April Challenge: Week 1

Last week Andrew and I began a month-long fitness challenge, with the goal of “spring cleaning” our habits and getting into better shape.  Here’s a recap of our goals:

Start getting ready for bed by 10 PM
-Plan lunches and snacks for the week, and make sure we have all necessary ingredients
-After dinner, only snack if actually hungry
-Complete at least 4 cardiovascular workouts each week
-Complete at least 1 yoga + 2 weight-lifting workouts each week

Over all, we did really well!  Here’s what our week looked like in terms of these goals:

-We’ve been getting ready for bed by 10 PM on week nights, and sometimes earlier!  I can feel a noticeable difference in how I feel in the morning.  Check.

-When possible, we’ve planned lunches and snacks.  I was traveling Wednesday-Saturday of last week, which meant eating out a lot or having meals prepared by someone else.  I did the best I could with what was there (also, I may have ordered a slice of cheesecake after dinner on the company tab…).  Thankfully, many restaurants now have a list of healthy options, so it’s easier to make healthy choices! (Normally I don’t necessarily order off the “healthy” menu–I order what I’m in the mood for–but it’s a different story when we’re going out to eat every night, plus lunches while traveling.)  Andrew continues to pack his lunches most days like a champ.

-Andrew is the after dinner snacker, and he has been doing really well this week.  When he is hungry in the evenings, he’s been snacking on raw veggies and hummus.  Go, Andrew!

-Fitness.  Here’s what we did:
*Andrew: run/walk (1), yoga (2), gardening (3 & 4), body sculpt class (5), walk (6), elliptical (7)
*Catherine: walk (1), weight circuits (2), run/walk (3), weight circuit (4), walk (5), run (6), weight circuit (7), walk (8)

Total cardio workouts: 4 (Andrew), 5 (Catherine)
Total weight lifting/yoga workouts: 3 (Andrew), 3 (Catherine)

Fitness goals…Check.

For Andrew, gardening this week counts as cardio and weights, as he was working up a sweat doing some serious digging, tilling, and carrying heavy bags of dirt around.  You know, just another day at Two Storey Farms.

Also, the “run/walk” that’s listed for both us of has kind of a funny story.  On April 1, day one of this challenge, we finished dinner, and Andrew suggested we go for a walk.  While we were getting ready I said, “What if we walk to get ice cream/Italian ice?” So we started the two mile walk to our favorite dessert place.  A minute into the walk Andrew said, “Let’s run so we can get there faster!”  So we ran for ice cream and ate it on the walk home.  Four miles in the bank.  😀

The other funny exercise-related incident this week was related to the body sculpt class Andrew attended.  I was still out of town at that point, and he’d told me the night before that he was going, so I texted him Saturday afternoon to see how the class went.  He said, “It was like, ‘Which one of these things is not like the others?’  All women… mostly moms.” He saw a friend from church in the class who assured him that there’s usually at least one other guy!  I’m still so proud of him for sticking it out. 😀

For anyone who’s interested, this is the weight-lifting/body weight workout I’ve been doing this week:

April Workout

If you move from one exercise to the next with no break, it takes about 10 minutes per series (30 to do it three times), and it’s a pretty good little workout!  You can always adjust the reps or weight you use as needed.  I plan to change it up next week so my muscles don’t get too used to one workout, but it’s been serving me well.

So far I don’t feel super different (except being more well-rested), but I think part of that is having been out of town for four days and getting off track food-wise.  I am confident that we are making healthy choices most of the time, and I am excited to see how the rest of the month goes!

-Have you ever literally run for ice cream or some other type of food?
Have you ever been the only person of your gender in a group exercise class?

Spring Cleaning Our Healthy Habits

This weekend Andrew and I cleaned out the closet in our bedroom.  Our closet is wonderfully huge–it could probably fit two queen-sized beds foot-to-foot with some walking room–which I love, but it also means there’s great potential for huge messes.  Generally speaking, Andrew is a lot neater than I am.  His side of the closet had a few articles of clothing scattered on the floor, some drawers open, and some shoes out of place, but nothing that couldn’t be straightened in 15 or 20 minutes.  My side of the closet looked like a suitcase had thrown up its contents after I’d packed for a month-long trip.  Cleaning it involved multiple hours of sorting, folding, trashing, and Goodwill-ing.

closet
Epic, mostly clean closet.  With my wedding dress hanging on the left. 😀

Also this weekend Andrew and I discussed doing some type of wellness challenge during the month of April to get ourselves in better shape.  As we examined our exercise and eating habits, we realized that our current routine is pretty good…when we actually stick to the routine.  Our lifestyle doesn’t need a complete overhaul, like what I had to do on my side of the closet Sunday, but rather a dusting off of our healthy habits, more akin to straightening Andrew’s side of the closet.  <Phew.>

So how do we stick to the routine?  A crucial part of maintaining healthy habits for me is planning ahead.  I know what I need to do, and I have this great idea in my head that I will get up early each morning to workout, pack a healthy lunch, and go to bed early at night.  If I am not intentional about planning ahead, however, this is what ends up happening:

We stay up late one night watching one more episode of whatever on Netflix.  I wake up too tired to workout in the morning, reset my alarm, and tell myself I’ll go for a run when I get home from work (it will be warmer then, anyway.)  I go to work, but run out of time/forget to pack a lunch–I’ll just grab a big salad around noon.  Noon arrives, and I’m in the middle of something, so I delay going out.  Around 2:00 I finally decide I can’t put off lunch any longer, and by this point I am starving, so I end up buying something greasy/fried/cheesy/etc.  (The later in the day it is, the more unhealthy my lunch will be.)  When I arrive home after work, I’m tired and have a stomach ache because I ate such a crappy lunch, so instead of going for a run I park myself on the couch, telling myself that Andrew and I can go to the gym after dinner.  We don’t, but instead watch a few more episodes of whatever on Netflix, once again staying up too late…

Can anyone relate to that?  I consider myself a fairly healthy person;  I know what good eating and exercise habits look like, and I still fall into that trap if I fail to plan ahead.  In light of that, our “spring cleaning” involves committing to some guidelines that will set us up to make healthier decisions, and recommitting to some fitness goals.  By doing it together, we can hold each other accountable and encourage one another to get our butts of the couch more often. 🙂

shoes

Here are our goals and guidelines for the month of April:

Spring Cleaning Our Healthy Habits

~Start getting ready for bed by 10 PM. 

~Plan lunches and snacks for the week, and make sure we have all necessary ingredients

~After dinner, only snack if actually hungry 

~Complete at least 4 cardiovascular workouts each week

~Complete at least 1 yoga + 2 weight-lifting workouts each week

What are are NOT doing:  counting calories, restricting what we eat in any way, or trying to lose weight.  Again, we both know how to eat well and have a desire to do so; if we are proactive with lunches, they will be healthy, so we don’t feel the need to dictate what exactly we’ll eat.  Plus, we don’t believe in deprivation.  My weight hangs out in the same 5-lb range no matter what I do, and Andrew’s is pretty steady as well.  Body fat, on the other hand, we’d both like to lower a bit.  We did weigh-in this morning, and while we are not super concerned with the actual numbers, I am curious to see if there will be any changes at the end of the month!

Andrew
Starting weight: X
Starting body fat %: Y

Catherine
Starting weight: A
Starting body fat %: B

(Unsatisfying, I know. 😉   All numbers fall in to the “healthy” range.)

I will give progress reports each week on Wednesday or Thursday–and because there are 30 days in April, but only 28 days in 4 weeks, we’ll have two freebie days in there somewhere. 🙂

The first major challenge for me will be this week, as I am traveling for a work conference Wednesday-Saturday!  I won’t have to think about packing lunches, but I will have to find time to workout.  (This will also be a major challenge for Andrew, who won’t have me there to drag him to the gym. :-D)

We are looking forward to embarking on our “spring cleaning” , and even more so looking forward to feeling better, stronger, and healthier by the end of the month!

-What are your wellness goals for the spring?
-How do you set yourself up to make healthier decisions throughout the day?

2014 Goals + New Year’s Day Cuisine

Happy 2014 (a few days late)!

I know some people are vehemently against New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t totally understand that.  The first of January provides a great, if only symbolic chance to start fresh and dream about what life might look like in the coming year.  It’s as good a time as any to make a change, so why not?  Why wait for the sake of rebelling against the tradition?

At the beginning of January I like to set goals rather than make standard resolutions–they might be functionally the same, but goals seem more attainable and specific than resolutions, which I tend to think of as more vague concepts (“Put 20% of my paycheck into savings” rather than, “Save money.”)

Here are some of my goals for 2014:

1. Run 750 miles. I’ve never tallied my mileage over the course of an entire year, but at roughly two miles per day, this seems attainable.

2. Run a marathon.  This was on my list of 2013 goals, and it just didn’t happen (I did, however, run three races last year, which was another goal :)).  If I succeed at this, running 750 miles during the year should be no problem!

3. Perform one random act of kindness every week.  Preferably anonymously.

4. Write three highlights of every day.  I purchased a small planner that has room to write something for each day, and I plan to journal at least three high points daily.  I am already really looking forward to having the completed journal at the end of the year and being able to reflect on all the good times.

5. Cook dinner for other people once a month.  I love cooking.  I love sharing food with others.  Friends–come over for dinner, and let us love you by cooking you (hopefully) delicious food.  😀

So far I am off to a good start:  On New Year’s Day Andrew and I ran 3.5 miles (this was a big deal as Andrew does not enjoy running; half a mile in he said, “Are you ready for me to start complaining yet?” ;-)), I’ve written in my journal/planner each day, and Wednesday night our friends Amanda and Diron came over for a New Year’s Day dinner!  We made a rosemary-garlic pork tenderloin, baked apples, black-eyed peas, and collard greens & kale.  (I don’t think of myself as a typical Southern girl, but my family definitely has some Southern traditions when it comes to food.  We also eat oyster stew on Christmas morning.  Anyone else? :))  I forgot to take any pictures on NYD, but thankfully we had most of the leftovers for dinner last night, minus the pork which Andrew finished for lunch.  Here’s the modified leftovers meal:

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Collard greens & kale, baked apples with butter and brown sugar, black-eyed peas with tomatoes, and lemon-thyme chicken

Not a bad start to the year. 🙂

-What are your goals or resolutions for 2014?
-Does your family have any interesting food traditions around the holidays?

Workout Motivation: Strong Over Skinny

If I learned one thing from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in The Silver Linings Playbook, it’s, well, to look for the silver lining in any situation.  (Andrew just read that over my shoulder and said, “No, it’s that if you are doing a lift while dancing, make sure you don’t get caught in the crotch.”  I’m sticking with the silver lining thing.)  One upside to my scary experience Friday is that it has provided excellent workout motivation.

While running on Monday I thought, What would I do if the guy drove up beside me in his car right now?  As I pondered the question, playing the scenario out in my head, I noticed I was running faster.  I felt the desire to push myself to be in the best shape possible–to be strong and able–so that if I ever end up in a similar or more dangerous situation, I have a fighting chance at defending myself.  I don’t want to run simply to burn calories, but rather to be fit and prepared for whatever challenges come my way.

Then I started thinking about workout motivation in general, separate from this specific experience.  I think what motivates us to exercise can change from month to month, even day to day.  Maybe we do it to lower our risk of a disease that runs in the family, or because we like how it makes us feel (go, endorphins!)  Maybe we want to be able to defend ourselves or run a marathon.  Maybe we just want to look good in a bikini.  There was a time in my life that I valued being skinny over a lot of other things.  But what’s the point of that?  What good is “skinny,” if you still can’t do the things you want to do?  We cannot reduce the value of our bodies to their size.

In recent years, I’ve learned to value strong over skinny.

Why I Workout:
To be healthy–There are many diseases and conditions that regular exercise can prevent (or at least greatly lower your risk of.)  If I can avoid certain heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, and other issues just by going for a walk each day, you better believe I’m going to do that.
To do what I loveI like to hike; I like to kayak.  I don’t ever want to miss out on an activity because I am not physically able to participate (for reasons that are my own fault.)  I don’t ever want to be nervous about having to park far away from where I’m going or not be able to explore a new city by foot.
To be strong–I want to be able to run (more) marathons.  I don’t want to say, “That’s too heavy;  I’ll wait until Andrew gets home.”  If the need ever arises, I want to be able to not just defend myself, but kick someone’s tail.

If I also end up thin while aiming to be strong, it’s no more than a happy byproduct.  Thin, in and of itself, holds very little value.

This was actually not the direction I intended to go on the blog when I started writing today, but I’m okay with that. 🙂

What is your non-skinny motivation for working out?

Weekly Workouts and Colorful Veggies

Happy Friday, everyone!

Last Thursday I wrote about creating a workout schedule;  having a plan helps me, well, stick to the plan rather than delay (or skip) workouts.  I’ve done my best to follow the schedule this week, and as a result I have had some excellent workouts!  Here’s what my week looked like in terms of fitness:

Saturday: Yard work (with the world’s worst lawn mower)

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Run-30 minutes, chased by a dog

Tuesday: Weights- 30 minutes (This workout from one of my favorite blogs!) + Walk (20 minutes)

Wednesday:  Run- Intervals (Warm-up + 1 minute easy-30 seconds hard-30 seconds sprint + cool down)  Wednesday PM: Yoga

Thursday: Weights- 30 minutes

Friday: Long Run- 60 minutes*

(*About to happen)

So far, so good!  I am feeling well worked-out.  Also, this week I started reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek.  Scott is a phenomenal ultramarathoner and a vegan, and now I am feeling some serious motivation to a. run longer distances and b. eat lots of veggies (not run an ultramarathon and become a vegan…don’t worry, Andrew. 😉 )  It’s an awesome book for anyone seeking inspiration!  In fact, it inspired last night’s side salad at the Storey home:

DSCN8156Lots of colorful veggies 😀

Have a great weekend!

What was your best/favorite workout this week?  What was the most colorful thing you ate?

 

Workout Schedule + Laughing During Yoga

Today I feel much, much better than I did yesterday and exponentially better than the day before!  I think a night of Benadryl-induced sleep was just what I needed.

After a full, long day at work yesterday (I arrived home at 6:00;  don’t feel too bad for me ;-)) Andrew and I made a curry dish using a bottle of Thai Kitchen’s Green Curry 10-Minute Simmer Sauce.  It is not an especially pretty dish, but it was quick, easy, and very tasty:

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First we browned some ground chicken in coconut oil, then added the simmer sauce, sliced green peppers, baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts.   After it simmered for the full ten minutes, we tasted it and decided it needed ginger and some chili garlic sauce to give it more heat.  We then served it over our leftover brown rice.  Delicious, and easy (Are you noticing a trend?  “Easy” has been our meal theme lately;  I’m hoping to break out of that soon. :))

After dinner we made our way to yoga at our gym.  Oh man, I had a bad case of the giggles throughout the whole class!  “Bring your right foot beside your left hip, cross your left leg over your right leg, make sure your sitting bones are completely on the floor, and lean forward and touch your forehead to your thigh.”  Whaat?? “Now take your toes in your hands, and straighten your legs.”  Yeah… that’s not happening.  But I will definitely laugh at Andrew (and myself) as we try. 😉

Now that I am feeling better, I am itching to do some more intense workouts–they have been missing from my routine the last few weeks.  First, I was taking it easy in the week leading up to the 10k, then I was recovering from the 10k, then I had a busy week and minimized my workouts, and then I had another busy week…  Four weeks later, I’ve stayed fit with a lot of walking and yoga, but haven’t had a really good, sweaty workout and am feeling a bit “bleh” physically.

So, I am setting a new workout plan for the coming weeks (well, I’m really just rewriting what has worked for me in the past as a means of recommitting to it.  :))  As always, it will allow plenty of flexibility:

Monday: Running- 30-45 minutes

Tuesday: Weight Circuits- 30 minutes (Jillian Michaels DVD), Walking/Elliptical

Wednesday:  AM–Running-speed work (intervals, tempo, etc.)  PM–Yoga

Thursday:  Weights- 30 minutes

Friday: Long Run- 60+ minutes

Saturday: Rest

Sunday:  Anything/Just Move- 30 minutes

It definitely helps me to have a plan in place.  I am looking forward to sweating again 🙂

I apologize for the very scattered post;  it’s just that kind of week!

What does your weekly exercise routine look like?  Do you ever get the giggles during yoga?

Monument Avenue 10k 2013

On Saturday I went head-to -head with the Monument Avenue 10k, and… here’s how it went down:

Friday afternoon Gabe and I went to the race expo to pick up our numbers, t-shirts, and lots of free samples.  (Gabe is a girl, by the way, in case I don’t know you in real life :))  That evening I laid out my race outfit, just to make sure I had everything together.

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We had Gabe and her boyfriend Jeff over for a pre-race, pasta dinner (brown rice pasta for Andrew and me, whole wheat for Gabe and Jeff.)  Using a basic canned tomato sauce as the base, we sauteed in olive oil some mushrooms, garlic, onion (saving some without onion for me,) and ground beef, then added bay leaves, basil, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme and let simmer for a while.

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The pasta + salads + garlic sourdough toast made an excellent meal!  We ended up eating on the back deck because it was such a beautiful night.  It might be time to purchase some deck furniture…

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Yep, we set up four TV trays and took our kitchen chairs outside.  Hah!  A little ghetto, but it worked 😀

After loading up on carbs and getting a good night of sleep, it was race time.  The weather was absolutely perfect: mid 50’s and sunny.  To avoid traffic and parking issues with local races, my preferred method of arriving at the starting line is to drive close, and then bike a mile or two to the start.  It’s a good warm up, and it reduces the risk of arriving late due to traffic and/or parking (which I did once, and ended up running a mile to the start of a half marathon, which started while I was running there.  Stressful to the max.)  Anyway, we parked about two miles away, where Andrew was planning to spectate.  The course is more or less an out-and-back on Monument Avenue, and there’s a large, grassy median where Andrew stood so he could catch us around mile 2 and then again at mile 4.

Gabe and I met up, made our way to our corral, and before long we were running!  Our plan was to start slower than goal pace (which, to run under 50 minutes was about 8:03 min/mile,) then make up the time in the second half.  There’s a strong tendency on race day to get caught in all the excitement and start running too fast, so we had to make a conscious effort to hold back a little.  (Andrew’s thoughts on this plan?  “You should start running fast, run fast in the middle, and run fast at the end!” ;-))

We ran the first mile at an 8:08 min/mile pace.  Mile two was 7:59 min/mile.  When we passed Andrew we were going strong!

IMG_4312 (2)

Why are so many other people in the photo looking at the camera?  Because Andrew was yelling, “Goooo!  You’re running so fast!!!  Run faster!!!”  😀  My mom and Walter came to cheer us on too, and we saw them at the halfway point!  It’s always so great to have people rooting for you!

We ran mile 3 at an 8:04 pace.  Somewhere in the next mile, Gabe told me to run ahead.  I yelled at her to stay with me, but at some point I looked back and couldn’t find her, so I kept going (we talked about this scenario before the race… it’s what she wanted. :))  Soon after that I passed Andrew again and gave him my best, “I lost Gabe!” face:

IMG_4314Some people look really attractive when they run.  I’m not one of those people.

Mile 4– 7:57 pace.  Mile 5– 7:47.  At this point I had made up the lost time from the start and felt confident that, unless something crazy happened, I’d break 50 minutes!  My legs and lungs still felt strong.

Mile 6 I ran in 7:31, and the .2 home stretch took about 1:37, which means…

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I BROKE 50 MINUTES!!

Kind of crushed it, in fact 🙂  My official time was 49:00.  My average pace was 7:52 min/mile.  I was ecstatic (still am, really.)  Gabe finished in 50:41, which was a PR for her, so we were both very pleased.

It was a fantastic day, and I am so relieved to finally break that darn 50 minute mark.  Time to set some new goals and keep running!