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Archive for the ‘Unconventional Workout’ Category

Fitness Idea

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how hard it is to motivate yourself to exercise when you don’t feel comfortable about your body, especially when you have to exercise around other people. It’s so easy to worry if others will judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves.

Also, I was talking with some friends about a friend of ours who is struggling. This friend is extremely overweight (I’m guessing she weighs about 400 lbs) and struggles to take weight off because her knees hurt so much. It’s a vicious cycle: her knees hurt because she’s so overweight and she remains so overweight because her knees hurt. Which made me start thinking, isn’t it terribly sad that swimming, the activity that grants the greatest amount of buoyancy (and less joint strain) is also the activity that requires the least about of clothing and the most amount of skin showing?! So in order to exercise in that environment, one also has to overcome the greatest amount of self-esteem issues?

It really got me thinking. I wish that a chain gym would pop up to address that issue. I feel like Curves (and all of the other gyms in that vein) popped up to address the issue that lots of women feel uncomfortable working out in front of men. I wonder if a pool that encouraged people to wear shorts and t-shirts instead of speedos would be well received?

I know I would love that right now! Especially if I didn’t have to buy a swim cap and goggles. I’m not a serious swimmer but would enjoy having somewhere to comfortably swim right now… without any judgment.

Additionally, it would be great if I didn’t have to get over my issues to just BUY an outfit, let alone use it. Granted, I’m pregnant, so my issues of size may pale in comparison, but I least I can sympathize with the issue.

Good luck to anyone else feeling this way! And have you ever heard of a pool like this? (if so, I hope it’s in Massachusetts!)

Saturday Morning Motivation – Voice in Your Head

liar voice in head

I’m off to prove that the voice inside my head who thinks I will always suck at yoga is wrong!

How about you? What will you do today that you didn’t you could do before?

Prenatal Yoga – The Sequel

I went back to prenatal yoga at Destination Maternity this week as planned (if you are pregnant and live near this chain retail store, I recommend checking them out for their free classes). Unfortunately, this time around, the class contained more of my fears than the first one.

When I went last week, it was a small class and we had a substitute instructor (one of the weekend instructors filled in). This week, the class had almost doubled in size, but was all different people, and the regular instructor was back (she was totally nice, but was different). Also, I got stuck next to a woman who was 8 months pregnant and crazy flexible. It’s so hard not to compare oneself to those around us, isn’t it?

I’m not flexible… at all! I was never flexible and on top of that, I’ve had back surgery – making my back extra tight. In fact, at one point, the instructor came over to pull on my hips because my back didn’t look right. So then I awkwardly had to mention that I’ve had back surgery. So then she immediately stopped touching me (as though I was on fire) so as not to injure me. Ugh… I’m a train wreck. I totally could have benefitted from her help, but I always want to warn people not to have high expectations because fused vertebrae don’t function the way you want them to. I wish I could have really talked to her, but it was just a big ball of awkward with lots of witnesses…

There was really only one downside to having a different instructor: the poses and sequences were different. It made everything feel new again and made me feel more insecure.

Experience

Something that I loved about being a beginning runner was that I could do it on my own. I would run along a trail with only a few other people around. I didn’t run on the street or at a gym (although I had tried both in the past), which felt in the open where other people could see me. I loved that I could change my pace as needed without any assumed judgement from others. (Let’s be real, no one actually cares, but it feels like they do when you’re red-faced and just starting out). I loved that I could repeat my trail over and over again, day after day to “get it right”. I was competing against myself until I got good at it. Every day, I would try to run at least 10 feet more than where I stopped to walk the time before (or to the next lamp-post or to the end of the next song). And when I ran that trail from start to finish without a break, I felt amazing and so proud of how far I had come in my own growth!

But with yoga, I don’t feel like I’m mastering things, everything still feels new and awkward and constantly changing. And I know it will get better. I know that when I’m über round at 8 1/2 months pregnant and actually know some of the poses, I will feel as though I’ve improved. It’s just so hard to get there.

i-may-not-be-there-yet

And all of this makes me think about the “January Joiners” at the gym (you know, those people who make a New Year’s resolution to get fit and suddenly join the gym). If you are one of those people: good luck! You can totally do it! Just give yourself a chance (and ignore everyone around you).

If you’re a regular at the gym and are feeling a little irritated by all the new people at your gym: take a minute and think about how it felt when you first joined, or if you didn’t struggle, imagine how hard it might be for them. Please, try to make them feel welcome. More fit and happy people can only be a positive thing for our communities (the exercise community as well as your local community).

Being new at the gym can be so intimidating as you’re pushing your own physical limitations as well as feeling uncomfortable in the new environment. Let’s all try to feel welcoming.

I know that when I attended this second class and it was ALL new faces, I was intimidated all over again. It’s so easy to think that everyone around you thinks you’re an idiot if you’re a novice, let’s try to keep that in mind. If you’re not a novice: be welcoming and smile at the new people. If you are a novice: smile a lot at strangers and try to remember that no one is judging you as harshly as you’re judging you.

Or at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself… (we’ll see how it all goes after I try a weekend class this weekend).

Fly

Diva Dash Recap

Let me start by saying that I LOVED this race! I’m pretty sure this is the first race where I thought to myself “Man, I can’t wait to run this again next year” WHILE still running it! It was a ton of fun and if it comes to a city near you, I recommend checking it out.

My team and I put our best foot forward for this event… and we did it in pink, zebra striped socks!

First, it was a 5k with 11 obstacles. The obstacles consisted of climbing over mountains made out of hay, dirt, and tires (separate mountains). Climbing over “jersey barriers.” Scooting through a maze that was also covered in a net around waist height (so you had to bend down to go through it). There were plenty of balance beams. We had to carry large logs for awhile. And my favorite: the thing where you have to run with your feet through tires (so you get some nice high knees) while also being hit by inflatable pink balls!

My favorite obstacle. Looking for my teammate.

On top of the fun obstacles, the course itself was pretty challenging. Some of it was on a paved road, some of it was over gravel, but most of the running was a gorgeous trail run through the woods. Obviously, this part is specific to the Massachusetts one. I like to consider myself a trail runner (although let’s be real, half of my trail is paved), however, my trail is along the Charles River and is mostly flat, flat, flat. The trail for this 5k was LEGIT! It was winding, thin, and constantly going either uphill or downhill (steeply). And we actually had to hop over fallen trees! Luckily, everyone started in preassigned waves that were separated by 15 minutes, so I never felt like the course was crowded. Absolutely top-notch orchestration, I have to admit.

Besides the actual run, there were a lot of things that I liked about this race. It was my first ever “Women-only” event. If all “women-only” events are this nice, I will totally be doing more of them. Everyone was so cordial! Plus, so many people really thought about what they were wearing. I loved it! I wish I had gotten pictures of my favorites, but let me at least describe them.

  • For about half of the run, I followed some women from a Boston Book Club, the back of their shirts read “I like BIG books and I cannot lie” (oh how I love it!)
  • There were about 20 women in aprons as “Domestic Divas”
  • There were some shirts that read: “My mascara runs faster than you!”
  • “If you run faster, you’ll get wine sooner! “
  • “Oxygen PLEASE!”
  • And one of my favorites: some women from a labor and delivery unit at some hospital (it said on the front of their shirts but I can’t remember now) had on the back of their shirts “We deliver!”

My team all dressed up. Who doesn’t love Animal from the Muppets?! Also, this is what happens when a bunch of theater nerds creating a running team…

Everyone was so friendly and encouraging the whole time, I had no idea women could all be so supportive of each other. Early on in the race, I knew I wouldn’t be the fastest, but I could try for the nicest! So anytime I was passed by someone or actually passed someone, I threw out a compliment. It was so easy! Everyone had on something cute (even if it was just a pair of socks that said “Bad Ass (with an arrow pointing up).” It was great chatting everyone up. Of course it was easier to talk to everyone because this was my first race without music. Whoa! But one of the women on my team ran my pace, so we had each other to talk to the whole time. That’s a first for me and it was awesome!

That was actually another of my favorites for this race. I ran as part of team of 10! We were a variety of speeds and we all mostly ran our own race… but with a buddy who was similar to us. I loved it!

They also have the best swag bag I’ve gotten so far:

Our swag included a t-shirt, a drawstring bag, a canvas bag, a magazine, and a Luna bar.

Plus, 90% of the vendors at the vendor fair were giving out free goodies. For example:

  • Socks from Asics
  • Frozen greek yogurt pops from Yasso
  • 5 hour energy shots
  • More Luna bars
  • Sahale Snacks – I took the cranberry, sesame seed, and honey covered almonds – AMAZING! I totally recommend them!
  • Beer from Coors light
  • Coconut water from Zico (I’ve tried coconut water a ton of times and I must be missing something, I never see the appeal)
  • And samples of about half a dozen energy or recovery drinks – most of which tasted pretty chemical filled.

There were just a few things that I think Shape could work on for next year:

  • They could use some bottles of water at the finish line. Instead we were given 3 oz dixie cups that we could fill up ourselves… dehydration was plentiful
  • On the course we were handed the same cups and we could also fill them up ourselves, on Facebook a lot of runners complained that they should have been filled up for us and I can see their point. I was running slowly so it didn’t bother me, but if I was going for speed I would have been pretty upset.
  • Something to nibble on at the finish line would have been good (none of us knew about the Luna bar in our bags). Once we realized everyone was giving out samples, it wasn’t so bad. But those first 30 minutes waiting for all of our friends to finish was a little tough without food.
  • They had a bag check at the race and I’m glad I didn’t use it (I left everything in my car), it was a total disaster!

All in all though, I would totally do this race again! It was a blast!

Because I didn’t know what the run/obstacles would be like. I didn’t go in with many expectations. I was hoping to finish in 45 minutes. I thought there would be more upper body stuff (there was really only 1). Next year, I know to be smarter on the obstacles. When going over the Jersey Barriers (you know, those large sometimes concrete road blocks, these were plastic though), I lead with my right leg on all of them and my right glute hurt like whoa the whole time. Next year, I need to switch up the leg choice every other time.

The course’s jersey barriers

Final stats:

Time: 44:53:97
Place: 3184 (out of 5489 total – thus 58%)
Division Place: 1379 (out of 2286 – thus 60%)
Pace: 14:58
On my team, I was the second fastest runner (well… tied for second when you count my racing buddy, one other women on our team beat us by about 15 minutes). I’m pretty psyched about that too!

Another Adventure Recap – White Water Rafting

This update is super delayed, but the weekend after Father’s Day, my wonderful boyfriend and I took my father on a white water rafting trip (along with a bunch of my wonderful boyfriend’s fun coworkers). We went down the Kennebec River in northern Maine (almost Canada) with a company called Northern Outdoors and got the trip 50% off thanks to CBS Local (similar to LivingSocial and Groupon). I really think this is shaping up to be my summer of mini-adventures and I’m quite digging it.

It was just the beginning of the heat wave, so it was a beautiful 80°. At the lodge, before the trip, they reviewed the supplies they offered for rent. They started with a paddle jacket, suggesting most people would rent that (if anything). The chest part was wet suit material while the sleeves were a light and flexible material (similar to real wind-breaker). They showed the wet suit jacket and booties for your feet. They also showed the bottoms of the wetsuit, which I think they called the “farmer john.” They said “unless you had 0% body fat, you won’t need the ‘farmer john.’ Oh and the water is 51°. Thanks for listening.”

It was the 51° degrees part that really resonated with us. We’ve been on this trip before, so we knew that during the rafting, everyone in the boat would get wet. And we knew there were multiple parts of the river you could get out of the boat and float down the river yourself.  I hate to be cold, it’s completely miserable and you can’t do much about it. As someone who also enjoys alpine skiing in the winter, I have learned that if you have too much clothing, you can always take it off until you’re more comfortable. It was worth it to us to spend the $10 and get the paddle jackets and the farmer johns.

This was during lunch on the river. You can see T’s farmer johns, the top of mine are folded down.

Very few people made that choice, and there were probably about thirty 20-something-year-old girls in bikinis on the trip who spent the entire day freezing and miserable. Especially because even the air felt cooler on the river.

We’re carrying the boat down to the river at the beginning of the day. Here you can see our full outfits with the jacket and the farmer johns. I’m second from the left, my dad is third from the left, and guide Dave is on the right.

The day was gorgeous! Everyone in our boat got a chance to sit up front, even me. The last time we went (last fall with T’s family – it was FREEZING!) I had no interest in sitting in the front and I never did. I didn’t really have any interest in sitting in the front this time either, but my dad insisted. He was totally right, you get the best view. And it’s not that the view from the second seat is much different. It’s just that the front person sets the pace, the second+ person needs to get in sync and pay attention to someone else’s rhythm. The front person can spend that extra brain power looking at the river instead of looking at the paddle in front of them.

So glad that T has a waterproof camera! (and he’s good at taking “selfies”) Here we are floating down the river (nice and warm in the wetsuits).

My wonderful boyfriend, T, told me that this is a pretty unique style of white water rafting and you won’t find it everywhere in the country. For example, one of his coworkers, Jenn spent her honeymoon in Pennsylvania and one of the days they went white water rafting. But they didn’t even have a guide in their boat. They was just one guide with the entire trip. I’m going to guess their river was a little safer. Our guide, Dave (who was in the boat the entire time and was in charge of steering), had to guide us around things like the “kayak keeper”: a set of rocks that created a cycle of spinning water that could literally drag a kayak down below the surface for good. Or he had to avoid “unemployment rock.” Inches before unemployment rock looks like some really sweet white water, but 6 inches past the rapid is a giant bolder, doing a nice job of staying hidden, but completely dry. It’s called unemployment rock because if a guide steers his boat that way… he’ll be on the unemployment line in a hot second. There are lots of things like that to this river, things you might not notice if you didn’t know what you were doing. I can’t imagine doing a river without a guide with me. Plus, the Northern Outdoors staff are all funny and very knowledgable about the area.

We had a super time! And I’m hoping to do a more challenging river this fall. 

Here my dad, Jenn, and her husband, Keith enjoy the last bit of “white water”. The photo was slightly staged… until they got spashed… those faces of surprise are real!

 Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take any pictures during the actual rapids, but it was super awesome and I would totally recommend this to anyone!

An Aerial Adventure!

A while ago, I signed up for an obstacle course race called the Diva Dash with a bunch of friends. One of the other “Divas” talked a bunch of us into preparing for the race by doing an aerial obstacle course. Picture a ropes course. We were about 20-50 feet in the air, secured to a wire, and trying to move along a course that wasn’t really supporting us (moving across tight ropes, 2×6 planks of wood, a series of swings made out of wood or rope, etc).

This was one of the easier obstacles, although those steps weren’t connected at all and they were more than happy to swing out beneath you. You can see some of the other obstacles in the background. The big yellow slide in the background is part of the kids playground, not the obstacle course.

To be completely honest, it was a boat load of fun! It was also so exhausting! Talk about cross training! Every muscle I have (legs, abs, arms, shoulders, back, and chest) still aches two days later! HOLY COW! I’m still audibly groaning every time I have to use my quads to sit down or stand up.

There were 6 paths to take: 3 easy, 2 medium, and 1 hard (each with maybe 18 separate obstacles). I did 2 “easy” paths and 1 medium (and that took about 3 hours). Half of our group also went on to do the hard path, but I knew my muscles had tapped out by then. I actually “fell” half way through the medium path.

Still moving… but this is the obstacle I fell on… in just a few feet

I don’t know how easy it is to see in that picture, but there is one rope on one side, another rope on the other side about 2 feet away, and then in another 2 feet another rope on the original side (ect). So the ropes on each side are about 4 feet apart. I was struggling getting the ropes to reach each other (so I could let go of one and grab the next). I thought “hey, I wonder if I could just hold on to the secured, safety wire?” (that I was hooked on to). The answer was no. As soon as I let go of the left rope and grabbed the safety wire, down I went. I was still holding onto the right-hand rope and my feet were still on the balance beams beneath me. All I could think was “I’m just so tired, I just want to sit for a minute.” But in the time it took for the 20-year-old girl to get a ladder so she could fish me out of the trees, I managed to rally some energy and pull myself back up. Once I got to the next tree, I totally sat down for about 5 minutes though. I am proud of myself for not quitting.

Hand on the safety wire… about to go down in 3, 2, 1…

It was totally fun and if I lived closer, I would absolutely go back a bunch of times as cross training! But it’s over 2 hours away…

By the time I got home, my legs were on fire and I was considering hopping into bed at 8:30 and watching movies from there because just sitting was painful. I didn’t though. And then, just to work the muscles more, my sweet, little boy kitty started foaming at the mouth at about midnight. My wonderful boyfriend was 5 hours away on a golfing trip with a guy friend… I had to deal with this all on my own. Of course my first thought was that the poor little guy had rabies and I was freaking out. Thanks to google though, I learned the more common cause for foaming among house pets is that he was trying to make himself throw up because he ate something that gave him a tummy ache. Thank goodness! He never did toss his kibble, but he did eventually curl up and fall asleep. And I was able to crash from exhaustion.

Oh, I had blood tests that morning, too. My doctor wanted to test hormone levels, so it all had to be done on a very specific day… which turned out to be the same day as the aerial adventure. So life goes, right? At 9 am, I gave 6 vials of blood (so much that even the phlebotomist apologized to me – luckily she was great at her job though, so it barely hurt). By 11:45 am, I was up in the trees! It was quite a day!

A Game of Cat and Mouse

I wish I had a picture for you or even a video, but alas, I don’t. However, I still want to share the ridiculous image of my night. My black cat was chasing a tiny mouse around the backyard. I was chasing the cat (chasing the mouse) around the backyard… in socks… with a flashlight so I could actually see the cat! Oh, and yelling “come back or you’ll get eaten by a coyote!” (There are posters along my running path warning that coyotes are in the area eating small house pets such as cats and little dogs – yes, I do live in a VERY close suburn to Boston… who knew coyotes were so metropolitan?). Plus while I’m running around in socks, waving a flashlight, chasing the cat, chasing the mouse, yelling about coyotes, I’m also waving his filled dinner bowl around trying to lure him to an already dead dinner.

Oh the ridiculous things I’ll do at night to get my cat back in the house.

Thank goodness it was dark or my neighbors would have had tickets to see the best clown show in town!

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