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A little training update

By | CrossFit, Exercise, Jessica | One Comment

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Can I even call what I do training anymore? I always emphasize to athletes at the box that they need to constantly evaluate their training and goals, and document their development wherever possible. I’m obviously terrible at taking my own advice, because I haven’t done that in months. But since I’m coming out of what I would consider the “survival mode” of new parenting and was just asked to be a Women’s Health Magazine Action Hero for another year, I thought I’d kick-off a new start with a little update!

Note: I’ve broken things up into “currently” and “going forward.” This is not by design, just how I organized the randomness of the initial draft for easier consumption.

Currently:

Chiropractic

You’re probably wondering why I’m starting a training up date with Chiropractic, but it has everything to do with it I promise. For what probably seems like an eternity, I have been saying I need to be better about self-care. Having a baby, carrying around and co-sleeping with said baby and doing CrossFit has been a doozy to my body. Last month after I attended Elisabeth Akinwale’s seminar, I finally took the much-needed step and started seeing a chiropractor. While I’m certainly not “fixed,” I’m addressing tightness in my hips and slumped shoulders from far too many years at a computer.

Mobility

On the heels of adding chiropractic, mobility is equal to workouts. I’m not only doing post-WOD mobility, but pre- as well. I’m also seeking out some dedicated regimens to help strengthen my shoulders and lower back.

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Stroller run with the Beeb

Running

I’ve been running more, and really liking it. I’ve always had this love/hate relationship with running, which I think is half the reason I ended up in CrossFit, but now I’m doing more and liking the freedom of little 1-3 mile jaunts 1-2 times a week. I definitely will never be a distance/dedicated runner, but everything in moderation keeps me happy.

Less Weight

Since spraining my wrist, I’ve been working at lower weights during WODs and only going heavier in strength sets. My body is feeling a lot less crunched and I’m feeling really good with this balance of heavy and speed. I think too often the Internet makes more workouts and heavier weight the mark of effective training and getting stronger. Not. The. Case.

Dedicated Technique and Isolation Work

My weekend availability makes me prime for coaching Open Gym times, and I’ve started using these to work technique, rather than do an actual workout. I break down movements and work them in isolation, and sometimes I do “bro” strength exercises that CrossFit has until recently always poo poo’d.

Going forward:

Mental Blocks

Between injury and postpartum, I think I need some mental programming. I have far too many hang-ups and self-questioning moments — and I’d like to return to a place of full-confidence regarding my training and how I’m doing. Elisabeth Akinwale gave me some great tips, and I’ll share an update with how it’s going soon.

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Using a little notecard binder from my MIL for my mantras…

Mantra Cards

Okay, this is just one of the tips Elisabeth had. She keeps mantra cards in her bag. I definitely have a few, and no, they are not reminding myself I’m a beast or that I shouldn’t quit even if I puke or bleed — I’m not that kind of CrossFitter.

Training from Home

My barbell is currently living at home in its box, and we have a little corner of the house that I’m hoping to carve out for myself. This is a bigger, more convoluted thing, but for now, I’m focusing on the positive and that lifting won’t be limited to someplace I have to drive.

Now that I’m kind of able to see a little in front of me, it’s a clear reminder that there are only so many things that can fit into our days and weeks, and I have to be really selective and a lot more organized. That’s not me being snotty, it’s just reality at this point. Training is still up there on my list of priorities. This has really sparked a lot of my focus on mobility and diversification and trying to have a better plan to stay balanced and happy with my fitness.

This all being said, TRAIN ON!

Breastfeeding with a busy active lifestyle - Kohler Created

Breastfeeding with a busy active lifestyle: 7 weeks

By | Breastfeeding, CrossFit, Exercise, Jessica, Postpartum, Pregnancy | 9 Comments

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I’ve received requests for various topics in the postpartum realm, and a popular one has been breastfeeding with a busy active lifestyle that includes working full-time, running and consulting on several businesses and trying to fit in CrossFit training for myself. At 7 weeks, I am definitely not an expert, but I wanted to update you with what I’m currently doing and scheming to do to make it work. My goal is to breastfeed Kaitlan by boob or bottle for as long as she’ll take it.

A few disclaimers:

  • I’m by no means militant, and neither Neil or I are opposed to supplementing with formula to meet her needs. Deal with it.
  • Breastfeeding is complicated and varies largely from individual to individual. What works for one person will not work for all and none of what I say should stand above an actual expert, like your doctor or lactation consultant.
  • Per above, I’m not an expert in breastfeeding or CrossFit/fitness. I train an average of 3-4 times a week for 1-2 hours and coach an average of 1-2 classes a week.

... for a postpartum PR of 125#! I also did 30 pull-ups and ring dips!

Before Birth

It was my goal during pregnancy to return to CrossFit in postpartum as soon as I was able. CrossFit is hugely therapeutic to me, and it’s what I love. But above that was my desire to breastfeed Kaitlan for the first year if possible. It’s common knowledge that breastfeeding burns calories, and as does any exercise, complicating an already complicated endeavor (breastfeeding). Additionally, I work full-time, meaning that once I returned to work, the majority of Kaitlan’s milk would be pumped and given to her by her daycare providers. Many people I know have expressed in frustration that pumps just don’t get the job done as well as the breast does.

With all this in mind, I did what I could to prepare:

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During maternity leave (6 weeks)

It was one of the leading items in my birth plan that Kaitlan and I be together skin-to-skin for the first hour following birth to establish our breastfeeding relationship. This relationship and bonding early was HUGE. It not only ensured that we could establish latch with the help of a consultant to troubleshoot, but made sure she got colostrum, AKA “liquid gold.”

I breastfed on demand throughout my entire leave. I didn’t attempt to put her on a schedule, or adhere to the advice of “every 2-3 hours.” That was simply a “do not exceed” rule for me. If she wanted, I gave freely, and often ended up clusterfeeding and dreamfeeding in the earlier weeks.

My milk started coming in on day 3, and I started pumping immediately after feedings on day 4, bagging and freezing my first 5 ounces by day 6. I’ve continued pumping after most feedings from then on, averaging 5-7 minutes on each side. As my supply increased, I was able to pump more, and if we missed any feedings, I pumped as if I was feeding her. Over 6 weeks, I froze close to 15 bags of milk.

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Returning to work (7 weeks)

Pumping at work, home, and around CrossFit hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined, albeit somewhat tedious. My current direct breastfeeding/pumping schedule looks like this:

Between 2:00 am-3:00 am: Kaitlan feeds
5:30-6:00 am: Kaitlan feeds
6:45 am: Top Kaitlan off and pump before leaving for work (typically between 4-5 oz)
9:30 am: Pump (3-4 oz)
11:00 or 11:30 am: Pump (3-4 oz)
2:00-2:30 pm: Pump (3-4 oz)
4:00 pm: Pump (2-3 oz)
5:00 pm: Kaitlan feeds (this might become a bottle feeding)
6:00 pm or 7:00 pm: CrossFit — usually try to pump beforehand
8:00 pm Kaitlan feeds
10:00-10:30 pm Kaitlan feeds, then bed

As I mentioned, we haven’t put her on a schedule, but she’s definitely falling into a predictable pattern. Obviously, we see spikes and variation during spurts.

A few things of note/emphasis:

  • I prioritize pumping in the morning (even on weekends) when my supply is best and immediately prior to CrossFit to feel “empty.”
  • I pump missed feedings and after feeding her if I think that she didn’t feed significantly. If I don’t pump, I feed her on-demand and a little more often. I’ve also done some dream feeding.
  • I drink and eat a ridiculous amount. I try to keep it as healthy as possible, but the volume is impressive and I do what I have to to keep her fed. Food-wise, I take in anywhere from 2,300-2,500 calories a day, which is a lot when you consider it’s mostly Paleo. Fluid-wise, I typically do 120-130 oz of water in the morning, again in the afternoon, and in the evening after CrossFit. I also typically drink throughout my workouts.
  • I don’t take weekends off, and use them to get ahead or give myself a break later by building my stash.

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I’m not where I want to be on supply, but in just the one week I’ve been back at work, my supply has increased noticeably. I picked up a manual pump for times when I don’t have access to my electric and I’m going to make a point to eat oatmeal for breakfast and a late night snack this week to see if I can get to three bottles per day solidly. On the plus, Kaitlan seems to be thriving and is just over 9 pounds now.

We started her on a little formula supplementation over the weekend, and so far it’s going really well. I wanted to do this because while my supply is going up, it’s constantly on that line of being just enough. Having formula would be perfect for crunch times like topping her off in the morning or her daycare provider being able to keep her happy between 4-5:00 when we’re coming to get her. It would also be highly useful in emergencies like inclement weather when she might be at either my parents or daycare.

Is it obvious now that I tend to overthink everything? Have any supply-boosting tips for me?

CrossFit: Memorial Day Murph!

By | CrossFit, Exercise, Food, Neil | 2 Comments

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Over the weekend, our CrossFit Box undertook the brutal “Murph” workout. Just look at it! A 1 mile run, followed by 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, and 300 air squats? Insanity. And to top it off, just when your legs feel like rubber from the 300 air squats, you have to finish the workout with another 1 mile run. Bonkers.

“Murph”

For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

A little about the man behind the workout:

In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.

This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it “Body Armor”. From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.

Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.

I started in good spirits, ready to tackle this WOD. I made a goal with myself to finish in under 1 hour. I knew to do this I would not only have to maintain all the elements at a decent clip, but also pace myself to avoid burning out too quickly and succumbing to fatigue. Did I mention that it was also over 90 degrees outside? Bleh!

A few pictures:

Before: In good spirits

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And we are off!

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Slogging through the pull ups, push ups, and dips. My strategy was to break them up into 20 sets of 5-10-15 (pull up, push up, squat). This method proved to be pretty efficient, however after 10-15 rounds you really start to feel the fatigue in the push ups and air squats (for me anyhow, results may vary).

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Thankfully, hard work paid off and I  finished in 53:10! It felt so good to not only achieve the time, but have that workout under my belt. I was definitely tired afterward…

… as was everyone else. Definitely one of the harder workouts we’ve done as a box.

A sweaty “after” group shot for the wall!

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What you can’t see in that photo are some of the wicked blisters that formed during the pull-ups, ouch!

The Feast!

We celebrated Murph and Memorial Day with a BBQ. Food and beer tastes amazing after a tough workout, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather share it with than my friends at CrossFit United! An added bonus was that everyone brought Paleo goodies to share!

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It’s now been a few days, but I’m still pretty sore. However, Murph showed me how much progress I’ve made since starting CrossFit back in September. Back then, I couldn’t even do a single unassisted pull-up, now I can do 100 (unstrung of course). Its truly a testament to what a good program like CrossFit, paired with a clean diet, can do for your athleticism.

So, definitely no slouch of a weekend here at the Kohler house. Jessica smashing her half-marathon in the brutal heat, and me getting Murph done in well under 1 hour!

Scenes From Our Weekend

By | Exercise, Gardening, Weekend | No Comments

Casa

The weather was almost summer-like this weekend, which in Missouri seems to be as close as you can ever get to Spring. To think that just over a week ago we had snow is mind boggling, but we definitely wanted to capitalize on the brief glimpse of spring while it was here. On Saturday we spent most of the morning cleaning up the front yard. We pruned, pulled and raked nearly every inch. How such a little front yard gets so cluttered is beyond me. We’ll have to get to the backyard another day.

Local and Organic Bratwurst

While we were finishing up the front yard, we fired up the grill. We had come across some local, organic bratwurst at the grocery store and decided that a warm day absolutely necessitated some barbecue.

Sun Tea

We also sun-brewed our first pitcher of peach tea. I’ve been waiting all winter for this day to come. A little lemon and ice would be very nice!

Bike Rides...

After an afternoon nap, we took Clive for a walk on the trail and took a bike ride. It’s amazing how a good bike can change your perspective on riding. I actually CRAVE riding my bike now, whereas I completely loathed and dreaded riding my old cheapie bike from Target. Such easy and fun exercise and we can bike from our house to campus in just 20 minutes!

A great ending to Spring Break. Now to get through this busy month of final projects and papers…

One of those weeks…

By | Exercise, Friends | No Comments

Amy's Pizza!

We’re having one of those weeks. Have you had any of these recently? The kind where every minute is filled with at least ten things and you need 5 lists just to keep yourself on track? In addition to preparations for Steve and Anja’s wedding this weekend, we’ve been busy with freelance clients, my first week back in grad school and squeaking in as many gym visits as possible. No joke, we’ve eaten pizza every day this week! Thankfully it’s wonderful Amy’s Pizza, but nonetheless it’s just one of those weeks we’re totally off schedule. So rather than haphazardly throw a bunch of posts up just to have something there, we’re going to take the rest of the week off to really focus, and we’ll return Monday with more of the sweet action you’re accustomed to.

Have a great weekend!

Running Report: Five Things I’ve Learned as a Newbie Runner So Far…

By | Exercise, Running | 2 Comments

I’ve been learning the RICE method of recovery for my ankle.

Despite my current appearance (slimmer), I’m not a long-time athlete or even active person. I never played high school sports, was never in youth-league sports and didn’t really grow up in what I would consider an active household. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen my dad run once in my entire life, and it was when my brother took a wooden swing to the face on a playground. Needless to say I had very little knowledge knowledge outside of what I’d picked up from magazines and high school health class. I’d always maintained my weight through good diet and and an unfortunate high-stress lifestyle and for the most part it was relatively simple. But when I started working out and running just over a year ago, I learned a few things very quickly, especially when I started running in the hopes of completing my first 5k. When it comes to learning new things, I tend to do it in one or two ways. I either completely over-research and over-think the details or I recklessly throw myself into the wind and hope I don’t land wrong. With running it was the latter, and I’ve had to learn some hard lessons on the road to not only being able to run distance, but increase my stamina and endurance. I’m also dealing with my first injury, or rather re-injury to my left ankle. Nothing has been a show-stopper, but I’ve definitely incurred some setbacks and re-thinking when it comes to my technique. Here are a few of the big lessons I’ve learned:

1. Too Much, Too Fast, Too Soon: If you’ve never met me (and I need to do a vlog soon), I’m a lot of personalities, in a non-clinical way. I’ve got a little bit of everything and I want to do everything…usually simultaneously. This carried over to working out and subsequently running. Because of my schedule, I was trying to dramatically increase both my speed and distance at the same time, because in my head I thought I could run more in the relatively short time I have available. Needless to say it not only doesn’t work, but it puts too much on something that should be enjoyable (or at least tolerable). So I chose to focus on distance, and for the most part run till I was tired and no longer able to rebound with short stints of walking. Incrementally I’m increasing my distance more and more, and my lung and heart are learning to accomodate.

2. Stretching? What Stretching?: My running for the most part, unfortunately, has been in the gym on the treadmill. I’ll run for the duration of my workout while Neil is doing weights and when he’s done I jump off the treadmill and leave. Forgetting to stretch, or just not doing it has been a terrible mistake. Not only do I feel stiff and terrible in the morning, but my muscles don’t heal well, and my next run invariably suffers. I’m getting better, and I’m also doing more stretching during the day to stay loose. I do yoga in my office, and before bed. I make an extra effort to incorporate stretching while I clean the house. I’m seeing incremental improvements in my endurance and times. To me, stretching is just as important as the run itself.

My awesome Saucony ProGrid Guide 2’s

3. Equipment: I used to think “optimum” equipment meant replacing your mall-store shoes every so many miles. Boy was I wrong. For Valentine’s Day, Neil took me to get fitted for a pair of real running shoes. I got an awesome pair built and designed specifically for running and they have made a marked difference. Not only do I not have any more shin pain, but the cushion and fit has helped my stride and taken pressure off my previously-injured ankle. I thought such a venture would cost quite a bit more, but I didn’t spend any more than if I had gone to the mall, and I got a great pair of shoes tailored to my feet.

4. Hydration: For the first few months (ashamed to say it was up until a month ago) I was not hydrating properly. I would lug a huge water bottle on the treadmill and get mad when I was still dehydrated. I was trying to drink while running and it was messy and ineffective. Neil noticed my cotton mouth and asked what I was drinking during the day. Um…Diet Coke? I was drinking no water during the day, other than maybe a mouthful in passing a drinking fountain. I was dehydrated all day, before I even stepped on the treadmill. Problem seen, problem definitely fixed. I drink water throughout the day, at least two glasses while I’m at work. Sure, I’m in the restroom more, but I’m also no longer dehydrated on my runs.

5. Change it up: I realized quickly that I’m not a euphoric runner. I don’t see Jesus, I don’t have mental renaissances and for the most part I can barely focus on anything other than staying on my feet. Running for me is honestly boring, especially on a treadmill. Maybe that will change once I can go full out more often and not feel like I’m merely trying not to die, but for now it feels like a process and something to overcome. Rather than get frustrated that I’m not having “the experience” I’ve continued to look forward and run toward the goal of that feeling. To do this, I’ve started varying my speeds and breaking up the distance into smaller goals and milestones. It not only makes time go faster but builds a stronger cardio workout because I’m constantly challenging and recovering my heart rate.

Learning all these things has given me a better running experience over the past month, and I’m continually feeling more energetic and better recovered the day after. With more attention to what I do before and after the run, my runs are getting easier and more enjoyable. I’m finally able to vary my speed comfortably and enjoy running with other people at a pace where I can still hold a conversation! I’m still a complete newb but I’m building a knowledge bank and setting a course for better, more effective workouts every time.

Have you ever hit any roadblocks or learned some hard lessons on the road to reaching your fitness goal? Have a great method to share or have any suggestions on my continuing journey? I’d love to hear them!

A special thanks to Aurora at Dispatches From the Castle and Ashley at (Never)homemaker for providing great info and support!

About that Weight Loss…

By | Exercise, Food, Jessica | 3 Comments

I was recently interviewed by Siel at Green LA Girl about a comment I left on a blog stating I had success losing weight by eliminating frozen/boxed food from my diet. She initially asked if she could simply just read my story on my blog and it was only then that I realized I have never talked about my weight loss here. I’m not going to pretend I lost a person or can stuff my whole body into a pant leg of my old pants, but I am currently at a healthy weight and in the best shape of my life, which is a vast improvement from nearly four years ago when my life was in a very different place.

Back in 2005

In 2005 I was a year out of college and just starting my career when my health hit a brick wall. Adjusting to a sedentary desk job after being an active on-campus college student was rough. To top it off I was in a relationship that also wasn’t making the transition well and he had a perfect metabolism. I ate what he ate (mac n’ cheese and frozen pizza), and it caught up to me. I went from 120 to 155 in a year. When my relationship ended I had even less motivation to cook. Who wants to cook for one person? I couldn’t afford a gym membership, and I was so embarrassed and ashamed all I really wanted to do was hide. This is one of the few pictures of me, at a political rally meeting John Edwards. I hid behind baggy shirts, pants, and messenger bags.

In 2006

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(above) Taken in early 2006

To be a sap, the person who changed it all for me was Neil. After we met early in 2006 I realized that if I ever wanted to be happy with someone, I had to make myself both available and attractive to that person. I know that sounds subversive and probably a little sad, but the idea of being with someone I saw as “out of my league” was a huge motivator. I didn’t know at the time if I’d end up with Neil but I convinced myself that if I pulled myself up and took control that at the very least something good was bound to happen.

But I was so clueless. I didn’t exercise, just quit full-sugar soda and ate more salads and less red meat. It did help some, but I quickly hit a plateau.

When Neil finally asked me out (and relocated to be with me) he had years of athletics under his belt and lots of ideas to help me reach my new my goal of being able to keep up with him and be active together. He’d been suffering from the cubicle lifestyle as well and it was the first goal we made for ourselves as a couple.

One of his first ideas was to cut frozen/boxed meals. Have you ever stopped to look at the sodium content in those? Instead, we bought lots of fresh greens, lean meat (mostly chicken and fish) and cooked at home. We brought whole wheat sandwiches and yogurt to work for lunch and stopped eating out almost entirely. The culmination of that coupled with a more active lifestyle (at the time, taking walks) gave me close to a ten pound weight loss in the first 3 weeks. That may not be “instant” enough for a lot of people, but I quickly learned that weight loss and good health is a lifelong endeavor, and that it only works long-term when coupled with activity.

Since then we’ve prioritized our budget to afford gym memberships and I’m back down to around, well what I was in high school! I’m training for my first 10k and a size 2 (used to be a size 12). I don’t want people to read my story and think that just giving up packaged food will change everything, or that it was all the change I needed. It was the first step (of many) that changed everything about how I live now. I read every label. I cook every meal. I work out. I set goals. There is no magic fix and the weight on the scale can definitely NOT be the only measure of success or you won’t succeed long term.

I don’t think I realized how much weight I had lost until I got married and had to get fitted for a dress. Even in the time between my first fitting and my wedding day I lost weight.

So what were the biggest changes that worked for us?

  • Have a support system. Even if it’s just an gym friend who checks in on you, having a support system and someone to put your feet to the fire is a must!
  • Avoid temptation not by restricting but giving yourself a healthy alternative. When we attend events or parties, we are always the people who bring the healthier food. If all else fails, we eat our own stuff. More often than not though, people are impressed and next go-around they are bringing healthy food too.
  • Make a schedule or keep a journal and stick to it. Often times when you write things down you feel more motivated to follow through. This blog has done that for us. It’s all out in the open and whether you all know it or not, you keep us accountable.
  • Eat slowly and evaluate. I learned this trick from the Japanese. They eat slowly till they are what they feel is 75% full and then they wait 20 minutes.
  • Bring your own lunch. You save money too!

What ways have you found to maintain healthy weight? Share them in the comments!

Body Combat

By | Exercise, Friends | 4 Comments




I’m currently trying to explain to one of my best friends in Colorado where the hell I was last  night. Usually I code and set up all my blog posts at night (so I can kinda of you know, work my full-time job during the day) but I couldn’t move last night so I spent the latter part of my evening partially paralyzed and groaning on the couch. So here I am, improvising my morning post and trying to explain to you as poorly as I am to him where the hell I was last night.

I’m starting to feel like the Anthony Bourdain of workout classes. A lot of cynicism mixed with sarcasm and a hint of dangerous curiosity to try anything once. My friend Aurora is a Body Combat afficionado. She’s got the routines memorized, and can name the releases and individual moves without blinking. She’s even got the glove wraps, which she can put on while holding an in-depth conversation. She’s committed, coordinated and has energy to work out almost every day of the week. I’m filled with awe and envy.

Every week she invites me to Body Combat and this week I finally said “sure why not.” I mean, I’m in better shape now than a year ago, I’m getting a nice set of muscles and tone, and I can run nearly two miles. I can handle some basic choreographed mixed martial arts.

Oh my God, no I can’t.

The above video is as close to what I experienced as I could find. Loud, with lots of quick movement and on-your-feet learning and within seconds I knew I was way out of my league. I can’t dance. I can’t move to rhythm or follow the quick movements of others in sync; which is fine at weddings because I’m the kooky ginger kid you can have a good time with. But this? I looked sad. Very sad. And I know what you’re thinking, “it’s not about how you look, it’s about the exercise,” and that’s completely true, but man I don’t know If it’s something that’s totally me either. I’m a quiet exerciser. I love introspective. I love exercise that gives me the option of clearing my head or getting a lot of thinking done. That’s why yoga and pilates was an instant hit with me. I don’t mind routines or classes, but this felt like a drugless raid led by someone inhaling eight balls instead of oxygen. I was almost roundhouse kicked to the face several times, and while I know it was more me than them, there just wasn’t a lot of room for error. The movement is great. The cardio is great, and I feel great today, but I think I need more of a balanced alternative as far as environments go. This felt almost too enthusiastic, the same feeling I get when I’m around megachurch Christian scenesters, and it feels weird to say that.

So that brings me to this: Is there a form of exercise that you would turn down? What kind? Why? What do you prefer? I’d love to hear your feedback because, as I’m reasonably new to this I’m constantly looking for advice, conversation and ideas.

PS-Aurora, I’ll still go with you sometimes, no worries.

First Impressions: Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred

By | Exercise | 2 Comments

This has been on my list of workout DVD’s to try for months. I don’t resort to DVD’s that often but when the house is cold, it’s an off day at the gym, or your husband signed up for a medical study that measures nitrates in his blood and he’s not allowed to work out the night before testing, you find some time to try these things out. Even though he isn’t supposed to work out the night before the testing, he did the workout with me.

The 30-Day Shred is essentially a 3-2-1 rotation of cardio, weights and abs. The weights are only 5-lb. each and the workout itself is only 20 minutes. Don’t let that deceive you. This is by far the most thorough home workout DVD I’ve tried thus far. After day one on “Level 1” walking up the stairs is more of a task than usual. As I’ve only done the first day, no results to be seen yet, but it’s definitely left an impression.

I’ll post more thoughts after week 1.

Not all Running Shoes are Created Equal

By | Exercise, Jessica, Running | 4 Comments

I am admittedly a newbie runner. If you had asked me even a year ago what shoes were best for running, I would have pointed to anything that wasn’t a pump or sandal. I believed that whatever enabled you to run without feeling the rocks or broken glass got the green light. I stand very corrected.

Neil surprised me early for Valentine’s Day this past weekend by taking me for a professional shoe fitting that ended with these lovely Saucony ProGrid Guide 2’s. They are like running on pillowy puffs of air. After endeavoring to run a 10k by the end of 2010 and starting the very basic training programs and techniques, I quickly learned that my Nike Shox were not optimum for running. As I’m a complete newb, this process was really informative. I learned a lot about not only my particular feet and stride, but how stride works, and how shoes are designed to optimize and improve for the best run possible.

What Did I learn?

Even if you aren’t feeling pain, your feet are uniquely designed and therefore create a stride and step that is all your own. When you run normally (or walk):

  1. 1. The outside of the heel strikes the ground first. This is called a supinated position.
  2. 2. The foot then rolls inward and flattens out along the lengthwise arch-pronation. This is called pronation.
  3. 3. The foot then supinates by rolling through the ball.

Usually, when (yes it’s a matter of when apparently) you develop an injury it’s because you either supinate (roll out) or pronate (roll in) too much. Normal amounts of pronation and supination are needed for normal function, but abnormal amounts increase the risk for injury. The excessive amount of either will determine if you need a neutral running shoe with an even amount of motion control and mild shock absorption, or a shoe designed for mild, moderate, or severe amounts of pronation/supination with mild, moderate, or severe control.

After standing, squatting, running on a treadmill barefoot and getting my feet thoroughly groped, the specialists determined that I’m rather normal (boring huh?) with a slight pronation inequality favoring my right foot. I tried on at least twenty pairs of shoes and because of my narrow heels and skinny feet found it really hard to find a shoe that didn’t feel like a loose sock. In trying on all these shoes and talking the ear off the specialists, I’ve come up with what I feel is a great list of tips for shopping for the perfect running shoes.

Things to Remember When Shopping for a Running Shoe

  1. 1. Do not buy shoes unless you’ve had your feet fitted and assessed. I’ve learned my lesson and will never buy and off-the-rack department store shoe.
  2. 2. Wear socks that you would typically wear running.
  3. 3. Bring 1 or 2 pairs of your current running shoes. A person trained in fitting running shoes can better assess where your shoes tend to wear most heavily.
  4. 4. Know your stats to determine what your usage will be. Know how many miles you run per week and what injuries you’ve sustained in the past.
  5. 5. Be sure to run in them, not just 5 minutes, but maybe a full mile.
  6. 6. Try several brands and models to get a full spectrum of different fits.
  7. 7. Get both feet measured individually. It is not uncommon to have two
    different-sized feet.
  8. 8. Make sure the shoe easily flexes where the foot flexes.
  9. 9. If you use orthotics, get the shoes fitted with them installed.
  10. 10. Don’t rely on a break-in period. Running shoes should feel good the day you buy them.

So there are  my newbie shopping tips. I may be a newb, but I fully advocate and encourage getting your feet sized and fitted to a running shoe. By all indications of those more informed and experienced than me, it probably won’t prevent injury (that seems inevitable) but greatly enhance the enjoyment of the experience and at least give you some better odds.

So how am I doing at goal of running a 10k by the end of the year? I’m currently training for my first 5k and up to the 2 mile marker. I’m hoping to run my first 5k (unfortunately on the deathmill) this weekend. I’m taking it slow to build the mucles and muscle memory in my legs to avoid unnecessary injury where I can. It’s exciting, and I really appreciate all the encouragement and tips I’ve received from amazing friends, both online and not.