Home is where the heavy bag is

Today is supposed to be leg day at the gym for me.  I had a beautiful day of cardio yesterday, and left the gym feeling fresh and rejuvenated, which is the perfect lead-up to my crazy intense leg day.  But…  and I know you could all sense the “but” coming…

I just can’t get myself out the door.

There are two reasons for this.  Reason #1 is that my gym closes at 6:30 on Sundays, and I really prefer to go at around 8:00.  Reason #2, which is the more substantial reason, is that I have a million things to do at home, and I will feel like a horrible, selfish person if I totally neglect everything else in my life so that I can spend 2 hours at the gym doing leg exercises.  Today is not the right day.

My week this week is going to be nuts.  I work every single day except for Wednesday, and I have a very good friend visiting from out of town.  Every minute of the week is spoken for.  Meaning that the huge mess of dishes and laundry that is currently piling up in my apartment is only going to get bigger as the week unfolds.  And that guy I call my husband who has been working his butt off all week doing a ridiculous mix of Emergency Department shifts and being the Resident on call for Toxicology, will barely see my face before next Sunday…  I really need a day at home today, or I may not survive this upcoming week.

So I made myself a new plan for the afternoon.  Once the laundry and dishes and grocery shopping has been dealt with, I’ve designed a lovely little workout for home that Joe and I can do together…  (Did you see what I did there?  Mixing couple time with workout time.  Yeah, that’s right…)  5 rounds of boxing, a painful mixture of burpees and burnouts on the heavy bag, and some pushups, pullups and ab work to finish.  This is how we used to get down, before the days of personal trainers and half marathon aspirations.  It’s the equivalent of a date-night in our house.  Two bottles of Gatorade, two sets of hand wraps, a good playlist of old-school rap music, and voila…  romance.

I’ll be back at the gym this week, in between the girls nights out and the crazy work schedule.  I’ll find a way to make it happen.  But tonight is protected couple time.  Just me, Joe and the heavy bag.  🙂

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Saturday Night Failure

How do you know if you’ve been a nurse for too long?  You can no longer tell the difference between weekdays and weekends…  That is what happened to me tonight.

Maybe it should have been a sign that something was off when I left my freshly made coffee at home this morning.  I have felt like this all day:

first world problemsAnyway, so I had this big plan to head to the gym after work today and get in 45-60min of cardio.  Of course, silly little me…  I forgot that it’s Saturday!!  My gym closes super early on Saturdays (I think at 5pm) and so when I arrived, it was closed!  How could I forget??!  Am I the only one who’s done this?

I am upset about this.

Seriously, I’m super disappointed to miss cardio day.  As tired as I was after work, I know that when I get in some good time on the elliptical or the treadmill, I not only feel amazing afterwards and sleep super well that night, but I have more energy the next day.  I’ve really started to rely on post-work cardio to help get me through my back-to-back-to-back shifts…  and tomorrow is going to be a huge day at work for me, so I was really looking forward to my gym time.  I’m actually cranky without it.  I never thought I’d be this person, but here I am.  Little miss I didn’t get my run in today crankypants.

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I considered running outside, but it’s 15 below and super slippery out there.  Walking home from the bus was harrowing enough.  It just isn’t an option tonight.  So I ended up coming home and doing a Gillian Micheals workout DVD.  I used to do these and think that they were super tough, just pouring sweat the entire time, so I thought it might be a good substitute for cardio day.  Sadly (well, maybe not sadly, I guess this is a good sign) I am left feeling completely unsatisfied after that workout.  It wasn’t that hard, and it only lasted 25min.

Insert your that’s what she said jokes here…

So the good news is, I’m much stronger than I used to be back when I thought Gillian Micheals was tough.  Silver lining, I suppose.

Tomorrow night is a day off because I have post work dinner and drink plans with friends, so my next gym day is Monday.  I have a trainer appointment, so at least I know it won’t disappoint.  Until then, I am going to be spending the rest of my night online looking for genius at-home cardio ideas for those who live in small downtown apartments and don’t have treadmills (and whose husbands are at work so they can’t box together right now.)  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Staying fit on vacation… even if your vacation is to Austin, TX, and all you do while you`re there is eat

Joe and I just came back from a somewhat last-minute long weekend trip to Austin, Texas.  This weekend was my Birthday, and we both managed to finagle a couple days off from work (which rarely happens for both of us at the same time) so we hopped on a plane to someplace where the temperature was above freezing and where we knew we`d have lots to explore.  So please forgive my lack of blogging over the past few days, I`ve been knee deep in BBQ, Tex-Mex, Super Bowl festivities, more BBQ, and my 29th Birthday celebration!

I had an absolutely fabulous time, but I’ll admit that I was a little concerned about this trip from a fitness perspective.  I’ve been very consistent about going to the gym, but I always struggle to maintain my consistency while on vacation.  Add to that the fact that I’m a pretty heavy drinker when I’m on vacation, and that a trip to Austin is almost exclusively about eating way too much…  I wasn’t sure how I’d keep up with my workout routine.

Time Out:  First, everyone please take a moment to stare at this photo of the best BBQ ever.  (Thank you La Barbecue for the fantastic eats!!)

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I would say that I was about 80% successful in sticking to my routine.  I had 2 really good workouts, which included a good cardio workout as well as a complete weight routine.  I spent an hour and a half at the gym each time, so that was a huge success.  I didn’t feel like I was rushing through my workout, and there was enough equipment in the hotel gym to keep me occupied.  I would have been happy if I’d made it to the gym one more time during the weekend, but there was one day where I almost died of BBQ (yes, that is a thing that you can do) and I took a nap instead.  So that was a bit of a fail.  But the goal of the weekend was to relax, so I didn’t beat myself up too much that I took that nap…  Joe and I both desperately needed to get away and get some rest, so in that sense, I think we were successful!

Here are the things I did this weekend to make sure I didn’t totally neglect my fitness while on vacation.

1.  I intentionally booked a hotel with a nice gym.  I’m the kind of person who will couch surf, stay in a hostel, sleep in a bus station, etc…  but this time around, I stayed in a real hotel with a real gym on purpose.  I visited the gym when we checked in, and made a mental note of how I would adapt my workouts for these facilities.  For example, the only weights in the hotel gym were free weights, with no barbells or machines.  I took a few minutes to consider what modifications I could make to my usual routine in order to maximize the equipment that was available.  And that sort of leads me into my next point…

2.  I had a plan.  I had 2 solid workouts planned before the weekend even started, which made it easier to stay focused.  I like showing up at the gym knowing exactly what I intend to do.  More on this in future blog posts, I am sure.

3.  I didn’t drink until after my workout was done.  I know this seems obvious, but I honestly used to be the kind of girl who could knock down a 6 pack at a party, peace out early and still be able to run 4 miles before bed.  The only problem with that is that once you’ve had a couple beers, it’s that much easier to justify skipping a workout.  “I’m too tired, I’m on vacation…”  So that meant no boozy brunches and it also meant skipping the free beer in the lineup for lunchtime BBQ.  As hard as it was to do, I know it was worth it.

4.  Don’t cut corners.  This has actually become a mantra for me, and I’m sure you’ll see me writing about it a lot.  I wanted to be able to go up on my weight in my strength training routine when I returned from Austin, which meant that these workouts were more than just maintenance workouts.  I needed to be building my strength just as much as I would be at home.  The only way to do that is to show up and work your ass off, no excuses.

Here’s a picture of me mid workout sweating like a toilet in the Texas humidity, but loving every second of it.

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I have about a trillion photos from our trip, because it was just so much fun and we ate so much great food, but I’ll hold back and only share a couple so that you don’t all get sick of me…

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And finally, the best birthday meal I’ve had in a looooong time at Barley Swine (with my goofy and wonderful husband.) If you’re a foodie, this definitely needs to be on your Austin to-do list.

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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.

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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.

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

Nothing beats a good sweat

Am I the only one who struggles with going back to the gym after a day off??  Oh MAN can that be tough!

Yesterday was my rest day… and it was AWESOME.  One thing I`ve learned through my years of being an ICU nurse is how to enjoy time off.  Like really just shut off my brain and indulge in laziness, or fun, or whatever it is that I feel like indulging in.  I`ve read some running blogs where people describe struggling with overtraining and not wanting to rest on their rest days…

I do NOT have that problem.

No matter how much you love what you do, you need to take a day off from it every now and then!!

So last night was a fabulous date night out with my husband, Joe.  We had lots of dranks and tons of extremely unhealthy food, and it was just generally good times.  (This is what happens when you marry one of your drinking buddies… Date night is pretty much just bar hopping and sports watching and general goofiness.  Which I looove.)

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Yum!!!!

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Those fries are smothered in Gorgonzola…  just saying.

As an aside, we are Canadians who are currently living in the US…  we’re only here temporarily, so we don’t have in-State ID.  And we actually got KICKED OUT of a bar last night for not having local ID.  ??!!?!?!  Is this a THING?  We both have valid Canadian ID, and we’re definitely not under age.  I was SHOCKED!  We were forced to go next door and spend all our money at THAT bar instead.

Alright, so let’s get back on track.

We were back at the gym today, and this is where it gets tough for me.  As soon as I take a day off from training, I feel like I lose all of my momentum and I just want to sit on the couch like a blob, or go back to the bar for more of those Gorgonzola fries.

At least today was a cross training day, so you know what THAT means!!!  Boxing!!  Joe and I trained pretty hard today, both of us totally drenched in sweat and feeling pretty great by the time we were finished.  This is one of the best feelings in the world.

And now please allow me a few minutes to go on a quick little rant…  People, I am NOT one of these girls who can give it her all at the gym and still look immaculately made up and fresh right afterwards.  I canNOT engage in lung-burning, muscle-wasting efforts of fitness and strength without looking like a total mess afterwards.  And because this blog is all about being open and sharing my COMPLETE journey to a half marathon, I will most likely be posting some pretty unflattering photos of myself…  It only seems fair.  So this is me, after a few rounds of drills and sparring:

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It’s tough to keep your hair pinned back when you’re taking sweeping left hooks to the head from your sparring partner.  (But, really, who’s fault is that for not keeping my hands up??)

Anyway, I may LOOK like a mess in this photo, but I’m feeling pretty freaking awesome at this point.  I followed this up with some intervals on the bike, and that’s another workout in the books!!  Pretty cool way to spend your Saturday night.

This is the feeling that I try to remember when all I want to do is go out and party or stay at home all comfy and curled up on the couch…  It’s that beautiful, messy, exhausted, sweaty, triumphant feeling that keeps me going back for more.