Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Friday Fun! (Gym, Thundersnow)

October 28, 2011 6 comments

Snow on the ground this morning.

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope you all had nice weeks.  I discovered at my potluck that all of my friends are *amazing* cooks!  We should do this potluck thing more often. 🙂

This week I returned to meeting with a trainer.  In January it will be exactly one year since I started focusing on my fitness, and I’m rather determined to meet a few goals before then.  I figured a trainer would help.  He’s also nice and tough on me, which I enjoy.  I am a bit distraught to discover that I’m still having issues holding a plank for a minute. I make it. But just barely.  Needless to say, that’s one of my big goals for the next two months.

We got our first snow of the year last night, and it wasn’t just snow, it was THUNDERSNOW.  That’s what we call it when there’s thunder and lightning with snow instead of rain.  I loooove winter, and I was happy to see snow this morning, although I must admit that I hope this winter isn’t incredibly long like the one in the Little House books.

I got a lot of library loot last night.  I’m thinking of having my own mini read-a-thon at some point next week, especially since I’m no longer working at the restaurant.  I’m picking up my final check today and handing in my uniform.  I’m happy to have my evenings back to myself, though I will miss the extra money, heh. In any case, let me know if you’d be at all into a mini read-a-thon at some point in the next week.

Happy weekends!

Book Review: Lean, Long & Strong The 6-week Strength-training, Fat-burning Program for Women by Wini Linguvic

October 13, 2011 3 comments

Strong woman standing with hands akimbo.Summary:
In this book Linguvic seeks to lay out multiple strength training routines for women that can be done within your own home with minimal equipment.  The routines are divided into core, lower body, and upper body.  Each of these have beginner, intermediate, and advanced options.  The routines are designed to be combined in various ways to either fat-blast or target core, lower body, or upper body.  The book includes a nutrition guide.

This is one of those times where I really wish I hadn’t trusted the reviews on Amazon and instead borrowed the book from the library.  Granted, I got it for only $3 from Better World Books, but it proved to be utterly useless for me.

Linguvic is definitely a strong woman in all of her pictures, but there is NO WAY she got that strong doing these wimpy routines.  I’d been strength training for nine months prior to getting this book hoping to expand my routine, and they were all simply way too easy for me.  There is nothing intermediate or advanced about this book.  It is beginner all the way.

Almost all of the moves include using an exercise ball and a towel and maybe a set of hand-weights.  Personally I find exercise balls to be more trouble than they’re worth you can just bench press or use a Roman chair.  They’re rolly and annoying.  However, I suppose if you’re the timid type wanting to start to work out and not join a gym just yet, it could work for you.

That said, a solid half of the moves are stretches.  Stretching is not going to give you muscles, so I have no idea why she dedicates so much space to them.

The nutrition section is disappointing, but that’s not surprising given that I’m veg, and she’s an omnivore.  It gives good basic tips, but they’re ones you could get on the internet for free, (such as eat breakfast, don’t eat processed food, etc…)

I think this book suffers a bit from false marketing.  It is not a book that will work for any woman at any strength training level.  It is clearly a book designed for women who are going from doing nothing physical to attempting to begin building some muscle.  It is a beginner’s book.   Even as a beginner’s book, though, it is lacking in variety and truly challenging moves.

Overall, there is some value in this book in that it consists of non-threatening, quick routines that women who have never exercised before may find simple enough to stick with.  If it will get them off the couch, then it has done something.  If you have any experience with strength training at all, though, don’t waste your time with it.

2 out of 5 stars

Source:  Better World Books

Buy It

Friday Fun! (In Which I Ramble About Health)

August 19, 2011 6 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope you all had great weeks.  Today I’m going to be talking about a new-found passion of mine that I believe you all are aware of–health and fitness.

I joined the gym back in January for a lot of reasons, but predominantly because I had high blood pressure at age 24, and I was not ready to start being sick at such a young age.  I’ve made a lot of progress since then and gradually have come to love to see what my body can do.  Recently I set a goal for myself of joining a local MMA club by next January.  I love having a strong body, and frankly the stress-relief that comes in doing something so extremely physical is incredibly appealing to me.  Plus it’s good to have a goal that’s a *fitness* one and not a *weight* one.  I’ve never claimed my new passion for working out and old passion for healthy eating were about weight.  It’s all about having a healthy body to me.

In any case, I decided it was high time to challenge myself with something to the next level, so last Friday I went to my first ever kickboxing class at my gym.  Allow me to explain that my weak point is absolutely cardio fitness, so a 45 minute long cardio-intense class was going to be very challenging for me, and I knew it.  When I first joined the gym I could barely run for 10 minutes without collapsing over and heaving for breath.  So I knew this was going to be challenging.  I was determined to make it through it though.

Since this was a Friday evening class, it was fairly small.  There were about 7 of us ladies there.  And lo and behold the very first thing we had to do was jump rope for 2 minutes to “warm up.”  To me this was not a warm-up.  This was jumping in with both feet (haha, pun intended).  Anyway, we basically mixed jumping rope with kickboxing sequences and jumping jacks, and I thought I was doing fairly well until I glanced at the clock and saw only 15 minutes had gone by.  Egads.

Let me tell you.  Around the fourth time the lovely teacher told us to jump rope, I wanted to give up.  I was definitely the least cardio fit of everyone in the class, and part of me wondered why the hell I was doing this to myself.  And now I’m going to admit something very nerdy to you.  I thought of the zombie apocalypse.  Seriously.

What’s the first rule of the zombie apocalypse?  Cardio.  Was I going to let the zombies get me, a young strong woman?  Hell no.  So I picked up the jump-rope, and I continued on.  I continued on through the evil suicide and push-up drills too.  I fought my way through the whole class, and I have to tell you guys, it was crazy empowering.  There is no way in hell I could have done that class 6 months ago, and yes it was hard, but I did it.  I also went home and collapsed into bed at about 9pm on a Friday night in sheer exhaustion, but I did it.

My body is strong, and it is fit, and the more I challenge it the more it rises to the occasion.  Nothing feels so good as waking up and feeling alert and feeling my muscles in my belly and arms.  Nothing is as cool as knowing I can sprint 5 blocks to catch the bus no sweat.  The more my body can do the happier I am and the younger I feel.  I never want to fall into the trap of unhealthy living again.

I know some people really hate the saying “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” and I agree.  But you know what is a much better and true saying?  “Nothing feels as good as healthy feels.”  And to the extent I have control over my health, I’m determined to do so.

I think that’s why I’m such a big advocate for a healthy America.  I want people to enjoy the happiness and thrill of having a healthy body that maybe they never had because of poverty or because of a lack of healthy education or what have you.  You don’t realize what you were missing until suddenly, almost overnight, you can survive a 45 minute kickboxing class and feel the adrenaline afterwards.

Happy weekends all!

Friday Fun (The Hill)

I’ve mentioned previously that in spite of an intense desire to be athletic, I am not, nor have I ever been.  I’m not talking about fit or in shape; I’m talking about that ability to just run up a hill or jump into a basketball game and not get hurt or…well, you get the picture.  Even at my most fit, when I routinely biked at least 15 miles a day and had rock-hard abs, I still got hit in the face with the ball playing backyard volleyball.  Heck, even when I would go running I certainly didn’t look good doing it.  When it comes to fitness, I am not gracefully athletic.  I am awkward.

Anyway, as part of my bid to get back in shape and relieve my anxiety and do good things for the planet, I’ve been biking to work.  Well, not all the way to work.  I can’t make it that far yet.  It takes two city buses to get to my job, so I’ve been biking to the bus connection, which luckily is just about half-way to work.  I live partway down one side of a very large hill.  In the mornings, I have a nice, gradual slope up for a couple of blocks followed by around five blocks of downhill easy awesomeness.  I’m sure you can see where this is going. 

In the evenings, I hit the hill at the end of my ride.  It’s like a giant middle finger taunting me about how much easier this all would have been if I’d just taken that second bus today.  I’ll be riding along, feeling pretty fit and great, passing all the cars stuck in stand-still traffic and happy in the knowledge that I’ve cut my commute time nearly in half.  Then the landmarks start popping up to remind me that the evil hill is nearly upon me.  Now this hill is not just a hill.  The top of it also happens to consist of a bridge, and bridges in Boston for some unearthly reason are narrower than the roads, which means cars that used to be arms-length away are suddenly at your elbow.  And this isn’t a pretty bridge over a river or a gully or anything.  No, no, it’s over the lovely commuter traffic on the Pike (translation: interstate, highway, Autobahn with a speed limit). 

So, I’m at the end of my ride, tired, hungry, sweaty, and there’s the hill.  I dutifully switch down a gear, but something’s fucked up in my bike’s gears and it won’t catch when I go down from 6 to 5.  I have to go 6 to 5 to 4 then back up to 5 for it to catch.  This makes me wobble for a moment in a way that makes the cars near me worry that I’m about to tip over into them.  (This is a fair concern as I did tip over into a car once when I was in highschool, but that’s another story).  Anyway, so after the wobbling, I try to regain my speed, generally to no avail.  And there I am, moving at a pace that eventually becomes so slow that pedestrians are passing me and giving me that “Why don’t you just get off and walk the bike?” look.  No matter how many gears I’ve moved up since starting this project (5, thank-you-very-much).  No matter how much faster I get.  No matter what, this hill is always just as difficult, and I always reach a near stand-still at the top of it.  

It just refuses to get any easier.  It refuses to stop making me look like an out-of-shape loser.  In a way, this hill reminds me a lot of my anxiety.  I want to just breeze through the day perfectly happy and not conjuring up new things to worry about and not get stuck in a loop of obsessive thoughts.  I want to get up that hill looking powerful and athletic.  But no matter what I do, no matter how I start the day, no matter how many times I tell myself this is going to be an awesome day and I’m going to do the right things and I’m going to treat the people I care about with the peaceful trust and respect they deserve, I still wind up sitting at home or in my cubicle at work with a racing heart and panicky thoughts powerhousing through my head.  

My anxiety is just like that hill.  It makes me look like an idiot and makes me feel real shitty about myself, but nothing I do seems to make me able to conquer it.  And yet, I get up each day and say “today is going to be the day I beat that goddammed hill.”  And that’s what I say every day about my anxiety too. Someday I am going to power through the ride and realize at the end of it that that hill felt non-existent, and someday I’ll be at the end of the day and realize that my anxiety is non-existent too.