Getting Back to Healthy

The beginning of the year always seems to be the time people look for a change. Everyone wants to be a better version of themselves in the previous year. They start off with so much hope and great intentions. But, unfortunately, they don’t tend to stay on the course.

Well, guess what…I’m joining those ranks (the ones looking for a change, not the one straying off course). However, I started my journey at the end of November.

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When I finally got a full-time job that allowed me to have a little more cash flow, I knew I immediately needed to get back into the gym. While I haven’t been in a “normal gym” for three years, I knew that I had to make the most of it, until I can afford to join a new CrossFit box. So I joined Anytime Fitness in my hometown. I chose this gym because it was close to my office, and open 24 hours a day. My plan has been to use my lunch break the days I work in the office to workout to get in short cardio sessions (25 minute hill or speed intervals on the treadmill). On days that I work from work from home I hope to hit the gym early in the morning before my husband has to leave for work for some weights.

It’s been so hard to be my normal self. When I lived in Lexington I had the support and community of Man O’War CrossFit. My guys were always looking for me every morning. Even after Baby A&W was born, I still managed to go almost every day. But that’s when she would sleep throughout our WODs, which made it more manageable. Our neighborhood was so perfect for walks of all lengths, and I would walk the dogs everyday after work (whether Baby A&W was in her carrier or stroller).

But now, I don’t have the CrossFit community for support. I don’t have the flexibility of a sleeping baby in her carseat to bring with me. I don’t have sidewalks, street lamps, or multiple routes for walks–country roads aren’t the best to walk on come dusk/dark. And the winter weather isn’t conducive for a baby to be out in the elements for long periods of time.

But I can’t continue with the excuses. I’m at a stage in my health that I never thought I would be at, and it’s frustrating.

So I looked for what I call “Forced Motivation.” Knowing that I’m paying for a gym membership means I need to make the most of it. For Christmas my sister paid for my registration in two half marathons (April 16 and May 7). Knowing that I have two big races. so close together, means that I need to be getting my strength back before adding the mileage.

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So, I’ve been hitting the gym more regularly now. I’ve set goals–not only in weight loss but also in ability when it comes to getting back to my old self. I’m already feeling a difference and I look forward to the workouts. There have been some exhausting nights with A&W not sleeping through the night, teething, or just being sick, not to mention that I’ve worked a lot of late nights trying to hit my freelancing deadlines. But those aren’t an excuse.

I’m thankful for Coach Taylor that he continues to post the weekly WODs for MOWCF on their Facebook page. When I’m preparing for my weight lifting days, I check to see what my old CrossFit family did as far as WODs and then try to see if I can do them in some form or fashion at my “boring gym.” Or, I’ll make up my own.

Here are some workouts I’ve done:

WODcollage

I’m also going to get back to blogging more regularly, as I want to use this as an accountability tool again. I’m excited about the two half marathons I’ve got coming up, but also very nervous about training on my own and getting back to being fit.

Your turn: How are you getting back to being fit in 2016?

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Trading the Gym Bag for a Diaper Bag

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I tried to stay very active in my workouts and running all through my pregnancy. I tried to workout at least five times a week, waking up every morning to hit Man O’War CrossFit before work, and sometimes do some shorter runs after work or on the weekends.

Heck, I even did CrossFit the morning I went into labor! (And was walking the dogs two miles when I went into labor.)

After the birth of Baby A&W, I slowly got back into working out. First it was with short dog walks–starting at 10 minutes, then 15, and then 20. Then I started doing some body weight work while A was sleeping or doing tummy time–planks, push ups, sit ups. I didn’t do any CrossFit during my maternity leave, mostly because I was in Indiana (though I did sneak one workout in when we came back into town for A’s one-month checkup), and got back into it a month ago.

It’s been hard to balance working out and being a mother. With M living/working in Indiana, that leaves me to tend to every one of A’s needs. So if I want to get my sweat on, she’s coming with me.

Never, ever go anywhere with your baby without your gym....err, I mean diaper bag. (Now, if only we can find wrist wraps that fit her!)

Never, ever go anywhere with your baby without your gym….err, I mean diaper bag. (Now, if only we can find wrist wraps that fit her!)

CrossFit
I’ve been doing what I can to make it work when it comes to CrossFit. While MOWCF doesn’t have daycare, it’s still pretty easy to bring your kid along to workout with you. Lil Bit just hitches a ride with mom and hangs out in her car seat to the side while I workout near her where I can hear or see her in case she needs me.

I’m lucky to have such a flexible, easygoing coach in Taylor, and a great group of guys in my morning class. They all were so supportive while I was pregnant, cheering me on, amazed at everything I was still doing even when my belly made it hard to do cleans or snatches. And now they’re still supportive. One of the coaches even took over distracting A when she was being fussy one morning so I could get in the rest of the workout before I had to leave.

Our mornings are crazy, and not for the faint of heart: my alarm goes off at 5 am so I can pump before she (hopefully) wakes up. Then I wake A up, change her diaper and her outfit, feed her, get myself dressed to workout, load her up in the car, and we arrive at MOWCF at 6:15 to workout. I get my workout done, then we load back up in the car and head for home, where I’ll quickly jump in the shower and dress for work, change her again, and load everything up for work/daycare. Sometimes she requests another bottle before we leave for daycare, which puts a kink in things, but I’m lucky to have a flexible boss who’s okay with us arriving late at times.

There are some mornings I don’t make it into the box, and while that used to upset me, I’m starting to be OK with it. Some mornings I just need an extra hour of sleep, or maybe we just need some more snuggle time. But I’m still making it to CrossFit 3-4 days a week, and as a pseudo-single mom of a 2.5 month old, that’s pretty darn good.

Running
I really want to get back into running…like really bad! But I haven’t been able to run, mostly because of not having anyone to watch her (I try to get a short run in if M’s in town and can watch her, but nature hasn’t played nicely with me). I now have a jogging stroller, and did a short 1.5 mile run with her last week, but then I read where I should probably wait until she’s a little older to do more. So I’m conflicted about running, and figure it might be best to err on the side of caution and wait a little longer before taking her on runs with me. She’s almost 3 months old now, so it won’t be long. I can wait.

For now, I’m just doing my best with getting short runs here and there. And then we go for 2 mile walks with the dogs after work/daycare daily (weather permitting), either with me carrying her or in her stroller.

I’m aiming for a fall half marathon, so I need to start getting my mileage back up soon.

Everyone needs their daily workouts, including the dogs!

Everyone needs their daily workouts, including the dogs!

At Home WODs
I have DVDs that I can use for workouts at home–some yoga videos (Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper) and P90x (thanks to a friend for letting me borrow them)–however our BluRay player stopped working and I dislike watching videos on my small MacBook screen. Plus, A still wants my attention, so it’s hard to do things without having her attached to me in some way. I use her tummy time as time for mommy to do some sit-ups and planks, and little things here and there, so we’re “working out together.”

My health and fitness is still a very big priority to me–I want to be a positive role model for my daughter and have her start on the right track from the beginning.

Healthy Holiday Challenge: Elf4Health

I’m so excited that Lindsay and Elle decided to bring back Elf4Health for the second year. If you’ve been reading my blog since last year, you’ll remember me sharing some of my adventures participating in Elf4Health. It’s a fun, free program created to encourage continuing a healthy lifestyle (or starting) in the weeks leading up for the holidays. Different “challenges” include Meatless Monday, cleaning out the closet, trying a new workout, workout with a buddy, etc.

I totally encourage you to sign up. It’s a great community (I think there’s already 400+ elves signed up, men and women) to support a healthy lifestyle. You’ll be paired up with another elf twice during the challenge, and those pairings can lead to a great friendship–I still chat with my elves Annica and Lindsay.

Here’s the gist of the challenges:

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Sign-ups are going on now until this Friday, Nov. 22. There will be a second round of sign-ups, but I recommend getting in on the action early! (Check out Lindsay’s blog for the sign-ups.)

You can follow along with me as I chronicle my Elf4Health Challenge via the blog, Twitter (@MLArszman), and Instagram (MLA317).

I hope you’ll join us!!

Your turn: Out of the challenges above, what one would you be looking forward to the most? 

Five Days of CrossFit

I’ve been a little lax on posting my workouts lately, and for that, I apologize. I’ve been hitting up Man O’War CrossFit a lot more lately, as well as trying to increase my mileage on my runs. I figure I have the time right now, so why not get serious about some of my fitness goals?

Someone asked me why I enjoy spending so much time at the box lately. Well, with everything going on in my life (more on that later), this is the one place where I feel like I’m doing the right thing and I belong at the moment. Everyone there has their own goals, they’re not out to get anyone. They’re all there to have a good time, while getting stronger and faster. When I’m there, all I think about is my form, the movements I’m doing then, the time on the clock, and pushing myself. Nothing else clogs my mind.

For one whole hour, I’m a different person–I’m confident again, I’m relaxed again, I’m happy. I might not have any real close friends there (yet), but the people there are great and a lot of fun. The trainers are there to make sure you’re doing everything right and that you’re giving it 110%. And that’s what you want from your box, right?

My CrossFit box is my getaway from what hasn’t been the most fun life lately. I enjoy my runs (or walks, depending on how tired my legs are) to and from the box, and I enjoy the pumped up atmosphere once you walk through those doors.

The past week’s WODs have been all about your shoulders–Brenton says it’s his goal to help us up our weight on our push presses, and boy I hope he’s right! I didn’t feel too sore until I woke up this morning and my shoulders were not happy. I think it might be because I worked on the basics of kipping a lot after our WOD on Thursday. I had an interview for an article at 7:30 am, so I had to miss the morning classes, and I would miss the noon class, so I went for a 4.3 mile run on my own after the interview, since it was still so nice (hello, July 12 and I was able to open up the windows in the house!).

Overall this week, I ran a total of 13.7 miles (give or take a mile, I didn’t record all of my 1 mile runs to and from the box this week). Not bad! The knee is holding up, but the heel is giving me troubles when I first start running and then a few hours after my run.

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The workouts this week were tough, like I said earlier. Monday’s workout was “Hope,” a new female benchmark workout named after a young girl who does CrossFit, even after having a leg amputated. I was able to kill it with the Rxd 20″ box jumps (not bad, considering I just tackled those on July 4), but did 45 lbs for the thrusters and snatch and knees to chest on the bar.

Tuesday was a hero workout: Nate. Instead of the muscle-ups, I did two chest-to-bar pull-ups (using a band) and 2 dips, plus handstand push-ups on the box, but the Rxd 36 lb kettlebell. I got in 13 or 14 rounds in the 20 minute AMRAP.

Wednesday we did squat cleans, then 1,000 m run, 50 toes to bar (I did knees to chest–I’m getting higher!) and 14 lb wall balls 25 times and finished in about 9 minutes or so. Then Thursday was overhead squats (with the 35lb bar–legs and shoulders were tired) and push-ups on the knees with situps. That was a fun one, but exhausting. I still somehow had enough energy to start working on my kipping pull-ups with Taylor.

Friday was a rest day from CrossFit, but I got in a run with two pup walks to celebrate the gorgeous weather. I’ll probably hit CrossFit in the morning Saturday before heading to Louisville for a cook-out with friends.

How were your workouts this week?

Hitting the Pavement

Ever since that day I crossed the finish line in the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon, the training structure I had was finished as well. The weeks leading up to the mini marathon, I was running three mornings a week before work (usually Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays), with two mornings of yoga (Tuesdays and Fridays), and a long training run on Saturday mornings. Like clockwork. It worked well for me. After work, I’d go to the gym for cross training with weights and corework.

Then life got crazy. You’ve already heard about my work schedule this Spring/Summer/Fall, so I won’t continue to “complain” about that. I’m still trying to get in at least three days of running (Monday and Thursday mornings before work, some times Wednesday after work before agility class, and/or Saturday mornings if I’m home). I promised myself that I would still do long training runs so when it does come time for me to seriously train for my next half marathon, I won’t be very far behind. So far, the longest runs I’ve been able to squeeze out have been six miles.

My first six mile run was a rough one–Memorial Day (May 28), when it was already humid and quite warm at 7 am. I don’t believe I’ve ever run in such hot conditions. It was rough. I didn’t take a water bottle with me because I felt like I could handle six miles without the extra hydration…wrong! I should have taken water with me. Towards the end I walked because I was just drained, and then I pushed myself to finish the six miles.

  • 6.13 miles in 1:00:12 (9:50 avg) (Fastest mile was the second mile at 8:55)

Then this past weekend I ventured out early Saturday morning in hopes of a better run at six miles. It was notably cooler and the humidity wasn’t as high as it was two weeks prior. I handled it a lot better, too, with just a short stint of walking after trudging through some tall grass for a quarter mile.

  •  6.35 miles in 1:00:24 (9:31 avg) (Fastest mile was the second mile at 9:18)

I’ve been running 3-4.5 miles in the mornings before work, which has been great. This week I ran around my work in my old neighborhood twice. The route is one constant, rolling hill–perfect for training for my upcoming races.

  • Monday: 3.79 miles in 35:22 (9:21 avg)
  • Wednesday: 5.15 miles in 48:31 (9:26 avg)

I have to say, I’m amazed at how my times are getting faster, even while running 4-5 miles. I’ve been trying to work on my speed for 5K races, so of course I’ve been trying to push while running 3 miles. But to hold a 4 mile run with a 9:30 pace, that’s awesome for the girl who barely could make a 12-minute mile in grade school!

I have two races coming up that I’m excited about: The Warrior Dash in London, Ky. (not really racing, because I’ll be running with a group of workout buddies, including 60+ year old Tom, so it’s 3.2 miles with 10 obstacles–can’t wait!) and the Bluegrass 10K in Lexington on July 4.( was training for the Bluegrass 10K last Spring when I fractured my foot–at the time, it would have been the longest distance I would have run and I was extremely disappointed that I couldn’t run it. So now I’m ready to tackle the race that is one that everyone talks about around here. That’s why I haven’t really pushed to run past six miles just yet, so I’m hoping after this I can try pushing for 7 and 8 miles.

I’ve been entertaining thoughts of training for another half marathon this Fall, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to manage the rigors of training with my irregular training. I’m also starting to get more into the wedding planning, now that the countdown is less than four months away–there’s a bunch of DIY projects that need to be started and completed in that time.

There’s a half marathon Oct. 20 in Cincinnati that looks enticing, and almost doable. The main concern is that my wedding is Oct. 6, and we’ll be getting back from our honeymoon Oct. 13/14…I seriously doubt that I’ll be doing any training while on our honeymoon, and would like to relax and indulge myself a little.

Would that be setting me up for failure?

A Kick in the Shorts

The other night I went with a co-worker back to the local YMCA that I used to be a member of (I couldn’t afford the rates any more). He talked me into going to a class that we used to do together every Wednesday. It’s like a boot-camp type class, but a little different.

Our instructor, Taylor, runs us through some quick cardio sets to get our hearts pumping: jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knees, butt kicks, sprints down and back across the room, bear crawls, side-shuffles, etc. This typically lasts the first half of the class, and you’re just dying for that 3-minute break. The second half involves dumbbells and different workouts such as X-squats (squat down with dumbbells in the middle of your legs, then as you stand up, your arms go up and you look like you’re an X), push-ups (10 sets of 20 seconds throughout the session, for a total of 160), wall sits, lunges, planks with 1 arm up or 1 leg up (at the end we held opposite arm and leg up for 10 seconds), etc. It’s a solid hour of sweat- and cuss-inducing fun. Yes, I really do mean fun.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a class like that. Lately, with my schedule, I haven’t been able to attend any classes at my gym because I really only have 25 minutes after work before I have to leave for job #2, so I have to do my workouts on my own. It’s not that big of a deal, but lately I haven’t been feeling very inspired when it comes to my workouts. But this class revived that competitiveness in me that I have been missing in the past month since my half marathon. I pushed myself to the brink for an hour, only looking at the clock once–when we broke for our break.

It was the kind-of workout that I hope has brought me out of my funk lately. I just wish I could go to it more often, but I think after a while the Y might notice me walking through with my co-worker (and I rarely have Wednesdays off).

Has there been a workout that re-inspired you?

Staying Young by Being Active

So much can be accomplished just by hitting this ball around...

Last night I played in a volleyball tournament with some friends from the sand league I ref during the warmer months. It was great to get back on the (hard, indoor) court and work with a strong team of hitters and passers. We played three intense games in the semi-finals to move onto the championship round where we played two, even tougher, games and eventually lost. But no matter the amount of floor burns, or the sore shoulder I woke up with this morning, it was a great evening spent and I can’t wait to get back to playing in the sand this spring, summer, and fall!

There was one man attending the games that sparked my interest while we were cooling down, waiting for the second semi-final game to start. This older gentleman walked by and noted that the last volleyball game he played was in that particular gym 15 years ago. “That’s pretty cool,” I commented.

He smiled and said, “I was 75 back then…I turn 91 next week.”

That made my jaw drop. He was still playing volleyball at 75, and here he was, on the cusp of turning 91, walking in front of me with his back straight, no help from a walker or cane, no sign of hearing aids or any assistance needed. Ah-MAZE-ing!

He told me stories of how, in the 1950s, the stars from the University of Kentucky basketball team would play volleyball at the downtown YMCA with him and his friends, and how those players admitted to loving volleyball more than basketball. His eyes were sparkling and his smile lit up the gym as he talked, pausing every once in a while to critique a play on the court (his son was playing in the second semi-final). I was truly in awe of how coherent and in great physical shape (at least on the outside) this gentleman seemed to me. It made me want to get back on the court to play and continue playing a sport that I loved, such as volleyball, for at least four more decades.

A blog from the New York Times discussed a study that saw delayed premature graying in active mice. The research, posted in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, said that “exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice”.

So it’s studies like these, and men like I met last night (I wish I had gotten his name now) that inspires me to continue to work towards a fit life and try my best to push my family and friends to being active as well. I want to have a healthy (soon-to-be-)husband, and my parents to live to a ripe old age while still being able to enjoy life. I want to have my friends around me to keep me sane and laughing through the golden years.

So take even the smallest steps to start your journey to your “volleyball at 75” lifestyle today…don’t wait for the weekend or Monday…start now! Go for a walk, no matter how short or long, everyday, then increase your distance. You don’t have to dive into the deep end with crazy circuit training sessions or half marathon training schedules…just get active!

This Week’s Workouts (2/13 – 2/19)

Week 3 of my half marathon training ended on a high note Saturday with my longest run, to date, of 6 miles through the rolling countryside of Central Kentucky. I ended the week feeling stronger in my running, which is great! I felt great after my run and after a little foam rolling and stretching, my hip didn’t hurt and on Sunday I felt almost like I could run some more (but I fought the temptation and actually had a rest day–yes, me!).

Remember that I walk the dogs just about everyday on my lunch hour, plus I try to walk them when I get home from work/gym if the weather is decent, which it has been lately!

So, here were my workouts for the past week:

Monday, Feb. 13: This was an odd treadmill run because I was having a little bit of stomach problems (ugh) and then half-way thru my run the power went out in the gym, so I am not sure exactly how long I ran, so I just pushed for 4.25 miles that I knew for sure I did (in 41 minutes). That evening I walked the dogs 1.46 miles (on top of the .74 mile walk at lunch).

Tuesday, Feb. 14: Performed Work #2 on Jillian Michael’s “Yoga Meltdown” before work, then did 2.3 miles on the elliptical after work to burn off some of the Valentine’s Day chocolate I had consumed during work.

Wednesday, Feb. 15: Four mile run: 5.8, 6.0, 6.2 (2.0), 6.4 (at 2.0) on the treadmill.

Thursday, Feb. 16: Three mile run on the treadmill at 6.2 mph, 1.5 incline, plus a one mile walk at 2.0.

Friday, Feb 17: Did hour-long yoga workout with Bob Harper on his “Yoga for the Warrior” DVD before work. After work, the girls and I walked the loop around the park for their conditioning program.

Saturday, Feb. 18: Ran 6.12 miles in 60 minutes 1 second and felt great–the course was hilly, but not unmanageable. We did walk some, but only for a few feet. Came home to my foam roller for about 10 minutes and a nice long stretch.

Totals for this week:
   Run -20.3 miles
   Walk -11.34 miles

Resolutioners–Sticking with the Goal

January is halfway complete, so it makes me think of those who made that annual resolution to join a gym and get healthy.  How successful have they been?

First off, let me say that I am one of those that gripes and grumbles at the increase of cars in the parking lotand having to sign up earlier for spin class. I catch myself rolling my eyes at gym newbies (aka what I call “resolutioners”) who take their time on the machines. The resolutioners tend to slow me down when I’m on a mission of a quick HIIT (high intensity interval training) session, which I never appreciate. However, I totally understand that they really do mean well and they are trying to better their life. You can’t fault anyone for giving it a good old fashion try. (And if I am ever able to study and get my personal trainer’s certification, I’ll welcome any client–resolutioner or pro!)

I wish there was a handbook for the resolutionist–just for every new member of a gym to encourage them to keep with the program, while not looking out of place:

1.) If you don’t know how a machine works, ask! I don’t mind pausing to show someone how to get the best use of the machine. You don’t want to hurt yourself before you get started.

2.) Don’t sit and dawdle on the machines or benches. I’m always on a time limit. I don’t want to wait to do a 30-second exercise.

3.) Leave your phone in the car or in your gym bag–it doesn’t belong on the elliptical or on the weight room benches. Once again, my time is precious. I also appreciate my time being unplugged from technology (minus my MP3 player and the treadmill, of course). Trust me, you will too.

4.) Don’t be afraid to park farther away from the front door. It’s not Christmas. You don’t need to stalk me for a close parking spot. (I park my truck towards the back of the lot, anyway.) You’re here to workout and burn calories. Start that process by walking a few more steps.

And, finally…

5.) Stick with it! Don’t get discouraged if the scale isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like. A change in your health takes a long time. Be proud of every minute you spend in the gym, sweating away your stress, sadness, lunch, etc. Any little bit helps!

I celebrate March as being free from the resolutioners because they usually slack off by then, or they’ve morphed into a regular, like me. This year I hope to see more regulars at the gym.

What other tips would you share with a resolutionist at your gym?