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

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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

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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perspective

Flip Flopping Frustrations

This morning my frustrations were mounting.  The workouts I decided on weren’t what I expected.  My home gym equipment kept failing or falling over.  I wasn’t sweating enough.  The scale was up.  My morning reading time didn’t settle my mind as it usually does.  Another day of staring at a computer screen (aka working from home) was about to begin. Anger, irritation, all of it piling up, no end in sight.

Woe is me.

I had a come to Jesus with myself and told myself to quit griping.  Yes, a lot of the pandemic pandemonium sucks but we are making it work.  I told myself to make a list of my frustrations then flip them into reasons to be grateful.  Some remind me to be grateful for what I have now, others remind me to be grateful for what I used to have and will hopefully return to.  Here it is:

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It’s in the notebook I’ve set aside to chronicle this crazy time. I’ve read in several places that journaling, while always important, is especially valuable now, for mental health as well as historical reasons.  We are living history. I know I will add more pages of frustration as this time wears on.  I’ll keep reading it and reminding myself to flip my frustrations into appreciation.

Spring break begins today.  What would have been sweet relief and possibly getting out of town is not a shelter-in-place order that will last two weeks.  Our one week off of school will be followed by at least three more of learning from home.  I will spend time preparing my mind for these challenges this week.  I’ll also devote some time to gratitude to friends, family, and those who are serving on the front lines of this crisis.  And hopefully get out into the sunshine and nature often with those who are closest to me.

When you start to get stuck or go down the path of anxiety, see if you can flip your thinking.  Focus on gratitude and what you can control. What switch can you flip today?

fitness and nutrition, healthy hacks

Movement Snacks

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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?

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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.

awareness

22 WOD to End Veteran Suicide

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The facts are stark and grim.

Approximately 22 veterans die by suicide each day.  The Official WOD to End Veteran Suicide aims to bring awareness to this issue through fitness and fundraising.

I had seen this event advertised for two years.  But, it always fell during the CrossFit Open which seemed to swallow up mine and my gym community’s attention.  With the Open’s move to the fall months, this year was the year to take the dare and lead the event at my home gym.  This was a challenge for me on multiple levels.

I’ll talk about the logistics in a later post, but for now I just want to honor the event itself, those who participated, and what I learned about the issue behind the event.

Suicide has a personal meaning to me.  My grandmother died by suicide when I was young. Adding insult to memory, I was made to feel shame over and disgust for what she did. I will share that story at some point down the road, but just for that reason, bringing suicide into the light and open conversation has become more important to me in my adult life.

The veteran connection is not as direct for me.  I have immense respect for the military, their families, and the sacrifices they make for my freedom and liberty.  I don’t pretend to know what they go through, but I try to keep learning how to be more aware, ask questions, and listen.

Organizing this event brought me learning I could not have predicted.  It turns out that multiple people in our gym community are veterans themselves who have struggled with PTSD and lost friends and family to suicide.  Opening up conversations about this enabled a new level of connection and empathy in me.

Perhaps the most profound moments of the morning were when, in line with the rules of the workout, we stopped every 22 minutes for 22 seconds of silence, to remember those who have died by suicide. After a morning of logistics, setup, money collection, answering questions, I finally got to do the workout myself. When the moment of silence came, I was overcome with emotion.

I am not a good “off the cuff” speaker. I knew I wanted to say a little something, so I shared this before the workout began. I hope this, along with some photos, gives you a sense of the event. I encourage you to dare to step forward and add your voices and your effort to the causes that matter to you this year.

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Murph, DT, Chad. Names many of us know. The famous hero WODS of CrossFit. Some of the hardest most intense workouts we do in the CrossFit Community.

Today we are here for different names and different heroes. Heroes named Cook, White, Ambrose, Love and many more. These names are all veterans, friends and family of those here today, who have died by suicide. Their stories may be less famous. Their wounds may be less visible. But those wounds are just as real and their loss is just as honorable and deeply felt.

As you go through the movements, many have names underneath them. The names of those friends and family. So think of them as we put for our sweat and effort and resources and attention to their wounds, their suffering, their heroism, and ultimately, to contribute to changing the lives of veterans after they return home. Your efforts today support Operation Ward 57 through their hope and courage programs…these provide service dogs and hotline support to veterans. I know many of us are familiar with the healing that comes with faithful canine companions and a listening ear at the time we need it most.

Our last movement, the sprints, has no name…it is for the many who suffer in silence. Who are still fighting. Who are still running even though they are exhausted, in pain, may feel they have very little left. We dig deep and keep going. So today isn’t for rounds or for reps or for time. Today’s efforts are simply for them.

working women

Road Trip Woes

This month has been a whirlwind of sorts. Had to travel for work. Had to travel as a coach. Had to travel for personal events. This translated into lots of miles in the car and days away from routine and comfort.

Adding mileage to the car was the easy part of the trip. The challenge was having to find a way to get my exercise miles in for my fitness goals. I had to make friends or enemies with the hotel gyms over and over again. I had to make do with the options I had.

First trip leg was monsoon-like weather conditions. Heavy rains cause accidents and delayed arrivals. Leg two was just long and boring. Nothing exciting to report except arriving where the weather was much warmer. Hoping for a good night’s sleep in hotel #1.

Life on the road whether for business or pleasure always makes routines challenging. From getting to the gym, eating healthy and sleeping well you have to be persistent and self-disciplined. Nobody makes the time and effort but you. Trust me when I say this.

Hotel 1 had a gym that was a few buildings away as it was a shared campus setting with a couple of hotel brands. This was not the end of the world but it made me less likely to work out because of the distance I had to go. Excuse #1 on the trip.

Next challenge was group meals. Those who want to dine out, get dessert and and and. I’m going to have to put in some serious work when I return to make up for my travel diet. Meal prep, healthy snacks and access to my fridge and kitchen make a big difference. This is definitely a crappy element of travel.

Before I’m on to leg 2, I must admit I’m a fitness freak. A freak of sorts passionate about all things that equate to a healthy lifestyle. This trip was further confirmation for me personally. I was active, but my intensity level was diminished. My constantly varied fitness regimen was more limited to walking. Walk slow in a group or walk slow carrying a load. Either way my Apple Watch wasn’t dinging up the active points as easily.

Let’s add in stress. Environmental stress. Travel stress. Poop stress which is defined as the inability to consistently regulate one’s bowel movements compliments of poor eating choices when on the road. I would say this makes travel just blah, which is an irony I found in the form of a sign of bathroom stall at one of my business meetings…..wait for it:

Was somebody trying to tell me something? It’s interesting that I was writing this post mid-trip and boom this was front and center in the restroom. I guess that’s why I’m opting to share this wisdom with you. I mean who doesn’t like a good poop story anyway? 

And then the fire alarm at the hotel at 3 am sort of added a wrinkle into the trip. It’s hard to fall back to sleep after the extremely loud alarm is piercing your ears for many minutes. It could have been a real fire and a lot worse but the sound of crying kids above and below you in a hotel at that hour is not fun from the backlash of the alarm. Again it could have been much worse but it was still aggravating.

On the road again and guess what? Rain! It’s raining again. Not just a sprinkle, the monsoon-like raining that is a pain to drive in. Extra stationary time in the car, how fun?

Another hotel in the books. A little work. A little less play. On to another stretch of roadway that is pretty desolate. Miles and miles of nothing. Driving this stretch of road is similar to watching paint dry. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

A brief pit stop to see my puppy and relieve my dog sitter then back on the road again. Wasn’t I just on this stretch of road? Why yes I was. Same route, different destination. Add in a new playlist to spice up the road trip. Karaoke party of one here I come!

And who would have guessed? More rain. A lot more rain making road travel that much more of a pain in the rear. Back in the saddle I go for a few weeks until my next trip which is by plane in a few short weeks. Time to get back on my routine. My fitness and eating healthy routine. No excuses!

Thanks for being a passenger on my road trip to what seemed like nowhere. But I did go somewhere. And I have lots of memories some which I shared and some which I didn’t. I guess that’s the beauty of being a storyteller. I choose what I tell and don’t tell.

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.