the difference in my appearance was quite noticeable. I was also able to get more done in a day as well. The science of the stretching and general movements are right on to maximize results.

Equipment Needed to Perform:
Again P90X2 does offer versions of exercises without much equipment. These usually still require different band resistances.
-Balance/Stability ball -up to 4 Medicine balls -Chin up and pull up bar -Resistance bands (varied resistances) -Plyobox/ sturdy chair -Hand weights -Yoga mat – Door Hook Anchor for resistance bands – hand towels

Tips:
– You can also switch up your days to confuse your muscles, as long as you keep similar muscle groups worked a day of rest in between.
-If commentary is getting old or annoying use the menu options to customize your experience. I personally like the silly comments and moments of encouragement.
-If you feel like you did too much, switch up your recovery day as needed. Never be afraid to use the Recovery Week program provided.
-Monitor your body’s signals. Tuning into your body’s signals will help you to safely continue.
-Make sure you contact your doctor for clearance if you have any known heart disease or metabolic diseases. Safety is key!
-Wear court shoes for plyometric exercises.
-Have fun with it. It is your workout and your results!

Overall Rating: 10/10