Thursday, May 31, 2012

Adventures with Workout Clothing Stereotypes

Most of my workout clothes are from Target or other discount stores and are often not in the best taste.  Some of my nicer ones I got as gifts.

I am of the breed who thinks that if it's comfortable, it doesn't really matter what brand my clothing is.  Yes, sometimes brand is a hint of the quality of the clothing, but not always.  And when it comes to workout clothing, they all die in my sweat, so they are all seen as equals in my book.

Tops are easy, as I accumulate all sorts of shirts from races.  I've gotten to the point where if the shirt isn't women's cut or doesn't fit well, it goes straight to donation, as my workout clothing drawer is pretty full already.  Since it takes me a long time to wear out any of my gear, even the cheap ones, I don't even think about buying replacements that often.

As for bottoms, while I have many, they have kind of served different purposes.  I basically only wear my Nike tempo shorts (gift) to races/long runs now, while some of my Target ones are reserved for general cardio.  I have tight Nike capris (rare purchase at outlet) for colder weather and Target crops for "easy" workouts or cold-weather short runs/walks.  Some shorts are cute but too short to run in comfortably and are reserved for swimming and such.

Anyway, I was forced to think about all of this when my sister got me a Lululemon gift card for my birthday.  To be honest (and don't hate for this one measly opinion), my previous categorization of people who wear Lululemon was basically: well-to-do, stay-at-home-while-spending-all-of-husband's-money (mom role optional), yoga-crazed, blonde, sheep, hyperfeminine, vain, etc. etc.  Having studied psychology in college+grad school, I am not going to deny that we all have our stereotypes, regardless of how well-educated or "politically correct" we are or how dumb or wrong it seems to have them.  Now I've admitted to mine. 

At my age, though, I want to be open-minded and not make assumptions before trying things, so instead of thinking about how cult-like and racist I've heard Lululemon is among other things, I decided to see for myself.  (I should add that many companies are attached to negative moral behavior, intentional or not, so I'm putting that aside for now).

There is a store very close to where I work, but the only time I stepped in there, I picked up a shirt and ran out (not literally but sorta) after seeing the price tag.  Of course, I've since realized that I don't buy workout clothing too often, so I guess it isn't so bad to drop more money if it's going to last and feel comfortable.

This was my first foray in the "Lulu" dressing room.  I tried on a bunch of running shorts but did not feel like any of them justified a $68 price tag, gift card or not.  I mean, many of my life's thrills are in finding a bargain, and in general, this is totally not the place for that.  Many of the shorts were just too darn short or had too many cutesy textures that could get uncomfortable after a while.  My stereotypes of this place were so bad, apparently, that when I saw "preshrunk" on the label, I didn't read it as "previously shrunk" but as "this will give you a precious/presh' runk (trunk)."  Yes, I am a very flawed person.

The whole myth about the pants/shorts making your butt look good?


I don't know.  I can't believe I'm posting this photo -- work clothes aside, but I felt like I needed to provide a true testimony.  Since I started running years ago, I've been pretty, um, all right in that area of my body, and I don't think any one pair of pants makes any real difference compared to other pants (though Bar Method might!).  However, they were comfortable, and I did like the little hidden pocket at the top for cards/keys... plus, I don't have any workout pants that reach all the way down the leg... even if they are crops for taller people.

So I put aside all my pre-set notions and made my first purchase.  My overall experience there was okay -- I found the sales-girls to be pretty fake, but it's not like I've never seen that before at other stores.  One of the girls kind of offended me when she said something like, "We'll, I'm a 4, so you must be... an 8?"  But I digress.

Does owning one of these things make me subject to those not-so-great assumptions I have had?  I don't know, but for now, I'll wipe the slate clean and see if I really wear this and whether it's worth its cost, everything else aside.  Opinions... can grow and change once you've done the proper research and had the proper experiences.


#endrant

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Insanity - Week 3: How Hard is It?

This entry marks the end of the third week (actually, I'm on Week 4, Day 2, but who's counting?!) in which I have been doing these Insanity workouts.  That means that a third of the program is done, and by now, I know the workouts pretty well.

In this update, I want to elaborate on the question of "How hard is it?" for people who haven't tried this workout yet. 

Anyone who has seen the infomercial can probably recall a ripped Shaun T (the instructor) sweating like crazy, and according to "The Ukrainian"'s brother, you're spending half the time kicking your knees to your chest and going, "Shoop, shoop!"

That desciption is... mostly accurate. 

The workouts so far are around 40 minutes and involve a "warm-up" sequence that is repeated a few times, a period of stretching, a workout period, and a cool-down period.  The "warm-up" alone will get you sweaty and tired, and yes, it does involve lifting those knees a lot.  With your core, of course.  I've been doing the workouts in socks atop carpet and yoga mats, but I think it could be easier to lift my knees and jump in shoes and on a surface like a gym/basketball court floor like what they have in the video.  Without that, there's no extra little "spring" in my step, if you know what I mean.

After the "warm-up," he spends a good chunk of time stretching the legs and hip-flexors, and by this point, you're wiping sweat as you're doing them and relish these moments before what's to come.  Thankfully, by the time the stretches are over, you've got like 22 minutes left in the workout -- you can see it in the progress bar at the bottom of the screen -- but 22 minutes is certainly enough.

The workouts consist of a lot of high-speed football-esque drills.  My track and field coach (RIP) was also a football coach, so we did lots of this in high school, only not so quickly or for that length of time.  There is some repetition in the moves, but I try not to think about it since it all goes by pretty quickly.  In most of the workouts, he goes in intervals and gives you 30-second breaks, with the exception of the "Pure Cardio" disc in which you don't really get a break.  Nonetheless, the whole thing goes by pretty quickly, and by the end, you're covered in sweat and actually feeling pretty good if you have not thrown up. 

Word to the wise: allow your food to digest before doing these workouts.  Risk of puking is definitely there.

Each workout was pretty tough in the beginning, and guess what?... they are still tough.  In the first few days, I was constantly sore, and then I stopped getting sore but still sucked/dragged during some of the workouts.  Some days, it's hard to push, especially through some of the jumps.  So although it does get easier, it is never perfect.  Even the people in the video, who are pretty darn fit, are dropping like flies in some of the videos.

In the second month, which is somewhat on the horizon, the workouts are longer and tougher, so I'll be sure to elaborate on those later.  A part of me is scared, but mostly because I'll have to wake up even earlier (by 15 minutes or so... no biggie... and endure for 15 more minutes, which I'm not sure is going to be easy when 40 minutes is already no cakewalk.

Overall, I think that I've been able to keep up pretty well because I've already put myself through the wringer when it comes to races and such.  I would NOT recommend this to people who are:

- not used to working out

- not used to pushing to exhaustion

- not used to working out at home

- counting on dropping a bunch of weight quickly

- preferring steady-state cardio (i.e., going at it on the elliptical/treadmill/stairclimber without increasing intensity, ever)

- living in structurally-compromised building (shaky apartments, etc.)

- having specific knee issues -- contrary to what a lot of people say, I don't believe this workout causes any knee issues in people who don't have them, unless you are careless about form or don't fuel properly -- and even if this is the case, you can always come up with modifications and still get a pretty good workout


With that said, you should try it if you have any doubt... see if you have a friend who is not using their DVDs for the time being (it seems that once you complete the 63 days, a rest should be taken before starting again... perfect borrowing time!)... or maybe there are clips on YouTube.

Bottom line... so far, I am finding these workouts very hard, but do-able.  And folks, I ain't that fit.

Reflections of Week 3:

Finally, here are my Fit Test results after two weeks.  No, that's not a typo on the first exercise... I think sometimes it's hard to keep the form correct and when I'm more correct, I do less than when I'm less correct.  I worry that I will not see more improvement in future Fit Tests, as it's still pretty hard and I feel as though I'm already pushing the limits of my abilities.

Fit Test 1
Fit Test 2
Fit Test 3
Fit Test 4
Fit Test 5
Switch Kicks (2 sides=1 rep)
58.5

53.5


Power Jacks
59

61


Power Knees
76

92


Power Jumps
29

33


Globe Jumps
10

12


Suicide Jumps
20

23


Push-Up Jacks
26

33


Low Plank Oblique (2 sides=1 rep)
37

43




Monday - Fit Test + Cardio Abs (from Saturday)
Tuesday - Plyometric Cardio Circuit & light cross-training in the PM
Wednesday - Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs ***first day I started using an HRM to track burn***
Thursday - 3.8 mi run (in lieu of Cardio Recovery)
Friday - Cardio Power & Resistance
Saturday - Long run, 4 mi walk/run/sprint (instead of repeating Plyometric Cardio Circuit)
Sunday - rest

Finally, I have a marathon this upcoming weekend.  Yeah, I know.  I'll talk about the running+Insanity combo later, but I fully know that I haven't spent a lot of time running lately besides the 15-miler I did.  That's actually longer than I went for my last marathon training, but my initial impression is that Insanity has not increased my endurance and has also made my feet hurt when I'm running -- but then again, I'm lighter on my feet as a whole.  This should be interesting.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sharkies Prize Pack (giveaway)

It's giveaway time!

On a long run recently, I took a couple packs of Sharkies Organic Sports Chews with me to keep me going on a hot day.  I got through those 15 miles eating these, versus normal gels.  I've been opting to eat chews over gels in my running nowadays because I just find them more palatable and easier on my stomach for some reason.  Plus, they do pack a few more calories, which is a good thing in this case.

I normally associate cute little chews with candy, but these actually contain natural electrolytes.  Plus, they were light to carry and very tasty, too!  Each pack is about 140 calories.  The only downside I found to the sport chews is that they stuck to my teeth a tiny bit more than my normal choices, and the packaging gave me a fight at times.  This could easily be solved by conslidating them into a baggie pre-run, or eating them BEFORE running would be much easier than during.

Want to win the prize pack below?  It comes with these Sport Chews, a neat water bottle, Under Armour shirt, and Omega-3 fruit twists for the kiddies (or yourself!).



From their website:

· USDA Certified Organic

· Have no artificial dyes or flavors

· Free of fat, gluten, wheat, nut and dairy free

· Vegan and vegetarian friendly

· Available in four flavors; Berry Blast, Fruit Splash, Citrus Squeeze, and Watermelon Scream

To enter:

Please submit ONE comment per entry (please post a separate comment for each to have it count).  Open to US and Canada and closes on June 6th at noon PST.

+1 - Tell me which flavor you would like to try.
+1 - Follow this blog or add to your blogroll
+1 - Follow me on Twitter @nobel4lit
+1 - Tweet or post the giveaway (include '@nobel4lit' if on Twitter)

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FTC Disclaimer: Thank you to Sharkies® for providing free product sample and the special gift pack.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Troubled Relationship with Headbands

I work out in the morning before work, so this means that I'm often time-pressed to get it done and then look presentable.

This also means that I often don't have time to wash my hair.  I know... this is gross, even to me, but at least I shower.  My long, thick hair requires lots of time to dry and such, so rather than show up to work with wet hair, I decided that I'd start washing it after work to prevent blow-drying (another time-kill as well as bad for hair) or over-washing since I always like to have clean hair when I sleep.

So I've been wearing headbands and pinning my hair to ensure that it stays off my sweaty forehead.  Minimizing hair-to-sweat contact means I can do my gross thang (sic) without being completely crusty.  Yes, I use the word "crusty" to describe things besides food....

I started off with a Goody-brand one (drugstore), but that would sometimes pop off during my workouts, even slower-paced ones.  I also have a very basic generic one made out of cheap tech tee material that was a freebie at a race expo, which stays on decently for the most part but eventually pops off.

Always seeking improvement, I wanted to try one of those specialty ones that I'm always seeing buzzed about on blogs and Twitter.  All the "it stays on my odd-shaped head" comments started getting to me.  They must work well, right?

Well, not exactly.  Here's me wearing a BICBand prior to a workout.  I'd actually push it more forward toward my nose, but it doesn't stay in that position for long:

Widow's peak repreSENT!

And afterward, it's half-way on my head and pops off at the slightest movement, like removing my shirt.  I spared you all a photo of the "after," because by then I've had to adjust so many times that my hair looks like a fire-y cactus dampened with sweat. 

After a few episodes of this, I've concluded that it's really no better than my rudimentary freebie one, and for 10x the price (plus shipping, which took longer than I had hoped since I live not too far from where they are produced).  Not to mention, it's not really all that comfortable and a bit tight-feeling on my head, which I thought would be a good thing.  I guess it's cute, though, and as many women will tell you, with beauty comes pain.

So my quest to keep my hair in line continues... I guess I win the odd-shaped head war.  Not a great title to win.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Insanity - Week 2: Can't Stick to Any Diet

Well, two weeks are done, and I'm still here.  This week was a little challenging because of a weekend trip, but I did the best I could to work around it.

This past week's routine consisted of:

Monday - Cardio Power & Resistance
Tuesday - Pure Cardio
Wednesday - Pylometric Cardio Circuit and light cross-training in the PM
Thursday - 4 mi run (in lieu of Cardio Recovery)
Friday - Cardio Power & Resistance
Saturday - Pure Cardio (was also supposed to do Cardio Abs also but laptop went kaput, so deferred to Monday)
Sunday - rest

Reflections from Week 2:

No Fit Test this week, so I can't gauge any real progress yet.  The only other indicator would be weight, but that's been a funny (not funny "ha ha" but funny "strange" or funny "@#%^") thing... not really changing in spite of my efforts to keep within the calorie limits set by MyFitnessPal.   I read that this is a normal side-effect of muscle building and fluid amassing to protect the muscles, so I'm moving on from that for now -- if only because of what I mentioned in my previous post that weight loss was not really the objective here and that there are far simpler (relatively) ways to get there.  I do feel fitter, though, and a touch more toned, but I don't want to declare anything definitive yet.

Nutrition Plan

As I mentioned in my last update, there is a nutrition component to this program.  Now, most of the reports from people who have completed the program said they got results even if they didn't follow the nutrition plan, so I felt pretty good about just tracking my food and eating mostly healthfully.  The nutrition plan and MyFitnessPal are actually approximately equivalent calorie-wise, so I haven't had to do much guessing in that area. 

Without giving too much away, the plan focuses on whole foods and eating approximately 300 calories every three or so hours between meals.  Since I'm a grazer, I already eat like this -- and in general, I eat healthy but do splurge once a day or every other day, within the limits I'm given.  I'm trying to make these splurges less frequent, but I do find that it actually helps fill my calorie void on some days.  I used to (read: last month... ha ha... see pic below) eat way too many sweets, and although I don't love them as much as I used to, I do feel like including a little bit makes me feel more balanced (i.e., less likely to revert back to eating them without abandon). 

Just as long as I'm not eating dinners like this or this (homemade vegan banana bread and a carrot cake roll -- this was last month):


I am highly unwilling to "eat clean" for an extended period of time -- maybe for 80-90% of the day, TOPS -- and that's all right with me.   While I admire people who can stay away from muffins and fro-yo all the time, I can only do it for so long, and if that is the reason I don't have a six-pack, then all I can say is that this is why I don't wear mid-driffs. =)

However, I am reinforced by having more energy when I do eat healthfully, so I think I can stick with it for now.  The additional energy I've had is perhaps the most surprising part of this journey so far -- even if I'm ready to keel over after a workout (I'll blog about the specific workouts next time!), I feel better the rest of the day.  Not sure if that's a side-effect of the workouts, being more conscious of the food I eat, or a combination of both.

Finally, Saturday's workout was done while I was staying in Las Vegas.  It was "The Ukrainian"'s first time doing an Insanity workout with me, and even though he didn't like every exercise, he agreed that it was a good workout.  As proof that he isn't invincible like he sometimes says he is, his calves were sore the next day.  Completing that workout in a small room was an accomplishment.  We were supposed to do an additional 16 minutes of ab exercises, but the laptop we brought ran out of batteries -- with the cord at home.  I still think with all the late-night walking and gambling, getting up to do such an "insane" workout was something of which I could be proud.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Tomato Soup

All I wanted was tomato soup.

I didn't have any cans of diced or crushed tomatoes in the cupboard, and I doubted that tomato puree would yield a very good result.  I've done crazy things in the past like combine pasta sauce with water, which wasn't too bad, but don't try that! 

No, I wanted to make something that was essentially from scratch.  Surprisingly, a simple recipe was kind of tough to find on Google, so I just winged it.

In such a simple dish, all of the ingredients matter -- at least that's what I have heard.  So using on-the-vine tomatoes and a good olive oil would make a huge difference.  Recently, I received a sample of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil and decided to use it here.


So here's the recipe... note that I am not really a recipe blogger, so if the directions seem imprecise or otherwise weird, you know why!  Also, I'm pretty sure you can add more or less of things and still get an edible soup. =)

Homemade Tomato Soup (serves about 4-5)

- 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 4-6 whole tomatoes of decent size... they don't need to be on-the-vine, but they should be pretty ripe
- 3 large ribs of celery, chopped into .5" pieces
- 10-12 baby carrots or one full carrot chopped into .5" pieces
- 1/2 large onion, chopped into .5" pieces
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can of vegetable or chicken broth (~15 oz, which is about 2 cups)
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 packet of Stevia or 1 tsp sugar
- 1.5 tsp oregano
- generous pinch of sea salt
- pepper to taste

Directions:

1) You'll want to remove the skin from the tomatoes, so you'll need to blanch them.  Boil a large pot of water and submerge the tomatoes for about 1-2 minutes, or until you see the skin wrinkling.  Use tongs to remove them and place/rinse in very cold water.  If the skins don't come off very easily, you can use a vegetable peeler to expedite the process.  Once completed, chop tomatoes into 1"x1" pieces.

2) Heat olive oil on medium heat, add garlic and onions until they are fragrant (2-3 minutes) but not burned!  Add carrots and celery and stir for about a minute, then add spices (thyme, oregano, salt) and cook for another minute. 

3) Add tomatoes and stir.  Add broth and Stevia (I know it sounds weird, but it off-sets the sour-ness), stir, and place bay leaf on top.  Put lid on pot and simmer for about 25 minutes.


4) REMOVE BAY LEAF.  Then use immersion blender to CAREFULLY puree everything, if you have one (thanks, Sister K for giving me the one kitchen tool I've wanted but didn't have!).  Otherwise, you will need to wait for the mixture to cool down significantly before CAREFULLY pouring into a blender or large-capacity food-processor.


5) Serve warm.  I forgot to add pepper to mine, but you probably should.  I don't like pepper much, so I was perfectly fine leaving it out.


Yes, it might look a little orange, but I feel that is more natural than the deep red from a can... don't you?!  I think the carrots and the fact that the tomatoes weren't as ripe as I would have liked contributed to that nice orange glow.  It still tastes like the real thing, though!

"The Ukrainian" made a faux-grilled cheese with stuff we had lying around -- sandwich thins, Kraft singles knock-offs, and Earth Balance.  The soup was flavorful hearty enough to satisfy me for once, and I had leftovers for encores at work, along with microwave-grilled cheese.  Hah!

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FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of Filippo Berio olive oil as part of my participation in the BzzAgent program but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Secret Insanity

Doing all the workout DVDs I've been doing lately, I knew it would be inevitable that I'd eventually spill over into infomercial territory.

I have avoided doing this in the past for several reasons, the first being cost.  Luckily, I was hooked up past this obstacle.  =)

Second, I figured that these types of programs are probably no better than running and just working out consistently.  I've been working out to videos for about six months now and sometimes I do get a little bored (just as I do in the gym, mind you), but in combination with running outdoors, I'm still just as fit as when I was a gym rat when I'm eating properly.

Finally, these programs are very "committal."  "Committal" is a word my sisters and I use out of its true definition to describe large servings of food that you need to "commit to" in order to finish... but in this case, it meants that you really have to dedicate yourself and follow the program closely.  These programs often demand 6-7 days a week of this commitment (e.g., 30-Day Shred).  BUT I can't give up running, even at the downgraded level I've been doing lately.... and it's not possible to do both fully, at least not for me.

But enough about why I haven't tried this.  WHY am I trying this now?  Why this one over others?

My main motivation is curiousity, and yet another is seeing my friend's results after completing P90X-2.  She mentioned that she has started dabbling into Insanity territory.  The main factor for me choosing Insanity over the others (and there are a ton... Brazil Butt Lift, anyone?) is the time factor (well, first was being hooked up with it but that's beside the point).  Each workout is about 40 minutes in the first phase and a bit longer in the second, which is about all I can squeeze into my schedule right now.  Plus, it'll all be over in about 60(+3) days, versus, say... 90.

A small blurb about weight-loss:  As I mentioned in this entry, I negated the progress I made toward my "equilibrium" goal.  I know I can start things back in the right direction without doing a "committal" series like this one, so I don't have any expectations in this realm and just hope that eating better will set it off rather than crazy workouts.  However, I am curious to see what changes would happen if I tried one of these highly-marketed programs.  Do they live up to their hype?

I plan to substitute up to 3 runs a week.  If I feel good, I'll try to add on the runs rather than just skip the Insanity on those days, but I know me and know that I am okay with putting in half the effort for half the results and half the risk of injury and/or burnout.  So in a way, I'm not really doing the program at its fullest but this is what will work for me this go-around.

I did my first Fit Test the day after the OC Half-Marathon, waiting until the PM so I've had a chance to rest in the AM and at work.  Stupid, I know, but I really wanted to start it as soon as possible before my motivation left me.  There are several more Fit Test-s in the program, and I hope I see some progress as I go along.

Fit Test 1
Fit Test 2
Fit Test 3
Fit Test 4
Fit Test 5
Switch Kicks (2 sides=1 rep)
58.5



Power Jacks
59



Power Knees
76



Power Jumps
29



Globe Jumps
10



Suicide Jumps
20



Push-Up Jacks
26



Low Plank Oblique (2 sides=1 rep)
37





Reflections of Week 1:

Monday - Fit Test
Tuesday - Plyometric Cardio Circuit
Wednesday - Cardio Power & Resistance and light cross training in the PM
Thursday - Cardio Recovery
Friday - Pure Cardio
Saturday - Long run, 15 mi walk/run (instead of repeating Plyometric Cardio Circuit)
Sunday - rest (I will definitely adhere to rest once a week)

- So far, I'm struggling to keep up with the speed while keeping the form right, but I figure as long as I am careful, there is a trade-off there.  Even the show-off chick in the video didn't adhere to the form that well when she was going for reps.  Been working out long enough to know when I'm downright hurting myself.

- I stuck to the schedule pretty well this first week because I wasn't ready to run again yet and wanted to do all the DVDs this week.  Incorporating more running is the goal next week.  And so far, the long run (in prep for my upcoming marathon) did not bother me, nor did it seem any easier from doing these workouts but that could be due to the lack of rest before it.

- Oh, the sweat... it's that uncontrollable kind that drips everywhere.  Been doing the workouts before work when possible and just tying/pinning back my hair for the day to prevent overwashing my hair (I do shower, though!).  Ick factor is not as bad as I feared.

- My yoga mat configuration is crappy... they keep sliding around and bunching.  Need a better solution because I spend part of the precious rest periods readjusting.  The mats are for a little cushioning, even though I already have carpet -- as well as protection of said carpet from said sweat.


- I don't think this is burning a whole lot of calories, contrary to the commercial claims, but then again, I'm not using any real means of measuring it (e.g., HRM)

- I started off feeling weak and shaky after the workouts.  Had to work through the initial soreness Days 2 and 3 but nothing I'm not used to from running.  To ease this, Sunwarrior Protein in my Blender Bottle with water right after is helpful, though after a while, these initial feelings are gone/minimized.

- I have heard about being careful with your knees in this program, but since I live in an apartment, I need to be conscious of how I land anyway.

- There is a nutrition component, which I will write about another time.  In general, though, it doesn't demand much more than what I know I should be doing -- minimizing junk and fueling frequently/enough.

- This program has some addicting factor to it.  It reminds me of when I was in track and field in high school.  I know the program gets much harder, but somehow I am looking forward to the challenge.


So now that I haven't quit after the first day, I decided to come out of secrecy and admit to this experiment so that maybe someone who reads this might want to follow along or watch me squirm.  I plan on updating approximately weekly as my schedule allows, and there will be some scheduling issues during these 60-ish days with a week-long work trip across the country, marathon, day-long relay, and weekend in Vegas implanted in there somewhere.  I think "insanity" is a good way to describe this beyond the content of the workouts themselves.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: Jillian Michaels - Ripped in 30

One of my most popular posts is my review of Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred, a workout DVD divided into three levels, each being about 20 minutes (plus warm-up/cool-down).

Ripped in 30 is sort of the sequel.

As those who have been reading here for a while know, I sort of became a convert to fitness DVDs when I moved 10 miles away from my gym and found that the one at work is a bit limited.  Given that my living room has some space, I decided to see how long I could stick to videos and find myself trying more and more of them.  Thank goodness for Amazon.

This DVD has four levels, each running a total of about 35 minutes counting the warm-up and cool-down, whcih is a touch longer than 30-Day Shred.  Contrary to its title, "Ripped in 30" doesn't mean "30 minutes" -- the workout itself is still the same three circuits of 3 minutes Strength, 2 minutes Cardio, and 1 minute Abs.  The "30" actually means 30 days -- so you're supposed to do one level straight for a week.

I never follow directions, of course, so I think I bust this one out once or twice a week and do whatever level seems right for the day.  I usually do a video or run in the morning for about 45 minutes and then one of these when I get back from work.  And of course, whatever nutritional guides are included with this I have not looked at for now...

Level 1 will already make you sweat.  It's about the equivalent of Level 2 in the 30-Day Shred, in my opinion.  Jillian works out with two girls and often banters with them throughout each level.  It's kind of a more bootcamp-y tone she uses, which people may or may not like.  I'm mostly okay with it, but it is a little annoying at times.  Expect the usual lunges, small jumps (though not as much in Level 1), and planks.

Level 2 is the one I do most for some reason.  It's still tough, especially during one of the Cardio circuits that is done entirely in plank position.  This one also requires some balance, which kills me when I can't focus sometimes.

Level 3 seems like the toughest of all, strangely.  I do this one when I'm feeling masochistic.  She really works the lower body in this one and incorporates plyometric moves that I really should improve. 

Level 4 actually is easier than Level 3, in my opinion.  Lots of shoulder work is included in this one, and of course, some plyometrics.  She talks a lot about "breaking you" in this segment.  The strangest move I found here was doing "supermans" with weights.  A "superman" is done by lying on the stomach and lifting head, shoulders, feet, and knees off the floor.  To do that with weights is something I'm not even sure is possible without messing up the form.

Since this video will leave you sweating no matter when level you do, I definitely feel like I'm making good use of my 30-ish minutes.  I'm sure doing the whole program would be beneficial, but I don't think I could stick to anything like that if I can't adhere to a marathon or even half-marathon training program very well.

As far as DVDs go, this is a lot of bang for the buck -- 4 workouts for less than $10...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

OC Half-Marathon 2012

EVENT: OC Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, May 6, 2012
LOCATION: Newport Beach/Costa Mesa, CA
RACE BEGAN: 6:15 am
FINISH TIME: 02:03:26


I did this race three years ago and returned for the Beach Cities Challenge.  The course went through some changes since last time -- less time in the "back bay" area and definitely more elevation changes.  I remembered it as a flat course, but this one had rolling hills, including longer climbs at Mile 8 and 11.  Rolling hills are normally a strength of mine, at least in the past.


"The Ukrainian" had to pick up my packet for me on Friday since I couldn't get out of work to get down there, and I had a conference on Saturday.  He reported that the expo was small and crowded, and he didn't come back with too many goodies.


Back of the shirt.  For some reason, it said v-neck on the D-tag, but it's not?


I've decided not to bash my time, although I normally would, with it being five minutes slower than the last time I did it.  Today wasn't really a day for PRs or anything, even though I wanted to... but I was burned out from last week's half-marathon and had some technical issues in the beginning.  We arrived at the OC Fairgrounds well in advance to catch the shuttle to the start at Fashion Island, but for some reason they were not loading the any shuttles until well after 5:45 am.  Note above that the race begins at 6:15.  I'm not really sure why they did this, but it definitely made a lot of the runners waiting in the lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng shuttle line very nervous.


By the time our bus got to the start, my corral (Corral A) had already taken off.  I had been counting on using the port-a-potty before the start, to um, clear out my stomach since I had to wake up at 4 am and things just don't move at that hour.  Anyway, I decided to just start with Corral B (which we barely made to in time) instead of prolong my start any longer.  Mistake???


Splits:


Mile 1 - 9:20 (crowded start)
Mile 2 - 8:07
Mile 3 - 8:42
Mile 4 - 9:10
Mile 5 - 8:41
Mile 6 - 9:37
Mile 7 - 9:52
Mile 8 - 10:18 (seemingly long climb)
Mile 9 - 9:47
Mile 10 - 9:33
Mile 11 - 9:40
Mile 12 - 9:39 
Mile 13 - 9:25
.19 mi - 8:36 pace


These splits are not the greatest, and that's because I spent the entire race feeling like I was holding back everything I ate yesterday.  TMI, I know, but ugh.  At around Mile 4, I had this really long debate with myself whether or not I should stop to use the port-a-potty or just run through.  I decided to just run through because I'd rather slow down 10 minutes than spend 10 minutes in the port-a-potty.  I'm not sure what most people would have done, but I tend to make these sorts of "just get through it" decisions.


Around that point, I gave up trying to run any good time and decided to just "survive it."  My stomach felt so full that any Gatorade I was taking was revisiting me... so bitter... ugh.  While I could have avoided drinking sports drinks, I was sweating a TON due to the humidity or whatever was overheating me even though it was overcast.  Later, I found out that "The Ukrainian" probably over-sweated since he was fighting calf cramps toward the end and finished slower than usual.  My energy was not where it needed to be today, so I tried to focus on the course itself.  I would say that this course was only a bit less boring than in the past, though I would have appreciated more time near the coast.  By the end, I couldn't even pick up my pace because I really didn't have much left in me.  I knew at around the mid-point that sub-2 was not happening today, and I was okay with that.


When I crossed the finish line, I saw a puddle of red blood on the right side and medics giving CPR to a gentleman on the floor with blood all over his face.  I moved out of the way with the other finishers, but the sight was rather terrifying.  No matter what my time, I'm always glad to finish each race in good condition.  Some people don't.  I hope he's okay.


I have a break for a month before my next race, one that I am really happy to get.  In the meantime, one more race until I get my additional Beach Cities Challenge medal. =)


I still think I like this shirt, even if not v-neck.  The medal is nice, too.

Looking sunken & deahtly = not having a good time (pun intended).