Friday, February 17, 2012

Justifying my Exercise and Swiss Ball Overload

It's Friday again, the weeks just keep rolling by.  The pace of life has really picked up.  Adding an exercise and training routine back into my life hasn't been easy, I am more go, go go than I used to be.  But I know it's important, I enjoy it, and it certainly is healthy.  And it's not only healthy for me, I know it's also about being a healthy family.  Miguel started back to the gym a few months ago.  He was never terribly out of shape but he'd gained a bit of weight and wasn't happy with how he looked.  A month or so after he started I overheard him talking with a friend of ours and she'd asked him, "What is inspiring you to do this?" and he said, "Michelle.  Michelle is inspiring me."  That was really cool.  A nice validation that what I'm doing matters to my family and to my children.  And it will matter more and more as they grow older.

Last week I was chatting with my mom and she asked if I was leaving the kids too much to go exercise, "you know they'll only be young like this for a short time."  As much as I feel I'm doing the right thing it's still hard to hear comments like this.  I know she means well, I know she doesn't value the exercise as much as I do, she doesn't get how it's tied in with my happiness - she's thinking about the kids.  As do I, but I know if I don't take good care of me I can't take good care of them.  I suppose in an ideal world I'd work 2-3 days a week for 4-hour workdays.  But that's not my world so I have to make do.

Let me write a bit about the payoff.  On my day home with the kids this past week, Wednesday, we played outside for hours.  I kicked the ball around with Marek, we all played a chasing game (it's very complicated, I chase them, they laugh, run, fall down, and then have me chase them some more), I wore those kids out.  Before I started exercising again I might not have played like that.  Never mind that I maybe didn't have the stamina for it, I wouldn't have wanted to do it.  I would have felt too tired to even start.  Not now.  Now I can run, jump, toss, climb, tumble - I can keep up and I enjoy it.

Thursday was back to the gym.  I started with a run on the treadmill.  I did 2 miles at a comfortable pace with 1% incline and debated doing a 3rd mile, but in the end I went for it and pushed to 6mph but lowered the incline to 0.  I was able to run that 3rd mile at a 10mm pace!  Of course I was a hot mess when I finished but it was a good kind of hot and a good kind of mess.  Then I got going on weight training with back/biceps/core work.  I ran out of time and had to drop my last set of bicep curls with the bar.  

Today was another gym day but a bit more exciting because I had a training session.  I bought a package of four sessions and have been using them slowly (as in, my last session was in December).  I use the sessions for getting feedback on my form and learning new exercises than I do for actual exercise.  I got to the gym early and did 15 minutes on the bike (normally I do 25 minutes but I didn't get there early enough).  We did a lot of new core stuff, mostly with the Swiss Ball (which I always just called a stability ball, who knew it was Swiss?).

First up was the Supine Hip Extension on the Swiss Ball:

I liked this one.  You raise your butt off the ground, hold for 5 seconds, then lower it.  The trainer said it's to strengthen my core and to try and not use my legs so much, to relax them.  Your legs naturally want to engage to keep the ball from rolling all around.  This will take some practice.  But I just looked up this exercise online and what I found says it works your glutes and your hamstrings.  So maybe I should just let my legs do the work after all. 

Next up the Alternating Superman on the Swiss Ball

This is one of those, it looks a lot easier than it is deals.  Lift one arm and the opposite leg and hold for 5 seconds.  Repeat on the other side.  By the second set I was able to do them pretty well but it's still a challenge.

Reverse Bridge Straight Leg Raise:

This is another one where I find online it say it's for your quads and the trainer said it's for the core.  I mean, I'm sure the core plays an integral role in all of these balance oriented exercises but it makes more sense that the main focus is the quads.

Back extension:

The thing about this is he had me doing them with weights.  I couldn't find any images of people doing them with weights.  And he had me lifting my upper body way higher than this woman.  We'll see how I feel and if I start to have back pain I'm dropping these.

Swiss roll:

You roll forward and push the ball away while the arms and legs move at the same time as each other. Knees stay fixed. Hold for a second then roll back.  It felt like I was working my diaphragm, which was weird.

I couldn't find one picture of the last exercise so I tried to draw a picture.  As you can see, I suck at drawing.

So you're lying on the floor on your stomach, you lift your arms just enough to do the shoulder presses.  These might have been my favorite.

The only other things we did were some squats and some shoulder presses with the medicine ball.  I need to do some thinking and see which of these Swiss Ball deals I want to keep, and how to incorporate them into my routine.  I don't think I'll be keeping them all.

When all was said and done with the trainer I felt compelled to get my total cardio time up to 25 minutes so I hopped on the treadmill and whipped up a mile in 10:25.  I can live with that.  I left the gym feeling spiffy.

This weekend is jam-packed, as seems to be the case these days.  But the splendid thing is it's a holiday so we get an extra day to fit it all in.  Tomorrow Miguel is going on a mountain bike ride and I'll be enjoying playgroup with the kids.  The afternoon is up for grabs since it's a day off from the gym.  Sunday is a long ride.  I've been researching routes and I think I've found one I like.  I'll have to post that later, this post is already too long.  And Monday we are saving for a family day.  Don't know what we'll do yet but I do know we'll spend the whole day together, which sounds great.  And hopefully I can get to the gym while the kids nap and they'll never know I was gone.  The best kind of mommy guilt is no guilt at all.  Wait, that doesn't make sense.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Moving Forward Stronger and Smarter

I found myself thinking about my eating adventures for a couple days and I soon realized it wasn't the actual food that bothered me, it was the way I ate the food that bothered me.  If Miguel and I had stopped at Jack in the Box for dinner and I had two tacos and onion rings - admittedly I wouldn't think of this as a good choice - but I wouldn't be upset about it.  And then later I got some ice cream and ate almost the whole pint.  Again, I know I wouldn't be slapping myself on the back with pride, but I don't think I'd have mental anguish that kept me up blogging until the wee hours of the morning.  It was because the behavior was compulsive, because I was alone and because it wasn't part of a normal day.  Thank you for listening, I just wanted to get that off my chest.  The good thing is I'm over it and am ready to move on.

Sunday was the big bike ride.  I mapped out a loop from home to the next town over and back around to home.  There were three hills to speak of and a fair amount of low level climbing.  Here's a map and elevation profile:

From the start the most challenging thing was the wind.  It was blowing directly in our faces and was probably the worst I'd ever experienced on this route.  About 6 miles in a man yelled as he passed me, "It's brutal out here today!".  That was nice confirmation that yes, the wind was brutal.  When we finally got to the hill, a hill I have fought with in the past (and eventually conquered), I wondered how it would go.  I just kept pedaling, slowly, pedaling, don't stop - and I made it!  And Melissa was right behind me, plugging along too.  She said seeing me pedaling in front of her made her keep going and not get off and walk.  Cool!

When we finally made a left we hoped the wind would be over with but no, it kept at us but from a slight right angle instead of head-on.  You know how when you're driving your car on a windy day and you feel the air move it around?  I felt that for the first time on my bike.  That's a bit nerve-wracking.  We got to the first really steep downhill and finally some wheeeeeee action!

Then we made another left at about mile 15 and started back in with the climbing but thankfully, no wind.  I had been eating my shot bloks pretty regular and felt pretty good.  We trudged along until we finally made it to the top of Big Rock, and wheeeeeeeee down Lucas Valley Road.  Nice.  My legs started burning around mile 27 but then got better, and started burning again around mile 31, when it started raining on us, but I was so close to home I didn't care.  All told, according to my gps, the ride was 34.5 miles.  And the Cinderella is 66?  Oh boy, this should be interesting.

We came home and stretched and felt like rock stars.  Like tired rock stars, that is.  I felt so good riding this route again since having kids.  I rode stronger, and smarter - not to mention happier, than the last time I rode it.  Granted, the last time included a trip to Point Reyes and was 50 miles but who's counting?

That night I was asleep by 9pm.  And Monday morning I slept in late.  I think I needed that after Saturday night.  I hit the gym Monday after work and ran two miles on the treadmill followed by chest/triceps/core work for strength training.  Love my pushups!   That night though (last night) I paid for my sleeping in and stayed up WAY TOO LATE, until nearly 1am.  Ugh.

I woke up this morning wishing for more sleep but I got up and moving.  I went through my day dragging and about an hour after lunch I started feeling nauseous and foggy.  My schedule was clear so I decided to take the rest of the day off sick.  I still dragged myself to the gym, fearful that I am getting sick and this might be my last chance for a few days.  I got on the bike for my normal 25 minutes but bagged it after 20 minutes.  Then I did legs/shoulders/core work and started feeling a bit better.  After strength training I decided to run 5 minutes on the treadmill to bring my cardio up to the full 25 minutes I normally do - you know I'm stubborn that way.  I hopped on and quickly upped the pace to 10 minute miles/6mph.  Whew!  That was a challenge but I ran for 5 minutes, a half-mile, at 6mph, after doing my legs routine.

I got off the treadmill feeling strong and alive, though still a bit nauseous.  Ah well, got some good stretching in and came home.  Now I'm hoping I'm not getting sick and that maybe it's just something I ate.  One thing's for sure, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Food Flashback

Something weird is happening to me.  First, I haven't felt like blogging lately.  The last few days when it crossed my mind to blog I felt like, eh, I'll pass.  Then today, with the food.  Ugh.  Before I get into that I'll tell you some good stuff that I did so the food doesn't look quite so bad.  Though it is.  Bad.

I last wrote on Wednesday so Thursday is where I'll start.  Thursday was a gym day and the first time I ran since the half-marathon last Sunday.  I hopped on the treadmill with an idea to run 25-30 minutes.  Since I'm no longer training for a run I figured I'd run based on time and not distance.  I ran between 4.5 and 5.0, with a brief stint at 5.5 for about 25 minutes and felt good.  The running felt easy and almost effortless, which was nice.  Since I'm running for such a short amount of time I think I'll start to push myself a bit on the speed.  After the run I did legs/shoulders/core work.  Squats, lunges, shoulder presses, etc.  I had a really good workout and managed to get it done in an hour, stretching included.  Miguel was putting dinner on the table when I walked in the door.  Nice.

Friday (yesterday) I went to the gym and rode the upright bike for 25 minutes, still doing level 6, random.  And it was, dare I say, not all that challenging.  I decided it's probably time to up it to level 7.  Or increase my rpm plan.  Either one would work.  After that I did back/biceps/core work.  I decided to do assisted pullups first and really decrease the amount of assistance.  I've been doing 150 pound offset and dropped it to 135.  I couldn't do the same amount of reps but at least I feel a little more respectable with the offset.  I'd like to get it down below 100 maybe by the end of the year. 

A quick side-word about the plank.  I usually do them on bent elbows, like this picture here on the left.  But I read that this is not a "true plank."  And that a true plank is with your elbows straight, as in the upper part of a push-up.  So I decided to do one of my two planks with straight elbows.

I held the straight elbow plank for the same amount of time I normally hold the plank, 40 seconds, and I didn't notice that much difference.  If anything the straight elbow plank seemed easier overall.  Anyway, enough about all that.  It's time to talk about food.

So today I ate almost a pint of ben & jerry's ice cream.  I basically only stopped because I was starting to feel a bit sick to my stomach.  It was sweet overkill.  And then, a few hours later, I ate fast food.  Fast.  Food.  I haven't done that in a while.  At least not like this - for no good reason.  I wasn't in a hurry and I ate it basically by myself.  That's old behavior.  I went to Jack in the Box, which I like to say with a thick Spanish accent, Yack in de Box.  Anyway, I had two tacos and an order of onion rings.  Ugh.

Now this is the type of thing that does more damage psychologically than physically.  I just end up feeling crappy about it for days, long after the calories are burned off.  Hopefully that won't happen this time, hopefully I've gotten better at letting things like this go.  I'm glad I'm going on a long bike ride tomorrow because, A - I can tell myself I was just carb-loading and, B - I will balance the ton of calories with a ton of work.  Oh, and let's not forget C - exercise usually clears out the brain.

Writing about this is not easy.  I want to be fit Michelle, healthy Michelle.  I want to be a Michelle that doesn't do these types of things.  I'm embarrassed.  I recently was out to eat and considered getting dessert and one of the women I was with said, "it's a good thing you look so good or I'd be disgusted right now."   I broke that down to mean that if I was fat it would be disgusting that I was eating a brownie sundae.  Maybe that's one of her tools for resisting crappy food, to think of it as disgusting (maybe I should try that).

Anyway, I don't know why I just told that little story, maybe because I've thought about it a few times since.  Or maybe because I think you will be disgusted by me.  Or maybe because I'm disgusted by me.  That's not true though, I'm not.  Disappointed, yes.  And wondering why.  One thing that occurs to me is sleep.  I have been staying up way too late and these last few days I've been feeling tired.  Of course it's 1:15am but I had to get this off my chest.  I'm feeling like a very "real" person today.  Being real ain't all it's cracked up to be.

I'm off to bed now.  Can't wait for tomorrow's bike ride to make everything right again.