Be Well: Where did the shirts go?

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Given that I write about working out and weightlifting in particular once a week, I find myself searching for stock photos of women exercising quite frequently. I'm constantly typing things like "woman lifting weights" or "woman exercising" into Google or Pinterest to find quality photos that I can use on this blog.

Thanks to the tons and tons and tons and TONS of photos on the internet, image searches are generally highly successful. However, I think searching for classy images of women working out is a major exception to that rule. Week after week I find myself asking the same question: "Why are none of these women wearing shirts? (Or for that matter, appropriate-length shorts?)"

Maybe it sounds like I'm joking, but I'm serious - WHY is it so impossible to find photos of women lifting weights where they are wearing something more than a sports bra? For real, how many of y'all default to working out in only a sports bra? Like two of you? And when you wear only the sports bra, do you also only wear teeny tiny shorts? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Here's the most ironic thing of all: several of these half-naked photos have sayings printed on them (on Pinterest, at least) touting the importance of health over being skinny. Does ANYONE look at the pictures above and actually believe that? To me, all these pictures are saying is that weight lifting is worth it because it can make you thin. It's not worth it because it will make you healthier, happier, or stronger. No, if we only photograph women lifting weights when they have their shirts off, I'm pretty sure we're saying that flat abs make it worth it. Not a longer life.

All of this is to say that I sometimes find myself completely overwhelmed by how every media outlet out there completely distorts why lifting weights is so important for women. It's NOT because it gives you toned limbs and tight abs, although that is a benefit. It IS important because it will strengthen your skeleton, help protect you from injury, and keep you mobile for much more of your life. I write and write and write about weightlifting not because I care about the flatness of your abs, but because I truly believe in its intrinsic health benefits. The extrinsic stuff is just the icing on top.

So please...do me a favor and don't repin exercise photos of women wearing no clothing. We're better than that.

Stay clothed, and have a great Wednesday!

Be Well: Making It Work

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I'll admit it, friends: I'm stuck in a fitness rut.

And "fitness rut" is probably a bit of a generous description - that rut consists of me not doing anything. I know, right? Me? Not working out? Well, that day has arrived, lovely readers, and I'm a bit ashamed to admit it.

Ever since I started my new job, I just haven't figured out how to fit working out into my new schedule. Prior to starting my job, I took the introductory course at a CrossFit studio about 10 minutes away from my apartment. They offer 6AM classes every morning of the week, which I thought would work perfectly for me, since it gives me plenty of time to go home, shower, change, and then commute to work.

Here's the catch, though: I generally get home from work at 8PM. I then need to cook dinner, write this blog, and finish up any work tasks that I may have left over from my day at the office. However, in order to go to bed in time to wake up, eat breakfast, and get to CrossFit on time while still getting eight hours of sleep, I have to go to bed at 9:15. NINE FIFTEEN. That means I have exactly one hour and 15 minutes to do everything before I should be heading to bed. Doable? Maybe. Pleasant? Not at all.

I know so many of you guys are reading this right now and thinking, "this is why I never work out!!" And I totally get it, I do. But I'm not ready to throw in the towel and say that working out just isn't going to be a part of my life anymore. I need to figure out a way to arrange my schedule so that I can make it work.

One of the most ironic bits of this whole situation is that writing this blog makes it harder for me to find time to work out. Let me say that again - writing this fitness blog makes it harder for me to find time to pursue fitness. Does that qualify as a Catch-22? So, one of the things I need to start doing is being better about writing my blog posts on the weekend when I have more time. Taking away a bit of my beloved weekend down time sounds terrible right now, but I know it's the best thing for me overall.

Secondly, I think I need to explore other workout options. Having to wake up at 5:15AM for CrossFit just isn't something I'm going to be able to do on more than two weekday mornings per week with my schedule as it is. So, maybe it's time for me to train for another half marathon, and go on runs in the morning - prep and travel time is minimal for running, and I can do it pretty much anywhere! Plus, I should probably consider other, different types of workout options, like cycling classes or going to yoga more frequently.

Part of me hates writing this post because I feel like I'm supposed to have all the answers - I should be showing you guys how to make fitness a daily part of your life! But that wouldn't be true to my experience, and I hope that when I pull out of this no-workout rut (eventually) my method for how I do it can be one of the most educational (maybe even inspirational?) parts of this blog.

So, to all of you who think I've got my workout life perfectly together...I don't. Somehow in the past four weeks I've become a girl with gym clothes gathering dust and cellulite on the back of her legs. But I'm poised for a comeback, I just know it - I'll let you know when it happens :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Be Well: Burpees

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I will be the first to admit it: I am no expert at burpees. My first exposure to them was when I was on my high school's dance team, where we were forced to do them as punishment for talking or being lazy. Not fun. After I graduated from high school, I avoided them at all costs given the negative associations I made with them during those formative years. They were finally introduced back into my workout routine when I did my first CrossFit workout with my siblings. Burpees are an absolute mainstay in CrossFit because they keep your heart rate up while strengthening pretty much every part of your body. Although they're still painful, I now try to include them in my workouts on a regular basis in order to keep my heart pumping during weight sets. Read below for a description of how to do them, and then give them a shot yourself!

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Start in a normal standing position, feet hip-width distance apart.  Next, squat down into a ball, primed to jump out into a pushup position. People who are really good at burpees can go smoothly from standing to a pushup position, but we'll take it step-by-step for now (because I am definitely not one of those people who is really good at burpees yet).

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From here, jump your feet back and into a pushup position. This is the part that I do incredibly awkwardly, as evidenced by the next picture.

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Land in your pushup position, then do a pushup. Remember - abs tight, back flat, head in line with spine, and dip down until your arms form 90-degree angles.

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Now jump back into a ball.

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And now jump up! The higher the harder, so aim high!

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DSC_2085_2As you can tell by my face, these are so much fun. After jumping up, go back to step one. Burpees are supposed to be strung together, so go directly from your jump up to your jump back into a pushup position.

Try doing sets of 10 burpees until you can do them smoothly and in a row. Then, start increasing the number of burpees you do in each set. CrossFit workouts often call for 50 burpees at a time - see if you can work up to that! I know that's a goal I'm still working towards.

Have a very healthy Wednesday!