Workout Recap and Recovery Day

Yesterday I worked a night shift, starting at 7:30pm.  I decided to do a little pre night shift gym time, since I’m useless the morning after a 12 hour shift, so I knew it wasn’t going to happen today.  I ended up having a great workout, putting in 20min of warm-up cardio, and then hitting the weights for about 45min afterwards.  I lifted the same weight I was lifting pre flu, and I’m barely sore today.  It’s taken me roughly two weeks to get back on track, but it feels great to be back in the swing of things again.

Here is yesterday’s workout:

3×15 squats at 40lbs

3×15 lunges with 15lb kettle bells.  My trainer tells me to complete all 15 reps on one leg before switching to the other leg, you get a better workout that way!

3×12 bicep curls at 10lbs (I AM SO WEAK AT BICEP CURLS)

3×15 tricep dips

3×10 in and out pushups.  To do one “in and out pushup”, you do a pushup with your hands set wide apart, then you push your body up and throw your arms into a pushup position with your arms tight next to your body.  Do a pushup from this position.  That is one rep.

3x 1min low plank.  “Low plank” may also be known as “sliding plank.”  You want your feet to either be on a slippery surface, or on gliding disks.  You start out in plank position, and then glide your feet back, maintaining your strong core the whole time.  Once you feel yourself ready to lose your strong core, you contract your abs and slide back to your original position.  If you’re a pro at plank, do this variation for an extra challenge!

Finally, my ab circuit consists of:

3×15 reverse crunches

3×15 hip raises

3×10 leg raises

That workout is really starting to get fun for me.  I’m still pretty shaky on my third set of the pushup, plank and ab circuit, but I managed to get through all of it this time without absolutely dying.  Practice makes perfect, I suppose!

After finishing up at the gym last night, I had a quick snack and was off to work.  Had a busy night with almost no break, and didn’t get home until 9:15 this morning.  So exhausted, but of course, unable to fall asleep after I finally made it home!

So today, after waking up from my post night shift snooze, I spent the afternoon running errands.  I got a new bank card, after having my purse stolen last week, and finally replaced my purse.  Since I’m only operating on 3 hours of sleep, I’ll be taking it easy tonight with pancakes and eggs for supper…  best cure for a night shift hangover!!  My workout tonight will be a bit of yoga and when Joe gets home from work, we’ll have ourselves a little mini date night.  I’ll be back at the gym again tomorrow, hopefully feeling a little more rested.

I hope you all had a happy Monday!


Fun with the treadmill

After yesterday’s workout with my trainer, I am feeling pretty sore today, especially in my thighs and definitely in my butt…  (thank you olympic squats, that’s a part of my ass I’ve never really worked before.)  And after a long day at work, I promised myself that tonight’s workout would be light.  It’s one of those times where I just needed to show up at the gym and be happy if anything happened.

On a typical work + gym day for me, I’m out the door at 6am, at work all day, at the gym for a bit, and back home for supper by 10pm.  Anything longer than 30-40min at the gym, and it turns into a crazy long day.  So given my soreness and my timing constraints, today was the perfect day for a little 5k treadmill workout.

treadmill meme

Obviously, I much prefer to run outside, but given the fact that I basically live in the North Pole, I am forced to treadmill it for a few months every year.  Lately, I’ve been reading about different ways to work out on the treadmill.  If you want some resources on that, check this out.  And this, and this.  For my purposes right now, it looks like playing with pace and incline are two great ways to keep things interesting and push myself while on the treadmill, without over complicating things.

While my trainer has been showing me different ways to play with incline, tonight I just really felt the need to let my legs turn over.  The thing I love about speed intervals is that feeling of just letting your feet fly…  you know, right before your lungs start to burn, you get that feeling that you might vomit, and everything just goes to shit.  So tonight, I didn’t want to just jog an easy 5k.  I wanted to add some speed intervals to make it fun!

My workout today consisted of 1 warmup mile at my recovery pace, followed by about 1.25 miles (maybe a bit more) of intervals.  I finished a total of 3 miles at an easy pace, with a slightly increased incline just to make it tough.

The way I approached my intervals was to start at a pace 0.5kph faster than my recovery pace, and do 1min interval at this pace, followed by 1min of recovery.  (Unfortunately, the treadmills at my gym are in kilometers per hour, and I much prefer using miles when I’m running…  so I’m sorry for the confusion.  It actually confuses me, too…)  Then for each consecutive 1min fast interval, I increased my pace.  I was sort of just playing around to see how different speeds felt, because I usually run intervals outside and have no idea what the numbers on the treadmill mean.  I didn’t really get that speedwork lung burn feeling until my last mile, when I started increasing the incline, and then I could tell that my heart rate was nice and high and I was feeling the burn.

In the end, I covered 3 miles in 32min, with all the speeding up and slowing down of the intervals.  I felt awesome afterwards, and had a lot more fun doing this type of workout than I normally do if I just jog on the treadmill at a constant speed, even if my speed is normally overall faster than that.  Now that I’ve got a feel for it, I’ll definitely repeat this workout with faster intervals, and maybe throw in an extra mile or two…  there’s a lot of potential to build on here…  For a light day, I’d say it was an overall success!

Workout Recap

I’m back from Boston, and I couldn’t be happier!!!

I had a brief little work trip down to Bean Town this week that ended up being a bit of a nightmare.  You can read alllll about my adventure (aka that time I got mugged while traveling alone in a foreign country) here if you didn’t read it already.  But now, it’s on to much happier things!

I had a trainer appointment today.  And I’ll be honest, I almost cancelled it.  I still have a lot of phone calls to make and a lot of errands to run to get all of my ID back after having my purse stolen, and today is my only day off.  But in the end, I decided that it would be good for my sanity to get my ass to the gym.  It was also my first trainer appointment since getting over the flu, so I was a bit apprehensive about it.  But no excuses, people!  Sometimes, you’ve just gotta show up.

My workout today consisted of:

Warmup for 10min on the treadmill.  I did this at an easy jog and ran just over 1 mile.

3 x 15 reps of front squats (35lbs)

3 x 15 reps of lunges (30lbs)

3 x 12 reps of olympic squats (started at 30lbs, realized my shoulders are way too weak for 30lbs, then did the last 2 sets at 20lbs)

3 x 15 reps of shrugs (30lbs)

3 x push-up set of 5 regular push-ups, 5 wide push-ups, 5 triangle push-ups, and 5 spiderman pushups on each side

3 x 1min plank

It doesn’t seem like a very ab-intensive workout, but after the olympic squats, my abs were actually pretty tired.  There’s a lot of shoulder and ab involved in that exercise, it’s not just legs!  It was my first time trying olympic squats, and I almost died trying to lift 30lbs…  so now I’m obsessed with this exercise, and I intend to become awesome at it.

Tomorrow will be a cardio day after my day shift, and I’ll hit the weights again on the weekend!

Any awesome treadmill workouts I should try out tomorrow?  Who else has big weight lifting plans this weekend?

Reflections on a Mugging

So I`m in Boston at the moment.  I`m here for a conference related to Nursing Research, and have been collaborating with some nurses at one of the hospitals here.  I’ve spent a lot of time in this city, gone on jogs all over it, been out in many different neighborhoods, am very comfortable with the public transit system.  Tonight, I was walking through the Back Bay after doing some shopping, and I got mugged by a homeless guy.

One minute, there was another lady walking on the other side of the street.  Then she turned the corner, and I must have been alone on that little stretch of sidewalk for half a second.  I was half a block away from a street full of traffic.  I was focused on my phone, texting my husband to tell him I was walking back to my hotel.

Bam!!  I’m sure he was waiting for a victim in the alleyway.  Probably camped out there all night ready to pounce.  I had my purse strapped across my chest, from one side to the other to make it more secure.  He just came up behind me as I passed by, ripped my purse off my shoulders, breaking the straps, and ran away down the alleyway.  It took about 5 seconds.  I didn’t even hear him coming.

My first (questionable?) instinct was to chase him.  This was an overweight homeless dude wearing clunky winter boots.  I could easily outrun the guy…  There is no doubt that I can run farther and faster than this dude.  I took off behind him and started screaming…  and then no one answered my screams, and I realized that I was alone in a dark alleyway chasing down a homeless man who is desperate enough to rob me.  I thought twice about chasing him further into a dark alley.  No one can hear me screaming.  Let it go, it’s just a purse.

I gave up and called 911 as I walked back to the street.  I went to the corner and flagged down a very kind man who was in his car waiting at the light, and told him what had happened.  He parked his car and stood on the street with me while I waited for the Cops.

My passport was in my purse.  My credit cards, my cash… my passport was in there.  I’m flying home in two days and some homeless guy just ran off with all of my ID.  I’m trying not to cry in front of this very kind man.  Thank God I still have my phone.

The Cops come, and take my description.  This man is known to Police, I guess he does this all the time.  I explain that I’m from out of town.  I have no ID, no money.  There is a homeless man out there with a bit of American cash, some Canadian cash that he can’t even use, and my entire identity.  I never carry my passport with my other ID, but I had just been on a plane, and I put it in there with my boarding pass…  Uuuuggghhh.

I could see the reality my situation sinking in with the very kind man.  He realized I was alone in a foreign country.  He offered to drive me to my hotel, but the Cop said I’d be getting a ride with him.  He offered to give me his number in case I needed any more help.  I thanked him, but said I thought I’d be ok.  He gave me 40 dollars out of his wallet.  Then he offered me more.  “I have more, take more!  I can give you at least eighty bucks!…”  I started to cry.  I took his 40$.  I told him I couldn’t even explain how much I appreciated it.  Just typing those words brings a tear to my eye.  Those are the only 40$ I have right now.

I call my husband from the back of a Police car.  I apologize, and he tells me to stop apologizing.  This makes me cry, and then I apologize for crying.  I’m sure the Cop thinks I’m a mess.  I get myself together and start problem solving…  I’ll call my bank, I’ll cancel my credit cards.  I have photocopies of all my ID back home.

One thing that I can’t shake…  I keep blaming myself.  How stupid was I to walk alone after dark near a back alley?  Why did I leave my passport in my purse??!  How did I not see the guy coming?  He could have raped me.  No one would have heard me screaming.

I know this wasn’t my fault.  It was 7pm in a busy neighborhood.  I always thought my purse was secure strapped across my body like that.  I never leave my phone in it for this very reason…  my phone is always in my pocket.  There were other people on the street two seconds before I was mugged.  And this guy planned this attack, how could I have seen it coming??!  How do the victims of crimes like this always find ways to blame themselves?

Somewhere out there in Boston tonight, there is a homeless man who has my purse.  I’m sure he needs my money more than I do.  I’m sure he is very desperate and needs more than just a few dollars.  I hope he’s buying himself a hot meal right now.  If I would have seen any of this coming, I would have bought him a meal, a hotel room, and a new outfit, if I could have only kept my passport.  All I can think about tonight is how much I want to go home.  But I have a home to go to, I have a husband who will help me figure out my next move.  I have a hotel room that I’ve already paid for, and a warm shower waiting for me when I get back.  So I’ll be honest, I think I’ve already forgiven the homeless man who stole my purse.

And somewhere out there in Boston tonight is a very kind man.  He waited for the Police with me while I was vulnerable and upset.  He gave me money out of his own pocket.  I don’t know his name, but I hope if he ever needs any help from anyone, another kind person will help him too.

Do you work out for your body, or your mind?

After starting my week with 3 straight days of yoga, I ended my week with 3 straight days of work.  (If you’re wondering how that’s possible, it’s because I worked part of the weekend.)  Although this yoga thing is still new to me, it’s already getting in my head!  But I mean that in a good way.

I will explain.

This week at work SUCKED.  There’s no other way to describe it.  As an ICU nurse, I take care of one very sick patient all day long, which means that I’m in the room with their family for 12 straight hours.  In other parts of the hospital, where patients are not critically ill, a nurse has a few different patients to care for, and has to split her time between them.  While that is challenging in its own way, this week’s major challenge for me was dealing with the family of my sick little patient for 12 long hours every day.  This was my only patient, and there was no escape.

nurse meme

Simply put, my patient’s father has an anger problem.  The poor man, who I’m sure was stressed out of his mind and super worried about his daughter, took all of that stress and worry out on me for 3 straight days.  He yelled, he swore, he got into my space while I was trying to do procedures that would help stabilize his daughter.  This man was rude, aggressive and inappropriate.  He made it harder for me to do my job, he yelled at his wife, he yelled at the RTs, he treated all of us with disrespect.

I can honestly tell you that at one point, while I was administering extra oxygen and helping my little patient to breathe, watching her vital signs dip and troubleshooting the situation, suctioning with one hand, bagging with the other, with the patient’s father yelling at me the whole time as if somehow that’s going to help me concentrate, I could hear the yoga instructor from my YouTube videos saying “Breathe in, breathe out. You are strong.”

I’m crouching over my patient to suction her, trying to avoid the spit coming out of her father’s mouth as he yells pretty much directly into my ear…  “Suction her!  What are you fucking doing?  You need to go deeper!  She needs oxygen!  Ahhh, tabernac!  Stop touching her!  You’re making it worse!  Ostie de merde!”  I’d say something back if I wasn’t so busy trying to help his daughter breathe.

“Find your center, plant your feet into the ground and stay in this pose.  You are strong.”  Ahhh, yes.  I am strong.  My patient’s vitals are improving.  She’s starting to stabilize again.  I step back from the bedside, turn and look the father in the face.  He’s swearing at me, half in English and half in French, telling me how to do my job and berating me.  If I was a little less strong, I would yell back at him.  “I’ve been doing this for 5 years.  I know how to treat children with this disease, I promise you, this is not my first rodeo.”  I would tell him to back off, or call security and have him escorted out of the ICU.  I don’t feel like dealing with this shit anymore.  I need to focus on my job, I need to be able to help this man’s daughter get well without dealing with the constant distraction of having him all up in my space!!  Take a deep breath in and find your center. 

The truth is, this man is afraid.  He is yelling because he doesn’t know what else to do.  He is worried for his daughter’s life.  And while I have every right to throw him out of the room, and some nurses would have, I try to remember that I am the one who’s strong, he is the one in a weakened position.  Why humiliate him by kicking him out of the ICU?  This will only make him more angry.  Why argue with him?  Take a deep breath, maintain your calm, look this man in the eye, and reassure him.

This was one of those weeks when the mantras I use to get myself through a run or a workout started popping into my head and helping me through a day at work.  I can do hard things.  Relax, find your center, you are strong.  Sometimes I think working out and running are even more important for my mental health than my physical health.  I wonder, if I didn’t learn to stay calm and focused during a run or a visit to the gym, would I have the same focus in other parts of my life?  Do I work out for my body, or is it really for my mind?  Probably a little of both, but this week, it was my mind that needed that discipline, and I was so glad that I could dig deep and find it.

Easing into it: the week in workouts and praise for yoga

After two weeks of suffering through the flu, I finally started to feel like myself again this week.  For the first time since being sick, my body is finally craving exercise…  Finally!!  I was starting to wonder if I’d completely lost my mojo.

Even though I’ve been desperate to get back to the gym, I’m still at a place where just walking up the stairs to my apartment can leave me feeling winded.  I’m afraid to push myself too hard and end up going backwards, so I’ve decided to ease back into my workouts.  My plan was to start out with a little yoga, and then move on to a light cardio day before finally hitting the weights at 100% effort.  I’m thinking long-term here…  build that base!!

So, listen guys, I’m terrible at yoga.  I have to go into a private place and close the door so no one can see me while I struggle through each pose, otherwise I’m so self conscious the whole time that I can’t focus on what I’m supposed to be doing…  my IT bands will always be tight, no matter how much I stretch them.  And even though I’ve got crazy strong legs, they also happen to be crazy inflexible.  Yup, I definitely have the stereotypical runner’s body…  I’ve dabbled in yoga many times, and I always end up preferring harder hitting, high intensity sports, like boxing, running, and weight lifting.  But I think I may finally start incorporating yoga into my regular exercise routine.  I’m learning that it really doesn’t matter how good you are at it.  You will feel amazing when it’s over…  and with all those Runner’s Lunges and crazy stretches for your hips and IT bands, all you runners out there (myself especially!!) could stand to benefit a lot from a little yoga practice.

My week has actually gone pretty well according to plan.  Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were all yoga days.  I returned to work on Wednesday, for 3 day shifts in a row.  So Thursday after work was my first day back at the gym.  I wasn’t sure how much energy I’d have after working a 12 hour shift, but I have to say, it felt pretty good!!  Walking back into the gym after an almost-3-week hiatus was so great.  I wanted to do all the exercises!  I wanted to hit the weights and the treadmill, and work out every muscle group in my body…  but I stuck to my plan, which was to do some medium-effort cardio and see how my body handled it.  Plus, after a 12 hour work day, I didn’t have time to stay at the gym for much more than that.  I ended up doing 35min on the elliptical, and I truly felt I could have kept going forever.  But in the interest of not overdoing it too soon, I stuck to my plan, and called it a day.

Oh man, does it ever feel good to finally be back!  Today is the first day off I’ve had in a long time where I actually feel healthy!  So my workout this afternoon will be the circuit my trainer designed for me.  It’ll be my first time lifting weights since being sick.  Next week’s goal is to get back to where I was pre-illness:  3-4 serious workouts per week, and now I think I’ll add a day of yoga to top it all off!

Here is the link to a 30 day yoga challenge I’ve been (loosely) following this week.  For those of you who are beginners to yoga, or are just yoga challenged, like me, the first few days of this 30 day challenge are an excellent way to ease into yoga practice without absolutely dying or falling flat on your face.  It’s called Yoga with Adriene.  Try it out!!

Oh, and let’s add a photo to today’s blog…  a little taste of Montreal in mid January from a long, wintery walk I took this week.  Street art and snow!!  Love it.


What are your favorite workout days?  Your long running day?  Your weight days?  Or are you a big-time yogi?

What does it really mean to love your body?

Seeing as I’ve been dying of the plague (aka the flu) this week, I’ve been sitting at home trolling the interwebs a lot more than usual, and have been spending time catching up on some of my favourite blogs.  One of those blogs, The Hungry Runner Girl, wrote a recent post asking the question “do you work out because you love or hate your body?”  A great question, actually, although I brushed it off at first.

Now, I generally have pretty high self-esteem.  While I’ve never considered myself to be the prettiest girl in the room, I’ve always figured I must at least be one of the cooler ones.  I have plenty of friends, I’ve never struggled to get a date, I keep myself in decent shape and don’t feel too shy in a bikini…  So when I first read the question, I sort of shrugged it off.  Pfft…  Obviously I love my body.

Well, maybe…  On second thought, I don’t know, let’s see…  mayeb I need to dig a little deeper.

First of all, what does it even mean to love something?  Like really love it, full-on acceptance, no questions asked?  A lot of people, myself included, think of the word “love” as an action, or at least would agree that claiming to love something is generally backed up by action.  You can’t just say it, you gotta show it!  I do all kinds of things out of love for my husband that I wouldn’t do for anyone else.  Is this also how I treat my body?  Do I really treat it like I love it?

I think, while we’re considering this, we need to take a good honest look at what’s motivating our actions.  Do I do come home and cook dinner after work because I want my husband to have a good meal at the end of the day?  Or is it because if I cook dinner, that means I can stick him with the dishes?  (That example is obviously ludicrous – Joe and I both know I’m a terrible cook.)

Now I’ll apply that same principle to the way I treat my body.  Do I go to the gym and workout, or hit the road and log those miles, because I know it’s good for me?  Yes, this is what my body needs right now, I’m going to do this because it is an investment in my health.  I think that, a lot of the time, this really is the case.  That is often the type of motivation that gets me off the couch and out the door.  I really do think about wanting to increase my cardiovascular capacity.  I think about the health benefits it will reap down the road if I develop good exercise habits now.  But then, once I’m out there, when I really need to push myself to run that last mile or do that last set of squats…  my self talk changes.  I start to think about how this last mile will help me lose those last two pounds that I hate.  Or how if I lift this little bit of extra weight, it’ll help me target my “problem areas”, which I hate.

And what about those times when the most loving thing you can do for your body is to rest?  Or at least to take it easy?  We live in a culture of no pain, no gain.  People exercising themselves straight into the hospital, because they’re being told to push through the pain.  That sounds like an abusive relationship to me, not a loving one.  There are some days where you really do need to let yourself off the hook.  Take a break.  Calm down.  If we really loved our bodies, we wouldn’t be thinking Oh no!  If I miss this workout, my arm flab might come back!!  Instead, we should be thinking I need to take care of myself today, and my body needs a break.  I really love my body, so I’m going to take care of it.  (For a really great article on this, go here)

Example:  Me, today, struggling to get over the flu and get back into the gym.  It’s easy for me to become discouraged and feel like all of the recent progress I’ve made at the gym is in jeopardy because I’ve missed so many workouts due to illness.  But, If it were my best friend experiencing this, or my husband, or even one of my patients, I would tell them not to be discouraged.  Do what is good for them.  Stay home and rest, and their bodies will get back into shape when they’re ready.  Why can’t I treat myself with this same kind of love?

Here’s a weird thought.  What if I was ever given the opportunity to trade my husband in for a different guy?  I’m 100% certain that I would be appalled by the idea.  I don’t want another guy, I want to be married to my guy!  I love him!  Exactly as he is, and there’s no one else out there that could ever replace him!  But if I imagine myself being given the opportunity to trade in my body for a different one…  I’m honestly not so sure what I would do.  I can come up with a list of my flaws fairly easily…  given the chance, wouldn’t I be crazy not to trade this old bod’ in for an improved version?  One that at least doesn’t have an appendectomy scar and love handles?

OK, if you’re all still with me, I’m sure you’re wondering so what?  Exactly what does any of this mean for me and how will it change anything?

Well I think it means two things…  For me, I think I need to start looking at my relationship with my body the way I’d look at any other relationship.  I’m not talking about whether or not I love my intelligence, or my sense of humour, or any of the other things that make me who I am.  I’m specifically talking about the type of person I am within my relationship with my body.  Am I an asshole?  Am I abusive?  Or do I treat my body with the same love that I would treat anyone else that is dear to me?

Finally, I think it means I now have a strategy for how to approach my health.  The way I eat, the way I sleep, the way I exercise…  all of these things can be looked at through a lens of self-love.  Is it loving for me to work overtime tonight and miss out on a good night’s sleep?  If I really loved my body, wouldn’t I put a little extra care into preparing healthy food to eat?  And finally, why am I really running this extra mile or doing this extra set of squats at the gym?

Because I really love my body, so I’m going to take care of it.