Thursday, July 30, 2015

Broadcasting your workouts

Although it's not the last day of the month till tomorrow, today is the last day of the July Journey to Splits Blogilates challenge.  For 30 days we stretched various parts of our legs every day, and each day we do a new stretch in addition to the basic 5.  And theoretically by the end of the month we would be able to (or getting closer to) do a standing split.

Well, I did my last split stretch yesterday and I can confidently say that I still cannot do a standing split.  But my hips are much closer to the ground on my side splits and I can almost do a forward split, so the month-long work was not in vain.  And for the most part I was able to successfully do my stretches every day and managed to take a semi-respectable selfie of that day's new pose.  And after a month, looking back on my Instagram history, I have to say it was quite impressive.

This is the first time I did something this public.  It's one thing to blab random thoughts and report progress on this blog about my various running, yoga-ing, and other exercises, but it's quite another to take a picture of yourself doing some stretching pose, post on social media, everyday, for a month.  I had a lot of insecurities, about how I look, about how I look while stretching, about my surroundings (I have a very small and messy apartment), about what I wear, everything.  Initially I took pictures in public places like the gym, then I switched to fancy photoshopping apps and went on a PS diarrhea.  Then I just thought, you know what, screw it, and ended up doing a basic blurring of the background and called it a day.  Many pictures had my face in it, and in some of them I really didn't look very appealing.

But the feedback was amazing.  From the very first picture I posted accepting the challenge I got "likes" from many popsters (other people who also follow the blogilates workout).  I returned their kindness with my own likes of other random people on Instagram, and a few of us started following each other and my feed began to be flooded with other people's stretches and other workouts.  Every day after I post my pictures I will receive about 20-30 likes, which is not many compared to some other people but considering that I only opened an account for this occasion and only had three real life friends on Instragram (for this purpose) it was a pretty good response I think.  And I got slightly more traffic on this blog after putting the web address on my profile.  Occasionally I got comments and felt very flattered, but this form of quiet camaraderie and support is perfect for me.  It's partly what keeps me going forward and I'm very thankful for those who cared.

And now this month is coming to an end.  There's a short plank challenge for the beginning of next month that I think I will do but didn't seem very interested or very well put together.  But after this month, with the new gym classes I'm taking and this everyday goal I try to achieve, I think I've gotten into a good momentum to keeping going forward, doing workouts and stretches every day, just to keep myself moving if anything else.

Here's to another great month!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Exercise Diary: Random Thoughts

  • The spinning classroom in our school gym recently got new spinning bikes that made the old bikes (which are currently sitting sadly in the hallway outside of the room) look like yucky ancient dinosaurs.  The new bikes are shiny, slick, and got a nice touch of red color.  They are also equipped with a display monitor that shows you how long you have been spinning, rpm, watts, calories burned, and distance.  I was very sad to learn today that after 35 minutes of peddling I only burned 197 kcals.  Also I really hope the distance display is in miles and not kilometers.
  • This is the fourth week into my gym class and 2nd full week of 4-5 days/wk workouts.  Sadly my weight has not been dropping like I had hoped, and different parts of my body have been hurting everyday.  But I think I've got more arm muscles already, as I can already see a little bulge when I flexed my arms in front of the mirror today.  So that's kind of cool.  If I can build up some arm/upper body strength this summer I will be very happy.
  • One morning (could've been Tuesday) as we were leaving I saw a very old woman in the gym getting ready for her workout.  The whole time I was watching her she was just stretching and flexing her extremities, but she looked very lean and muscle-y, probably more fit than I am, and  looked as if she's in her 80s.  I really wish I could be like that when I'm her age.
  • This week I also saw a girl doing what I like to call "seizure crunches." She was doing crunches, and then bicycle crunches, but it was obvious from the way she worked that she valued speed more than anything else.  Her head and shoulders weren't lifted very high, which is totally fine since I think that's how I look when I'm doing crunches, but she was doing it so fast that she looked like a crazy person.  It was funny to watch if anything else.
  • Speaking of abs, crunches are very effective when they are done on an exercise ball.  I felt that I could lift my body up much more, and my feet are more grounded in order to be properly balanced on the ball.  And afterwards you can stretch and drape yourself over the ball with arms extended like nobody's watching.  It felt good.
  • I force myself to go to the gym and workout ridiculously early in the morning by paying and working out with people who are considerably older than me, but every time I go the gym is also well populated with other people and after a while you notice that it's always the same crowd.  And they are just there by themselves, working their heart out, apparently with only their self-motivation.  And my emotion switches between admiration and jealousy.  
  • The steps class that usually take place on Wednesdays has now been switched to spinning.  Which means that instead of getting to the gym 4 days a week I am now doing 5.  I actually really like this since even with 4 days a week I still manage to complete not follow my routine on my day offs.  And with the new spinning bikes I got a very nice workout today.  
  • I still don't know everyone's name in my class but they all seem to know mine.  Awkward.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Exercise Diary: Birthday Yoga~

I'm back!  I took about a week off from school life last week and went home for Independence Day/ my birthday.  Spent 2 blissful weekends shopping and eating and spending time with my parents and a whole week (about 3 days actually) wondering around in New York, saw 4 play/musicals and visited one museum.  All in all I was very productive fun-wise.

While I kept at my July Journey to Split challenge and stretched (and took bad selfies) every day, other than that I barely did any real exercise.  On two days I did some glute work but that didn't really count toward anything.  Granted when I left the house I did serious walking in the city (and in the mall), and was poorly hydrated throughout, but given the amount of junk food I ate they all sort of cancelled themselves out.

The real gain was in the gears.  We got a big discount from Kohl's and I went crazy.  Got back home with two new sports bra (with trippy summer prints too) and a yoga top that was both practical and cute.

And I put that top into serious work today at yoga class.  Having missed a week of regular exercise (and after getting up at 5:30 for my other gym class), today's class was particularly difficult for me to sustain through.  I was serious hungry (beginning of my super-serious weight losing plan now) and I was thinking about what to have for dinner the whole time while getting super sweaty.  While the top (sleeve-less and barely any fabric covering my upper back) was very freeing and breathable, the lack of fabric meant I had to keep all that sweat either on my body or on my mat.  This was the first time I almost slipped during a down dog.

But I think my brief stint so far with my morning weight class paid off somewhat.  I was able to do side plank on my both sides today without too much trouble.  This may not seem like a big deal but before today I always cheated on my side planks, either keeping my bottom leg bent or using the other leg to help support myself, and my arms always shook so hard my body almost shakes with them.  But today, my arms didn't shake, my bottom leg was straight and my torso was off the ground and my upper leg was even in the air!  And I was able to keep this posture for as long as we did the pose.  Still can't do a half wheel bent but small victories.

At least for this term I have gym class 4 times a week at 6 am, but I don't know what to write about them.  We always to something slightly different every time, changing the workouts and I always end up sweating through my shirt and properly worked out.  But I usually don't have time in the morning to blog and I don't usually get any profound realizations after each class so writing about them would feel more like a chore.  And because of these classes, which were supposed to help me build muscles to become a better runner, has somewhat now taken over my running.  I haven't been running at all this month and it's already half-way over.  Not quite sure how to balance it all.  It's not like I'm still dead set on a race any time soon but I really don't want to neglect running.  As part of class today we ran around the track a few times and I was tired after just the first lap.  I used early morning as my excuse but I was extremely sad about this.  How is it that I now am a worse runner?  I think it's the lack of practice.  I just need to do it to keep up (plus it will probably burn a few more hundred calories every week).

Still a struggle.  But at least I managed to get up a 5:30 first day after coming back and that's a good start.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Exercise Diary: Morning Mumble Grumble

5am: beep beep beep, beep beep beep....


5:10 am: beep beep beep, beep beep beep...


5:20 am

Up, wash, chow down a banana, surf the web, change.  Oh look it's almost 5:50, time to go.

This has been my routine for the past 2 days.

So far so good.

So for the past 2 week I had been very afraid of running.  I get really tired in the afternoons, and although I bring all my running gears with me to work I end up lugging everything back at the end of the day unused.  I make excuses: I was hungry, I was sleepy, I was tired, I felt sluggish, it's too hot out.

I think I've been afraid.  Afraid of the out-of-breathness around mile 2, afraid of the return of my plantar fasciitis, afraid of being famished and exhausted after my runs and order take out instead of cooking, and the general sluggishness afterwards that usually make up my post-run evenings.

All in all I had not been running a lot for the past two weeks.  But I did do a bunch of other stuff.  There was a hiking trip over graduation weekend, regular weekly yoga classes, and last weekend I did a group yoga thing with two of my friends who sort of got into weight losing and fitness.  And now I'm taking these two gym classes this term that make me get up obscenely early in the morning and make me seriously sweat out some major toxins.

And it's been good.  My abs are protesting, my body felt looser.  Tonight while I was walking I could feel that my shoulders are not even, with the right one higher than the left.  So I consciously tilted my body while walking and surprisingly that felt good.  Maybe I should look up on proper posture and standing, and maybe that will cure my weird and problematic right foot.

I've also activated a new Instagram account to participate in this month's blogilates challenge of doing a split in 30 days.

Above are the stretches.  We do #1-5 everyday, and starting day 6 we add the pose corresponding to the number of the day in addition to 1-5.  The whole thing takes about 10 minutes to do every day and theoretically at the end of the month we will be able to do a split (don't know about the standing split, balance is a whole other issue for me).  And as proof of our commitment we are to upload a picture of ourselves everyday on Instagram for a chance to win stuff every week.  I have a feeling that while the stretches will only take 10 minutes, taking the perfect selfie (which will involve a lot of timed capture, perfect camera and body positioning, and a lot of pain in the tush) for Instagram will take maybe an hour and half.  So we will see.  I've already tried to do a selfie today and truth be told, while the stretches felt great I look stupid (and fat) when captured on camera.  Maybe some people are meant to exercise in secret and who who are not don't really need to exercise that much.

Anyway, any exercise is better than no exercise and if I can become more fit (and hopefully slimmer) by the end of summer I will be the happiest glutton in the world.  I also need to re-think about this whole running thing.  I told myself that all the yoga and strength training are done to make me a better runner, but now I'm not so sure.  The whole point of any exercise is to make me healthier.  Although I probably won't give up running altogether, maybe it will take second or third place at least for the time being.  Is that so bad?  Or am I just impulsively flaunting myself over something new and again not making a commitment in anything?  I don't know and I need to think about this.  In the mean time, I will be very disappointed if either the number on my scale does not drop or I don't lose a few pant sizes.  I'm not drowning myself in sweat at 6am for nothing.