Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Physique 57 - Prenatal

Of course, it wasn't going to be long until I started reviewing prenatal stuff, right?  I don't plan on exclusively writing about baby/pregnancy things, but I did have these reviews ready and will see how it goes from there.

As I've mentioned many times, I've been using Physique 57 (P57) to keep in shape, even before my pregnancy (which still feels weird to type).  It is a great workout that keeps me fit without all the jarring of other activities.

I'm in the camp that believes that, well, I'm pregnant, not invalid.  My doctor keeps telling me I can pretty much do whatever, as long as I'm not at risk of falling, overheating, or lying on my stomach or long periods on my back.  However, because I hadn't been running as much in general this year, it's kind of hard to keep up now, especially since it feels like most of the terrain in my neighborhood is uphill and it's now summer. Mechanically, I can say that my mobility isn't nearly what I hoped it would be due to some stretching and associated pain, so I guess everyone is just built differently.

Also, I am embarrassed to admit that hearing people's comments about running/jumping during pregnancy scare me in spite of my research that tells me it's fine.  I figure I can come back to that stuff later when it's more comfortable both physically and mentally.  I used to think that this would be like the end of the world for me, but it really hasn't.  Fitness can be defined in SO many ways, and taking a relatively short break from one activity in the grand scheme of things is no big deal, especially because it's for a *very* great cause.  Thus, I think barre-type workouts could be a great for any fitness routine, even my ever-changing one, because it tones large muscle groups while still providing cardio.

I'll elaborate on what I'm doing for exercise these days in a later post, though I'll throw in that besides limits in my activities, I've been very consistent.  For now, as I approached the end of the first trimester, I started skipping the ab portion of the regular Physique 57 DVDs but otherwise proceeded as normal.   Even better, I was able to try the Physique 57 Prenatal workout that is available for rent on their website.  A two-day rental is $5. 

The instructor is in her second trimester, with two (pretty bad-@$$, I think) third-trimester ladies behind her.  One of them shows easier modifications. Overall, I thought the instructor was peppy and kept saying stuff like, "wrap around your baby," but it wasn't too annoying.  You see, it has been hard for me to find prenatal videos that are challenging and not reminding me that I have to stay in shape for pushing or something.

The 36-ish minute video is broken up into these sections:

- Arms:
With a "heavier" set (~5 lbs.), you start with a lot of bicep curls and lifts holding the weights away from your body.  Admittedly, this actually felt quite tough, but then again, my arms have always been a weaker area of mine.  I don't think the arm section is modified much for pregnancy except maybe that weights don't go over your head.  Later, you move to 3-lb. weights, but it's still a burn.  There was even a push-up section, and one of the third-trimester ladies was doing it the regular way (not on knees).  Hope I will be the same!

- Thighs:
Using the back of a chair as a support, the thigh portion is similar to regular P57 workouts, besides spending less time with your heels up.  Again, I still felt the burn with this one, especially in the sort of sumo squat position pushing your thighs back.  A second thigh section uses the playground ball in between your knees, squeezing and pulsing the inner thighs.

- Seat:
The first part is similar to regular P57 workouts where you stand at the chair holding the playground ball with the back of your bent leg.  Afterwards, you move to the floor and lay on your side (on a big wedge/cushion, but I used a big pillow) and do leg lifts and circles.  So yeah, these definitely burned and felt difficult by the end.  Both parts are repeated for the second side.

- Abs:
Working abs is a strange thing, but they set it up so you're lying on the big wedge and raising your legs and such.  It's quite involved for prenatal ab work, but I think it's comfortable enough to keep at it, and they do encourage breaks if needed.  There is also some lower back work involving pelvic tucks.

Stretching is incorporated throughout, and it makes me feel good to stretch at this point without overdoing it.

Since I was only able to rent/access this video online, I'm pretty sure I will mostly be sticking to my regular DVDs, keeping in mind the variations seen in this video and slowing down as needed.  I definitely want to keep active as time goes on, and hopefully I'll look as good as the girls in the video?  Hah!

FTC Disclaimer: I was able to try this workout as a promotion from Physique 57 and was not compensated to provide a positive review.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 18 - A Case of the Growing Family

I'm currently on the 18th week of a 40-week program, of sorts.  Had this been a marathon training program, I'd be tapering =)

Spoiler: Nope, I'm not running a marathon anytime soon.  And yes, I dropped hints.

Very soon after my darling nephew's arrival earlier this year, I found out that I was pregnant.  I remember after one of our visits to him in the hospital, "The Ukrainian" and I hinted to each other that a baby in our near future felt right.  Since I sometimes feel very much like a child myself and have no close friends in the parent boat, I was wavering on this possibility.  Little did I know, the decision had already been made.

Seeing those two lines was such a brief and small moment, yet one that would change everything.  I think it took several weeks for the true impact to start sinking in, and in many ways, it still is.  I had this kind of moment again when "The Ukrainian" and I heard the baby's heartbeat at my first ultrasound.

Notice any bump-age here (9+ weeks)??
I don't really have recent pictures of myself,
so you'll have to wait until another post
to see the [what I deem to be huge] second
trimester bump.
Today, the baby is just over 17 weeks along, thus, we're on the 18th week by my count.  This puts his or her arrival around the end of November or perhaps early December.  I last saw the little guy or gal doing its thing at 16.5 weeks and so far, everything looks good.  However, my second trimester blood tests are still being processed, and the anatomy scan is actually very soon, so I still worry about all the unknowns (stupid Google!).  Still, as nothing in life is guaranteed, I think it is finally just time to embrace and enjoy this experience.

A (long-ish) side note:
Against what some people might have suspected, I did not skip out on running LA Marathon for pregnancy reasons.  This would have happened either way (as I describe in this post).  However, I HAD signed up for the Big Sur 21-Miler last year, knowing that I could possibly be pregnant by the time the race rolled around and that I'd just wait and see how things panned out.  Long story short (because I know everyone has opinions/critiques when it comes to pregnancy and parenting and such, and I don't really want to hear them), I did my research, cleared my participation with my doctor, and carefully walked/ran following the instructions I was given.  The medal is currently hanging in the future nursery.
Gratuitous picture of the contents of my uterus.
(12.5 weeks, a.k.a., an eternity ago)
Anyway, the concept of being someone's mother is very, very foreign to me, but I have long envisioned a child of my own bringing out the best (and worst, I'm sure) in me.  We have just started telling people recently, which makes it all the more real.  Every time someone says, "Congratulations on your pregnancy!" I start thinking, "I'm going to have a pregnancy?!"  I have the same sentiment when the phrase "when you deliver" comes up at the doctor's office.  This is dumb, but I have always seen pregnancy and that whole she-bang as something that happens to other people.  Time to grow up (and out).

Also, in the many emotional flurries I've been having, I have been thinking about my own upbringing.  "The Ukrainian" and I both came from strict immigrant families, so I definitely think we will be strict parents.  I am definitely jumping ahead here, but I want our child to be confident, self-sufficient, yet humble, and always, always with the feeling that he or she is loved.  That last part is already very true.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Can't Avoid Summer

Today is supposedly the first day of summer.  If you've been reading here for a while, heat is my enemy.  Even if I'm not running, I can't stand waking up to excessive bright lights and realizing it's approaching 80 degrees when I'm still in bed.

Summer also means that my work wardrobe is limited.  I'm not big on wearing dresses, so the same rotation of cool flowy tops + flowy cardigans probably annoys the heck out of my co-workers.

I should be used to our long summers by now.  In Southern California, I feel like summer lasts on and off between March and November.  Not kidding; my wedding date was in mid-November, and the weather remained pretty much summer-like until two days before the ceremony.

On the upside, we have been able to eat dinner in our back yard and take evening walks.

On the downside, I have little or no desire to cook or bake.  The last grand baking effort I had was for Mother's Day, which I silently patted myself on the back for, because baking cookies is not my favorite thing.  Anything I can't bake in one go/batch is too much effort... ;)

Another upside -- a bounty of food stuffs from our garden.  We cheated and bought a tomato plant at Home Depot a while back, which has since produced maybe 15 delicious tomatoes.  The cilantro was grown from scratch in late March/early April, though by now, they have sprung into flowers and are obsolete.  I will have to collect the seeds and try again in the fall....  I fully admit that I'm a gardening "n00b," but that just gives me something to work on.  Well, in addition to running, though I've mostly been walking in the evening rather than trying to run in such conditions.

Admittedly, I'm definitely in a funk lately both personally as well as professionally.  I had dinner with an old colleague recently who tried to convince me that I am capable of more than I think, in a time when I feel like I have control over nothing.  How did I go from an ambitious grad student to someone who is kind of stuck in some sort of stagnation, just hanging on long enough to get by?  How did I go from running... to basically not?  Cooking/baking a storm to ... well, you get the point.

At least my house is clean, and I've been reading a lot of books??

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day 2014

I have to admit that this National Running Day kind of snuck up on me.  In the past, I had a lot more time and energy to properly celebrate this holiday (see 2013 and 2011), but today, the extent of my running so far has been between trains because of delays... again.  I have not done much running since Big Sur, if that counts.

But in spirit of it all, I will talk about running, which is still one of my favorite subjects.  First, I found this Twitter handle this morning, @RunnersandCats, and got such a kick out of the random cats placed in shots of runners.  Twitter has kind of become my "running vicariously" outlet, as I get to see people log in workouts while I'm dogging it at my desk.  Of course, this is a good and bad thing, or maybe this means I need to add more people who are out there dogging it with me.

As for my next race, I'm guessing it will be early next year.  I was counting on an Independence Day race to occupy my summer, but it is not happening this year, which is pretty sad.  With the marathon/half-marathon that takes place in my city canceled as well, I won't even have something to go out and spectate.  Although I've been encouraging him, "The Ukrainian" has no race plans for the remainder of the year and will probably ramp up for Surf City in February, which is around the time the annual Firecracker Run will come around.  I plan on collecting my next medal (a ram!) there.

Finally, I've been lagging behind in reviewing some things because I haven't been able to test them as quickly as I'd like.  Below are some Swiftwick socks that I was sent to review.  The Pursuit line of these socks are long and cushiony.  I haven't been wearing them to run because of the hot weather, but they are supportive and great for other activities, as well.

Below is the Sustain line, which I frequently wear to work out.  I like the arch support, but I find the toe area to be pretty constricting.  With my imperfect feet, this is pretty uncomfortable, so I wouldn't use this for running.  I think it would be great for most people, though, as it is a nice thickness -- not too thick or thin.

The Aspire line is much like the Sustains, except less constricting and slightly less supportive.  Thus, these are my favorites for running and other exercises.  I also love the shocking color!  Overall, if you are looking for some nice new running socks, I'd recommend these!

If you're still reading, make sure you get some miles done today on my behalf ;) today!  I can't believe it's already June.  It feels as though I recently slogged my way through New Years' Eve (because I was ill) and wondered what the year would hold.  Soon, it will be time to assess how I'm doing on my resolutions.  Oh wait, I didn't really make any, but looking back at my first post of the year, maybe I can do an update??

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent samples of Swiftwick socks to review but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive opinion.