Friday, March 30, 2012

My back has failed me

So I haven't written any posts in a while because I've been in some pain due to my back. I found out on Tuesday that I have a herniated disc and a fragment impinging on my nerve at the L5-S1 region. So I essentially haven't done any exercise in the last 2 weeks until today. My back pain has subsided but I now have sciatic pain down my left leg if I sit for too long. Luckily this is better than this past weekend when the pain was constant. I think the constant and continual icing of my back plus lots of rest and walking have helped significantly. I almost believed I wouldn't need surgery but can't say for sure until I speak to the neurosurgeon on Monday. Since I have been feeling more like myself I decided to do a gentle workout today:
3x10 upright rows
3x30 shoulder shrugs (front, back, up)
3x10 lateral raises
3x10 bicep curls
3x1 dip (hard, could only do one with full range of motion)
3x30 wrist curls
All with 10 lb dumbbells except for the dips which were just bodyweight
3x10 knee pushups
3x10 air squats
3x60 sec planks
None of this hurt my back and it felt good to do a workout. This was a "JTH" workout (Jim's program excluding bench presses, leg lifts, crunches and side crunches).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day of pampering

From the Blue Lagoon website
Walking down the path on my way to the Blue Lagoon!

A little fuzzy but this is the entrance to the Blue Lagoon Spa


Looking at the Blue Lagoon thermal spa from inside the cafe
The blue blue blue Blue Lagoon
On my last day in Iceland, I went to the Blue Lagoon for some pampering.  The geothermal spa was amazing!  I changed into my swimsuit and went into the pool (really large) at 10 am, it was great, there were only a few people there at that time so it felt very private and quiet.  I soaked in there for an hour and tried the silica mud on my face (they have pots of it around the pool for you to self-apply).  It was surreal being outside in 40 deg weather and sitting in a hot thermal pool.   I really enjoyed looking up at the sky and the mountains around the Blue Lagoon while soaking in the pool.  Afterward, I went back inside for my facial which was a great experience.  The woman (Krista) did a great job.  Afterward, I went back into the pool again for another hour before changing and getting lunch at the Blue Lagoon cafe.  Then it was back to the airport to go back to the USA.  What a great way to end a vacation!  They make it very easy to go from your hotel to the Blue Lagoon and then to the airport.  I realize that it is a little touristy and there are other geothermal spas in Iceland but the expediency of the Blue Lagoon to the airport makes it appealing.  Plus how often can you soak in a thermal spa and have snow falling down on you??? Too cool. If you ever go to Iceland, make sure you go to the Blue Lagoon.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The WOD: glacier walk

Exercise has been lax since I hurt my back on Tuesday and since I'm on vacation in Iceland. However today's itinerary included a 2 hr glacier walk which I'm calling my WOD for today. We only walked about 2 km and stopped at certain points to see the ice formations and the black lava ash that settled around the region. The ash was more like rich black soil and is actually used as fertilizer. The walk was fun albeit cold. We used crampons and carried ice picks more for stability than any actual ice chipping/climbing. It was actually pretty strenuous walking uphill on the glacier. Afterward we had lobster soup to warm us up.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Re-injuring myself

I haven't been posting this week because I hurt my back again on Tuesday. The WOD had manmakers (pushup, upright row, clean, press with 2x20lb dumbbells). On my fourth manmaker, I felt my back shift when I pulled the weight up to clean and it hurt. I was dnf (did not finish) and decided to take the rest of the week off. I should have used lighter weights since my back hasn't fully healed and I will be more mindful for the next 8 weeks. Looks like a lot of rehab for me in the near future.

I've been reading fitness magazines (Shape, Runner's World, Bicycling, once in a while Outside and Men's Health) for over 20 years and to be honest, none of them has helped me in terms of getting better at technique or getting personal records or just becoming a better "exerciser". Where it has helped is with motivation and I have finally come to a point where I realized that they don't provide that motivation any longer. Most of the articles are just a recycle of the same information and some of it is blatantly wrong! How many times can you read about delicious desserts that you can have or wear "stability" control shoes if you over-pronate or have knee issues? And still not lose fat (I don't care about weight loss just care about the fat on my body and how to minimize it) or still have knee pain even though I bought the orthotic inserts to wear in my thickly soled shoes.
I exercised casually in high school, I took one aerobics class, one dance class and one weight lifting class. The aerobics was fun because it was easy (so not really effective but it boosted my ego), the dance class taught me that I can't count to a beat and I have no coordination or grace (and will never practice enough to get either), I don't remember much from the weight lifting class other than we only used Nautilus equipment so I never learned how to use free weights, barbells or do any of the Olympic weightlifting moves that I love (and find effective) now. Move on to college, again more aerobic classes, hooked on Stairmaster,tried yoga one semester (hated it), and one swim class (required to graduate), very little weight lifting and again mostly on machines.  After college, I joined an expensive gym in Cambridge, MA because it had a pool (never used it) and again, did some of the machines but mostly Stairmaster.  I also tried step aerobics at home and that was great for awhile but after I sprained my ankle on the step, I quit.  I also bought a mountain bike (a rigid) and would go on very casual rides around the Charles River (I thought  that my 8-10 mph rides for 1 hour or so was a workout, little did I know). 

I just found an old record of my "health stats" in the Cambridge gym from 1999:
Resting heart rate: 76 bpm
Resting blood pressure: 114/54
Peak heart rate: 160
Total weight: 135 lbs
% Body fat: 27.6% (skin fold measurements)

My current stats 2012:
Resting heart rate: 65 bpm
Resting blood pressure: 110/70
Peak heart rate: 184
Total weight: 135 lbs (!)
% Body fat: 22.5% (skin fold measurements)

After four years of working, I went back to school in Amherst, MA.  The first year of grad school was stressful for me and I gained a significant amount of weight (I think I topped out at 150 lbs) so  I got motivated again to start exercising.  I tried running because it was cheap and finally found that I liked running, especially on the greenways and the trails (again the Robert Frost trail is one of the most awesome places to go trail running).  Weight lifting was still something I did only occasionally, even though by this time, I had a bench at home! I tried some bench presses and curls and tricep work but nothing else. 

I made friends who were "real mountain bikers" and they took me and my rigid mountain bike on the trails and I learned that I liked riding on the trails but didn't find it comfortable. Hence, I bought my first "real" mountain bike: a hardtail Gary Fisher Big Sur.  I loved that bike and started riding the trails around Amherst (Batchelor st was tough, the Robert Frost Trail was kinder).  Since mountain biking was tough for me, I did get in shape but I still wasn't really pushing myself (my average pace was 4-5 mph!, those hills were hard for me).

I also got into Spin classes during the winters which was also fun because I was getting my ass kicked by the classes.  After about 2 years of running regularly (15-25 miles/week), I started getting pretty severe knee pain in my right leg.  I went to the doctor who referred me to a podiatrist who gave me orthotic inserts to wear.  For awhile the orthotics helped but I noticed that whenever I ran longer or tried to run faster, my knee would hurt the next day.  Icing post-run helped a great deal and allowed me to continue running but after awhile, I just decided I couldn't do it anymore.  So I quit running when I moved to Syracuse and went back to being a gym rat.  Again more Stairmaster and I tried the ellipitical even though I never felt like it was doing me any good.  3 years in Syracuse meant very little mountain biking but more road biking.  Then we come to North Carolina where I got back into mountain biking (great trails, great community for bikers).  I also discovered I had a fibroid which had caused me to get tired frequently and was partially to blame for my increasing weight (I was about 142 lbs back in 2010).  Well, once the fibroid was removed, I was back to biking and running and discovered Forged Fitness.  I haven't looked back and it's been fantastic!  I can't wait to see what else is in store. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday's WOD was all about cleaning

We had a pretty fun WOD this morning:
Row 400M
Power clean (63 lbs for me)
Box jumps (20", I did step-ups because I didn't want to skin my shin again and the old wound hasn't fully healed)
4 rounds
reps: 21, 18,15, 9
I finished in 20:00.
So in each round the power cleans and box jumps were reduced in number, but you still had to row 400 meters every round. I wanted to do 75 lbs but my back is still healing.  After the WOD was over, I tried deadlifting another guy's bar (it was 115 lbs) and my back hurt a bit trying to even do that weight!  This is frustrating, it really does take a long time to recover from an injury.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Two WODs and a Race

The last few days have been hectic and I've not been able to post so here is what's been going on the last 2 days:
Friday WOD
6 deadlifts (95 lbs)
7 burpee pullups (do a burpee, jump up to catch the bar and do an explosive pullup)
10 kettlebell swings (30 lbs)
AMRAP in 20 minutes
I did 9 rounds
I wanted to do a higher weight on the deadlifts, but my back hurt when I tried 115 lbs so I reduced the weight. The next day my arms were sore from the burpee pullups, my left arm is still sore today.

My friend Payal came to visit me and we did a little indoor rock climbing on Friday night.  I only did one climb and she tried it twice, it was fun but so hard to fit in to my regular schedule because I always want to rest up for whatever I have in store for Saturday and this Saturday was no different.  In the morning, I took Payal to Forged Fitness and we did the SOS workout:
180 singles
50 goblet squats (26 lb kettlebell)
40 overhead lunges (11 lb plate)
30 pushups
20 slamballs (20 lb ball)
10 jump squats
Run 1 mile
10 jumps squats
20 slamballs
30 pushups
40 overhead lunges
50 goblet squats
180 singles
Time: 29:34
Payal did a modified version and got her first taste of Crossift, I'm hoping she tries it out back at home.
The day was not over though, we had our mountain biking race at Lake Crabtree- Curse of the Crab.  I did it as a duo with Jim although I ended up only doing 1 lap to his 4 laps.  This was my third biking outing since the beginning of 2012 and I need to get back on the bike!  No more excuses now since daylight savings time has arrived and I can bike after work now with more daylight time. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Geting my butt kicked on a daily basis

I'm glad I took off from running yesterday because the WOD this morning included a run and my legs still don't feel 100% yet:
Run 400M
20 Lateral hops (hop over and back to count as "1 hop")
20 slamballs (20 lb ball)
20 push press (63 lb bar)
4 rounds for time
I finished in 27:27!
It was tough today and mostly because I went heavier on the push press, usually I do 55 lbs but I want to get stronger and you can't get stronger if you keep using the same weight every time! So I upped it to 63 lbs (33 lb bar + 15 lb plates)  and it kicked my ass.  The first round went okay, the second round went okay, the third and fourth rounds were struggles.  I had to break the push press into segments of 5 reps at a time to complete them.  I'm glad I did the higher weight though, I need to push myself to get stronger in upper body movements.  I don't see myself doing any pullups if I can't increase my overhead movement weights.  Feels good to be alive. I found a great quote from Mia Hamm that encapsulates what I strive for: “I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The WOD was twice as hard today

The WOD: "Elizabeth"
Cleans (I did 67 lbs, tried 75 lbs but was super tired)
Ring Dips (used a band to support myself)
21-15-9
Took me 11:43
I was pretty hesitant on the cleans because my legs were shot (from the 10 mile run and the front squats on Monday).  I know I should try and recover before doing a hard workout but it's so difficult to not go to the gym!  I ended up not going on my Complete Runner program run tonight (was supposed to do 10x200 meter runs) just to give myself some rest.  I can now feel my legs getting back to normal so I should be good to go tomorrow (yes, I'm going back for my suffering!). 
Food log for yesterday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and 1/2 cup greek plain yogurt and an extra large cup of chai
Snacks: orange, apple, some almonds, one mini-milky way, 1 banana
Lunch: 4 oz round eye steak with roasted cauliflower and sweet potato slices
Dinner: Chips and salsa! Didn't feel like cooking or eating a real meal.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A really cold WOD

It was 28°F this morning and I don't think I ever warmed up:
800M run
30 wall balls (14 lb ball)
30 back extensions (torso on the Abmat)
30 situps (Abmat)
3 rounds
Time: 23:20
It was a long WOD this morning and running outside in short-sleeves was a test of my comfort level.  I did the first lap with a jacket on, then took the jacket off for the wall balls.  I did the second lap with no jacket and when I came back inside to do the wall balls, my arms felt like popsicles.  Legs were really tired from the last 3 days and I didn't really push it on the run.  I hope it gets warmer!

Yesterday's food log:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and 1/2 cup Greek plain yogurt and an extra-large cup of chai
Snacks: 4 oz OJ, 2 oranges, 1 apple, 1 small Caramello bar, 2 diet cokes
Lunch: 6 oz. organic ground chicken with brocolli and mushrooms
Dinner: 6 oz round eye steak marinated in hot salsa (very good) with brocolli and mashed sweet potatoes

On Feb. 1, we did a WOD that was going to be repeated a month later to see if we had achieved any strength gains/speed gains in the WOD.
It was an "AMRAP" workout (AMRAP stands for "as many rounds as possible" within a fixed time)
The WOD
8 Front Squats (I did 75 lbs again)
10 pushups (on the knee pushups)
12 box jumps (jumped on the tire, 18" high)
AMRAP in 15 minutes
I did 9 rounds with 1 minute to spare, back on Feb. 1, I did 8 rounds.  I improved, but I think I could have done better if I hadn't started to slow down.  I wasn't feeling bad or anything, I was just afraid of pushing myself too hard and the front squats were getting heavier!  I keep saying it and not doing it but I really need to spend some time on my front, back and overhead squats both with getting full depth and heavier weights.  It kind of sucks that I can't even do a squat with 130-135 lbs (my body weight) yet.  This workout just indicates that I can do better and will strive to get stronger.

Yesterday's food log:
Breakfast: 2 eggs with 1/4 cup black beans and 1/4 cup chopped brocolli with chai
Lunch: Tuna steak with asparagus and baked sweet potato fries
Snacks: duncan hines brownies with walnuts and 8 oz skim milk, a Caramello bar (220 cal version) and a 20 oz Diet coke
Dinner: 1/2 cup black beans with salsa and cheese with lemon/lime seltzer water (I really stuffed myself on the brownies and wasn't that hungry)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Suffer on Saturday

Thunderstorms and rain meant cancellation of our Saturday run (10 miles/100 minutes), so I went to Forged Fitness instead for the SOS (suffer on Saturday) workout.
The WOD:
60 double unders (I did 180 singles because I can't do DUs yet)
30 Thrusters (55 lbs, front squat into a push press)
Row 500M
60 situps (or 30 knees to elbows, I did the situps)
30 kettlebell snatches (20 lb kettlebell)
Row 500M
30 slamballs (20 lb ball)
30 overhead lunges with the 20lb slamball
60 double unders (I did 180 singles)
time: 17:18, finished first!!!!
Check out the highlight video of the WOD, the background music is from my Pandora station that I named "Forged Music", it was perfect for the workout:

After the workout, I went home, took a nap for 2 hours and then got really hungry and decided that Saturday was going to be a day to eat whatever I wanted. So we went to the Mellow Mushroom, I had garlic bread, the steak and cheese calzone (could only finish half, those calzones are huge!) and half of a brownie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  The rain had gone way, so there wasn't much excuse to not do a run, so Jim and I did an out and back at Umstead on Old Reedy Creek Rd.  The first five miles were good, averaging 10:30-11:00 min/mile pace but I slowed down after that and finished 10 miles in 2 hours, giving me an average pace of 12:00.  I wasn't feeling my lungs busted but my legs were dead after the WOD this morning, keeping up a 12 min/mile pace was pretty good for how I was feeling!  What a great day.  Now I'm ready to eat the second half of my calzone.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday afternoon WOD

I was not able to wake up this morning to make it to the gym. I ended up taking the day off and didn't feel like doing anything. Since it was raining, I decided I needed to try and make it to the 4:30 class since I wasn't going to bike. I'm glad I did, it was a great WOD:
3 power cleans 63 lbs
6 pushups
9 air squats
As many rounds as possible in 3 minutes
Then rest 1 minute
Repeat for 5 rounds total
I ended up doing 5-4-4-4-4 and felt pretty good up until the end. The cleans were good and I think in another week I can go back to 75 lbs.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Food Log and February 2012

I was aiming to both eat well and abstain from bread and sugar during February but that did not happen.  I did eat well (most of the time) but I also ate bread (calzone (just 1), hamburgers and sandwiches, scones) and went into sugar overdrive in February.  I don't think the sugar overdrive was because I abstained from sugar in January.  The sugar highs definitely correlate to my monthly cycle, I turn into a zombie and just start eating Cadbury bars like nobody's business.  I also tend to eat chocolate when I'm feeling depressed or frustrated and work was a little frustrating in February.  I'd like to figure out how to not fall into the trap of eating for comfort but so far, I'm not that good at seeing the traps beforehand.  As for my weight, it fluctuates from 132-133 lbs and I most likely haven't gained a significant amount of weight because I've increased my running.
I'm going to make a stronger effort in March to abstain from all bread (I really do believe this helps my metabolism stay level) and no sugar.  Some of the ways that help me on the right track include:
Making sure I always have good food around (i.e. almonds, tuna, fruit, sunflower seeds) to snack on
Preparing two or three big entrees that serves as meals throughout the week
Eating out only once a week (or not at all would be the real goal)
I have found it easier to cook without bread/rice/pasta so that part is not hard anymore. Eating healthy is easy, the hard part is just not eating the "bad" stuff.  And I definitely am not one of these people who can just eat one tiny piece of chocolate and put the rest away, I go to town on the whole bag or the king size bars!  It's best just to not have it all.  If I can go another 30 days without it, and then another 30 days without it, it might become a habit.
And in March I will be writing down and blogging about my food intake! I realized that when I wasn't reporting it, I was worse in my eating habits.  I've also used the excuse of going to the chiropractor at 7 AM to stop by Panera and get a scone AND a spinach/artichoke souffle.  I patted myself on the back for the souffle because it has 20 g of protein (yes it also has a lot of fat and carbs but I convinced myself that it was okay because of all that protein!) and the scone was just bonus because I was going to the gym right before my chiropractor visits.  Both are a bad idea and I will not be going for anymore since it's hurting my wallet and my abs. 

Last night we did 800M repeats at the St. Augustine college track and wow, it was such a nice track! So new and professional looking. We met at Seaboard Station in front of O2 Fitness and jogged over to the college as our warmup. The jog was 1.85 miles! After hurting my shin box jumping yesterday, it was a bit hard to run on the road and I started getting crabby and slowed down significantly. I ended up being the last person to get there and ran with the second group. I ended up doing 3x800M repeats with a 400M jog in between:
1st 800M: 4:00
2nd 800M: 3:46
3rd 800M: 3:49
Not bad but it was tough!
Afterward I stretched and used the foam roller on my quads, hamstrings, calves and IT band. No knee pain yet.
This morning's WOD:
10 push press 55lbs
20 pullups (band assisted)
90 singles jump rope
As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes
I did 3 rounds plus 3 push presses
For extra credit we did:
Plank hold 4x1 minute
I was able to do the first 2 but failed to hold it for a minute on the last 2 planks.
I also did 10 deadlifts at 75 lbs and I could feel the strain in my lower back so I'm not going to push it any further.