Valentine`s Day and this week in exercise

Well, hello, friends.  Happy Valentine`s day to every one of you!  As cheesy as this holiday is, I actually really love having an excuse to shower love on my friends and family.  So I`ll start out by sending some out to all of you.

valentine meme

(A little Harry Potter humor never hurt anybody…)

This week was the first week of my new workout program.  And it is tough.  I feel like I felt back in November when I first started meeting with my trainer…  totally awkward and intimidated by all of the new exercises I`m supposed to be able to do.  I will share my leg day and upper body day routines with you in my upcoming posts.  They`re hard.  I miss squats and lunges and bicep curls.  I do not like one armed pushups and sprints…  just when I was getting comfortable…  BOOM.  Welcome to hell, body.

So I`m sore every day and pooping the Advil again.  The fun part is that I know my body will adapt over the next couple of weeks, and I`m going to get great at this stuff.  Except maybe the one armed pushups, which I may never be great at.  We`ll see how that goes.

I`ve been at the gym every day this week except yesterday.  I`m on nights at work this week, so today is a recovery day for me.  I`m about to spend it on the elliptical doing 45-60min of cardio.  I may even throw in some deadlifts and squats, but that has yet to be decided.  It depends on how much exhaustion-nausea I still have once I`m at the gym.  It`s days like this that remind me why I love running/cardio so much.  I am already looking forward to that feeling that I’ll have after a good sweat.

I rang in my Valentine`s Day by admitting a little patient who was in a house fire.  He and his cousin came to our hospital with some bad smoke inhalation.  They were transferred from a smaller hospital, and arrived by plane just after midnight.  They are perfect little boys.  Chubby little toddlers who are just growing into boyhood.  They are very sick, but I have hope that we`ll help them get better and this will all just be a crazy nightmare far in their past one day.  It was a crazy shift last night.  But seriously, guys…  I don`t care if you`re in a relationship or not, I know there are people in your lives that you love.  Parents, sibling, nieces, nephews, best friends…  Do me a favor and ask them to be your Valentine today.  🙂  (Or at the very least, say something nice to them.)

So after I go to the gym and show myself some love, it`s all about quality time with the husband tonight and with the girlfriends tomorrow.  I wish all of you a fabulous weekend.  here’s to taking good care of yourself and of the people around you!

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Fun at the gym

I think it is a good thing that I took yesterday off training, because it meant I was rested for today`s trainer session.  And still, I almost died.  It was the first day of a new program, so I know I`m only going to get stronger after this.  I`m really starting to love the first couple of weeks of a new program, because it`s so challenging, and I know that within a couple of weeks, I`ll be much stronger.

So my warmup today was all body weight exercises.  Burpees, squats, pushups, pullups, and then some time on the rowing machine.  Then repeat, x5…  I love how that was only the warmup.  I was feeling pretty good about myself until my trainer ran me through a new upper body routine and my new leg day routine.  We did each new exercise once, to get a sense of how heavy I should lift to start out.  I`m telling you, by the end, I was done.  There were multiple points where my muscles just failed.  It is hard to do one armed pushups after “warming up” with pushups, pullups and burpees!  My trainer would be yelling at me for “one more!”  And my arms would just stop working…  I had no juice left.  I couldn’t finish my new ab circuit either.  Again, my muscles just stopped working, and all I could do was laugh at myself.  One more felt like an insurmountable task at that point.

So today was super challenging and fun.  I won’t see my trainer again for two weeks, but it’s really cool to think that I’ll be able to complete my entire program by then without hitting total muscle failure.  She’s really pushing me, but I like it!!  It’s really nice sometimes to have one of those workouts that is totally ridiculous, in the sense that it’s so challenging that the only thing you can do is laugh at yourself.  I’m telling you, we laughed a lot today.  🙂

When you’re out there killing yourself to get through a workout or a run, try to take a step outside of yourself and remember to laugh.  It’s ridiculous what we put ourselves through in the name of fitness.  But keep it light if you can!  When you’re hurting and you’re sweating and you’re pushing so hard, I mean, that’s what it’s all about, right?  And when you hit that wall super hard like I did today, take a mental note of it.  Remember that moment.  And come back and try again tomorrow…  the wall will be further and further away every time.

Don’t think about it – Just do it

The last few workouts I’ve had have really started to get fun.  I recently had a great session with my trainer, where she introduced a new circuit that involves rotating between different kind of pushups, among other things.  The first time I tried the pushup circuit, I was really dying.  She could see that I was determined to get through my third set, but I knew it was going to be tough…  so she yelled at me “Don’t think about it, just do it!”

I really stopped thinking and just did it.  It was truly that simple…  turn off your brain, and let your body do it’s thing.  It was like magic, having her say those words to me.

During that same workout, I was chatting with my trainer about how quickly I’ve been increasing my weight on my strength training exercise.  When I look at my workout plan, it has me going up on weight after 3 workouts at a given weight.  That means that I generally increase my weight every week if I’m doing my workouts regularly.  In my mind, that seems fast.  I look at the number written down on paper, and I’m surprised that I’m able to lift that much.  My trainer just laughed at me when I told her that.  “It’s mostly psychological,” she said.  “Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you can do it.  Your body adapts fast, it’s your mind that needs to catch up.”

Woah.  Is she ever right.  Maybe this is one of the best parts of working with a trainer.  I have someone telling me that I can do it.  Someone who is there to yell at me to turn off my brain when she sees me starting to doubt myself.  Stop thinking!!  Just do it! 

I never realized how much my own self-doubt figures in to my training until I heard my trainer say those words.  It really stuck with me.  I look at a distance, and I say to myself Nope, that is farther than I’ve ever run before.  I don’t think I can do that today.  I see a number written down on paper and I say I can’t lift that much, that’s more than half my body weight!  How crazy of me to be the first to count myself out.  I am my own worst enemy.

I know I didn’t make any official 2015 New Year’s resolutions.  It’s not really my style to do stuff like that…  but I have officially made a new goal for myself.  I’ve decided to stop being my own worst enemy when it comes to training.  I don’t want to be the only thing standing in my own way of achieving my goals.  I will set workout goals, and I will meet them, because I can.  I can do it. 

When it comes to training this year, I’m going to stop thinking, and just do it.

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?

Illness and Exercise… some advice for this year’s flu season.

It’s that time of year again.  Flu season is upon us!  And, fun fact, this year’s flu is the worst one we’ve seen in about a decade if you go by the amount of flu related Emergency Department visits hospitals have seen so far this season.  Another fun fact, this year’s flu vaccine is only about 50% effective.  Yes, you should still get it, but it’s not a 100% guarantee that you won’t get sick anyway.

This year, I got sick anyway.  It’s been about 2 weeks since I first came down with my symptoms, and it’s seriously sidelining me from my exercise routine.  I’ve missed work, cancelled trainer appointments, and cleared my social calendar so I can stay in and rest up.  And after 2 weeks, I’m still sick!

Part of my problem is that I keep trying to go back to work too early.  I get exposed to all kinds of illnesses at work, and I think I may have come down with a 2nd virus on top of my original flu infection.  Because of that, I’m taking this whole weekend off to get better before showing my face in the hospital again.  It’s pretty telling that a huge percentage of our nurses have come down with the flu this year.  My colleagues and I have started referring to it as the Plague.

So if I’m sick enough to miss work and to avoid going out, am I sick enough to stay home from the gym?  I’ve done some research, and in my case, the answer is yes, I’m sick enough that I should be staying home and avoiding exercise until my symptoms go away.  Here’s why:

In all the research that I’ve done about exercise and illness, the general rule is that if you have “neck-up” symptoms, you’re still ok to exercise, but if you have “neck-down” symptoms, you should be avoiding exercise and getting rest.  the “neck rule” is pretty simple; if you’ve got a cough or a runny nose, those symptoms occur above neck level, so they count as “neck-up” symptoms.  These are usually associated with a cold virus of some kind, and while you may want to decrease your effort at the gym to, say, 75-80% of your usual effort, it’s still safe for you to work out.  In fact, there is some evidence showing that exercise has immunity-boosting effects.  A light cold may be a reason to scale back your efforts slightly, but not to avoid working out all together.

The flu, however, is not the same thing as a cold.  It’s the “neck-down” symptoms that are more concerning.  Fever, body aches, or a cough that’s settled into your chest, are more indicative of flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia.  Exercising in one of these conditions is more dangerous, and probably counter-productive.  Because you raise your core body temperature during exercise, exercising when you already have a fever is a big no-no.  It can cause your body to heat up to dangerous levels.  You don’t want to do that!  Stay home, take it easy, and wait for the “neck-down” symptoms to subside.

So where does this leave me?  Well for now, it leaves me at home, on the couch, with a long day of Netflix ahead.  My goal for the weekend is to rest (maybe the toughest goal I’ve had in a while…  resting is driving me nuts!) until my fever and body aches subside.  Then, I’ll hit the gym at about 75% of my usual effort, and see how it feels.  After two weeks of pretty severe flu symptoms, I really am losing my patience, but I know that I won’t be doing myself any favors if I overdo it too soon.

Here’s hoping that the rest of you have managed to avoid this year’s Plague!