Thank You #SexyShred!

Over the past 4 weeks, I have been participating in an awesome challenge. Started by @FeministaJones, it is a social media-based community Health and Fitness challenge.  It was created as a way for her to get off a serious plateau.  Now in its 5th and final cycle, I was happy to be able to participate as I have been firmly on a plateau for a few months now.

Very Clean Eating + Awesome Exercise Challenges = #SexyShredlifes short eat clean exercise

Clean Eating

Each week besides adhering to the clean eating diet, we were encouraged to do additional food challenges in the hope that these swaps would become lifestyle changes.  I have been eating clean for a while but I benefitted from being more mindful of my food choices and paying attention to portion sizes.  My personal challenge as I did this was to actually track what I ate and how much. I suffer from – Rungryitis. I run, I’m hungry, I eat like a bottomless pit.  This is a new issue for me.  But no matter how clean you eat, overeating is still overeating!

Thanks to #SexyShred, I have not had an overeating day and there have actually been days where I still had room to eat more yet felt full.  I think it’s because I was more mindful of what I was eating. The other benefit has been completely detoxing my body of sugar. The only sweeteners allowed are raw local honey and maple syrup.  So I’ve had honey but even that I’ve had sparingly.

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Here are some examples of foods that I ate on the challenge – Honey Oat Muffins, Zucchini with Eggs & Chicken Sausage for Post-Run Breakfast, and Pumpkin Blueberry Coconut Jars for afternoon snacks. Check out my Pinterest Healthy Recipes board for more ideas!

Exercise Challenges

So you all know that I am a Hysterrunner and that ever since my surgery I have been aiming to add more strength training into my routine.  Bikram Yoga and Aqua Zumba have been good to me for cross training.  But strength training and focused core work has been hit or miss.

#SexyShred had us aim for 240 minutes of exercise this week which is doable with my running schedule.  It also had weekly exercise challenges which pushed us to do things outside of our comfort zone – burpees, push-ups, crunches, wall sits.  All exercises which I hadn’t been incorporating regularly have been re-introduced into my routine.  One day we had to do 15 Russian twists every hour we were awake; another day was a 3-exercise circuit done as many times as possible in 20 minutes.  Being accountable to my fellow shredders was the motivation I needed to keep up with the challenges.

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Russian Twists with a 13lb weight!

Dealing with the Winter weather we have had over the past few weeks here in Maryland has made keeping up with my running hard.  As I wanted to not only hit the 240 minute mark but exceed it, I found other ways to exercise when running wasn’t possible.

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One Saturday morning the snow and ice derailed my long run plans but instead of sleeping in I did 3 workouts in one day – Yoga for Runners at Charm City Run and the circuit at Curves followed by a class at Xpose Fitness as a part of the #SexyShred group workout day.  Other days, I worked out in my basement.  I’ve finally started working on my upper body strength!

Results:

I have definitely seen improvements in my overall fitness levels in the past few weeks. Weekly 1-minute tests have improved for me – 0 Burpees in week 1 are now 15; 63 jumping jacks to 72! Today I will be completing the post-tests as well as my last workouts of the challenge and I can’t wait to see my progress.

Have I left the weight loss plateau? Sort of. After weeks of the scale not moving, I lost 1 pound on #SexyShred. My clothes are falling off as my body is changing from the strength training.  I’ll take that! It’s still Progress!

Did you do #SexyShred? Have you done any exercise or weight loss challenges for this year? Tell us about your progress in the comments.

Faith & Fitness Friday–Self Control

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 –

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

 

Being a Hysterrunner is What’s Beautiful

Last night as I have for most Tuesday nights of the past year, I ran with Twilight Tuesday’s Baltimore Black Girls Run group.  After the run, I led our brief ab workout which we started doing in May.  When I was cleared to go back to doing core work in March, I could barely do 10 crunches.  They were brutal.  When I planked with my husband in Brooklyn the week before the Cherry Blossom, my abs were sore for days.  Now I can do several types of crunches in sets of 1 minute several times a week.  I also can get through Bikram yoga and other core work in ways I wasn’t able to before.  I may not have a flat stomach or be an elite runner, but I truly can say that I have grown as a hysterrunner.  I have embraced the mantra of NO UTERUS, NO PROBLEM and it’s been beautiful learning about myself in this way.

Last night, I was reminded that there are other hysterrunners out there and others who one day may be hysterrunners or hysteryogis or anything.  You never know when someone may need to hear your story or in this case, my story.

One of the newbies to our group joined us last night.  She has been training for the BWC using the Couch to 5K and attending their sessions.  She made it through 2.5 miles with us in 35 minutes.  It was the furthest she had gone.  She then stayed for the ab work.  When we were done, she mentioned that she was so glad that she had come out because she had begun to get discouraged with her progress.  I shared my story with her which prompted her to tell hers.  She has had some health scares, including a hysterectomy in 2011.  She then proceeded to say that some days she feels as if her body belongs to an 80 year old woman.  Dawn & I talked with her at length about how with exercise and proper nutrition she can begin to feel better.  She was so happy to have found a group of supportive women that she almost cried.  I was glad that she was able to feel supported and hope she returns.

You see when I realized that my hysterectomy was inevitable, I searched for information about fitness and exercise post-hysterectomy.  I barely found anything.  I decided to start this blog because I knew there were others like me who needed to hear that it was possible to become fit and come back to your best self even if you weren’t the fittest chick before surgery.  It is my hope that my little blog can reach someone and support them in the way that meeting the newbie last night and sharing my story in person did.  I am still on this journey and I invite you to continue to join me.  I know that I am what’s beautiful.  I thank Under Armour for reminding women of that with their challenges.  But I also know that there are so many other women who are not a part of the Under Armour women community who need to be reminded that they are what’s beautiful.  For my hysterrunners out there, remember…

No uterus, no problem!

No uterus, no problem!

A Hysterrunner in San Francisco

The week after Memorial Day, I travelled to San Francisco for the Society for Prevention Research conference.  For those of you who may be new to my blog, in my non-running life I am a prevention scientist.  This is my fourth time attending this particular conference.  There is always a group fun run/walk on the Thursday hosted by the organizers which I’ve participated in each year.  But this year was different.  Last year, the conference was in Washington, DC.  I mostly walked the 3 mile loop from the hotel to the Mall and back.  This year, I am in much better shape as a hysterrunner.  So I did so much more than participate in the run/walk.

I arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon.  I checked in to the hotel and grabbed my yoga gear.  I had arranged to take a Muscle and Flow yoga class with my friend and Under Armour Women sponsored trainer Dr Shauna Harrison.

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The view from my hotel room!

I had been wanting to take this class with Shauna for a while.  When I realized that I would be in the Bay Area, I knew this would be my chance.  The train ride to get to Redwood City was uneventful.  The class was AWESOME!!!  It is not your average yoga class.  It is a fusion of different styles of yoga coupled with hip hop and R & B music.  If you are ever in the Bay Area, make it a point to get to this class. My only complaint was that about halfway through the class, jet lag hit me like a ton of bricks.  It got really hard to focus as my body started to shut down.  I had to spend a little time in half lotus pose resting to catch myself.  Other than that, I loved this class.  Shauna is going to be in the Baltimore area again at the end of this month.  I am going to try to get to the Hip Hop Cycle class that she’s teaching while she is here.  I was so tired when we left that I forgot to take a picture of us together.

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Above is the view from the train & a pic that Shauna tweeted about the #sweatpink laces I brought her.

Wednesday was spent completely involved in the conference.  I presented that day so there were no additional exercise breaks.  Thursday, however, more than made up for it.  I was able to get in TWO RUNS for the first time ever.  The first run was 3.39 miles from the hotel to Fisherman’s Wharf and back as a part of the fun run/walk.  I was able to explore the Embarcadero and even saw sea lions.

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The second run was possible thanks to a twitter connection.  Mizuno was hosting a Sunset Run in conjunction with Fleet Feet San Francisco.  There was a tweet about the Sunset Run which led to a series of tweets and DMs between me, Fleet Feet, and Seth and Jeff of Mizuno Running.  The Sunset Run was at Chrissy Field along the Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge.  The weather was perfect.  Every one there remarked that it is usually chilly and foggy when they host them.  I was glad that the weather held up.  The run was from 3-5 miles to the base of the bridge and back.  I was able to get 4.5 miles in total.  But, the best part about it is that I was able to try some cool new Mizuno Wave Inspire running shoes.  They felt great to run in.  They gave me the support that I need as a moderate pronator but they were so much lighter than my Sauconys.  I felt like  I was cheating on Team Saucony but that Mezamashii feeling was great.

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I wish I didn’t have to give back the shoes.  I really want to know how they would feel on a long run.  I did get a really cool glass and washcloth to bring back East with me.

If anyone had told me last year that I would not only be completing the fun run while away at a conference but also that I’d be fitting in time to do yoga and running twice in one day, I would have said they were crazy.  Now look at me!

How do you fit in exercise when you travel?  What is your favorite way to sightsee?  Tell me about it in the comments.

Faith & Fitness Friday

Hebrews 12:1

Hebrews 12:1

As I prepare for my first big race ever, this Scripture phrase is becoming more and more of a friend to me.

My hysterectomy and the events leading up to it and recovering from it was a race which I have already endured.  I know that running a foot race is possible.  I know that God has strengthened me in every way to prepare me for this race.  I just need to put my training – physical, mental, and spiritual – into practice.

Good luck to everyone running races this weekend! No matter what kind.

Travelling & Tapering

I wanted to post another Wordless Wednesday but this one needed words to go with the pictures.  I spent the weekend in Brooklyn, New York visiting my family.  Erika at Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss was kind enough to share a running route with me.  However, we didn’t have enough time to do a full route.  So my husband and I set out on a shorter, make it up as we go along, route which covered about 1 1/2 miles around my Mom’s neighborhood on Monday morning.  The route took us around Brower Park so we had to stop on the playground to get some core work and strength training in.

My core work has SUCKED since I started back about 2 weeks ago.  The night before my surgery I did my last 175 crunches (different styles).  Now, I can barely do 10 at a time of any kind.  UGH!!! Anyway, I have managed to get 2 Bikram Yoga classes in in the past 2 weeks which has helped me to ease into core work.  At the park, I worked on some push-ups and planks.  I got 5 planks in of about 30 seconds each.  My core still hurts!  Here we are:

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Me- Planking in Brooklyn

Hubby - Pushups in Brooklyn

Hubby – Pushups in Brooklyn

Since I’m tapering for the Cherry Blossom on Sunday, I have one more run left on the schedule for this week.  I will probably get about 3-4 miles in tomorrow at lunchtime around the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore.  Then, no more running to have fresh legs for the race.

What about you?  How do you train when you travel?  Any one tapering for the Cherry Blossom this week?  Let me know!

Three things I LOVE!

Of course, I love myself first. If I didn’t, then nothing else would matter. It is because I love myself that I am aware of the three things I love the most.

Family– My husband and my son truly are my heart.  I focus on getting better every day so that I can be the best I can be for them.

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I come from a decent sized family.  Talking to any of them – my parents, sisters, brother, cousins, etc – is usually a joy and a blessing that I don’t take for granted.

Faith – I can do everything through my God who strengthens me.  Battling back from my hysterectomy has taken a lot of faith that I would heal.  Daily prayer and going to Mass regularly helps me to remain connected to God.  I hope that sharing “Faith & Fitness Fridays” with you helps you to connect as well.

Fitness – I may not be an elite athlete.  But, I truly love becoming that FIT CHICK.  Whether I am running, doing Water Aerobics, or shaking it in a Zumba class, I love pushing my limits and getting physically back to the way I used to be.  I have been enjoying this journey back to fitness and look forward to the next stage.  Speaking about running…

loverunning

The guys over at the runchat have asked this week for us to post things you love about running.  So to elaborate on one of my 3 things I love, here are the things I love about being a HYSTERRUNNER!

  • I can run! It doesn’t have to be fast or far.  But, I can do it.  I have come back from 0 miles/week to just under 20!
  • It has helped me recover.  Being in decent shape because of running helped me to manage pain better immediately after my surgery.  Getting back to running post-surgery has helped me get my body back.  Slowly but surely!
  • I don’t need much equipment to do it.  A good sportsbra & my Sauconys are all I need.  Of course, being that I run mostly outdoors, I have invested in some tech gear/cold gear/etc.  But I can just get out there and run – anywhere, anytime, anyhow!
  • It’s the one thing I have TOTAL CONTROL OVER!!!  My body still has its issues.  I don’t always know when I wake up if my incisions will twitch or if I will have swelly belly and not be able to fit in what I thought I could wear to work that day.  But I do know that if I get out and run even a little bit, I feel better mentally and spiritually which is better for both my FAMILY and my FAITH.
  • I love the running community.  The online community helped me to focus when I was lying in bed recovering and could barely walk much less run.  My Black Girls Run group encourages me and pushes me to run even when I am not sure what my capabilities are.  My Road Runners Crew is always there with tips, tricks, etc.  My offline running friends are always there with personal support.

So there you have it – the Three Things I love combined with what I love about running! How’s that for a Valentine’s Day!

runners_valentine_card_i_heart_love_running-p137917693705586184bfmxk_400http://www.zazzle.com

Faith & Fitness Friday – January 4, 2013

For many, this is the month for making plans – exercise more, spend time with family, get rich.  No matter what you plan, remember…

gods-plans

Hysterrunning–Finally there

Never say Never November is here and so far it is definitely so good.  I have been chosen to be a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador.  I look forward to working with GGS to promote fitness and share my experiences as a hysterrunner.

I kicked off the month RUNNING!  On November 1st, exactly 6 weeks post-surgery, I had my first run!  I got 1.4 miles in around the Lake.  I promised my doctor that I wouldn’t do more than 1 mile my first time out to test how my body was healing.  But, the Lake is a little over a mile and I completed the loop.  I felt good like I could do more.  I followed this up with 2 miles the next day and 1.6 miles on the 3rd.  Short distances, yes; but, long enough to not stress out my still healing body.  From what I have read and discussed with my doctor, I won’t be fully healed until about six months post-surgery just in time for my birthday in February.

The key to running this soon after surgery is to wear supportive gear.  Abdominal binders may be good when you get off a bedrest but aren’t conducive to exercise, especially not running.  Girdles are fine to deal with the bloating and help you fit back into your regular clothes but they also are not for running.  Compression gear is the way to go.  So far I have run in Saucony Amp Pro tights and Nike Hyperwarm Dri Fit tights.  They both provide just enough support without being restrictive and irritating my incision.  I haven’t run in my CW-X tights as yet.  I’m saving those until when I get to my longer runs.

exercise your right to vote

Today is Election Day here in the US.  I chose to Exercise my Right to Vote by running a 5K for my home town of New York.  I donated money to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund and decided to run4nyc.  This was a virtual 5K which was perfect for my first attempt as a hysterrunner. I am glad that my first 5K back could be dedicated for a good cause.  If you are still looking for ways to help Sandy victims, consider donating to the American Red Cross.

I joined my Twilight Tuesday Black Girls Run Baltimore group for a cold, dark run/walk around the Lake and the surrounding neighborhood.  I completed my 3 miles in 41:51 which is faster than my last race pre-surgery!!!  Lack of pain and cramping coupled with the cold air worked for me. 

I’m looking forward to my progress in my new body.  I am now officially a HYSTERRUNNER!

Strength Training 101 for Hysterrunners

I’ve been working on my upper body strength for the past 2 weeks or so.  It was my intent to write this post last night and post it this morning.  But I was sidetracked by a physical setback and, like everyone else on the East Coast, Hurricane Sandy.

 

Picture posted by my favorite weatherman, Justin Berk.

The physical setback was sheer exhaustion coupled with back spasms and a throbbing incision which started Friday evening and kicked into high gear on Saturday afternoon.  The reason – I attempted to put back on my Superwoman cape before my body was ready.  On Friday, I picked up my son from school and then proceeded to go to both Target and Safeway to restock the pantry and fridge.  Most moms know that this is a monumental task normally.  Add on the recovering from a hysterectomy issue and you have pain.  But, no I did not rest on Saturday like I should have.  I had committed to presenting a workshop for youth at a bullying conference that afternoon so I did.  By the time I got home that afternoon, my body was SCREAMING for attention.  So I rested and haven’t left the house since.

Today while monitoring local and social media to keep track of the storm, I came across the following tweet from our friends at Runner’s World.

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It was just the nudge I needed to write this post about Strength Training and Upper Body exercises.  I’m not ready to tackle these exercises, though.

I’m not the most avid of strength trainers under normal circumstances.  It is one of those things I know I’m supposed to do for my overall fitness but don’t always get around to doing.  I have crosstrained with Zumba and Yoga but regular strength training.Embarrassed smile  Being that I can’t do either of those right now, I have been on a quest for exercises that I can do which are safe for me to do.  I came across some videos from Australia on YouTube that have been very helpful.

How to tone strong arms without pelvic floor strain

I have been doing the 3 exercises in this video along with tricep kickbacks from another of her videos.  I can complete 3 sets of 10-12 reps at a time.  I’ve been able to do these every other day for two weeks, including today!  I figure that if I keep this up, I too can have arms like Michelle Obama! Winking smile

Remember I had a reasonable level of fitness before my surgery and still have setbacks.  I started doing these at almost 4 weeks post-op.  If you’re not up to starting strength training that soon, it’s ok.  Each person’s recovery is their own – listen to your body and do what’s best for you! Open-mouthed smile

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15th, 2013
Aiming for a PR!