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.

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!

Never Say Never November Goals Update

With 2 days left in this month, it is time to assess how I did on this month’s goals.  Overall, despite a few setbacks, I did pretty good.  I didn’t hit my goals exactly but I did make really good progress back to fitness.  Here’s how I did:

  1. Running – This month I aimed for 10 miles a week by running 3 times a week, especially Twilight Tuesdays with BGR.  I started November just relearning how to run with my “new” body.  I did manage to get a run in 3 days a week; however, I didn’t hit 10 miles yet.  As I wasn’t consistently ready for 3 miles at a time when we started the month, it wasn’t as realistic as I thought. Most of my runs averaged 1-2 miles with a “long run” of 3 miles each week.  However, yesterday I got almost 4 miles in and felt great! I have joined in on the Runner’s World Holiday RunStreak.  So I’m going to keep this goal and potentially aim higher in December.
  2. #LungesforLeftovers – Girls Gone Sporty had a cool challenge this month.  “Earn our Thanksgiving Leftovers” by doing as many lunges each day as you can.  I started out doing 20 static lunges – 10 on each side.  I really took to this goal.  I am able to do not only static lunges but walking lunges and lunges in the pool!  I definitely can feel a difference in my booty!
  3. Strength Training – This is the one area that I fell short.  In getting back to work and life, it was hard to fit upper body exercises in as well as my other fitness goals.  I barely did this once a week this month.
  4. Aqua Aerobics – AWESOME.  I absolutely LOVE my Wednesday evening class!  It is more than just aerobics.  It also includes water running and lots of upper body strength exercises with water weights.  When it is done,  I definitely feel it all over!

I may not have hit my goals exactly but I definitely feel like I accomplished a lot fitness wise this month.  Compared to the end of September through October when I was on bed rest and recovering, I did really well! I’m looking forward to next month as I will start training for a 10-miler with the Baltimore Road Runners Club in preparation for my half-marathon training which starts in January.

How did you do on your Never Say Never November goals?  Leave me a comment to let me know! 

exercise makes me stronger

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!