Be Well: Ouch

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I have a confession to make: I haven't worked out in over a month.

Well, I hadn't worked out in over a month until this past Saturday.

Although I've been traveling, and working, and just generally running around in life like crazy lately, it's still not a good excuse for how badly I fell off the workout wagon. But your exercise routine is one of those things that tend to snowball - just like getting on a good streak can mean you're consistently in the gym for weeks (heck, months!), one week off can turn into...five weeks off.

This is where I should be giving you great advice for how to get back on the wagon, but to be honest, I don't have much wisdom to impart. When it comes to that first workout, you pretty much just have to force yourself to do it. It should get easier from there.

It should...but it doesn't. If you work out properly that first time back, you should end up sore. Really sore. And that's where I am right now. My legs are so stiff that walking around my apartment is a challenge. Not a single fiber of my body wants me to work out again, but I know I have to - it's the only way this gets easier (other than giving up altogether, which isn't an option). My advice here: take it slow, but don't be too easy on yourself. On Sunday morning I went to yoga (most painful yoga class of my life) and this morning I went to yoga again. After this, it's going to be a week of running stairs, doing pushups, and generally hoisting myself back up onto that workout wagon. I know I can do it.

If you have any great tips for getting back into the swing of things, I'd love to hear them!

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: Full Workout #4

DSC_5552Since I've spent the last week and a half being inducted into the CrossFit world, I figured it was only appropriate for me to bring you a CrossFit-inspired workout this morning. Many CrossFit workouts feature two or three exercises performed in a repeating circuit for time. While bicycle crunches and tricep dips aren't necessarily a main part of the CrossFit repertoire, the workout I've laid out below should make you feel very accomplished (and sweaty!) by the time that you're done.

Do five rounds for time of:

15 reps deadlift

20 reps bicycle crunches

15 reps tricep dips

DSC_4332Deadlifts - I know I say this all the time, but it is essential that you use a heavy bar for this exercise. The bar I have in the top picture is not heavy enough. For reference, I recently did a workout in which I deadlifted 95 lbs. in sets of five reps for seven rounds. You can do at least half of that. Give it a shot, focus on keeping good form, and you won't regret it!

Bicycle crunches - this workout is for time, meaning that you should be doing all of the exercises quickly. However, you need to be especially careful that speeding up your bicycle crunches doesn't destroy your good form, which is a frequent occurrence in ab exercises. One rep is turning to the right once and the left once. You should be counting "left, right - 1." "Left, right - 2." Hopefully that makes sense. Do not let your legs start to flail or your elbows start collapsing in around your head. If that happens, slow down - doing these crunches slowly with good form will be far better for you than doing them quickly with bad form.

Tricep dips - you guys can do these no problem. Again, don't get tired and let your technique slip! You're better than that.

As always, remember to jog or bike or a few minutes in order to warm up. And don't forget to stretch!

DSC_1996Guys, it's starting to feel like it just isn't my week. Yesterday morning a light came in on my car warning of an exhaust system malfunction - just what you want to hear when you're about to go get some cavities filled! So I will likely be spending a sizable portion of today bringing my car into the auto repair shop and trying not to have a heart attack when they tell me how much it will cost to fix. I did, however, get my car stereo replaced yesterday, which was probably the most exciting thing to happen to me this week. I can now use my iPhone to play music (and podcasts, and driving directions) through my car stereo. And yes, it does feel nice to have finally entered the 2010s. Things are fancy here.

Be Well: Lateral Arm Raise With Rotation

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Just a quick, easy arm and back exercise for you today. When you maintain proper posture, this should give the tops of your arms, your sides, and your lat muscles a great little workout.

This is one exercise where I will suggest that you not go overboard on weight. 8-10 lbs. is the sweet spot in this exercise. But be sure to stay in that sweet spot - 5 lbs. or less is much too light.

Start with your arms at your sides, standing up straight, with hips tucked under you, feet hip-width distance apart, and abs tight.

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Slowly raise your weights up in the same plane as your body. Be sure to make your arms and side muscles do the lifting. If you are hunching or arching your back, you're doing it wrong! DSC_2038

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After you hit a T position, start bringing your arms around to the front while keeping them straight. Remember to keep standing up straight - do not round out your back. The effort should still be centered in the tops of your arms. DSC_2025

DSC_2043Keep bringing arms toward the front until your hands are shoulder width apart in line with your shoulders.

At this point, you have two options:

Option 1: Lower your arms towards your lap. On the next rep, keep your arms at the front of your body and close together and lift up and towards the front first, and then repeat the above exercise in reverse - rotate arms out until you're in the T position and then lower your arms towards your sides. Repeat the exercise 10 times, alternating between lifting from your sides on the first rep, and then lifting from your lap on the second.

Option 2: Once your hands meet in front of you, immediately rotate them back out towards your T position, reversing the workout as depicted above. Repeat 10 times for one set.

In either case, try to get in at least three sets of 10 reps.

Although I still have so much to do before leaving for Texas on Thursday afternoon (!!!), last night I decided to skip out on my chores and instead allowed myself the little luxury of going to get my nails done. And the luxury (laziness?) didn't stop there - I then went home, ordered sushi for delivery, and sat around watching Chopped. My to-do list didn't get any shorter, but I can't really say that I regret the way I chose to spend last night - sometimes, one night of relaxation is exactly what you need.