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The One Where I’m a Yogi

9 May

So after my big “decision” to become more food-oriented on this blog, I have not made mention of any of my recent workout habits. Oddly enough, right around the time I decide to talk more about food, my exercise habits changed pretty dramatically. Here’s what a typical week used to look like:

Monday – Body Pump after work

Tuesday – Spin or boot camp class after work

Wednesday – See Monday

Thursday – See Tuesday

Friday – Rest

Saturday/Sunday – potential treadmill or HIIT workout at the gym in Stefano’s apartment.

When I decided to commit to Chobani’s 10 for 10 goals back in March, my first goal was to attend yoga more regularly and get on my yoga mat at least twice a week.

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Well, once I got into it I was addicted. I loved the feeling of being relaxed yet energized and even when I would go into class feeling sluggish and unmotivated I always left feeling challenged and refreshed. In short, it was everything a good workout is supposed to be. The problem? I felt guilty because I didn’t consider yoga a real “workout”. Sure it was beneficial to my body and made me feel great, but up until then it was not a workout if I didn’t get my sweat on.

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After a few weeks of grudgingly dragging myself to the treadmill or to classes I wasn’t excited about, I said “screw it”. I was getting so much more out of yoga than I was when I exercised and wasn’t looking forward to it. It was kind of like blogging: once it starts to feel like a chore, you shouldn’t do it anymore. So I ditched the spin and boot camp and now my weeks look something like this:

Monday – Evening yoga, Pilates, walk home (about 2.5 miles)

Tuesday – AM walk to gym, AM yoga, PM yoga, walk home

Wednesday – Walk to work, PM yoga, Zumba, walk home

Thursday – AM walk to gym, AM yoga, PM yoga, walk home

Friday – Rest

Saturday/Sunday – 5k on treadmill in Stefano’s gym

I started supplementing yoga with a brisk walk to and from work and home, which is about 5 miles round-trip. It adds a nice bit of cardio to my day, but it’s productive and I’d rather do an hour walk while on the phone with my mom than crank out a half hour of jogging on the treadmill. Overall, it’s many more hours of exercise, but it’s all fairly low impact and I am noticing how much better my body feels. Before, my body would feel simply exhausted by the end of the week and I felt as if I wasn’t giving it rest. Now, even though I’m moving around for about 3.5-4 hours a day, I feel rejuvenated in the mornings and there aren’t any aches and pains in my joints and muscles.

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Is it a bigger time commitment? Yes, but I am enjoying how I am passing my time and I am beyond thrilled with how my yoga practice is progressing. In the past two months I have been able to stay in poses that I struggled with for ages (parsva bakasana, eka pada galavasana) and I can tell that my practice is expanding by leaps and bounds. I look forward to getting on my mat and I always leave feeling like it was an hour well spent.

I’ve also been enjoying the various outdoor yoga events on the National Mall. Lululemon and Down Dog Yoga hosted one a couple of weeks ago for the 5th anniversary of Down Dog Yoga studio and this past weekend was a 2-hour event at the Constitution Gardens to culminate the end of DC Yoga week.

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Am I burning as many calories as I used to? No. But I am getting stronger (your own body weight is an amazing strength training mechanism) and I haven’t gained any weight, so I am going to stick with it until it no longer appeals to me.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the best exercise is the one you can maintain. On days that I get a craving for a run, I get on the treadmill or run outside. Feeling some weights? I’ll head to Body Pump. I love having options and it is freeing to know that I haven’t pigeon-holed myself into a prescribed or acceptable workout routine. I encourage you all to do the same.

For now, I am embracing my inner yogi and loving every moment of it.

Namaste!

Quickie Lunch Workout

30 Jan

Supposedly, we’re in the middle of winter over here, not that you’d be able to tell…

IMG_1972[1]Makes zero sense. I don’t even know how to dress myself when I go outside! I won’t complain though, it’s nice to not have to brace yourself when you walk out the door.

My friend Lucy arrived in the city yesterday and I picked her up from Union Station after work. She’s only in town for a couple of days, so I’ve planned on doing my workouts on my lunch break so I am free after work.

Workout

Yesterday’s workout was quick, but intense. I was totally covered in sweat by the end, plus I didn’t have to rush to get back to work because it left me with enough time to clean myself up. Double win.

Quickie Lunch WorkoutI did my warm up and cool down on the treadmill at an easy 12 min/mile pace. All in all, it took me just a little over half an hour to complete the workout, from the moment I stepped on the treadmill for the warm up, to when I stepped off at the end of my cool down.

IMG_1971[1]If you are using any of my workouts, I highly recommend that you download the GymBoss app (it’s free) for your phone, or invest in some kind of interval timer (GymBoss has them on their website for ~$20).

While looking over the workout, if some of the activities look unfamiliar to you, you can find demonstrations of them on YouTube quite easily. I have linked some of the exercises below:

Eats

Lately I’ve found myself falling off the clean-eating wagon over the weekends. My meals on those days consists mainly of carbs and fat -I ate two cheese quesadillas for dinner the other night – and it leaves me feeling like I have to play catch-up during the week. One of my goals for this weekend is to stick to my 80-20 plan so I don’t feel ‘blah’ on Monday morning. The weekends need to have less of this:

The 'S' was for Sharks, as in the NHL team.

The ‘S’ was for Sharks, as in the NHL team.

And more of this:

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Monday night’s dinner: salmon fillet on a bed of mixed rice, side of sauteed stir-fry vegetables.

and this:

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Yesterday’s lunch + pre-workout snack: Leftover rice and vegetables, sweet potato medallions with cinnamon, tangerine, green grapes, and trail mix.

Tonight, Lucy and I are meeting some old high school friends for dinner and then more girl-talk at home. Having a guest in the middle of the week is such a nice way to pick things up!

Food for Thought: Do you tend to eat differently over the weekend and during the week? What is your biggest obstacle to eating healthy food?

Baby It’s Cold Outside Tabata Workout

25 Jan

It’s still cold and it’s getting pretty old (ha, I rhymed!) but at least it’s Friday!

It’s becoming more and more difficult to get to the gym and it seems as if I’m only making it there for Body Pump on Mondays and Wednesdays because I just can’t get enough of the Pump! Luckily, I am getting better about doing my at-home workouts and came up with a pretty awesome full-body circuit yesterday.

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The circuit is done tabata style, which is an exercise protocol developed by Izumi Tabata of Japan. He conducted a study involving a series of tests on two groups of athletes which compared moderate high intensity training with high intensity interval training (HIIT).

In group one, the athletes trained at moderate intensity (70% intensity) for one hour, five days a week, for a total of six weeks.

Group two trained at high intensity (170%) for four minutes, four days a week, for a total of six weeks. The 4 minute session consisted of eight rounds of 20 seconds of intense training (170% intensity) followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Results

Group 1 had a significant increase in the aerobic system (cardiovascular system). However, the anaerobic system (muscles) gained little or no results at all.

Group 2 showed significant increase in their aerobic systems and their anaerobic systems increased by 28%.

Conclusion? According to the study, “adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems.”

Basic Tabata Design

Any exercise can be incorporated into the Tabata training, but the protocol for the basic Tabata method is:
•    4 minutes long
•    20 seconds of intense, as hard as you can go training
•    10 seconds of rest
•    8 rounds

When I say I did this “Tabata-style”, it means I incorporated the idea of rounds of intense exercise with brief rest periods, but this particular workout was 24 rounds, meaning four rounds of each of the six exercises.

If you have a Smartphone, there is a great app that helps with this style of training. It’s the GymBoss app and it’s free! When you open the app, it looks a little something like this:

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As you can see, the timer in purple is set for my 24 rounds, with 30 seconds on and 10 seconds off.

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You can change the background colors so it is easy to tell when your 30 seconds is up and you can rest. I make it super easy for myself by making the 30-second “on” period in green and the 10 seconds of rest in red.

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Green means go and red means stop! If you look near the bottom, you will see how many rounds you have left to complete, as well. The timer can be set for any number of intervals, for any period of time. It’s like a stopwatch on steroids.

Exercise demonstrations and modifications

I did the side lunges and tricep kickbacks with a 10-pound weight, but if you want it to be equipment free, you could always substitute the kickbacks for some tricep dips. For those who are not familiar, here is a link for a dive bomber push-up video tutorial. I definitely feeling those near the end and had to go down on my knees.

I added a flutter kick to the Superman, so it look a little something like this:

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V-Ups:

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Side lunges:

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The nice thing about training at home is you can eat and shower right after your workout. I made myself a heaping bowl of roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts, sprinkled with some grated mozzarella cheese. On the side was a big smoothie with frozen berries, a banana, plain Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and some vanilla soy milk to get everything moving.

IMG_1945[1]Post-workout, I crashed on the couch and watched American Idol with my roommates. This was the first time I had seen the show since Kelly Clarkson was on it in the first season! I can’t believe that Ryan Seacrest is still doing it. One of the background songs in the show was ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ by Bruno Mars and none of us could get it out of our heads for the rest of the night! An impromptu dance session in  the kitchen may or may not have happened…

My goal this weekend is to make it to the gym for at least one yoga session. The more strength training I do, the more I find my muscles feeling tight and cramped. A good stretching sesh is much needed!

Food For Thought: Are your workouts short and sweet or is quantity > quality?

It is still taking some time for me to get used to the idea of short workouts being equally as effective, but I sure do appreciate the extra time in the day!

Wishing you all a very happy weekend ❤

19.8

19 Dec

Good morning! This morning’s alarm came a little too soon because I was up late, reading Gretchen Powell’s debut novel! I’ve been reading her blog for a little while now and as soon as the book was available, I downloaded it to my Kindle.

IMG_1642[1]I’ll post a review of it later, but I thought it was a nice, easy read. It’s meant to be the first book in a dystopian series  and the ending definitely asks for a sequel.

I realize that I’ve been neglecting to post my eats the last few days. Sometimes I just forget to take pictures of my food and it’s gone before I even realize it – whoops! Since I’m leaving for Seattle on Saturday morning, I only did a very small grocery shop over the weekend so I don’t have food going to waste. Lately, I’ve been a big fan of fried egg sandwiches for breakfast and have been eating them virtually every day. They’re quick and easy and taste delicious!

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Lunches have been mostly salad-based (packaged greens were BOGO at Giant) and I’ve taken to eating those delicious red grapes every chance I get! In this particular sandwich thin, I spread some garlic hummus from Trader Joe’s, but I’m also a big fan of using a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese when I feel like switching things up.

IMG_1641[1]Like I said yesterday, I was feeling a quick workout that would get me in and out of the gym last night. I started with a 20 minute interval workout on the elliptical before completing this circuit workout. It’s almost Christmas so I feel like Washington should feel winter-y, but it’s not! The weather has been unseasonably warm. In that vein, I decided to call this workout the Not So Winter Wonderland.

Not So Winter WonderlandI was good and sweaty by the end of the workout, especially with the Burpees – those never fail to get my heart rate skyrocketing. As I was stretching, I noticed that the body fat analyzer was out, so I decided to see where I was. When I first measured my body fat in July, I was at 21.7% and I set a goal to go sub-20% so I could fit into the ‘athlete’ category on the body fat chart. Five months later?

IMG_1644[1]Goal reached! I am pretty thrilled with myself, especially because I didn’t really make a concerted effort to eliminate body fat – I have mostly been focusing on increasing my strength and endurance. It’s nice to see all my effort pay off in a tangible way after all these months! This has made me more sure than ever that the best way to take care of your body is to eat right and get your body moving.

On the walk home from the gym, I was greeted with a row of houses all decked out in Christmas lights.

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I imagined how pretty they would look if the streets were covered in snow and all you could see were the lights twinkling. Come on, winter wonderland!

Because I’m trying to clear out the fridge, I decided to make dinner using some big portobello mushrooms that have been in my fridge for a little while. Originally I was going to make portobello burgers, but when I looked at how big they were, I thought it might be interesting to stuff them, instead! What I ended up doing was putting them on a cookie sheet and putting them in the oven for five minutes on ‘broil’. Then I took them out and cracked an egg in each one and put them back in until the eggs were cooked through, about five more minutes. While they were still hot, I topped them with a little bit of marinara sauce and some shredded mozzarella – pizza mushrooms!

IMG_1646[1]A peanut butter sandwich thin also made an appearance which was a perfect hit of sweetness after the mushrooms. Next time, I think I’ll try stuffing them with some sort of grain like couscous or bulgher. I’ve been avoiding quinoa for the past few months because I suspect that it upsets my stomach. I’ll probably give it a go again so just so I can confirm it.

Now it’s another new day and I’m one day closer to vacation! I’m already fantasizing about all the Seattle restaurants I’m going to frequent as soon as I arrive, but that is a post for another day.

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Way to Get Around It

14 Nov

Hello and happy Wednesday! I woke up five minutes before my alarm, which I always love. The sound of an alarm clock is such an annoying way to wake up, so it’s nice when it happens naturally and I can avoid that jarring noise at 6:30 AM.

I had some good eats yesterday and this morning, but I’m going to run through them pretty quickly because there is a topic today that I really want to address.

 

This morning’s breakfast started out as a fairly uninspired bowl of yogurt with chia seeds, until I remembered that I had some leftover sweet potato spice oatmeal from yesterday and stirred that into the yogurt. YUM. What a happy accident: great texture and a nice hint of sweet potato to spice up the morning. I will definitely be doing that agan.

Yesterday’s lunch was all about plant power: steamed broccoli with balsamic vinegar, carrots, a Gala apple, and a sandwich thing with hummus. It’s back to being pretty chilly in Washington, so I warmed myself up with a cup of that amazing cinnamon spice tea from Caribou Coffee.

When I got back from the gym, I had to get creative with my dinner. Stef and I didn’t make it to Trader Joe’s for our Friday date, so I scoured the pantry for something to eat and stumbled across some whole wheat couscous I had purchased awhile back. While that was cooking, I sauteed some frozen vegetables together with two pieces of sun dried tomato and basil chicken sausage from TJ’s. Plus extras for today’s lunch – hooray!

Workout Recap

As you know, I tried a new group class at my gym for the first time yesterday and I think it went really well! I’m definitely feeling a little sore today, especially in the shoulder and upper back area where there was a lot of emphasis yesterday. Here’s a quick and easy breakdown of what the workout looked like after our warm-up, which consisted of running up and down the stairs at the gym (it’s four levels) six times.

 

Have no idea what a goblet squat is? Neither did I, but apparently it’s very popular in CrossFit workouts. Here’s a tutorial of what it looks like:

The Russian swing was another kettle bell exercise I was unfamiliar with. Behold:

It was really fun to switch things up and learn some new moves! On Thursday I am signed up for a spin class (my first ever) and I am looking forward to that. I find that keeping things new and fresh helps with my motivation to get to the gym and gives me something to look forward to during my work day.

Warning: Rant Ahead

So the larger issue I wanted to write about today is sort of a pet peeve I’ve always had, but has recently resurfaced in light of postings by numerous friends and acquaintances in social media.

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I have noticed recently that some people I know are getting into (or at least being vocal about getting into) fad diets, namely diets that consists of meal-replacement shakes, pills, etc. I have refrained from talking to them because they’re grown-ups and it’s really none of my business what they decide to do with their bodies, but I find myself getting really worked up because I know how temporary these methods are and the kind of damage they do to one’s body. I found an infographic that sums a lot of it up in one nice, little picture.

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If you’ll notice, the only diets that seem to work (Weight Watchers, Mediterranean, etc.) are the diets that incorporate a varied, balanced diet. Even Slim Fast, which has the seal of approval by this chart, is low in vitamins and high in sugar. Now, I am not a dietitian and I am not a doctor, but I am fairly positive (through research and personal experience) that the only way to achieve long-term, healthy weight loss is not through a diet, but a permanent lifestyle change in diet and exercise.

There is no way to get around diet and exercise if you want to change your body in a healthy, permanent way. In this day and age, we are so accustomed to instant gratification that I think it is difficult to accept that losing weight or gaining muscle or whatever your goals are for your body take time, patient, and effort. I have tried the starvation route and it doesn’t work. Well, it works, but it isn’t sustainable and it isn’t good for your body.

This is an issue I feel really passionate about and don’t have the time to delve fully into the myriad reasons why lifestyle changes are vital to achieving the goals one has for their body, so consider this a rather disjointed prelude to a longer discussion I want to continue to have on this blog.

End Rant

ANYWAY, thanks for your patience and I would love to hear your opinions on what I’ve written! I think the healthy living community is made up of people from so many different backgrounds and experiences such that each person has something unique to contribute to the conversation.

Food For Thought: Have you ever tried a “fad diet”? Do you agree or completely disagree with my opinion on fad diets?

 

 

 

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