Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Different Kind of Cardio

"I have a very eclectic Ipod, so I've got my cardio ... anything from Beyonce to Jay Z to Janelle Monae, her song 'Tightrope,' that's a good cardio song." - Michelle Obama

I hate running. Most of my friends are runners. They often invite me to go running with them, especially on the stairs at seacliff. If you live in the 831 area and you don't know these stairs, you've probably either been living under a rock or don't live a very active lifestyle.  

I'm not a runner. My knees swell up, my ankles hurt, and I get dizzy because I tend to already have very low blood pressure. This uphoria all my runner friends tell me about, this great feeling after you run, I've never felt. I just feel like I need ice and a little faint. But hey, it's not for everyone. And if you aren't a runner there's some good news- there are great cardio alternatives out there:

Structured running or agility training- This is great because it allows me to still kind of run but not for the long distances that kill my body, but in shorter more intense sessions that leave my heart pumping and legs looking fab! For agility training- set up an obstacle to jump over, a ladder to run through/hop through/whatever, get a workout band and run banded squats forward backward and sideways, throw in some jump squats (try one legged!) and you'll be burning calories as well as muscle, hardcore. 

Biking- obviously

Elliptical machines/ bike machines/ tread mills- This is always a go to at the gym for cardio. Mix them up regularly for more results. I like ellipticals because they are low impact on the joints, so I will do that for ten minutes at the beginning of my workout but hop on the bike, stair master, or tread mill for an additional 10-15 minutes at the end.

Spin class- So good! I loved it, but haven't been going lately. Read my other post on spin class for more details!

Arobics/ Zumba/ Dance- It's fun and calorie burning, and hey, Michelle Obama is into it. Dance it out!

Jumping rope- The best cardio workout you will EVER do. I talk about this in several other posts. A recent SHAPE magazine article also raved about the benefits of jump roping, read it here. It boosts your metabolism all day and works every muscle in your body if you do it properly. Find out more at fitness magazine jump rope basics. Also, I have heard from someone who goes to the gym with John Basedow that he is all about jumping rope, and we know he's got his cardio on point! If it works for him, it works for me!

High intensity interval training- HIIT- Interval training is my favorite workout right now, and doing it at high intensity with no or few breaks will leave you glowing, heart racing, and feeling the burn. There are lots of HIIT workouts you can find on the internet. The most important thing is to mix it up and not do the same workout all the time for maximum impact.

Hiking, walking, and other outdoor activities- While not exactly a cardio workout, being active outside promotes healthy blood flow and circulation. It's part of a healthy lifestyle and promotes a good cardiovascular system. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Surfs Up

"It's like the mafia. Once you're in, you're in. There's no getting out." -Kelly Slater

For my birthday my bf bought me a wetsuit and surf board.
 I never asked for that or even thought I'd like to learn to surf, as I generally don't even go in the water at the beach and am not the best swimmer.

However, once I got out there I found out that surfing is not impossible for a non-water person. The key thing about surfing is being confident and going for it. For me, my discomfort in the water did hold me back from being fully confident but surfing was a lot easier than I expected. For one- your wetsuit helps you float and once you get used to diving under the waves, it really is much nicer than getting smacked in the face with a wall of white wash. Also having a good teacher and a good location to learn make it comfortable.
Think about it- if surfing were so hard not many people would do it... and I don't know about where you live, but where I live almost everyone surfs... even kids and old people! 

There are several things that have held me back from trying it in the past:

1) swimming. As I said, I'm not a strong swimmer, and breathing in the water is hard for me. I think that's just something I have to work on. When I was out in the water, I would get very out of breath after exhausting very minimal effort. Maybe it's just that way when you learn something new because you don't have the muscle memory to support you yet, but I think, at least for me, the added element of water was a big challenge. Having a good teacher helped me to overcome that. He kept me calm, helped me when I needed it, and boosted my confidence level.

2) crowded surf. Learning to surf in a place like Santa Cruz, CA, where I live is intimidating because I feel like your always in the way of the real surfers. And surfing in my town is taken pretty seriously. Feeling like your in everyone's way is no fun, and stressful. But down in Mexico where the waves were smaller and the surf was less crowded was perfect. Finding a good location for learning is really important. 

3) my fitness level. Core strength is key. You have to be able to stand up and balance and lean and move your body in ways while keeping your core stable. In a past articleI wrote about getting out of shape in my new relationship. I haven't been feeling at my optimum fitness level for a while now, but since I've picked back up with circuit training and yoga, I was pretty confident about my strength which helped me out a lot.

Once I tried it, I really loved it. Surfing is a fun activity that works you out without feeling like a workout at all. And because it feels like an activity, not a workout there is still room in your day after for a circuit or intense power yoga session.
surfing alone is great because it works your arms, back, shoulders, and core. while surfing looks like its all legs, at least for me, as a beginner, it was really far more upper body work.
It's also motivating. Now, I'm more motivated to get into swimming and try to build more confidence with that. I have tried swim workouts in the past and always found them to be very difficult for me to get through. It is just such a different kind of workout than I am used to, and I haven't been motivated to stick with it. But now I'm more motivated to build my confidence surfing! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cross Training Sets

"Adopt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own." -Bruce Lee

I think one of the biggest benefits to taking workout classes and trying new workouts is that you can take even just one piece of it you love, and adapt it to change the way you work out at home or on your own. If you were a runner, use those workout you love even if you don't run anymore. If you were a gymnast, you can still use pieces of that workout in your gym routine. Our workouts are unique to who we are and where we have been. Cross training in your workout not only gives you a great workout, it lets you express that, and shapes your body to reflect our varying life experiences! Think about that, that's a wonderful thing! So, I just thought I'd share a couple home cross training workout sets I love to do outside my regular circuit training workout. These are three exercise sets of 10 reps each 3 times... I just do these every once in a while. They are a combination of things I've learned from gymnastics as well as boxing, ballet workout, and various fitness classes which I have put together to target my own biggest problem areas with exercises I love.

Push up set: 
Military push ups-my fav!- these are a push up with a body roll up, followed by a push up with a a body roll down.

Sumo push ups-Push up touch each of you shoulders, push up again 
Tricep push ups- push ups with your elbows in to your sides, not out.

Ab set:
Tuck ups-my fav!- lay flat arms up and legs out, tuck legs in and roll up to shoulder stand or as close as you can get) and then roll back down. 
V ups- lay flat arms up keeps arms by ears and lift arms and legs to sky and touch together ( this is more of a lift up than a v)
Bicycle- military kicks and hold your head is regular push up position, alternate knees to elbows. 

Butt set:
Frog leg lifts-my fav!- knees bent laying on your side, lift one leg up and alternate just your foot up and down keeping legs open.
Donkey kicks- on all fours lift leg at 90 degree angle and pulse (flex your foot, and make sure to keep a flat back).

Straight leg pulse- same as donkey kicks, but straight leg (flex your foot, and make sure to keep a flat back).

I love these little sets and do them every so often as supplemental to my workout. They really give you a boost in those areas like lower belly, fat part of your arm, and that spot right between your butt an thigh, while also strengthening your core

You really could do these as a circuit once in a while too, but I'd pick two from each group for that.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Fitness Pal

"If Everyday Were Like Today, You'd Weigh 102 lbs in 5 Weeks." - My Fitness Pal

God, I love when my fitness pal tells me how fast I'll be fit and thin if I stay on track like I did today! And for that reason, the instant gratification I get even though I can't see my results yet, I find this app totally addicting! It's the easiest way I've found to track my calories and my exercise to get to a weight and fitness level where I want to be.

It's so easy to use. You put in your weight, your goal, your activity level, and set a calorie goal per day. Then, you enter the foods you eat and the exercise you do each day. Fitness pal tells you if your on track and your progress each day.

What's better is you can find your friends on facebook, or from your phones contacts, and share your food and exercise diary. Or, you can chose to keep your diary private. I like to share mine, and I enjoy getting snack ideas from my friends.

Before I started using fitness pal I would sometimes not eat enough before going to the gym, and get dizzy or tired. Which can be dangerous. On fitness pal, I can literally see if the breakfast I ate is going to be enough to get me through my gym workout. If my breakfast was 300 calories and my gym workout burns 500, that's a good thing to know.

I used to also think I was eating healthy, without understanding how many calories are in things or the breakdown of how much fat, protein, sugar, sodium I was getting each day, and what I still needed. Now I can see all of that on my fitness pal. I can actually look at the nutrition in my food and see if I need to eat more protein for dinner, or if I have extra calories to have that piece of cake for desert.

Whatever your using to track your progress, it needs to work for you. There are a lot of other aps and websites out there that work in ways similar to the fitness pal, and you should find the one that is a good fit for you. By tracking your progress in every meal, and every workout, its easy to stay inspired and on track. It's also impossible to lie to yourself when you see your not!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Losing Your Fit Factor in a Relationship

"I don't know how girls in relationships can let themselves get so fat."- things I used to say... until now.

I admit that like many people over the past year, I have fallen of the wagon as far as working out. I have always been a single girl and had and the drive to hit the gym everyday and stay fit- MORE Than fit- in addition to my regular gym routine I've always done yoga, and either boxing or gymnastics on the side, as well as have many active hobbies. So how did this happen?

Why do we do this ladies? Why is it when we get into a relationship staying fit is so much harder? Well, I have a few theories:
  • First, our men eat more than we do, and we eat with them. Men are always hungry and they eat a lot. I found myself eating so much more than I normally would. And while my boyfriend eats pretty healthy most of the time, eating significantly more food more often is not good for staying fit! So I recently decided that it's ok to just say i'm not hungry if he is, and to say i'm full when I am. 

  • Second, I like to workout at night, and that's the time I now spend with my boo. My usual gym time is now taken up with my significant other. I go to his house at night, we eat dinner, we watch a movie, we go to bed. I used to go to the gym at night, and while over the last year I wouldn't say I've let myself go by any means, I certainly have not been nearly at my most fit shape. In fact, I'll admit that I will make it to the gym a few mornings in a row, and then just drop off all together for months.

The realization- "OMG, I'm like... getting fat!"

These things might be simple realizations, but they took me a longtime to come to. I don't think I realized I was becoming out of shape till I'd already been out of the gym for almost a year. It hit me when I put on a BIKINI and actually looked at myself. While I'd say I am a very good looking girl, I'm thin, I'm generally tan, I just didn't look fit..... and that's when I realized.... I have "the relationship syndrome" that other girls have and I've always criticized them for.

So I've decided to take up my blog again and to start trying to get back into not just adequate "relationship" shape, but to get FIT.


Almost everything I do at the gym, I can do at home. At the gym, I mostly workout with free weights and run on the elliptical. I can get just as good a cardio workout jumping rope, running, doing step ups, jumping jacks, etc, and I also have a lot of workout equipment at home (though nothing crazy). And the bonus is that it's cheaper than the gym and more convenient.


You will need a good circuit timer if you wanna get into working out at home and get results. Timers keep me on track, and force me to pre-plan a workout and complete it. I have a gymboss timer, which I love! I can set it for two varying time intervals which rotate in sets. For example I can have a 1 minute interval, followed by a 30 second interval which repeats however many times I want, or whatever. Right now, I am programing it to give me 30 seconds in between each exercise to get prepped for the next and take a breather. I highly recommend the gymboss timer. You can get it here: buy a gym boss timer

I am choosing 5 of the following activities each day and working it in a circuit 3 times, with 30 second breaks in between each. when I was in better shape, I'd do 30 seconds in between each set, and add ankle weights to jump roping, and the legs/ butt workouts, as well as increase my time to at least a minute for each.

jump rope- 1 minute
step ups- 1 minute (on chair or step)
jumping jacks- 1 minute
1/2 mile run- at end of circuit.

plank- 1 minute
side plank- 30 seconds each side
push up jumps onto yoga blog- 1 minute

legs/ butt-
jump squats- 1 minute (10 lbs in each hand)
side  step squats with a band- 1 minute
lounges- 1 minute

arms and chest-
on yoga ball- triceps- 30 sec. chest press-30 sec. (10 lbs in each hand)
biceps/triceps with a band- 30 seconds each
lunges with bicep curls- 30 sec. (10 lbs in each hand)
squats with a military press- 30 sec. (10 lbs in each hand)
lawn mowers- 30 seconds each side

(lawn mowers- I do these in a lounge for added difficulty and core work)

Some of these are really hard and can be modified to be easier: Especially the jump squats, the plank, and push ups. If it's too hard, and it was for me the first time, I recommend doing it in a girls style push up position on your knees. Similarly, if you can't hold a body plank for one minute to go down to a girls style push up position and hold it, but, don't drop it!!!

If the jump squats are too hard- hold a a wall squat, but don't drop it!!