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

Misty Morning Ride

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I rode along in the wee hours of the morning.  I had been waiting for the sun to rise forever.  When it was still dark, I cruised along through the parking lots, near empty at that hour, hazy streetlights diffusing a bit of light over a few jogging shadows.

The thick fog delayed the sun’s long-awaited entrance.  Finally, it was light enough to go around the trails.

Still early, still quiet, I zipped through the trees, making my way along the wide path when I noticed them.  White gauzy splotches hanging from the trees.  At first I thought it must be some kind of infestation.  A caterpillar nest, like the ones that cover our side yard pecan tree some years.  Maybe some other insect.

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Then I noticed more of the white patches as I rode along the more-than-a-mile route.  And more.  And then even more.  Seemed to be no rhyme or reason. They were between grasses and next to ponds ponds, resting on leaves and spread between branches.  High and low, big and small, many and few.

Kind of eerie, if you ask me.  Sort of like white cotton candy, but more like someone took little gobs of that white webbing they bring out on Halloween and placed millions of little patches of it everywhere.  On a foggy March morning, it was jarring as I pedaled by.

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Then I realized, it was only spider webs. Hundreds of them, scattered in the woods. The heavy fog gathered on them, tiny little droplets, making them appear white in morning’s misty haze.

And then I thought, these webs were there all along, sitting there, doing their job.  The work of hundreds of spiders, usually invisible, now illuminated by a simple change in the weather.

It made me think about what’s happening right now.  This coronavirus crisis.  I think of the stories I hear of people sewing masks, people sharing supplies they have, shopping for elderly and at-risk neighbors, companies opening up content to those in need, people sharing talents online to lift others up.

I’ve also heard stories of anger, of stress, of disregard and racism and unkindness.  The ugly side.

As this disease washes over us, like the mist on those spider webs, what will it bring to light about us that was always already there?  Will it be the best of us? Kindness, generosity, patience?  Or will it be something else, something scary? Hoarding? Selfishness?

There’s no doubt this crisis will reveal who we are.  What will it reveal about you?  About me?

Like a web, we are all connected.  May this change in weather show us how we are bound together in strong and positive ways.  Another opportunity to choose daily.

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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

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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, 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.

healthy hacks

Refresh, Recharge, Repeat

​​This is my triple threat for 2020. How do I refresh, recharge and repeat?
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​​I set out with 10 massage sessions at a spa within a mega-gym. Said gym has a pool, hot tub, sauna, spa, healthy eating arena, and all the gym equipment you could ever want to use.
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​​If you pay for a service at the spa you are entitled to use of the facility for the day. I’m specifically not naming the mega-gym because I love this feature as I am a non-member. Now that $100 massage has a lot more value. I also bought a block of massages in volume thus lowering my cost to less than $80.
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​​I make sure to get in some cardio, get my deep tissue massage, head to the pool for a swim then into the sauna as many times as I can. Over and over again from cold to hot. It’s amazingly refreshing.
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​​This type of day is more of an active recovery session for me but it’s full of many benefits. If you have a facility near you that offers a similar option, take advantage!
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​​I will spread my 10 visits over the year to give me the right amount of recovery from massage that works within my budget and time constraints.
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​​In this scenario I unplug from technology as well for about 4 hours. It’s a great opportunity to recharge. Obviously this works for me. This is the repeat feature. Also if my investment is $80 for the massage but I spend four hours at the facility I am definitely getting my money’s worth.
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​​Just another healthy hack for you in 2020 from 2 Chicks and a Pen. Recovery is part of staying healthy. Me time to reset my mind is equally beneficial. Don’t forget to flip your recharge switch.

dare to be different, friendship

A Little Chick Story

I am sure some of you are looking for a flirty chick flick type of story, but this is just a chick story about where we got our start. Boring to some but memorable to us.

2 Chicks and a Pen met on the lacrosse field. One chick on each side of the fence which is so symbolic to our overall bond and relation in general. One chick was a coach and one chick was a spectator. A particular spectator who spent most days hiding under an umbrella avoiding the sun, the shade, people, and rain on any given day. The coach however was loud and in-your-face kind of coach which was what made the two most unlikely to be paired in the way we are today.

An unlikely duo developed a friendship first through their kids. Then quickly friends turned into extended family. From there the friendship developed into a deep-rooted partnership that took on the brand that we know today as 2 Chicks and a Pen.

3 children’s books published, a business formed, countless blog adventures documented, thousands of fans around the world, and so many memories made. From napkin scribbles at a local restaurant to book signings to field research destinations, we have experienced so much on our path and we have so more ahead of us.

The picture below shows us running a 15k together this month. We have also run a half marathon, some 5k extreme races and some 10k races together. I’m sure when we started writing together running races wasn’t even a blip on the radar. Now we schedule fitness events throughout the year. This is just one of the ways we have grown in love of fitness, friendship and ability to share stories with others.

The way the story goes, we launched in 3 days according to Chick 2, but that’s fairly inaccurate. We actually have several years under our belt currently. Originally we connected almost immediately but that’s not 3 days or even 3 weeks. We began using writing prompts as a way to get to know each other. We traded countless hours writing and chatting. Trust followed.

Soon after, 2 Chicks and a Pen hatched as a legitimate business entity. Goals were set. Timelines established. Projects mapped out on the horizon. We went on to naturally evolve as writers, motivators, athletes and so much more. Our story is unique to us. Nobody will be able to replicate our vision.

The creative spark we have is definitively categorized as amazing. Our timeline is limitless. Our zest for life and sharing it on a large scale is fearless. Our opposite personalities is part of the dynamic. We just do things the #2chx way.

Our journey has had many twists and turns and ups and downs to say the least. We live life so it’s expected. Juggling families, careers, life and our own personal journeys. Somehow on our path Chick 2 joined the Crossfit movement and hasn’t looked back. We did some research and development on nutrition and used ourselves as guinea pigs. Some of these stories we share on this very blog. That’s just one of the side bars that spun off of 2 Chicks. One of many.

We took the road less traveled. We are a legal business entity. We register our business and pay taxes each year. We have a big online presence yet we are active in our community. We have an expensive hobby but we set out with a goal to improve lives through literacy. Whether we write on paper, print our stories in book form or write online we are communicating in our grandest fashion. We are succeeding at our mission and leaving a literal legacy behind.

Word wizards of sorts. We have so much to share some days that we are busting at the seams. While other days we may suffer from writer’s block and can’t string a sentence together. One chick may hold on to featured articles for days or weeks or even months on end until they reach perfection. One chick may write away fast in the moment but has to rewrite several times to correct typos. It’s a creative process for us. We do it over and over and love every opportunity we can sink our teeth into.

My favorite memory to date is reading our stories to kids and having them ask questions about us, our writing process and the whys behind the stories. When they realize what’s beyond the book itself their curiosity sparks. I want to be a writer! I want to be an illustrator! I want to make a cartoon book with my friend! Those innocent but curious minds are in growth mode. Exposing them to our stories lets them see opportunities for themselves. Infinite opportunities.

Chick 1’s writing process is notably different than Chick 2’s. Neither is wrong or right, just different. We are constantly evolving and choosing our path(s) as we mature in our creative minds. Keep watching.

We appreciate you joining in on our public ride or chickscapades whether it’s one post you read or many. We leave a trail of chick dust here, there and everywhere. You may see us on the web, maybe you follow us on Instagram, maybe you catch our tweets, maybe you are one of our local pals who knows us around town. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, we love you.

As Valentine’s week is upon us. We wanted to share a little of our inside story to you. As a sort of love story for the world. Our love of literacy. Our passion for serving others through words. Who doesn’t love a good back story.

Give us a like online. A social share. Be our Valentine this year. Send us a sweet note. A quick feedback note can let us know what you like about our brand. If you don’t like us it’s okay, we know we are not a one-size-fits-all model. That’s why you can choose to visit our page or invest in our books.

2 Chicks’ next public event is on 2/22/20, an event honoring Veterans and supporting suicide prevention efforts, which is near and dear to both Chicks’ hearts. If you are interested in getting involved check out this link. You can donate online.

http://www.official22wod.com/

Happy Valentine’s week!