Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Breaking It Up

The Dragonboat race is fast approaching and honestly, I can't believe it's been 6 weeks (or 7?) since we started practice.  I'm so excited to be part of a team-based race and being on the water is so new to me, and we even get all in all it has just been an awesome experience.

Our practices are on Monday nights, and while normally Anais, being the nicest person in the nation's capital, would drive us there and back, but for the last two weeks, we've been running to our practice.  The concept of Run-Paddle-Run is simple: run 5K to practice, row for an hour, run 5K back.  The first time we did it in the rain, which made me feel (and look) like Rocky because everyone was all omg you so crazy just take the bus back and we were all no way, we got this and then we got home late at night and felt super accomplished.  To be completely honest, it's not anywhere as challenging as people think it is, and that's almost certainly because we are breaking it up.  Taking that hour-long break between the two runs where we focus on completely 'opposite' muscles makes for a great rest period while keeping our heart rate up. It doesn't actually feel like we ran 10K all thanks to the fact that we broke it up into two short(er) segments.

Another fun boost to your workouts (if you can't really schedule a mid-run interjection à la rowing) is to run with a purpose.  That is, not just a loop around, or distance-driven set run, but a run to the grocery store (pick one that's far enough away), to a casual event where it's cool to look sweaty, or to your office barbeque where your co-workers can pass you as you run and then all comment on how they saw you running, in unison, as you hyperventilate into a burger and wonder what secret route you'll take back so as to avoid similar future embarrassment. 

But really, try breaking it up.  It will likely make both of your runs stronger, more focused, and feel easier.

And now, some things I see while on the water:

And how the sky looks when we run back home...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A (Sort of) Juice Cleanse

Remember that time I went nuts for a month and did a raw diet? Remember that time I punned outta control by saying "I went nuts", because my raw diet was comprised of 80% nuts?  Okay, now that we're all on board, this week I went...juice...or something, and I did a sort of juice cleanse!
I first got the idea from watching a Dr.Oz special with Joe Cross, who went on a super long juice cleanse and lost 9 million pounds or something, and they were both discussing the results with such excitement that I thought I could give it a whirl, as well. Joe Cross' 3 Day Cleanse seemed simple, the ingredients are all basic (cucumbers, tomatoes, ginger, kale etc. nothing wonky), and it claims to make you glow, re-energize you, detox your system, and make you feel lighter.  Sounds awesome!  What makes it a 'Sort of' juice cleanse is that you get to eat fruits and vegetables for dinner, so it's not 100% juice for three days. Among the things I learned, below, is that it really, really helps to eat a salad for dinner because by evening, you start to lose apetite not only for juice, but for life, in general.
Here, a little breakdown of the days, and how I ended up feeling:

Day One:

I had to force myself to finish the breakfast and mid-morning juices, and was full until mid-afternoon by which time I realized I was two juices behind...and then I realized Joe Cross' juice cleanse amounts are probably meant for dudes. I bypassed the pre-dinner drink on account of not wanting to drink a beet and sweet potato combo. Not bad for a first day, but most of all, I missed my breakfast muffins and hot coffee.
General feeling towards muffins summarized as follows:

Day Two:

I had a really bad headache all day and had a hard time concentrating at work. I was really cold all day, feeling really weak, and got woozy a few times.  Still, it wasn't that bad, all in all. I had my baked sweet potato dinner to look forward to, so that made the day less painful.  Oh, and had mangoes and cherries for dessert! Had to say no to cake at lunch, and to going out for dinner in the evening with friends.  I don't even mind the hunger part of it as much as I mind foregoing social events....

Day Three:

Though I felt weak all day, I wanted to get some exercise to help push the toxins out, so I did a Zenergy Cycle class at The Athletic Club.  To my surprise, I didn't faint, and made it through the class without stopping for breaks! I did tone down the intensity of my workout, but I felt great after!  I wasn't planning on stopping the diet strictly at Day Three so I wasn't really feeling relieved or anything as the day ended.

So, I did continue the diet partly on Days Four and Five (today), because I don't think stopping abruptly is a good idea.  On Day Four I had all salads and some quinoa and popcorn because I went to a movie so whatever...and on Day Five I had a juice for breakfast and lunch, and will be making pizza tonight for dinner! I do plan on having a juice here and there to balance out future meals, because I do think it's a great break for your digestive system, but would I do this diet again, for longer than three days? No thanks. I prefer solids and not feeling like this on a daily basis:

All in all, here are some things I can share to anyone thinking about doing a juicing cleanse:

-To anyone trying specifically the Joe Cross diet, if you're a woman, I suggest half-ing the amounts in the recipe.  I made the original recipes, and the caloric value ended up being double my regular daily value and I literally could not finish all the juices- a waste of vegetables and calories, for those trying to lose weight.

-Make sure to drink lots of water between juices, to help keep hunger at bay

-Always, always, always start your day with a glass of hot lemon ginger water. Your body requires it to help start-up the cleanse.

-Ease yourself into the diet with no processed foods or caffeine for two days prior to the diet, and three days post.

And that's that!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Outdoor Workouts

Fantastic, warm summer weather means you can save money by canceling (or pausing) your gym membership and taking your workouts outside.  I used to be a little apprehensive about this idea because I felt my toning exercises lacked direction without an instructor, but then I discovered the wonderful world of YouTube (and its 4, 7, 10, 30, and 60 minute ab videos), as well as downloadable videos, and my personal favorite for the sake of being able to do these outdoors: magazine exercise cutouts.  Self magazine has these awesome cutouts, each showing a different toning move to be done in sets of 20. There are 9 moves, and you do the circuit 3 times (3 reps of sets of 20 for each move). I tore the flashcards out and took them with me to the park, and to my surprise, nobody stared or laughed or threw things at me while I went from burpees, to under-the-knee claps, to lunges, to jumping squats, to twist jumps, to...well you get it, I worked out.  Then I skipped on my speed rope for 30 minutes, and then I went home limping because it was a very great, tough workout.  I feel just as sore as I used to feel in my boot camp or core classes, and best of all I really feel like I got the most out of the warm, sunny day. Sure, I would've loved to chill with a mango daiquiri on a patio somewhere, but I had a giant brownie for breakfast (on top of an already greasy dish prior to that), so I had work to do before kicking back!

I would definitely recommend the Self Drop 10 Challenge workouts that are in every monthly Self magazine (and they're always different, so you get to switch it up every 4 weeks!), and don't worry about not getting enough of a challenge when working out on your own - these will definitely make you sweat.  Combine with a cardio session (skipping or running) for a real toughie ;)

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Athletic Club: Zenergy Cycle

So, of course after ranting about how much I don't like spinning, I went and did it again.  I was perusing the list of group fitness activities on The Athletic Club's program page, and was feeling particularly weak (more on that later), when I spotted the Zenergy Cycle class, described as a spinning class in a dark, candle-lit room, with soothing music playing so that "you don't even know you're working out".  I figured that was exactly what I needed. After all, I like my cycling like I like eating my desserts- in the dark. LOLSOFUNNYOKTHANKYOU

Anyway, I got to the class expecting to hear Enya or at least pan pipes, but what I realized was this class is exactly like any other spinning class in terms of intensity, but, as advertised, it was in the dark. One flameless candle illuminated our imaginary paths, but the music was super fast and hardcore, so honestly, I don't know what was supposed to really be "zen" about it. Oh, we also did a bit of arm work with a set of dumbells. Everyone was all "Yeah I'm a big deal, I'll go with the 5lbs" and I was like "Whatever, I'm sticking with the 2s" and then people were all "ouch ouch I can't do it" and I was like "YEEEEEEEEAAHHHHHHH!!"
Gone are the days of:

I am dumbell victorious! Well, almost. Needless to say, I had a great time! I pushed myself as much as I could, and didn't stop once (!!) and the hour went by pretty slowly, but in the end, I felt a very wonderful kind of pain in my legs. You know, the kind that's like "You done good, have a cupcake."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Athletic Club: Cycling

For as long as I can remember, I've hated biking. I just really don't enjoy the pulling on my knee muscles, the very little reward for all that spinning (unless you're going down a mountain, but then you're just going to fly into a rock and die probably), and the fact that my mom was in a really bad biking accident when I was seven. All of those factors contribute to my general feeling of non merci.  So, of course, having that fantastic 30 day pass to the Athletic Club, I figured I might as well do something I really hate doing, just to see if maybe my mind can be changed with a great instructor.  Currently, I'd say my cycling expertise is as such:

So, given that, I picked a bike at the very back of the classroom. However, only 6 people showed up that day, so the instructor made sure to give me plenty of attention.  She was one of those really, really happy people who genuinely enjoy fitness. I briefly thought about how we could be friends, but then she mentioned that earlier that day she had turned down a donut (and not just any donut but a Suzy Q donut), so all thoughts of friendship were squashed. 
She was a really great instructor though, despite her lack of pastry-eating. Energetic and positive to the point of making me think that spinning is actually tolerable.  We climbed imaginary hills, sped through imaginary races, took twenty second breaks between songs, and pushed ourselves to varying degress of our abilities. That was one of my favorite things: "Go to your 70%" she would say, and we could decide what 70% looked like for us. For me, it looked like a sweaty 30-degrees-outside-and-I-forgot-my-water-bottle beast. But still, this beast did the full class and no slower than anyone else, might I add.  I wouldn't say there's anything special about the Athletic Club's "spin" (SOMEBODY STOP ME) on a cycling class, so if you're a regular devotee of cycling, give it a whirl. Personally, I was hoping for disco lights and glitter raining out of the vents (look I'm still in Zumba mode, minus the glitter, that's just a personal dream of mine), but it was pretty functional, instead: just a room full of stationary bikes and a medium-sized fan at the front.    All in all, did it make me like cycling? Not at all. Did I feel the burn? Yes. And sometimes, to feel the burn, you have to do things that you don't like doing. Maybe that could be my new motivation...?

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Athletic Club: Design Method

I had heard of the Tracy Anderson Method before, and was really excited to try what I can only assume is the Athletic Club's version of it (dance-based toning moves, geared at awakening muscles we don't normally think of using).  I did another lunch-hour class, and once again, I was so happy that I had kept it to a 40 minute experience, because it was really tough.  The instructor led us through a dance routine that incorporated the use of various muscles (and you really do identify those muscles by the 8th time you re-do the routine, they hurt!) and in between sets of routine repetitions, there was mat work. Glorious, glorious mat work, complete with toning our inner thighs (oww), our hamstrings (oww #2), our outer thighs (help), and frankly, muscles I'm not even aware of.  I'll leave out the part where I describe how ridiculous I always seem to look in comparison to everyone else, and I'll just say this: I LOVED IT! I loved this class for the grace in the motions, for the little twitching I felt from every muscle in my arms (for days after), and most importantly, for the energy of our dance moves.  I would highly recommend this class to everyone, partly because now I kinda feel like I'm that much closer to Gwyneth Paltrow (who works closely with Tracy Anderson....whom I'm closer to now too, I guess. So then I'm also closer to Hollywood in general, so.....I don't know. Celebrity ova here.)  I would also highly recommend this class to everyone, because it's one of those classes where you can feel the potential for results from the first moment you start. Just a great experience all around!

Oh and by the way, if you're interested in the class but no gyms in your area offer them,  try Tracy Anderon's'll need a good amount of space and potentially a mat.  Enjoy!