March Madness Barbell Complex

Am I the only one who really appreciated the fact that March 1st fell on a Sunday? There’s just something about a new month and new week starting at the same time that soothes my Rain-Man soul.

But I digress.  It’s Monday, and who doesn’t want to start their week off with a great workout?  For you runner people, maybe that’s a nice long run.  For you yoga-addicts, maybe that’s an hour spent twisted and sweating with other bendy souls.  For you CrossFit junkies, maybe it’s a really hard “WOD” named after “Fran” or “Cindy” or some other woman who may or may not really exist but whose name serves as a harbinger of pain, sweat, and tears.

For you people who like to feel strong, generally fit, and capable of dealing some good ass-kicking…I’ve gotcha covered.

little kid lifting trap bar deadlift

Here’s a barbell complex I threw together a few weeks ago.  Barbell complexes are handy because they’re time-efficient and can be tailored (by varying the load on the bar and the reps/speed) to test your strength or your conditioning or a sweet spot somewhere in the middle…this one was somewhere in the middle for me.  Also, confession: I used just the Olympic bar.  And while that may sound pathetic, the good thing is that it shows this workout can be scaled. If you are a beastly former rugby player, you can throw a few 45# plates on there.  If you’re someone who’s just getting into (or back into) strength training, feel free to use a weighted fitness bar or a 25# bar or whatever is challenging but doable. (And remember that you’re not doing this complex in a power rack or with any kind of safety rails.  Don’t be stupid.)

In case you’re new to barbell complexes, here’s how it goes down:  Perform the exercises in order without setting the barbell down.  After all the exercises have been completed (one round is done), put the bar down.  Rest for a minute or two, then lather/rinse/repeat.

Now here’s where the magic happens:

March Madness Barbell Complex

If you need clarification or want to see demonstrations of the individual exercises, here you go:

Have fun, get sweaty, and make sure you let Monday know who’s boss!

Discuss:
Absolute favorite kind of workout?
Which do you have more fun training – strength or conditioning?
Best moves for barbell complexes?

Exercise As Medicine

A friend sent me a link to this short video the other day, knowing that I am fascinated by the impact of exercise on physical and mental illnesses.  Some of the statistics shared were astounding, and the video as a whole was too good not to share.

Spoiler alert No.1:

Physical activity is some of the best medicine out there. That’s obviously not to say that it should be employed to the exclusion of other treatments, or that it is the most effective treatment for every ailment…but it is a potent tool that can be used as a preventative measure, on its own, or applied with other treatments to help increase their efficacy.)

Spoiler alert No.2:

The required dose is far less than you might think.  People often hear that exercise can help reduce their risk or improve symptoms of various ailments, and the typical assumption is that such an intervention will require a hefty commitment in terms of time and strenuous effort.  The studies and statistics shared in the video show that this is not the case.  As little as 30 minutes of walking each day can greatly mitigate the symptoms of many of the most common illnesses in the Western world.  If you want to train for a marathon or the Crossfit Games or a powerlifting competition, that’s fantastic.  Just keep in mind that while a high volume and intensity of training can make a difference in athletic performance and fitness, it certainly is not required to get the disease-fighting benefits of exercise.  Don’t be afraid to start small – just get up, get out, and move.

Discuss:

What are your thoughts on the video?

Which of the statistics did you find most surprising? (I was shocked by the improvements in dementia/Alzheimer’s patients and those with high risk of stroke!)

What is your motivation for exercising?

PS:  I’m going to be off of social media during Lent, so if you’d like to get updates on new posts, please be sure to subscribe using the button on the sidebar to the left here.  As always, thanks for taking the time to read, comment, and share…I appreciate yall!

“Taking Fire” – A Touching Collection of Brian Williams Memes

Poor Brian Williams.  The man is clearly suffering from  deficiency of n3 fatty acids and DHA.  What else could explain the level of neurological dysfunction that would lead him to “misremember” that ride in the black hawk that came under fire?

Really, I want to sponsor him like a little World Vision child from Guatemala.  Maybe he just can’t afford the fish oil supplements, you know?

Borderline offensive snark aside, Brian Williams has made some great contributions recently – mostly, being fodder for internet memes.  And because I love people who can laugh at themselves (you are laughing with us, aren’t you, B-Money?) and I love politically relevant humor, I’m sharing the wealth with yall…much like Brian shared a seat in the black hawk.

I’m sorry.  Well, not really.

will ferrell elf meme

But I am done. I’ll let the memes do the talking from here.  (You’re welcome in advance.)

Brian Williams Meme 3

brian williams maverick meme

brian williams nasa meme

left shark brian williams(In case you don’t know who Left Shark is – ahem, Mum, Dad, the eight strangers reading this in Taiwan – please proceed HERE for a 30-second briefing. And for the love of all that is good, stay on top of current events from now on, will ya?)

Brian Williams Meme

brian williams trekkie

brian williams abe lincoln meme

brian williams jfk meme

brian williams meme again

brain williams rosa parks

brioromir williams

Best for last, of course:

brian williams enola gay

Of course, this is but Part One of a saga.  After all, it’s only a matter of time until that “leave of absence” announcement turns into a “no longer employed” situation…which, with any luck, will morph into some kind of cameo on Dancing with the Stars.  (Or, you know, The Dick Van Dyke Show.  That Brian Williams is just everywhere.)  But from “taking fire” to the inevitable “being fired”…There’s just too much potential there. This wit cannot be wasted.

In the words of Ahhhnold, “I’ll be back.”

Oh, wait, I think it was actually Brian Williams who played the Terminator. My beej.

Unconventional Fitness Equipment: Tires & Tabatas

Did you know that some of the best workout equipment you can get your hands on is completely FREE?

I’m talking about tires.

Whether you’re doing tire flips, dragging one with a harness, or slamming it with a sledgehammer, you’re guaranteed to feel (and probably look) like a certified master of badassery.  Not only that, but you’re bound to get in a fantastic workout that blends muscular power and endurance along with cardiovascular conditioning.  Most autoshops that get a surplus of tire shops let you take them home for free, so there’s really no reason not to hop on the tire-workout bandwagon tractor.  (Well, unless you don’t have a way to transport them…but that’s why God made pickup trucks.)

What about those folks who don’t have any tractor tire orphanages nearby, or who don’t have the space or means to transport and store a tractor tire?

I’ve got you covered.

Processed with VSCOcam

Head to your nearest yuppie/city-person/non-redneck tire shop and see if they’ve got any old tires they can give you.  The bigger, the better…but you’re the beggar here, so don’t be getting too picky.  I hit up America’s Tire Co. for three tires in the space of a week, and they were happy to help me out and even wrapped the tires to so the trunk of my car wouldn’t get dirty. (I go to them for tire service, too, and they’re consistently great…so local folks, check them out!)

Once I had a new tire all my own, no one had to twist my arm to go out and start playing around.  In between tripping all over myself, I managed to come up with a workout that was a ton of fun and left me dirty, sweaty, and exhilarated.

Dirty hands and my overly-enthusiastic workout buddy.

Dirty hands and my overly-enthusiastic workout buddy.

So once you’ve secured your very own free tire, break that puppy in with these tabatas.

“Tire Yourself Out” Tabata Workout

For each tabata, perform the assigned movements (in order) at a high intensity using an interval scheme of 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest.  Repeat once (4 minutes total).  A free timer like this one will be really helpful for this workout!

Tire Tabata 1

  • traveling toe taps >>> Move around the outside of the tire by hopping from one foot to the other as you tap your free foot to the top of the tire (similar to the kind of drill you’d do at soccer practice as a kid).  Switch direction each interval.
  • crossover burpees >>> Do a burpee with your hands on the tire for the pushup portion; spring up and tuck jump/hop into middle of the tire and out to the opposite side. Turn around, perform burpee, and tuck jump/hop back to starting side.

Tire Tabata 2

  •  triangle “box” jumps >>> Stand outside tire and jump onto it, landing with feet spread on opposite sides of the tire. Hop down into middle of tire, back onto sides, and back to starting position outside tire; repeat.
  • lateral high knees >>> Shuffle back and forth across the tire, bringing knees high to step both feet inside tire, out to the opposite side, and back.

Tire Tabata 3

  • twisting mountain climbers >>> perform mountain climbers with your hands on the edge of the tire and alternating bringing each knee to the opposite elbow.
  • crossover “box” squats >>> Stand outside the tire facing away from it and perform a squat deep enough so that your bum touches the tire. Turn, tuck jump/hop into the middle of the tire and out the opposite side, and repeat.

You can do all three successively (rest couple minutes between each 4-minute tabata series) for a quick conditioning workout, or work one or more into your strength workouts.  This workout doesn’t take much time or space, and as I mentioned before, the equipment is free.  Quick intervals combined with the novelty of new equipment and a splash of fresh air is sure to leave you with a sweet, sweet endorphin high.

Processed with VSCOcamOr, you know, tired and sweaty.  Full disclosure – probably both.

Feel free to mix up these exercises with whatever others you come up with to make as many different tabata combos as you can handle.  As always, if you have any injuries or joint issues, check with your doctor or trainer before giving this a shot.

Let me know how you like it! 

Discuss:

Have you ever worked out with tires before?

What is your favorite piece of unconventional fitness equipment?

What are your go-to exercises for tabatas?

Would you prefer video demos of exercises instead of text explanation, or both?
(I really wanted to film demos of these moves to make things easier for yall, but it devolved into a minor catastrophe each time I attempted it. If anyone has experience filming and can share suggestions, I’m all ears!)

No Excuse, No Abs, No Problem

Everybody loves a milf hot mom, right?

A bit more than a year ago, a woman named Maria Kang posted a photo of herself, her three sons, and her abs.  It went viral – not because she had a six pack or her kids were supernaturally cute, but because of the question she posed with it:

maria kang what's your excuse

When Kang came out with this photo and its provocative question, it drew polarized responses.  Critics came clamoring with accusations of shame-mongering, while supporters said it was inspiring and that sometimes the truth hurts.  Eventually Kang made a public “apology,” in which she said she was sorry that anyone would interpret her photo in a negative way, but that she still stood by the original photo/question.  She also mentioned outright that “it’s time we stop tip-toeing around people’s feelings” (a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree, but that’s a topic for another time).

Apparently another “hot mom” is making waves now with a similar photo.  Abby Pell is a fitness competitor from the UK, and her recent photo echoes Kang’s sentiment.

abby pell no excuse

Pell’s photo is more troubling to me than the one shared by Kang. While I could go on about the fact that her head is cut out of the photo (symbolically shifting the focus of her identity to her body) or the disturbing message/standard being presented to her daughter, the bigger problem is the mindset that both Pell’s and Kang’s photos represent.  This problematic mindset is twofold:

1.  There is a narrow aesthetic presentation that defines one’s level of fitness.

2. Fitness should take whatever priority necessary to achieve the aforementioned presentation.

These two women are not extremists – the majority of the fitness industry is infected with the same mindset.  While some may have good intentions (and the rest I would regard with hearty skepticism), they are propagating a destructive mentality…and, too often, equally destructive training and nutrition habits.

Thankfully, there are some professionals out there who promote healthier mindsets and practices.  Jen Sinkler, for example, wrote a wonderful piece on these photos and the ensuing controversy: What Effect are “No Excuses” Photo Captions Having on Young Women? A week ago, I discovered Noelle of Coconuts & Kettlebells when I stumbled across her fantastic article: Why I Don’t Want Six-Pack Abs.  This great bit from Lift Big Eat Big remains one of my all-time favorite pieces on body image: The Overrated Image of 6-Pack Abs.

The bottom line is not that having a six-pack is bad in and of itself, but that it’s been made into ridiculous “holy grail” of fitness, and these kinds of photos/captions promote the pursuit of that ideal above all else.  Health is important, and we are called to be stewards of these physical vessels.  But while stewarding our health is our responsibility, and enjoying our physical abilities is a blessing, having a six-pack is not a duty to which we are indebted. Neither is it an aesthetic feature we should feel shame for not attaining or not pursuing.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Frankly, I’m amazed at some of the women who find time to work out at all in addition to the time spent being wives, mothers, caretakers, business owners, executives, and God knows how much more. Given my current season of life, I should have just as much ability as anyone else to “be shredded” or have a six pack.  Of course, there’s the issue of genetics and generally being built like a tank, but that can be combated. And while I have no husband, no kids, and “no excuse”…I also have no six pack.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

And I have no problem with it.  Health is a priority for me; abs are not.  The priorities I do have?

  • Living a life that is more like Christ.
  • Being a better sister, daughter, and friend.
  • Getting into grad school.
  • Preparing for my future career.
  • Learning to play guitar.
  • Keeping my house/life organized.
  • Working on personal projects.
  • Practicing handstands.
  • Playing with my dog.

So I have no excuse, no abs, and no problem. I do have a happy heart, a healthy body, a sharp mind, and a rich life.

If you ask me, it’s more than worth the tradeoff.

***

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please chime in with a comment below!  

PS: If you found this article helpful or interesting, feel free to share on facebook, twitter, pinterest, google+, or wherever else you lurk in social media land.  I’d appreciate it more than you know!

5 FREE Apps To Level-Up Your Life

Technology is wonderful and I am so glad to be living in the 21st century where we have the internet and smartphones and measles vaccinations (well, unless you’re Jenny McCarthy)…but at the same time, it’s easy to let technology drag you down the rabbit hole of Instagram/Pinterest/Snapchat/Vine/Angry Birds/insert-other-useless-app-here.  Most of us have phones that are filled with apps we don’t use with any regularity.  And if you’re anything like me, you might find yourself mindlessly wasting time on the apps that you do use (looking at you, Pinterest…) more often than you’d like to admit.

I can’t help you put your phone down and stop scrolling through Twitter – that requires exercising a little muscle called “your self control,” which is much easier said than done.  What I can do is give you 5 new apps to put on your phone.  Only instead of tempting you to waste your time, these apps help you live better, be healthier, and work more productively.  And just think…if you replace one of the aforementioned time-sucking apps with one of these, you’ll probably be able to double your productivity and be significantly happier at the end of the day.

Yes, it's pretty much just a completely unrelated filler photo.  And yes, I wore that in public last night.  #iwokeuplikethis

Yes, it’s pretty much just a completely unrelated filler photo. And yes, I wore that in public last night. #iwokeuplikethis

Plus, they’re all free.  Which is great news if you’re frugal or poor or both (right here).

I’m getting giddy at the very thought of it.

1. Tabata HIIT Timer App

I’ve mentioned this app before, and it bears mentioning again – of all the practical (i.e. not time-waster) apps on my phone, this is probably the one I use most.  If you’re a busy human, you probably want to make the most of your time spent training.  Personally, I find it is sometimes easier to push myself to work harder when I know I’m running against the clock and I can see the seconds counting down. Whether I’m doing a plyometrics circuit or a tabata workout or sprint training, this timer helps me make the most of my work intervals so that I can maximize my training in the time that I have (usually: limited). It’s customizable, easy to use, and the bottom line is: Get it. Use it.

2. Ambio – Sleep Sounds

Normally I love to have a fan on when I go to sleep, for the white noise and the breeze, but it’s way too cold for that (even in CA) lately. Add in the weird sleep schedule I sometimes have due to working part time at a coffeeshop – translation: going to bed when other folks are having dinner, and waking up 4 hours before sunrise – and it makes it hard to get some good shut-eye.  I’d say that I can sleep when I’m dead, but 1) I can’t stand feeling like a zombie, and 2) sleep is vitally important for health.  Ambio is an ambient-noise app that helps me to fall asleep easier no matter what time it is – afternoon naps shamelessly included. In addition to nine options for ambient noise (“Airplane Cabin” is my favorite), you can add your own music, mix and layer different sounds, create playlists, and even set an alarm within the app.  Enter, Ambio, stage left…cue blissful sleep…and curtain.

3. Nike+ Training

This one’s popular.  And it’s popular for a reason.  You can look up tons of free workouts – from 15 to 45+ minutes – sorted by fitness goal, workout type, body part, and other qualifiers.  The workouts include automated timers, audio cues, and video demos. While I wouldn’t recommend depending on Nike+ workouts for the bulk of your training, they’re a great resource for when you’re short on time, creativity, or equipment. (Here are some more great minimalist workouts if you’re interested!)

4. TED

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and TED talks are an exciting way to give your brain a little exercise and learn some cool new info.  If you’re unfamiliar with TED talks, they’re relatively short (5-40+ minutes) talks from experts in their respective fields, covering all manner of subject matter from science to social justice.  Listening to a TED talk while you do tasks that are typically mundane is a great way to multitask in a healthy way and engage your brain in something more challenging than singing along to Katy Perry or watching the Kardashians (guilty on both counts).  Some opportune moments for TED talks: while you’re getting ready for the day, while you food prep, while you walk the dog, while you stretch/foam roll, while you fold laundry, while you paint your toenails and are trapped in your house because you don’t want to put on shoes and smudge your new pedicure.  Here are a few good TED talks you might enjoy:

5.  Google Keep

This one’s simple – it’s a to-do list app.  So, obviously, I am infatuated.  Normally I prefer to keep a physical to-do list because the act of actually crossing off an item gives me the best kind of high, but this is handy for when I want to live in the 21st century and/or not have to carry my notebook around with me.  (The fact that there is a shopping list feature is also near and dear to my heart…)  Whether you use Keep or prefer another list-making app, I would recommend that anyone who wants to make the most of their time keep a prioritized to-do list of monthly, weekly, and daily goals.  After all, better organization allows for better time management which allows for better productivity, which means less stress, less procrastination, and less chaos.  Basically, being organized helps you maximize your productivity and quality of life.  Who doesn’t want that? 

Best to-do list I've found yet.

Best to-do list I’ve found yet.

Discuss:

What apps do you use most?

What are your favorite fitness/productivity apps?

Are you one of the rare few who does not have a smartphone? (In many ways, I envy yall!)

Bonus: The app I would not recommend?  Tinder.

How I feel about Tinder.  Also how I feel about the wifi at Peet's. It blows more than a sperm whale.  (That was a terrible way to phrase it.  But I'm committed. No going back. And now I'm cutting myself off. Ugh. #rainman)

How I feel about Tinder. Also how I feel about the wifi at Peet’s. It blows more than a sperm whale. (That was a terrible way to phrase it. But I’m committed. No going back. And now I’m cutting myself off. Ugh. #rainman)

(Long story short – it’s creepy.  Long story long (and embarrassing/amusing/traumatizing)…well, you can read it here.)

How to Make Running Not Suck So Much

You know those people who wake up in the morning looking forward to the next time they get to run?

I am not one of them.

fat runner

Who needs a shotgun when you’ve got three chins to keep the boys away?

I wake up looking forward to eating, dancing around in my underwear, and getting to crawl back into bed in 17 hours. [Not necessarily in that order.]

Seriously, though, I am not a running enthusiast.  Heading out for a jog or doing a 5k is not my idea of a great time.  When I run, I have a bad habit of shoving socks down my bra and/or getting lost and getting heatstroke.  There’s a lot of sweat and jiggling and it’s just not fun for anyone.  [Mostly me.]  But I know that running has significant health benefits, and with a family history of heart disease, keeping my cardiovascular health top notch is a big priority of mine.

So I run.  Sometimes.  More often, I do plyos, and circuits, and other fun things that make me sweaty and jiggly and dry-heave-y.  And I actually love it, aside from the running.

Lately, though, the running has started to suck a little less.

happy run December 2014

I was genuinely happy…and for once, not just because I was DONE running.

Now I wouldn’t say I’m falling in love with running. Definitely not “L”-word territory.  Not even “like.” But it’s growing on me, like Neville Longbottom grows on you during the Harry Potter series.  Running still has its man boobs – we’re not at sexy grown-ass Matthew Lewis status [yet?] – but it’s not the whiny mouthbreather that it used to be.

Moving on from the nerd analogies, here are the things I’ve found that make running slightly more enjoyable.  Or at least enjoyable-adjacent.  So if you hate running, give these tricks a shot, and you might find that running starts to suck a little less.

Stop tracking every run.

If you are someone who keeps a spreadsheet tracking the time and mileage of every run, it’s time to give yourself a break.  Unless you’re getting paid to run or your job requires you to pass a PFT, your run time doesn’t matter.  The health benefits are there at any almost any speed. But if it’s a personal goal of yours to become a faster runner, that goal will be much more achievable if you enjoy running to some degree.  Try running by feel.  Allow yourself to go at a pace that’s on the border of natural and pushing yourself.  First fall in love with the movement of running, then if it’s important to you, start working on speed.  Tracking runs can be a great tool – for instance, do a handful of benchmark runs each month that you track for pace/distance – but most of us will be fine running most of our miles by feel.

Have a kickass playlist.

Studies have shown that music can have a significant impact on running speed, quality, and perceived exertion…and for most of us, personal experience has shown that music can take a workout from stale to stellar.  So don’t get lazy with your running playlist.  Pay attention to what songs get you fired up, and use them when you run! [Maybe even have an album or a few tracks that you only listen to while running, so that you associate running with the positive reward of listening to some of your favorite music.] Fine tune your Pandora stations.  Invest in Spotify Premium.  Dig up all your old Backstreet Boys CDs and put them on your phone.  Download some podcasts, if that’s what cranks your tractor.  And also, invest in a real armband.  I spent almost a year using my jerryrigged “phone holder” on runs [aka wrapping my phone in a sock and shoving it down my bra].  I got an actual armband for Christmas, and let me tell you, it makes a huge difference having your phone on your arm instead.  Running is surprisingly more enjoyable when it doesn’t feel like there’s a dead rodent all up in your boobs.

But, you know, the music is really important, too.

Play with it.

Just because you’re running doesn’t mean you have to just run.  Changing things up can make running exciting – if your usual mileage is getting boring, throw in some sprints, hills, or speedwork.  You can set aside time for a dedicated hill/sprint/speed workout, or if you’re less neurotic more freespirited, just add intermittent sprints or hills into your normal route.  Or take your non-running workouts and add a little running.  Using a mile jog as my warmup and cooldown for my strength workouts helped me to stop looking at running like this big, scary endeavor, and I eventually found that it could be a neat time for me to get in the zone [warming up before a workout] or truly zone out [cooling down afterward].  I also have a lot of fun heading down to the local high school or middle school on the weekends to use the track and bleachers.  I like to incorporate calisthenics and plyos for a circuit-type workout that feels more like playing than running.   [Thinking about sharing one of my favorites in the next week…let me know if you’d find that helpful!]

Remember that you do not have to run.

It is a privilege to have a body that is whole enough and well enough to run, no matter how slow or clumsy or ugly it may be. When you run, you are choosing to exercise that privilege.  If you truly hate running, you don’t have to run – it’s not a prerequisite for health.   But if you choose to run, whether it’s a daily habit or something you’re “trying out” for a week, own that choice.  Revel in that blessing that is the choice to run, as well as the choice to enjoy it.  Your perspective can be your most powerful tool.

find your greatness ad

Whether you’re a non-runner [let’s start a club…] or one of the chosen ones who enjoys running and is good at it, I hope these suggestions help you find more joy when you hit the pavement.  After all, the best kind of training is the kind you love.

Let’s discuss!

How much do you love/loathe running?

What do you do to make less-fun workouts more enjoyable?

Best running/training songs?

Surprising News

Well, it’s been a minute, yall.

I’ve been on an unofficial hiatus for the past month or so, and for good reason.

Life got a little busy and a lot crazy lately.  Sure, there were some sick days involved and some unexpected detours, but on the whole I’ve spent the past month gearing up for some exciting changes.  If everything goes as it should, then by the end of summer I’ll be entering a whole new chapter in life…and I figure I may as well share the news.

Any guesses?

[Here’s a hint…it was a surprise for me, too!]

……

……….

…………….

……………………

…………………………

…………………………………….

………………………………………….

……………………………………………..

…………………………………………………..

Adele's pregnancy test

………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………

………………………………………..

Yep.

It’s true.

………………………………

………………………..

………………….

I’ve still got my sense of humor.

Everything’s true except the implied pregnancy part. [Sidenote: If you’ve seen me in real life lately and actually believed I might be pregnant, you can go shove it.]  This past month has been crazy because I decided to get my master’s degree!  My last two years of undergrad, I swore up and down and even over my favorite pushup bra (may he rest in peace and/or the bowels of the Goodwill store) that I absolutely would not ever in a million years go to grad school.  I’d had e-n-o-u-g-h of the sitting in class and the writing the papers and the putting up with the culture of academia and the going into debt to pay for all of it.

But you know what happened?

I graduated.

And I worked some jobs that were alright and one job I loathed from the depths of my being.

I paid off a little of that debt.

And I paid a lot to fix my car.

[Damn German engineering.]

I felt stagnant and frustrated and scared out of my mind.

And I started a blog and stopped wearing leggings 24/7.

I made new friends and drank too much coffee.

And I went on bad dates and should have drank more whiskey.

I applied for some really great positions and got rejected.

And I was offered some really great positions and said “thank you, but no.”

I thought about who I am and what I do well  and what I want out of life.

And I realized that the whole life thing wasn’t exactly unfolding like I’d planned.

I woke up and found myself simultaneously grateful and wanting more.

[“But who cares? No big deal. I want mooooore…” Leave it to the Little Mermaid to put my feelings into words song and have a fish-ass that puts my human one to shame.]

And I decided to stop waiting and start chasing the life I want.

invictus quote

And the life I want requires a master’s degree…which, oddly enough, suddenly doesn’t seem like an unbearable undertaking.  I might even say it’s got me twitterpated because I know what those years of grad school are leading up to, the same way sitting through a wedding gets you twitterpated because you know what the wedding ceremony is leading up to. [I’m talking about the wedding cake, ya filthy animals.]  With that big decision came some other really well-thought-out decisions, like taking the GRE with 5 days notice and about 30 minutes [that’s a generous estimate] of studying [halfhearted at best], while I was sick with the flu [they really loved me for that].  There were a few frantic phone calls, a couple workouts skipped in favor of filling out applications, and all manner of general panic and anxiety.  Normally I’m a fairly neurotic, anxious, obsessive-compulsive person (I actually have OCD), but I mean a lot more than usual.

[I also took a Jungian personality test during one of these moments of panic and got INTJ.  Basically it means I’m Rain Man.  So I retook the test – twice. And got INTJ – twice.  So I’m Rain Man – really truly.]

On the down side, all that Rain Man-style panicking and preparing meant that I didn’t have much time to blog.  On the bright side, it meant I was able to submit my application to my top-priority program on time.  Being adult and having priorities makes you do weird things, no?

All in all, though, I’m absolutely thrilled with where I’m headed.  Nervous, yeah, that too.  But mostly thrilled.  The career path I’m pursuing will allow me to combine my passion for holistic wellness with my love for all things nerdy, all while assisting and empowering people as they improve their quality of life.  And I won’t hate the whole financial stability/work-life balance, either.

[Being the nomad-in-leggings-and-fake-Ugg-boots-who-lives-from-one-tank-of-gas-to-the-next lost its charm back in 2012.  Plus, I have no idea how the hell to get – let alone use – food stamps, so my best option is to just get a better job.]

That is my long-winded and oversharing-filled lead up to letting you know that I now have a little more time, and I’m fixing to get back to blogging. I may not be blogging every day of the week, but on the 2 or 3 days a week that I do post, it will be the same good old stuff as before – fitness, nutrition, and mental health…but better. [You’ll see what I mean.]

If you have suggestions, let me have ‘em.

And yes, I’ve already been told multiple times that I should blog about the latest season of The Bachelor.  After all, those are my roots, and in many ways, my sweet spot.*  So that’s going to have it’s own page on the blog for those of you who like to partake in social commentary or just spectate on the sordid spectacle that is reality TV.

If you’re still reading this, bless your heart. Thanks for sticking around.  I’ll catch yall on Thursday with something of actual substance to read.

Ciao!

farmer chris bachelor

*Let’s be real, it doesn’t take much cajoling to get me to agree to study Farmer Chris for a few hours.  Oh my stars, that is a good looking farm-owner.  I would pull a Ruth and glean his fields all the live-long day, even during those doggone Indian summers in Iowa.  Heck, I’d throw in some foot-uncovering action – we’re all adults, right?  [And in case you are wondering, yes, the best part of attending a Bible college was getting to make jokes like this and have people A) get them, and B) laugh.  Well, maybe not the best part…but it was at least tied with watching the homeschoolers try to flirt with each other.  You never saw so many turtleneck sweaters or so little eye contact.]

 

PS: I found my spirit animal – Fat Schmidt.

fat schmidt spirit animal

It’s uncanny.

5 Reasons to Do Yoga

Last week I shared some suggestions for folks who want to start doing yoga.  That’s all well and good for those of you who are interested in yoga, but the rest of yall are probably wondering: “Why would anyone even want to do yoga in the first place?”

I get it.

That was my thought for years on end.

So today, I’ve got an answer for you.

Actually, make that five…

5 Reasons to Do Yoga

#5     Improved Mobility

Proper mobility is important because it has a significant impact on athletic performance and injury prevention.  Sometimes you don’t realize how poor your mobility is until you test it.  I may have a back that’s as bendy as Gumby, but I also have hips like the Tin Man.  It’s easy (and unwise) to ignore weaknesses in your mobility when you’re focused on just gutting out the reps or moving the weights, as many folks do with traditional strength training.  That doesn’t really fly when you’re doing yoga.  Regular yoga practice will help you to find the limits of your mobility, and then to gradually expand those limits as your mobility improves.  That improved mobility (not to mention better alignment throughout your body) will help you perform better, stay injury-free, and add to your overall quality of life.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

#4     Better Body Image

Doing yoga means putting your body in some weird positions.  Positions that sometimes highlight rolls or cellulite or any manner of decidedly-human qualities that we prefer to hide.  In doing yoga, you learn to breathe deeply, let those anxieties go, and just roll with it…Pun intended.  Doing yoga also means learning to do a new physical activity that can be surprisingly challenging.  On the other side of the frustration learning curve is a feeling of accomplishment and pleasure in the delightful physical abilities of your delightfully-imperfect body.  All this adds up to better body image.  Be warned: A strong desire to wear as little clothing as possible, as often as possible, is very likely.  For more risky tips on improving your body image, check out this post: 5 Ways to Improve Your Body Image Right Now

#3     Stress Management

I don’t know that doing yoga will actually remove any sources from stress from your life, but I’ve certainly found that it increases your ability to manage stress.  Like most forms of fitness, it allows you to take a break from the hustle of everyday life for those 45 minutes you’re on the mat.  Endorphins from a sweaty vinyasa flow are always good for the soul.  I don’t know if it’s the rhythmic breathing, or the focus on connecting the body and the mind, or the feeling of confidence that comes from mastering an arm balance…maybe it’s a combination of all those factors and then some. Bottom line: regularly practicing yoga leaves you calmer and less apt to let stress get to you. (People talk about getting a “runner’s high,” but I say they just haven’t taken the right yoga class.)

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

#2     Find New Strength

Yoga can be great for building isometric strength.  Isometric strength is that which requires a muscle contraction without moving the joint angle or muscle (think “holding”).  This is often neglected in traditional strength training, but not so with yoga.  A seemingly simple pose can turn into a real challenge when you are trying to maintain the integrity of that pose through 5-10 slow, deep breaths.  Balance poses also offer a unique opportunity to strengthen the smaller muscles of the body which are often neglected in traditional workouts but which are crucial for keeping your balance in those beautiful (but difficult) asanas.  There are different varieties of yoga – vinyasa, ashtanga, hatha, iyengar, bikram, yin – each with it’s own particular focus and method of practice.  No matter what style/s of yoga you practice, it will be very different from traditional workouts, and you will find your body being challenged in ways that you may not have considered before…and with new challenges comes new strength.

#1     Fun

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The best kind of fitness is the kind you love.  Life is too short to spend it forcing yourself to repeatedly do something you find miserable.  When you love something, you want to do it again and again…and that kind of consistency is what leads to a long, active, and healthy life.  Yoga has helped me to re-learn the joy of movement.  There’s something uniquely exciting about challenging yourself with nothing but your own body, and yoga does exactly that.  (Same goes for calisthenics and other bodyweight training.)  If you give it a chance and take the time to find the right style of yoga, you might just find that yoga is one of the workouts you look forward to the most.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Discuss:

If you practice yoga regularly, what style?

What benefits have you experienced from yoga?

What workout do you look forward to most?

Monday Motivation (with Mama June)

Just a couple things to share with yall today.  I know – it’s Monday.  Mondays can be rough.

mama june hair done

…But you’re tougher than Monday.  With the right perspective, Monday isn’t an imposition but an opportunity for excellence.

And, you know, an opportunity to laugh at yourself.

Like when you start talking to your dog in a voice that resembles an Italian-accented Cookie Monster.

(At which point you should probably seek more human companionship and/or professional help.  Or at the very least more caffeine.)

Apologies, I digress.

I wanted to pass along a couple things I came across lately, because I think they would make your life – or at least your Monday morning – much better.

First off, this fantastic article from We Got Real - “The Real Bod: Sags and All.”  Tara’s perspective is one that we would all do well to adopt.  Bodies are real, and they are imperfect, and they are beautiful, and they are not the source of our worth.  My favorite part:

“…health encompasses the entire body, not just our physical bodies….a healthy person is healthy in the mind, body, and spirit.  They eat well, but don’t let it control their lives.  They are not afraid of food.  A healthy person does not hate their body. They do not see it as the enemy.”

Amen to that. Your body is a gift, NOT a burden.  Cherish it as such.

On a lighter note, this song has been stuck in my head for a couple weeks.  It’s fitting, because it’s fitting.  As in literally. As in I’ve got a berdonk-with-a-capital-B wider center of gravity.  As in I can relate so hard.  But I kind of can’t stand the song itself.

This version, though? I’m all about that bass those harmonies. “Please, sir(s), can I ‘ave so’ more?”

And finally, if it’s been One of Those Mornings for you, I have a cure.  At the very least, it’s a Pepto Bismol and a bandaid for whatever ails you.   Seriously.  Try not to laugh.  If you’re offended…well, you do know whose blog you’re reading, right?

Now yall go out and attack the day.

Seriously. Pretend you’re Mama June and this week is a bottle of ketchup.  Or something like that.

mama june ketchup attack