Stay Inspired, 2/3/16

As I discussed in this post, I believe in the power of staying inspired. In fact, I believe in it so much that I’ve started a “Stay Inspired” series as a regular part of this blog.

Today’s dose of inspiration is brought to you by Pinterest. What can I say? I love it! Sure, if I’m not careful, I can easily be sucked into it for 2-3 hours at a time. But in my my experience – unlike other social media sites (ahem, Facebook) – this time is not usually wasted. Pinterest adds real value to my life, and I visit my pages there over and over again. Whether I need a new recipe, I’m planning my family’s next vacation, or I just need a good laugh, it never disappoints.

I often find myself visiting Pinterest when I need the motivation to get off my butt and accomplish something. Here are a few of my favorite inspirational pins (I hope one of them resonates with you!):

 

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Do you find Pinterest to be more useful than other social media sites?

What has inspired you lately?

What small step have you taken today to reach one of your goals?

I ran 4 easy miles as part of my marathon training plan!

(I also set up a Twitter account for this site! But I have no idea how to use it yet, so please stay tuned. 😀 )

 

P90X Update – Week 11

Week 11 of P90X is complete! 11 down, 2 more to go. Here is the recap:

Day 1 – First half of Yoga

Day 2 – Rest

Day 3 – Kenpo + Ab Ripper

Day 4 – Rest (for absolutely no good reason)

Day 5 – Second half of Yoga

Day 6 – Legs & Back + Shoulders & Arms

Day 7 – Chest & Back + Ab Ripper

Bad week. Awful week. Let’s pretend it never happened.

*****

Okay, tantrum over. I have no good reason for taking rest days on Tuesday and Thursday. I was exhausted in the moment, and allowed myself to use that as an excuse. By Saturday I was two workouts behind for the week and ready to throw in the towel yet again on P90X.

Luckily on Saturday afternoon I got my act together and started to fight back. I was busy in the morning and evening with commitments, so I knew I needed to knock out a couple good workouts back to back that afternoon. Note: I do not recommend this. It’s hard physically and mentally knowing you have two hours of intense strength training in front of you. When I started the second workout, I was tired…by the end of it, I was worthless.

[Side note: I’m a runner at heart. Two hours of running is so much easier than two hours of strength training.]

For anyone keeping track (just me, I know), I am going into week 12 three workouts behind: one Plyometrics, one Ab Ripper, and one Yoga. This is very bad.

Why? Because the final two weeks of P90X happen to coincide with 65+ hour work weeks. These are some of the busiest and most stressful work days of the year for me, and I was really hoping to have a leg up on some of my workouts. Instead, I am starting the “home stretch” off at a deficit.

Okay, that’s enough whining for one post. I’m over it. Here’s to staying on track during the final two weeks of P90X!

What small step have you taken today to reach one of your goals?

P90X – Chest & Back + Ab Ripper

P90X Update – Week 10

Week 10 of P90X is complete! 10 down, 3 more to go. Here is the recap:

Day 1 – Shoulder & Arms + Ab Ripper

Day 2 – Kenpo

Day 3 – Plyometrics

Day 4 – First half of Yoga

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Legs & Back + Ab Ripper

Day 7 – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps + Ab Ripper + 2nd half of Yoga

Only three weeks left! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

On one hand, I can’t wait for this thing to be over. I’m ready to get back into a more moderate exercise routine and not be tied to Tony Horton six days per week. I’m excited to go on leisurely 30-minute jogs instead of facing 92 minutes of hell Yoga.

On the other hand, I’m concerned about not having a structured program to adhere to. What if I become lazy and undisciplined in my workouts? What if the muscles I’ve worked so hard to develop start to atrophy? That would really suck.

I suppose I should actually get to the end of this process before I start worrying about what’s next. After all, P90X has done nothing for me if not reinforced the importance of taking things one day at a time. It’s probably wiser to focus my energy on the task at hand rather than waste it on what might or might not happen.

My workouts were pretty unremarkable this week. I’m still in love with Kenpo because it’s shiny and new to me, so that’s the one I look forward to the most. I officially hate the Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps workout – it makes me scream out in pain more than any other. Parts of it feel so unattainable to me, even at this late stage in the game. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how to do a one-armed push-up correctly – I always just end up using my other arm for support, which clearly defeats the purpose.

While I’ve come a long way in terms of building strength, there is still plenty of room for improvement. I am not even close to being able to do “real” corn cob pull-ups, or plyometric push-ups, or crane pose. I am seriously considering a second stint with P90X, although probably not right away. (Ab Ripper and I need to take a break from each other for a while.)

Good news! I reigned in my ice cream and sugar consumption this week. I can’t say I was perfect (if we have chocolate laying around, I’m going to eat it), but there was definite improvement. I really hope to prioritize good nutrition for the next three weeks.

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On to week 11! I’ve got a crazy work week ahead of me, but I can’t let that get in my way. I’m at the point of no return!

What do you do after completing a fitness goal? Take a break, or jump right into something new?

What small step have you taken today to reach one of your goals?

I started promoting my blog!

(Okay, I told a few family members. Every little bit helps, right?)

P90X Update – Week 9

Week 9 of P90X is complete! 9 down, 4 more to go. Here is the recap:

Day 1 – Second half of Yoga (make up from week 8) + Kenpo

Day 2 – Legs & Back + Ab Ripper

Day 3 – Shoulders & Arms + Ab Ripper

Day 4 – First half of Yoga

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Second half of Yoga + Plyometrics

Day 7 – Chest & Back + Ab Ripper

Well, it finally happened – I did Kenpo for the first time since starting P90X…

Where the heck has this been all my life?!?

I started it at about 9:00 p.m. on Monday after procrastinating all day. I was dreading it, and almost blew it off altogether. I’m so glad I didn’t! The 50-ish minute workout flew by in what seemed like 5 minutes, and I loved every second of it. (It reminded of why I used to love Tae Bo back in the day.)

True story – Kenpo is the easiest workout of the bunch, which is probably why I like it so much. But beyond that, it’s good for my mental health. It helps clear my mind in a way that is similar to running, and that’s something I haven’t experienced since starting P90X. All the punching and kicking must be good for my soul!

I’m also happy to report that I made it through the Chest & Back DVD much more successfully than ever before! I haven’t done this workout since Phase 1, so coming back to it in Phase 3 really opened my eyes to the progress I’ve made. Don’t get me wrong – I still hate push-ups with every fiber of my being. And yes, I’m still doing many of them from my knees. But I’m doing some of the from my feet, and I’m getting more depth and a higher number of reps than ever before. That’s progress!

Confession: my ice cream consumption was out of control this week – I think I had it on five separate occasions. I am not proud of this – ice cream really needs to be off limits at my house.

A major goal for the rest of Phase 3 is to eat less sugar! This will be hard for me – I have a very stressful month ahead, and when my stress level goes up, my sugar intake usually follows. Obviously I won’t see major results until I become more disciplined with my nutrition. But honestly, I just hate dieting, and prefer to take an “everything in moderation” approach to eating. (I know, I know – having ice cream five nights in one week probably doesn’t qualify as “moderate.”)

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Onward to week 10 – it’s going to be glorious!

Do you eat more salt/sugar/carbs/etc. when you get stressed? How do you combat it?

What small step have you taken today to reach one of your goals?

P90X Plyometrics

P90X Update – Week 8

Week 8 of P90X is complete! 8 down, 5 more to go. Here is the recap:

Day 1 – Legs & Back (make up from week 7)

Day 2 – Core Synergistics

Day 3 – Rest

Day 4 – 3.1 mile run in place of Stretch

Day 5 – 4 mile run in place of Kenpo

Day 6 – Core Synergistics + first half of Yoga

Day 7 – Yoga

Day 8 – Second half of Yoga (make-up)

I am so happy I didn’t quit last week!!! 

My workouts this week were 3.6 billion times better than last week, even with all the yoga. In fact, I think I had a major epiphany while doing yoga this week: I get through it more successfully when I break it into two sessions!

True, this is not ideal. Once I’m in the yoga zone, it’s probably more productive to stay there for the long haul. But honestly, I just dread yoga every single time, and telling myself I only have to do 45 minutes rather than 90 makes it much easier to tackle.

I also think that two shorter sessions will work better with my schedule. It is impossible very difficult for me to get up early enough before work to complete the full 90 minutes, but 45 is pretty reasonable. (That’s the difference between setting my alarm for 5-something versus 4-something, which is HUGE in my world.) Hopefully I won’t have any problems finishing the second half later in the day. We’ll see.

Despite my love/hate relationship with it, I can see how yoga is benefitting my overall fitness. It forces me to be uncomfortably still for long stretches of time. This not only improves my flexibility, but my physical and mental strength as well. It also helps me approach other workouts more positively. For instance, if I’m doing one-armed pushups, I go into them thinking, “I hate these, but at least I have the relief of movement. If this was yoga, I’d be stuck in some God-awful pose for hours seconds on end.” In my opinion, being in motion is preferable to static exercise. (Does that make sense?)

Both of my runs were terrible this week, hence the reason they were short. I’m not sure what went wrong there, but I’m hoping for a better experience next week. (Or maybe I’ll just bag the running altogether and do the prescribed cardio.)

Getting through phase three successfully is going to require intense focus and dedication. I have a limited amount of time to fit exercise into my day, and I simply cannot afford to let laziness and procrastination get the best of me. Yep, it’s about to get real. 

Do you ever break up your workouts into two shorter sessions? If so, do you find it effective?

What small step have you taken today to reach one of your goals?

P90X Kenpo

P90X Update – Week 7

Confession: I almost quit this week. Read on… 

Week 7 of P90X is complete! 7 down, 6 more to go. Here is the recap:

Day 1 – Rest (sick)

Day 2 – Rest (sick and lame)

Day 3 – 5 mile run in place of Kenpo

Day 4 – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps + Ab Ripper

Day 5 – Plyometrics + Ab Ripper

Day 6 – Back & Biceps + Ab Ripper

Day 7 – Yoga

Day 8 – Legs & Back (make up)

Man, I thought last week was hard – this one was worse! Monday and Tuesday I was totally miserable – I spent a lot of time on the couch being lame and contemplating whether or not I should continue with this. The little devil on my shoulder was spitting out all sorts of “reasons” as to why I should give up:

  • 6 days of strenuous workouts each week? That’s crazy! Even marathon training wasn’t this hard! (It was, just in a different way.)
  • You will never be able to keep up with this schedule next month. Do you seriously think you’ll be getting up at 5 a.m. to work out? Quit now!
  • You’re already happy with your progress. Just quit already!
  • It’s so much nicer sitting on the couch eating potato chips than going to the cold, dark basement to torture yourself.
  • Stop stop stop stop stop stop stop!!!

Needless to say, these “reasons” all sounded very appealing at different points throughout the week. I managed to talk myself into getting on the treadmill Wednesday night for a slow and painful 5-mile run. I got through it with the hope that Thursday’s workout would be better…

Nope.

I think the Chest/Shoulders/Triceps DVD is now my most-hated workout. I found myself repeating “Oh, I hate this move!” just about every time we switched to something new. (In a typical session, this only happens 3-4 times.) Tony Horton has taken several verbal lashings from me lately, that’s for sure. I muscled through this one, but it hurt, and I only gave 65-70% effort.

Thank goodness Friday’s plyometrics workout was a turning point for me. I felt good the entire time and pushed myself harder than normal (jumping higher, squatting lower, and generally giving 100%). I felt so amazing that I decided to do Ab Ripper afterward to make up for some of what I missed on my rest days.

I can’t tell you how much I needed a good workout after several days of being in a slump. This single-handedly set my mind straight and put my eyes back on the prize. I would have been so disappointed in myself if I had given in to my excuses!

After plyometrics, the next few workouts were status quo, which I was happy with. I am starting off Week 8 a workout behind, but that’s okay since it’s a recovery week. I can keep myself on track by subbing in something else on a stretch day.

I am going into this recovery week with a much better attitude than the last one. Last time I just wanted to plow forward because I felt awesome and was making noticeable progress. This time my body is sore in strange places and clearly needs extra rest after the last two difficult weeks. Thus, I’m going to do my best to embrace all the stretching and yoga even when I feel like I need a more aggressive workout.

For me, the moral of the story here is that setbacks will happen – they always do. I’m not sure why I thought this time would be any different. I am optimistic that this plateau is over, and that my body and mind will remain strong going into the next phase of the program.

Bring it Week 8! Yoga is my favorite! (Or at least it needs to be this week.)

What small step have you taken today to reach one of your goals?

  1. P90X Legs & Back
  2. I bought 35 shares of KMI on the market dip!

 

 

24 Reasons Why I Love The Treadmill

I know I’m in the minority here, but I love the treadmill! If not for this wonderful invention, I never would have become a “runner” (I still use that term loosely when describing myself). Prior to starting P90X, I ran consistently for four years, and about 85% of that running occurred on the treadmill.

Although I always wanted to be a runner, for 29 years I was one of those people that hated running. I come from a family of runners, and always assumed I didn’t get “those genes.” It wasn’t until my husband and I bought our treadmill that I decided to give it a fair shot.

[Side note: my dad ran a 2:32 marathon back in his heyday! Do you have any idea how fast that is? That is just under a 6-minute per mile pace…for 26.2 miles! At that time, he could have qualified for the Olympic trials!]

Anyhow, I’m sure people hate the treadmill for a variety of legitimate reasons. But, with a long season of indoor running in front of me, I’m choosing to take a look at the positive aspects of it:

  1. A toilet is never too far away.
  2. It’s safe to blast your embarrassingly bad music as loud as you want.
  3. At the gym, you can run with anyone and never worry about slowing them down.
  4. You can completely zone into your running rather than having to be cautious of your surroundings.
  5. Outdoor runs will feel so much shorter/better when you finally get outside.
  6. You can focus on your form by using a mirror.
  7. It provides a safe place to experiment with barefoot running.
  8. You don’t have to remember to charge any devices (headphones, garmin, etc.).
  9. It can easily be incorporated into circuit training.
  10. It provides you with instant accurate feedback (pace, distance, etc.).
  11. It frees you from all weather-related excuses.
  12. There are no aggressive dogs or obnoxious onlookers.
  13. Your awesome new running shoes don’t get dirty as quickly.
  14. You can create the perfect work out to accommodate your current goals (speed, incline, distance, heart rate, etc.).
  15. You can learn how to pace yourself with surprising accuracy.
  16. You don’t have to haul all your crap with you (water, phone, GU, etc.).
  17. You get to binge watch all your favorite reality TV shows without guilt.
  18. It’s easier on your joints than road running.
  19. You don’t have to secure child care.
  20. You can add/subtract layers of clothing without judgment from the outside world.
  21. You don’t have to deal with traffic, stoplights, or other obstructions that kill your pace.
  22. There is no anxiety about potential axe murderers jumping out of the woods.
  23. On the really bad runs (the ones you know you’ll have to cut short), you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to make it home.

And most importantly….

  24.  It builds mental toughness!

Do you enjoy treadmill running? What would you add to this list?

What small step did you take today to reach one of your goals?

I purchased 20 shares of Walmart stock! 

 

P90X Update – Week 6

Week 6 of P90X is complete! 6 down, 7 more to go (almost half way!). Here is the recap:

Day 1 – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps + Ab Ripper

Day 2 – Plyometrics

Day 3 – Back & Biceps + Ab Ripper

Day 4 – Legs & Back + Ab Ripper

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – 5 mile run (in place of Kenpo)

Day 7 – Yoga

This was one of the hardest weeks to date. I’m not sure why, but I felt nauseous all the way through my workouts on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I think it had something to do with me attempting my workout directly after consuming excessive coffee and a light breakfast. My usual routine has consisted of eating a substantial breakfast followed by my workout 2-3 hours later. Apparently I need to go back to this.

Tuesday’s plyometrics workout was just awful. You can read more about it here.

I was caught in a slump Friday and Saturday. I had a dull migraine for most of that time, and had a hard time pulling myself off the couch. I tried really hard to talk myself into a workout on Friday, but it just didn’t happen.

I almost talked myself out of my cardio workout Saturday too, and ended up putting it off until 9:00 p.m. I was rationalizing all sorts of excuses in my mind:

  • I still have a dull headache – I shouldn’t do it.
  • I want to spend the evening writing – that’ll be more productive.
  • I can double up on my missed workouts next week – I don’t have to work much!

You know the thing that finally got me on the treadmill?

  • You can’t have that brownie in the fridge until you do your 5-mile run!

Most days I don’t need extrinsic motivation; I do it because it makes me feel awesome and because I want to reach this goal. But every once in a while, I just need something tangible to look forward to at the end of a workout. Chocolate usually does the trick.

Sunday was a crummy day all around. I had an awful head cold and nearly let myself off the hook again on yoga. The biggest source of motivation was refusing to have a second yoga workout hanging over my head. (I still owe one from Week 4.) While I like the way yoga makes me feel when it’s over, I still get anxious about actually doing it. I tend to build it up in my mind as 90 minutes of complete and total discomfort. Obviously I need to find a way to distance myself from this mental image.

One of these days I’ll stop complaining about my love/hate relationship with yoga. (Maybe.)

I’m calling this week a success even though some of my workouts were disjunct and/or lame. At any other point in my life I would have given myself permission to skip workouts and take a few days off – not this time! I’m choosing to believe that this was simply the lowest point in the program for me, and that it’s onward and upward from here.

Woohoo! On to Week 7!

How do you deal with sickness and/or general slumps during training?

What small step have you taken today to reach one of your goals?

P90X Yoga

P90X Update – Plyometrics Purgatory

Today, for the first time since starting P90X approximately 37 days ago, I didn’t finish my workout. I made it exactly 29 minutes before turning it off, throwing a mini temper tantrum, and stomping upstairs. I tried to take Tony Horton’s advice and hit the pause button to rest for a few minutes, but it didn’t help. I felt nauseous the entire time, and couldn’t come up with the energy to do my sets.

I’m disappointed, but I’m trying not to beat myself up too much. After all, this is bound to happen a few times throughout the program. It happened pretty regularly during my marathon training last spring – about once every 4-5 weeks I would have a run I just couldn’t complete and was forced to stop early.

What am I doing about this? Well, I’m doing my best to turn my disappointment into something productive:

  • I’m trying to pinpoint exactly why I felt so awful (lack of sleep and drinking coffee with no breakfast are good contenders today).
  • I’m taking steps to avoid these saboteurs next time.
  • I’m taking this as a possible sign that my body needs a little more rest and better nutrition/hydration.
  • I’m looking at the big picture – since beginning the program, I’ve had 31 “good” workouts and 1 “bad” workout…I’ll take that ratio any day of the week!
  • I’m rallying myself mentally to come back stronger next time.
  • I’m leaving all my workout gear right by the door in hopes that I’ll be inspired to finish my workout as soon as I get home from work tonight.

will finish this workout!

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Update: Today (a day later) I did my back/biceps workout along with the last 30 minutes of plyometrics. I still felt nauseous the entire time, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. I’ll call that a victory!

The challenges I’ve faced in my workouts this week remind me of one very important lesson: setbacks will happen. They are a normal and often necessary part of any workout program because they force me to re-evaluate important life fundamentals (eating healthy, getting quality sleep, staying hydrated, avoiding stress, etc.). If something is out of whack, my body is going to make me to get my act together before it performs optimally again.

I’m sure there will come a point when I don’t get all my workouts in, and can’t find the time or gumption to make them up. If/when that happens, I am going to continue to work hard, do my best, and accept that it’s all part of the process. If P90X becomes “P94X” or “P101X”…who cares? It will still be a huge accomplishment for me!

I can’t wait to get there.

How do you handle setbacks in your workout programs? Do you make your workouts up later, or take extra rest days?

What small step have you taken today to reach one of you goals?

P90X back/biceps + 30 minutes of Plyometrics

 

Stay Inspired, 10/13/15

As I discussed in this post, I believe in the power of staying inspired. In fact, I believe in it so much that I’m starting a “Stay Inspired” series as a regular part of this blog.

There’s a chance you’ve already seen this video since it’s been viewed more than 13 million times on youtube, but that’s okay – it never gets old. If you haven’t seen it…you must watch it. Now. I don’t want to say anything else about it because you just need to experience the magic for yourself.

I dare anyone to watch this video and not feel their heart race in anticipation and excitement. Check it out:

What has inspired you lately?

What small step have you taken today to reach one of your goals?

I listened to a podcast on how to improve my writing!