Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Double Yellow Line

My recent overuse injury has been causing me some problems in the area of my piriformis muscle, IT band, and knee. I'm also dealing with a bit of a pulled hamstring on the same leg. So, I've chosen to add a little more biking to the mix until I can get a good new pair of running shoes so that I don't actually injure myself. The biking is also a chance to save some money on gas and do a good deed for the environment.
As you can see, this was a leisurely ride and not one for major cardio benefits.
Today we rode to the park for Ike's Little Explorer's Program on Baby Animals. Then, we rode back. The thing I love about riding with the two of them is that it means we go further outdoors than we do when we walk or run and I'm still getting some exercise. They get to see new things and ask lots of questions about them. A few Sundays ago we saw a baby turtle crossing the bike path. It means that we get to do more in less time and it also says to my kids that my exercise is not above time with them....I can have both!

What do I not love about riding with the two of them? Inconsiderate vehicles. People, I don't know where you come from, but in Iowa a double yellow line means DO NOT PASS! (North Carolinians don't observe this same courtesy.) I don't care that I was only going about 10mph, but I had precious cargo behind me and did not deserve the fear of becoming a sideswiped bug on the road because you felt the need to get to the stop light minutes before me. And then what happened? I rode up next to you to wait at THE EXACT SAME LIGHT!

Also, there is one busy road I have to cross that doesn't have a great traffic light system and I have to wait for long periods of time with my left leg (shorter of the two) stretched out to it's maximum tippy toe reach for far too long. I can't ever risk just dismounting the bike because the light could change at any moment or just leave me hanging there for about 5 minutes. You never can tell.

My ride today helped me to reach my 60 mile goal for the month of April. I have two more yoga classes to teach for today and then 5 other fitness classes between Wednesday and Thursday. Other than also fitting in a HIIT workout on Thursday, I'm taking the rest of the month off to rest my body. Rest is important and so is following the rules of the road.

Here are two other bike related posts you should read:
Friday Fast Tips: Signaling on the Bike
Shed the Monster

Have you been out on your bike yet this spring?
What gets you excited about biking?
What do you fear/loathe about it?
Do you know the rules of the road?
How are you doing on your April goals?

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Mom Post

Hey, check your calendar...April is about to end and that means that it's almost Mother's Day! I have to admit that I get more and more excited about this day each year that my kids are getting older.
Last year they surprised me with some new things for growing (a fig tree that is barely making it at the moment and a plantar box for the back deck which we are hopefully tearing down later this year).

My boys are very sweet and they are total mama's boys at this age in life. In honor of them and the funny things they do, I thought I'd share with you a few funny things....in my opinion, as well as a few of my favorite parent related posts of late.

A Bit of Kid Humor
My oldest son is a crack up! He is 4 and just says the most stinkin cute things to me lately. First there are the names he calls us. I remember that when my oldest nephew was younger he'd call my brother a silly hotdog and I love how creative they get with their limited vocabulary. Lately my husband has been "Chuggington Turner On-er" and I am "Stinky Cheese Hippo". I honestly don't take offense to being called a hippo because my 4 year old doesn't associate the term hippo with being large, heavy, or fat. It's just an animal that he wanted to call his mom to see what her reaction would be....I laughed.

He's also become more aware of his surroundings. During Easter weekend we were at my in-laws and I saw a commercial for Asheville, NC. When we first met, my husband lived in Asheville. I turned to our 9 year old niece and said, "Have you ever been to Asheville? Your Uncle Mike used to live there." She never went. My son then chimes in with, "Well, I used to live in there!" as he points to my stomach. We all cracked up and assured him that he was correct in his recounting of events.

We moved a year ago and have since then talked a lot about if we'll stay in this "new house" forever. Some days his outlook is that he never wants to leave and other days he's ready to move now. We talked about where we might want to live and both decided that we'd like to live somewhere that there are mountains with snow on top. He asked which states have those and I listed a few. California was on the list and this was his response: "Let's move to California so I can see Wheel of Fortune." He's quite perceptive if I do say so myself.

He also recently learned his first knock knock joke...
Knock, Knock
Who's there?
Someone too small to reach the doorbell.

I taught him that one because it was short enough for him to memorize the whole thing. My mom and sister didn't get it because they said it needed more. HE'S 4! At least he waits for the punch line!

And because I don't want to forget the little guy. The way he says his new favorite word cracks me up!

Good Reads
Shit My Family Says to Me, Part 98 - We Don't Chew Glass
In the ’70s We Just Called It Parenting - The Next Delusion
57 More Photos that would get our parents arrested if they were taken today - Mommy Shorts
What will you be doing in 2 weeks?
Favorite Mother's Day memory?
What kid joke should I teach my 4 yo next?

Friday, April 24, 2015

TOLT: Drop the Commentary; Not the Cookies?

I originally had this post ready to go for yesterday's Think Out Loud Thursday, but after the documentary I saw the other night, I've had a small change of heart over the tone of this post. So, I pulled it and spent the day thinking about what I really wanted to say. This is a re-write of my original post. I also changed the exclamation point at the top to a question mark to reflect my change in opinion.....so, here we go:

I've been reading a lot of posts lately about external negativity. Here's what I have to say to all of it:
This is my rant for today's 
Everyone around you at this moment is experiencing a different point in their life, but all the lives around you are happening at once.  So, who are you to judge anyone at all?  I've been thinking a lot about this question myself. It started a few weeks ago when I was in Statesville. There were two women in my workshop who each had teenage sons. In that same weekend one woman was sending her son to the prom while another was sending hers to a funeral of a friend who'd been killed in an auto accident involving drinking. Life is so fragile and yet, we treat each other so ruthlessly at times.

There are times to celebrate and times to mourn, but is there every really a time to out right hurt another person? These kids are growing up in a society that is overloaded with social media. My own kids will be far more exposed to the pressures of cyber bullying than I ever was. It scares me to think about what kids do with cell phones and all of the privileges they are allotted these days. It also scares me to think about how many more parents think that they are involved in their kids' lives only to find out that they're not.

There are kids whose parents want to be their best friend and kids whose parents want to give them everything so that they'll never feel without. In my opinion, my kids will be just fine without a cell phone until they can drive and they don't have tablets or every toy under the sun. They have more than I had when I was growing up, but I also believe that they should work for something in their life. It has made me appreciate what I have to work for it; my education, my car, my life in general. I even had to work at having kids.

When I read the Amy Poehler book a few weeks ago she made a great statement in it: Good for her; not for me. I wonder what the world would be like if we stopped mom judging? I wonder what it would be like if we stopped food policing? Or fat shaming or thin shaming or woman/man bashing? What if we didn't care if someone was of this religion or that? What if it didn't matter if you were straight or gay or transgender or any combination of the above? What if we could only see in one color and it was a beautiful blue? I wonder what the world would be like if we were forced to post comments with our names and addresses and contact info up there for the world to see? I wonder how you would respond to others if you had to go back to doing it face to face instead of through email or text?

I didn't have a fairy tale childhood. I don't expect that my children will escape the bad in anyway. But, as adults, as bloggers, as commenters, as people in our society in general....are we setting a good example? If you excuse your kid's behavior when it is bad you are letting them know that it's okay to treat someone poorly and that they should expect the same in return. If you judge others you should expect to be judged yourself. There are some of us that share some "privileges" as has been noted in some of the discussion I've read of recent. I am one of them. I am white, somewhat thin, and middle class. I have a good education, am in a heterosexual relationship and have two children who do not have any mental or physical disabilities. We are healthy and we live in a country with many rights.

But these privileges are not something that I take for granted. I have the kind of heart that wishes the best for almost everyone. I say almost because I am human and I know that I too have judged. The other day I went back to my meditations book before I went to sleep. I read a passage that spoke to me and then I dreamed about my grandfather. He was half Greek and half Native American. His family grew up around the midwest, but mostly in Chicago. His family was poor and not welcomed in any community because they were a form of mixed race according to those around them. He had major prejudices throughout his life, but he was a kind man who wouldn't speak ill of anyone to their face without good reason. I loved him every day that I knew him and have missed him every day since. I know he would be proud of me for who I am.

The passage said something to the effect of looking inward to our negative thoughts (toward ourselves and others), our bad habits, our preconceived notions that may not always be true, and then taking them off as we would old clothes. Boxing them up and shipping them off. In my yoga class on Thursday morning I asked my participants to do the same. At the end of class we took the negative thing we'd been holding on to and lifted it off us like an old shirt. We inhaled the fresh new air as that heaviness was pulled off and we exhaled as we tossed it aside. We were relieved of that pain that was holding us back; that unfavorable outlook on life.

I want so much to live a life where I will not police others on their choices. I want so much to live a life where I feel connected to those around us. I want so much to raise my children in that sort of emotionally and environmentally healthy world so that they too can be promoters of the good life. I want to look at everything and say: Good for you; not for me. I want also to continue to preach moderation in life and walk the path of yoga. However, there are some ways in which I feel cheated in life. I feel cheated from the ability to protect my children when others around me think that the way they live and work is okay even if it harms another.

I saw this documentary the other night and it was one of many true statements that I make often in workshop about the sad state of the place in which I live. We lie to our citizens at the expense of their health and the gains of the economy. This is the only type of food policing for which I can get behind and I am totally okay with judging the food industry on it's lies and poor judgement!
 The full documentary is available on Netflix if you're a subscriber. It just reinforced things that I already know and made me mad. I am now looking for a way to let go of this anger, but wonder......

Is there ever a time you think it's okay to judge?

Here are some links to posts that inspired this one and Thank You Always to Amanda for hosting!

Take a Deep Breath and Eat The Cookie: Reflections on Privilege (Guest Post) 

The Binge Eating Diaries: Dear Food Police

Reading Comments: The Truths In Trolls

Challenging the food police

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Housework is NOT Exercise!

Today I am REALLY feeling that HIIT workout from yesterday! My glutes have been on FIRE! It doesn't help that I've also been suffering from a little overuse injury in my right hip-knee from my worn out shoes. But today is yoga only day, so I decided to take it off from other forms of exercise. That doesn't mean that I have to rule out physical activity.
What's the Difference?
Well, a lot. Physical activity is any movement of the large muscle groups that causes caloric burn above resting levels. When you get up and walk across the room to refill your bowl of chips, that's physical activity....ish. Exercise is a subgroup of physical activity. Exercise is those same large muscle movements that are planned, structured, and repeated, with the intent of improving one or more of the five components of physical fitness (body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility).

Physical activity is things like cleaning your house (read hilarious take on this at Fit is a Feminist Issue here). But, cleaning your house is not going to get you to burn enough calories, lift enough resistance, or get your heart rate up high enough to improve any of the first four. And I'm not even sure how you'd improve flexibility while cleaning your house unless you're turning into Elastigirl and reaching behind your refridgerator instead of just pulling it out......because people do that you know.

Exercise requires a little bit more effort.
Why does this matter?
Because there are a lot of programs out there telling people that a little effort goes a long way. I agree. If you're not currently getting up and moving around; do so! Now! Just know that it's not all you need to do. I think it's great to encourage people to get up and get moving, but let's not sugar coat the results by telling people that they'll lose weight and get in shape with a little dusting here and spraying there. So, what did I do on my "day off"? 
Mowed the Lawn
And it felt great! Lots of times I find that I have a lack of motivation as a stay at home mom when it comes to chores like cleaning or yard work. I love to have beautiful flowers....but hate to weed. Don't like it when the shower turns pink, but don't really enjoy the scrubbing. And, so much of it with a 4 year old and a 22 month old feels like the military: Hurry Up and Wait. There's always something that I want to clean,  but need to wait for nap time to really be efficient at it. This often leads me to want to just take them out for a walk or run or bike ride in order to feel like I'm productive for the day, but that's been leading to a little bit of a messy house and a little more over training.

Over training can be a common problem with fitness professionals; especially those of us who teach classes as well as workout on our own in the same day. This is the reason I'm cutting back on Tuesdays and next month I will be re-evaluating some of my other training choices. I haven't hit too many of the real symptoms of over training yet.....mostly some sleep disturbance and the above mentioned overuse injury, but I also don't want to get there any time soon.

So, while I encourage others to get up and get moving if you haven't been, I also encourage those of us who've been moving a little too much to take a rest day. Try something different and a little lower key. (I'm going to finish up the day by cleaning my house before our Earth Day cookout tomorrow.) Or, do what I'm planning on doing tomorrow and just

How do you approach housework?
Has your training gotten out of control?
What was your last day of rest like?

Monday, April 20, 2015

HIIT Day Two: Power or Precision

It's late on a Monday night and I'm burning cds for teaching yoga in the morning. My right hip and knee have been giving me trouble of late and I'm wondering how that will impact my teaching tomorrow. The good news is that I teach and that's all I'm asking my body to do tomorrow. Today was my second day of HIIT training this month. I had my regular Monday walk/run with my friend Brittany and it went well considering the children and the alligator sighting.

Then I came home and got right to my HIIT. I chose to do one that was based on strength training this time around as I had already done 4.13 miles of walking and running. Neither the walk nor the run was up to my usual par, so this sample workout that I found from ACE wasn't about to push me over the edge, but would still get my heart rate back up from the lower end it was at earlier. You can find the workout here: Maximize HIIT With Metabolic Strength Conditioning.

I was a little confused by the wording of the workout itself and I am emphasizing that I'm just trying HIIT out this month to see if it's something I plan to add to my future workouts as a regular thing. I did each of the exercises as written, but as I don't own hand weights....I improvised. Mostly I used body weight for the lower weighted exercise and then used something around the house for the heavier weighted round. I waited about 2 minutes between each pairing, but I think I should have waited the two to three minutes before performing all three pairs again. I chose only to do one round for today.

So, what did I like about this vs. the RBT I did last time? Well, this time I set a timer and I didn't know when it was going to stop. For me that was more motivation to keep going. The last time it was nice to just start pushing all out and then rest when I needed to, but I never knew how long I had gone for. I also liked that the exercises changed with time instead of just a number of repetitions and that there was built in rest. Again, I like to know when to stop and go.

What did I not like about this workout? Well, as a trained and degreed fitness professional, I've always been taught to do exercises with precision and correct form. For me this meant that the strength exercises (first two in each pair) were done a lot slower than what I imagine a HIIT workout to be like. That being said, I know that if I'd had the proper weights around they would have been more intense than they were.

The verdict? I loved this workout and it's simplicity. I definitely will be doing it the next time I'm in a weight room and haven't already done another workout in the same day. I'd like to see if I could reasonably "hiit" three rounds.

Have you ever focused on strength during your HIIT workouts?
Do you like rest based or time based intervals?
Any alligators in your neighborhood?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Endurance, Strength, or Power....Where do you fall?

Let's talk resistance training!

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you'll know that I'm a proponent of resistance training in a lot of different formats. Today I present to you two articles that have changed some of my thoughts on how resistance training should be done as well as some other information on the principles of resistance training.

First, a definition: Resistance training can be defined as the act of repeated voluntary muscle contractions against a resistance greater than those normally encountered in activities of daily living. (Lee, M., & Carroll, T. J. (2007). Cross education: possible mechanisms for the contralateral effects of unilateral resistance training [Electronic version]. Sports Med, 37(1), 1-14.)

This means that resistance training can encompass a variety of different training techniques, including Pilates, some parts of yoga, other body weight exercises as well as those performed with exertion against other external resistance mechanisms such as dumbells, kettlebells, resistance bands or tubing, cable machines, selectorized machines, barbells, etc etc etc.

What is Important to Know About Resistance Training?
Well, a lot. First, you need to determine why you are doing resistance training. This is a big guiding factor in the exercises I choose when I plan my monthly workouts. I am not looking to get bigger and faster. I could care less how easily it would be to lift a tire or throw a piano or if I could jump above the rim. For me, my training is all about endurance. I need endurance to get through each and every day with my kids and my workouts and my work. I need endurance when I teach yoga and when I stand all day for a workshop.

Some people may choose to work on power or strength in some areas of their body and endurance in others. While my ultimate goal this year is to see myself as stronger, my primary training goal is still endurance. Why is this important?

Concurrent Training
April's edition of the IDEA Fitness Journal has an article on Concurrent Training....something we almost all do. Concurrent training is when you perform multiple different types of training within the same training session. The research looked at the effects of doing cardio training and resistance training on the same day on different gains. The outcomes showed that you deplete energy sources necessary to improve in certain training formats by doing both in the same session and this can negatively impact your improvement. However, the biggest losses were on those participants who were trying to get bigger, stronger, and faster; strength and power athletes. So, what about those of us who are just trying to get through and fit it all in?

Here are some suggestions for not losing during your sessions. First, decide what's most important out of your workout and if it will benefit your goals to do cardio and strength training on the same day. If not, pick a split training plan and make sure you're giving your body a full 48 hours rest after training sessions for recovery. If you're main focus is the resistance training, reduce the time and intensity of the cardio sessions and limit them to 3 per week. If your goal is to do both, determine how much your body can actually take and still get benefit out of what you're doing.

If you've looked at any of my training plans thus far, my focus has been on getting longer and faster with my cardio, but I keep my resistance training low. Why? Because I want to have enough muscle mass to perform the necessary work of the cardio activities that I love, protect myself from injury, and be able to move throughout my daily life successfully. Sure there are a few things I'd like to get "stronger" at, but that's not my main focus at this time.

Order Up!
When I'm planning my workouts another important principle has come to mind: Order of Exercises. As a personal trainer we're often taught to go from large muscle groups to small muscle groups and all other sorts of rules regarding training clients. As the field moves further and further away from traditional training styles and more towards coaching (see a great article about that here) we also move toward more functional training. Functional training falls into a myriad of different types of training from physical therapy and cardiac rehab (functional to return you to daily life) to sport specific training (functional for the activity at hand) and even just hitting the four pillars of movement (the movements we perform daily).

So, what's the correct order for your workout? Well, again I ask, what is your goal? I started out my current training program back in December and was focused on the "Push" pillar because I noted that a lot of the exercises I wanted to do were not improving because I was training statically. So, the first thing I do when I hit my resistance workout is my push-ups. Why? Because, according to this article on Exercise Order in January's IDEA Fitness Journal, order matters! (you can read the whole article on that link) Basically, the research shows that exercises done toward the end of your workout receive the least result and that you should be putting exercises toward the front of the workout that you want to see the greatest improvement on. I always have push-ups first, but I rotate the rest of the exercises around.

The Real 48 Hours
And finally, let's hit that rest bit a little more. I read a post the other day at Fit Wanderlust Runner that reminded me that we need to talk about the Reversibility Principle again. You need rest between your workout sessions. Click here to read about the Super Compensation Cycle and why we rest for 48-72 hours between sessions. But there is such a thing as too much rest. That's when your body starts to lose the gains you've made in your sessions. Just as overtraining (we'll talk about this coming week) can be a big problem in achieving your goals, undertraining can prevent you from forward momentum as well.

I wrote a love letter/apology letter to exercise this last week. I learned three things from the experience:
  1. Life happens and sometimes you take a break, but you just get back out there when you can. This is called a lapse and they're normal and they happen from time to time. For me, sometimes more than others and that's okay.
  2. I may be overscheduling and heading into a bit of an overtraining pattern, so I'm going to keep an eye on what I plan out and will write more about this later this week.
  3. When you don't use it....you lose it. Although I didn't take that much time off from working out this week, I always notice that it's that much harder to do the work the next time I meet it. Consistency is key as you can lose your gains so quickly.
So, my next rest day was supposed to be today. I chose instead to take my kids for a nice bike ride this morning. The weather held up and it was very pleasant and less intense than my normal runs. My next rest day will be Wednesday and tomorrow is my second HIIT day. Come back then to see how I used HIIT in a different way, but until then, it's one deep breath in and one slow exhale out to the end of the weekend. Enjoy!

Do you have questions about resistance training?
Post them here or email me in the side bar to your right! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Shed The Monster!

I don't usually write such short posts, but Happy Friday everyone! Now, get outside and Shed the Monster!
And if you don't already know about People For Bikes, click the link and visit their site. I joined up with them after I did the MS Ride Virginia in 2009. It was one of the most amazing weekends on a bike of my life. I hope to do it again in the future! Tomorrow I will be out on my bike with the two munchkins behind me for a nice ride to change things up.

Are you ready to Shed the Monster?