Monday, April 27, 2015

Exercise Diary: Being afraid

Today was the first time I went back running after my first road run of the year.  That road run was hard, in that my legs were sore for days afterwards that made me feel like I had not done any running at all since I stopping running outside last year.

The weather never got warm enough to run outside again but I had not done any running otherwise.  Life happened and I used that as an excuse to not go.  I was sleep deprived so every day when I got home all I wanted to do was take a nap.  Last week I was overwhelmed with work stuff that I decided to focus on my diet instead of spending hours after work going to the gym.  I did manage to shake off a few stubborn pounds by eating very little in the evenings and very early.  I told myself that if I feel lighter I would have an easier time exercising.

My parens came 2 weeks ago and brought a bunch of stuff that I didn't get to take with me when I got back from my winter vacation.  With two more suitcases in my room I no longer had space to roll out my yoga mat so I didn't do any other exercises either besides running.

All of this was fueled by the fact that even when I had the time and energy to go to the gym and run a few miles, I was afraid that I would get tired, or that it was take up too much time before and after (like now; I got home before 10 and now it's 10:40 and I still haven't showered or changed).  It's not just putting on my gym clothes and go running.  It's making sure that I'm not too full or too hungry before I go, the stretching and doing other exercise videos after coming home, the writing of the blog, and the constant debate of whether I should eat something because on the one hand I feel that I deserve food after exercise but on the other hand I really don't deserve that much food.  It's not like I ran a marathon or something.

Life finally went back to normal for a bit.  On Friday we assembled the graded exams which took up a lot of my time last week.  I had a very relaxed and unproductive weekend which made me slightly guilty but at the same time absolutely happy.  I ate way too much over the weekend because of an awesome shopping trip to Trader Joe's, and all of these culminated to my determination and actual execution of going to the gym.  I wasn't very hard on myself and only did 2 miles.  I stopped because my legs were tired.  They felt tight and sore and I thought I would allow myself some time to get back into the load I was doing before.  After coming home I did Cassey Ho's new squat challenge video which was a very intense few minutes but felt absolute heaven.  I need to clear out my room so I could have enough space to do other videos later but hopefully today was a nice beginning of getting back into my old workout routine.  It's almost May and this month has gone so quickly in so many ways while being so slow in other, but I don't think I will see a significant change in my body shape when I'm ready to take a new picture of myself.  I'm not terribly worried, but I would like to change faster.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Exercise Diary: Something different

At some point last month I reached my one year runniversary.  It was toward the end of March, I was getting emails about a 5K to raise money for cystic fibrosis (this year it's a walk instead), my parents came to visit (they did again last weekend), and I just had this overwhelming urge to give this running thing one last try.

And here we are today.  Granted about 6 months within the last year I spent thinking about running and nursing an injury, and dreaming a lot about running marathons someday and buying fancy shoes and other gears.  I lost 10 lbs but am having trouble losing more.  It's still a struggle to balance everything but at least I'm moving.

Went for a run on Sunday (after my parents left) and a run yesterday.  Both were hard for different reasons.  I had trouble getting through 5 miles on Sunday, and I wasn't able to, leaving the gym 5 minutes before closing and not getting the run I needed.  I kept stopping to walk, and changing the channels.  There was nothing on TV that would keep me calm and occupied for the hour, and I had trouble keeping myself entertained.

Yesterday I did my first road run.  The weather forecast reported low 70s and I thought, finally~  I didn't go far; I had to do 3 miles and I ended up running around the pond next to our building 3 times since it's close by, the laps are easier to remember, and if something goes wrong I could easily stop and go back.  I had prepared to bring my shoes (with the Nike+ sensor), bra and  pants to change, Garmin Forerunner 10, my cap and my SPI belt.  I actually brought everything but the shoes...  I put them in a bag and forgot about them.  Luckily I was wearing sneakers that day anyway and I had run in them so they are somewhat safe.  I did manage to loop the pond 3 times, the watch worked fine, the podcast was interesting, the weather accommodating (windy and cloudy but not too hot or cold), and plenty of people who had the same idea as me looping the pond in both directions.

It was only then I realized that my runs on the treadmill was getting me very, very complacent.  I was struggling toward the end of first mile, received a mild shock at the concept of hills, had to stop and walk toward the end of mile 2, and my legs (thighs, butt, calves, and surprisingly only a little of the feet) are still hurting quite a bit this morning.  I had to readjust my running pose to something more comfortable for road running where I actually had to push myself more to move ahead on immobile ground (so I had to lean forward more), I was painfully aware of how hard my feet were pounding the ground and legs not raised much.  My cap was absorbing most of my sweat but I was still stuffy.  But my eyes had so much more to see: the people, the scenery, the incoming cars...  I think I will stick to the pond for a bit more until I get used to outdoor running before moving to somewhere more hilly and farther from home.  I also need to start bringing a water bottle.

On the flip side, I spent way too much time yesterday (during work and after) struggling with modern technology, everything from a stupid printer to my various sports devices and music players.  By the end, I connected my computer to another printer, decided that Nike+ on any Android device (maybe with the exception of Samsung, which I don't use) is just useless, wrote to Nike+ support so they can deal with another issue I was trying to resolve, updated my computer, bought myself a new (refurbished) iPod Touch (just for the heck of it, and at 2 am when I was extremely exhausted), and am still behind on work.

And I'm exhausted this morning, catching up on blogging.

I really hope the rest of the week is going to be better.  It's been a long week and it's only Tuesday.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Exercise Diary: Need more data~

A friend of mine defended this thesis today and officially became a Ph.D.  Juxtaposing that with the fact that I have not been doing a lot of lab work due to my TA schedule and my inability to compartmentalize my mind and focus on things in front of me, made me feel on the one hand extremely proud him and on the other hand slightly worried for myself.

Anyhoo, in order to go celebrate his successful defense I skipped yoga today, had some champaign which was for some reason much stronger than I anticipated (probably because I was drinking on an empty stomach), and then ingested an obscene amount of cake, chips and salsa, and veggies with yummy ranch dressing.  I got home with a headache and was absolutely exhausted.  Took a nap and really struggled to go to the gym afterwards.

I did only 2.5 miles today, just to save the long run for the weekend.  Given how tired I was when I got up and how much junk food I had in my stomach I did not anticipate that I would have an excellent run.  But it just felt... really easy.  My foot didn't bother me, I felt energetic, and I felt really comfortable going up to higher speeds.  I was pleasantly surprised how short my run felt, and I had a blast watching a documentary on wildlife in Russia on the Animal Planet channel.

And I can't really figure out why.  I had assumed that because of the stress, the slacking of fluid intake, the lack of sleep, and my general decline in running ability had contributed to my recent struggle every time I get on the treadmill.  Maybe I was mentally less tired today since I knew it was going to be a short run (but I was still afraid of it)?  I can't quite figure out what was different about me today.  I got about 6.5 hours of sleep last night, plus another 1.5 or so hours before going.  I ate oatmeals for breakfast, a vegetarian lunch, and about 2.5 L of water before the cake and snack fiasco.  I took my daily vitamins right after I got home.  I don't consider that a wild stray from my normal daily routine.

I don't know what made today so easy.

After I got home I did two Ballet Beautiful videos: swam arms and butt series 1.  I wasn't in the mood of trying anything new today, and both were a struggle but after many pauses and stretches and coconut water I managed thru them both.  I wanted to do another abs video from blogilates but I was tired, and it was getting late.  So maybe tomorrow. I think since tomorrow is not a running day I will do legs and abs and something else.

Wednesday morning I tried to do a video before leaving for school.  It was a new video too and that wasn't very smart.  I forgot why I decided to do it, probably to make up for not doing anything on Tuesday (granted I didn't leave lab until 10:30 for TA stuff and had to get up for the 8:45 am the next day).  I didn't get through the entire video due to time and lack of strength, but yesterday was also a long day and I felt much more energetic.  I was hungrier faster, but I wasn't tired, and I think the morning exercise may have something to do with it.  I just couldn't get up this morning to try again, but I will repeat this experiment someday.

It's almost the weekend!  My parents are coming to visit so I will have to plan my time carefully, but they will bring me yummy food, and we are going to see ballet together and all of us are very much looking forward to it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Exercise Diary: Setbacks

What I did today:

  • 4 miles on the treadmill
    • The only thing I was proud of was that I stayed on the treadmill till I hit the 4-mile mark.  I walked twice in between, and I was just really tired the while time.  My foot was hurting by mile 2, and that made me wary of going any faster.  I'm not sure what it was, I can only attribute it to a general decline in fitness.
  • first half of the Ballet Beautiful swam arms series
    • I thought it makes a lot of sense that on running days I would also work on my arms so my legs don't suffer too much.  But I neglected the fact that I did the same video yesterday and I was feeling its effect all day today.  I managed to work through the first half of the video before calling it a day.  I could go on if I wanted, but I didn't want to.  I would probably feel very sorry tomorrow if I did.
  • Ballet Beautiful Out Thigh
    • To make up for the incomplete of the first video I decided to look for another BB workout to make up for it.  I picked this one since it was short and the targeted outer thigh didn't seem too bad.  And it wasn't.  I mean, my legs were feeling both like lead and on fire when I worked on each, and I needed prolonged stretching after each set so I don't cramp, but after the workout I don't feel my legs so much anymore.  It's not like I can't walk or anything. 
  • Blogilates Quick Ab workout
    • After all that I felt that I really should work on my abs for a bit since I've been neglecting this area.  Mostly because it's hard and I can't do crunches or whatever you do for very long.  There are so many ab videos on Blogilates that I ended up just picking a random one, which despite being a 10 minute video was actually very short, since it only had two moves and worked to a 3:14-long song.  I still couldn't do it the whole way through and had to take breaks in between and didn't even bother to pause the video.  I'm feeling my abs and I think that's enough for the day.
About this time last month I stood in front of my full-length mirror in my gym clothes and took a picture of myself.  I had great ambition and hope that in one month, combining running and doing Blogilates workout and a modified diet I would change my weight and body shape somewhat, and I would document my progress.  I didn't expect to be all lean and skinny after just one month, but I did the same thing in front of the mirror today (not the same gym clothes though), and I don't think I saw any changes.  If anything I think I may look even bigger and wider than last month.  I don't think my weight had changed.  I would like to think that I had lost a pound or two but it's not very noticeable.  I think given some more time the changes will become more apparent, but this has been a very disappointing month.  I'm still adjusting.  And I feel there was progress.  But there's no proof.  Oh well.  I guess it's a good thing that winters are so long here; I still have some time before I no longer have my jacket to cover up my body of shame.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Exercise Diary: Making it up as I go along

I'm still feeling the effect of my butt workout from yesterday.  The glute muscles themselves weren't really effected as much as I would have liked, but the leg muscles around my butt are very sore.  And because I'm a sucker for quick results, I'm thinking maybe I should incorporate some of this Ballet Beautiful workout into my routine as well, since they provide a longer, more gradual workout that make you feel really tired at the end but does not make you want to kill yourself (not as much) during the process.  It's just long and repetitive, like a slow long run day.  But mostly I'm tempted by the quick and really obvious results that everyone raving about.  Since there are only about 5 or 6 videos available online (each targeting a different area of the body) I feel that I could incorporate them into my routine, rather than completely having them replacing my old stuff.

That, of course, has its own dangers.  One of the things I like about Blogilates is that Cassey gives you a calendar at the beginning of each month, charting out what you need to do every day.  Or in my case, a beginner's workout calendar.  Not that I had successfully followed it for an entire month, nor have I done everything it asked for, but at least it gave me an objective list of workout that I should be able to complete and often time that pushes me to a limit I would not otherwise go.  That's my point.  If I start making my own list I would either become too complacent, or too ambitious, and neither is really good.

But that's what we are going to do anyway.  Today I had no specific plan as to what videos I should do.  It's not a running day, and I've given up the hope to get my butt to the gym for an elliptical session since it's never enough motivation to get up dressed up and head out of the door.  So instead I just started with a video, and another, until I was properly sweating, and a reasonable amount of time has gone by.  In this case, about 40 minutes.  If I spend 40 minutes on the treadmill I would probably run 2.8 miles.  And I think that's pretty good for my first improv workout day.

In those 40 minutes I completed:
Ballet Beautiful: Ab workout for a slim waistline
  Since I worked quite a bit on my butt yesterday, and I am doing the April arms challenge, I thought a nice ab workout would be nice.  And it was only 7 minutes, so I had hoped that it would be short but intense.  Well, it was short.  And I don't know if I'm just not doing the moves right, or whatever, I didn't really feel my abs burning.  Rather my upper thighs got a heavy dose and were hurting by the end.  Not a very satisfying workout; I didn't even break a sweat or lost control with my breathing.  Maybe I'll stick with Blogilates for the abs, but I'll wait and see how intense the legs and hips video is.  Those are usually pretty intense.
Ballet Beautiful: Strong&Sexy Swan Arms Workout
  I broke my own taboo and did an arm video next.  I already did my arms challenge for today and really didn't feel a thing.  I knew this video was going to be good since my friend had done it before and said it was brutal.  It's long too, about 17 minutes.  And she filled the entire 17 minutes with endless swan arms and its variations.  It was brutal.  My arms felt like lead by the end of the workout and I assume I will feel them quite acutely tomorrow.  But it's about an hour after I did the arms video and my arms no longer feel like lead.  I can feel every muscles, as all of them got a proper workout, but so far no horrific sore like that Blogilates video I did last week (1 minute of half cobra push-up + 1 minute of triangle push-up can make the back of your arms hurt for a week and I'm not kidding).  But overall very satisfying and will definitely do it again, maybe on running days.
Blogilates 10 min butt lift challenge
  Broke my taboo again.  This is part of the April 1 workout, which was all about butts and hips.  I thought, why not.  It's evident that I'm not going to follow everything on the calendar, and I might as well start with 4/1 again even though it's already 4/5 (how time flies already).  This video was made a few months back as part of the 30-day butt challenge, and therefore I was familiar with all the moves.  It was intense, especially after the workout I already had yesterday.  I was able to do most of the video except the very end when Cassey totally surprised me after the bridge pose and added the single leg bridges.  If I wasn't tired out I would attempt to make it to the end, but I just couldn't.  So I didn't.  For me it was more like a 9 minute butt lift challenge.  But whatever.
Blogiates Hips Butt&Thighs Super Shaper Workout
  It's also part of the 4/1 list.  There were two other bubble butt workout but I just couldn't.  This one had some other components that the workout targeted so I thought why not.  And it did.  Lots of leg circles and lifts and tapping the front and back and doing side planks (which I cannot do).  Also some back leg lift for butt.  Nothing to difficult to do (except the side planks) and my butt is seriously hurting now.  I was going to go for the full hour but after this I thought it was enough for a day.

The shower afterwards was really nice.

So that wasn't too bad.  I think using time instead of sets and reps and things to-do works much better, and I really should have known since it was applicable to running as well.  We'll just have to see how it will go during the weekend when shit again hits the fan and life spins into crazy mode.

Exercise Diary: Running Behind

I'm running behind on everything in life at the moment.  Running schedule, workout exercises, research, preparing for lab that I'm supposed to TA next week, filing my taxes, doing stuff for mom, laundry, writing this blog after each time I run or exercise, and even leisure books I wanted to read.  In fact the only things that I'm not behind are TA things or research things (or going to the movies) that require me to be at a certain place at a certain time.  Because there are consequences if I don't show up on time.  And even when I'm physically there I'm not always prepared to do whatever I'm supposed to be doing.  When I don't have to be somewhere I waste my time just relaxing, being tired, and procrastinating in general.

I did manage to get two runs in this week, neither of which I have recorded, since I had to be somewhere right afterwards so I didn't have the luxury of sitting around, writing a blog post, shower, eat, and sitting around some more.  I ran on Thursday, and had an hour to come home and shower before going to lab again to set up some stuff for one of the undergrads in our lab.  And today I went running again, only to have the same time crunch afterwards so I could make to the 4pm movie of "Paddington" which I really wanted to see (and it was totally worth the $5).

And I didn't even have enough time to do all my running.  I was supposed to do 3 miles on Thursday and only did about 2.8 before I had to go.  And I was supposed to run 4 miles but only had time to do 3.2.  Today was a combination of being really tired and being short on time.  I again timed my lunch wrongly so I was sort of running on a full stomach and felt heavy and tired.  Neither run felt very satisfying or accomplished.  My only accomplishment this week is dragging my butt to the gym twice.  What I ended up doing in there was nothing to brag about.

So today I made the decision of starting last week over again in terms of my training schedule.  Even since I knew for sure that I'm not doing a half marathon in May I could feel a slight but definite drop in motivation (albeit masked by my suddenly busy schedule), and I think not going running on Monday was a very telling sign.  I want to keep adhering to my training plan, even though I have no race at the end, but I just want to be constantly preparing for something in case a race shows up, and I just really need the discipline.  Otherwise I will just be randomly running for some undetermined distance at some leisure speed, and I would be running for month without real progress.  I really need the structure and something to guide me.  I just hope I will stick to it now that there is no consequence at the end of the plan.  When I reach the end I will just start a new plan, one that probably will prepare me for something hypothetical marathon I may or may not be running in December.  But I want to keep it up.  It's important to me.

Today I also did a Ballet Beautiful butt workout, courtesy of a friend who's been doing that series of videos for a while now.  Apparently it's very good at getting rid of inches and sculpting good arm and leg shapes in a very short period of time.  I still don't understand the science behind "getting rid of inches" and what is actually going on behind that, but I can only assume that the workout burns a lot more calories since they are very intense.  A lot of the moves in this video were not unfamiliar to me, but of course there are always ways to make them more difficult given enough time.  I definitely felt my legs and glute muscles after the workout, but I don't think I benefitted as much as I could by following the instructor at her speed.  She was able to do all the moves so quickly and effortlessly, and it was sort of implied that we the students should really take our own time with the reps and the stretching in between, but since it was my first time I was determined to follow all her lead, and found that in order to keep up with her speed I couldn't carry out all the moves and reps fully.  Next time if I ever will repeat this video I will definitely do the reps at my own pace.  But I did end up taking a second shower of the day after this video and was walking a little more carefully, so it's definitely working, regardless of how carelessly I was doing all the moves.

I'm still in the process of reassessing my life for this term, how to balance the sudden intrusion of my time, ensuring a proper and healthy diet (I've already eaten more junky meals than I liked), and keep a reasonable workout schedule, since I think that's very important to my sanity as well.  I need to suck it up and just do everything.