Saturday, October 6, 2012

Taking a day off

Night #2 of my six-night stretch: I woke up at my usual time, 2PM, but I didn't really sleep all that hot today. For starters, some electric/gas line/community Bob the Builders decided that today was the day that they were going to wage war on some buried something-or-other, which then lead to my in-laws' dog sitting RIGHT OUTSIDE of our bedroom barking.


So while I did go to bed at 8AM like usual, my trusty six hours of slumber wasn't exactly the most restful. And for the most part, I do all right when that happens. I work 12-hour shifts, (which I really do prefer), and in the nursing profession, by the time you clock in and get report, essentially you're already behind the eight-ball; the 12 hours you get is pretty much a giant race-against-the-clock trying to get your meds in on time, complete that health history on the Alzheimer's nursing home resident that came up right in the middle of hanging your antibiotic that is a timed start because it requires a peak and trough, taking your fresh post-op to the bathroom while you hold your own bladder, trying to coordinate what you're going to order out for supper because the pizza place closes in 15 minutes and ICU still needs to place their order because everyone is tired and no one packed a lunch...

And people think nursing is a glamour job...

So 2PM I woke up, threw on my favorite "granny sweater", (an old lavender chenille hoody that I putz around the house in), and while my Keurig was firing up some hot water for some Rocket Fuel, I got the computer going while I trekked outside in 50 degrees of cloudy, windy, damp overcast.

"Wonder what's in the mail today?" I mumbled to myself, shuffling down the sandy driveway in my baggy sweats and 5-year old Asics that I REFUSE to throw out. (Good mailing-retrieving shoes, I reason).

Opening the box while trying to avoid our resident wolf spider that I SWEAR is trying to stealth-bomber its little way into my house via my Victoria's Secret catalogs, my anticipation mounts as I hope for maybe an edition of "Fitness", "Shape", maybe perhaps "Oxygen" magazines. Upon finding "Better Homes and Gardens", and a bunch of political mailers, (I will be thrilled when this election is over), I trek the 0.08 miles back up into the house to move on to the next important slice of my pre-work day: Rocket Fuel.

My Keurig machine is my little slice of Heaven. A 26th birthday gift from my future in-laws, it is a God's physical incarnation of all things Holy to a night-shifter. And since I'm the only one in the house that consumes either Rocket Fuel or coffee, it's really worth it's weight in gold.

After making my old stand-by cup size selections, (one large cup with one small cup in my Port Huron coffee mug), my hot water jet-streams out of the machine to douse my two green tea bags and steep until room temp. "Rocket Fuel" is my nick-name for my Andrea-special brew of green tea. "Pour hot water over a single tea bag and steep for 2-5 minutes", says the instructions on a green tea box.


My recipe involves 2 tea bags steeping in boiling hot water until the mixture reaches room temp, (or my caffeine headache gets bad enough), and the tea itself is no longer green but rather an olive brown with a skin floating across the top. (For the record, I am completely convinced that the "skin" is actually a collection of super-potent antioxidants). Once the tea has achieved brown-skin perfection, then and only then is it deemed worthy of the "Rocket Fuel" moniker.

Usually it only takes one cup of Rocket Fuel to get my jets ignited. After a cup, I'm usually tapping my foot rapidly on the floor, my hands are sweaty, my eyelids basically glued to my eyebrows and my pupils dilated. My creative juices flowing, my energy picking up a notch, and after peeing about 5-6 times in an hour, I'm ready to go for a run.

And people think coffee is the way to go...

But today, even after my Rocket Fuel, after wading through wedding planner e-mails, printing off documents that my fiance and I need to sign, finally making a last-minute decision on our wedding favors and placing that order, fiddling around on Facebook and Pinterest, (don't judge me--that's my reward for getting through the e-mails!), I sit here, working away as a wanna-be freelance writer and committed runner, and yet...

...I'm not feeling it. My foot is jiggling, my hands sweaty, my eyes open and my whole body on alert, I sit. Waxing poetic about the wonders of Rocket Fuel, but with no desire whatsoever to make it happen. My Achilles tendons are a litte tight and sore, I have a crick in my back and physically every joint in my body is telling me that "today is not the day." 

And here I sit, Fueled up, antsy, but enjoying the peace and quiet that my rapid-fire typing is sporadically breaking up. So today, I'm taking the day off.

Starting the next stretch

Today I woke up around 12:30. To the average 9-5'er, that probably sounds incredibly lazy. And to those that would know that my fiance had been awake and hard at work harvesting corn since 4AM, that probably sounds ridiculously lazy.

But if we turn the tables, and think about in terms of nightshift, 12:30 is actually quite early, especially when you consider that I had to be at work from 6PM-6AM.

But when you can't sleep, you can't sleep. So I woke up. I checked my e-mail, reviewed some wedding planning information, played around on Facebook for a while, drank my vanilla protein shake, my Rocket Fuel, (my beloved green tea), and eventually checked my Weather Channel app.

At 3PM, I finally headed out the door for a 4-mile run. And I will be honest: after yesterday's 8-miler, it was brutal. Very brutal. After not really sleeping good, the chill in the air, the wind, and the fact that I just...really didn't feel like it, (in reality I would've preferred to sit inside and enjoy the last cupcake leftover from my bridal shower), that impending 4 miles seemed like torture. So I made myself a promise: "just finish the first mile. If you still feel like crap, you can at least turn back around and be back home in 8 minutes." So I took off, the wind in my face, (and down my long-sleeve fleece), "Tootsie Roll" turning my feet over.

At 3:10PM,  I was into Mile 2 and blew my farmin' fiance a nice little kiss as I ran by him, sitting in the semi, waiting for his next fill.

At 3:15PM I slowed back down, grateful that I had finally passed out of his sight. (Yeah, I do it, too; when I pass people I know I kick it up a notch.) The wind was pretty brisk; Weather Channel said it was only 53 degrees, and it was pretty overcast. For 3 out of my 4 miles, I was straight into a cold headwind that was akin to having someone's icy freezer-fingers tickling me right under the chin.

And like running into a wall. Yup...headwind into a wall.

But the pep in my step returned as I entered Mile 3, and my chilly-willy-nilly run warmed up a little bit as I changed directions from the wind, and the pavement under my feet was flat, smooth and otherwise a welcome break from having to constantly ditch rocks, stones, gravel and my new seasonal broken-bone favorite: walnuts. I managed to maintain a good 8:00-8:30 mile pace, and after I turned down my road, my pace picked back up even more, (so much in fact I actually had to unzip my quarter-zip to allow some of my steam to escape), and I finished strong, grateful that I forced myself out.

And at 3:36 I was finishing my cool-down walk.

4PM spawned my get-ready-to-nurse-all-night shower and get ready routine. (Hair, make-up, what super-baggy scrubs I plan on wearing).

4:30PM I'm packing my lunch and heating up my Lean Cuisine.

In between all this, I'm thinking about what work-outs I need to get in for the week-end, what mileage total I want to accomplish, when I'm going to suck it up and spend an afternoon inside with one of my Jillian Micheals strength DVDs, how I'm going to squeeze in a relatively appropriate amount of sleep over the next 6 nights, when I might get to at least see my fiance face-to-face...and on...and on...and on...

And I don't even have any kids!

At 5:30PM I'm packing up my truck and heading out the door to start my 20 min drive in. As I drove, contemplating today's run, I got to thinking about my most obvious point, and that would be that my routines during my "work-week" isn't always the most conducive to most standard training plans, and really, that's okay. Example? My training schedule dictated that today (Saturday) I was supposed to do 8 miles, but knowing full well that I probably wouldn't sleep the best, that it was going to be the second night of six, and (duh!), today was forecasting wind and rain, I did my eight earlier this week. And then squeezed four in earlier, and will probably do my DVD, (or take today as a rest day, who knows?), today. At the end of the week, as long as the miles get done, and done in way that I can at least part of, if not all, of them, then you know what? That's okay. I have figured out that most training plans are written for the "9-5'ers", who aren't working at 1:30AM on a Saturday night. So as a shout-out to all my fellow night-shift runners who have an "off day" with their training.

Just like this entry, my training may seem a little unorthodox, a little disjointed, a little screwy at times, but that's life.

And I like my life.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Something old, something new

Sometimes the oldest, most worn in items can be the comforting. Whether it be a favorite pair of jeans, (or in my case, my fiance's old sweats), a cherished pair of shoes, or the old trusty-rusty that never fails to start and get my ass to work and back, sometimes the oldies are the goodies. And in the case of facing the longest run that I've ever attempted since I made that first step out of the driveway 7 months ago, today I needed the comfort of a faithful route, sans surprises.

According to the "training plan" that I've been following, (and by that I mean, using as a general guide, as my nocturnal source of gainful employment isn't always the most conducive to following a strict, day-by-outlined-day plan), my long run was supposed to be an 8-miler. And since I work six 12-hour shifts starting tomorrow night, I decided that today was probably my best option. So this afternoon, I lounged around, resting and elevating my legs, drank a couple cups of rocket fuel, (double-bagged green tea, to those that haven't had the pleasure of tasting my preferred caffeined brew of choice), and down-loaded a few new songs to the old IPod before obsessively checking my Weather Channel app. Finally, at 3PM on the dot, I hit the gravel roads.

I ran in shorts and tee-shirt, and the warm 70-degree October air felt almost playful against my bare legs as I consciensiously kept my pace at a plodding 9-minute mile. The familiar old rolling hills felt like ant mounds under my optimistically chipper legs, (and this was despite running a hilly 6 miles the day before), and as I trucked happily along, the sounds of "Whoomp! There It Is!" playing background to the Fall breeze, I felt good.

Really good. Like...eerily good.

Coming up the final uphill climb, rounding the corner to start mile 2 felt awesome. The wind was head-on, but rather than starting an inner argumentative prayer dialogue with the Man Upstairs, I embraced the breeze as it played with the hem of my running skirt, cooling me off. Mile 2 is rather easy; a relatively flat course, with gravel to cushion my joints, and very little traffic to spook me, Mile 2 takes me gently out of my warm-up and eases me into my stride. My feet felt even lighter, the familiarity of every little divot, every little rock and walnut tree dropping little walnut babies helped to alleviate any niggling little apprehension that "I can't do 8 miles...what the hell am I thinking?!" The familiarity and proximity to the house also helped to calm me; IF I couldn't finish, at least I was roughly only a few miles from home.

In other words, less "walk of shame" distance to cover.

With Weird Al waxing poetic about an "Amish Paradise", I struck pavement to begin Mile 3. Miles 3, 4 & 5 held true to their faithful promise of reverberating solidity, no rocks to watch for, no free-roaming dogs, and lots of neighbors that know who my fiance is, and what he drives. (I have this irrational fear of 1: being kidnapped, and 2: being chased by dogs. In fact, my best friend bought me a pink can of pepper spray for my bridal shower). As I blew right through miles 3 & 4, I was really still feeling quite good. Still pretty awesome, in fact. Really digging the pavement, enjoying the way my Brooks Adrenalines took the pounding with stride, (no pun intended), and answered back with a resounding rebound, I floated through the final 2 miles of the first half of my long run.

Then...came Mile 5. I hit my half-way turn-around, (told you I stayed close to the house), and about a 1/4 mile into Mile 5 the pavement no longer seemed fun anymore, my "rebound" became a shock that echoed all the way up into my left iliotibial band and finished off my left hip like a struck tuning fork. And then to take my mind of the nagging little ache, I thought about the bacon cheeseburger and Pabst Blue Ribbon--

S@&! Hungry, too, aren't we?

So now with a sore IT band, and daydreams of a cheeseburger in paradise, I plodded along, still feeling my music, still enjoying myself, (for the most part), and still thankful that I was able to be out in God's creation, marveling over the vibrant, firey Central Michigan fall colors. Finishing Mile 5 was pretty epic; I didn't turn off to take my typical route, which would've ended in a respectable 6 miles.

But  that wasn't what I was after today!

I made it through Mile 6 under the comfort of it being part of my trusty familiar route; every house, every tree, every change in the view over the horizon felt predictable and safe. And when I saw the road sign for Briggs road, I became happy and less in tune with my physical discomforts and more elated that I had just 2 more miles to go.

Going into Mile 7 wasn't bad at all. The first 1/2 of Mile 7 was pretty much run on knowing that "Oh my gosh--only a mile and a half to go!" Again, I relied on the familiarity of my route, the knowledge of what was up ahead allowing me to concentrate on other facets imperative to "making it through".

I focused on my breathing. While I do run with an IPod Touch, I only have the volume high enough to provide a little ambience; background noise, if you will. I can get lost in my music, but I like being able to hear my footfalls, my breathing, traffic, would-be kidnappers, and murderous canines. And today was no exception; I focused on every breath, and concentrated on landing my my mid-foot, trying to keep my steps quick and light.

Soon enough, Mile 8 loomed. Mile 8 was familiar, but not in a comforting, "let me hold you to my bosom, little runner"-kind of a way. Mile 8 is The Climb Back Home. Mile 8 is rolling hills, but a constant upgrade, so even while going downhill, I still have to propel myself UPHILL. Mile 8, in a word, is bitch.

So I concentrated on "Tootsie Roll", and beat it out!

Every big rolling upgrade I took on with the gritted-teeth determination of knowing that this, THIS mile is my LAST ONE! My aches and pains, my hunger, my dried slimy spit in the corners of my mouth be damned! I had this bitch, and I was going to slay the beast! So I picked up the pace; screw  "mid-foot strides and quick, light turnover"! I wanted to finish strong! I called upon every ounce of energy I had left in my tank. I marvelled at the beauty of the trees, but only the ones 1/4 mile ahead of me. I didn't have the energy to sight-see like I did earlier, coming into my run. I counted the hills, knowing that after the first two, I only had the "triplets", as I called them. The final three big hills that I needed to conquer before I was done. In the distance I heard my in-laws' dog barking sharply, welcoming me home.

I called out to her. "Alicia-Dog, c'mon, pupster, bring me home!"

She bolted out of the woods, tail wagging, nose in the air, braying out her sheer happiness at running. Watching my familiar little friend, I suddenly found the last little bit of fumes that I punched through my injectors, and finished the newest, most unfamiliar distance I had ever completed. I threw my hands in the air, and finished the last 3 steps of 8 miles with a skipping high leap, elated, over-joyed.

Something old had taken me to something completely brand new.

The Day I Left the Driveway

It was a good day. A hot one, (we had a really hot, dry summer here in Central MI), and according to the Weather Channel app on my Droid, it was currently 92 degrees at 3PM.

"Sports bra and shorts," I muttered to myself, rifling through the basket of clean laundry that hadn't been folded in over a week. "Maybe I should just take the day off and fold," I reasoned with myself, using the rationale that I had worked the last 3 nights and was due to go in that night. "I'm sure taking 20 minutes to fold would be time well-spent," I continued, dialoguing with myself in my head as I paused long enough to really savor my central air and loose cotton sweats. But taking a deep breath as I leaned against the unfinished archway, (we have  a few little home improvements to do), I took a big yawn, and quickly shucked my beloved Liberty Mutual tee and 3-sizes-too-big Hanes drawstrings into the clean laundry pile. (I'll put them right back on when I come home from work in 16 hours)! Once the delicious chill of my air conditioned house hit my skin, I immediately burst into my aqua bra and purple running shorts before the goose-flesh could form microscopic speed-bumps across my frame.

"Well, 3 o'clock," I said to myself, (I was the only one home, and you know you talk to yourself, too!), "Guess I could check Facebook one last time before I head out."

Plopping down at the kitchen table one last time was easy; unfortunately, I have the CUTEST nephew in the world 200 miles away, and that devil Facebook allows me a little window into his life between trips to visit. Making the excuse to take "another 5 minutes" is always something I struggle with.

After 15 minutes ticks by, Judgement Hour arrives. "Now or never," I sigh to myself, staring woefully at my watch. I feel the sleep deprivation tickling like a little fog in my brain; nightshift as an RN is secretly great, (less peeps, less stress-for the most part-, more time with patients and education), but not-so-secretly great because we are CONSTANTLY playing cock-fight with our Circadian Rhythms.

At the end of the day, (or night!), it just depends what you value more. Hanging with your patients being all chill and relaxed, or sleeping like a normal human being.

I took one last swig of my Diet Pepsi Max, (love that stuff!), and pushed off from the table. Walking over to the currently-quiet pellet stove, I pulled on my I-Pod touch, and shoved my Asics 2170's on. 

Outside the damp heat hit me like a warm pizza stone fresh out of the oven, and as the unseasonable warmth pushed its suffocating weight upon me, I flirted with the thought of going back inside and checking Facebook again. And folding laundry. "I could fold laundry. In the air conditioning" I told myself, squinting into the sun.

But the reality that I had a form-fitting wedding dress wrapped nicely in a garment bag, sitting on my guest bed upstairs hit me hard, and with begrudgement suitable for election year campaign commercials and movie stars that "lost all the baby in two weeks just by breast-feeding and eating everything I wanted," I hit "play" on the 'Pod, and began my warm-up jog up and down the driveway.

Listening to the Black-Eyed Peas sing praises about my "humps, lady-lumps, and bumps" improved my mood slightly, until I saw the bright blue of my  best friend's fiance's pick-up turning the corner. I tried my best to make it look like it wasn't what it was; I waved big and heaved out a wheezy, "Hi, Jason!", and put a little extra kick in my step (that I totally did NOT feel!), to make it appear like I was just...oh, hell, it was what it looked like. Here I was, 28 years old, running back and forth in my driveway, throwing around 10# dumbbells and lying to myself about it being a "work-out."

I looked, (and was), quite pathetic.

And when things looked quite sad enough, then my future in-laws drove by, waving happily from their air-conditioned Jetta.

"F&#% this!" I gasped, approaching my now-ridiculous-looking dumbbells waiting for me by our walk-out basement door. The black neoprene was probably 150 degrees to the touch by now, sitting out in the sun, and my purple yoga mat looked positively wilted, a far cry from their original, full-of-toning-promise state when I had first set them out earlier in the day.

I paused at this decrepit station of depression, feeling at my lowest point, totally starting to doubt if I could really keep up this whole Utopian idea of "at-home, on the cheap fitness". Surely an air-conditioned gym with all sorts of bright, shiny new toys and fun colors would be much more inspiring, (if not less degrading), than killing myself outside in this heat while the whole neighborhood drives by watching me like a gorilla at the zoo.

As I stared down the driveway, wondering about the meaning of life, Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder and Lead" came through my earbuds, and after entertaining a brief daydream of ceremoniously throwing my dumbbells through my living room window as a proverbial "f%&# you" to my crack-pot theory of "at-home fitness", I began to feel the music, and my mood lifted considerably. And while I wish I could sit here at my kitchen table, and wax poetic about how "the music carried my now-joyful body and spirit gracefully down the driveway with my blond ponytail bobbing happily in my wake", reality would have it such that I decided then with controlled resolve, (and the security that if my plan didn't work out, I could always turn back around like I had been for 3 months and run back down the driveway and right into my usual safe and trusty exercise routine), that I would...


So I took off. With Miranda by my side and in my head, I put one foot in front of the other at pace quicker than a fast walk, until I made it to end of the 0.08 mile driveway, and then...


After God didn't smite me, the world didn't end, and the Earth didn't drop off into some vast wilderness of unknown, I began to become more rhythmic with my gait.

In other words, I started out way too fast, and had to slow down or die.

And my world opened up. 92 degrees of straight, relentless, breeze-less sunny humidity became 92 degrees of heat, but I created my own breeze. And sweat. Sweat does lend quite the helping-hand in maintaining body temperature when you're moving in one direction quickly.

As I plodded along my gravel road, I learned what "hills" truly are. (We have several sections of decent rollers in our area). I hollered, (well, wheezed), brief words of greeting to the beef cattle pastured by our house, and took some enjoyment as some of the calves allowed their curiosity to take the better of them and approach the fence to get a better look at this sweating, wheezing stranger who is smiling like a kid on Christmas as she runs downhill...

...and swears like a sailor as she gets smacked in the face by the uphill.

But as my best friend's house came into view, and I realized I had just run a half-mile ON THE ROAD, OUTSIDE THE DRIVEWAY, I became elated. "Good girl!" I hollered to my in-laws little black mutt Alicia, (who happens to my second best friend), who ran up next to me, tail wagging. Slowing down a little as I approached Sara and Jason's house, I let Alicia find a happy trot and we paced on up the road, soon passing my neighbor's house, ready to take on the next set of rollers. And it was then that I realized that all my time with the "pathetic 10# weights" truly came in handy as I wondered what the fire in my ass going uphill is going to do for the overall shape of my booty in a couple of weeks. In other words, uphill requires some hard-ass work!

And about 45 seconds later, going downhill, did I realize what the noun "quadriceps" truly means. Oh, and "gravel road", as I twisted my foot in my vain first attempt at "running". 

But we trekked on, me and the dog, with the world suddenly at our feet, (literally), and our little eyes opened much wider than we ever thought possible. And when we hit the final uphill, (and I was convinced my ass was about to give out),  we met the intersection of the next road and I realized with sudden ecstasy, "Alicia-Jo...we RAN A MILE!" So to finish our journey, we turned around, and with joy in our hearts, started the downhill leg back home, learning quickly that when going for that first run while relying on an aerobic base laid solid through cycling is noble, it's not always the best plan...

Alicia and I moved forward with the fast-slow pace of beginning runners, (well, her excuse was there was stuff in the weeds, and in the woods alongside the road that she had to go and explore), tackling the backside of the rolling hills we just battled coming up the road. The second time around? I relied more and more on my music and Alicia's bobbing little trot to keep pushing me along. Every step became harder and harder, and I could've SWORN the hills were steeper, longer, and the gravel looser on the way back! God really WAS trying to smite me!

So I battled on, using the beat of Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" to keep me moving, as the sun seemed like it was getting hotter, and I began an inner argumentative dialogue with God. Just when I was cresting yet another killer mf-er of a hill and about to give my closing argument with the Man Upstairs, my house came into view, nestled coolly into the arms of a downhill.

"C'mon, 'Licia-dog!" I wheezed, the heat and sun making me a little dizzy. "Let's get this!"

And got it, we did. Alicia knew we were close, and even though she happens to be an almost all-black short-hair mutt, she kicked it up a notch and picked up her dainty little feet, making the whole journey look effortless, inspiring me to pick up the pace as my quads burned on the downhill. As we tore into the damnable driveway, both of us panting, drooling, tongues hanging out, fleshing slapping wetly against itself, I suddenly understood what inspires women to have more than one child. After the pain, the pooring of sweat, the agony, the ripping of muscles, the pain in my lungs, the fact still remained:


The horror was soon forgotten; all the discomfort was (almost!), a distant memory by the time we climbed the stairs back into the air-conditioning to enjoy a drink of water in a cool, climate-controlled environment. And like women with more than one child, these two girls right here quickly replaced with suffering with the joyful memories of knowing that today, we tackled those two miles together, and like women with more than one child...

...we couldn't wait to do it again.

Operation: Tinkerbell may now commence!

...Here we are, almost 4 months since my last post. And judging by the fact that when I logged in, I only had 128 views since my last post, I'm thinking the world didn't miss my blatherings too much. But change is good, and hopefully my new views from the window of my living room will be enough to inspire you, and maybe perhaps help you seek out that next big milestone in your life. 

So the update: In 4 months I have made quite a few strides ahead in my living room, and even managed to procur a "goal", (which was the main source of strife in the last few posts). In essence, hitting the living room has since turned me loose onto the road.


Allow me to clarify. So in the last posts that had managed to make, I was blabbering on and on about how I "needed a goal...something to work for to inspire me..." and so on and so forth. And for whatever crack-pot reason, I decided to hit the road, literally.

I have become a runner. :)

That's right...a few steps back and forth down the little 0.08 mile driveway to "get some cardio in" during my outdoor weight-training sessions soon led to a bit of wanderlust: what's it look like BEYOND the driveway? What do the trees alongside our road look like at 7.0 mph? I wondered what the rolling hills up and down our road would make my thighs and butt (my trouble zones) look like a few weeks later. And I wondered, "Could I do really do it? Could I really 'run' up and down the roads of our neighborhood?"

And not look like a slobbering, flapping, flesh-of-the-thighs-slapping basset hound in the process

And from that simple seed, a goal to run the Walt Disney Princess half-Marathon in Feb of 2014 was plated. That's right, readers: I, Andrea Soon-to-be-Something-or-Other, have not only found intense enjoyment in pounding my newly 34# slimmer body repeatedly into the dirt roads of Central Michigan, but have set a personal goal to repeatedly slam myself into the Orlando, Florida pavement in the Happiest Place on Earth.

And to make matters all that much more complex, I plan on getting pregnant, and having a baby between now and then.

Yea, me...

The best part? I continue to maintain my "ban the gym" philosophy so that you, that's right, reader--you too can be part of the fun without actually having to spend a dime to travel outside of your house. "Shedding and Saving for the Wedding"? Try "Running Away from the Baby Fat"!

But back to the matter at hand--my new-found love affair with running. And maintaing my current love-affair with nursing on the night-shift, (which by the way, has me working, on average, about 20-30 hours of overtime every two weeks due to a shortage in staffing currently), my relationship with my soon-to-be, and trying to find time to plan this crazy-ass wedding trip that is (gasp!) about 26 days away.

So see? Training for a Half after a kiddo doesn't seem NEARLY that difficult when we examine my current state of obligations.

In all seriousness, though, running has kept me sane. And having this completely insane goal of planning the "perfect" pregnancy, easy delivery, quick recovery time, being back on my feet and ready to train for a 13.1 has kept me on track and really has given me something to work for. Not to mention that quitting my birth control 3 months ago has allowed me a hallpass to claim temporary insanity due to a sudden surge in estrogen...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Update... :)

Well, well, well....haven't posted in a while.

And judging by my calendar, "a while" is actually about 6 weeks.

Hopefully I've been a little more disciplined in my work-outs than I have in my blogging abilities.

So I guess the truth of the matter is that in reality, yes, in fact I have been more disciplined in my working out than my documentation, and now that the nice weather has finally hit my neck of the woods, my work-outs have taken on a whole new dimension.

I've moved out!!

Just kidding...but actually yeah, I've moved 99% of my work-outs outside! The last 6 weeks have been this exciting, (sometimes warm!), but always refreshing variety of new challenges that Mother Nature presents. Wind, intense heat, humidity, body weight training, circuits, running, (yes, even I, who typically abhors running, have started to run outside!), and of course biking outdoors have all been added to my repertoire.

No more "hitting the living room"!

And from this change-up, boredom has now left my vocabulary, I have dropped about 4 more pounds, and my pasty winter skin has now taken on a nice, healthy "glow". (Or maybe that's the sweat...I'll let you decide!) I feel much more functionally fit, as being outside has allowed me to sort of let go of that ever-present hang-up of "will these plyometrics eventually shake my house down?", and I have been adding more and more running to my routines, which, as Jillian Michaels says, "Run, because it makes you skinny".

As for variety and motivation, I have become a fan of Pinterest and just searching random fitness routines such as "butt and thighs", or "running work-outs" in order to find something new to play with. Here lately I've been a huge fan of strength and cardio (which involves running a distance), circuits. For example...

Leg Day:

-Run 1 mile

-100 squats
-30 Plyo Plie squats
-15 jumping lunges (ea. side)

-Run 1/2 mile

-20 Split squats
-Duck walk up and back the length of the concrete
-40 deadlifts with 30#

-Run 1/2 mile

-30 squat jumps
-30 walking lunges
-10 plyo reverse lunges (ea. side)

-Run 1/2 mile

-10 straight leg bridges
-30 single leg bridges
-30 Donkey Kicks
-20 Fire Hydrants
*Repeat for opposite leg*

Usually after a work-out like this, I'm SPENT! And typically "feeling it" starting into the evening! I try to incorporate enough exercises coupled with the running to get at least 45-60 minutes in, and so far, I've been pretty darn close. I think starting next week, I might try starting to add 1 "long run" in each week of app 4 miles, which while it doesn't seem like a lot, anyone who knows me knows that 4 miles is a "long run", and around here all these rolling hills will certainly make that 4 miles count! As for tomorrow, I think I might have my sweet, sweet fiance help me throw my bike on the trainer just for the weekend, as I work all weekend, and that way I can get some "ride time" in.

Plus, with the 95 degree weather tomorrow, I can pull it outside and get some sun without worrying about heat stroke 30 miles from home!

So far, working it at home certainly has been an exciting, but very cost-savvy adventure. And my new "bikini figure" is proof-positive that extreme fitness DOESN'T require a fancy-schmancy gym membership, or a lot of expensive equipment.

I should know--I use a set of Wal-Mart dumb-bells (two 15#, 10#, 5#, &  3#), a yoga mat, and some landscaping tiles that I stacked up to make my own "work-out step".

Happy outdoor fitness!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Building Balance

Building muscle is probably at the forefront of my mind. I have been trying to keep a close eye on what I eat, how I work out, trying to find ways to bust up boredom as I devotedly hit the living room. I have, as of today saved approximately $485 in the last 3 months by keeping my work-outs strictly confined to home, and have lost an additional 14#.

I think it's safe to say that I got this.

But as the weather warms up, and my up-coming wedding gets closer, I find myself feeling the burn, and not just in my biceps. For the last several weeks, I have been noticing that my flower beds have become populated with an interesting collection of "ornamental weeds", my bathrooms have been embarrassingly neglected, and I haven't cooked a "real meal" for at least that long, as I can easily heat up a "Lean Cuisine" and hit the road.

Long story short, I needed some balance.

So two nights ago, I took a well-deserved break from Jillian and cleaned my master bathroom. Then I threw on my gardening gloves and de-weeded my flower beds, and planted some bulbs. And then, for my grand finale....?
I COOKED SUPPER! A REAL supper!! A spaghetti supper complete with my special sauce, whole grain noodles, and fresh salad.

When my fiance got home, he was so appreciative. We sat down and ate together for the first time in who-knows-how-long, and enjoyed a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat while we caught up, gloated about all the work I did in my flower beds to make the house look nice. (Well, at least on the outside!!)

So yesterday, as I finished up a bunch of laundry, I did some reading, caught up on my e-mail, and enjoyed some TV.

Afterwards? I was ready to take on the world!! I threw on my work-out clothes, and did an hour and half of Jillian.

And enjoyed a shower in a clean, sparkling bathroom. :)

Moral of the story? Balance doesn't make you lazy; balance makes you a better athlete, a better person, and a better fiance.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Crap-Sunday was truly fantastic!!

So the last three nights I worked. And worked. And worked.

At least that's what it felt like. Never-ending work.

Mainly because I had a couple of really emotionally-taxing patients, so between that and the stress of working night-shift, and the stress of being a nurse, (and a relatively new one, at that), I really felt like the 39 hours I put in the last three nights felt more like 139 hours.

And to those of you that work 5 days a week, yeah, yeah, yeah--I get it, I know. I work three nights a week, get full-time benefits and paid the hourly wage I do...what am I complaining about...??

Try doing my job. For real. Like, seriously, TRY doing my job. And after I hold you to my bosom after you cry, then I think you will agree with me when I say...

The wages, the benefits, the "three days a week" part?? It's not enough!!

Good thing I LOVE being an RN, and making a positive difference in people's lives, huh?

So back to the matter at hand: Crap-Sunday. "Crap-Sunday" is my catch-all term for that once in a while day where you really don't give a rats' ass what you're eating; you have no "plan", no carb-count, no calorie goal, no structured exercise to speak of, you're not keeping track of any damn points, and quite frankly, it's the best damn culinary  day, (or night), that you've had in a long time.

Crap-Sunday involved 24 hours of sheer, dabaucherous, gluttony in the form of food.

So after working away for the third night in a row, not exercising during the day because I was EXHAUSTED after being emotionally tried with a very needy patient, and just because "ICU was ordering Main Street pizza, you girls out on NOrth want anything?", I elected last night to be Crap-Sunday.

And boy, was it ever crappy.

A half of a 9" chicken bacon ranch pizza, two mozzarella cheese sticks complete with pizza sauce, a 20 oz. Coke, (not diet!), two hot chocolates and this morning when I got home a plate full of pumpkin spice oatmeal with butter and syrup later? I'm SATISFIED. Sleepy, food-hangover satisfied. My belly is contentedly rounded and firm, my eyes are sleepy, my sweat smells of garlic and I desperately need to brush my teeth, but right now?

I feel AWESOME!!

Crap-Sunday was a success.

Now, before anyone gets excited and starts hyperventilating about "your diet!! You lost all that weight and now you got the taste for junk food!" I just want to remind everyone that in case they did not infer from the "About Me" section here in my blog that I am, in fact, human, and not a half-feral dingo.

In other words, don't worry--Weight Watchers will not be hunting me up to put me down because I can't be trusted around Twinkies anymore.

In fact, I will be more than happy to share, that actually, quite the opposite is true. I have found that after a glorious night of occassionally gorging myself on any kind of junk food imaginable, (for example, that "hot chocolate" I mentioned? Was really hot cocoa powder mixed with softened ice cream), actually makes me stronger in my everyday battle with food. Every now and then, I know I allow myself the chance to make a complete ass out of the ass that I now found, and it's like I don't have that crazy "I gotta have that pizza because it could be the last pizza I'll ever get!-" mentality.

Now that I know those domesticated foods I love so much aren't on the endangered species list, I don't find that I miss them NEARLY as much as those that don't allow themselves a day or two a month, (NO MORE!!), of their own personal Crap-Sunday. And after my bloody smogasbord? The next day, (or later on in the afternoon if I've been working), I'm re-energized to hit the living room and really throw down a killer-bitching work-out.

Kinda like dumping real-man's gas in a Prius, or something. This body needs that fat and carbs to refuel after a couple of weeks of training, dieting and tightening. And for those of you who have never had the courage to start rejoicing in Crap-Sunday? Rest assured, when I hop back on the scale?

Never even an OUNCE has been gained! It's like my body fires up the fires of metabolism and incinerates everything before it has the chance to try to add equity to the winter fuel stores.
Break the habit slowly, and when you're ready for a break, just remember my philosophy regarding Crap-Sunday.

It's like Crap-Sunday is my oasis in the Desert Void of Desserts. And every so often, I gotta stop for a big long drink...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Setting new goals?

Right now, I'm sitting at the kitchen table, after only 4 hours of sleep from working last night, and trying to find the motivation to hit the living room. I had half of a soybean peanut butter sandwich, (peanut allergy renders my dietary choices), a cup of Coke on ice, and a cup of milk. (According to the Dr that I saw Monday, I guess I need more dairy).

And the Coke? I explain that only as the weakened resolve found only in those who work nights, and frankly, my dear reader, just don't give a damn sometimes.

So here I sit, not really feeling any ounce of motivation due to lack of sleep, and as I type, I've decided that I need a new goal. A new goal to help keep me on target, and to try to take these gains in fitness and loss in weight to a higher level of performance.

I haven't decided yet what that goal may be, and as of right now, I'm pretty sure it might take me a while to figure that out as I am only on my first cup of double-strength green tea for the afternoon, but after a couple of cups, and the cobwebs clear their way out of my mind, I might have a good idea what that may be.

And after a couple more cups, I may be able to write a clear, concise sentence void of run-ons and looping ideas.

Yesterday, I rode my bike for 45 mins at 85% of my MHR, and then I did about 30 minutes of legs here in the living room. Lots of dropsets, lots of lunges of varying variety, and some focused toning exercises such as single-leg deadlifts and hip bridges to muscle exhaustion have left my ass...and thighs...and hamstrings on fire, and have prevented me from moving any faster than a slow lumber around my house. Plus, after being on my feet all night, that certainly hasn't helped "loosen things up" at all. I keep trying to talk myself into some upper body work, but I think tomorrow I might hit it hard, especially after I can move a little more efficiently!

There is part of me right now that feels pretty darn good about hitting it as hard as I did yesterday. But...on the flip side, last night I did some damage to my healthy eating kick by getting a little...shall we say...crazy? In other words, I ate EVERYTHING in sight! And for me, once I toe the edge, the next thing I know I'm free-falling into a land of ice cream and cinnamon rolls. My facebook status this morning? "Andrea Jo home from work, and is hungry. Look out leftover cinnamon roll, I'm a'coming for ya!"

That pretty much sums it up.

But, in keeping the faith with my previous entry about not letting a slip-up be the end-all of it all, I did make an effort to clean up my eating this afternoon and later on this evening, and yep, I've decided I need a new goal. Something unique, something not done. Maybe perhaps a figure competition? I could the first "did-it-at-home" figure competitor. Maybe I should google that first. I would hate to steal someone's thunder. But I don't know...that's A LOT of commitment, A LOT of hard-core dieting, and probably a LOT of time.

But at the end of the day, don't we all need goals? Something to give us that drive and passion in life? I think  I might Google "did it at home figure competitors " and see what I get. Who knows? Maybe next entry you all will find me looking for good websites to buy a velvet thong bikini....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Taking a day off...

This weekend had been the weekend worthy of running a marathon!! For starters, I worked Weds-Thurs-Fri nights, all 12 hours shifts, which can be enough right there to weaken the resolve of He-Man himself.

Or in my case, weaken my stamina to keep hitting the living room faithfully.

And my Dad drive up for a visit, which was fun, but definitely left little in the way of "free time", as for most of the weekend I was visiting with him, doing dishes, laundry, cooking, etc.

Lucily, I have a GREAT fiance who does a lot to help keep everything in good running order around here. :)

So after a three-night stretch of working where I did manage to hit the living room twice, I also managed to squeeze in a 50 minute spin on my bike and complete 10 minutes of push-ups and core work on Sunday afternoon. And honestly, that means that all week my total work-outs had equaled to being about four. Four times pumping some neoprene in the living room.

But that's okay. During this whole "lifestyle revamp", I have learned to focus on self-control, and let go of things that I can't control. And most importantly, I have learned to focus on what's important in life, and to take every moment I can and live it to the fullest.

I think that I am not alone when I say that when you're an active woman, and one that is conscientious about her fitness, (and, let's be honest here--her appearance), we tend to get very negative about our whole outlook on our day, week, month, whatever, if we have a work-out, (or work-outs), that get missed/skipped due to...well...anything, and our quality of life, (or at least how we perceive our quality of life), takes a drastic, nasty spiral towards the ground complete with flames and a faulty ejection seat button.

Maybe perhaps I get a little too graphic?

But anyhow--I know I personally get very grumpy, and my focus changes from enjoying my day, (or my night, if I'm working), to constantly berating myself for not "getting in that round of Jillian", or "jeez, I wish I had drank more water yesterday, I'm so dry I can't get my heartrate up", or my personal favorite: "Omg, I can just FEEL the fat hopping aboard the saddle-bag bus!! Get it OFF, get it OFF, get it OFF!"

Again, perhaps I get a little too graphic?

But as I've progressed over the last year, and have changed the way I work-out, and have focused on my eating habits utilizing principles from Weight Watchers, (most basic principle? One needs to eat, might as well make the calories I consume worth my while and FUEL my body with good choices), I have figured out that 1) I don't need to work-out like a psychotic Fem-Bot maniac every single solitary day, and 2) I physically CAN'T work-out like a psychotic Fem-Bot maniac every single solitary day.

And even after decreasing the number and length of my work-outs, I have still continued to lose weight, feel awesome, and look better now than what I did in high school. And if I end up taking an unplanned "day off" due to some unforeseen circumstance? Rather than moping with a sad, depressed, cranky-ass "It's the end of the world as I know I it, all my progress is down the tubes and I might as well drown my sorrows in a plate full of cinnamon rolls", I find a renewed vigor for my tomorrow's date with Jillian, or riding to nowhere on my trainer, or for enjoying a nice healthy meal approved by the good folks at Weight Watchers.

In other words, I have grown up. Maybe even perhaps reached a level of "fitness self-actualization"...

So today, being Monday, and my dad leaving after two good days here up north, I had a Dr.'s appt at 2 o'clock, came home, and enjoyed two leftover cinnamon rolls from breakfast, and had a cheese breadstick for lunch, (yummm....I know!), and then laid myself on the couch proceeded to cash in on a well-earned three hour nap. Did I work-out today? Unless you count doing the happy dance in the exam room when my Dr. congratulated me on my 20# weight loss!! (I got weighed in my clothes and shoes, okay?) Enjoying my progress, I then proceeded to brag about how I had "been really trying to get some extra weight off for my wedding, and just generally reach a better state of health and fitness." The good doc replied, "I wish more women had your good attitude and healthful approach."

Go ME!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Curiosity Kills the fat

Curious about an average day in the living room? Allow me to share last weeks' work-outs with you. And just remember--in my line of fitness, curiosity kills the fat.

Monday--Leg Day:

Level II of "Killer Buns and Thighs"
Level I of "Killer Buns and Thighs

*I have found that in order for me to get the best results I have to hit my lower body hard and fast. I also worked Monday night, so I didn't have two hours to while away in the living room trying to half-ass my ass. So for Leg Day, I start with Level II to make sure I'm fresh for all the plyometrics involved. When Jillian says "jump!", I say "how high!?" After banging through Level II, I go straight to Level I and dig through the basics that Jillian manages to put an especially painful spin. (Lunge-squat combos, anyone?) All in all, 80 minutes later, I am always sufficiently exhausted, enjoying that after-burn where you wonder if someone has taken a hatchet to your hind-end.

Tuesday--Upper and Lower Body combination

Jillian Michaels' "No More Trouble Zones"
Level I of "30-Day Shred"

*Jillian Michaels' "No More Trouble Zones" incorporates lots...and lots...and LOTS of upper body-lower body combination moves that are deadly efficient at keeping m heart rate up, and the sweat pouring out. There's no plyo moves here, which is very healthy for my knees and hips after hitting up "Killer Buns and Thighs" the day before, but there is more than enough repetitious, high-intensity toning going on to keep you occupied. Add an extra 20 minutes of Level I "30-Day Shred" and you have a 70 minute work-out that works you literally from HEAD-TO-TOE!


*On Wednesday, I was tired, and didn't feel like thinking...about anything. (I had worked the last two nights, and was going in for night 3 at this point). So I just plugged into my IPod, and cranked on my bike for 55 minutes at 80% of my maximum heart rate (MHR). Pretty simple...

Thursday--Pilates (Because I was exhausted)

*Thursday, I was tired. And I knew I was leaving Friday morning, so Thursday, (my first night off), I threw in a Mari Winsor DVD and stretched and tweezed my way to a more limber and longer and leaner me.

Friday--Cardio and Lower Body (because I want to look hottttt at the wedding Saturday!)

*Friday I was, again, tired, (I never sleep well my first night back home), so I got up early, threw down some coffee, and spun on my bike for 35 minutes at 80% MHR. Then, I got my new copy of "Muscle and Fitness: Hers" and took the Glute work-out featured in the month's issue and modified it to be done in my living room. Instead of the lying glute raise, I did a series of Supermans on my yoga mat, and took the cable-pulley kickbacks and completed them standing with a 5# ankle weight strapped on.  To get into my abductors, I kept that ankle weight on, and did fire hydrants (or outer thigh raises, depending on how politically correct one wishes to be), really slow and controlled, taking time to pause the movement for 3 sec at the top to make that outer thigh shake. I also added a series of hip bridges with my feet propped on a sturdy chair to help crack my glutes even further. And when I finished? My work-out left my ass so exhausted, I had a hard time walking!

The verdict? Saturday morning, after eating 7 hours worth of junk food on the way to Wisconsin, and my fiance's sister's AMAZING spaghetti and mixed drinks, (whiskey and water!!), I was really worried that I wouldn't look my best in my dress. (Chiffon shows everything and forgives nothing!) But after SLIDING it on, and having my fiance zip and hook me in...

I looked HOTTTTTT for the wedding!

Discovery #2: Routine is my best and worst enemy

So today is Monday. And after a weekend of travelling almost 1,000 miles in the car with my awesome future in-laws, eating tons of  AMAZING food, (hello, Culver's!), and drinking some awesome independently brewed beer, (thank you, Tanner and Port Huron Brewing Co. for the smooth Honey Blonde!), I woke up this morning with a hung-over butt and loose lower belly.

Back to the living room we go!!

As a nightshift girl, I am queen of "routine". My fiance has learned that in order for me to be at my healthiest and best-functioning, I have to have a routine. A sleeping routine, an eating routine, a work-out routine...everything is scheduled, and routine definitely has a place in my day-to-day life.

But like all things, routine can get boring. And messed up. And hard as hell to maintain when you want to do fun things like travel, go to weddings, go to tractor and steam shows, get sick, plan a wedding, work....

I think you get the idea.

During this last weekend of travelling and digging some awesome new food and drink, I made a vow to myself to take advantage of the small "fitness room" that was part of our hotel. As in, I packed a bigger bag, rolled my work-out clothes and IPod into small little balls, stuffed them into my shoes, and made a promise to myself to get up early Sunday morning and hit the gym before we climbed back into the car for another 7 hour car ride back home. Maintaining my routine on the road, right?

In reality, we didn't get checked into our hotel until like, 12:30-1:00AM, (without giving too much info away, we had a pretty sweet-ass time), my alarm went off at 7AM and after five days of not sleeping, (I worked Monday through Weds, didn't sleep well Thursday night, we left Friday morning, didn't get to bed until later Friday night, and Saturday night was wedding festivities), I was acutely exhausted, and therefore wasn't BUDGING out of the king-sized bed in our hotel room. My salvation in this was that Monday through Friday morning, I had managed to hit the living room consistently.

I guess I subconsciously anticipated my lack of resolve after sleep deprivation.

Feeling a little guilty, I did come to a personal realizaton that in order to create balance within my life, I do need to be more flexible. Back in the day of being a "gym rat", I hardly EVER missed a work-out. Monday was legs, Tuesday was chest and arms, Wednesday was back and shoulders, Thursday was legs and abs again, Friday was "active rest", (gym rat cop-out for "nothing at all"), and Saturday and Sunday were modified "living room work-outs". (The gym was open only for limited hours these days). In other words, with a schedule like that, you miss a day? Well, then you run the risk of looking like a misproportioned cretin. Therefore, skipping a day was out of the question!

Since my "fitness revelation", I have been much more consistent, and I have also enjoyed a much higher quality of life. My work-outs no longer last an hour and a half, (because unless you happen to be Chuck Norris, who could really physically handle an hour and a half of Jillian Michaels?), and I no longer have to be a slave to the clock. I have eliminated drive time to and from the gym, I don't have to shovel down my dinners before work, and I have more time to read and write.

Plus, my social life has improved immensely. If I miss a work-out to go to a wedding, or head down to my friend's house for some target shooting, I don't have to fear looking like a hunchbacked Hulk, or being cranky because "I missed chest and arms today!"

Changing my regimented routine was definitely tough. After committing myself to such rigor for almost a decade, it was hard to wrap my brain around 1): not focusing on a 100# bench press, 2): giving up the idea that "fitness" does not limit itself to a strict diet of precisely cycled cardio and strength training, and 3): "Functionality" is "fitness". If you can bench press 100#, it still doesn't mean that type of strength is functional in the "real world". Especially in my line of work, where nurses are taken out of commission all the time due to injuries on the job. From that, it has always been my goal to be strong and fit in order to keep myself in the profession for as long as possible. And after focusing on high-intensity, high-repetition body-weight and dynamic movement training, my back doesn't hurt as much, my core is so much stronger, my ergonomics on the job are much more efficient, and I don't tire near as quickly as I did before.

And my flexibility has improved. Both physically, as all the upper-lower body combination movement has made me much looser and stronger, but also in general. Overall, my perspective on life, fitness and fun has taken on a much rosier and optimistic outlook. So I missed a day due to target practice? Well, then tomorrow, we'll bust out "No More Trouble Zones" and tack on a quick routine from "30-Day Shred." I no longer feel so down on myself if I miss a work-out, or have a borderline anxiety attack that my back and shoulders are, as we speak, shrinking down to the size of prepubescent girl's.

I'm telling you, this is the psychology behind the dedicated "gym rat". Sick, but true.

Before we left on our trip, I bought an issue of "Muscle and Fitness: Hers". And truth be told, for about 10 minutes, I really did second-guess my new lifestyle. I saw the beautiful, sculpted tanned musclature of these women, and after reading some of the articles, I really did have some thoughts about bagging this whole process and return tomy tried-and-true routine of Monday-Legs, Tuesday-Chest & Arms, blah, blah, blah.

But I stuck with it. I decided that this magazine shouldn't be seen as the "what could've been", but rather, "what could be". During the car ride, I pulled out the magazine, and began studying the exercises, trying to come up with ways that they can be done at home with the lighter weights I already own, or modified to be done without standard gym equipment such as weight benches, a cable pulley system, etc.

So today, after missing my work-outs for about two days in a row? I decided to ride my bike in my 80% MHR range for 50 minutes, and then did an upper body series with biceps, triceps, back, shoulders and chest. I was able to take the 21's I saw in the magazine and did drop-set 21's for biceps and triceps with 10#, 5#, and 3# dumbells, and modified the bent-over back flye to be done over a chair. 15 push-ups and some chest flye drop-sets to exhaustion and a lighter-weight shoulder series rounded the work-out out. To keep it calorie-burning, I tried to eliminate "rest periods", and just kept the sets moving. An hour and 10 minutes later? I was in the shower, trying to wash my hair with shaking shoulders. And now here I sit, back in my overalls, sitting here at the table enjoying one of my favorite pastimes: writing.

Routine can be overrated.

Is This Really Going to Work? Like...long-term?

So by now, I've been doing this whole "losing it at home" thing for about 6 weeks. And in 6 weeks, I've learned a few things. Not only about fitness in general, but a few things about myself. Allow me to share my new "body revelations".

1: Keep an Open Mind

When engaging in fitness, or starting a work-out program, I think it's safe to say that most of us fall into a pretty rigid pattern. Our "routine", we tend to call it. Suffice to say, my "routine" had only managed to help me gain 30#, a perpetual place at the gas pump, and a set of biceps that wouldn't fit most women's shirts. So, as they say, back to the drawing board.

During the 9+ years I had spent going to an established gym, I had always kept a secret, snotty, indifferent attitude towards those that engage in some sort of "at-home fitness". "How could that possibly even come close to rivaling the pump and passion felt at a gym?", "There's no WAY one could work that hard at home to even come close to achieving what I achieve here", and of course, "Only the dedicated shred-heads come to a gym".

Apparently, not only was a implying that I belonged in the latter, but I was also very ignorant of the 30# that I was gaining.

But, when all is lost, and one has hit rock-bottom, there is no where to go but up, and nothing to lose, aside from... ahem...several pants sizes.

So began my journey. And though it was difficult, I did keep an open mind. For example, during my years at the gym, I had no idea how naive I truly was. For example, I truly had it in my thick-ass skull that I "couldn't be capable of a foward lunge. My knees just aren't that strong." And push-ups? "unless I'm on a stability ball to align my spine correctly, I just can't do a push-up."

What the HELL!?!!? Time to stage an intervention.

After starting my DVD Body Dream Regime, I have not only learned that 1): I couldn't do a forward lunge because I had horrible form and therefore it was ergonomically impossible to push off from such a ridiculous angle, 2): Push-ups ARE possible because I just had a very weak core, and once I actually admitted to that and worked on it, guess what?? I can do PUSH-UPS!! and 3): the body likes change. It likes a challenge and by taking away tons and tons of heavy weight, I became very FUNCTIONALLY fit, which translated into less back pain, better, more efficient cycling, and a physique that is more Kim Kardashian-bootylicious, less Lurch from the Addams Family. And thanks to the constant commentary most DVD's provide, I was able to actively correct myself, and I could see on-screen, in action, EXACTLY how an exercise should be performed.

Oddly enough, I had never considered how much proper form applies up until I started my challenge.

What about my heart, you ask? As for cardio, I had carried around this pompous attitude that unless it involved a machine with a control panel designed by NASA, or miles upon miles of running or biking, "it just wasn't cardio, and that was a waste of my time."

Wrong again.

For example, I did not realize that I couldn't perform more than oh...maybe 2 squat thrusts at a time without having to take a break. And high knees? Try more like, "jogging in place" for the first three weeks. Ha!! And Mountain Climbers!! Even now, after 6 weeks of doing my DVD's diligently, I still DIE after a minute of Mountain Climbers. And this from a chick who can SMOKE 33 miles on my bike at 20+ mph.

Thank you, Jillian. I hope you are enjoying this. Because my transverse abdominals do not.

Again, open mind. From working on my weaknesses and being able to take my head out of my now-shrinking ass, I have gained so much more over-all strength, and my pelvis now has these super-sexy cuts starting to carve their way out of my low-rise jeans. I guess my squat thrusts and Mountain Climbers do have a place in my "routine."

As for sculpting and weight-lifting, I have also learned that resistance training and cardio are not worth the time spent unless they are diligently and doggedly performed 100% separately. Like children in the backseat of a car, I believed that resistance and cardio did NOT, under any circumstances, play well together, and should be kept as separate as possible.

Why did I believe this? Apparently, because I was incapable of blending them together.

First time I did my "Killer Buns and Thighs"? Lots of repetitions, lots of dynamic exercises incorporating not only a strength factor, but also "getting that heart rate up to burn the fat off of my butt", and...

...I HATED it. But that would be because I was also pathetically out of shape. Meaning, while I could squat 150#, or ride 22 mph for 30 miles, I could not put a working load on my muscles, and still expect my heart to systematically supply itself and my quads. Therefore, learning curve. And as I diligently plugged my DVDs in about 4 times a week, I could see dramatic changes taking place the more I squat-jumped with my own body weight, and the more I incorporated the plyo moves I had (in the past) so desperately avoided. "Body weight training!" as Jillian would say. And it works. The cardio from the plyos and the constant movement of the body coupled with the demand to support and move the body's own weight works beautifully hand-in-hand to provide a comprehensive work-out unlike anything a squat rack was providing for me. And at the time, as I poured sweat, (and yes, at times, tears), on my yoga mat, and gritted through yet another set of jumping side lunges, I vowed that I wouldn't "...stop moving! Don't stop moving!"

Now 6 weeks later, I have successfully slid into a size 8. Something I had not done since....Junior High School?

I think, and I say this with a little reserve, but I think I might have found something that works for me. High Five!!

Step here comes the hard part. Designing a "plan".

At this point, I had lost about 7# just doing Weight Watchers alone. But I really wanted to carve up a nice figure. While at Meijer's one afternoon, I was down the Exercise aisle shopping for some dumbbells and I ran across the Jillian Michaels' DVD's.

"Killer Buns and Thighs," I mused, imagining my own buns and thighs "so tight I could bounce a quarter off them".

$9.95 and off to home we went.

At first, I was kind of skeptical. And a little nervous. When I initially set forth with my "plan", I just kind of...well...didn't really put a whole lot of thought into it, to be quite honest. I already had a set of resistance bands at home to help stretch and "tone" sore muscles, and I had a yoga mat for the aforementioned reason, but aside from a few pieces of dusty equipment...?

I had nothin'.

After I got home and put away all my new Weight Watchers appropriate food, I settled down on the couch, (we're taking this in baby-steps, okay? Milestones? Remember from our first conversation?), and proceeded to check out what I, (vainly and stupidly), thought would be "a walk in the park".

About 120 minutes later, I learned that Jillian's three levels of "booty-burning work-outs" are no joke.

So the next day, I decided to give Level One a whirl. I spent about 20 minutes spinning up a storm on my bike, then immediately pressed "play" on the DVD player that I had already set up. And Jillian put me through my paces. Squat-lunge combo-what?? Sumo squat with calf-raises AND plyo hops?? By the time I got to the donkey kicks and cross-over lunges, I was sweating buckets. Talk about total destruction! And about 37 minutes later, (give or take), my thighs were shaking, and my butt honestly felt like someone had taken a hatchet and bisected each cheek in two.


I was so excited--Day One of Operation Smack-That at Home has commenced with a bang! With the wild and reckless abandon that only the "exercise masochistic" can possess, I made immediate plans to "press play and repeat" for the next day.

Did I mention that I'm a nurse and that I'm pretty much on my feet all night?

So my first night at work, I was on Cloud Nine. I felt great, my butt and legs were pleasantly screaming protests as I tried to sit to pee, and I was thinking that my afternoon wake-up work-out was going to yield the same euphoric feeling of bun-sculpting elation that I was experiencing that very night. After my shift ended, I carefully crawled into my truck the next morning, thoroughly enjoying my painful feeling of after-burn, and drove home to my bed.

And upon waking at 3PM that afternoon?

I could barely MOVE!!! My legs and ass were so stiff, I felt like I had developed contractures while sleeping. Getting out of my bed to pee was torture, and after trying to stay positive about "after my afternoon coffee, I'll feel tons better", the only thing I could remotely contemplate doing was trying to spin out the soreness on my bike.

That lasted about 2.37 minutes. The ripping sensation as my legs went round and round was more than anyone could stand, and by that I mean the lactic acid wringing its way out of the largest muscles in my body actually was making me sick to my stomach. Best laid plans gone to waste for that afternoon.

Luckily, I didn't have to work that night, so after taking some Advil, and chilling on the couch, (baby steps), I decided to pull out my Mari Winsor DVD to see if that would help "stretch things out". And boy did it ever--stretched me right out my own level of consciousness! "Tweeze your buttocks together!"

Helps if your buttocks hadn't already been plucked right off your backside the day before.

But after  50 minutes of Mari, I did feel better. Not a big calorie burn, but I was able to go pee without having to consider my ability to aim, as before I couldn't sit completely on the stool.

So Days 1 and 2...pretty eventful, but I really felt like I noticed a huge difference in my body. And my gas tank, as I saved myself about 28 miles of driving. Next up...keeping up my motivation, (and my attention span).

Saving $$$, Losing ###'s

So life can measured by milestones, right? Infants are held to them for proper growth and development, children celebrate them with wild, primary-colored, sugar-sprayed scream-fests of reckless abandon, young adults hasten them in while nail-biting parents pray for good insurance coverage, and us "mid-adults" race towards their milestones, desperately trying to collect them like coins from the "Super Mario Bros" that we used to play as children.

As for me?

Well, at 28 years old...I'm a "racer".

So far, I've done the college thing, graduating with a BSN in Nursing in 2010, I've made my first big relocation, moving 200 miles north into Central Michigan back in May of 2010, I bought a house in December of 2010, and in December of 2011...?

I got engaged.

And after all the celebrating, the tears, the flashing the bling to complete strangers and using my ring finger to nonchalantly "scratch that itch on my nose", I came to two milestones as they crashed together in one wild, (but fun!), fire-y explosion of happiness and reality.

I tried on wedding dresses.

I picked a beautiful dress, enjoyed an afternoon of "ohhhh's" and "ahhhhh's" from my fiance and his aunts, but I had one nagging little chunk of truth pulling insistently at the hand-beaded and picked-up hem of my dream dress.

I was also about 30 pounds heavier than I had been about 2 years ago. And that was even after being diligent about going to the gym, weight-training and riding my road bike like a bat out of hell 5 months out of the year. The difference? I was "cooking for two!"

But I was eating for 12.

So after some tears, some sadness, some pity-eating, and some self-affirmation, ("Well, Kim Kardashian has the SAME BODY as I do!"), I decided to embark on the next milestone: we gotta fix this!

So in February I started Weight Watchers. And I also embraced a new challenge. Saving for our wedding.

In November, my fiance and I are taking off for Cancun, Mexico to exchange vows at the BEAUTIFUL Palace Resorts Beach Palace, (Google it, trust me), and I not only need to lose some weight, (because this little belly I have somehow acquired does not look good with a fitted, trumpet style dress), but I also need to do this while saving some money.

The challenge has begun. Let's lose it at home!

So far, I have acquired a fetish for Jillian Michaels DVD's, I threw my 2008 Specialized Ruby Elite on a CycleOps Mag trainer, I have become best friends with Mari Winsor for Pilates Core Training days, and...

I've lost about 25-30#, (depends on whether or not I'm wearing clothes).

But this hasn't been met without it's challenges. Working out at home can be boring, (hence, my new collections of "home entertainment"), working out at home can be difficult to achieve ideal growth and development, (not everyone can afford to put a cable-pulley system in their living room), and working at home does make for some interesting "scent issues". (When sweating up a storm in your living room, my recommendation would be to invest in good windows, vacuum A LOT, and make friends with Febreze).

My fiance, at first, was pretty skeptical. "But you love going to the gym," he responded, when I told him of my initial plans to lay waste to the extra real estate that had taken residence on my butt, hips, thighs, and belly by staying at home. "And you look great. I don't even notice the fact that you're 5# lighter than me."

I knew I was marrying him for a reason. :)

"But I'm not happy with myself. And I know I could look better, and feel better. And really, think of the money we'll save! $450 saved from my gym membership, plus the extra tank of gas that I'm burning every month just driving back and forth to the gym will all add up. And when the weather gets bad, it's not like I'm out running around,"  I pointed out.

My fiance looked at me, and finally relented. Step one complete.