Who Are You Running Against?

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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.

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Performance v. Health

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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)

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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

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P90X2 Phase 2 Review

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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

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Balance Brings it Together

Balance Brings it Together

Balance exercises are a great to incorporate in your strength training regimen. You can increase the difficulty of the moves as you progress. Balance exercises engage everything and strengthens the connective tissues. A stability ball or BOSU are excellent pieces of equipment to have for balance training. Otherwise you can use your own body to challenge yourself. You could start with raising a leg or pressing one foot on the balance ball, while doing curls or presses with free weights. Single leg squats or plank with feet elevated are also good moves to slowly add in. A great BOSU exercise is to stand on it and perform basic movements. Whatever you choose, you will need a focal point and a can-do attitude.

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 for the WiiU

wiiU Your ShapeThe new Your Shape Fitness Evolved2013 is now available on the Wii U. For those of you who may have tried the Jenny McCarthy version a while back, this is no comparison. This video game is a legitimate workout. As much as I hate to admit it, it really does a fantastic job! When you pair the Ubisoft game with the Wii U features, you get a great marriage! Here is my break down:

1. Enjoyment- If you are going to start and stick with a program of any kind, it needs to be fun! This game has something fun for everyone! Whether you like to dance, want to train to become a Zen master, enjoy martial arts, or learning something new this could be for you! The music is nice and relaxing. You can also enjoy reaping the rewards for your hard work.

2. Fitness Principle: The components of fitness are pretty much all addressed here. Because the game uses the weight information you give in your profile, you get pretty accurate calorie burn calculation. They have a workout for every muscle group in your body. The game includes muscular endurance exercises and not just strength. That was a huge plus to me! The game also includes cardio in many forms, flexibility beyond just yoga, and strength exercises. You can get a tailored plan for whatever fitness level you may be at. This is a great game for getting back into shape, but it may be best if you use it as a regular supplement to other workouts throughout the week. It is a great standalone game, but having interaction with the outdoors and doing other activities helps to keep you active for life.

3. Features: This game has a lot of features! There is an online website you can easily access thanks to the WiiU Gamepad. On the website you can track progress, set challenges for friends, and get inspired. The Miiverse page is also very nice for encouraging fellow sweaters to keep up the good work or to get back on the horse. It is a relatively friendly page. The game itself contains a play mode with 6 boxes to choose from. Here you can checkout scores from friends you add-on Miiverse and send an encouraging click on their newsfeed. I recommend looking here first, as you will quickly fill up the feed post-workout There are also boxes for different workouts, classes, activities, to-do’s, and your program designed for you. In addition the game offers shopping with points earned, profile access, My Fitness Pal, and medals you unlocked. The My Fitness Pal tracks daily caloric expenditure during gameplay and offers recipes.

4. Adherence: I think this game is pretty well equipped for adherence. It has the social aspect, progressive challenges, and variety. Those are main elements of adherence. I would still add more to your total routine than this game, but it definitely has a great base!

5. Gameplay: The Wiimote does a pretty accurate job of reading your motions. Sometimes if you are holding the Wiimote slightly wrong it can cause inaccuracy. The Trainer does an excellent job explaining the movement, but can be kind of late on important details. The time it takes the game to load an activity or to navigate menus can be a real time suck. If you have an hour to work out, you may only get 45 minutes of actual play time. Your heart rate is supposed to stay elevated when exercising, so this pause is also adverse for a steady heart rate for high intensity exercising. You can unlock longer modes to minimize this phenomenon.

6. Drawbacks: The overall drawbacks are pretty obvious. The Wiimote is pretty accurate, but it can be aggravating to get sweaty and for the Wiimote to slip causing a bad score. The pause in game play like I said can be a time suck and lower your heart rate, which is not what you want. The programs designed may not fit a routine you already have. Either adjust alongside or play the workouts you know you need. The dancing on this is definitely sub par! It is not for getting ready to hit any club. It is painful for those who enjoy dancing Just Dance or Dance Central. The personally designed programs workouts never let you know ahead how long or what type of exercise you will be performing. The ever important warm up and cool downs are located in the back of the workout section. This should be easier to access. The warm up is not included in your program. It is so important to warm up and cool down!! Otherwise you risk injury. Lastly, the game does not account for activity outside of the game. Only calories burned in the game are tracked and used for coins.

7. The Positive: The game has a great variety and set of tools. The social aspect is awesome for adherence! Diversity in-game play is nice for keeping on track. They provide extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The coins and noticing physical changes are great extrinsic, while the encouragement from the trainer is great intrinsic. The Trainer helps you focus on the task at hand which is difficult to do on your own sometimes. The games force you to go slower on moves you should be going slow on, and faster on moves you should be going faster on.

Overall, I love the game. It was a huge step up from the Jenny McCarthy version. Hopefully you will find the fitness tool that works for you. This game has already helped to increase my return to pre-baby shape! I have more muscle tone, flexibility and stamina to run after my toddler and care for my 3 month-old baby. The short sessions will challenge just about every fitness level! If you buy the game and would like advice, feel free to ask me questions and I will try to help make the game as enjoyable as possible! You can email me at foodsnob86@gmail.com for more information.