Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Alternate Plans

So we had a major snowstorm on Sunday night.  My first thought was, "Fortunate that I got my run in early this morning".  My second thought was, "I won't be doing any running outside for a while . . . "  And I can't concretely say when I can start again because even though I've learned how to contend with the cold, I can't contend with ice.  Although the thought of running with traction cleats on my sneakers has crossed my mind, the hubby has looked me dead in my eye and said, "Absolutely not".  I think I will listen.

But I just have to say.  Last Friday, I was in a horrible mood.  I couldn't pull myself out of it.  It was a fairly mild day and the hubby was off so I decided to go for a quick run.  The change in my attitude was undeniable.  I felt so much better . . . and there's really no other exercise that works that effectively for turning my mood and overall feeling of livelihood and wellness around.  So I'm really, really looking forward to when I can hit the road again.

In the interim, I took the money I got for my birthday and bought some new DVDs.  I will review them as I do them.  I'm also back to consistently borrowing DVDs from the library. There's a chance that my local library will be closing at the end of this year, though.  I can hardly believe I just typed that but it seems that with the new budget, the library will not have the funds to continue operating.  If it closes, I'll have to go to a different town to pick up things I have on hold.  Still, it's worth it to get DVDs from the library just to mix it is up and keep things interesting.  

Today, I did a DVD by Jillian Michaels calledThe Biggest Winner--How to Win by Losing Cardio Kickbox.  It was about 30 minutes.  (I really liked that it was 30 minutes.)  Ms. Michaels was her usual self.  The workout was okay--not great.  I built up a little sweat but kept wondering if I was in my target range.  (I know I should get a heart-rate monitor.  What I'd really like to get is a heart-rate monitor/GPS combo watch but it keeps getting pushed back: first I needed to get appropriate winter running attire and now I'm making the choice to go for some more DVDs to work out inside during these snowy days.)  I recently did another DVD, The Hollywood Trainer Kickboxing Bootcamp, and if you're looking for a solid kickboxing/strength training routine, this is the one for you.  I purchased this one and I'm happy I did.  

Another DVD I borrowed from the library but decided to purchase is Core Fusion Yoga Energy Flow.  I really enjoyed doing the routines from this DVD. Each one is 10 minutes so I can mix things up and never get bored. Sometimes after a weight lifting workout or a run, I will do one of the routines just to stretch me out and relax me so it's great that each one is short and to the point. I found the music to be lively and upbeat but not distracting. I especially love Ms. Halfpapp's instructional style (I like Mr. DeVito's too but something about Ms. Halfpapp is so relaxing). I like the clear instructions and the fact that every routine in this dvd is fun and energizing and effective. It is great to do in the morning or really, any time.  It's not really orthodox yoga--it's definitely a fusion of many different styles but I really like how it breaks things up and adds a different twist to what I'm doing. This is so necessary in these dreary winter months.   I'm glad that I purchased it.   

So with the new DVDs that I've purchased, I think I should be good for inside exercise.  I'll also have Insanity so I can throw that into the mix for some . . . insanity.  Focusing on keeping my fitness going and growing keeps me from focusing on the cold and the snow.  It feels a whole lot better to focus on things that I can control and just ride out things I can't.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bikram Yoga!

I finally got around to taking a Bikram Yoga class today and I think I am in love.  I'd heard folks gush (and gush and gush) about classes and insist that once I took one class I'd be hooked.  Well, let's just put it this way:  I am trying to move my schedule every which way to see how I could fit in my next class.  

I really can't think of any cons about this yoga style. There was so much I loved and that vibed with me.  I loved the style of the teacher.  It's kind of detached and no-nonsense. There's no joking.  No miscellaneous talking.  No doing one side then [the teacher] getting distracted and forgetting to do the other.  The teacher doesn't demonstrate the poses but she gives a lot of detail about what should be happening in each pose.  The teacher also doesn't adjust you.  The heat and humidity really agreed with me: my sinuses opened up without me doing a thing and I could breathe fully and deeply and it was not uncomfortable for me.  The only other time I enjoy such free breathing is when I'm running but running feels like so much more effort.  It was so amazing: I'd do the postures which are not all that active (no jumping into positions or fast sun-salutations) and when I'd get into savasana (which was often) my heart would be pumping as if I was running.  Typically, after the yoga class I've been attending on Thursdays, I go for a run because the hour-long yoga practice really didn't feel like exercise at all.  So I'd do the yoga and then go exercise.  No so with Bikram.  It felt like yoga, i.e. the connection and getting into my body but it also felt like exercise.  I like the fact that I could learn the whole sequence of poses and still be challenged and engaged.  One of my biggest issues with yoga has been that I get distracted and my mind wanders.  Not so with Bikram.  The only thing I think I missed what the cueing about when to breathe in and breathe out.  I also got quite nauseous during Pose 11 and 12 but the teacher warned that beginners to the practice may get nauseous or dizzy.  I just sat out those poses and then jumped back in when I felt ready.

It was just a very cleansing experience overall and I really enjoyed it.  I did not want to get up from my final relaxation.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


In July, I mentioned that I wanted some more functional, efficient weights.  I knew I didn't really want to put out the $400 interchangeable weights cost but if I really sat and thought about it, the weights did constitute a smart investment in my fitness. 

Essentially, when it came to interchangeable weights, there were two choices: Powerblocks 2.5-50 pound adjustable dumbbells and the BowFlex SelectTech 552 dumbbells.  The main advantage of the BowFlex dumbbells is that with just a turn of the dial, you can select your weight in 2.5 pound increments.  With the Powerblocks, you have to lift the dumbbell out of its base, flip a switch and then drop out the 2.5 pounds bar.  If you're interested, you can view a video here.  Remember, the main point of getting these dumbbells was to increase the efficiency of changing weights and this extra step seemed like it would suck too much time which I simply don't have.  Plus, it's fussy.  For this reason, BowFlex seemed to be winning.  Until I realized that just by looking at them, I could tell the Powerblocks, though less chic, are also more durable and with 2 young kids that was definitely an advantage.  Another advantage of the Powerblocks was that they were relatively compact and short compared to the BowFlex which seemed kind of long.  But really, I was open to either one I found a good deal on. 

I was searching all over Craigslist and one day found someone selling their Powerblocks 5-45 pound adjustable dumbbells. for $250.  The price was great but they were not exactly the ones I wanted.  I wasn't sure if the 5 pound increments would be too much.  As a woman, I was pretty sure I'd need those 2.5 pound increments.  For the longest time I was curling 15 pounds.  I absolutely couldn't curl 20 pounds.  With the hubby's weights, I was able to get an 18.5 pound dumbbell and I knew that worked well.  Someone was also selling the BowFlex dumbbells for $350: $100 more than the Powerblocks and there was still that nagging fear that the kids would mess with them.  So, I decided to go ahead and purchase the Powerblocks.  I drove all the way to Brooklyn (aka the dark side of the moon) and picked them up.   I figured I could come up with something to make up for the fact that they adjusted in 5 pound increments. 

And thanks to the magic of Google, I did: ankle/wrist weights!  I purchased a pair ofGoFit ankle weights (2.5. pounds for each weight for a total of 5 pounds).  They cost no more than $17 and bridge the gap perfectly. 

So I really, really like the Powerblocks.  It took a little getting used to in terms of how to position my hands for certain exercises.  I was worried that for exercises like pullovers, I wouldn't be able to fit both hands into the dumbbell.  But I can so no problem with that and I have not had any problems with any other exercises either.  

I have to say that the Powerblocks are maybe the best investment I've made fitness wise (or maybe they are tied with my DVDs and Transfirmer step which I also found on Craigslist for $45).  It's wonderful to not have all kinds of weights littering the floor.  I push the Powerblocks to the corner, close to the wall and close to each other.  As such, the kids can't mess with the pins.  I'm so happy I got the Powerblocks because occasionally, the kids will jump on them to reach things.  I don't know if the BowFlex dumbbells could have taken that kind of abuse.  I'm actually feeling really blessed that I got the  dumbbells I got (the 5-45 pounds adjustable) because slipping on the ankle/wrist weights is a relatively quick process--definitely not such a process that it would warrant me spending an extra $100).   Maybe not as quick to change as the BowFlex but it's really okay.  Plus, I can use the ankle/wrist weights for other exercises too.  I feel like I've made some smart decisions with my fitness equipment lately and I'm happy about it.  I'm really looking forward to my next fitness challenge although I'm not sure what it is yet. 

So have I beat you in the head with fitness stuff enough?  :)  It's my thing now!! I can't help it!