fitness and nutrition

My Dumbbell Museum

A few days ago I shared about some “vintage” Easter treasures that have found new life in our home during the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s another area in our home that has found some new life as we have become more and more isolated.  All the members of my family have lost access to our gym and fitness facilities / practices, so our makeshift basement gym space has become a hub of activity on and off from 6:30 am (my exercise time) on throughout the day.

As with many things in this new “normal” we are making do with what we have. Stuff is coming out of corners, emerging from piles, being excavated after years of gathering dust.  Most of our gym stuff is old, inherited, or has other stories.  Here’s a glimpse of my fitness lives through my gallery of dumbbells.  And these are only the ones that I use(d)…those above 25 just aren’t on my radar at the moment.

Starting with the smallest:

Empower handweights: 2.5 lbs

IMG_7734

I used these when I was trying to walk my weight off.  Before running, before CrossFit, before any of it.  I would pump my arms up and down as I walked. Not sure how to use them in my current routines but anything is possible!

Reebok coated baby dumbbells: 5 lbs

IMG_7707

These are from my “aerobics in front of the TV while the kids are napping” phase.  Seems like not that long ago, but it really was.  I showed these to my son this week and he remembered watching me do my little routines with them from the stairs. Now they are paint-splattered and worn.  But, I remember holding the weights over my head and lowering them behind my head to feel my triceps burn. They work for T-raises and other isolated accessory movements.

Super Star Orbatrons: 11 lbs (yes, 11 pounds which makes them extra awesome!)

These babies, with their sand-filled copper sheen, date back to my childhood. They’re almost as big as my head! And I use them almost every day. I know, you’re jealous.  They’re fabulous. My dad would sit and do curls with these at the dinner table while he was reading the paper.  He was always fighting to retain any bit of strength he could on his ultra-arthritic arms. So these have sentimental value.  They are big and clunky. They are round, which adds a challenge when I am trying to balance on one in pushup position while picking up the other.  But they make me smile in all their 1980’s style glory.

IMG_7758

(Pause to note: I am reallllyyyyy missing 15-pounders right here. I often used those in weighted situps and some of the slower accessory movements.  I keep scanning the internet for used ones almost daily!)

Metal Hex Dumbbells (on bench): 20 lbs.

IMG_7721

These came from my in-laws. They at least have flat sides so they don’t roll around like the 10s do. These are my go-tos for overhead presses and many other movements.   Not much to say about them but they are durable and well used.

Rubber Hex Dumbbell: 25 lbs.

IMG_7929

Finally, the only “new” dumbbell in the bunch.  I bought this when I was at my first CrossFit gym.  That gym had nothing between 20 and 35 pounds, and that span was too big of a jump for me.  So, I bought myself *one* 25-pound dumbbell. I hid it in the ladies dressing area when I wasn’t using it.  It was not too long ago that picking this up was a feat!  I remember doing my first 25-pound single-arm snatch with it only a couple of years ago.  Now, I mainly use it for snatches.  Using it still gets me winded.

I don’t have 30-pounders which stinks.  We have 35s but they are metal.  I’m not especially confident (and I am truly clumsy) so I tend to leave everything over 25 alone, especially since I don’t have a coach watching these days.  But that’s ok.

I move every day, I lift weights, and I’m making do with what I have.  I guess that’s a motto for me at this point fitness-wise.  Making the best with what I have, and hoping for the best as time goes on. It’s not glossy or shiny or perfect or new, kinda like me. As with these dumbbells, there are many ages and pages to my fitness story.  This chapter will be a memorable one.

IMG_7709

 

 

adventure, fitness and nutrition

I Took the Plunge

I signed up for my first triathlon. It’s a pretty big deal in my mind. A challenge I have never done and a test of my fitness at a different level.

Those of you who follow my writings know I am an avid CrossFitter. I also supplement my weekly CrossFit regimen with trainings for events or competitions of sorts.

I have done some 5k’s, 10k’s, 15k’s, a half marathon along with the odd runs. The color run. The mud run. The bubble run. The jail break run. The terrain race. The obstacle-type adventures definitely make the runs a little more fun and a little less boring. They all fill a spot on my calendar. So do CrossFit competitions and the CrossFit Open. Each year I challenge myself and this year is no different. Good thing I got this badass bling holder to hang onto all my keepsake medals or badges of honor!

500m swim with a grand entrance via water slide into the river. I am pretty excited about this feature. Onto a 12-mile bike ride on a road bike that I have yet to procure. Wrapping up with a 5k run on a relatively flat course. Did I mention this was in the heat of July?

Nonetheless the planning has begun or it’s been in the works before I even knew I would sign up. I started my 2020 mileage goal back on 1/1/20 and since then I have done a lot of biking on my stationary bike erg. Over 500 miles of training to be exact so I am confident I will have no issue with the bike portion.

The 5k I should be able to handle as well given my race history the past year however I have been told it’s a grueling run because your legs will be toast from the swim and bike ride. I will soon find out my fate.

And then there is the part I must work hard to train for. A 500-meter swim. I can swim but I’m no superstar. I’m definitely not conditioned to swim. Rather I am a recreational swimmer who takes a lap here and there. Time to buckle down and establish a training plan.

Off I go to work on my overall strength, endurance and positive mind set as I take on a new challenge. My first triathlon. You will be lucky enough to have a front row seat in my journey via this blog.

Gotta go find that perfect road bike stat. Can’t ride without a bike and my beach bike just won’t cut it for this event. Time to power up mentally, physically and emotionally. Wonder if I will have any buddies join me this year.

As a footnote to this post: I often write my posts and sit on them for some period of time before they go online. Maybe I need to finish my thought. Maybe I need to think about how one will view it. So many emotions.

For this post I think to myself, how important is it for me to post? It’s very important because in these uncertain times we see to look ahead and see what is possible when most things seem impossible. Today I’m investing in a new bike. I could go online and buy one on Craigslist or another online site and get a good deal. I’m opting to run to the local bike shop pay a little more and know I did my part to stimulate the economy and help another small business out.

I can ride my bike and socially distance myself while getting some exercise and training for an upcoming event. I hope this post makes you think about what you can do on your end while we face uncertainty in our lives.

There it is. My shiny new red ride. Together we will be knocking out some miles in 2020 together. Just me, the bike, some sweet tunes and a little pavement. #first10miles

fitness and nutrition, healthy hacks

Movement Snacks

IMG_6834

Life is changing quickly these days.

Many of the routines that I thrive on have been either somewhat or completely turned upside down by precautions due to the Coronavirus.

This week, my school district moved to online learning. But, employees in my position still had to come into the school building so I kept my usual schedule of getting up, going to CrossFit (with extra cleaning measures), then heading for work.  This wasn’t a huge deal, but I did notice that at work, I get up and move a whole lot less when students aren’t around.  My calorie activity tracker on my Apple Watch took much longer to reach my daily goal.  The reminder to stand up, which comes on the :50 of the hour if you’ve been sitting the first fifty minutes straight, went off several times during the days.  This never happens!  My job keeps me moving to help students, teach them, and walk throughout the building.

Time for a healthy hack!

So, I started incorporating “movement snacks” into my day.  I was doing inventory tasks in my library while the kids were gone, so every time I finished scanning a shelf, I did 10 hand release pushups.  It was great to break the monotony and get the blood pumping again.  And, it all adds to my goal of 2,020 hand release pushups in 2020!

Today, another change.  I’ll now work fully from home.  My gym is quite far from where I live. It’s much closer to where I work.  That, combined with concerns about health and money (in a family with a small business that will be deeply impacted by all this) means I’ll be at the gym far less frequently.  I do have some home gym equipment, plus I’m training for a triathlon as well.  I’ll be doing different types of workouts, but I plan to continue to wake up early and get moving most days.

I made it to a gym this morning with my daughter then came home to work. After day 1 online I can safely say I need to keep moving not just early but throughout the day to stay mentally and physically strong and fit.  I spent much of today sitting on my butt answering questions and reviewing work. I took a couple of short walks around the yard but I was still mostly sedentary.  I didn’t feel nearly as calm or energetic as I usually do after 8 hours of work…and the irony is that I burned a lot less physical energy!

Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. We all know the rule.

So, tomorrow I’ll get up and take my bike to the park.  It’s already loaded in my car. During work, I’ll experiment with a timer so I stop and move every half hour at least.  Maybe situps.  Maybe the mobility I desperately need to work on. Or the “power jumps” I need to practice to get closer to double unders. Maybe I’ll alternate.  Bite-sized bits of movement spread throughout the day. There are many ways to experiment and keep moving.

Even 10 at a time, everything helps.  How are you continuing to move in this time of change and disruption?

IMG_6962

 

fitness and nutrition

Recovery Around the World

One of my favorite self-made workouts. One of my only self-made workouts. A workout I do with a group of friends to compile miles for our 2020 goals project.

Usually on a weekend. Always early, before the day starts for most. And if we are lucky some of us get to squeeze in breakfast after.

This weekend was 15 miles but I added one on the end for 16 total.

The earlier version of this was about 11-12 miles and it crept up a bit for an added challenge. It takes some time but when you are with friends it doesn’t seem like work at all. That to me is the best kind of workout.

This workout also feels good on your body after. It’s sounds weird but it’s refreshing. From the shoulder work to simple adding in of pushups and sit-ups. I expect to do some version of this workout throughout the year just to get some miles in with a twist and some secondary work.

See a cheetah sighting via leggings in the Sunday Funday pic. Hats off to livesore for a fun print and a super comfy legging. I’m pretty picky about my workout clothes but these get the job done.

Next time you think lazy Sunday drop for 10 pushups and 15 sit-ups. You might surprise yourself!

Staying fit is a choice, but it requires hard work, dedication and a group of likeminded people in your circle of friends to stay the course.

fitness and nutrition, health

Early Morning Madness

I have a routine in the morning. I get up and get my fitness on. It’s repetitive. It’s draining. It’s even torture on some days.

No matter what I try my hardest to keep my routines routine. Sticking to a routine can be challenging when it’s extra cold or pouring down rain in the morning. That’s why you need to make a habit of keeping your morning routines routine. Why? It starts my day off right. If I can push through a tough workout first thing it sets me in motion for a successful day especially since most days I have go sideways or completely upside down.

My mind fires on all cylinders after a good physical push. Even after a competition or race my mind is fresh. No toxicity or negative vibes. I don’t have energy to waste on these. My eating stays on track for the day because my body requires good fuel to replenish what I depleted. There are just so many benefits to a good morning start of exercise.

However, I can have a busy schedule that prohibits me from starting fresh in my routine and regimented style. Do I freak out? Yes of course, but then I bend and flex to make it work.

Maybe today I need to workout at home modified to body weight exercises. I can make this work and so can you. Maybe I need go for a short run/walk while a kid is at practice. Weather can affect this option but it’s viable most days. Maybe I can do some yoga for active recovery. I even hit the gym once in a while at night.

Adding a night workout can be taxing if you wake up and do it again in the morning but there is never a gain for sitting still. Actually the more sedentary you are the worse off you will be down the road.

Recently, I received a link to an interesting podcast and I was able to give it a listen today. It was good and it mirrored my active lifestyle and compliments my journaling and blogging persona. It was interesting to reflect on the podcast and solidify this post.

Journaling, exercising, starting fresh all help tame your mind. When life is full of curve balls, we all need ways to cope. If you are struggling try a morning refresh or reset. Start a new routine.

Maybe you can start small. Morning meditation is a simple and easy way to start your day. Making your bed so you can go to bed fresh is another option. Spending 5 minutes writing down ideas could be another. Many options are available. Challenge yourself.

This month I have definitely posted a few times about mindsets. Keep following along to see where I drop mind tidbits in my blog posts.

fitness and nutrition, hustle

Watching My Language

 

IMG_5691

Like Chick 1 and several others, I am doing the 2,020 in 2020 miles challenge.  We are each putting our own spin on the distance.

I have a little history with this kind of goal.

In 2016, I aimed to walk / run 1,000 miles in a calendar year.  My Big Rule: I had to have my exercise shoes on for those miles to count.  (All the steps I took at work or for daily tasks did not count toward the total.)  Looking back at my mileage tracker, there were many miles that took me 18 minutes, some even longer than 20.  Still, through regular almost-daily efforts, I logged well over 1,100 miles that year.

That was many years and pounds ago. Taking on this new goal…what would be a step forward for me now? Was just doing more miles enough?

When I was thinking about this goal and how I wanted to approach it, I decided to add an extra layer. I wanted a different challenge, so I made a new Big Rule.

That Big Rule has meant a *lot* of time on the Ski Erg and the rowing machine at our box. Sometimes I row five miles at a stretch, which is pretty unusual in our community. After all, CrossFit is based around constantly varied movements.  It’s sort of odd to stay on one thing for thirty minutes or more. After walking past me several times, people will ask me what I’m doing.

I’d tell them about the mile challenge, then say:

“I have to do 10% on the ski erg (202 miles), 10% on the hiking trail, 10% running, 10% biking, and 10% rowing.”

At least that’s what I told people when they asked me why I was spending 20 straight minutes on the ski erg or 45 on the rower.  I’m doing it because I have to.

But after saying it this way several times I stood back and thought, no one is forcing me to do it this way.  I chose this.  And I chose it purposefully. I set a big, hairy, audacious, I’m-not-entirely-sure-I-will-accomplish-it goal.  I thought of something that made me nervous and DARED myself to do it.

So now, if people ask, I say I CHOSE to do 10% on the ski erg (202 miles), 10% on the hiking trail, 10% running, 10% biking, and 10% rowing.

Or I GET to do it.  Maybe I should say I DARED myself to do it.  Through my words I need to EMBRACE it – the grand, ridiculous, audacious (im)possibility of all those crazy miles and the long journey they represent.

These little words matter.  I am trying to pay more attention to how I use my words.  As a word person, you’d think I would be more careful, but I know my negativity and woe-is-me creeps in often when I am lazy or just inattentive. It’s sloppy old thinking and serves no one.  These miles aren’t part of some sort of penalty or sentence.  They are a challenge I set before myself to stretch my limits.  A good thing.

My first month went pretty well. I’ve discovered that in addition to the pages logging each variety of miles, I like a page of stars for every 10 miles I complete. Not gonna lie, though, it’s a long road. I am working on my patience muscles, which will undoubtedly get a workout in the face of a goal that I can’t just speed through.  I’m finding my footing and my balance.  And if you notice, there’s still 50% of my miles that I can choose to do with as I wish.  Don’t be surprised if dancing and cartwheels show up on my log.

IMG_5693

 

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition, health

I Pulled My Groin or Maybe It’s a Lot Worse

I was recently at a business meeting and my CrossFit dedication came into conversation. I didn’t start the conversation. Another individual at the table did.

Said person vocalized how everyone she has known who has attempted CrossFit got injured. It’s such a dangerous sport. Why do you pay for suffering? One even severely pulled their groin.

I almost giggled out loud. In my several years of CrossFitting I have not once heard of somebody injuring their groin. Let alone seriously injuring it. I’m sure it’s possible but it made me giggle.

Back injuries can happen, shoulders can be impacted as well as knees and elbows. But aren’t there risks involved in most sports? Isn’t this why we sign waivers?

I know one can always scale or adapt any workout to avoid injury. For example if you tweaked your back one should not do a deadlift. If one’s calf muscles are tight they could stretch or roll out vs. risking injury. The point is being active has benefits.

Fear can be a factor for many trying something new. However the physical and mental benefits of CrossFit far out weigh the possibility of injury if you follow your certified coach’s instructions. This is my opinion but I know many who share my thoughts on the subject.

I am thankful for a great box to workout in, a great group of coaches and an amazing community. I am also thankful for my health.

In today’s busy and hectic world many lose sight of their health and fitness. In recent weeks I have seen a colleague have a major stroke causing a huge rippling effect on family and friends who were not prepared for such a catastrophe. Another business associate was diagnosed with cancer. These instances along with my parents aging gave me pause to reflect.

Most get guidance on wills as they age. How many actually have an emergency network in place should one get hit by a bus or have a unforeseen tragedy? Most don’t.

This ties back to my time article. The value of it and how we spend it. If we are hoarding at home is it fair to leave your loved ones with the burden of cleaning up your mess when you pass on?

If you have kids that need care, have you talked to good friends or your loved ones about if anything took you out of commission who could jump in and keep a sense of normal for the kids?

If you run a business do you have a person who can fill a short or a long term business role in a pinch?

If you are married and you carry the family health insurance and can’t take time off to care for a loved one in the hospital do you have a support network to help?

Maybe you spend some time thinking about this. A heart attack, a fall, cancer, a stroke or worse can happen. You can have a plan penciled out and your loved ones have a starting point so they don’t need to worry during a chaotic time.

Life has challenges. I started this article about the risk of CrossFit but it twisted and turned to life and how unpredictable life can be. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Live for today and be as prepared as you can for the unknown if you are a primary care giver to one or many.