A new way of stepping outside of the box

If you’ve been a member of the FunFitTeam blog for awhile, you know I love (and need) variety in my life. Everything from new exercises & recipes to new bluetooth earbuds & even bath soaps.

Following that vein, a week ago today, I stopped for an iced coffee in a strip mall I pass by every day to work and saw a new business I never noticed before. It was called Title Boxing Club.

 

FullSizeRender 3

Does the heavy bag behind me make me look tough?

Looking in the windows I saw about 30 heavy boxing bags hanging in a wide open space. I have been needing a new exercise motivation lately (again!), so just for kicks, on the way home I stopped at Title Boxing to get more info.

 

I talked with an instructor and another worker there for a little while. As I was getting details, it turns out they are a bit expensive in my eyes, but are cheaper if you commit to 12 months. I know myself and my need for variety and have a feeling I may move on to something new again within the next 3 months.

Right then, the instructor, Eric, asked: “Want to join us for a free test class today?” I told him I happened to have my gym bag in the car, so my reply was “Why not?!”

After changing my clothes, I found the people there so helpful…from how to put handwraps on (to protect knuckles inside the boxing gloves) to finding a spot by one of the heavy bags.

The class began with some great music mixes playing loudly to pump you up. Eric was on a microphone calling out and demonstrating moves for getting warmed up. After I watched the clock tick down 15 minutes, Eric then said “ “Ok…warm up is over.” I tiredly said out loud to myself, “Are you kidding me?!” That 15 minute “warm up” was more of a workout than many others I’ve done in the past!

pixabay.comWhen I found out the class was to be 60 minutes total, I got a little scared! I honestly didn’t think I could make it through the whole thing. But looking around, there were about 7 guys of varying ages and about 6 women…one of them looking to be around 60 years old. The variety of people made me feel a lot better and more comfortable because they also looked to be at varying levels of fitness.

I had a challenging time coordinating the sets of moves…”Jab, jab, cross, hook, hook, uppercut”, but the more I did it, the better I got at keeping up…and the harder I could hit the bag.

I pushed through and made it through the whole class, sweating all over my area of the mat and taking a couple breaks during class to get a drink of water from the water fountain.

Another amusing thing was the time between rounds that they called “rest time”. In their minds r rest time was burpees and mountain climbers! What?!…maybe in Hell that’s rest time! In my little world, rest time consists of sitting on my butt for 30 seconds between sets to catch my breath and wipe the sweat off my forehead with a towel.

The so-called cool-down was very similar to the above-mentioned rest time. It was doing sit ups with a medicine ball and planks…which isn’t a cool-down in my book…that is called THE workout in the circles I run in!

Once the class was over and after I wiped the gym mat with their provided wet-wipes, Eric asked, “So what did you think?” The only thing I could exclaim through my totally exhausted body was “Holy sh*#!” We both laughed and I left to go home to shower and so I could figure out if this would be realistic to continue or a one-time thing.

That Thursday I was back…signing up for one month of torture boxing classes! (LOL) You can go as many times in a month as you want so it would be worth it to someone who could go 3 or 4 times a week. For me, twice a week would be the most I could do because of my full-time job and my weekend work. Plus, that would give me a couple days to recuperate between classes! The Thursday class was awesome too, with a newer instructor named Sara leading.

All in all, the classes are grueling, fun and I feel totally accomplished after finishing each one. It is exactly what I needed to jump-start a new type of workout. The classes switch things up too, so it satisfies my need for variety.

freeimages.comTo give an accurate review, I would say that there are only two downsides to the club. One is that there are no locker rooms there, so I would never be able to do it before work even if I wanted to (I wouldn’t regardless because I’m just not a morning exerciser). It is pretty close to home, so that’s not the worst thing in the world for me to wait until I get home to shower. The second downside is that it is a bit steep in price. However, since I’m choosing to pay by the month and may stop after awhile, I can justify it. Especially, since it is the best workout I could ever find! I just finished class 3 and I’m still in!

Give the free class a try…I dare you! 😉

 

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Finding Meaning in Your Seasons of Life

Long time – no hear!

SeasonsWow, time sure flies! I know…I know… it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, and a few people have mentioned missing your friendly neighborhood Blogger-Man, asking me to start it up again.

Well, today is your lucky day, fair citizens! Since we last talked, within the last year, a few large life changes have leaped out at me, including the heartbreaking loss of my furry best friend, Chewie – who I had mentioned in nearly EVERY post. Also, a recent job change coincided with that. As a result of these events, I feel I am in a transition of seasons myself.

I am of the opinion that just as nature travels through its seasons, so do people and businesses. Here in the Midwest, the cycle moves from growth (Spring) all the way through hibernation (Winter) and renews itself over and over again.


So, right up front, here’s one place my present season is taking me: I want to transition this blog from a primarily exercise-focused motivation to a more all-inclusive, whole-life-benefitting focus. After all, it seems like I had already been walking down that path for some time now. Additionally, I have been more interested in mind-health lately than physical health. Plus, I love writing for all of you, so I would like to get back into it.

Note: near the end of this post you will find my “Biography” or mission…what I’d like my life to look like, or what drives me…in case you want to know more about it.


In Spring, all the new grass, plants, insects and food sprout and grow (and the annoying birds, chirping and rustling in my house vent wake me up too early in the morning!). In Summer, things really heat up and those very plants and insects get vibrant and really flourish. Fall comes and things begin to cool off and seem to start slowing down. Finally, winter hits, killing things off or causing them to go temporarily dormant.


The beautiful thing is that this cyclical process invigorates, causes even stronger growth and provides extra energy to all things.


People and businesses are similar. Sometimes the “Seasons of Life” are paired up with the Christian faith or may refer to the cycle of birth-through-death, but I am talking more in the sense of multiple, constant changes of seasons throughout ones’ lives.

man-wearing-blue-blazer-on-business-meeting-picjumbo-comWe go through seasons like that of school, where we need to really focus and get strong at it (or fail and find something else), finish and move on to the next cycle or interest. Maybe the next season would be meeting someone, falling in love and marrying them. After that, the new season may be finding a specific career, really focusing on it, climbing up the corporate ladder and settling nicely into a manager or upper leadership role. Still another season may be a new interest or having children… we all have countless seasons throughout our lives and they may be different for each of us.

In my case, transitioning to my new job felt like a sort of homecoming because I worked there 20 years ago for 6 years! Great people, great company. But this change is difficult too because I also had to leave many super-close friends as well as leaving a great company. (Can you now see why this season is a difficult one?!)

There’s another season I’ve gone through concerning a certain area of my life that is not a negative at all – it’s just a change in my interests that is resulting in my preference to transition into a new type of blog.

The First Season:
I began this blog years ago as motivational support to an awesome, close-knit team who I wanted to motivate to run the Chicago Marathon in 2013. I also began running at that time as well. I became VERY interested in physical health and exercise and my posts were all about that.

red-happy-shoes-in-grass-and-dandelions-picjumbo-comThe Second Season:
While I was maintaining running and exercising I began adding some fun, interesting stories as well as healthy recipes, always reading and searching for information that might help my readers. At the end of this Season, I branched out a bit and posted about more mind-health (such as meditation) instead of physical health.

I guess I knew all along that physical and mental health go hand-in-hand, but recently I began devouring information of all sorts about Psychology, learning, motivation and how the brain works.

The Present Season:
In the last few months, I have taken some free (but pretty in-depth) courses through MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses). I have completed one on Life Coaching that was really good, another on Positive Psychology and a 3rd called MindShift and the science of memory.

During the Life Coaching course, I actively learned by personally completing all the activities. As a result, I figured out my “Biography” or mission – what I’d like my life to look like, or what drives me. It is kind of personal to me, but I want to put it out there in case any of you are going through difficult (or exciting new!) seasons and need a little assistance or motivation too…


MIKE’S BIOGRAPHY:MikeBetter

I would like to use my knowledge and talents to help others figure out how to create a happier, more productive life.

Having worked for a few large companies (Ace, Follett, McDonald’s) has given me the opportunity to grow my skills and experience in the realms of graphics, communications, and marketing which I can bring to new opportunities, such as my new, present job at United Labs.

Some of my talents are that I can take complicated information and make it interesting, simple and easy to use, often through using graphics and good layout skills. I listen well and give good advice (from what I’m told!) and I enjoy researching and learning new things I might teach and motivate others with.

A couple of my achievements are having taught myself web design, how to use PowerPoint/Keynote in different ways than they were created for – to make animated learning videos.

I plan on traveling more, writing a self-improvement book, inspiring a great woman who complements me, and raising my son with strong values, a positive attitude and good work ethic. I would also like to lose 20 lbs of body fat, healthily (by eating better and less & exercising smarter and more)!


Like I said, it is kind of personal to share – especially the last sentence!

So, in the end, I am looking forward to this new season of my life and hope you are too. If anyone would like to know how you could come up with your own biography/mission statement/future-focus or even just some more information on one of the courses I took (Life Coach, Mindshift or Positive Psychology), feel free to reach out… I took many notes.

So, what is YOUR next season? Share with us!

–Mike

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Mindshift and Learning

javi_indy-_-FreepikHow do we learn (what makes something stick)? How can we come up with new ideas (and stay creative)? What techniques can we use to remember a person’s name or memorize a list of objects (Lord knows, a new person’s name merely floats through my head during the one second it is told to me)?

Many questions like these were answered a month ago when I took an online course called “Mindshift and the Science of Memory” through McMaster University on Coursera.org.

They consider Mindshift a deep change in life that occurs due to learning. Furthermore, the teachers held that It’s only when you are actively doing something yourself that the learning truly sticks.” This is called Active Learning. I support that thought – many of us can sit and listen to another speak all day, but unless we physically do it ourselves, often that learning does not stay with us. You can listen to, or read about how to throw a baseball, but until you actually do it and feel it, you won’t truly learn how to do it.

The instructors said there are two modes of thinking…focused and diffuse. Focused is when you are really concentrating on something (like what to have for lunch…just kidding!). That is the state of information input into your mind. Focus happens in our brain’s prefrontal cortex (front). We need focus to accumulate knowledge.

On the other hand, sometimes you are too tightly focused on an idea or concept, which puts you too close to it and chokes your thinking. At that point you may need to step back, give it a little room and open up your mind to allow the ideas to percolate or make connections with other thoughts. That is the diffuse mode of thinking – more of a resting state. Diffuse thinking allows us to make intuitive leaps and is more of a processing of information in the background. It uses many parts of the brain to make connections, not just the front of our brain. In the background it processes and organizes information – it is where creativity comes from. And yes, you can be creative in the sense of thinking, even though creativity is normally paired with the Arts.

FocusedVsDiffuseThe best learning and creative thinking come from a combination of focused and diffuse thinking. They work hand-in-hand to deal better with highly complicated information. Interestingly enough, the instructors said that a poor memory is not necessarily always bad – it can actually help you figure out simpler ways to do thing and get more answers. After all, simpler is usually better in all aspects of life. And in people with poor memories (why do I keep thinking they are talking about me, personally?!) when information is forgotten, it actually does open up room for something new to come in. They also say, “Those with poor memories are often more creative.”

The course explains that when focusing – using the prefrontal cortex, we can only hold around 4 chunks of information at a time. That is good and all for small amounts of numbers, notes and languages, but we can also use diffuse thinking to increase those chunks into larger neural “ribbons”, similar to strings of information, to retain something more complex. We can do this by consistent practice because we are creating those strings which leave the rest of your mind free for other processing.

It is similar to when you first learn to drive. At first, everything you do is concentrated on and a task in itself, from turning the car on to parking it. But with practice, before you know it, you don’t even think about the process of driving – which leaves your mind open to daydream or eat your drive-thru!


So, how can you focus better and improve your learning retention?

Following are some easy tips I learned in the Mindshift course and through other reading:

  1. Don’t use loud or disruptive music while studying – you use some of the same parts of your brain to process both, so you are not using your brain to its fullest. Personally, I have to either turn off music or play music with no words in it when I’m concentrating…otherwise, I will be too distracted by the words even if I am not truly listening to the words.
  2. business-office-morning-coffee-picjumbo-comKnock one back… coffee or tea, that is! – actually, caffeine is a mild stimulant and does help you focus. Strongest focus is between 30 and 60 minutes after you drink it, however, the energizing effects may last up to 8 hours.
  3. Close your eyes or gaze upwards when thinking – this may help you avoid some stimulus that may be right in front of you.
  4. Meditate – this helps open your diffuse thinking and can also help alleviate stress and anxiety. I have a whole post on how to meditate here if you want to give that a shot.
  5. Use the Pomodoro technique – Set a timer for 25 minutes, concentrate on your task for that time, then when the timer goes off switch your attention to something else for a bit. That focuses you for a period and then lets diffuse thinking have its way.
  6. Don’t just use your preferred style of learning – use multiple senses to better retain things. Some people prefer to learn through audio (lectures, listening to audiobooks…), kinesthetic or touch (physically doing something) or visual (graphics, reading a physical book). However, for the most successful learning to stick, it is said that using a combination of all three are the best. [More to come on this subject in another post.]
  7. Get up and exercise – physical exercise is one of the most powerful ways to produce energy and increase neural connections.
  8. Sleep tight – according to the sleepfoundation.org, the optimum amount of sleep for adults (between 26-64 years old) is 7-9 hours. Most of us undervalue sleep, which improves health as well as concentration.

So, hopefully that answers a few questions you may have had on learning as well as giving you a few tips for more effective thinking. There were too many other subjects in the Mindshift course that I may touch on in future posts.

As always, I’d love to hear any of your tips or comments.

– Happy Learning!

 

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Resolutions and Meditations

It’s a new year, and around this time people make resolutions to go to the gym, try to lose weight, eat healthy, be nicer, make a change or begin something new – in order to make the present year better than the last.

I am no different – as usual, the holidays took its toll on me – too much poor eating & drinking, not enough exercise and all-around busyness that made my mind spin.

So, I am happy to get back into some sort of “normal” routine – getting up at the same time every day and being a little less busy so I have time to get back to exercising in the mornings and time to make a healthy meal once a week that I can eat multiple times as left-overs.

I don’t necessarily do things as a “resolution” though – it is more about getting back to the ideals I normally keep. Resolutions often fail by February or March – as I’ve mentioned in the past, the key to lasting change is to make it part of your everyday routine.

I DO take stock once a year by doing an organized, timed activity to figure out things that I would like to begin doing (or something new to try), keep doing (if I think they are still working) or what I want to get rid of or not have in my life any more. The subject itself is actually very similar to something we have often done in the past at work, called “Start, Stop, Continue.” It’s pretty self-explanatory, but my activity takes it to the next level.

In doing this, I have already begun to exercise in the morning again, but there is a new interest I had been pursuing… when someone very close to me mentioned something she heard  about the benefits of meditation, I was like, “Hey! I have actually been searching into that recently!”

What started me off was a podcast named “Buddhism, Bravery, Love and the Good Life”, Released Nov 03, 2015, where there was an interview with a guy named Lodro Rinzler.

It was on a great podcast series that I have listened to for awhile now, called “Good Life Project“. (You can find the podcasts here.) Like most things, it took me an episode or two before I could get into it… but once I did, I was hooked! Jonathan Fields interviews many current self-improvement guru’s, book authors and all-around successful people. Even if I hadn’t seemed interested in 1 or 2 of the interviewees, I listened to them and I have to say I get something positive from EVERY episode.

SitGetting back on track… Fields interviewed Lodro Rinzler, who seemed like a regular guy who was into Buddhism and wrote some books on Meditation. Two of the books are “Sit Like a Buddha: A Pocket Guide to Meditation” and “The Buddha Walks into a Bar…: A Guide to Life for a New Generation.”

Right after that I went to a Barnes & Noble store, saw the books and took a pic of the covers with my phone, so I could come back when I got a 20% off coupon.

About a week later (around the holidays) I happened to be on Audible.com (if you sign up, mention my email and I get a free book!) and saw the “Sit like a Buddha” audio book for some crazy low price like $2.99! I bought it and listened to it in just 2 hours. I totally suggest this one if you want to get started right away on meditation. It is a very short “pocket guide” on how to meditate and it gets you to think about WHY you want to even try meditation.

BuddhaWalksBarCrazily enough, not even 2 days after I finished that book, the “Audible book of the day” (they choose 1 discounted book every day) happened to be “The Buddha Walks into a Bar…” book, for I think the same $2.99 price! I thought that was pretty serendipitous! I felt that this one wasn’t quite as good a starter book as “Sit…” plus, it had some of the same info in it.

Well, since then, I have tried practicing meditation 4 out of 5 days now!

Do I think it is helping me in any way? I’m not sure yet. As everyone says, it is a practice, so it takes a while to get used to it. What I CAN say is that since it is on my mind, when I’m in a situation, like when someone cuts me off in traffic… initially, when I want to scream profanity at them (like I normally do), there is some “cue” that brings meditation to my attention.. and instead of screaming and waving only 1 finger at them, I calmly say “They are just stupid.”

OK, I’m not proud of that – I’m honest in my posts – but when someone cuts you off and there is literally NO ONE behind you… you have to question the mental capacity of that person. (Oh well… I never said I was perfect).

I have to say that it IS very calming and clears my head while I’m doing it.

At this point, I want it to be known that meditation comes from the first Buddha (which means “enlightened one”) – it is NOT a scary religion you need to join – ANYONE can enjoy the benefits of meditation. There are many forms of meditation, but some common themes are for gratitude, being present, joy, compassion, relaxation, falling asleep and healing anxiety.

There is much talk out there about meditation being able to reduce stress and help tame that little chatter in your head that sometimes doesn’t say the most positive things about yourself (am I the only one who hears that?!!!).

According to the Mayo Clinic “The emotional benefits of meditation can include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions”

Good enough for me!

BreatheI also downloaded 2 apps that I’ve been trying too, the best of which is called “Stop, Breathe & Think.” It has you rate how you feel (mentally & physically) daily and then provides a few meditations you can choose from. Most seem to be around 6 minutes, which is perfect! The woman’s voice is calming and it is very specific for what you are feeling… it is almost like a “Psychotherapist-in-a-box!”

I really recommend this app.

Also, I have come across a 5 minute  a quick-start guide to meditation at meditationmojo.com. Follow the link for instructions.

Now here are the general steps that seem to be common in meditation practice as well as my tips about it:

  • Find a place you can go that is quiet and dark. I’m not sure I want to tell you exactly where I meditate, but I have a dog that gets “separation anxiety” if I even walk out of the room and his whining makes it VERY difficult and distracting to meditate! So, there is only one room in my house that I can close the door from him that he will remain calm.
  • Sit upright in a chair (or on a large pillow with your legs crossed if you are limber and prefer it), with your feet flat on the ground and let your hands flop onto your lap in a natural and comfortable way. You don’t need to be palms-up, with your back at a perfect 90-degree angle to your legs or anything ( you’re watching too many movies! lol)
  • Set an alarm for 10 minutes. (or more if you have more time)
  • Begin breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you’re in it for a few minutes you can just breathe through your nose.
  • Close your eyes and try to clear your mind of everything. Close your eyes and focus on the visual of air coming in your nose, going into your lungs and out through your mouth. You can even count 1-10 with every inhale and exhale to keep your mind on your breathing.
  • Know that your mind WILL wander. A LOT! Seriously, this is totally normal – that’s why meditation is called a practice. Don’t beat yourself up. Calmly direct your mind back to your breathing by accepting the thoughts and saying in your mind, “Thinking…”.
  • Don’t try to force sounds or other stimulus out of your mind. Simply accept them, try not to have any opinion on them and then redirect to your breathing.
  • Try to meditate at least 10 minutes every day, at the same time of day. The routine may help you keep to it. I have also heard that first thing in the morning is the best way to start off your day. For me, it is right when I get home from work – it is a good transition. However, I was super-busy on one of the days, so at lunch time I went into my car and did it. It wasn’t as good, but I kept my streak up.
  • Bring your mind back to your physical body and the feeling of it sitting.
  • That’s it! Well, mostly.

Personally, I don’t have any “mantra” or anything that I chant. There is a lot of info out there, so just Google-search meditation if you get into it and do what you are comfortable with.

I could go on and on about what I have come across so far, but I’ll just say to give it a chance if you would like to learn to relax or just calm your mind in certain situations.

Just like anything else, meditation may not work for you or you may not have enough patience for it. I like to try new things to share with you all, and this is one more item for your health arsenal!

Please share your opinions, thoughts or practices on meditation with all of us. We might all benefit from it!

 

 

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Gym Wars – XSport vs Lifetime

489121_57858448Lately I have been thinking about changing gyms for better convenience and cleanliness.

I have been a member of XSport for a few years. I had a personal trainer a few years ago, Tony, who was great and I saw both weight loss and improved strength in myself. Then I injured my knee and lost motivation, and right now I am not where I’d like to be… wearing tight jeans sucks! (Unless you’re at a club and deal with it to look good).

However, I have gotten back into working out more regularly – yes, I am still doing morning workout videos and feel better when I do them (see last post). But still, I need the weight machines to complete my workouts.

So, tonight I went and met a guest service guy at Lifetime Fitness and tested the facilities.

First, he walked me around the huge mall facilities. It was nice, the machines were not too close together and there were plenty of them empty. I saw a friend from work – hi Shelly!

They kind of are a little pushy to get you as a member, but so was XSport when I joined. Lifetime seems to be all about the experience of getting you with a personal trainer to fit your fitness goals, which is great if that’s what you want. Not me – I want to work out and be left alone.

I was upfront right away, I said that I am a member of XSport, but the large ones that have the nice amenities that I want are at least 25 minutes away from me. So, I’m only able to go once a week when I have extra time. Otherwise, I go to the super-small local XSport Express, which is small and not the cleanest place (but I’m not saying it’s really dirty either)… it’s just not “nice” like the bigger XSports or Lifetime. The machines are often taken and there’s pretty much only one of each weight machine.

EarphonesMy reason for coming to Lifetime was thinking that if it was only 5 minutes from my house, it would be totally convenient and I’d end up going more often. Plus, I knew it would be clean and big.

Following are my takes on Lifetime and the XSports…

LIFETIME:

…clean, has premium soap/body gel that smells fantastic and foams well, has plenty of equipment (machines) available even at prime rush hour workout time, is just plain big, has nice amenities and classes, has a pool and swimming laps, large locker rooms, clean steam room, whirlpool, clean showers, ALWAYS has plenty of big towels available and has areas for kids, but that’s also a negative for me because there are WAY too many little kids running around the pool splashing and screaming! (Big drawback for Mikey – maybe even a “dealbreaker”.) I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of good things. BUT IT IS HUGELY EXPENSIVE!

XSport Express:

…is more comfortable but small, so I’m in and out a lot quicker. There are no towels there though, I sometimes have to wait for a machine, and membership is a LOT cheaper! There’s only 1 shower stall, so I would NEVER shower there – I’d wait till I get home.

FULL SIZE XSport:

…gives Lifetime a run for their money… they also have a steam room, lap pool, group classes, a lot of machines (but not near as many as Lifetime), Whirlpool and towels (but crappy small ones and you sometimes have to wait for them to be washed to get one). I have never heard a peep out of a child there (big plus!). I even told the Lifetime guy that if one of the large XSports was closer, I wouldn’t even be looking at Lifetime. I pay less than half of what I would at Lifetime and can go to ANY XSport (bigs and expresses). They also have personal trainers there too.

CONCLUSION

So, in the end I think I will stay with XSport for now. Maybe I can stop at a large one on the way home from work like I used to do (poor Chewie dog will have to hold it a little longer in the day).

I hate to say it, but it comes down to Lifetime being too expensive for the amount of times I would go in a month. If it was closer to the XSport price, I probably would have signed up there tonight. But I was also turned off by the children thing… I go to the gym to work out, not have to walk around kids or hear them screaming. I know that sounds bad – I am not a kid-hater, I just need me-time working out.

I only pay $33 a month to go to ANY XSport and the cheapest single rate at Lifetime is $69 a month.

Maybe sometime I will change over, but for now, the $33 is worth a little less clean, less kids gym! Get a free pass to each gym and make your own choice though – everyone’s needs motivations are different!

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Who else is NOT a morning person?!

MikeClockLast night I looked at my Monday schedule and knew I wouldn’t be able to fit in an evening workout. A few of us had planned on going out after work for a Happy Hour farewell drink for a friend’s last day before she moves (good luck, Sonal!). So, what to do?!

I have been trying to get to the gym more lately, and in the whirlpool after my exercise on Friday afternoon, I chatted with someone who said they hit the gym around 6 times a week. I astonishingly asked, “How the heck do you have time to get there nearly every day of the week?!”

They replied that they get up at 5:30am and get it done right away! Suffering at even the thought of that, I told them that I’m definitely not a morning person and could never do that and just dismissed that crazy idea. But then they added, “Oh, but I also go to bed at 8 at night.”

Wow. That’s sure opposite of me. But last night, I said to myself, “Self… you can do it one morning so that you can get a workout in and start the week off right. Plus, so many people say they get up early and do it. Also, there’s so much talk out there that the morning is the best time to work out because it ramps up your metabolism to burn fat all day.

So, always up for trying something new (so that you don’t have to go through the pain!), I went to bed a little early last night (by 10:30) and set my alarm about 45 minutes earlier than normal.

Well, that alarm went off really soon and I said heck with it and reset it for 1/2 hour later. But as I looked at my dog, who is ALWAYS ready to go outside or go for a walk, I turned the 2nd alarm off and got my tired butt out of bed instead of getting that extra snooze time.

BillyBlanksI did 25 minutes of a workout video – old school Billy Blanks Tae Bo Advanced (check it out here. Look around for many other workouts of his on YouTube or go to Greatist.com for other free workout video ideas.) It was perfect…a decent warm up and some good cardio. Billy can hold his own against today’s workout guru’s!

Afterwards, I took Chewie for a walk to cool myself down before getting in the shower. It was really cool this morning, so it was perfect. After a homemade blueberry protein smoothie for breakfast and a shower, I headed to work. As I drove I felt like I had already gone through half my day. Yes, this whole morning thing took up about 45 minutes more than normal, but it didn’t set me back too much since I woke up early.

By the time I sat down at my desk, I already had 4,363 steps according to my Fitbit…almost halfway to my 10,000 daily step goal!

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC BY 3.0RESULTS:

Did I feel all pumped full of energy all morning? Actually, I still felt a little tired haze around me in the morning, however, I’m doing OK. But no, I’m not all hopped up on energy. (But I also can’t expect that with only doing this one day!)

Was it worth it to wake up early to do it? If I hadn’t woken up early, I wouldn’t have gotten a workout in today. Period. So, yes, it was worth it.

Will this be the turning point of me becoming a morning person and continuing it every day? I highly doubt it, but it would be nice! I can’t seem to get to bed early even when I try… but I’m willing to give it a chance. So I will try it again tomorrow morning (and hope I don’t reset my alarm then!). My want to do it just needs to outweigh my want for sleep.

What is my overall feeling about doing this after just one day? I’d love to be able to wake up early every day to work out. I could get it done and out of the way and still get home right after work to let my dog out. That way, I would know I’d get a workout in for sure. Plus, there’s a positive feeling of accomplishment that goes with it.

What advice can I give someone who is too busy to fit a workout in? We are ALL busy. As I’ve said in posts before, it comes down to how bad you want to do something – you always seem to find the time to fit in whatever is a priority to you. In my case, does my priority of sleep outweigh my priority of exercise? We will see!

Give it a try and let me know any experiences you have with morning (or any other time) exercising – or advice that might make it easier or smoother for all of us to fit a workout in.

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NOTE: I wrote this post at lunch today, but did not post it until now, and when I went out, I ended up sampling fried objects that were, but did not remotely resemble vegetables nor cheese, as well as sampling tastes of a couple cupcakes. I blame myself. So, I definitely WILL be working out tomorrow morning again!
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Zoodles!

Hi folks! What the heck?!…I can’t even remember the last post I wrote! With Winter and knee pain, I haven’t been excited about any new workouts or anything, so I have mostly been walking and keeping busy.

2015-05-06 19.44.38Since they say, 70% of health is in the kitchen and the other 30% is exercise, I have been trying to figure out what to do with the 70%. I have used a julienne peeler in the past to make zucchini noodles, often called “Zoodles”. They are totally healthy noodle-substitutes made from zucchini and you can either cook them in olive oil or eat them raw. But using that kitchen tool is sometimes difficult and dangerous – if you’re not careful, you may julienne your hand!

During one of my lunches where I often walk the Oak Brook mall for exercise, I stopped in Williams Sonoma to check out some kitchen stuff. On the way out I saw a kitchen gadget with golden light streaming from it! Was was this beautiful doohickey?!

2015-05-06 19.53.08It turned out to be the Paderno 4-Blade Spiralizer. Yes, they had a 3-blade version, but who wouldn’t want the choice of Angel Hair shredder, fine shredder, medium shredder AND “accordion slicer blades?!”  No, 3 blades would just not do.

But this thing’s base price is $49.99! That’s a little steep for a gadget that I will have to power with cranking the handle – hey, that’s exercise, right?!!!

So, time and again I walked by those doors, lustfully peeking in, hoping to get a glimpse of the item of my desire.

A month went by and finally I hit pay-dirt! I received an email from Williams-Sonoma for 20% off AND free shipping on any item. Woo-hoo! You don’t have to tell me more than once…I’m all about a good deal.

So, I ordered it and it was sitting on my porch when I got home from work this evening. Earlier, I received an email that said it had been delivered, so I stopped and bought some zucchini and a couple sweet potatoes. I’m fore-thinking like that. 😉

After cutting the grass, a dog walk and a bike ride, I unpacked the Spiralizer and washed all the pieces. I chose the medium shredder blade and cranked the handle as the noodles fell from the front in their curly frenzy. Call me strange, but those spiraly veggie noodles seemed to exude happiness to me!

2015-05-06 20.07.53After shredding the sweet potatoes separately, I microwaved some of them. They were delish! I shook on a little cinnamon and they tasted so good, just like that.

I grilled some chicken breasts as I stir-fried the zoodles (zucchini) in olive oil, minced garlic and some salt, pepper, pepper flakes and about 2 or so cups of mini heirloom tomatoes cut in half (thanks for the idea Cheri!).

2015-05-06 20.56.01All I have to say are three words: easy, fun and yum!

I highly recommend this kitchen gadget! The clean-up is easy too, because it all comes apart. Best $40 I’ve spent in a long time!

You need to get one too!

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