Category Archives: resources

Water Running: Great Change Up to your Current Routine!

I finally got to try out a Water Running class this week. It wasn’t the normal instructor – so I’m curious to see how the next class will differ. Either way – I sort of went into the class wondering what we would be doing for an hour and if it would be a decent workout or not. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of movements we did and how fast my heart was beating! For those of you with access to a pool but perhaps no access to a class version of water running, I thought I’d give you a run down (no pun intended) of things you can do in the water to get a good workout aside from simply swimming laps (which is no small feat on it’s own if you’ve tried it in your adult life).

You can start in the shallow end to get warmed up. Our pool has an open area and then about 4 lanes blocked off for swimming lanes. So we used the width of the pool in the shallow end from wall to first swim lane to do some shorter laps if that makes sense. We did the following:

Jog in the water (just like you would jog on land) forward to swim lane, return jogging backward. Keep your fingers uncupped so that you aren’t propelling yourself forward with your arms.
Move toward swim lane with alternating high knees, come back to wall doing butt kicks – focus on speed.
Move toward swim lane using a “skip” style – focusing on jumping out of the water and forward. So not focused on speed, but on height of your jump. Make sure you are switching which leg you are leading/jumping with. Return to wall in same style

Of course – you can repeat all these several times for a nice warm up.

The instructor also used Tabata style format to get our cardio workout in. If you aren’t familiar with Tabata – it forces you to work at high intensity for a short period of time and then rest and repeat. You can pick the times and how many times you repeat. For our class – we did different versions of Tabata. For example:

Shallow End Tabata (move so you are shoulder deep)
20 seconds: Sprint in place (focus on moving as fast as possible with hand/arm movement in water)
Rest 10 Seconds
20 Seconds: High Knees in place (focus on crunching and make sure you have your arms going)
Rest 10 seconds
20 Seconds: Butt Kicks (in place, quickly)
Rest 10 seconds

And then we would change it to 30 seconds with 10 second rest, etc. You could pick a variety of movements to suit your own needs and amount of time you have to spend for each section.

You will definitely feel all of these exercises in your hamstrings!

To really get into water running you have to incorporate the deep end – because jogging in the shallow end is super easy when you compare it to trying to propel yourself forward when you can’t touch the bottom. A few things on form when water running:

Don’t cup your hands – you want the forward motion to be coming from the leg movement. Pretend like you are doing a leg extension in the weight room – move your right leg to a 90 degree angle in front of you and pull back, repeat on other side – this is the motion you are doing to water run in the deep end. Your hands are moving, but fingers are straight, not cupped. Work to keep your body straight – not leaning forward or backward. You will feel like you are barely moving – but your heart rate will tell you otherwise!

When we got to the deep end wall, we did short kicks while holding onto the wall andĀ  long scissor kicks (using Tabata style again). We also put our backs against the wall and arms on either side to support us as we lifted our legs straight up (back flat against the wall) and pushed them back down into the water. This was extremely difficult!

If you are comfortable in the deep end, you can move away from the wall and do another set of workouts such as the following:

30 seconds: Tread Water using hands and legs
30 seconds: Tread water using hands/arms only – keep legs straight (if this is too difficult, bend your legs some and that will help)
30 seconds: Treat water using legs only – put your arms out of the water to make sure you aren’t cheating!

You can repeat that several times and change up how long you are doing each thing until your hearts content!

Obviously once you are done with that you have to water run back to the shallow end!

A lot of the articles I looked at about water running show people running with floatation belts on. In our class, we didn’t utilize these, but I could see how you could probably work on speed more if you had a belt on to help you stay afloat. I’ll have to try that out one time to see what different it makes. Without the belt, I think it would be difficult to keep doing laps without stopping because it does require so much effort to stay afloat on your own and move forward!

This would be a great alternative to just swimming laps if you are bored with that routine. It’s also great if you are injured or pregnant and can’t do high impact stuff anymore! As always, check with your doctor before taking on any new exercise program as I am not a doctor and can only tell you my opinion of the workout!

 

 

 

 

 

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The one where I didn’t run

Today has flown by – full of appointments and even being interviewed for the student news station. Hopefully my hair looked nice šŸ™‚

Last night’s work out class was a major flop. I would compare it to a belly flop in the water since we ARE taking about a water running class. This class didn’t suck or anything – it just didn’t actually happen! For whatever reason, the instructor didn’t show. So that was disappointing – and I’ll admit that I was a bit irritated because I was already in the water and ready. Only having a swimsuit is sort of limiting when you are at the gym. I certainly wouldn’t be running barefoot around the track in my Speedo suit which looks slightly less attractive every time I put it on now that I’m gaining weight/width in the mid section.

Pretty soon I’ll need some more forgiving spandex materials than the Speedo in order to get in the water. So since i was already in the water – but didn’t want to get my hair wet (I Know! I’m in the pool – just get your hair wet! But I had to get back to our house for our neighborhoods trick-or-treating events. I certainly couldn’t be left holding all that candy in the pantry. Kids, please take it away from me!) I decided I would make up my own version of water running. I didn’t work out for the whole hour or anything because I wasn’t really sure what else I should do other than “run” from one end of the pool to the other. I did add some chin ups at the end and flutter kicks upon recommendation of the other ladies who have been to this class before. I will say that “running” the length of the pool and back is actually pretty challenging. It got my heart rate up and I could feel all the muscles in my legs working. So I am looking forward to next week when I actually have someone directing me on what I should be doing for the class. I guess my official review will have to wait a week.

In the meantime, I would like to go on record saying I am very happy to have an excuse to wear stretchy pants throughout the holiday season. This is always a trouble season for me because IĀ  basically like all types of fall holiday treats and being preggers makes it even more challenging to say no thanks. The exception to fall holiday treats I love would be fruit cake. I have no idea why those things exist. Does anyone eat them? I’m not really even sure what they are made of. Ugh. If only all fall holiday treats reminded me of fruit cake, I probably wouldn’t ever gain weight during this season.

As much as I’d love to eat everything on this platter…I must be stopped!

What are some strategies you use to help avoid gaining unnecessarily weight during the holiday season? I know that being pregnant means that I am not dieting – but it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try and eat healthy and avoid bad for me things! Some things will never change!

Here are my thoughts on ways I can stay healthy during the holidays:
When attending a holiday party – bring a healthier option to the party so you know that at least one thing is not terrible for you there
Use recipes from magazines like Cooking Light to find healthier versions of my holiday favorites
Give myself the ability to indulge every now and then so I don’t binge on sweets
Share a treat instead of hording it all for myself. “Sharing it with baby” doesn’t count!

Would love to hear your tactics on saying “no thank you!”

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Water Wings & Things

I have no idea why I decided that reconnecting with my inner swimmer was a good idea as we start moving into the winter months. There is nothing more fun than being freezing cold BEFORE you jump into slightly chilly water and then being even more cold as you desperately grab your towel and gear to get back to the locker room to shower and dry completely off before you head outside into the windy night.

Great idea, Dre!

But, I have to be realistic with myself that “going for a walk” every day is just not going to cut it. First off, I only ACTUALLY go for a walk maybe 2-3 times a week even though my goal is every day. So that isn’t a great success rate. It’s not that a walk is difficult, it just seems boring to me after years of high intensity cardio kickboxing or classes set to fun music blasting over the speakers. I need something that challenges my coordination and my mind in addition to just being a good workout.

On the other hand, I realize that working out while pregnant is a different story than just working out in general. I have more things to consider, and like it or not, it’s harder to catch my breath now that things are starting to happen inside me. Walking up stairs winds me more than usual and doing something as simple as vacuuming couch cushions got me out of breathe. It’s super annoying. And then I remind myself that there is a greater purposeĀ  behind all of it and it’s not a forever thing. That helps. A little.

Exploring a New Workout

I’m sure my aerobics class will be pulling moves like this in no time.

So, yesterday I checked out a water aerobics class offered at my gym. Other than it being sort of freezing, I thought it was a good class. Definitely more low key, low intensity than I’m used to – but that IS sort of the point, I guess. And she did have us do some drills where I got to push myself a little harder and I liked those. We worked a lot on resistance stuff – so I felt like that was something I don’t do often enough. We used water weights and did some shoulder work, triceps, biceps – it was good stuff. Everyone was super friendly, and I definitely think I’ll go back.

It’s sort of interesting being back in the “searching for what works for me” stage of exercise. I feel like I went through this process several years ago and discovered I really liked TurboKick and group exercise. So in going back to my roots, I’m remembering that I’m way more likely to keep up with work outs if I’m part of a class/group program. So the water aerobics fits the bill for that. It’s definitely a class you can chat during which is different for me – but I liked it.

On Wednesdays, our gym offers another class called Water Running. The same instructor leads it and she said it’s more cardio focused – so I’m curious to give it a go. Of course, I’ll update you on my thoughts. I’ve never considered a water running class before – so I’m not even sure what to expect! But the part I hate about running the most is the pain in my joints and injuries – so running in the water might be an awesome solution.

Hey – maybe I’ll even find a 5k water running competition. It’s always fun to train for something!

So – in going back to this place in my life where I’m trying to find what works for me again – it’s reminded me of a few key decisions you have to make if you want to try and lead a healthier life. Funny enough, deciding to be healthy is only one piece of the healthy lifestyle puzzle. You have to do a little soul searching, too.

1) What are your priorities? Write them down & rank them.
2) Does your schedule reflect those priorities? (As in: If your #1 priority is your health….are you making time to prepare healthy meals and work out? If not…this is a red flag!)
3) Think of a time in your life when you were successful at something – what were the key factors? How can you replicate this in your current situation? (Example: I’m always more successful when I’m part of a group who are trying to accomplish similar things – so I know for me, finding a workout I can do with a group of people will help me stay on track vs. just trying to do something on my own 100% of the time).

Once you have these three items checked off – you can move to the next step which is actually making changes to your schedule and exploring options that are a match for your preferences. Of course, we’ll talk more about those next time!

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Magical Fairy of Knowledge: Myth or Should I Keep Waiting?

Today I went to a webinar to learn more about the open enrollment period for making changes to benefit plan at my work. You know, since I’m a recently self proclaimed True Adult, I am trying to “learn important stuff.”

As I sat there in the webinar, I was hastily taking notes like I was back in college trying to write everything down before the slide changed. Should I write that down? Will I even know what that MEANS when I look back at my notes later? What did she say? SLOW DOWN! What does THAT word even mean? Is everyone else writing that down?

This is what I am looking for, I think. (Magical Fairy Abbey Cadabby – Sesame Street).

These were all thoughts I had at some point today. No ones fault – I just feel like I could use a life coach sometimes – someone who could really sit down and explain to me the ins and outs of topics like: Investments, Retirement Savings, Life Insurance, PPO vs. HMO and things like Short Term Disability and Medical Savings Accounts without a sales pitch.Ā  There is never really a class in college you take that prepares you for all of those things. And it seems like older more experienced adults just seem to magically know things. I keep waiting for the magical fairy of knowledge to visit me in my sleep so I can wake up and feel educated about these topics that really have the power to impact my life. I feel like I’m behind on this stuff.

But so far, no fairy. So I’m back to trying to do research on my own, attending the webinars and sessions offered at work so I can try and figure things out, and just trying to ask questions. I’m not very great at utilizing things like “customer service lines” to ask questions and I know that could help if I were more willing to ask for help.Ā  I’m one of those people who need a lot of time to process information – so I’ll have one question and when I call to get info I will feel like I got that one answered only to realize I now have MORE questions but I’ve already hung up. And I’ll be up front that I sort of hate talking on the phone, even if it’s with my husband, so talking to a complete stranger isn’t my cup of tea. Especially when I feel like they are rolling their eyes at my silly questions.

A good example would be last night when I rushed home to unwrap my new vacuum only to find that a piece on it was broken so I couldn’t use it (FAIL!). I opted to email their customer service people because you know, I don’t like to call people. My husband gets home and immediately gets on the phone and has it taken care of in 5 minutes. He looks at me and says, “Now what’s the lesson we learned?” And after I swallowed my pride I admitted that “Sometimes making a phone call is a better option.”

Whatever. They would have emailed me back…eventually.

Growing up isn’t all fun and games. I guess I knew that it wasn’t all along – but now that I’m getting to a certain age where I need to make some “life decisions” about the rest of my life (financially speaking) – it’s all weighing heavily on me. It’s time to get real about some things and start taking responsibility for my financial future. After all, I missed out on that whole marry a royal prince thing – so I can’t rely on the hubs to fund my coffee habit once I retire.

 

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Three Tips to Get on Track with Life

Well, it’s raining – again! I can’t believe how much rain we have been getting here in the South when so many people are desperately in need of rain in the mid west. I am SO glad I forgot to return the umbrella I borrowed from my office yesterday because I had to use it again today to get from the gym back to my office. I taught my TurboKick class, showered and got ready for the day again since I have a presentation to do tonight on campus.

It’s not going to be a super long presentation – but I’m hitting some highlights of how to get on the right track your first year of college. As I’m contemplating the millions of tips I could give, I’m trying to pick the tops ones in hopes that something I say strikes a chord with them and they actually take action! I don’t often interact with students on the younger end of the spectrum in my role, so when I present to freshman it’s always a refreshing perspective for me. Everything is new and interesting. Every piece of advice is something you might consider, even if just for a moment. Particularly when I speak to a group that focuses on leadership, I feel like the audience is there to hear something that will make a difference in their college careers.

Some of my top tips would be:

1) Don’t just be a student.

  • Grades are important, but they are not the only thing that you will be judged on. Being in college is about more than just showing up to class and turning in work. You need to pick a few organizations and be involved. Be a leader of some sort in at least one organization.Volunteer some of your time. Give back to your campus is some way.

2) Utilize resources while they are free

  • Ā Like the academic success center, tutoring assistance, counseling, career development (as in getting your resume reviewed, getting help with finding jobs/internships, interviewing help, etc), taking classes beyond the required so you can expand your skill sets, going to free concerts and events that expose you to new ideas and cultures, going to the gym and utilizing the free exercise classes or seminars offered, climb the rock wall, sign up for a trip that takes you off campus with your peers

3) Take responsibility for your own destiny

  • Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what you should do; spend time creating your own plan. Whether you stick to it or not doesn’t matter, but at least attempt to organize yourself. This means reading information about your major and understanding the classes you need to take and what order you need to take them. This means thinking ahead so you can block out time for that “must have” part time job or internship.

There are so many more that I could share – but I think those hit a lot of the highlights of getting on the right track. It’s so hard to get BACK on track from a crazy freshman year. Pulling your GPA up from a 1.5 will seem impossible. Creating good study habits and finding people with similar values is a lot easier if you start off in the right mind space. Setting goals for yourself and posting them in a place where you can see them is a great way to remind yourself everyday why you are here.

I think these 3 lessons can be transferable to non-students as well. It’s easy once we graduate and start our careers to stop really reaching for something more. To do more than just go to work. To get involved in the professional community, or to take action in your community through volunteering in some way. We forget that we are in the driver’s seat and let life just float by when we really need to take charge of our own destiny’s and have a plan for ourselves. We need to set goals, write them down and revisit them. We need to evaluate our progress and change things up when needed. We need to do more than just take up space, am I right?

And if you look around, I bet you have a lot of resources available to you that you aren’t using. That spare room could be a gym. Your neighborhood association could need some help. Your old sorority/fraternity chapter might need some extra hands during an upcoming event. Your church might need some help in the nursery. Your place of employment might offer to pay part of a class fee if you wanted to go back to school to work on that certificate or degree you’ve been considering. Take action. Take responsibility, take back the driver’s seat to your own life. This is your journey, where are you going?

 

 

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A Little History

Proud to be an American!

I often overlook the true meaning of many of the holidays we celebrate. The biggest exception to this statement would be Christmas, because I grew up truly celebrating Christmas as the “birthday” of Jesus and every Christmas morning my family would gather around and one of us would read the story of His birth before we did anything else. Growing up, I was always eager to get to the “open the presents!” part – but looking back, I am so glad my parents took a few minutes to remind us of what Christmas was REALLY about for our family.

I find myself at work on Labor Day which seems sort of ironic. But as I was driving to work today, I started wondering – what IS Labor Day, anyway? Why do we celebrate it? Why do people get this day off? Surely, it is more than the mark of the end of summer. More than an excuse to barbeque and play cornhole (although – I wouldn’t mind doing that today!). I thought I remembered something about it having to do with labor unions but wasn’t really sure on the details.

I looked it up when I got to work, and it’s history reaches pretty far back. The first labor day was celebrated in New York as a parade organized by unions on Sept. 5, 1882 to celebrate the spirit and strength of the American worker. It was a time when child labor was rampant, workers labored in terrible conditions without a proper break or proper wages for that matter. This day wasn’t immediately recognized by the entire country, it was a slow process of 12 years before it became a Federal Holiday. It started as an outcry for better working accommodations, decent wages and something that resembled a 8 hour work day.

Over the years, it’s certainly easy to feel like most of us (myself included) have lost sight of what this holiday stood for so long ago. It was the work of Americans who wanted to organize and demand to be treated fairly. Sounds like an honorable thing to me! And I hope that most people would feel like we’ve made major progress toward worker’s rights in the USA although there is always room for improvement.While there is much disagreement regarding labor unions and the like – I’m not taking sides here. Simply sharing a bit of history about this holiday.

If you want a better understanding of the history behind Labor Day – I found this article on CNN.com to be helpful as well as the DOL’s description of Labor Day.

A personal goal I have for myself is to try and be more knowledge about history. It seems like so long ago when I took a class that required me to really learn and apply that type of knowledge – but I know how important it is to understand history so that we can make better decisions about the future. So we don’t repeat mistakes unnecessarily, right!?

History was one of my least favorite subjects in high school, but I wonder if i attempted to learn it all again as an adult if I’d be more fascinated by it? I guess it’s worth a try. Any history fanatics out there who would recommend any resources (books, blogs, etc.) to help me get started?

 

 

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My LAB (Life After Bread)

A few short weeks ago, if someone would have told me that I would not be eating bread or most of my typical snack choices (Goldfish Crackers, Triscuits, Granola Bars…etc), I probably would have thought it impossible. Truly, when my chiropractor first gave me an article on some of the positive impacts of removing wheat from your diet I read it – but it seemed so far out and crazy that I didn’t even consider it.

As many of you know, I decided to take the plunge and do a 30 Day Food Challenge that mostly centered around a Primal/Wheat Free foods. All of a sudden, 30 days have flown by and I’ve officially entered a new stage of my life: Life After Bread.

My husband asked me over the weekend, “So what’s next?” as he knows I’m constantly looking for fun and challenging ways to be more active, eat healthier, etc. I replied, “Nothing – this is it. This is good.” And it made me happy to finally have found something that doesn’t feel like deprivation. It doesn’t feel like a diet. It’s not boring, I’m not starving and I’m also not kicking my butt in the gym every single day until I’m reduced to a puddle of sweat on the floor.

It does mean that I put a lot more thought into what meals I’m preparing, the ingredients I use and my “usual snacks.” But I was already thinking a lot about those things to begin with – so it’s just been a bit of a learning curve to think a DIFFERENT way about food. Understanding that there IS life after bread is certainly step 1. I didn’t think I would ever say that – but when I’m not eating it all the time, I don’t crave it. It’s really that simple. In fact, a LOT of my cravings have vanished. It’s not perfect – of course I’m still tempted when I see sugary, carb loaded desserts – but it’s really not as all-consuming as it was before to me. It felt like before – I just didn’t have the will power to say no to cake, cookies, bread baskets…etc. And now it’s just a bit easier to take a pass.

I have noticed that certainĀ  foods impact me in ways I never knew they did. I think I was so accustomed to eating wheat and grains and processed foods that I didn’t even notice that they were making me feel low energy, congested, or upset my stomach. Now it’s pretty crystal clear to me when I eat something that probably should be on my “extreme moderation list.” And it’s easier to avoid those foods when you can physically FEEL the negative impact of eating them. I would associate it with people who avoid foods they are allergic to – the food is usually not worth the reaction.

Shrimp Vindaloo served with Cauliflower Rice

I still am figuring out how to make it work and still participate in real life. For the most part, I’ve found it fairly easy to find things when we go out to eat. It helps that I don’t have Celiac Disease or something that would make me SUPER sick if I make a mistake, but when you are trying to avoid wheat/grain in restaurants there are still good options at most places. I tend to order meat & veggies for the most part. Still super delicious and actually pretty different from what I’d order in the past so it is giving me some variety that I didn’t have before. Another bonus!

There are times when it’s hard – and I make an exception. That is one thing that I’ve enjoyed about the Primal Blueprint book by Mark Sisson – he promotes adopting an 80/20 rule because it’s hard to be perfect and strict all the time. Sometimes you just want to eat cake, or you are in a situation where people are basically insulted if you don’t try their food. But I think i can live with following this plan 80% of the time. And most likely, it will be more like 90% of the time because I do feel like I can control most situations since I’m already in the habit of bringing my lunch to work, not eating out super often, etc.

I’m getting to the part in Mark’s book that discusses primal lifestyle in the weight loss mode and I think that will be helpful for me to focus in on things I can do (or avoid) so I can really reap the benefits of Primal eating. Then once I’m where I want to be – maintaining won’t be as strict as long as I’m still on the 80/20 bandwagon and staying active.

Some goals I have for the next few weeks:

  • For the best weight loss results, I need to be keeping my carb intake between 50-100. I’m going to track my meals for a few days to see where I am already just to be sure I’m not accidentally eating something that is blowing me out of the water with carbs. I’ve never paid that much attention, and I SHOULD be in this zone already by eliminating wheat butĀ  I just want to be sure. I am currently signed up onĀ paleotrack.com but am also going to look into fitday.com.Ā  We’ll see which one i like better!
  • I’m going to focus on adding more moderate cardio to my week. It’s still been a struggle to figure out exactly what I should be doing. The strength training is going well! I’m doing that 2x a week already. Last week I went to the trampoline airobics class and it was a fun workout – I could see myself doing that once a week again!
  • I want to have a focus this month on backing off the corn and potato – corn is definitely troublesome for me so I need to make sure I’m not overdoing it. I think I may set a rule of one corn and one potato serving every week (if at all) while I’m really pursuing weight loss!

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