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Posted on Apr 23, 2012 in Dear Diary, Working Out | 15 comments

Earth Trekking

First things first: holy mackerel! The entries for the V8 V-Fusion Sparkling Giveaway are still rolling in, so get your comments in before tomorrow morning for your chance to win! I love reading about all the various ways you all like to add sparkle to your lives — you inspired me to add a little to my fingernails while I was playing around in Sephora yesterday!

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Perhaps a little too much, haha.

At any rate, I hope you all had fabulous weekends, despite the ridiculous cold rain that’s been plaguing the DelMarVa region since Saturday evening. Bleh. I spent my weekend up in Columbia visiting my sister!

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Jenny, her husband, and I all got LivingSocial deals for an introductory rock climbing course at Earth Treks Climbing Center a few months back. Since they’re about to move to Houston (SOB!), we needed to use up our deals, so Saturday morning we ventured over to their Columbia location (they have a couple spread throughout Maryland).

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Harnesses. So hot right now.

The first forty-five minutes or so of the class were spent teaching us about how to properly put on our harnesses and tie the appropriate knots needed to strap ourselves in. We got the knot-tying down pretty fast, so it wasn’t long before our instructors had us move on to belaying since one of us would always need to support the climber when it came to that.

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Before we actually began climbing, I thought that belaying would be the more difficult part. I found it pretty challenging, which probably makes me sound like a total n00b to any actual climbers out there (…which is true, haha). There’s a very specific pattern that you need to follow as you pull the slack of rope, and I kept getting confused. There’s also a whole bunch of jargon that the climber and belayer (is that the right word?) are supposed to exchange, which I kept messing up. “On belay?” “Belay on.” “Climbing!” “Climb on.” And so on, and so forth.

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Of course, once I actually started climbing, my tune changed very quickly. It is HARD! It’s fun — really fun, in fact — but it is definitely challenging. You don’t realize how tightly you’re gripping onto the pegs/rocks/things in the wall until you release. Plus, you are using muscles that you rarely use on an everyday basis. My forearms are still killing me!

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After the intro climb in the upstairs (read: easier) area, we were let loose in the main climbing room, where there were various routes marked on the walls with colored tape. There’s a rating system that marked how difficult the routes were, and even though we tried one of the lower-end levels that was recommended for us (a 5.6, I think), it was still REALLY tough. There is a HUGE difference between just climbing up willy-nilly and having to follow a specific path. All three of us needed the two on the ground to help direct us to the appropriate pegs, especially for our feet. It was difficult to see which ones we were allowed to step on when we were looking down at them. I only made it a little more than halfway up on that one, Jenny made it about 3/4 of the way, but Dan scaled all the way to the top!

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Jenny the Monkey

Generally, we Powells aren’t known for our superhuman upper arm strength, so I knew it would be a challenging go for me. That said, I did a lot better than I thought I would initially! Hoisting myself up wasn’t that difficult, it just became really hard when I didn’t have pegs that were easy to grip onto. Some of them had little divets that you could hook your fingers around, but some of them were just rounded, and my grip wasn’t strong enough to utilize them. Rock climbers must have fingers like BICEPS, I tell ya!

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I think it’s also pretty clear that body mass and the way your weight distributes itself really affects how easy it is to climb. A lot of it is mental and feeling confident in the fact that you are fully supported and you won’t fall even if you miss or slip. And of course, since it’s me, I totally slipped at one point and careened off of the wall. It was actually kind of fun!

At the end of the class, they gave us license to go back and do some bouldering, which is free climbing a shorter wall without need for a harness or ropes. I thought this was really, really fun too. The walls only went up like 12 or 13 feet, and they had big fluffy mats underneath to fall onto. I did a little baby route with ease, though there were tons of routes that went up on slants and eventually had people hanging off the ceiling — crazy! I gave a half-assed attempt at one of those before realizing that I was probably being a little overly ambitious. Still, I can totally see why people get into rock climbing. It was fun, a great workout (you don’t realize how hard you’re working until you come down!), and even now I keep thinking back to that first route I couldn’t complete and wish I could give it another shot. Motivating!

The membership fees at Earth Treks were something like $65 a month, which is really comparable to what I pay for at my regular gym right now. They also have a small gym room with treadmills and weights and whatnot, so I could see this as being a great option to have instead of a normal gym membership. If they had a location closer to me, I would really consider switching over! I’ll have to do some research to see if there are any other climbing gyms close by.

Have you ever been rock climbing? There was a rock wall at UREC, the gym on campus at JMU, that I never took advantage of. I kind of wish I had now! Maybe it would have gotten me into the habit of exercising long ago…

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Posted on Mar 20, 2012 in Working Out | 43 comments

The Long and Short(s) of It

I know that I have already declared it to be so, but it bears repeating: I hate running. Yesterday’s torturous 3-mile jaunt around the hallowed streets of Falls Church only served to reinforce this fact. But, I did it anyway, since I’m training for the Reach the Beach Relay in May and will need to be able to complete three separate legs of 3 to 4.5 miles each. (Which I know is nothing compared to what the rest of my teammates will be running, but it’s a lot for me!)

So, as mentioned, I took to the streets to take advantage of yesterday’s beautiful weather, and also used it as an opportunity to test out one of the clothing items that New Balance sent me a little while ago. I gave the Prism Run Shorts a try — my first time running in run shorts — and what did I find? I found that I do not, in fact, like running in run shorts.


I really should have taken these photos pre-run, haha.

Yes, having now officially tested the gamut of running legwear, I can officially say that running in shorts is not for me. Maybe things would be different if I had thighs that didn’t touch, shorts that had no way of riding up, and confidence that would stop Giselle in her tracks but alas, that is not the case. I was blessed with Powell thighs, and Powell thighs touch. Good for all that pioneerin’ and baby-makin’. The chafing! I’ll need some serious Astro Glide if I’m to continue running in these puppies! Not to mention the whole thing where they rode up to my chatch and basically made it look like I was running down Broad street in a bikini bottom. I’ve really come around to my legs as a beloved body part, but I’m pretty sure nobody needs to see that.

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I’m willing to give the other pair of running shorts and the running skirt that NB sent me a try, but I’m skeptical as to whether I’ll find them any different. They’re a smidgen looser/longer though, so who knows? As of right now, however, I’m pretty sold on my past capri-lovin’ ways. I don’t really like running tights except for when winter weather necessitates them because I find them too constricting (and they get pulled down more easily as I go along), but capri-length fitness pants are my jam. Despite all of my personal issues with actually running in the shorts, they’re very comfortable. They’re definitely booty shorts, so again, this may simply be stemming from a confidence issue. Regardless, I will absolutely keep them in my arsenal for non-running fitness activities. They’d be perfect for hot yoga!

What is your run wear of choice? Are you a shorts person? Fellow capri lover? Running skirt fanatic?

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Posted on Mar 14, 2012 in Dear Diary, Weigh Ins, Weight Loss, Working Out | 47 comments

Retreat (Weigh-in)

I have something to say, and you’re probably not going to like it. Hell, I don’t like it. But, it has to be said.

Despite all my best intentions, I will not be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run on April 1st. I will still be running that day (there is also a 5K that I will be bumping down to), but not in the way that I had initially planned. I know that long ago I said that my ultimate running goal would be completing a 10 miler — this 10 miler, in fact — but the fact of the matter is that I have not been training for it. At all. And I need to own up to that.

It’s embarrassing as hell for me to admit, and it makes me feel like I’m letting you down (and letting myself down too, but you already know I’m usually okay with that). I guess this is the problem when you make declarative statements about your fitness intentions to the entire interwebs, eh? As much as I would love to be able to justify this with an injury, or sickness, or some other totally believable excuse, I can’t. I simply haven’t trained, and more than that, I just don’t have any desire to build my running endurance back up that much right now. Knowing me and my fickle, fickle self, this might change. And in a month I might be saying I’m going to train for a half-marathon — who knows? What I know right now is that I am not going to be able to just up and run 10 miles in 3 weeks.

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Sure, I’ve been running a few miles here and there as part of my greater commitment to exercise. But racking up two or three miles on the treadmill once a week does not an endurance runner make. Instead, I’ve been strength training and doing group classes and at-home videos and am actually starting to enjoy integrating exercise into my regular routine. I KNOW. Who am I? I wouldn’t say that I’m a devoted lover of sweating yet, but I can say that what I have been doing for the past couple of weeks seems to be working. So I figure I can continue to ride this wave of general working out, almost-kinda-sorta liking it sometimes… or I can force myself to huff and puff for long distances, and be miserable.

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When I began this blog, and started discovering the myriad of wonderful healthy living blogs that exist out there, I thought I needed to be a runner. After all, it seems like 90% of the bloggers in my Google Reader are runners. Not to mention the fact that I continue to read and be told that cardio is what helps you lose weight, and running is a pretty obvious form of cardio. So I gave it a try, and while it was hard in the beginning to even get through a full mile (I don’t care if it makes me sound pathetic, I still think that a mile is LONG!), I eventually worked my way up. I ran my first 5K, then a 5 Miler, and then I even completed a 15K!

Hot Chocolate 15K

I am so proud of myself for hitting these milestones, and experimenting with running did help me discover how much fun participating in RACES is, even if I still find the running part pretty miserable. But I’m finally at the point where I think I need to stop trying to make this happen just because it’s what I think I should be doing. I want to do things that I want to do, not things that I think I should want to do. Because when I try to force myself into doing something, it usually ends up backfiring. And that applies to making myself hate exercise as well as to my weight loss in general. Does that make any sense at all?

I am in no way saying I’m going to stop running completely. After all, I still have the Reach the Beach Relay in May, and I am legitimately looking forward to it and will continue training for it (my longest leg should hopefully be no more than 5 miles). But I am going to stop focusing on ZOMGDISTANCE! so much. I enjoy running 5K races. While the half- and full-marathoners out there may scoff at a mere 3.1 miles, I consider it a good, challenging distance for myself. So come April 1st, I will be running the Cherry Blossom 5K, and I will try very hard to focus on it as a victory, instead of feeling like a flake about the 10 Miler.

Whew. So, there you have it. I hope that none of you will look down on me too harshly for changing my mind like this. I have openly admitted many times to being wishy-washy when it comes to exercise, but I hope you can see that this really isn’t about making an excuse or copping out. This is about the larger picture. It’s about me actually, actively wanting to continue getting healthy and fit. So I may be retreating from the 10 Miler, but only in order to strengthen my resolve as I move forward. And speaking of moving forward…

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 190.0 lbs
This Weigh-in: 189.0 lbs
Difference: -1.0 lbs

Ohhhhh hey, 180s! It’s nice to be back! Clearly, I am ecstatic that I have an entire pound’s loss to show this week, which pushes me firmly back into the good ol’, pre-holiday 180s. I feel like it just helps justify everything I just said with regard to the way I’m working out, y’know, working out (heh). Given last week’s wompy 0.1 loss and all the bad eating out that I’ve been doing lately, I wasn’t expecting much. But after so many weeks of half- and quarter-pound losses (if that!), not to mention the gains — Heaven forbid! — I am doing my superhappydance. So hey, at least we get to end on a positive note!

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Posted on Mar 7, 2012 in Working Out | 30 comments

Workout Motivation

Yesterday marked my last of three personal training sessions that I purchased when I joined a gym as part of my Lenten resolution. I have actually really enjoyed strength training with my trainer, Jordan, and am a little bit worried about putting in the same effort on my own. There’s no internal argument when I have someone there telling me what to do — I just, I dunno, do it. Ideally, I think I would honestly prefer to work out with a trainer on a permanent, regular basis, but monetarily that’s not very practical for me at this time.

I do know that I want to keep going with weight training, however, because I am actually enjoying it more than I expected. I wouldn’t say I like it, but I decidedly don’t hate it (yet), which is a big step for me! Alas, it will be up to me to (try to) remember all the exercises that Jordan has taught me, and to devise a few workout sets of my own to keep going. I suppose I’ll also be joining the ranks of people who scour the internet for workout plans and inspiration, too. And whaddya know, I’ve already found a few that I am more than happy to get on board with!

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Theodora‘s company recently sent me a workout plan that was developed by Lisa Wheeler, the Fitness Program Director of DailyBurn. This workout is specifically inspired by The Hunger Games. I know how cheesy it sounds, but honestly the simple act of combining something that I don’t like (exercise) with something that I love (Hunger Games, durr) makes the whole idea of actually, y’know, doing it more exciting. Honestly, I should probably capitalize on this excitement most by taking a full-on archery class (resistance training, whoop whoop!) but we’ll go with what we got for now, haha. And what we got is a free workout that you don’t even need a gym to be able to do!

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ARMS
Exercise: Single Arm Row with Rotation
Equipment: Resistance Band
Description: A single arm row simulates the upper body action in archery by drawing one elbow back (engaging the deep muscles of the back) and slightly rotating the torso. Hook tubing around a stable pole or door jam and place both handles in your right hand. Step back until the tubing has some tension. Pick up your right foot and balance on your left and then begin to pull the tubing back, right hand moving towards right hip. Add a slight rotation to the right, opening up the shoulder.

ABS AND CORE
Exercise: Bear Squat
Equipment: none, just your body weight
Description: The bear squat combines a full plank, which is fantastic for the core, and an explosive leg press. Begin in plank then bend your knees and send your hips back over your heels keeping the knees off the floor (spine is flexed and arms are extended). With a powerful push from your legs, extend back out to plank and hold.

LEG STRENGTH
Exercise: Curtsy Squat Side Lunge
Equipment: Dumbbells
Description: To truly develop strong legs that are functional for running, jumping, leaping and carrying heavy loads, you must train them in all directions. Holding heavy dumbbells in each hand begin with feet together. Step out to the side with your right leg, keeping your left leg straight. Hinge forward slightly but keep chest lifted with the dumbbells on either side of your right leg. Push off your right foot and immediately step back and cross behind the left leg, bending both knees into a curtsy squat.

AGILITY
Exercise: Quick Feet Drill
Equipment: none, just your body weight
Description: To be quick on your feet and have the agility to change direction quickly, you must train the muscles to fire rapidly and with power. This drill is about quickness and endurance and really elevates your heart rate. Begin in the athletic ready stance (feet a little wider than shoulder width with knees slightly bent and a slight hinge forward from the hips) with arms out the side, palms forward. Start moving your feet as fast as you can as if running keeping the feet close to the ground. Keeping your shoulders and torso stable, randomly twist your hips (knees and feet as well!) to the right and quickly back to the center. Repeat to the left continuing to keep your feet moving as quickly as possible.

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As you can see, these aren’t exactly as simple or easy as your basic bicep curl. They are much more complex exercise moves that most definitely fall under the category of a “full body workout”. Each move seems to challenge your stability and balance along with the body part they are targeting – more bang for your workout buck! I’m happy because at least for OMGRIGHTNOW, I have some new moves to test out as I figure out how I work solo in the weight room. My legs are crazy sore (again, sigh) from my training session yesterday, but you can bet I’ll be attempting the faux-archery Arm Row exercise tonight!

How do you do your gym workouts? Do you need a gym buddy? Personal trainer? A workout ripped from the pages of a magazine or printed off of a website?

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Posted on Mar 1, 2012 in Races, Working Out | 22 comments

Holy Swag, New Balance!

As you are all probably aware, given the number of times I’ve freaked out about it so far, I am running the Reach the Beach Relay in May with a team of pretty awesome bloggers. We have been fortunate enough to be sponsored by New Balance, and while I would have been more than happy just not having to pay a registration fee, they upped the ante. Yesterday I came home to a pretty sweet surprise!

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Well, I guess it wasn’t SO much of a surprise, since I had been hearing the digital shrieks from my teammates who had already received theirs all day, haha.

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I was NOT fully prepared for the epicness that awaited me within the walls of that duffel bag, however. Consider my workout wardrobe effectively doubled (or more!) — I think all my UnderArmour gear is going to start jelly hatin’:

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Holy schlamoly. There is pretty much everything that you would possibly need to train for a relay like this in here!

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The list of swag from my bag is as follows:

  • New Balance 890 sneakers (The soles are really more pink than red, despite how the color turned out in the pic.)
  • PDA Running Gloves
  • Tri-Viz Running Cap (With lights on the front and under the rim!)
  • Prism Run Shorts
  • Fun Run Shorts
  • Fun Run Skirt (My first running skirt! There are shorts built into it.)
  • Prism Capri
  • Impact Capri
  • Tempo Tee
  • Icefill Short Sleeve (Love me some moisture-wicking tees)
  • Tonic Crop Sports Bra
  • NRG Bars
  • GPS Runner (I don’t think that links to the same model we got, but it’s all I could find on the website.)
  • Running Socks
  • I didn’t even know that New Balance made a GPS watch, but I am really excited to try it all out! I’m actually most excited about the running hat. The relay is over the course of 24+ hours, which obviously means that some legs are going to be at night (all the relay recaps I’ve read say that the night legs are the best experience though, so hopefully I get (an easy) one, hehe!). It’ll be so nice having a little headlamp on as we’re running through rural Massachusetts at 3 AM, don’t you think?

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    All of this new jank is DEFINITELY getting me hyped up for the race. It’s even — gasp! — making me want to go run to try it all out! Who’d have ever thunk it? 😉 This is gonna be legendary.

    Do you have a “brand” when it comes to running/workout apparel? My sister works for UA, so all of my stuff has been almost exclusively them up until now (my shoes are Brooks though).

    Edit: I forgot to add that New Balance is offering a discount code for our team to distribute! It’s good for 15% off and free shipping at shopnewbalance.com (valid until March 10th). Code: NBRTB1255CB4T

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