Fitness: Interval Running Workout #5

I’m back! Well… kind of.

I’m back at the gym, but not as much as I would like. But sometimes you just got to take what you get and make the most out of it. It hasn’t been easy, I definitely have fallen behind a little bit now. The running is a tiny bit harder now that I have been out of commission for a couple weeks and I find myself wishing just a little bit more that I was sitting on my couch back home instead of running. But I have no doubt that I will break down that wall and will be back on track in no time. Challenges and goals inspire us to keep going, to fight through the pain. So, that’s exactly what I am going to do. And I hope you do too.

Ladies, you have been warned. Start shopping the swim section now because you will love(hate) this workout. It’s called the “bikini cardio” workout. It’s about a 45-minute run and probably one of the harder runs for me personally. But hey, who ever said having a bikini body was going to be easy? If it was, we would all have them. It’s a lot of running at a fast pace but summer is almost here so we don’t have a lot of time to waste. Your bikini and sun-kissed skin will thank you later.

The Workout:

*Warm-up for 3 minutes. I do this by walking at around 3.5 mph but it’s your choice. Get the blood flowing.

*Run 2 minutes at 7.0 mph.

*Walk 1 minute at 4.0 mph.

-Repeat the run/walk cycle 9 times (not including the warm-up).

*Sprint at 8.0/8.5 mph for 1 minute.

*Walk at 3.8/4.0 mph for 1 minute.

-Repeat this sprint/walk cycle 5 times.

*Cool down, your choice, for 5 minutes. You will need it, so don’t skip it.

You probably understand now why this is called the “bikini cardio” workout. It’s hard and tiring- I know it is. But, at the same time it’s an awesome workout with even better results. If your legs feel like jelly, you can barely breathe, and your clothes are soaked with sweat you know you did something right for both your health and that bikini.

Happy exercising!

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Fitness: Interval Running Workout #4

Alright, I have a confession to make: I haven’t been to the gym all week. Now for the excuse…

We have been super busy around the house, painting, landscaping, and a ton of other small projects that are probably completely unnecessary. This past weekend I spent most of my time weeding/mulching which requires a decent amount of squatting, bending, kneeling , and lifting heavy mulch bags. Let’s just say I could barely walk Monday and Tuesday, even with all the running I have been doing. Every day after work this week we have tackled another project, leaving just enough time for dinner and bedtime. At first it feels really good to skip the gym, like you are getting away with skipping some tedious horrendous chore, but I soon come to miss it. It feels great, after sitting at a computer all day, to just let loose and run for a little. If one good thing comes from this week (besides all the stuff we are accomplishing at home), it’s realizing that I like my new workout routine despite how I may feel while actually doing it. Sometimes you just need to step back and reassess what you are doing/what you have to really appreciate it. I can’t wait for things to get back to normal, hopefully by Monday.

And no, this doesn’t mean that you should stop running too so I made sure to post another workout. This workout is meant to focus on “fat burning” as it has a decent amount of running at a decent to fast pace. There are two plus sides to this workout. One, I personally feel like this workout goes by the quickest out of all of them. Two, you actually get to rest. Like no running, just stand there type of rest. It’s not long, but it counts for something- trust me.

The Workout:

*Warm-up at a 7% incline for 5 minutes.

*Jog at 6.0 mph and a 4% incline for 2 minutes.

*Sprint at 7.o mph and a 2% incline for 1 minute.

*Walk at 4.0 mph at a 7% incline for 2 minutes.

*Jog at 6.5 mph and a 4% incline for 2 minutes.

*Sprint at 7.5 mph and a 2% incline for 1 minute.

*Walk at 4.0 mph at a 10% incline for 2 minutes.

*Jog at 6.5 mph and a 5% incline for 2 minutes.

*Sprint at 8.0 mph and a #5 incline for :30 seconds.

*Rest by carefully jumping to the sides of your treadmill for :30 seconds. While you are resting, set incline at 2%.

*Sprint at 8.0-8.5 mph for :30 seconds.

*Rest for :30 seconds. Set incline at 1%.

*Sprint at 8.0-8.5 mph for :45 seconds.

*Walk at 4.0 mph at a 5% incline for 3 minutes.

*Jog at 6.0 mph and a 2% incline for 3 minutes.

*Cool-down by walking at 3.5 mph (no incline) for 4 minutes.

Guess what?! You’re done! You just kicked ass. Yes, yes you did.

Keep going for me while I finish my brief hiatus. I will be back soon, I promise.

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #3

Can’t let this week go by without posting another interval running workout. We wouldn’t want that now, would we? 😉

As mentioned last week, this workout is a little more endurance based. The previous workouts have focused on shorter periods of fast running but this time, we are going to run a little slower (most of the time) but  for a longer period of time. It’s still intervals but a little different. It’s good to throw in a different workout into your routine every so often. The more your body does something, the easier it becomes. Meaning your body doesn’t need to work as hard  to get where it wants to go or accomplish what it needs to. If you constantly tweak your workout routine your body won’t get “bored” and stop working. You don’t want to work your butt off for nothing so make sure to change it up every once in a while.

This workout goes by super fast for me because you are changing speed every minute so it keeps you busy and you lose track of how much time has actually gone by. And don’t worry, you still get to walk- for two minutes each round. It’s great recovery and something to look forward to at the end of each cycle. Also, don’t worry if you can’t do the whole thing just yet. It takes a while to build up endurance. All that matters is that you are taking the first to get there.

Well, here it is.

The Workout:

Warm-up for 2 minutes by walking at 3.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 5.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 5.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 6.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 6.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 7.0 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 7.5 mph.

Jog/run for 1 minute at 8.0 mph.

Walk for 2 minutes at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 5 times without the warm-up (or as many as you can, many days I only make it to 3 reps and it is still really effective).

I definitely noticed a difference in my running after doing this workout for a few weeks. A 5K race doesn’t sound so intimidating anymore.

Let me know how it goes. Happy running!

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #2

As promised, here is the second interval workout in my running circuit. This one involves more running than the last workout, but it’s still not horrible. You still walk more than you run, and it’s shorter! You can power through this entire workout in only a half hour. The downside- you are going to sweat. You are actually going to sweat a lot. You need to make every single second of this workout count if you want to receive maximum benefits. Every time you hold back or put the treadmill on a lower speed than you know you can do, you are only hurting yourself. This workout goes by extremely fast. Make the most of it.

Oh yeah, and you might have a tiny bit of trouble walking to your car after. But that’s only a minor detail.

 

 The Workout:

Warm-up for 3 minutes by jogging at 5.5-6.0 mph.

Run fast (not a sprint, but make sure you’re moving) for 1 minute. I set my speed for 7-7.5 mph.

Walk for 2 minutes at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 4 more times (without the warm-up)!

Sprint (yes, sprint) for 30 seconds. Again, I set my speed for 8-8.5 mph.

Walk for 1 minute at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 9 more times!

Bonus Tip: To burn some extra calories you can do this whole workout at a slight incline. And I mean slight. Set your treadmills incline to 1.0 or 2.0 for some extra spice. Warning: you WILL feel it.

 

…and you’re done! That was quick! Go buy yourself  a new blouse, you deserve it. Nothing wrong with some positive reinforcement, right?

Check back next week for a more endurance focused interval run. I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Happy running!

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #1

I hate running. I love working out, I love going to the gym, and I love being active. But, I don’t love running. No matter how many land sports I tried growing up and throughout high school I always went back to swimming. Not just because it was the sport that I felt like I excelled the most at, but because it also does not involve running. My hatred for running was evident at an early age. During my kindergarten soccer games I would plead with the coach to be the goalie because that was the one position that running wasn’t really involved. Plus, the ball was not really flying at you that hard, if at all. Through middle school and high school I tried tennis and lacrosse. I tolerated the running but it was definitely not something I looked forward to. In college, I pretty much abandoned the running world altogether and just stuck with swimming. Once I graduated, that is when the real problem arrived. I needed a cardiovascular exercise to partake in. I had been so active my entire life that it felt strange not to have an activity to turn to. Swimming was pretty much out of the question. First, I was kind of sick of it after about fourteen years of competitive swimming and second, the membership to all the pools around me are expensive. I tried biking at the gym, and using the elliptical as well, but I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted and wasn’t getting that same post-workout “high.” That was when I decided I needed to face my biggest fear: running.

Over the next couple months I slowly tried to build myself up to running 3 miles. I was getting there but it was a slow process that really wasn’t much fun. At all, in fact. I searched for a new running method, talked to some friends, and was introduced to interval training. This has completely changed the way I feel about running. I actually don’t mind running now (I won’t say I like it). What is interval training? Interval training is when you push your body really hard for about 30 seconds to a couple minutes, then you “rest”/take it easy for another 2-3 minutes, then you work your body back up to high intensity for a couple more minutes and repeat, etc., etc. You get the point. I like interval training for many different reasons. One, it’s quick. All you need is 20-30 minutes. If you can make it 40-45 minutes, great but it’s not needed. Two, I can see and feel the results. I love how interval training is sculpting my body without me even having to pick up a weight. I also notice that the actual running is getting easier each week enabling me to push myself a little harder than I normally would. It seems to be working a lot faster than just straight running. Three, it burns more fat (especially for women) than just straight running. Pushing yourself hard for a few minutes, “resting” for a few minutes, then going hard again actually makes your body work harder. To achieve that mountain/roller coaster effect your body needs to work each time you increase your intensity, then it gets to rest, but only before it needs to work its way back up all over again. Lastly, interval running also keeps your body burning long after your workout has finished. I can feel my body working, sweating, and radiating off my hard earned heat throughout my drive home from the gym and until I hop in the shower. After one of these workouts I feel like I have accomplished something, like I have just done something really good for my body and myself. Probably because I have.

I have a set of about eight interval running workouts that I continually cycle through. I hate doing the same workout twice in a row because I get bored very easily. I am always finding and adding new running routines to keep my workouts fresh. In hopes to inspire other running-haters to give interval training a shot I will be sharing my workouts here with you, one at a time. This week I am going to share one of my favorites because it really doesn’t involve a lot of running but it’s still highly effective. But you will need to get your butt and calf muscles pumping because there are a lot of hills involved:

 

1st Set: Warm-up!

0-3:00: set incline on treadmill at 2 and the speed at 3.5 mph

3-5:00: incline- 4; speed- 4.0 mph

5-7:00: incline- 5; speed- 5.0 mph

7-8:00: incline- 2; speed- 6.0 mph

2nd Set: Get the blood flowing!

8-16:00: Repeat the warm-up set above

3rd Set: Hill time (a.k.a. booty time!)

16-20:00: incline- 12; speed- 3.7 mph

20-21:00: incline- 15; speed-4.0 mph

21-23:00: incline- 10; speed-3.0 mph

4th Set: Feel the booty burn!

23-30:00: Repeat the 3rd set above!

5th Set: You’re really working now!

30-37:00: Repeat the 3rd set above, again!

6th Set: One last time!

37-44:00: Repeat the 3rd set above! Yes, again.

7th Set: Sprint- give it all you have left!

44-45:00- incline-2; 6-10 mph- whatever you can do, push yourself, it’s only 60 seconds.

8th Set: Cool down!

45-50:00- no incline; speed- 3 or 3.5 mph

*Disclaimer: This is one of the longer work-outs. I don’t always have time to do the whole thing but even if I just do half of it, I’m sweating big time!

 

For more information about this work-out, go to the awesome Blogilates website. I found this work-out there. You can also find a lot of other health/fitness tips there too. And plus, the website is super cute.

If you want to read more about interval training/running, visit Nerd Fitness. They give a pretty straight forward and simple explanation of how it’s done/it’s benefits.

I hope you all get a chance to try this workout, it’s worth a shot. Feel free to post your experiences below. Make sure to check back next week for Workout #2. Happy exercising!

Book Review: How To Disappear Completly by Kelsey Osgood

Last night I finished reading an anorexia memoir titled How To Disappear Completely by Kelsey Osgood. Although I wouldn’t classify this book as one of the best books I ever read, I really did appreciate the subject matter. If you are looking for a really entertaining read with spotless writing then this probably isn’t the book for you. But, it definitely provides a lot of food for thought.

Before reading this memoir, I had read other anorexia/addiction memoirs. The stories are brutal and heartbreaking. The things they put their bodies through, the extent they go to to lie, to hide things, to become sicker is unbelievable. But usually in the end they persevere. They overcome their downfall and get on a road back to health. For me, these memoirs were never more than stories. If anything they made me want to eat more, be happier, and just love who I am. I couldn’t imagine going through what they put themselves through. For me, these stories were deterrents. It never occurred to me to look at the other side of the story. To think about the readers who aren’t as happy with who they are, who are struggling to stand out or fit in, to feel loved, or admired. Osgood makes a very good point- these very memoirs are enabling these readers to be anorexic, to get the attention they are striving for, to accomplish something that is worth noting.

I’m still not sure if I completely agree with what Osgood is saying but I do agree she has something there. She refrains from giving any specific details about her own disease, claiming that from experience this only encourages bad habits and behaviors. If she reveals her lowest weight, that gives another person something to strive to be. If she discloses the amount of food she used to consume, that only gives someone a plan. Osgood claims she became a “good anorexic” by studying other people’s memoirs, case studies, magazine articles, documentaries, and television shows. As a young girl she graved attention she didn’t think she was getting, she wanted to accomplish something people would talk about, she wanted to be known for something, to succeed in something. She wanted to be “perfect” and loved. With all this information readily available at her fingertips- in the libraries, the bookstores, on the internet, or on television, Osgood felt like becoming thin would help her reach those goals and desires. She was going to get thin the easiest way she knew how, the way she had seen many other girls get thin. And boy, was she going to get really thin- she would show them. She found a new purpose, a new goal, a new way to feel better about herself and she had a lot of helping in doing so.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Our society values being thin, pretty, and popular. We thrive to be successful, to accomplish something with our lives. We are bombarded with examples of “perfect” people and to reach their image seems nearly impossible. We can’t imagine a healthy way to look like that model in a bikini ad because we aren’t given the tools. Their aren’t many diet and exercise ads that say, “I ate this, this, and this today and I am still thin. I am still healthy.” But, there are many ads out there for unhealthy diets, their are many resources out there (chat rooms, internet forums, etc.) in which people encourage each other to get thin, to be the thinnest, and do it in the worse possible way. To be the worst is to be better, it’s means you are the “best.” I’m not saying that there aren’t any people, companies, or diet plans out there promoting the right things. But I do think they are harder to come by and aren’t as easily accessible. It’s easier to find stories about people who have suffered. It seems easier to starve yourself than to educate yourself on healthy eating and exercise.

This book made me stop and think- how about if we lived in a world where we didn’t talk about things like this? If no one ever shared their stories of eating disorders, drug addiction, or alcohol abuse. If no one ever revealed their greatest weight loss tip or the easiest/quickest way to get high. If we didn’t know the truth of people’s struggles, if we weren’t given that information to ease our own problems- would these diseases still exist? Would they be as prevalent? It’s a weird thought but something worth thinking about whether you agree or not. I personally think they would still exist. I don’t think these diseases or substance abuse would just magically disappear. And I certainly wouldn’t want to cut off an open dialogue about people seeking help and treatment. But I can’t help but think that maybe a little more privacy wouldn’t hurt.

After reading this book, I don’t know if I see the point in writing about your darkest, gruesomest days anymore. Publishing or filming the details of your life for the rest of the world’s entertainment. Why do we have the right to pry into your personal life? That’s your story, your personal intimacies, and no one should feel the need to publicize that information or even read it. I do believe that writing and coming to terms with where you have been, what you have done, and what you see your future to be are all huge parts of therapy and recovery but this can all be done, and should be done, privately. Your support should come from your family, friends, and loved ones. Not from people who don’t know you, who may encourage you to back track at any moment. In this age of social media frenzy, we all need to appreciate our privacy just a little bit more.

I always enjoy a book that forces me to think in a different way, to open my mind to new alternatives and ways of thinking. I like hearing different takes on the same subject, hearing all different sides before forming my own opinion. I will often stumble upon something I have never thought of before. How To Completely Disappear goes beyond anorexia. It brings to light a subject that everyone can relate to. It encourages you re-think what your version of “perfect” is, to re-evaluate what makes you happy, and to value your own personal life more. I think we can all learn something, whether we agree with Osgood or not, from this book. We should all stop to think about what we want to share before we share it- the effect it will have on yourself, on your loved ones, and those you don’t even know. Next time you go to write a status, post a picture, create a tweet, or even write a blog post just stop to think for a moment before hitting ‘enter.’ And maybe even put that smartphone down for a day. It won’t hurt, I promise. Censorship is a practice we should all partake in a little bit more.

Claim Your Prize Here

If you are reading this post right now I owe you a sincere congratulations. One, you made it through my last two awfully depressing posts. And two, you survived six months of reading my blog. Therefore, happy six months to me and a big congratulations to you (really- you have no idea how much I appreciate it).

What’s in it for you? Alright, alright don’t get so pushy- I think you deserve a treat too. How about a candy bar? No. An afternoon nap? Nah. A day at the beach? Nope. Jeez, you guys are so hard to please… wait, I got it! How about a nice warm stone massage and facial? DING, DING, DING- we have a winner!

I think you should treat yourself- I really do. You won’t regret it. Spas are for relaxation, a place to de-stress, but not everyone feels that way. The thought of going into a quiet, dimly light treatment room with a complete stranger deters many people from even stepping one foot inside a spa. Have no fear, I’m here to save the day again (hey, I can toot my horn a little today- I’m celebrating!). These few simple guidelines will surely ease your nerves. Speaking from experience, I promise that you will be going back for a second treatment very soon.

*Arrive 15-20 minutes early for your appointment. If it’s your first time, many spas will have a short questionnaire for you to fill out and you will definitely want a few minutes to unwind in the relaxation room while sipping some cucumber water.

*Make sure to be honest about your medical history/any current medical problems. The last thing you want is a nice relaxing spa trip to cause more problems for you down the road.

*When you make your appointment, ask about their cancellation policy. At many spas, if you cancel with too short of notice there will be a fee.

*If you have a particular therapist that you like to see, make sure to tell them that when booking. Don’t assume you can just walk in and request a certain person- they may already have another customer.

*Leave all your valuables at home (they make you take off jewelry anyway) and shower before the treatment whether you take one at home before you arrive or in the locker room of the spa.

*Before you walk in the door, turn off your cell phone. Better yet, just leave it in your car. There is absolutely no reason to bring your cell phone with you, people don’t go to the spa to talk or to listen to other people talk.

*If you are new to the spa, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a quick tour. It’s much better than wandering the halls yourself looking for the locker room and other amenities.

*The biggest problem people have with spas is the nudity. You don’t need to undress completely. If you are comfortable, go ahead. But it’s ok to leave your underwear on (I know I do). Also they will provide you with a sheet to cover yourself when you roll over onto your back and your bottom is always covered with a sheet-nothing is ever exposed.

*If you have a problem area that you would like your therapist to pay special attention to- speak up! They aren’t mind readers so if you don’t say anything it’s your loss.

*Don’t fall for add-ons, unless you want to pay. Sometimes during your massage they will ask if you would like a certain lotion or an extra treatment and most of the time these extras cost something. If you don’t have the extra money, decline politely or if you feel comfortable ask if there will be an extra cost involved (you don’t want to miss out on anything already included in the price you are paying).

*Don’t feel pressure to talk during your appointment. The therapists are usually very respectful and know that people come to the spa to relax. If your therapist is particularly chatty just say that you have had a rough week and really came here to just be by yourself and not have to talk to anyone for an hour. They will understand, they’re used to it.

*You aren’t expected to jump right off the table after you appointment but you should try to move at a respectable pace. There is a good chance that there is someone else waiting to use your room.

*Don’t forget to leave a 15-20% tip (in cash if you can) at the reception desk after your massage.

*When you get home, drink lots of water throughout the rest of the day to rehydrate your muscles and reduce any soreness that may arise in the next couple of days.

Whoever thought of the idea of a spa is a complete genius in my book. There are very few other places where you can go to be in complete relaxation by yourself. Everyone needs that every once in a while. Try it once, you will be happy you did.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence,’ this one is easy. Enjoy- you deserve it!