Tag Archives: workouts

Power of 30: September Challenges

I’m an idea person. The one you may or may not want to have at a brainstorming session because I’m going to use the crap out of my right-brain in order to come up with creative and innovative ways to solve the problem. And I know what you’re thinking. This girl must suck at math. But I’ll have you know I can handle the number game just fine thanks to forcible encouragement from my parents to complete advanced math classes just for the fun of it. (mom and dad- this is me backing into a thank you for making me take AP Calculus when I wanted to take another P.E. class) Plus, I read something this week that said us right-brained folks are going to rule the world or something along those lines so we have that going for us.

Anywho, bottom line is I am an idea person. And in being one, I tend to come up with new things before I let the other things I came up with have time to grow legs. I’m also an extreme creature of habit. And while these two traits may seem counterintuitive, it’s the combination of fresh ideas and the ever-prevalent Catholic guilt I associate with things I’ve already committed to that usually keeps me going.

Bet you’re wondering how this plays into my Power of 30 goals, right? Well I told myself as long as I was doing these challenges, I would continue to update you regarding the month prior in the first week of the next month. Confused yet? Let’s revisit September’s goals:

  • 30 miles in 30 days
  • 3:00 minute plank

power of thirty challenge, turning 30, 30 challenges, yoga, crow pose,

I have to laugh at myself a little considering last September I was gearing up for the Chicago Marathon and averaging 30 miles a week and this September I was lucky if I could get 3 consecutive miles in on the treadmill because it was too hot to run outside. That’s just the way life goes. When we first moved, the locals kept telling me to wait for October to get some great running weather so I’ve rescheduled this challenge for this month and I am already off to a better start. I guess that’s the perk of making up your own challenge. You get to try it again next month without any recourse.

power of thirty, challenge, fitness, plank, exercise, workouts, core, ab exercises

I did manage to reach a 3 minute plank last month. I’m not sure how much plank work if any you’ve done in your life but building yourself up to a 3 minute one without rest is harder than it sounds. It may seem silly to compare the concept of holding up your body with your forearms and toes to a metaphor for life but it is just that. You can’t just up and do it. If you can you either have 1) a very high pain tolerance or 2) an awesomely strong core. For the rest of us, it takes small incremental increases to build up to a larger goal. It takes more than just ab muscles. It takes mental and physical strength. It takes practice. And when built upon, second by second, you can reach that goal that may have seemed too lofty just a few weeks before.

And then you can collapse onto the floor in a giant heap of sweat and wonder how long it will take you to plank for 5 minutes.

Until next time.

 

 

 

Running in a humid climate

Hey remember when I used to run outside?

I don’t.

OK so I do remember it, but I also remember it being much more enjoyable. I was back in Illinois a few weeks ago and got a chance to run on the trail near my parents house. The weather was perfect. I could actually breathe. And for the first time in a long time I remembered how much I love to run outside.

To be honest, I can probably count on both hands the times I’ve run outside since we moved to Florida. If it’s not the heat it’s the humidity. And the humidity is usually preceded or followed by a pop-up thunderstorm that comes out of nowhere. We’re talking nowhere folks. This morning as Finn and I attempted to go out for our morning walk the sun was shining. The sun was shining, the skies were blue and it started pouring.

But yesterday morning there was a break in the heat so I headed out for a run as the sun was coming up, knowing that as soon as it did I’d probably pass out on the side of the road. I got four miles in and was pretty happy with it. And along the way I thought about the various mental and physical adjustments you have to make when you run in a new climate.

Don’t try to be a hero.

Who cares if you limped ran through 26.31 miles last October. When it comes to running, weather can be a huge factor. One that makes every training session unique. I’ve had days where I felt energy like never before, only to bonk 2 miles in. And I’ve had days where it took everything in my to agree to 1 mile only to breeze through 4. There are so many factors that come into play when you are running outside you can’t possibly meet your expectations every time. As the most covered song by bloggers and 5 year-old girls alike says, “Let it Go.”

You can walk if you want to. 

I say this even though it still kills me to actually do it. I’m as competitive as they come so even on runs by myself I try to justify reasons I can’t stop to catch my breath or stretch my legs. Human bodies are pretty special, but even they take a little time to acclimatize to changes in weather and environment. If your body is telling you to slow down, (and we’re talking really telling you not just whispering from 500 yards behind you telling you) stop and walk for goodness sake. The reality is that you still have to make it home don’t you? Slow down and recover. No one’s chasing you. And if they are don’t stop. Don’t slow down. Kick it in a little more why don’t ya?

Wear a heart rate monitor.

Remember what I just said about slowing down when you feel like you need to? Well wearing a heart rate monitor can help you make that decision more accurately. Running may seem like a fairly physical feat, but if you’ve ever been out on a run solo and find your motivation lacking, you’ll quickly realize how mental the feat really is. Wearing a heart rate monitor well allow you to match the way you think you feel to how hard you are actually working. Seeing those numbers gets you out of your head and helps you have a more efficient workout.

Bring water.

Oh just bring it. Even if you’re too proud to. I used to play by the rule that if it wasn’t over 6 miles, I didn’t need water. And while that’s sort of true, (you should be hydrated enough to exercise for 45 minutes without water) when your running in high heat and humidity I think you should throw that rule into the ocean. Heat and humidity can prevent your body from releasing heat as efficiently so by the time you realize you are dehydrated it could be too late. If you don’t like carrying water with you, plan an out-and-back route where you can leave it halfway. It’s only cumbersome for the first few minutes but if you don’t have it, everyone you pass will look like a giant jug of Gatorade or the Kool-Aid Man and you’ll seriously consider tackling them.

Mix it up. 

So you’re not going to get the mileage you thought you were because of the weather conditions. Mix it up. Do a set of walking lunges. Throw in some body weight squats, high knees or butt kicks. Alternate sprinting and walking as you make your way back. Yes, people may look at you funny, but it’s likely that they are really just picturing you as the Kool-Aid Man because they are just as thirsty as you are.

rock n roll half marathon chicago, running, running in humid climates, races, running in the heat.

 

Summer resolutions

I know resolutions are typically written for the New Year, but the first weekend of summer seems just as good as any, no? I mean this way at least you don’t have to worry about crazy gym crowds, indulgent foods and lots of holiday parties. OK so maybe you do but those hot dogs and ice cream trips are totally worth it.

I must admit the only reason I realized yesterday was the summer solstice is that my girlfriend had a birthday and I saw it written in fine print on the calendar. As far as I’m concerned summer started the day we arrived in Florida. I mean what else do you call 90 degree days, crazy humidity and endless amounts of sun?

siesta key beach, siesta key, florida

Matt left for a work trip today so I’m flying solo for the first time in a new city where I know few more than the dog park ladies and my favorite cashier at Target. Oh come on. Don’t judge me. You know you have one too.

Now don’t feel too sorry for me. I’ve got a lot planned for this solo adventure. Besides, I consider myself an independent woman, but even Queen Bey had a few Charlie’s Angels to bounce, bounce, bounce some ideas off of every once in a while.

Enough Destiny’s Child references in that paragraph for ya?

Never.

So in no particular order, here are my summer resolutions:

  1. Listen to summer songs on repeat. This will serve as a friendly reminder just how awful our most recent winter really was. Bare feet on the dashboard? Don’t think I don’t remember Polar Vortex numbers 1, 2 and 3 Mr. Chesney.
    chicago polar vortex snowstorm, greater swiss mountain dog, cold weather
  2. Continue to each incessant amounts of World Cup soccer. I can’t help myself. Neither can Finn.
    greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, world cup 2014, soccer,
  3. Sign up for an art class. I’ve always said natural talent is hard to ignore, but there’s always time to work on your craft.

    art class, resolutions, pottery, child

    for $9.99 and you too could have your own bluebird “candy dish”

  4. Find another new spot for Finn and I to walk sans alligators. We spotted our first alligator in the pond behind our house last week. Let’s just say I don’t plan on scheduling a play date for Finn and Gary anytime soon. This week we visited the home of the 2017 World Rowing Championships and I think we found our new spot for long walks/runs.
    greater swiss mountain dog puppy, finn, swissy, florida,

    gator free and happy as can be mom!

    5. Build a new list of local spots to try when my dinner date returns. We went to the Lucky Pelican on Friday and I finally found a place I could get on board with. Comfortable atmosphere, $.99 raw bar and lots of locals. We’ll definitely be taking family in friends back when they are in town. 
    lucky pelican bistro, sarasota, lakewood ranch restaurants, local gems, seafood restaurants,
    Bonus: Start trying to love running in the heat again.
    My running partner thrives in humid climates. I do not. So the last few times we’ve set out for a run in the middle of the day, I mentally shut down before we even began. My body hates running in the heat, but like those poor guys in the Arena da Amazonia, I have no choice but to acclimate myself eventually.

IBelieveThatWeWillWin???

Workout Wednesday: Work out like a dog

Before I got Finn, I had two choices. 1) get a dog who could I could take on runs with me but who may be miserable and hyper throughout the day while I’m at work or 2) get a dog who could nap with me. I chose the latter and ever since Finn has certainly lived up to his side of the deal.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, get fit like fido, workouts with your pet

In the time since Finn came into my life, I have trained for 3 half marathons, a full marathon and several other races. And while he doesn’t go on long runs with me, he’s a heck of a warm-up or cool-down partner. In fact, he’d be great for one of those 3-day fundraising walks if anyone needs a team member. He’ll even carry your stuff if you reward him with carrots. Kid loves himself some carrots.

What was I talking about again? Oh right, working out with your pet.

When the folks at DogVacay.com* reached out to me about my exercise routine, my first thought was

Nah. Not me. You guys probably want someone who can actually do a workout with their dog not someone who works out their dog then works out herself or vice versa.

But then they shared a pretty cool infographic with me and I realized one of my go-to workouts already incorporates a lot of the things that my pup does on a daily basis. That and I just really love a good infographic.

get fit like fido infographic, dogvacay.com, working out with your pet, workouts, fitness, exercises with your dog

The circuit above is a great opportunity to change up your routine, which is just what I was looking for a few weeks ago when I was at home for a quick visit. In fact, I wish I had seen this before I called up my trainer and asked him for a “quick workout” that day. If I had I may still have been able to breathe afterwards.

get fit like fido infographic, dogvacay.com, working out with your pet, workouts, fitness, exercises with your dog, circuit training, fire hydrants, squats,

 

To get started grab a treadmill or a very hot Florida afternoon and complete the following:

  • 3 minute warm up jog (5.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 1 mile at a comfortable pace (6.2-6.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 30 second sprint intervals for 8 minutes total (20 seconds at 7.7+ and 2% incline, 10 second rest**)
    **you may just have to hop off the treadmill and let it keep running because these go pretty fast

You should complete roughly 3 miles or more depending on your pace.

Immediately following that circuit, grab a mat and complete the following, alternating leg and arm exercises as you go and trying to rest as little as possible.

  • Body weight squats (see infographic for proper form)-20x
  • Pull-ups-20x
  • Walking lunges-20 on each leg (40 total)
  • Push-ups-20x
  • Fire hydrants-10 each leg (20 total and yes you will look and feel silly)
  • Back Extensions-20x
  • Donkey kicks-10 each leg (same position as fire hydrants only you will kick leg up and back)
  • Planks-1 minute

Do this circuit three times, four if you’re crazy. Then throw in a down dog for recovery sake and call it a day.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, get fit like fido, workouts with your pet

* I was in no way compensated for this post but that’s not stopping me from telling you if you have pets and are looking for a qualified person to watch them while you are away rather then boarding them, be sure to check out DogVacay.com.

Have a great workout!

 

 

Workout Wednesday

It’s been a while since I did a Workout Wednesday post so I figured I’d enlighten you today.

workout wednesday, simply social blog, workout tips, exercises

I’m sure you all have been wondering what I’ve been doing with all my free time lately. No? Oh that’s right you probably don’t have time to sit around and consider what I’m doing with my time but lucky for you I’ll tell you anyway.

I’m trying to make a living of this whole housewife thing but in just over 10 days I’ve determined that I really suck at it. The boxes are long unpacked, the cabinets organized and one can only rearrange picture frames so many times before she feels the eyes following her across the house. My name is Sarah and I completely suck at free time. This move has solidified the fact that I am at my best within a tight timeframe. Give me 3 hours before a big party and man can I crank things out. But if I’m faced with too much time on my hands, I can be just about as unproductive as they come.

Now I know I’m barking up the wrong palm tree as I will be begging for days like this when I’m back in the 9-5 world but in the meantime I’m going just a little bit crazy. I have managed to make a few friends at the dog park, though. Human friends for those of you assuming my only conversations are with canines recently (most are).

I do venture out beyond our local dog park each day. I may or may not have visited SuperTarget 3 times in 4 days last week. Not completely out of the realm for normal Sarah but bordering the line of excess. In an effort to curb spending and get out of the house, I’ve been getting to know people at our new gym. I’m typically not one to strike up a conversation during a workout, but when the only responses you’ve had all morning were head tilts and barks, you take what you can get. I suppose the same could be credited for this lengthy blog post as well.

greater swiss mountain dog, finn, swissy, gsmd, puppy,

After several months off from working out with my trainer, I’ve been feeling the proverbial wrath after each workout.  In fact, my triceps and pecs are fatigued just typing on my keyboard and my butt is entirely way too sore for this squishy of a chair.

So today I’m going to take you through a basic ‘warm-up’ that Matt and I do before we begin lifting. I don’t have any pictures because I was too busy trying not to let my legs burn off but it’s pretty straightforward. Try it and you too can get a body like this, farmer’s tan and all!

IMG_6162

Start with one mile on the treadmill or 5 minutes on a spin bike keeping your RPM above 100. If you don’t have a display on your spin bike, try to keep your heart rate above 140 the entire time.

Continue your warm up in an open fitness studio or free corner of your gym. Repeat the following body weight exercises without resting:

  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)
  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20 
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)

Congratulations, you’re ready for your workout now. Or if you’re like me, you’re ready to go home.

And to help out with that post-workout thirst or recovery the next day, I’ve been making my green juice on repeat lately.

easy green juice recipe, kale and spinach juice, green juice, healthy juice recipes, green smoothie recipe

 

Easy Green Juice

  • 1/2 Banana (frozen or ripe)
  • 1/4 C chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 apple, peeled
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • Big bunch spinach and Kale
  • 1 tsp honey
  • fresh ginger
  • Ice

Add first 7 ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend. Plop in a fun straw and drink up!

easy green juice recipe, kale and spinach juice, green juice, healthy juice recipes, green smoothie recipe

 

Have a great workout! I’m off to Target.

 

Workout Wednesday: Rest Day

Hey guess what happened in Chicago last night?

snow in march, chicago, pioneer plaza

That’s right. It snowed again. Needless to say we are really thrilled about it. We should be though because they were calling for 9 inches and we only got 4.

Nonetheless I’m back for another Workout Wednesday to talk about something that seems somewhat counterproductive in terms of exercise, but is immensely important: Rest Days.

workout wednesday, simply social blog, workout tips, exercises

I’m really good at sabotaging my rest days. Even better at ignoring them altogether and convincing myself that a light workout is just as good as complete rest.

It isn’t.

Rest days are key to maintaining your fitness and your motivation. I learned the hard way that if you ignore them, you’ll end up injured or burnt out and ruin all the work you put into your training in the first place. Trust me when I say that rest days should be treated as importantly as long run days, or leg days, or kickboxing days.

tips for a rest day, running tips, how not to sabotage a rest day, cancun, hammock

When you’re training for a race, nearly every day is dedicated to some form of exercise. It becomes your routine. So for me and I’m sure others, breaking that routine with a day that you don’t do anything leaves you with a gaping hole of time that you want to fill with endorphins and new additions to your people that look like their dogs list. Don’t laugh. It’s a list I take very seriously and something I hope to turn into a coffee table book someday. And I hope you’ll consider purchasing it when I do.

If you are used to exercising every day, your body becomes accustomed to it. So when you don’t exercise, you may feel sluggish, grumpy, hangry or combinations of each. Talk to a runner during a taper week and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Here are a seven ways to avoid sabotaging your rest day:

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Schedule a massage
  3. Put on your workout clothes to do chores around the house
  4. Stretch
  5. Get your haircut. You know you won’t want to wash it again after it’s fixed.
  6. Schedule a lunch or dinner date with a friend
  7. Catch up on laundry, specifically focusing on reducing the size of your workout pile so it no longer towers over your work pile

The key to a rest day is not being completely sedentary, but allowing your body to heal and prepare itself for the hard days. My current training schedule has me rest on Fridays and doing my long run first thing Saturday mornings. And while it may seem frustrating at times, I feel the difference a few miles into my run if I don’t take it easy the day before.

Have a great workout!

Lessons in cookie decorating

Last night I faced a serious dilemma. I had a lot of baking and decorating to do but my back was locked up like Chris Brown during the holiday season. See what I did there? In all seriousness, my back tends to lock up on me if I spend a lot of time standing in my kitchen. I should use this as an excuse so people will cook for me, but I enjoy the process. Long story short, I needed a workout to loosen me up. I know what you’re thinking and yes it’s true, I am 29 going on 75. Fortunately running usually helps with the back issues.

So after Finn and I made our nightly dog park visit where he proceeded to eat every form of snow ball, clod, brick, and poof in sight, I decided to attempt a quick run outside. While my distance is low and my pace is slow, I’m excited to be getting back into a regular running routine. I’ve been religiously rehabbing since the Marathon and after a few test-runs on the treadmill I felt pretty confident I could maneuver the outdoors for a few miles.

It’s been so long since I ran in the cold, I nearly forgot my temperature threshold. As a personal rule, I don’t typically run outside if temps are below 30 degrees. Call me crazy but I’d prefer a 98 degree hot yoga class to nosecicles most nights. But I was in a time-crunch so off I went. It was a few blocks in that I began my internal debate as to whether my temperature threshold was set before or after wind chill. I quickly determined that it was in no way after as a frigid 20 mph wind blasted my face.

It was cold. But the more I ran, the more I remembered how much I love running in the cold. Fresh cold air in your lungs seriously trumps inhaling other gym rats hot sweaty exhales. Great mental picture, huh?

So do yourself a favor and go out and run in the cold. Watch out for black ice and dogs eating snowballs, but go out and run in the cold. And after a few miles, go ahead and stop at your local pet store and pick up a 30-pound bag of food as a final kick. Throw it over your shoulder and try not to fall down as you lug it home. And then, only then are you ready to spend the rest of your night in your kitchen decorating cookies.

dog food workout simply social blog

What does running have to do with cookie decorating besides loosening up your muscles, you might ask? Well, I believe that if you’ve already mentally and physically pushed through a form of exercise in frigid temps, you are more inclined to finish a cookie project that you expect to physically and mentally exhaust you even more so. Tis. The. Season folks.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

It’s been a while since I’ve attempted sugar cookies as they can be a royal pain in the icing. Royal icing can be difficult and time-consuming. My dad loves this type of cookie though so each year for Christmas I attempt to improve my icing skillz without completely losing my sanity.

royal icing tricks christmas tree sugar cookies

I use a basic sugar cookie recipe and follow Wilton’s royal icing instructions. I’ll save you the monotony and just give you a good link to a very talented blogger who is well-versed in icing 101. For this year’s batch I attempted to use her 20 second icing as I didn’t want to spend a ton of time piping and mixing flood icing. I know I’m speaking in cookie language so let’s just look at another picture shall we?

royal icing tricks christmas tree sugar cookies

Since this is a thicker icing, the easiest way to create texture is to ice the cookie in layers as I did above here with what started as Christmas trees and ended as woodland trees.

note: I’m horrible at remembering to get out my camera mid-process so please accept my apologies for my lack of in progress photos. 

Work your way through the various layers and go back and fill in with the second or third color once your first layer has dried.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

For example, with the presents, I did the green bows when I was doing the trees, the white part of the Santa hat along with the candy cane stripes and so on and so forth.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

As I was digging through my cookie cutters, I noticed that my acorn looked an awful lot like a gnome head.

I bet I could make a Santa beard out of that gnome head/acorn

No way is this going to look anything like Santa. 

Huh. This kind of looks like Santa.

And so ends your moment inside my head. When I first decided to attempt a freestyle cookie (i.e. one that doesn’t match it’s intended cookie-cutter purpose) I thought it would be a major fail, perhaps even end up as a Finn cookie. But the more I layered, the more I enjoyed being able to decorate it however I wanted. And so Santa was born, or arrived, or came down the chimney.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

On a side note, the last two days there’s been an elf at my bus stop. Yesterday she was dancing. Today, bawling her eyes out. An elf’s life is tumultuous this time of year. Hug an elf if you get a chance.

Have a very merry Christmas!