Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “health”

A Healthy Dose of Gratitude

I was recently asked by Dr. Mario Trucillo of the American Recall Center  to participate in their Who Keeps You Healthy? campaign. The American Recall Center is a new website dedicated to providing information on medical device and pharmaceutical recalls and general health information.  I really like their values: Educate, Trust, Empower, Advocate, and I appreciate their vision not only to inform, but also to be informed by the community that shares their stories on the site.  Thank you, Dr. Trucillo, for considering Grackle & Sun for this campaign.  I am happy to support health advocacy in any way I can.

Who keeps me healthy?  My first thought was I do!  I am my own health hero (hear me roar)! Tru fax to be sure.  However, although I am proud of my hard work and effort, it is only a small fraction of the whole in my wholistic health journey. With closer reflection, I realized that I was experiencing a knee-jerk reaction—a defensive response after years of learning the hard way that I had to be a hardass, lookout-for-number-one advocate for my health in a system that frequently leaves patients confused, frustrated, and unhealed when they should be informed, confident, and above all, cared for.  It was this last bit that got me thinking.

Care is the heart of it all.  Healthcare. In my struggle to find solutions to illness, I often wished that health and healing could be more straightforward, more systematic: do A, B, and C and voila! Healthy! But it doesn’t work like that.  We are human, and we are more complicated than any amount of kale can fix.  We are human, and we do not need maintenance.  We need care.  It is not only our own caring that starts the healing process, it is the care that we receive from others that truly heals.  It is this caring that supports us, nurtures us, and shows us that our good health matters.

I’ve been very fortunate to have incredibly supportive family and friends—people who have not only cheered me on and even joined me as I changed my diet and started working out, but also many who, through their own actions, research, and advocacy, showed me a better way.  I am thankful for all of them.  Most of all, I am thankful to the one person who has held my hand through good times and bad, sickness and health—my husband, David.  He has been a spring of encouragement, compassion, and support.  So, in honour of the Who Keeps You Healthy campaign, I am writing a thank you letter from my heart to my heart. With gratitude and love.

Dear David,

Thank you for encouraging me to always strive to be better and healthier, and thank you for always loving me as I am no matter what. 

Thank you for being supportive of my countless hours of research and not ever rolling your eyes when I tried something new in my quest to not be sick.

Thank you for trusting me, even when the doctors didn’t, that Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism really was jacking me up that bad and that the connection between diet and auto-immune disease is for realz. 

Thank you for all the steamrolling (massages) when my migraines made me want to curl up and die.  Or hurl.  Usually all three.  

Thank you for cooking amazing food for our family, and for never, ever complaining about my crazy food intolerances.  Not even when I did the raw thing.

Thank you for getting on my ass about exercising and being patient with me even when I whined and complained and maybe even stomped my foot, not that I’d admit it.

Thank you for telling me how proud you are of me doing the whole awesome workout thing.  And for not mentioning it when I slack off.  And for happily commiserating with the pain of working out again at our age.

Thank you for doing the whole Paleo thing with me.  It has helped more than you can know.  

Thank you for being compassionate through my struggles with anxiety and depression, which have been many and terrible.  And thank you for always being there at the other end of the tunnel, smiling.

Thank you for always reading the labels to make sure our food is safe for me to eat.

Thank you for never thinking I was crazy even when I started to wonder if I was crazy trying to figure out all this crazy migraine/thyroid/allergy/IC business.  

Thank you for knowing when I need greens.  And when I need chocolate. And when I think I need chocolate but really need greens.

Thank you for being in full command of mad cooking skillz. 

Thank you for being awesome.

Thank you for being with me.

Thank you for listening.

Thank you for caring.

Love, 

Wife

 

 

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Paleo: 365

This past Sunday marked the 1 year point for my paleo experiment.  I would say “Woot!”, but since I see this as my new norm and plan on eating this way forever, it would be a little silly.  Like giving a cheer after brushing your teeth or making your bed.  Well, if I ever made my bed, I might actually give a cheer, so that’s a bad example.  Lol.  My mother would weep if she read that.  She did teach me better, but I rebel.  And digress.

ste gen 7-14-2012 4-28-015

Clearly I like this Paleo thing a whole lot.  It’s pretty amazing and has been instrumental in turning my health around.  Today I just want to hit on the key points I’ve learned while eating Paleo this last year:

1.  The cleaner your diet, the stronger your body’s reactions when you stray.   It seems a little counter-intuitive.  You’d think that by giving your body a break from highly processed, sugar-laden, additive-filled, inflammation causing, gut destroying foods, you would help strengthen your system so that it could better tolerate the occasional powdered donut or bag of peanut M & Ms.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Turns out your body likes feeling good, and when you put bad fuel into the tank, it is more than happy to let you know you done wrong.  And punish you for it.  With joint pain, edema, bloating, headaches, breakouts, hives, sinus congestion, wheezing, diarrhea, constipation, and all manner of gassiness.  The body is fantastically creative with the myriad ways it can hate a bagel.   If you’re going to stray from the path, better make sure it’s for the best meal of your life.  Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.

2.  Sugar.  If this year taught me anything, it is to pay attention to one’s sugar intake.  It effects everything from energy levels to immune functioning to gut flora.  It seems so innocent, but sugar really, really, really is completely and utterly responsible for so very much of ALL THE BAD happening in your body.  Did you see how many unnecessary modifiers I used to emphasize this?  Here’s the thing:  I have a monster sweet tooth.  This sweet tooth, unlike what many Paleo gurus promised, has not gone away in my year of very strict Paleo eating.  So learning to live with this whole sugar issue is important to me (and to the happiness of everyone around me).  I have to find a balance.  What I’ve learned through many much reading is that fructose in particular is the form that is harmful.  And although sugar intake should be moderated no matter what kind you’re ingesting, some forms are better than others.  But always, always in moderation.  If you read point #1 above, you’ve probably guessed already that the cleaner you’re diet, the more moderate your body’s idea of moderation.  So, what was a moderate amount of sugar intake in the first few months of my Paleo diet is now too much, and I’m wrestling with tapering off my sweet binges even more.  Wish me luck.

3.  Legumes.  They really do mess with the gut.  Lectin.  Who knew?  When I started Paleo, this was the one category that I had a hard time believing was actually causing any problems.   I was skeptical.  I grew up eating rice and beans like most people in the States grow up eating mac n’ cheese.   But I was good, and I cut out legumes completely for the first 6 months.  Then I reintroduced peanuts back into my diet.  And then chickpeas (in the form of hummus).  I had my mom’s rice and beans once as a treat, and I ate some Korean gochujang (soy based) a handful of times in the last month or so.  And you know what?  Although legumes are delicious, they are hell on my system.  I never would have suspected any of this if I hadn’t tested it on myself.  And so we refer back to point #1 yet again.  I’m not saying I’ll never eat them again, but it will be a rare treat for sure.

4.  Macronutrient needs are changeable.  Fat especially was incredibly important in helping maintain my body temperature in cold weather—-and as a person with hypothyroidism, this can be so hard to do.   In recent years, I’ve worn long johns under my clothes from October to May.  But this year, I was really happy to have made it through winter with more cold tolerance than I’ve had in years.  I stayed warm, which is really saying a lot.  And I learned at the 6 month mark that unlike the rest of the dairy food group, butter causes no problems for me whatsoever.  That is reason for a WOOT! if ever there was one.   I have a good understanding now that protein is the core food for giving the body long-lasting, stable energy.  It’s common knowledge, I know.  But it’s one thing to read it and another thing entirely to experience it.  But what was most interesting to me was finding the right balance of carb intake.  No matter what anybody says, Paleo is not meant to be another low-carb Atkins diet.  Carbs are important.   Sweet potatoes are great for boosting carb intake—just be careful not to base your diet entirely on carbs rather than greens, veg, and protein.  Your waistline will tell you quickly if you’re overdoing it.  Lol.

5.  Water.  I’m going to state the bleeding obvious now:  The body doesn’t work right when it’s not properly hydrated.  What is not bleeding obvious is exactly how much water intake is necessary to be properly hydrated and just how quickly the body gives signals that it needs water when intake has been inadequate.  Signals that have nothing to do with thirst.  You have to pay attention.  Again, as mentioned in point #1, the ways that this translates in the body are many and varied.  The subtle symptoms of low-level dehydration are much more noticeable after you’ve started to feel better in general.   After all, when you ache all the time, what’s one more discomfort?  But when you feel good, it’s much easier to pinpoint the cause of dis-ease.  There was a time when I would have considered being so sensitive to everything as a weakness, but now I see it as a really amazing, fine-tuned diagnostic skill.  It’s very cool to be that in tune with your own body.  It is useful—but only if you listen to it.

6.  Exercise.  Bring the ass, and the mind will follow.  My mantra.  Moving around is crucial to health and well-being—both physical and mental.  It is absolutely one of the most fundamental aspects of the Paleo template.  You can eat the cleanest diet ever, but if you don’t use your body—-if you don’t move it and lift heavy things and run and play—-you will never achieve true wellness.  I also learned that if you don’t maintain regular exercise, the body reverts back to it’s old ways very, very quickly.  If you take a week off, prepare to hurt a little when you get back to it.  If you do like I did, and get all anxious and depressed and don’t exercise for, oh, 4 months, prepare to basically start over from scratch.  Especially if you are on the far end of your 30’s.  Ahem.

7.  Greens.  You need ’em.  By the bale.  Paleo diets can vary a lot—some people eat tons of meat, some only eat fish, some are near vegetarian.  But the one thing that needs to be a dietary focus no matter how you eat Paleo is the intake of a wide variety of dark, leafy greens.  Greens are nutritionally dense and supply vitamins, minerals, and fiber that you’re just not going to get with any other foods.   I crave them.  I daydream about grazing on kale.  It’s a little (or a lot) weird, but I think it’s my body’s way of making sure I get all my micronutrients.  Clever brain.  Which brings us to…

8.  The gut is the second brain.  If it doesn’t work right, not much else in your body will work at it’s best either.  And it absolutely effects mood and thought patterns.  So, if you want to be healthy and happy, you gotta have a healthy gut.  Everything I’ve been reading points to the fact that excess sugar in the diet feeds harmful bacteria in the gut.  This negative balance of intestinal flora not only messes with basic digestive habits, but it often leads to inflammation of the intestinal lining, and therefore an inability to properly absorb nutrients and to uptake serotonin.  It can also lead to leaky gut syndrome which is a big deal if you have any autoimmune issues like I do, because it causes further negative autoimmune responses and inflammation in the body.  I think the importance of this point cannot be stressed enough.  The gut is the key.

9.  Keeping it simple.   The further I go on this journey, the simpler I want my food.  Fresh ingredients prepared with as little fuss as possible.  That’s what I crave.  I don’t know if it’s a psychological thing or a physical thing or both.  But it has been a persistent theme this year.  With the exception of the occasional paleo brownies, I’m not interested in recreating “normal” food with Paleo versions.  First of all, I don’t like cooking that much.  Second of all, a lot of those recipes (much like in the raw food diet) are really nut-heavy, and it’s just not very good for you to eat that many nuts.   I do think, in part, that it’s helpful to eat simply when having to weed out food intolerances—not only from a practical standpoint, but also because it is tiring to spend so much time thinking about what you can or can’t eat.  Keeping things simple in the kitchen allow you to get on with your life outside of your food allergy/intolerance issues.   It feels really good to just get on with it.

10.  Fine tuning.  Your body’s needs change frequently, and it’s important to listen and respond accordingly to those needs.  What works in the winter probably won’t be good in the summer.   You might find yourself craving foods as they naturally come into season, but not want them otherwise.  That was me with apples this fall.  Normally, they make me feel sick, but this fall I couldn’t get enough of them.  I figure it might have had more than a little to do with the fact that they were in season locally.   As long as you listen to your body and respond accordingly, it all balances out.  Most importantly, let your body—not a dietary dogma—be your guide.

Future plans?  I still hope to experiment with some raw, cultured dairy.   I miss yogurt.   Strangely enough, I also miss oats.  A lot.  I’ve been reading about raw, sprouted oats, and I wonder how I’d respond…  Worth an experiment, yes?  Aside from these two things, I’m pretty happy.  I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at all.  My main goal now is to lower my sugar (by which I mean honey) intake, eat simpler, more nutrient dense foods, make my own fermented/probiotic foods, drink more water, and buy a kettlebell.   A good plan.

Here’s to health, healing, and having the guts to heal your guts.  :D    It is so worth it.

Office Chair Workouts: Week 19

Links to the videos for all these exercises can be found here in the post from Week 14.  This is the last week of my month-long challenge of incorporating LovingFit exercises into my workouts.  I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in strength and my overall ability to perform most of these moves, but the shoulder issue is still problematic.  Actually, I found that it became worse with some of these exercises that I was hoping would help (like the wall climbers, crab side plank lift, and 1/2 dive bombers), and so I pretty much took them out of rotation.  I’m kind of at a loss for what to do.   I’d love to get to the point where I can do the LovingFit workouts as-is, but I’m just not there—not without a lot of modifications.  But I worry that by just pulling individual exercises from them and incorporating those, I’m missing the bigger picture of the workouts as they are designed.  I either need to be ok with that, or I need to be ok with only kinda-sorta doing the workouts as presented.  Food for thought.

Monday:  Upper Body

  • Diagonal Bear Push-ups
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Walk Over Scissor Planks
  • Circle Shoulder Press
  • Double Bicycle
  • Mt. Climber Push-off

All exercises x 12 reps.  Had to stop at 1 set.  Stupid rotator cuff.  Nearly face-planted on the last Mt. Climber Push-off.  Then I get so MAD, that I have to bully through just to finish a workout at all.  But it’s a weenie thing to quit over.   So, I did another set.  Had to modify the Mt. Climber Push-off to just a Push-off.  On my knees.  But I did it.  So there.

Dre: 1

Rotator cuff: 0

Tuesday:  Lower Body

Something a little different than what I usually do.  Only 4 exercises.  Part 1, each exercises is timed 1 minute on, 15 seconds off.  5 rounds for the squats, 6 rounds for the other 2.

  • Go-Stop-Go Squats (managed 11 on every round, total of 55)
  • Step Up Knee Up (did either 15 or 16 on each round, total of approx. 45 per leg)
  • Cook Lift (averaged around 40 per round, total approx 120 per leg)

Total Time:  22 minutes

Part 2:  Isometric Squat Side Bends.  20 per side.  These are way harder than they look!

The Rest of the Week:  :/

I worked extra this week, and therefore was extra tired.I had two, count ’em, TWO job interviews which were in the time slots when I’d usually work out.
And there was a doctor’s appointment in there somewhere, too.

Read this as:  I got lazy and made excuses and didn’t work out the rest of the week.

Why?  Dude, I don’t know.  Some days—I’m not even kidding about this—it is as simple as if for some reason my workout gets shifted to a later time, I won’t have enough time for my hair to dry after a shower before I have to go to work, or that it will mean taking 2 showers (and isn’t that just ridiculous and wasteful?).  Typing that for the general public to read just instantly put that into perspective, let me tell you.  I let little things derail me from things that I really do find important.  I have spent my whole life being one of those people who never does the same thing at the same time two days in a row—ie, I’m inconsistent.  But I’ve always desired consistency.  Go figure.  My blogging friend Stephanie wrote a really great post about this same issue.  It appears that we were both riding the excuse train this week.  :/  I love her idea of a motivation board on Pinterest.  I also like that reading her post made me have to sit with the reality of this issue and get up close and personal with it.   Not easy, but necessary.  And good.

The positive that all of this has shown me is that I have changed in a small but very important way.  It used to be that getting derailed even once would mean the kiss of death for my new “healthy habit”.  I’d just quit altogether.   I don’t do that anymore.  I get back on the horse over and over and over again.   I am thankful for this small victory, and I hope that one day it will transform into something resembling consistency.    I have another job interview tomorrow.  My goal is to work out afterward even if it means I have to take 2 showers, lol.

Office Chair Workouts: Weeks 17 & 18

Week 17 was a total loss due to a wicked case of food poisoning that left me feeling like a wrung out dish towel for the better part of the week.  I think that exercise can be helpful in getting over the last bit of something like a cold or the sniffles, but for many illnesses, the body just needs to be allowed to rest.  So I rested.  I lost a good 6 lbs with this bout, and it took a while for me to be able to eat anything without my stomach cramping up and turning into a rock.  I’ve haven’t been this keenly aware of the temperament of my innards since I had that bad burrito from Taco Bell in the early ’90’s.  Oh well.  All is better now.

On another note, but tied to all this food poisoning stuff, I decided to postpone the Whole30.  Technically, just using electrolyte rehydrating solutions (although I made my own with honey/salt/coconut water) meant that I broke the Whole30 in the first week.  Not a great way to start, so I will revisit this after the New Year.

Monday:  Job Interview!

Keep your fingers crossed, everybody!

Tuesday:  LovingFit Full Body Workout

The first part is upper, the second part is lower.  I did all exercises x 15 reps for 2 sets each.

Thursday:  LovingFit Full Body Workout

  • Star Abs x 5
  • Scissor Planks x 5       ( alternate 3 times)
  • Skater | Reverse Lunge Knee Up x 20 (each leg)
  • Bear Push-ups x 5
  • Crab Toe-touches x 5      (alternate 3 times)

Finish with 10 Sun Pose

Sunday:  Full Body

30 reps (each side) of each exercise done in sets of 10, timed in circuits.

  • Bird dogs
  • Mt. Climbers
  • Plank Up Downs + Scissor
  • Star Abs
  • Skater + Reverse Lunge Knee Up
  • Sun Pose
  1. 5:58
  2. 6:07
  3. 6:32

Having those first 4 right in a row was such an ab killer!

Ended with Qigong practice.  Great way to finish out the week.

 

 

 

Office Chair Workouts: Week 16

Monday:  LovingFit Upper Body Workout

All x 10 reps.  This was really hard for me today.  Geez.

  • Slow Pull Down
  • 1/2 Dive Bomber
  • Wall Mt. Climbers
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Circle Shoulder Press
  • Side Tricep Kick
  • Slow Pull Down
  • In & Out Catch
  • Crab Side Plank Lift

Tuesday:  LovingFit Lower Body Workout

  • Stretching Surfer x 20 per side
  • Step Up Kick Up x 25 per side
  • Toe Lifts (10 lb weights) x 25
  • Skater x 25 per side
  • Go-Stop-Go Squats x 25
  • Reverse Lunge Knee-up Hold x 25 per side
  • Cook Lift x 25 per side
  • One Leg Bridges x 25 per side
  • Isometric Squat Side Bends x 25 per side

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  Thanksgiving

Today was busy, but I did do some planks,  played medicine ball catch with Husband, and I ran sprints at the dog park.

Friday:  Rest Day

Saturday:  Minding My Qi

Went to a new qigong class today.   This instructor was actually very… instructive.  It was awesome.

Sunday:  Food Poisoning Sucks

Non-Thanksgiving related.  I think it was a bad batch of almond butter.  Oh, god.  I don’t ever want to look at food again.

Paleo(ish): Month 6

Alright.  Today is the 6 month mark for my Paleo journey thing.  I already wrote a monster post on “why Paleo” and all that, so I’ll keep this one short.  Let’s start with the numbers.  I didn’t go Paleo to lose weight, I did it out of necessity for my health.  But losing weight has been an added perk to eating right and working out.  Let’s see the progress, shall we?

Jan/Feb 2012:

Height:  5’3″     Weight:  165     Shoulders:  45.5″     Chest:  38″     Waist:  33.75″     Hips:  42.75″     Thigh:  20.5″     Arm:  10.5″    BF%:  35.9

June 2012:

Weight:  145 lbs     Shoulders:  41″     Chest:  36″     Waist:  30.5″     Hips:  41″     Arms”  10″     Thigh:  19.5″     BF%:  32

August 2012:

Weight:  138 lbs     Shoulders:  40″     Chest:  36″     Waist:  30″     Hips:  39.5″     Thigh:  19″     Arms:  Hard to measure by yourself  BF%:  couldn’t measure

November 2012:

Weight:  122 lbs    Shoulders:  40″    Chest:  36″    Waist:  28″    Hips:  38″    Thighs: 18″     Arms:  11″     BF%:  No clue, but a lot less
Not bad!

The Paleo has been going pretty well overall.  I’ve only had a few mishaps—namely, french fries.  But that won’t be happening again.  Why?  Turns out that simple little food that you thought was just fried potatoes is no longer just fried potatoes.  Most fries are now coated in combinations of wheat, dextrose, rice flour, and sugar.  For realz.  Which explains all of the headaches I’ve had (4) in the last 3 months.  Boooooo!  You know what I think of companies that fill up what should be a simple food full of crap to make it hyper-tasty and cheap?  I think they’re assholes.  The good news is that those 4 headaches are the ONLY symptoms I’ve had this whole time.  Woot!

Drinking enough water is still a challenge for me, but it becomes clearer every day how many elements of health hinge on proper hydration.  So, I’m working hard on it.  The probiotic foods have totally done the magic, however, so all is good in intestinal land.  I’m finding now as the weather gets colder that I’m craving a lot more fat, carbs, root and cruciferous vegetables.  All your brassicas are belong to me!  I also crave sweet things, by which I mean my almond butter and honey.  I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten my bodyweight in apples this fall, but usually only one or two a day.  With some almond butter and honey or maple syrup.  That’s the only sugar I have.  But I’m starting to wonder if that’s too much… but I’d be really sad to not have that little bit of sweet in my life, and my god,  one has got to draw the line somewhere.  Right?  Maybe not.

So, I’ve been thinking about doing a Whole30.  If I start today, I’ll be done by Elevensies, which would be perfect.  (Elevensies is the winter holiday my family celebrates.  It is the celebration during the generally 11 days between the Winter Solstice and the New Year).  I’m already doing everything else on the Whole30 with the exception of the odd potato, the odd carrageenan additive (hard to get almond milk without it), and honey and occasionally maple syrup.  I’d like to know how I feel completely sugar-free.  I’ve been reading Sarah Wilson’s blog (which I love), and it raves about the results of living sugar-(read fructose)-free.  She’s also got Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis like I do, and much of her information relates to how being sugar-free has helped her symptoms.  Finally, I watched this amazing video by Dr. Lustig called Sugar:  The Bitter Truth.  I highly recommend watching it.  It will rock your world.

The only thing holding me back is that I’ve already cut out so much from my diet.  I’m happy for it.  There are very, very few foods that I miss, and most of those have great Paleo alternatives.  I worry about getting too strict, and then I remember how I felt before I went Paleo.  I will not ever go back to that, so strict is a very good thing.  It’s only for a month, and it would give me some good data.  So, yeah.  I’m going to do it.

As for the rest, I told myself that I’d do a strict 6 month baseline before trying to add anything back in.  I’m feeling really, really good right now.  Energy is good, I’m sleeping great, and my mind is clearer than it’s been in years.  This is the best I’ve felt since before I was diagnosed with Hashi’s 14 years ago.  It’s a really big deal.  Because of that, I don’t want to mess with things too much.  The only food that I will consider trying to add back in right now is butter—specifically grass-fed ghee.  I think that’s important.  I’m not going to add in any grains, as I really don’t think I’ll respond well to them.  I’m surprisingly fine without legumes—the only notable exception being chickpeas for hummus (om nom nom). I think I can let a few chickpeas slide now and then.  But for now, that’s it.

So, the one month plan is to do a Whole30 and test out adding grass-feed ghee into my diet.  We’ll see how it goes!

Office Chair Workouts: Week 15

Monday:  LovingFit Upper Body

I broke down some of last week’s upper body exercises into 3 sets, repeating the Slow Pull Down to get more pulling exercises into the workout to balance all the pushing.  All exercises x 15 reps, except for the Slow Pull Downs which are 10.

  • Slow Pull Down
  • Shuffle + Scissor Plank
  • Double Bicycle
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Mt. Climber Push-off
  • Diagonal Bear Push-ups
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Star Abs
  • Sun Exercise

Tuesday:  LovingFit Lower Body Workout

  • Stretching Surfer x 20 per side
  • Step Up Kick Up x 20 side
  • Toe Lifts x 25
  • Skater x 20 per side
  • Go-Stop-Go Squats x 25
  • Reverse Lunge Knee-up Hold x 20 per side
  • One Leg Jump Up x 10 per side
  • Cook Lift x 20 per side
  • One Leg Bridges x 20 per side
  • Pulsing Low Jacks x 25
  • Isometric Squat Side Bends x 20 per side

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  OCW

Today I did combo sets.

Mt Climbers x 5 (both knees up = 1 rep) immediately into 3  1/2 burpee hold ] x 5 sets
Ugi Jump x 3 (jumping to both sides = 1 rep) immediately into 5  shoulder taps (both shoulders = 1 rep) ] x 5 sets
Leg Circles x 10 each way immediately into 20 OMGLBIFD ] x 3 sets
Gladiators x 5 immediately into 5 sleeper planks ] x 2 sets (one for each side)

Then I did 3 sets of 5 girlie push-ups/ 5 pull-ups using my dining room table, a couple dozen medicine ball tosses, and finished off with 20 situps.

Saturday:  OCW Fortnight

A fortnight is my nickname for workouts where I do 14 reps.  For this workout, I did 14 reps of each exercise and did each circuit 5 times for a total of 70 reps of each exercise.  I did some 6 lb medicine ball tosses and some Slow Down Pull-ups at the end, too.

Sunday:  Minding My Qi

Qigong was one of those things I found through ‘library serendipity’.  About 10 years ago, I was wandering the aisles of one of my favorite St. Louis Public Libraries when suddenly a book on qigong shouted out at me.  It was a book by Jwing-Ming Yang.  I checked it out and ended up checking out a number of his books, although I have to be honest, I wasn’t in any way ready for them.  But they are to be credited with what got me into exploring qigong.  From there I meandered through Ken Cohen’s work to that of a wonderful local teacher named Justin Meehan, who taught me that qigong can be gentle, flowing, and forgiving of mistakes, to the amazing intuitive and spontaneous style of Roger Jahnke, which really connected the whole practice for me.  Finally, I found another somewhat local teacher named Ron Rain, who teaches a system of medical qigong called Zhineng Qigong.  This, together with the style taught by Jahnke, is what I practice today.

This last week I found a group who is practicing the Zhineng Qigong together every Sunday for just the cost of renting the space.  I went to check it out and was really happy with the practice.  It’s a nice space, and the person who led the practice went at the perfect pace.  I’ll be going back.  :D

Office Chair Workouts: Week 14

Monday:  LovingFit Upper Body & Abs

After reading all the upper body workouts on the site, I decided to pull together a combination of exercises from various LovingFit upper body workouts.  The reason for this is that any upper body workout that I choose from LovingFit is going to be push-up heavy and/or use pull-up bars or dip stations that I don’t have.  I know I can modify these exercises, but I really wanted to choose a number of exercises that would challenge me, but that are doable without too many modifications.  I think that ultimately, this is what will help me strengthen my shoulders so that I can eventually do all those push-up heavy exercises.  I tried to pull a variety of exercises that will work pushing and pulling motions as well as abs.  The name of each exercise is linked to the LovingFit video that it came from.  I’ll be doing various combos of these 14 exercises for the next 4 weeks:

Today I did 10 of each (on each side if applicable) just to familiarize myself with the set.  Believe me, for a bunch of these, that was a challenge.  0.O  Next week, I’ll know better how I need to rep this out.

Tuesday:  LovingFit Lower Body Workout

Again, I did 10 reps of each exercise on each side where applicable.

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  OCW

  • 100 Jumping Jacks
  • 25 (per side) Bird Dogs
  • 25 Heismans (each leg = 1 rep)
  • 25 Plank Up Downs
  • 50 High Knees (both knees up = 1 rep)
  • 25 X-pos (to both sides =1 rep)
  • 25 Kick-ups (both sides = 1 rep)
  • 25 Low Sleeper Planks (both sides = 1 rep)
  • 25 UnWDL (per side)

Friday:  Rest Day

Saturday:  Rep Challenge

Was wanting to have a bit of a benchmark, so I decided to do a rep challenge to see how many reps I could do of each exercise before failure.  What do I mean by “failure”?  In this case, I mean the number of reps I can do before having to stop for a break.  Yes, with 5-10 seconds rest, I could definitely keep going, but I want the benchmark to simply be how many I can do “in the first go” so to speak.  I chose 3 OCW exercises and 3 LovingFit exercises for this challenge.

  • Go-Stop-Go Squats (bodyweight):  58
  • Diagonal Bear Push-ups:  12  (i am a sissy)
  • Skater:  Left leg 23  Right leg 34 (i had balance issues on my left leg, so i called it.  i think i could have done more, though)
  • Shoulder Taps:  44 (feet together and tapping both shoulders = 1 rep)
  • X-pos:  22 (raising up to left and right side = 1 rep)
  • Mt. Climbers:  42 (right and left leg = 1 rep)
  • Bonus! 1/2 Burpee Hold:  31  (my legs were still shaky from the go-stop-go’s and the skaters!)

I wasn’t sure how to feel about these numbers until I flipped back and checked the results from the rep challenge I did at Week 4.  Not all the exercises were the same, of course, but of the ones that were, here’s what I scored 10 weeks ago:

  • Regular Squats:  25 (so I more than doubled these in reps and difficulty)
  • X-Pos:  25 total (12 on each side + one to balance it out.  so again, I almost doubled this score since i did 22 on each side this time)
  • Mt. Climbers:  53 total (meaning 26 per leg + 1.  this week, i did 42 per leg which isn’t quite double, but pretty damn good for improvement)
  • 1/2 Burpee Hold:  25  (so I added 6.  will have to work on this one)

It’s nice to see improvement!  :D

Office Chair Workouts: Week 13

Monday:  Sick Day

Dude.  This was the flu from hell.

Tuesday:  Back to the Office

Something a little easy after spending the weekend feeling like I’d been beaten by trolls.

I did one set, 15 reps of every exercise (on each side where applicable).  I tossed in One Leg Bridges (15 on each leg) between each set, and then ended with 50 OMGLBIFD.  It wasn’t a cakewalk, but it was easier on the brain since I know all these moves really well.

Wednesday:  Fifth Element Workout

Ab workout from LovingFit.com called the Fifth Element Abs Workout.

I don’t do well with timed workouts.  I really prefer reps.  I have a hard time maintaining form and a good pace when I’m worried about the stupid timer.  It’s my own hang-up, and I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet, so I’m not doing any of these timed.  Instead, I pick a number of reps that is challenging but reasonable and go from there.  If it seems afterwards that I could do more, I throw in another round.

This workout was hard, and really showed me some areas that I need to focus on—you know, from the neck down mostly.  I was able to do the whole first set of exercises, although they hurt like a mother, but I was only able to do about half of the second set.  Apparently I can’t do crunches when my legs are elevated, so I did some V-ups instead.  Then I did ok until I got to the weighted crunch thingies.  That was a mistake.  I could do Turkish get-ups with a kettlebell, but trying to do this exercise with a dumbbell was a mistake.  Now my shoulder hurts.  And I was hardly using any weight.  So I stopped there and commenced to stretching instead.  I really need to bite the bullet and buy a set of kettlebells and a good sandbag.

Sunday:  New Challenge

Today I did the Bum and Thighs of Steel Challenge at LovingFit, and I took Ronin for a walk. :D

Some thoughts about working out with LovingFit:

I love LovingFit.com, and I think Tatianna is amazing.  She is so engaging and friendly and has taken so much time to make this incredible resource for everyone.   It’s pretty freaking awesome.  The quality of the workouts, the explanations and the videos is excellent.   And yet, I have to admit that over the last couple weeks, I’ve been tempted to stop doing the LovingFit workouts in favor of going back to my regular stuff.   Why?

A) Working out really takes me out of my comfort zone in the first place.  These workouts do so exponentially.

B) The LovingFit workouts are HARD, so it’s easy to make up reasons not to do them.  Which, of course, tells me that I should keep doing them.

The other thing that is difficult is that doing these workouts requires prep.  I absolutely have to watch the whole videos first  because:

A)  So many of the moves are new to me and/or are combo moves and therefore somewhat complicated, and I am ridiculously uncoordinated.

B)  I still have to modify a lot of the upper body moves to accommodate my shoulder, and I have to modify for lack of equipment (not that there is much of that used).

This all takes time, and I have little enough of that to dedicate to working out to begin with.   I’m trying to watch them the night before, but as I work late, that doesn’t always happen.  The videos are great.  Really helpful and full of good advice.  I just need to organize my time better.

I love that Tatianna gives so many great ideas for variations for beginners.   But even with the modifications, her workouts are still really challenging.  Which is a good thing.  Just hard.  Sometimes I think the best thing to do would be to pick a couple new moves from each of her workouts and incorporate them into what I already do.    But I’m having a hard time telling if this would be smart or a cop-out.  Not sure yet.  I think I might ask for her opinion on her blog.  She’s great about responding to her followers.

What I do know is that despite feeling weak, wimpy, awkward, and uncoordinated when I do these workouts, I am seeing RESULTS, like, whoa.  I have to keep reminding myself that I felt the same way with the workouts I was doing before in the beginning, too.  I just have to be kinder to myself and remember that it’s ok to feel like a dork.  I also want to give myself a chance to NOT feel like a dork.  I think it might be a good idea to do some days LovingFit and some days old school OCW.  I also think it would be beneficial to pick only one upper and one lower body workout from LovingFit to do for the month so that I really get the chance to learn the moves and get the full benefit from them.  I need to slow down and see progress with my ability to do individual exercises.   All of this requires a better, more organized plan of action.  So for the next month, I want to implement the following:

Monday:  1 upper body workout (LovingFit)
Tuesday:  1 lower body workout  (LovingFit) + Booty Challenge
Thursday:  1 full body workout  (Office Chair Workouts) + Booty Challenge
Saturday:  1 full body workout  (Office Chair Workouts)

When I get my kettlebells, I’ll add them to the OCW days.  My goals are still the same, I just need to better organize what I’m doing so that I can actually accomplish the workouts each day and see more consistent progress without stressing about scheduling.  For those of you who work out a lot, I’d love your opinion on this.  How do you feel about tweaking your workouts?  How often do you change it up?  Do you see this as being inconsistent or is it necessary?  How do you deal with schedule issues?  How often do you take yourself out of your comfort zone?

Office Chair Workouts: Weeks 11 + 12

It was super important to me to leave the METROYOUTH SHAKESPEARE Kickstarter information up until the fundraiser was over.  I made the decision not to do any new posts until after the 28th.  Thanks to everyone who supported this amazing program by donating—150 kids thank you, too!

Monday:  No Weights, No Problem

Today, I was short on time and did a quick full body workout.   I did the No Weights, No Problem workout at Angry Trainer Fitness—with some modifications, which I listed below.

Circuit #1

1. Air Squats

2. Pushup alternating forward knee pull  Mt. Climbers

3. Plank Triceps Up Downs

4. Tuck Jumps (which just ended up being “jumps” halfway through, lol)

Rest 1 minute and repeat 1 more time

Circuit #2

5. Alternating Reverse Lunges

6. Pushup T–Square Gladiators

7. Burpee Jax (minus the push-up)

8. Crab Grab

Rest 1 minute and repeat 1 more time

Wednesday:  Simple

Birddogs x 15 (per side)

UnWDL x 15 (per side)

Squats x 15

Sleeper Planks x 15 (per side)

Rest of the week:  

I slept funny on my wonky shoulder and had a hard time with it for the rest of the week.  Yes, I could have done only lower body stuff, but I didn’t.

Monday:  Lower Body Workout

Push Through It Workout at LovingFit.com

part 1:  30 reps at 15 lbs.

part 2:  unweighted

part 3:  unweighted

Wednesday:  Full Body Workout

Was unable to do an upper body yesterday, so I chose to do a full body today.  I did the Bodyweight Madness workout at LovingFit.  Some beginner variations (no push-ups) and some overall variations:

  • Surfee & 2 Kick Backs – 30 reps  (I separated this, because getting onto and up from my knees made me lose the momentum of the exercise.  Instead, I did 20 jumping surfers and then 10 girlie push-ups with kick backs)
  • One Leg Squat & Back Lunge Kick Up – 50 30 Reps ( Switch sides every 2 reps ) (I can do the one leg squat on a chair, but not on the ground.  WTH?  So, basically I did a full squat, reverse lunge and then kick.  I alternated the reverse lunge each time.)
  • One Leg Shoulder Press & Bomber Combo20 10 reps ( both count as one rep ) (Totally girlie, on my knees.  I haven’t got the knack of the bombers yet, so I eliminated this…)
  • Side Lunge Kick Up – 25 reps per side
  • Dynamic Twisting Push-ups Planks– 30 reps (15 to each side)
  • Low Side Step & Twist – 60   20 reps (only because it takes me so long to watch the video and then do the workout, I got short on time)
  • Double Bridge – 60 30 reps ( each bridge is 1 rep )
  • Toe Lift & Sun Combo – 50 25 reps

Rest of the weekSick, like, whoa

Whole family came down with a monster cold.  It sucks.

I’ve had a hard time with consistency lately.  Have been putting other things in front of my workouts and that doesn’t feel good.  I need to get better at putting this first and sticking to a routine.  Pretty soon, I don’t think that will be a problem.  Some big changes are coming for me and my family.  Stuff I don’t want to talk about yet, but suffice it to say that I will soon have no choice but to get myself into a stricter routine.  It’s going to be good.

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