Glimmers in the Grey

Today sucked – I mean really, REALLY sucked.  My husband goes back to work out-of-town tomorrow, and he had a course there today, so he left last night; I didn’t sleep well, so I was quite exhausted all day.  I also had a doctor’s appointment in the city this morning, and received some pretty gloomy news, which was even more depressing given that I received it all alone.  I don’t want to worry anyone – I am fine, or at least I will be fine – and compared to what many people have to deal with, my medical issues are really insignificant.  It still sucked to get bad news which put a damper on everything we were hoping and planning for, though…and then my negativity started to seep in to other, much more mundane facets of my life.  My salad, for example, irritated me intensely this evening.  Yup, my salad.  You see, Rob made a big bowl of fresh, green salad this weekend, which I was planning to eat tonight, tomorrow, and possibly even Wednesday if there was any left.  When I went to dish some up with my salmon tonight, though, it was soggy, slimy, and turning brown.  I think it’s because there were chopped up bits of tomato in the salad bowl, and their acidity did a number on everything else.  Blech.  Tossed the whole slimy bowl in the garbage – such a waste!  Not something that would normally irritate me so much, though.

Oh well – I still had delicious salmon with carrots and Brussel sprouts, which was enough to fill me up.  Then I had a great telephone conversation with Rob, who is quite sad that he couldn’t come to my appointment with me today.  It’s really not a big deal that he didn’t get to come with me, and I fully support him going for the course he had to take for work.  I really do appreciate his sensitivity about the whole thing, though, and I love him so much more for sincerely regretting that he wasn’t there.  I am blessed with a wonderful husband who loves me and helps me to appreciate the positive.

I also went for a much-needed run to clear my head.  The air was pretty crisp tonight, but I dressed warmly, and the cold helped to keep me focused.  The dogs ran really well, too, and I’m looking forward to snuggling up with them very soon.  They love me even when I’m sad and grumpy, and that reminds me that everything will turn out to be lovely in the end…even if there are a whole bunch of road blocks along the way.

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A Little Medicine (Ball) For What Ails You

This morning was class number one of my new “Sunrise Sweat” session, and I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all.  Well, good time might be pushing it a little bit, since I did overhear a few muttered curse words, but I know the ladies worked hard, I saw some sweating, and there was definitely some laughter…so overall I would call it a success.

After a brief warm up, we did ladder sets of a group of moves.  What that means is that we did one sit up, one push up, one reach jump, one right (then left) jab, and one squat, followed by two sit ups, two push ups, two reach jumps, two right/left jabs, and two squats…all the way up to ten reps of each move.  Then we “climbed the ladder” back down from nine, to eight, to seven on down to one of each move again.  I really like ladder sets; if you do them quickly, it’s a good way to sneak some cardio into your strength moves.  The nice thing about these particular moves is that you don’t even need any equipment – if you’re not in a class like mine, you could do this workout in your living room or back yard.

In fact, the only piece of equipment I incorporated today was a soft medicine ball for some partner work.  Most of the moves I used today were ones I have done in the past in other classes, but I found a couple of new ones on ideafit.com.  To start, I had my participants balance on one leg about 5 feet away from a partner and chest pass a medicine ball between them, then switch legs after 30 seconds.  Adding the instability forced the ladies to engage their core muscles in order to maintain their balance.  We also used a kneeling partner twist, which required a direction change half way through (after 30 seconds). Then we did partner tosses:  Partner A lay flat on her back while Partner B stood at Partner A’s head.  Partner A tossed the ball up to Partner B, who let it drop back down for Partner A to catch.  This is where the laughter came into play, and it was nice to see the ladies having a bit of fun with each other at 6:30 am.  They were a bit nervous to be dropping the balls near each others’ heads, but I told them to keep the drop over their chests (instead of their faces), and everyone did just fine.

We kept on with the medicine ball work and the partners did some side shuffles tossing the ball between them, and then moved to sit ups with feet braced against each other while passing the ball at the top of the move.  The final medicine ball exercise we did was one minute of squats with an overhead press throw at the standing portion of the move.  Aside from the timed moves, all exercises were for a 12 rep duration.

We finished up the morning with a cool down and stretch, and everyone was merrily on their way with the day off to a nice, sweaty start!

I Want to Pump You Up!

Did you read the title with an odd, pseudo-Austrian accent a la Hans and Franz of SNL fame?  I hope so – it is much cooler that way.

I thought it would be a fitting title for two reasons:

A) I spent a lot of moolah this weekend on fitness equipment for my “Sunrise Sweat” class, which starts this week.  The point of the class is to “pump up” my participants…well, sort of.  Two of the ladies in my class texted me a picture of a woman with arms as big as my calves (and much more muscular) accompanied by the message, “We’re game for class but we don’t want to look like this!”  I guess that means they aren’t going to be taking any steroids before arriving at my fitness class.  I don’t think they really have too much to worry about; while I design workouts that build strength, I am much more interested in a streamlined physique than growing giant manly arms!

B) I spent a large portion of my evening pumping up recently purchased stability balls and BOSUs.  Notice the foot pump?  I overheated my electric pump and had to use the manual one.  It took a while, but I got everything inflated, and had a little leg workout at the same time.

Speaking of legs – I have really exciting news!  At least it is exciting news for me…you might think it’s a little silly, because I tend to get excited about things that other people sometimes find a bit ridiculous.  But on with the story:  every time I have attended one of my Yoga teacher training weekends, many of the other teacher trainees have these fabulous leg warmers and cool high socks to keep their feet and legs toasty before and after practice.  I always wear plain white ankle socks and feel really boring.  Plus, because my yoga pants are crops, the bare skin on my legs sometimes gets cold.  I covet the cool leg warmers…but no more!  I am now part of the cool kids’ club.  That’s right – I have leg warmers.  I found them at Wal-Mart for about $6, and had to have them.  I also bought two pair of $3 knee-high socks while I was there, and turned them into my own DIY leg warmer creation.  I can’t take all the credit, though; I totally stole the idea from a wonderful yoga classmate named Melissa.  Melissa reminds me a bit of a rock star, and she wears the neatest stuff – including a sweet pair of home-made leg warmer socks that I have been coveting for the last month.  I hope she doesn’t mind that I borrowed her idea!

Here’s how to create this look:

1. Find a pair of tall socks that you enjoy – this pair can go all the way past my knee if I stretch them, and I really like the purple stripes.  The other pair is a pretty boring grey, but they will probably match with more of my other stuff.

2. Take a pair of scissors and cut off the toe of the sock just below the seam line.  Then cut a triangle out of the heel.  Most socks have a slight line where the knitting changes direction, and many socks (including these) have a different coloured heel – cut just inside the different colour/knitting line.

3. Voila!  You have a neat little pair of leg warmers.

Here is a close up of my toes – I just got a pedicure on Friday, and I’m loving the sparkles on top of the dark plum, so I thought I’d show off up close.  Thanks Sharla at Exhale!

Fabulous Fitness Fun Day

Today has been fabulous – REALLY fabulous.  I had a lot of fun, and I was even able to get in two workouts, which makes it all the better.  My day didn’t start out so fabulously; I only had about 4 1/2 hours of sleep, so I didn’t want to get up when the alarm went off at 5am…but it was the last day of my “Early Rise Circuit” class, so I really didn’t have a choice.  When there are exercise participants waiting for you to lead them into sweatiness, you just have to get your ass out of bed.  Once I got my sweat on, my energy picked up considerably, and I was able to work off some work-related tension that I accumulated over the past week.

When my fitness class was over, I grabbed a green tea and a breakfast sandwich from Timmie’s (ya I know the sandwich wasn’t the best nutritional choice, but you’ll get over it), and headed an hour and forty-five minutes down the highway to Table Mountain for a skiing field trip with some high school students.  I had to take my own car because we needed an “emergency transport vehicle” in case a kid broke a leg and needed to go to the hospital or something like that.  Normally I prefer to take the bus and interact with the kids, but it worked out well for me since my class didn’t end until about 1/2 an hour after the bus had already left.

While Table Mountain is in the middle of the Prairies, and is probably closer to a table than it is to a mountain, it is actually a pretty impressive ski hill for the middle of Saskatchewan.  They have two chair lifts and about seven runs (I’m estimating, so forgive me if I’m off a little bit here), but the most impressive thing to me is how well they handle large school groups.  They give rules and tips, get the kids suited up, and provide lessons in a remarkably efficient manner; as a teacher, I really appreciate the precision and organization – it makes the day so much more enjoyable for kids AND teachers.  The conditions were great today; it was about 0 degrees celsius, and the sun was shining in full force.  It was warm, but not melting, and we had a great group of kids with us on the field trip.  Down hill skiing really is a full body workout, but I enjoy doing it, so it doesn’t really feel like work at all.  Fresh air, fun, and fitness all rolled into one delightful activity!

I stopped in Lloydminster (where my parents live and my husband is currently working) on my way home, so I was able to see my husband for about an hour, and I got to have dinner with him and my Mom.  Now I’m back home, I just had a lovely epsom salt bath, I’m savouring a glass of red wine, and I’m about to snuggle up with Jax and Naava to watch a movie.  What is not to love about today?  I told you it was fabulous!

Sunrise Sweat

It’s official – I am clinically insane.  I am not sure how I can possibly fit more on my plate right now, but I am going to try!

I’ve been team teaching an “Early Rise Circuit” class on Thursday mornings, but due to a previous booking in the gym space, we are unable to continue after our session is up this week.  A few of the ladies in my class asked if I would be continuing, so I did some thinking and crunched some numbers.  Partly because I’m an idiot, but mostly because I truly love sharing fitness with others, I decided to give it a shot.

That meant that I had to find another space to hold the class, put out some ads, and purchase some small equipment of my own with which to run a class.  All of that is no problem at all.  The insane part?  The other woman who I was team teaching with was not interested in striking out on her own…so I agreed to teach both Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  Just to provide some perspective, I am a high school English teacher who currently has zero prep time.  ZERO.  Work monopolizes my life:  it is currently 11:00 pm and I arrived home from work 56 minutes ago.  I just finished eating my dinner.  Anyone who honestly believes that teachers work from 9-3:30 deserves to be smacked upside the head.  But I digress…

I found a space (at the school where I teach, actually!), the ad came out in yesterday’s local paper, and I will be purchasing some of my own stuff this coming weekend.  The class is called “Sunrise Sweat,” and it starts next week.  There is no turning back now.  Oh boy.

Cold Weather Running Gear

I ran in the cold yesterday morning, and since I know there isn’t a LOT of info out there about cold weather gear, I thought I’d post about what I wore.  The Weather Network showed -22 degrees Celsius (that’s minus 7.6 degrees Fahrenheit for any American readers out there), so I wanted to be sure to stay warm.  It wasn’t a long run; I was only out there running for 25 minutes, and then about 5 more walking/stretching.  I’ve actually never been out longer than 40 minutes when it’s lower than -20; I’m afraid the dogs’ paws won’t handle the cold, so I don’t let them stay out for any longer than that.

I started with a base layer of Merino wool long underwear (both top and bottom) from Coast Mountain Sports.  I’ve had these pieces for quite a while, and couldn’t find a picture of them online.  On top of the long underwear, I layered a Lululemon Run Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve t-shirt.  I have two of these tops – one in a dark pink, and one in purple; I adore them both!  In hindsight, I think I probably could have gotten away with only one of the base layer tops, instead of wearing both the long underwear and the Lulu top, as I was VERY warm.

To round off the layers on top, I wore a third piece:  my Run: Back on Track Jacket, also from Lululemon.  Dear God – I just realized that I might have an addiction to this store.  Oh well, what can you do?  Their stuff is great!  This jacket is roomy enough to wear layers underneath, yet it doesn’t look bulky.  When I bought it, I intended to get it in pink, but they were all out in my size.  I’m glad, actually, since that forced me to try on this one in the grey with pink flecks, and I like it even better.  Plus, since it’s grey, it hides grime a little better than the pale pink would, I’m sure.

On the bottom, over top of my long underwear, I wore my Lululemon Run: Outward Bound pants.  I have also had these pants for a long time, but I do love them.  They are water repellent on the front, and have warm, soft, brushed fabric on the back of the legs to keep me toasty.  They have a draw string at the ankles, which is great!  I’ve been able to wear them long over skates, cinched at the ankles for running/walking, and I even turned them into crops once by cincing them way up by my knees.  My legs were perfectly warm on my run, and these pants are a big part of the reason why.

There are three more pieces that were very important for my run:  toque, gloves and a neck warmer.  The toque is called the Radiance Knit Toque; it is pink with reflective detailing to help keep me safe in low light conditions.  I purchased it from the Running Room a couple of years ago, and I wear it regularly.  Great purchase – it’s a pretty pink, it keeps me safe and warm, and obviously, because it is part of the pink ribbon campaign, purchasing it supports breast cancer research.  Feel good points too!

I wore gloves from the Running Room, but I’m not exactly sure what kind they are, and I can’t seem to find them online.  I can tell you that they were rated for cold (though I do believe there was an option to go a level colder when I bought them last year).  They keep me quite warm in cold weather when I am running, but I think I would want something with a bit more insulation if I was walking or doing an activity that didn’t keep me moving quite as fast.

My neck warmer is from the Running Room also: the Dryline Neckwarmer.  It is very light weight and not bulky at all, plus it covers my neck to keep me warm, and I can pull it up over the bridge of my nose in cold conditions to keep the air moist before I breath it in.  While the elastic band over the nose can be a bit snug, it isn’t uncomfortable, and the mesh panel allows me to breath comfortably while preventing the intake of dry, cold air directly into my lungs.

I didn’t wear anything on my feet besides my regular Asics running shoes and running socks.  Sometimes the tops of my feet feel cool through the upper mesh on my shoes, but once I get moving and my body warms up, it doesn’t bother me any more.  I have considered different socks, and will probably look for a warmer pair the next time I have the opportunity to stop by Coast Mountain Sports or the Running Room.  I have worn Due North Spikes, for added traction, but I find them more of a hindrance than a help.  They have been know to pop off of my shoes, and I’m always a little scared that I will step on one of the dogs’ paws with the spikes.  Where I live, most people are good about clearing their sidewalks, and I just watch where I’m running and tread carefully, so shoes without any added traction seem to be just fine.  Thus far (I feel like I should find some wood to knock on!), I haven’t had any ice-related spills.  All in all, I don’t mind running in the cold – especially when I get out on a weekend a little later in the morning so that the sun is shining bright in the sky.  While I know that cold weather running isn’t the way to improve my times or anything like that, I do enjoy the briskness – it’s a great wake up, and a lovely way to start my day!

Motivation Meltdown

I’ve read a lot of posts tonight about having a lack of motivation, and as much as I hate to hear about others who are struggling, it is nice to know that I’m not alone.  This past week has been VERY tough on me:  I am into my no-prep semester, which means that I am teaching full days, without any breaks at all.  There are four class sessions within my day, and because of split classes, I am now teaching six classes in a four period day.  I spent the majority of the weekend at school just trying to stay on top of things.  On top of that, I am also teaching the morning fitness classes (and contemplating adding in one more per week), plus managing our household and taking care of the dogs on my own.  My darling husband is still working out-of-town, so for the time being it is all on me.  Add to that my own homework to stay on top of my yoga teacher training, and I’m beginning to feel like I may have “bitten off more than I can chew.”  It’s been tough, to say the least, but I have managed to fit in a few good workouts this week!

I got in two good runs on the weekend and had a great yoga class tonight.  Monday was my rest day, so I had every intention of running Tuesday morning, but my body decided that it needed an extra hour of sleep instead.  Sometimes you just have to listen when your body tells you to slow down, I guess!

I teach my circuit class at 6:15 tomorrow morning (I will be off to bed very soon!), and I have a few more good workouts planned for the rest of the week, so I am still mostly on track…sometimes it’s just a lot more difficult finding the energy to fit in a good sweat session than I want it to be.

But let’s conjure up the positive, shall we?  I have managed to fit in some good workouts amid the chaos, I’m rather enjoying the students in my new classes, and I’ve been able to eat well and (mostly) stick to Cycle 1 of the 17 Day Diet.  Really, I amazingly successful!