Where did your resolutions go, people??

It’s the end of January and I’ve noticed that a lot of people on Pinterest have stopped pinning pictures like this:

8fba7d10612d8a5ecac680dde37b66c8to pictures like this:

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Now I’m not judging; that nacho bar looks dope.

On New Year’s Day, I went running in my neighborhood and I distinctly remember seeing A LOT of people out getting their run on. People of all sizes wearing all their new gear they bought for the new year (me included). But yesterday I went running my same route, and I didn’t see a single other runner…It was like 57 degrees and sunny at 10am on a Saturday morning: PEAK running conditions for Portland. Then this morning, the gym was noticeably empty…

I have a lot of time to think while I’m out running (another benefit of getting out there), and I sort of agonized where all the people were. Was there a big sale I was missing? Is there a national crisis happening? Ultimately, I sadly decided that people have already forgotten their fitness resolutions. Am I right?

A couple weeks ago in Hawaii, I worked out EVERY SINGLE DAY. It was awesome. I imagined myself trying out for mini-Iron Man (I believe they call it “Tin Man” but I’m super short so I’m going with “mini). I ran along the beach, I swam laps in the ocean, I lifted weights in the park next to the meat heads. Then I came back to cold and dark and rainy-ass Portland and my workout steam was gone. I could barely get up in the morning, let alone slowly jog out a few miles in the rain. Hellll no.

Luckily I have a regular boot camp with my co-workers that’s non-negotiable so I didn’t completely slack off, but my head was not in it. I work out 4-6 times a week so I permit myself an occasional pass like that. In Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, he said he tries to finish his runs on a high-point – like when he’s feeling really good; that will get him back out the next day. I like that idea, and this last week was semi-miserable, which told me to just lay in bed instead.

But yesterday the sun was out and I had nothing to do all day, so I forced myself outside. Guess what? It wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was kind of good. All the same, I was going to allow myself to skip today’s workout if I wasn’t feeling it. AFter a cup of coffee, I opened my New Rules of Lifting book just to browse, and ended up preparing a super tough weightlifting session for my morning instead. It’s all mental.

So if you’ve given up on your resolutions, or you feel a dip coming, here are some of the things I do to get myself out the door:

1. Buy new workout clothes –  Seriously – this one works. Duh.

2. Get a buddy – Last year, my bff, Courtney, and I decided that we were spending too much time drinking wine and playing the jukebox. We didn’t say we wouldn’t go out and have drinks anymore, but instead made a pact that if we were going to, we’d workout first. It totally worked. We did boot camp and climbed stairs and went spinning all the time.

3. Get a trainer – I don’t currently have a trainer, but I definitely have worked with a great one for many years in the past and it’s the only way to go if you’re feeling a little lost or unmotivated. I learned so much and learned to really love going to the gym. There are usually package deals in January, too.

4. Get a subscription to SHAPE or Women’s Fitness or something like it – When I get my new magazine in the mail, I instantly get inspired to try something new (usually workout and food related).

5. Before falling asleep, visualize your workout – It sounds cheesy, I know, but for me it works. I learned this when I was in physical therapy for my knee. On Friday night, I totally imagined myself out running my regular route with my headphones in, and when I woke up, it was like I had already mentally prepared for the challenge. I also read Michael Phelps does a lot of this for his olympic swimming…so that’s a pro-tip for y’all.

6. Check in at the gym on Facebook or post your run – Some people hate me for this, but that’s their problem. I like to share my workout with my other runner friends, and I honestly enjoy seeing what other people are doing for their workouts. Last year, my friend Darcy was posting about how she could barely make a couple miles on the treadmill, now she’s out at 5am running like10 miles in the freezing cold! Like multiple times a week! That’s pretty inspiring.

7. Eat some dope nachos after you run – I’m not advocating a binge after you workout, but every once in awhile, it feels good. Something to think about if you’re headed to a Superbowl party next weekend…

I’m not a personal trainer or a nutritionist or anything like that, which is why I think my advice is more credible. I’m not paleo or gluten-free or even an amateur marathon running. I’m just a regular person trying to be regular healthy – and I’m here to represent.

Two words: PIZZA NACHOS.

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A timeline for recovery

I had a doctor’s appointment today. Just the regular old, “How’s it hanging?” kind of appointment that your insurance forces you to go to every 12 months.

The doctor kept saying, “I’m here for you…what are your concerns…?” And I was like, “Nothing – I feel good. Can I go now?” Then she smiled this really saccharine smile and cooed, “Whatever’s good for youuuu is good for meeeee…” 

Then the nursed walked me out and handed me the doctor’s “Follow Up” forms. It said, “Nothing! Remember – I’m here for you!” Ok lady, I got it.

But no really – three years ago, I had two, sometimes three, medical appointments a week for my blown out knee. Every time I saw the surgeon or the physical therapist or the chiropractor, I had a laundry list of questions (and they returned a laundry list of recommendations). A year later, I was 8 months post-surgery and I was still struggling despite finally being able to run outside (a sad limping, lurching kind of jog).

On the way to work, I would regularly fawn over this guy I named, “The Burnside Guy” who wore a full Nike spandex bodysuit who ran past me while I crept along in traffic. As I left the doctor’s office and glimpsed at myself in my full Nike spandex tights and day-glo running shoes, I had a realization: I’m, like, healed. Maybe, just maybe, some other injured weirdo is out there calling me “The Cornell Girl.”

Sure, my knee makes this audible grinding sound when it bends, but there’s no pain. And the questions have finally ceased. I’m no longer spending countless hours googling things like, “ACL recovery”, “knee strengthening exercises”, and “moderate-to-severe joint pain.”

What’s my point to all this? I think I’m ready to move on. I’ve spent THREE YEARS really focused on my knee. My brain has been reprogrammed to focus on the right side of my body, and I often think of my timeline as it’s own Gregorian Calendar of B.K. (Before Knee) and A.K. (After Knee). I can imagine that those who have had a more serious injury or tragic event, this feeling might never go away.

When I was in the midst of my knee woes, I wished there had been something somewhere that said, “Things really will get better – and this is how long it will take…” but nowhere could I find anything about it. If you’re reading this and perhaps also suffering from a recent sports injury or accident (or maybe even a recent break up), I’m telling you THREE YEARS. Sure, it sounds like a long time, but I did it…so can you.

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Now seriously, WHERE CAN I GET THAT NIKE FULL BODYSUIT?

#7 – Do an old fashioned rope climb. Check! Sort of….

I should have clarified from the very beginning that I never ever thought I would be able to actually ascend the rope to the top. The goal of doing an old fashioned rope climb was more about the sheer curiosity of how much I could do. Never in my physical education growing up did the PE teacher ever say, “Today we are going to do the rope climb.” But I remember that damned rope dangling from the ceiling and thinking, I want to try that.

Alas, it’s been a nagging thought since I was 12.

Today during our after school boot camp (yes, we teachers workout in the gym after school), I convinced our PE Teacher, Ken, to let down the rope and give me a try. A sad, flailing try.

That’s right; I couldn’t climb the rope. I mean, I could hang on. Eventually, I learned to twist the rope in between my feet and I think I got three good pulls, but then I slid down after giving myself a hernia. I tried with shoes, without shoes, and finally without socks. All the same result.

However, I wasn’t the only one to give the rope a try, the rest of the group tried, too, all with similar results (our trainer included!). My verdict? A rope climb is FREAKING HARD.

Of course, in hindsight, I was like, Maybe I should look up rope climbing techniques on Youtube…

Ah-ha! We were doing it all wrong! We didn’t apply the foot clamping technique. So while I’m crossing off the goal because my curiosity has been satisfied, I’m also ready to try to some “foot clamping” to really decide whether it’s impossible or not.

Our October Burpee Challenge

FINALLY the weather has cooled down, just a bit. I cannot WAIT until we get back to our Portland rain so I can start enjoying my outdoor workouts again. I must have some genetic marker that says “unable to run or workout in the sunshine” because although I love to bake by the pool, my body just isn’t built to handle workouts above 55 degrees.

It’s going to be a very, very busy month for me, with a lot of traveling, but I haven’t forgotten that one of my bonus goals is to complete a burpee mile. Not long ago, I completed a burpee HALF mile and it really wasn’t that terrible. Mostly just the sunshine and the boredom are what got to me, and I wasn’t abnormally sore the next day either. That being said, I’m thinking mid-November might be my first try at an official Burpee Mile.

When I was training for 100 pushups in one set, I made it a point to do push-ups every single day. Sometimes it was multiple sets of 25 – 40, other times just 15 quick ones before bed. I’m thinking that repetition and mindset are what I need to gear up for that big burpee mile at the track.

How to do it…..how to do it…….? *Oh I know!*

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I make no claims to have made this myself, and am not a little ashamed to admit I found it on Pinterest…but here we are, the OMG Burpee Challenge of October. What’s funny is that I posted this image on Facebook earlier this morning, asking, “Who’s with me?” and imagined that by dinner time I would accrue zero likes. Ironically, in just a couple hours, a whole host of people had not only “liked” the post, but said they would like to try, too.

So – what do you think? Are you up for doing some burpees with me and my sadistic committed friends? Join our group: OMG October Burpee Challenge.

Halfway to the Burpee Mile

Are there any specific rules to the burpee mile? I’m not even sure where I first heard about it. Youtube has a slew Crossfit groups recording their “mile” on video but they all do it a little bit differently. I also found some “rules” on a Crossfit site – here they are:

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And while I had trouble finding a universal set of rules, I did find this nice graphic:

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I’m not doing my burpee mile for anything but me, thus I think I should establish my own rules. Also, after blowing out my knee (almost 3 years ago!), I’ve learned to really listen to my body. It’s NOT worth hurting myself (or having a miserable case of DOMS). This is why I have slotted “Do a Burpee Mile” into the BONUS GOALS category. It may or may not be possible.

That being said, yesterday I completed a solid burpee half-mile and I feel no tinge of soreness or injury (though I did take one hell of a nap afterwards). I had slow one mile jog to the track, did 1/4 burpee mile, ran a little more to loosen up my legs, and did the other 1/4, with a jog/walk cool down. Yeah, my legs were a little jello-y at the end.

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Many people have asked, “How many burpees are IN the burpee mile?” So yesterday I counted about 230 in a quarter mile. Multiply that by two and I did almost 500 burpees. Holy crap! However, my strategy is very different than any Crossfit site I’ve seen. I chunk my burpees in tens and take a quick rest in between each set, whether I think I need it or not. I also don’t add a push-up because I just don’t wanna.

Gloves are imperative.

Water is imperative.

Proper shoes are imperative.

Patience is imperative.

I was really, REALLY bored by the end of the first 1/4. I’m wondering how these Crossfit people manage that part of it. Maybe because they are together in a group? Even running on a treadmill is more interesting because at least you have television to watch. I think that will be the toughest part, should I complete an entire mile.

I would appreciate creative suggestions on how to breakup the boredom!

 

Clocking those burpees

While my goal of a burpee mile was initially set for last month, the weather in Portland has been H-O-T. I generally don’t fare well in any exercise over 57 degrees, and I lost my workout gloves so until I can guarantee I won’t get heatstroke and blister my hands on the track, I’m just going to keep training for lots and lots of burpees.

I don’t know anyone else personally who has tortured themselves with a “Burpee Mile” and, admittedly, I haven’t really looked at a specific training plan for this kind of challenge. That being said, I did 80+ pushups without stopping a couple years ago and I trained for that by just doing them ALL THE TIME, with lots of variety. I’m taking the same approach.

Just doing burpees for an entire workout sounds really boring (and exhausting), so here’s a workout I did this week for an example.

My Burpee Workout #1

1. Warm-up 

2. Descending Burpee Ladder (do 10 in a row, then 9, then 8, etc…I give myself a 10-20 second break in between) = 55 burpees

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3. Alternate 3 sets of Exercise Ball Jack Knife (40) and Bicycle Crunches (40)

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4. Repeat Descending Burpee Ladder

5. Alternate 3 sets of Sit Ups with Medicine Ball (40) and Mountain Climbers (80)

mens_fitness_5022  Mountain-Climber

6. Repeat Descending Burpee Ladder

7. Alternate 300 meter row (fast) and Planks (1 min)

8. Cool down and stretch

The whole thing usually takes me about an hour. And in the end, I’ve done 165 burpees (amongst other things).

If you’re into increasing your burpees (David, I’m talking to you), here’s a good reference site to challenge yourself: The Burpee Workout.

Do you do burpees? How do you include them in your workouts? I’m always looking for something new and shareable.

How to be more accountable for goal setting

I just ran across this other blog post from Successify (a blog I try to read regularly) entitled 7 Reasons Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How to Fix Them and I really recommend this short read. I recently vented about my experience in the audience of a local talk show where the focus was on setting goals and resolutions (original blog post found here) and on a selfish level, these seven reasons really back up my argument. But no seriously, it’s good advice!

I wonder how many people set goals on January 1st, and feel like the world has gotten in the way already by January 11th. Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

Another tool I have been using for fitness and I highly recommend is an app called GYM PACT (did I blog about this in the past? maybe?). The gist is that you make a “pact” for how many days a week you want to work out and set an amount that you will get charged for each missed workout…but you also get paid a few bucks at the end of the week if you successfully completed your pact. Personally, I think it’s genius.

Here’s a screenshot of my current week:

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As you can see, my goal is to workout 5 days a week, at $5 per missed day. Tomorrow is the last day of the week, and I must workout tomorrow to not get charged. You can change the frequency or take a break as long as you set it up ahead of time. Last year, I used this app consistently for about five months and only missed like two workouts total (my phone kept glitching so I took a break until I got a new phone). The app checks in at your gym, or tracks your activity if you wear your phone on an armband.

Also, you can see that I’m trying their new feature which is tracking food. Apparently you set a fruit/vegetable goal and upload a pic for verification. I wanted to see how it worked, but really I just care about the workout accountability part.

The thing is, no matter how motivated you are, some days you just don’t feel like working out. My “screw the workout” triggers are wearing heels all day, someone inviting me to happy hour, or public school teacher fatigue. These are all lame reasons not to workout. Instead, the app gets me out the door (with low expectations) and then 9x out of 10, I have a great workout.

And man, that $2.92 I earn at the end of the week ends up feeling like a million bucks.