Tag Archives: exercise

Remember to Wag Your Tail: Finding Inspiration from (wo)Man’s Best Friend

There’s nothing better than coming home after another trying day of life itself, only to be greeted by a wagging tail and sloppy kisses the minute you cross over the threshold.  When the rest of the world seems out of place and cruel, it’s nice to know you can come home to an animal that passes no judgement and doesn’t care if your hair looks awful, your clothes don’t fit or you’re just having a total bitchy day.  While any other human in the world might think you’re a hot mess, dogs will forever think you’re the most wonderful person on the face of the planet.

My Running Buddy, Dixie

My dog, Dixie, is no different.  Although there are times when she chews my socks or the corners of our throw pillows, ultimately she never fails at turning my frown upside down.  For a long time, I couldn’t get over her energy.  Being an English Pointer, she’s born to hunt and run for miles and miles on end.  Tiring her out is nearly impossible.  Don’t get me wrong, she can be a bigger couch potato than my husband and I put together, but when she has pent up energy…look out!

Since I’ve taken up running, I wanted to find a way to include her.  In the past, I had tried holding the leash, but running isn’t enjoyable when you’re arm is being tugged out of it’s socket because you’re dog wants to go faster and you are in no where near as good of shape as your pet (sad to admit it).  I would get so frustrated trying to keep her from dragging me down the street.  I tried harnesses, I tried gentle leaders, I tried it all.  Finally, I got frustrated and called it a day and went for my runs solo.

Then I found this lovely device called a hands-free leash.  Basically, it’s a belt that goes around your waist and allows the dog’s leash to attach to it.  This allows you to pump your arms or change the song on your ipod without having to putz around with a leash in your hand.  Also, you have more leverage if your dog does decide to yank you down the street. There are many types online and range from $20-30 dollars on average.  Some have bungee cord-like attachments to further prevent pulling.  Mine hooks up to my retractable leash and I use a no-pull harness which seems to be a perfect combination, along with the belt.

My Hands-Free Leash

This makes running with my dog a breeze and I’m now enjoying her company and learning from her in ways I could never have imagined.  Watching her prance down the sidewalk and stopping only momentarily to look at the occasional squirrel or goose in the parks; I see her in her element and I remember all of the reasons I began to run.

Of course, I want to be in shape, but there’s a freeing quality about hitting the pavement.  There’s a connection being built between myself, the dog and the world around me.  I’m not thinking about what I need to do tomorrow or the next day.  I’m not concerned with homework or housework, bills or paychecks.  My mind is dedicated to the moment itself.

When I come home and I am not in the mood for a run, I see my dog laying on the couch looking at me with eyes that are begging to go sniff some random patch of grass and stretch her long, gangily legs.  Suddenly, I’m motivated to lace up my shoes.  These are usually the days when I forgive myself if I’m not reaching any kind of PR or going quite as hard as I planned.  I remember to relax and in the end I find another reason to run…because I love it as much as my dog does.

To find out if you’re dog is a natural born runner or which dogs make the best companions for your running lifestyle, check out the article on Runner’s World.  According to this, my dog is capable of runs over 10 miles which isn’t surprising for anyone who has seen this dog run free.

Top Running Dogs according to Runner’s World

Other Reasons to Make Your Dog Your Running Partner

Giving Technology a Test Run…Literally.

Meet My New Bestfriend

Meet My New Bestfriend

I hate the idea of treadmills and the way they never cease to make me feel like a hamster on a wheel going round and round. That being said, I am not skilled enough in the running department to be able to make mental notes of my pace, distance, etc. The treadmill is like my own personal assistant that says, “Alright Kristen! You have one mile to go! Let’s get a move on!!”

Turns out, the treadmill is no longer my only ally and I can now run off the machine while still getting the same feedback…oh and I’m not talking about the Garmin Forerunner or the Nike+!

I just downloaded the Runtastic app for my blackberry. It didn’t cost me a dime and the program has impressed me! Clearly the idea of “getting what you pay for” does not apply here. The Runtastic app uses GPS to track your distance and manages to also calculate your speed, time, calorie burn, average speed, fastest pace and has the capability to track your heart rate. Yeah. It’s that good.

I gave it a go this afternoon. I started the app and plopped my bberry in my pocket and off I went gracefully running into the sunset…

By the end of my two mile jaunt, the app didn’t fail to keep its promises and I noticed I was more apt to run harder knowing I was being held accountable by the little device in my pocket. One thing I failed to notice until recently is the ability to pause the workout so if you need to make a pit stop somewhere you have that option.

The workouts can be saved and logged so you can refer back to them or you can also upload to Facebook or Twitter…handy if you want to brag to all your friends or want feedback.

Overall, I can see this new app becoming my new favorite thing! I’m ecstatic that I am no longer a slave to the treadmill and am free to roam off the beaten path without sacrificing the stats at the end of a good run.

Eat, Pray, Run

Run Like the Wind

Run Like the Wind

I have always hated running.  In high school, I yelled at my gym teacher during the dreaded (and mandatory) one-mile run – the one and only time I got in trouble in school.  I love the idea of being a runner.  I love the freedom running gives you and the sense of accomplishment at the end of a workout.  Still, I could never get over the feeling of not being able to breathe.  I was never comfortable with that initial lack of oxygen that kicked in after I ran a block or two.  Nevertheless, I have been determined to become a runner and hell I’m still stubborn enough to hold myself to that goal.

I recently began running on the treadmill at school (not the same as being outside – but it’s a freakin arctic tundra out there!).  I decided to hold off setting any mileage goals because I was completely unaware of my own capability.  Instead, I told myself I was going to go for at least 20 minutes regardless of the distance or the pace.

I made it about 2 miles in 20 minutes, which isn’t very fast and not a record breaking distance.  What-ev! I still was proud that I got myself to do it anways!  I’ve been averaging about the same time this whole week.  I’m hoping to push myself farther and faster next week.  I don’t feel physically dead by the end of the 2 miles, but mentally I can’t seem to convince myself that I’m able to go father.

Once I go as long as I can with the running, I switch to the recumbant bike and ride that for about 20 minutes at a medium level.

I feel much more comfortable being out of breath than I did in the past.  I attribute this to my P90x exercises and plan on to still keep those videos in my workout rotation.  My legs are much stronger from doing the program before and it seems to have kept them from aching while I run.

My goal?  To run a 5-K by this summer.  I know physically I’m totally capable.  I could probably do it now, although I wouldn’t be nearly fast enough.  So I have plenty of time to train and get myself prepared mentally and physicaly.

Why am I so determined to run?

1. To prove to myself that I can.

Born to Run

Born to Run

2. I saw this book called, Born to Run which is about a man’s quest to find the world’s “superathletes” which leads him to a tribe which runs for miles upon miles in the mountains…barefoot.

3. Runner’s World Magazine – just reading it makes me want to push myself harder.  Hearing other people’s stories lights a fire under my butt.

4. My husband – he has always told me I have the build for running and is always supportive.

5. Food - I like to eat and running is a great way to burn off those extra calories that comes along with a passion for food.

For anyone who is also interested in running, there are some great sites that can help you get started – as well as some amazing tools to keep you on track!

Map My Run – this website is great if you want to plan a run through your community.  Other runners map out their favorite runs that you can use or you can map out your own favorite spots!  Tells you how far you’ll end up going, etc.

Cool Running – fantastic site with lots of helpful tips and plans to get you from your couch to running a 5-K in no time. Tons of helpful info including gear, safety, nutrition, injury prevention and training plans. Even great for experienced runners and marathoners.

Run the Planet – another great website for finding routes, proper shoes, upcoming races and much, much more.

When Hard Work Pays Off

A long awaited update to my blog, but at least this time I’m posting an actual picture of the results I’ve been seeing.

I love that I can see my abs now!

Now, my weight has remained about the same. I wasn’t really concerned with dropping pounds. I mainly wanted to get strong and toned. I can honestly say I’m happy with the results so far!

I haven’t been doing P90x alone though. I sort of got burnt out on it when classes started back up. I began doing my 30 Day Shred video and the EA Active 2 to supplement on days I just couldn’t get up early enough for P90x.

I have found EA Active 2 to be really pretty good. I don’t use the bands, I use weights usually between 5-10lbs. depending on the exercise. Also, I make sure I really go at it hard and get my heart rate up there the entire workout.

I haven’t been dieting, but I do watch what I eat and make sure not to over indulge. I don’t beat myself up if I have a scoop of ice cream, I just don’t do it everyday!

I do use protein powder drinks with breakfast (usually a bowl of oatmeal). That breakfast keeps me full well into lunch time! Be careful to read labels on your protein powder because some are better than others.

So there you have it!  I’m excited I finally got this update on here…I’ve been quite the blog slacker lately.

My Favorite P90x Moves

It took me forever to finally break down and buy the P90x system.  The price was the absolute biggest factor.  I couldn’t get myself to pay $120 dollars for a workout dvd.  Then I realized that most people pay at least that much going to a gym, so I found it to be more of an investment that anything.  Plus, even if I wasn’t the perfect P90x-er, I was still going to get a great workout.  In the end, I went on Amazon.com and found the system for $80 used.  I couldn’t say no to that price!

So I’m going to share with you my favorite moves from the workout dvd’s.  Now you can try these at home or at your gym and see if they work for you.  At the very least, you’ll see what I’ve been doing these past few weeks! I’ll try to explain them as best as possible. I’d much rather demonstrate them, but I supplied pictures to help you see what I am saying in my description of each move.

Here are my Top 5 Exercises

5) Balance Lunges

Balance Lunges

Balance Lunge

This move belongs to the Legs and Back series of exercises.  I love this move and was doing them even before P90x.

Place top of foot (or tiptoes) on chair. Lunge outward with other leg. Be sure to keep knee over ankle.  Dip down without allowing your knee to move past ankle. If necessary, modify by placing top of foot on chair. To intensify: Add light weights and increase range of motion.

4) Dive Bombers

Dive Bomber

Dive Bomber

The dive bomber is awesome.  I can usually only do 8-10 because my arms literally collapse.  This is part of the Chest and Back workout.

Begin in a “downward facing dog”-like position but with wider feet and arms.

Lower your head to the ground as you arch your bad – pretend there is a fence and you are going to go underneath it.  Stay on your toes as you do this move.

Finish by pushing yourself upwards.  Your back will be arched.  Your chest should be up with straight arms – this is like an “upward dog” pose in yoga.  You should still be kind of on your toes, your knees shouldn’t be touching the ground.

To go into the next move, either push back into a downward dog or do the move in reverse by lowering back into the second part of the exercise and again back into the downward facing position.  Either will work, but doing the move in reverse will be harder.

3) Right Angle Pose and Extended Right Angle Pose

 

Extended Right Angle Pose

Extended Right Angle Pose

This one is kind of tricky to explain, but I’ll do my best.  This is my favorite move from the Yoga series.  Begin in a deep lunge, don’t allow your knee to extend over your ankle in the process.  Next, raise your arm over your head.  Your other hand can balance on the ground nearest your front foot for now.

Next, bring your raised arm back behind you.  Use the other arm to reach under your front thigh and grab your wrist.  Hold this pose for 30 seconds or so.  Then do the other side with the opposite leg in front and the opposite arm reaching behind and underneath you.

2) Jump Knee Tuck

 

Jump Knee Tuck

Jump Knee Tuck

This is fairly straight forward.  The jump knee tuck exercise is part of the Plyometrics workout.  Basically, you’ll want comfortable shoes for this one and a cushy mat under you.  You’re going to spring off the ground and tuck your knees into your chest then land on your toes.  Try to make sure you don’t come booming down to the ground – you should land relatively quietly if you’re landing on the balls of your feet.  Do this multiple times for at least 30 seconds.  The last 10 seconds, pick up the pace and do as many as you can very fast.

1) The Push-Up

 

Push Up

Push Up

Surprise!  Anyone who has read through my blog knows I am a stickler for push-ups.  They really are the best exercise that hits all the best places on your body.  You’ll work your chest, butt, arms and abs.  No more saggy anything with this move.  Heck, if it’s good enough for those tough army soldiers, it’s good enough for me!

Now, start in the plank position.  Lower yourself, keeping your back straight (not saggy and don’t allow your butt to stick out in the air).  Keep lowering your body until your arms form a 90 degree angle.

Next push back up onto your hands, keeping proper form and then repeat the exercise.

Your wrists may hurt, so try getting the push up bars as these will keep your wrists from straining and will also extend your range of motion.

So there is just a taste of my daily burn.  I’ll post more exercises as I go.  I hope this helped anyone who was curious as to what the P90x program entails.  Obviously there is a LOT more exercises, these are just my favorites that I look forward to sweating through.

P90x Update Part 2

So it’s been a while since I posted an update, but after the holidays I decided to sort of start the program over. I had missed too many days and I didn’t feel like I was doing myself any favors by pretending my slacking wouldn’t matter.

This time I’m not using the same recipes that is recommended in the P90x nutrition manual; however, I am cooking healthy meals for myself. I am mainly using my Taste of Home cookbook, which has a whole section dedicated to 30 minute healthy meals. I haven’t had a flop yet and even my husband agrees that they taste delicious. The P90x meal plan was fine, but it required a lot of random ingredients that may only be used for one recipe. Overall though, their nutrition plan is probably good, but I find my healthy cookbooks and allrecipes.com to be my personal favorites.

I’ve been strict on getting my workout in every morning. I’ve noticed that the more I do it, the easier it is to wake up and do it again. My body is sore the next day, but I’m sure that’s because of the long holiday hiatus I embarked upon and will get better as I go.

The good news is I have lost 3-4 pounds and it is staying off. I weigh myself consistently first thing in the morning and before breakfast. This makes it more accurate of a measurement of my progress.

I will post a before and after picture for all in the next couple days!

Rehabbing with the Troops

Wedding Day Bliss

Wedding Day Bliss

For those of you who don’t know, my husband was a combat medic stationed in Afghanistan.  We actually met while he was overseas.  I was working in another library and had heard that they needed care packages sent to help boost troop morale.  I put together a box full of books and snacks and hygiene products, but I didn’t want to send it anonymously.  My friend had been in Iraq and mentioned that they didn’t take anonymous mail seriously.  So, I randomly came across my now husband’s name online and sent the package to him.  He wrote back thanking me and we kept in constant contact for the next 6 months or so.  When he was finally sent back to the states he immediately flew to Wisconsin to meet me and my family.  We’ve been together ever since.

At Work in Afghanistan

At Work in Afghanistan

When he got back from being deployed, he was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury.  The right side of his body doesn’t work properly and for a while he couldn’t write his name.  From the outside you can’t really tell, but every now and then some symptom shows itself.  He wasn’t allowed to workout for the rest of the time he was in the Army because they felt that it might worsen the symptoms of the TBI.  He ended up putting on some extra weight and hasn’t been able to find the motivation to lose it.  We’ve bought all the workout equipment and every now and then he’ll get a boost of energy, but overall he just needs that team-like feel and extra support that he got while in the Army.

So just recently he was accepted into a program called Rehabbing with the Troops.  He has to do certain workouts and challenges along with other veterans while posting videos and blogging about the experience.  I’m very happy for him because he now has that brotherhood of support that was lacking and he’s truly excited about starting the program and getting in shape!

I’ll keep you posted on his progress as he goes!