Going Big with Endurance

Go big or go home.

 

That’s my life’s mantra.

Why stop at 10 when you can do 11?  Or 30 when you can be 31.  If I can better myself without damaging myself, I’m going to go for it.  Today I’m bring back Work It Out to focus on endurance.

sprint2table-workitout… 

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Work It Out In Style

Black is my color.

 

It’s how I like my coffee and my clothing.

I tend to think no one notices what I wear at the gym… and it’s reflected in my attire.  I rotate between the same 3-4 black and/or grey shorts and tank top combos.

Then I wear color one time and get 4 comments.  Apparently they do notice.  Oops.

How cool is this mesh back?!

… 

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Work It Out: Counting Is Hard

I have popcorn stuck in my teeth.

 

I need to work that out with some floss.

Popcorn.  Good carbs when you pop it fresh at home.  Why do I need carbs?  Because I’ve been working hard!  And I just like popcorn.  

It’s been a while since I posted a Work It Out, but I’m sharing an especially good one today to make up for it.

sprint2table-workitout… 

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Top 13 in 2013

You guys like dessert.

 

I guess that’s why we get along?

Happy New Year!!!

As I looked back at the top posts of 2013, I knew there would be a lot of sweeter dishes.  But whoa.  Of the top 13 2013 posts, 6 were sweet recipes.  What I didn’t realize was that the Work It Out posts are popular too!  I’ll do a better job to writing more of those in 2014 – I’ve been pushing it at the gym, but slacking on the writing.

Thank you to everyone for all of the visits, comments, and many, many laughs in 2013.  I’ve loved getting to know so many awesome people this year, and look forward to continuing these relationships for years to come.

Enough much!  Here’s the lucky (top) 13 to start out ’14…

Top 13 in 2013… 

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Accidental Long Runs + Mizuno Wave Rider 17 Review

Cardio hasn’t been fun recently.

 

The following post is sponsored by Fitfluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. All opinions are my own.

I like cardio when it’s MY idea.  Having it as a mandatory daily activity during competition prep makes it a chore.  That’s a thing of the past (for now), and I have gotten the itch to run more.  The added motivation of new shoes doesn’t hurt.  Does anyone else get oddly motivated by new workout gear?!

I’ve never had the chance to try out a Mizuno running shoe.  When I got the opportunity to try the new Wave Rider 17, I jumped at it!  It’s a neutral running shoe with a good amount of support.

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

 

After all of the Thanksgiving festivities and football disappointments, I was itching for a run.  Sunday I headed out to tackle Atlanta’s hilly streets in my new Wave Riders…. 

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Competition Blues

When a big event ends it’s a little sad.

 

What do I DO if I’m not planning and prepping?!

Rest is a good thing, but it can be a hard thing to swallow.  I’ve heard people talk about feeling down after races, weddings, babies… and competitions.  This time around I’m feeling it more than I did before.  I think it’s because I know it’s going to be a long time before I compete again (more on that below).

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Today’s Work It Out is my attempt to get over it by focusing on lessons learned at Kentucky Muscle and The Rocky, and getting excited to make improvements.

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Season 2 Lessons Learned

1.  Support is Invaluable

Having my trainer and 2 very good friends around throughout the process made it 100x easier.  Surround yourself with positive people, even better if they can empathize.  Heather and Lisa are versatile friends – they were the perfect partners-in-crime in Napa for my 30th and for competing!

Check out the transformation from July to November (photo-editing courtesy Heather):

From Napa to the stage

From Napa to the stage

 

2. Big Shows are Tough

I’m not talking just the level of competition (though it is harder).  I’m talking mentally.  They are long, long days.  The Rocky show was the most disorganized situation I’ve ever seen.  They let too many people enter, causing the show to run so far behind that my group was just getting on stage for pre-judging when the evening show was supposed to begin.  That show began 2 hours late… by the time we went to stage again I no longer cared even a little bit.

Rock out

It was an exercise in patience, rolling with the punches.  Thank you for the lesson… but never will I ever do a Colorado show again.  In near-ish the future I plan to stick to smaller shows.  If you chose them right, they are still competitive but you don’t end up wasting so much time.  I get that they want to make money, but there needs to be a cut off for entries.  It’s not fair to the athletes or the people who buy tickets.

 

3. Celebrate Small Victories

Not placing Top 5 doesn’t mean you can celebrate the small victories.  It’s no secret that I hate posing.  It’s as far out of my comfort zone as you can get.  Lisa, who has seen me almost since day 1, watched me in Colorado and said it’s the best I’ve never done.

Now I need to work on GROWING… Open comparisons side

 

4. Growth Takes Time 

I’ve gained a lot over the past 2 years, but I’m still too small.  I feel like I look big in the gym lifting, but then you put me next to the other women and I look tiny.  My trainer, Steve, has been telling me I need to take a year off to really grow.  Competing every 6 months or so means I cut too often and lose some of the gains I make.

Steve and me

So I’ve decided to listen to Steve’s advice.  I’m taking a year off to grow.  This is contributing to the “blues” because I love having a goal line.

(I’m not always the best listener ← understatement of the year.)

 

5. Food is Good

My nutrition plan leading up to competition wasn’t so restrictive that I was miserable.  You CAN compete in a healthy way.  It doesn’t have to be tilapia and asparagus (click here for the “why” on asparagus) for months.  You never need to be hungry (I stayed full!).

Towards the end you do need to keep with super clean and avoid anything that could bloat.  For me, that meant a couple of weeks that were heavy on the white fish and asparagus.  I cooked 2 pans of it for Heather and me the day before our competition!

Photo courtesy of Heather

Photo courtesy of Heather, whose spice drawer I could move into.

 

The happy part about a bulk year is that I get to have alllll the foods!

Heather’s husband, Kirk, help me kick it off right when he made smoked salmon and eggs benedict for us the morning after the competition.  I am still dreaming of this:

#yolkporn

“I can’t wait to find out what happens on page number two.” ~Jennifer Nettles, Page #2

***

Check out Heather’s Rocky recap here.   I’m excited she’s already planning her return to the stage!

Have you ever experience the post-event blues?  What do you do to cheer up?

Who is on your support team?  Tell them how thankful you are this week!

 

Work It Out: 15 Minutes Is All It Takes

Who doesn’t love a quickie?

 

Cardio!  What are you thinking?!

In my last couple of weeks of competition prep I’ve added cardio.  15 minutes per day, high intensity.  Normally I run sprints but – of course – I pulled my hamstring.  No more sprints.

In effort to get my cardio in, I’ve had to adjust.  This week’s Work It Out is dedicated to my back up plan.

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I dislike forced cardio.  Some days when I’m antsy or when the weather is nice I love a good run, but when it’s prescribed I’m less enthusiastic.

Mindset is important.  I get up in the morning and get it done.  15 minutes of fasted cardio.  15 minutes is all it takes is my mantra.  

You can do anything for 15 minutes!

15 Minutes Is All It Takes

 

You are probably familiar with most of these moves.  When you do the jumping jack and running portions, do them quickly to ensure you keep the intensity up.

Wacky Jacks may be the one you haven’t tried.  I “borrowed” it from my P90X days.  What I like about them is that they work your core too.  You start like a regular jumping jack with your hands behind head.  Then drive your elbow to the hip or knee, jumping to alternating sides.  Click here for a quick video demo.

Pop Squats I’ve talked about before here in the Save Your Knees Work It Out.  I love these for the burst of energy.  They are great for the buns!

Note: You can modify these movement to accommodate your specific needs or limitations.  For instance, do the push ups from your knees, or replace pop squats with regular squats.  Listen to your body.  If it hurts, stop.  NO need to be a super hero and risk injury!

***

With a few days left till my competition, I’m doing these or getting on the elliptical doing intervals, forward and backward, every day!

What is your favorite “quickie” exercise?

Do you prefer cardio or lifting?  Neither?  Both?

 

Work it Out: My Fitness Journey

Life is a jungle gym.

 

And I like monkeying around.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned lately is life isn’t linear.  This sounds obvious even as I write it, but over and over I’ve been surprised when my carefully laid plains deviate from the path I’ve plotted.  Things change – you grow up.  You learn new skills.  You have setbacks.  Life happens.

Plan changes have happened in all aspects of my life – career, relationships, fitness, etc. – and I’m sure you’ve experienced the same.  I gt a lot of questions about how I began competing, so today’s Work It Out is my fitness journey.  My jungle gym.

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Before I get into it, I want to be very clear that this is my path.  I’ve done things that were right and that were wrong.  Some are tender subjects; they were part of my journey.  I know you all have your own stories.  I simply submit that I hope no matter where you are in your journey, that you stay true to yourself and have FUN.  No regrets. 

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I love a competition.  Sports, spelling bees,  pie eating… you name it, I’m up for the challenge.  It’s how I’m wired.  This has taken me on many a fun ride in my life.

Related to fitness, I have tried just about any sport you can think of.  I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to sign up for all sorts of things – from ice skating to horseback riding to softball.  Softball stuck – I still play every season!

softball

Years later I still morn the day that bat broke.

 

In my college years, I wasn’t very active unless you count partying and working.  I was a bartender.  I smoked, drank too much, and ate crap.  Not surprisingly, I gained the “freshman 15″ (and the sophomore 15) and was always tired.  When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer something clicked in my head.  His disease wasn’t related to unhealthy living; he had actually lost a ton of weight through diet and exercise a few years prior and never smoked a day in his life.

The message that life is short came loud and clear to me.  While my dad was getting treatments he continued light exercise to keep strength that allowed him to turn 6 months into 4.5 years with the disease.  Through his example, I was inspired to clean up my act a bit and started workout out casually.  It wasn’t a total turnaround… but it was a start.

no one wins

Which beer shall I drink first…

 

Fast forward a few years and I discovered a new passion – roller derby.  I only wish my dad had been around to see that!  I had a blast, met some really cool people, and skated about 12 hours a week.  It was thrilling.  I’d found a sport I loved again!

It also proved to myself that it is impossible to out exercise a bad diet.  I was doing intense workouts nearly daily but gaining weight.  I am not saying I was “fat,” but I wasn’t healthy and, more importantly, I didn’t feel good.

derby

 

Looking at my unhealthy habits, I decided it was time for a cleanse.  It was the derby off-season and I took the opportunity to give my body a break from getting beat up (literally and figuratively).  21 days of clean eating was amazing for me.  I reset some habits, had boundless energy again, and I learned to love running.

That Thanksgiving I ran a 10K with my baby sister and my mom!

Gobble Jog

 

Then came a new season of derby.  I was still doing really well with healthy living and had come back for the next season with more energy and passion and ever.  Whatever was in stow, I was ready to jump on it.  Life had other plans.  

I broke my jaw during an expo bout (bout = a roller derby game).  It was miserable.  I looked like Jay Leno and it cost me a pretty important trip in my new job.

 

6 weeks later my jaw was as good as new but I decided it was time to find something a little safer.  Plus, I’d lost a TON of weight from not being able to eat solids, which was not good for playing a contact sport.  I looked unhealthy, and I’d basically forgotten how to eat.  All I’d been able to have was soup, pureed oatmeal, and smoothies!

I struggled with the aftermath of that injury for a while.  Rather than derby, I ran all the time.  I was faster and going longer than ever, but – even though I was eating – my new teeny body couldn’t keep up.  When you are at a deficit and continue to workout at the level you were before… well, you are just going to get skinnier (read: my mom was worried sick).

I almost didn’t post this pic. It pains me to look at it… but it’s what happened.

 

Unrelated to that, my knee decided to give out.  I got half a mile into a run and was in so much pain I had to stop.  The doctor told me my ACL was hanging on by a thread and if I wanted to run distance again I’d need to have surgery.  That may have been the best thing that could have happened to me.

 

Time for a new hobby!  Instead of going under the knife, I decided to go the route of building.  Body building.  If I could build up my quads, my knee wouldn’t bother me in daily activity and running short distances.  I’d always loved lifting weights and had done a round or two of P90X, so it seemed to be the perfect next bar to grab.

Two and a half years ago I met with my trainer the first time and started down the path of something that would forever change my life.  Lifting feels like it did when I fell in love with softball – I look forward to going to the gym, I want to talk strategy with anyone who will listen… it’s my passion!

Lisa and me at Palmetto – both Top 5!

Since then, I’ve gained 10 solid pounds of muscle, 2 pounds of  boob, and competed in 2 figure competitions.  Much to my surprise I placed in both!  Rounds 3 and 4 are in 3 and 4 weeks… they are on very competitive stages, but I’m excited just to have the experience.  I’ve been watching the success of others around me and am stoked (do people still say that?) for the off season and a sold year of building.

I feel great: inspired, focused, and having fun.

 

Fitness looks like a million different things.  What you do isn’t important, as long as it’s something you love and something that contributes to your health.  Don’t be afraid to change your course as you evolve.  Yoga, walking, lifting, cross-fitting… whatever.  Find something you are passionate about and embrace it.

Having been both active and inactive to my detriment, I can promise you that finding balance and the thing that turns you on will make all the difference.  That high, that endorphin rush, is sheer joy.  It’s worth it to make time for it.

YOU are worth it.

***

Need some inspiration?  Check out this post full of inspiring athletes from all walks of life.

Have you always been “healthy,” or was there a turning point for you?

What brings you joy?

 

Hard Core + Muesli Fusion Giveaway

I’m sure my washboard abs are in there somewhere.

 

Too bad I can’t just go to the fridge for that 6-pack…

I’m in the homestretch for my next figure competition.  My abs have 5 weeks to make their appearance.  They are always, always fashionably late.  Today’s Work It Out is a quick overview of my new ab strategy (it’s working!!!).

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Let me bring by giving you my top ab secret: abs are made in the kitchen.  There is no way around this.  You’re diet must be on point unless you are one of those naturally blessed people who I want to kill.  I was not blessed.  I have a short torso.  When I gain, it’s always in my stomach first.  Why can’t it go to my boobs quads?!

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We’ll come back to the kitchen in a bit.  First, let’s talk exercise.

I lack the patience to do a ton of dedicated core work back-to-back.  I also lack the patience to rest between sets (except on leg day when I’m begging to rest).  My solution is to combine them!

Every other day I work core moves into my upper body workouts.  Rather than stand around between each set, I drop to the ground and do 25 ab reps.  My arms rest while I do core, and my core rests while I do arms!  Yes, you do use each as a secondary muscle, but it’s not so much that you’re sacrificing quality.

Hard Core Workout

 

If I do 6 exercises, 4 sets each, I’ve done 600 core exercises by the end!

While I plan you workout, I select 4 core moves to perform.  After weight set 1, I do core exercise 1.  After weight set 2, I do core exercise 2, and so on.  Here’s a “how to” for the group of 4 that I’ve been loving lately:

Hard Core

Body Rocks (thanks to Heather for this idea)

In and Outs

Stability Ball Sit-Ups

Figure Eights

Note: Don’t do this every day.  Your abs need time to rest and recover just like any other body part!

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Back to the kitchen.  There are several foods that are particularly guilty of being junk food in healthy clothing.  Flavored yogurts (sugar bombs), deli meat (infested with preservatives and sodium), and granola (again with the sugar) are big ones.

For today’s “Favorite Things Anniversary Week Giveaway,” I want to share my favorite granola with you.  I was first introduced to Muesli Fusion at Blend last spring.  Always the skeptic, the first thing I did was read the label.  Lo and behold, it’s not a junk food in disguise!  Bonus: they have gluten-fee option!

muesli fusion

 

I love using it to top my post-workout protein smoothie bowls.  It gives my the carbs I need to refuel and adds some texture to my smoothie.

Athlete’s Fuel is my favorite – it has 7 grams of protein and only 3 grams of sugar per serving!

growing naturals green smoothie

 

Want to try it for yourself?  Muesli Fusion is offering a $50 gift code to one of you.*  With that much money, you can try a few flavors!

*Again, this is not a sponsored giveaway. I reached out to my favorite brands and begged asked nicely for a giveaway opportunity so you can try them out too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***

Don’t forget – there’s still time to enter the NuNaturals giveaway!  And, speaking of birthdays, happy birthday to Lisa!!!

What is your favorite granola flavor?

Do you have the patience to do dedicated core work?  Which moves are your favorite?

 

Fun with Supplements: SD Pharmaceuticals

Supplements are a “mystery” to a lot of people.

 

Supplements are NOT steroids.

I’ve dedicated a post to the supplements I take in the past, but wanted to do a quick update today.  Warning: this Work It Out is largely educational/exploration.  If that bores you, check out this past post on The Gun Show.  Biceps are my favorite thing to work out. :)

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The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of SD Pharmaceuticals.

In my previous supplements post I shared my reasons for taking the following.  I still take each of these daily* (though I took a break while I was recovering from surgery since I wasn’t using my body in a way that needed them).

supplements

*Note: I’ve since switched Aminos brands.

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You guys know by know that I don’t shy away from experimenting with my diet and routines.  When I was given the opportunity to try out some supplements from SD Pharmaceuticals, I was intrigued.

Some of the language used to describe the benefits gave me pause because I’m not on a weight loss mission.  However, they have done some fantastic in-depth research and use the highest quality plant-based ingredients.  The research on added benefits of these supplements to bodybuilders made me decide to give it a go.

Here’s what I was sent:

  • Dendrobium 600 – Derived from orchids; used in Chinese medicine as a tonic and strengthener; may increase congition, and promotes the health of the stomach, kidney, and lungs
  • Diindolylmethane – In the genus of plants that includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale; supports healthy estrogen metabolism and hormonal balance
  • Garcinia Cambogia – Comes from a pumpkin-shaped fruit (yay pumpkin!); supports healthy serotonin levels and help reduce appetite; may impact enzymes related to fat metabolism
  • Green Coffee Bean – Green coffee beans (recently made famous by Dr. Oz) are coffee beans that have not yet been roasted, thus having higher chlorogenic acid levels; that component is thought to be responsible for inhibiting fat accumulation and assisting weight loss, as well as providing healthy antioxidants
  • Raspberry Ketone – From red raspberries (obv); antioxidant, may reduce fat absorption, increase calorie expenditure, and enhance fat breakdown

 

Supplements CAN be confusing.  What to take, when to take it, how to combined it… that’s why I love that the company provides a downloadable stacking guide.  I need to be hand-held sometimes.

SD Pharma Stack

 

So does it work?

I don’t think I’ve been on them long enough to have major strength gains.  I haven’t noticed a weight loss or a reduction in appetite.  Again, that’s not my goal.  I am extremely active and don’t have weight to lose, so I think my body overrides that effect.  (Others have noticed bigger changes in terms of weight loss; check out this review.)

I HAVE noticed a general mood lift, which I attribute to the Dendrobium and Garcinia.  I have more energy, but not in a caffeinated-I have-the-shakes-and-need-to-do-all-the-things way.  I also didn’t have any trouble falling asleep after beginning these.  Energy + sleep = awesome.

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There is NO magic pill.  These things may assist you in reaching goals, but the only sure-fire way to get/stay fit is to eat right and exercise.

Do you take vitamins/supplements?

Would you be curious to try any of these?