February check in

2019 started so well and I made good progress in January. Then February hit, and I developed a massive case of the fuck-its. I don’t know if it was all the rainy days, which always make me want to hunker down and hibernate with tea and books, or what, but my motivation was nearly non-existent this past month. I made poor food choices and chose sleep over working out, more often than not, and because of that I gained the four pounds I lost in January. While I also gained more muscle, and my endurance is a little better, I didn’t lose any inches anywhere and I’m back where I started in the beginning of the year.

March hasn’t exactly started with a bang, but I love a new beginning and fresh start, so this month I’m trying to push myself more. I got 11 miles in the first weekend which kicked my ass, but I got them done. And I’ve been adding the letter workouts, that I meant to do in February, to my workouts this month, and I’m already feeling them. Motivation or not, it all comes down to that Nike slogan: Just do it. I’m not going to feel motivated. Do it anyway. I’m going to be tired and sore. Do it anyway. The only workout I’ve ever regretted was the one I didn’t do. So that’s my plan this month: Just do it.

My challenge for the month is Darebee’s Iron Glutes and my program is Combat HIIT.

I’m also aiming to do more letter/alphabet workouts like following below as there’s always burpees involved and they always kick my ass for the better.

I’m also in the long run portion of my ramp up half marathon training plan for the year so I’ll be hitting 12.5 and 14 miles in the coming weeks which, combined with more workouts, will get me ready for my second half marathon training plan focusing on speed work.

So that’s me for February and the start of March. What do you do when you get a case of the fuck-its? How do you break the inertia when you’re stuck in a funk? I’m always on the look out for new motivation.

January Check In

My mantra going into February

The first month of 2019 is almost over and so is the first month of my journey back to better physical shape and wellness.

Let’s start with the not so great first:
I didn’t push myself as much as I could have. When I started at the beginning of the month I was truly starting from the beginning, but I allowed that to color my view of what I was capable of doing. It turns out I could have been doing a lot more.

I didn’t get up early as often as I should have so that meant less time for working out. I barely practiced any yoga in this month because of it.

I didn’t make the best food choices. I didn’t do as terrible as I could have, but I gave in to cravings more times than I’m happy about. Other than one particularly bad night, I didn’t go crazy with the less than healthy choices, but it was a little something here or there, all those little somethings eventually added up, and the scale didn’t move as much as I’d hoped.

Truth

The Good:
I’m down 3.7 pounds from December 31st.
I’ve lost 1 ½ inches from my hips, and 1 inch from my waist.
My BMI is down 1.1 points

When I started lifting weights, I had to start small using light weights. After about 2 weeks, I was regularly using the heaviest weights I have.

Other than missing one day due to illness, I managed to do a 5K or more every day, rain or shine.

I finished Darebee’s 30 day squat challenge with an extra one for the 31st, and completed all 30days of Darebee’s Iron Born program.

I got one round of “Wake Up’ in every other day.

I went out for an event and indulged sensibly. I enjoyed myself, but also made smart choices for the bigger meals. I didn’t deprive myself and felt totally satisfied, and it showed next day when the scale said I’d lost some weight.

What I Learned:

Part of the not so great food choices stemmed from not seeing any changes on the scale or in the way my clothes fit. Usually I see some results fairly quickly when I start to work out and eat clean after not having done so for a bit. So I got frustrated when scale wasn’t moving and my clothes didn’t seem to fit any better. The only thing that was encouraging was that my BMI was lowering fairly regularly, so I knew something was working, even though I couldn’t see it. I’d forgotten, though, that when I haven’t taken care of myself in a while, my body holds onto the weight desperately. Even though I wasn’t seeing what I thought was progress, I was in fact making some. The weights, for example, were a big indication that I was building muscle, and that doesn’t necessarily show on the scale.

I know I would have seen more progress if I hadn’t indulged as often as I did, but part of this journey is creating a new lifestyle, and it’s not going to be perfect all the time. When I DID indulge, it was in small ways, and I tried not to do that thing where I figure, “oh well, since I’ve already been bad with my food choices, I might as well keep eating more crap” and then go crazy eating whatever I want. So, some progress there, but definitely room for more.

I logged in over 100 dedicated miles this month for Run the Year. Consistency is key. Every day I did SOMETHING. Sometimes it was just walking a 5k. Other times it was just lifting weights. But it was something every single day.

Also, if I skipped my daily challenge or daily Iron Born workout, I made myself make it up the next day, or days, in addition to that day’s planned workout. If I missed two days of doing 50 squats a day, then when I finally got back to it on the third day I had 150 total squats to do. This is also where I learned I could and should have been pushing harder. On the days I had to make up workouts, yes, I was tired, but I got through them and realized I could do more than I was giving myself credit for.

Going forward in February

I need to get up early if I want to get a full yoga class, run, and workout in. That’s the main focus for my workouts, just getting out of bed at 4:45 every morning, no matter what. The extra time I’ll have means I have zero excuses not to get a yoga practice in, as well as everything else.

I’ll be continuing my 5k a day challenge, plus I have my first race of 2019 this coming weekend. I’m using that to set the bar for other races later in the year. I’m also getting into the middle of a half marathon training program, so I’ll be getting in even more miles and working on my endurance.

I’ll also be continuing my daily challenge and strength workouts with Darebee’s 30 day challenge: Squats & Punches and various Darebee weight workouts, and continuing to aim to do one round of “Wake Up” a day.

To push myself further, I’m adding:
Darebee’s 30 Days of HIIT program,
At least one alphabet workout a week.

I’m curbing the indulgences. I’ve stocked my freezer and fridge with healthy food so I have plenty to eat and with several events this month, I’ll have opportunities to indulge, in moderation. But if I want to see more progress, I have to stop with the little indulgences, so that’s my food focus for the month.

It may be a short month, but I’m looking forward to ramping up the workouts and hopefully seeing a ramp up in progress, too.
What about you? How did January go for you? What are you changing or continuing for February?

Black Widow Ops Training Jacket

It’s been 4 days since the start of the new year and I’ve been getting my Y/E/S in every day.  It’s been great, but today I woke up sore and tired, and it was a struggle getting out the door.   To motivate myself, I decided to make a fun workout jacket, inspired by one of my favorite characters, Marvel’s Black Widow.

Posing with my favorite Avengers at the 2015 Disneyland Avengers 5k

Black Widow is my favorite Avenger, and the character I think of when I want to channel my inner badass. With my theme for 2019 being “Training Montage,” I thought what better motivation than one of those “property of” themed athletic jackets, only inspired by the place where Black Widow got her start: The Red Room.  The Red Room is a fictional Soviet training facility in Marvel Comics that was created to train highly specialized spies, and it’s where Natasha Romanoff honed her skills and became the Black Widow.

I first looked online to see if anyone was selling a jacket like that, but I couldn’t find anything to purchase.  Enter my Silhouette Cameo.  I was so hesitant to buy this machine, but it turned out to be one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It has paid for itself countless times over with all the fun costumes, clothing, and other things I’ve been able to create because of it!

The best tool I ever bought!

Inspired by various designs I found online, I created my own “Property of Red Room Training Black Widow Ops” design in the Silhouette Cameo program.  Once the design was finalized, I sent the vinyl through the Cameo to be cut, and then weeded away the excess. Armed with a newly purchased red and black fleece jacket from Amazon, and freshly prepped designs for the front, back and sleeves, it was time to iron it all on!

Cut and weeded heat transfer vinyl ready to be ironed onto my jacket.
Before ironing (I made a mistake weeding one of the “I’s” in “training” so I cut another one and added it later.)
Missing “I” replaced and back of the jacket finished!

I wanted something a little different for the front, and when I found a Russian translation for The Black Widow Ops Program I thought it’d be a fun nod to her origins, and make for an interesting design.

Getting ready to iron on the front design.
Finished front and sleeve.
Front and sleeves of my finished Red Room Training jacket.
Back of my Red Room Training jacket.

A few minutes later and all finished! Brand new training jacket!  I’m so pleased with the way it turned out, I may make a tank to match. I can’t wait to wear this on my next training run and channel my inner Avenger!

Y/E/S

Y/E/S.
That’s what I wrote on my To Do list after a while because I was too lazy to write out the three things the letters represented.  I didn’t intend the letters to spell anything, it just was the order in which I did what they represented, and yet, YES was the prefect word for what I was doing for my body.  Y/E/S stood for Yoga, Endurance, Strength, the three things that were the keys to me getting in the best shape of my life three times.  When I was training, for 5 days a week, I would get up at dark o’clock, go do an hour of yoga, go out and run 4+ miles, and then do an hour of strength, weight, and HIIT workouts. On Saturdays I would do a long run or speed working depending on my training schedule, and Sunday would be more yoga and strength or HIIT, or both.   I got the strength and flexibility from the yoga, the cardio endurance from the running, and the strength and endurance from the HIIT and weight workouts.  Y/E/S. This trio was the combo that my body LOVED.  I’ve never felt so good as when I’m incorporating all three in my life.  So this year I’m getting back to Y/E/S.

Yoga
I belonged to a yoga studio for almost 10 years and went nearly every day when I was running races and training.  I found it made such a difference in not only my flexibility and strength, but also my recovery from both races and brutal workout sessions.  One of the many things I love about yoga is it can be whatever you need it to be.  Want to sweat, push yourself, and get strong?  There’s a class for that.  Want to chill and de-stress?  There’s a class for that.  Want a bit of both with some stretching, too?  Yep, there’s a class for that.  Taking a yoga class before I went for a run helped stretch out my body and warm me up. It was also great to do a little yoga after a long run and stretch things out.  Or, if I was too sore from a previous workout to do another one, I could push myself gently in a yoga class and give my muscles a bit of a break while stretching and strengthening them as well.  There were times when I didn’t do any yoga when I trained, and really  felt the difference.  I’d be stiff, my body didn’t recover as well, and I just didn’t feel as good overall as I did when I made yoga part of my workout routine.

Nothing like a crazy arm balance to start off my workout

When my schedule stopped being compatible with what my studio was offering, I eventually gave up my membership, and ended up taking a break from practicing.  I’m a yoga teacher so I have no excuses for not rolling out my mat and practicing on my own, but, yoga is the one area where I’m not self motivated, I prefer to be led, and enjoy it so much better when I can take a class.  After struggling to find a program that really motivated me to roll out my mat, I never found one that gave me the same energy of a class until I discovered YogaGlo.  Originally a physical studio that taped their classes, a few of which I had the pleasure of attending while they filmed, they’ve expanded into so much more online, and are now known as Glo. 

https://www.glo.com/

For less than $20 a month, I get unlimited access to all kinds of yoga classes.  One of my favorite things about it is I can search by teacher, style, level, duration, and more.  They offer classes as short as 5 minutes or as long as 90 so it’s hard for me to say I don’t have time for a class.  And its not just yoga, they have pilates, meditation, courses, cooking classes, and more. Some of my favorite teachers from whom I took studio classes are on there like, Kathryn Budig, Kia Miller, Tiffany Cruikshank, Elena Brower, and even Annie Carpenter, under whom I did my teacher training.  I still struggle a bit to roll out my mat, but Glo has made it so much easier to get back into the habit of practice.  And if I want, I don’t even need to change out of my pjs.

Running
What was supposed to be a bucket list, one and done, half marathon at Disneyland, turned into a decade of running.  I don’t actually enjoy running, but I do love what it does for my body and my endurance. Plus I needed to train for the races I was doing so I sucked it up got my miles in, and now it’s a part of my life.  Trying something new to get me back in my running shoes, I’ve signed up for Run The Edge-Run The Year 2019.  It’s a challenge to run, either individually or collectively as a group, 2019 miles in the year 2019. As I’m aiming to do more races in the future, I’m hoping this helps motivate me to get out there in the mornings, get my miles in, and improve my endurance. 

I’m also a fan of Jeff Galloway. His interval method and training programs not only improved my race times, but saved my knees as well. I always did better on a race, and recovered faster from one, when I followed his training plan for it, and I plan to follow them for a few half marathons in this coming year.  I’m looking to get some new ASICS running shoes and custom insoles from Road Runner which I find helps keep my knees happy, too.  I’m also looking to up my interval times and work on speed work for a potential marathon in the next year or so.  With all the upcoming miles in my future, getting back to a yoga practice is going to really help.

Strength
Having been the fat kid/adult most of my life, and an introvert, I was never interested in going to gyms or taking classes.  I’m much more inclined now, but not all places have schedules that work for me so it’s hard to justify paying for a membership if I don’t use it.  Plus, if I travel at all, it makes it even more difficult. 

I’m a huge fan of DareBee workouts.  They have individual workouts, programs, and challenges you can follow, but what caught my eye the most was they have a lot of workouts that are geeky, movie, tv, or gamer themed.  Being a geek at heart, it’s way more fun for me when the workout is called something like Black Widow, or Starbuck, or Batcave.  They have a great search feature which lets you look for workouts based on type, difficulty, focus, equipment, etc. which is perfect when I’m looking for a geeky themed one or when I want workouts just using weights. 

I love their programs, too, like Iron Born, or 30 Days of HIIT, which are a collection of workouts over a number of days.  They even have interactive programs with story lines and are a bit like choose your own adventure which shakes things up a bit.  Darebee workouts are my tried and true, go to workouts because they’re all relatively simple, I can do as few or as many reps as I feel up for, and know I always get a good workout from them.

http://darebee.com/

Another workout I love incorporating is the letter or alphabet workout.  These are fun because you can use them to spell out a word, a phrase, anything you want.  I usually use a couple alphabets, so that I can spell the word/phrase out twice and get a longer workout, and sometimes tweak the exercises a bit to add more weights, or other exercises I want to focus on more.  Also, I don’t think I’ve yet to spell something that didn’t have burpees in it, so these workouts tend to push me. More than any exercise I’ve ever done, burpees get me in shape the fastest.  I both hate them and love them, but they work!

Using the two alphabets above, I created this New Year, New You workout that’s a perfect start for 2019. And hello burpees!

Y/E/S worked three times to get me in the best shape of my life, and I’m looking to it again to get me in shape a fourth, and final time.  I won’t be doing an hour of each, every day, though the plan is to eventually get back to that.  No, I’m starting small, building a base.  Maybe a 10 or 20 minute yoga class at Glo.  Then maybe a 3 mile walk or run.   Then maybe a couple sets of a Darebee or a single letter workout.  Start slow, work on getting a little bit better every day, and focus on the journey of getting healthier and happier in 2019, and beyond.