Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2k16 -- On and Out!

With the end of the year upon us, I wanted to reflect on things and look forward as I did last year.

I came into 2016 hoping that things would start settling more after Baby Tuesday (who isn't much of a baby anymore) joined our family.

www,acaseoftheruns.com

At the end of 2015, I was still very, very tired.  Thankfully, sleep came, and as he learned things, became more mobile, and found distraction in many more things, I could breathe a little bit more.  Of course, there are always (many) challenges, but I feel a little more in control now than I did a year ago.

Work has gone pretty well.  I got a lot busier due to re-orgs, which was an adjustment.  Still no promotion (fact: I've never had a formal promotion), but I'm still fine with this because I'm otherwise compensated well and seemingly regarded fine.  I've started reading, cooking, and relaxing more, which has given me a little more sense of balance even though I often feel so crazed and frantic trying to get everything done.

On the health front, 2016 stood out because I had my first ear infection.  Man, those things are terrible!  Being on antibiotics also apparently contributes to secondary infections.  I think I spent an entire month on antibiotics, which of course throws you out of whack.  I also mentioned having knee and wrist pain in this post.  Luckily, those are mostly under control now.  Later in the year, I developed lower back pain, which has really limited how much I run and lift.  I tried the chiropractor, stretching, and massage, which has helped keep it to a minimum.  I was told that most back pain (particularly the kind that I have that is most likely a repetitive use issue) resolves itself in a couple of months, thankfully.  This year has just been a stark reminder of my age and that I need to take care of myself.

Finally, we had some routine changes with "The Ukrainian" being laid off and then later starting a new job.  That was a new frontier for us (as I am usually the one with the questionable job situation), but now that we are on the other side of it for now, we are doing fine on all fronts.

As for my goals for the year, I had some successes and dropped the ball on some.  I'm pretty sure this is the norm for people, so I'll take it.

1. Give more compliments

This slipped in and out of my consciousness, and since I spent a lot of time working remotely, this was kind of difficult on a day-to-day basis when I would only see my family on some days.  I think overall, there was a slight improvement.

2. Complete a round of Focus T-25

I slowly completed Insanity Max 30 (not in sequence, but still!) and started this same process for T-25, though I did not get through yet.  Instead, I've been doing a mix of running, elliptical, strength training, and video workouts, just as I have been for a while.  Somewhere in 2016, I decided to run at least a mile (on average) a day -- 366 -- which I exceeded late in the Summer and then got more lax about counting.  It was supposed to be spread out over the year so that I'd be running at least ~30 miles a month, but since I hurt my back that sub-goal fell to the wayside.

3. Clean up closet/wardrobe

I did clean this, though I feel like its effects are fleeting.  I clean/purge but apparently not enough.

4. Donate blood

I came very close to this at the end of the year when they had a blood drive very close to my house.  However, I was just getting over a cold that would never end and decided to wait.

5. Read 1+ book a month

As of today, I'm at 11 books completed if you don't count the 6 that I used to study for my PHR exam (which I passed, one of this year's highlights for sure).  I did start the New York Times' Essential Guide to Knowledge, which will likely take forever.  I have and know I could read a lot more, but I'm not going to stress over it since reading is supposed to be recreational!

6. Weight

This is the one goal I didn't think I'd be able to cross off my list, but apparently, I reached my pre-pregnancy weight right around the time my son turned two.  I'm not particularly sure how, since I haven't been working out particularly much nor eating exceptionally healthfully.  If I had to guess, I think re-incorporating strength training, relying on more protein for snacks (I ate a lot of protein bars this year), and being busy has helped me.  Now, the holidays have not been kind to me and sending me in the wrong direction, but I know that once the year kicks off and everyone's on their best behavior, I'll be back at it.  Hopefully!!

7. Focus on relationship with husband

Now that the chaos of babyhood has passed, we have been able to spend more time with each other and even went on a first overnighter alone since we became parents.  I think I've come a long way in understanding him, being more patient, and checking in on how we're each doing (this includes expressing what I need as well).  I think I've done really well at showing my appreciation for the many things he does.  Sleep, I tell you, makes everything better.
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Looking forward to the upcoming year, my main focus is going to be positivity.  I know this sounds banal, but I feel that I am habitually negative.  I don't want to send my negative energy everywhere, especially because life is pretty good right now.  First, I need to acknowledge that I'm a very anxious person and must overcome years of habits that would translate anxiety to negativity.  I need to slow down and notice details, read other people better, and not act on assumptions.  This is a pretty lofty goal and one that is hard to measure, but I can try to break it down into a few components:
  • "Road/line rage": Nobody cares if I am upset that they didn't wait their turn or follow traffic laws or even if they've put me into danger, so I need to let it go and look after myself; a few minutes' delay is fine and there's no need for me to steam over it.  Recently, someone cut in front of us in the members' line at the zoo after waiting in a long line.  She claims she had to set up for her son's (who was present) birthday party, which was starting in half an hour.  Since she didn't so much as ask or warn us before butting in, we called her out, and she basically said that we don't understand her need to cut because she spent $600 on this party.  This bothered me for a long time for some reason, and whether entitlement or principles or the fact that kids were present, I should have just let it go.

  • Work: Service first, even when I am overwhelmed.  Not that I am ever overtly negative at work, but I'd like to be the person who is pleasant to be around even when the going gets tough.

  • Home life: Try to be patient with husband and son and not panic if things don't go quite right.  Nobody else gets worked up, so I shouldn't, either.  Modeling positivity will also be important as my son is growing up.

  • Compliments: this was on the 2016 list, and I will continue to work on this

Second, I need to mind my health, which is the root of everything.  I just spent a paragraph talking about my health anomalies in 2016.  I've been actively avoiding my annual blood sugar test, but I'm going to go do it... soon... and deal with the results (hopefully better than last year).  While I can whine that it's unfair that I had a kid and threw my system out of whack, it's probably best that I stay on top of things like this anyway.  Components:

  • Don't skip vitamins: Yes, I got to this point, and this is such an easy fix that will probably help me feel better.

  • Protein: I let this slip during the holidays, but in working on my blood sugar levels, this is going to be a constant goal to hit about 30% a day.  I need to start roughly tracking again.

  • Try a new workout: I want to get back in the running saddle a bit, but I also want to try something new this year.  A barre/TRX/yoga studio is opening near me soon, so I would like to incorporate this stuff into my regular regime.  (If the studio ends up not meeting my expectations, I still at least want to try something new on my own.)

  • Don't exceed weight threshold: As of this writing, I am more or less where I'd like to be weight-wise (not shape-wise, hah!), so my goal is not to gain net weight this upcoming year.  Yes, I know this is supposed to get tougher as one gets older.
That pretty much sums up my goals.  Since there are only two of them (with sub-components that I feel are do-able), this should hopefully help me focus on them.  We'll see!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Beginning the Holidays with a Review Round-Up

The holidays are upon us, and consumerism is now at its peak.  I am not ashamed to admit that I love holiday shopping, especially now that I have nieces and nephews, and yes, a lot of that shopping are gifts to myself. 

I usually save a lot of self-related purchases for this time of year.  I know deals can be found all year long, but I am often not in the mood to shop during the year.  Also, I usually just stock up on things that pretty much last me until this time for year, anyway.

Anyway, along with the backlog of shopping, I also have a backlog of product reviews, some of which would make great gifts for yourself or someone else this holiday season.  I will try to summarize some of my favorite gear of all time in a formal holiday post soon, but I'll start with the below:

Wimi Patella Knee System

I am not sure if it was the turning 31, having a baby, or stopping my glucosamine, but my right knee has been particularly finicky over the past several months.  One off-step causes a sharp pain followed by soreness, so this is one of the many factors that has kept me from running as much as I would like.  Earlier in the year, I had a similar issue with my wrist (which got so severe that it was limiting my daily activities), and I ended up buying a wearing a brace for several weeks before I felt normal again.  So when I was offered to try this knee brace, I figured, why not?



This system comes with a supporting knee sleeve and Velcro brace.  It took me a while to figure out how to get this on, but I think I did okay.  I think the sleeve is fine to wear while running, etc., but the whole system together is probably best-suited to more stationary activities such as weight-lifting, as it's slightly bulky to me.  Maybe it's just that I'm not used to wearing anything like this.  However, when I am wearing it, it does keep me from jerking my knee.

Hana by Xero Shoes


I've reviewed Xero shoes before -- a sandal, which I still wear because it's light, flexible, and stays on my feet.  When I heard that they released a closed-toe shoe, I was excited to try them.  Technically, this is a men's shoe, but I understand that a women's version is not too far behind.  While not a running shoe, per say, they are light and flexible enough to be move around.  I've worn them my fair share of times chasing my kid around, and they also look presentable enough to pass as a fashionable casual shoe.  This combination of comfort and style are important to me since I'm always in a rush.  The soles are minimal, so it really does give you the feeling of being barefoot.


Babytime by Episencial Mighty Shield Bug Repellent

 
 
I've been sitting on reviewing this product for a while, since summer.  However, my area has had an uptick in mosquitos, due to the hot weather we had, and per some conversation with friends, they are possibly here to stay.  Thus, it's nice to have this DEET-free bug-repellent for my son when we can't exactly cover him up.
 
 
I think the hardest thing about bug repellents is remembering to put them on, so I try to keep this next to the sunscreen if we are going to be out late outdoors or going to someplace that I expect to be "buggy."  It has a slight greasy feel (like sunscreen) but otherwise isn't bothersome.
 
 
 
Finally, I received some Mamma Chia products to try.  My son loves pouches, so these are a perfect way to sneak chia into his diet (I also put chia in oatmeal).  I also like slurping these up if I'm feeling particularly dehydrated.  Since the chia seeds are in liquid, they are not hard at all and kind of like very, very small tapioca balls.
 
The bars are chewy and good for deterring hunger.  I found I could only eat half at a time because I guess my normal fiber intake isn't enough to accustom my stomach to a whole bar.


 
 
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FTC Disclaimer: I was provided samples of the products listed above but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive opinion.
 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Preliminary Review of Nike+ Apple Watch (Apple Watch Series 2)

Hey, a picture of me, finally!

I'm not sure why it is that I rarely turn the camera on myself these days.  It must be something about busy hands and focusing my camera on food and a certain toddler.

Late one night, with toddler asleep and husband away, I was clicking around on my AppleTV out of boredom and decided to watch the Apple press conference that had taken place the day before. 

I normally watch these each year, but I couldn't look away, particularly from the new Apple watch.  When the first Apple watch came out, I was pretty much like, "that's nice to have, but I have no use for it."  Then I got a FitBit, which turned out to be a fail for me.  I then just got an old-school watch and had been happily using that (mostly at work) for over a year.  Yes, I did not wear a watch before then -- never needed to because I would either check my phone or be in places with a clock.

What is it about this watch drew me in?  Well, the water-resistance for one -- this means that I wouldn't need to remove it for a shower.  Lazy?  Yes.  The activity tracking integration (including swimming) was the other allure, with heart rate tracking and GPS that works independently of the phone.  While I don't leave my phone at home, it's nice to have the option to track without it.  And, I'll be frank, I want to eventually play Pokémon Go on it.

In terms of "real" uses, the best thing is being able to check e-mail and receive texts and calls, even if my phone is stashed away somewhere.  This is VERY handy when my hands are often full with my son and his things.

So I sprung on this watch as a long overdue gift to myself (probably the most expensive thing I've bought for myself in a long time), waiting for the Nike model to come out in late, late October since I liked the sporty band.  If I'm going to be running with this, it better have some ventilation!



Now that I'm nearly three weeks in with it, I thought I'd give a preliminary review of it in the form of a Pro/Con list for anyone who is considering getting one.




Pros:
  • Nice style, not as "ugly" as I had feared.  I wear this in the office with no comment.  Very light.
  • You can customize the watch face, which helped with the appearance factor.  Mine is set to look like a normal clock face.
  • Water resistant -- you can swim, shower, or bathe your toddler with it.  Will also share that it's been puked on by said toddler, and you'd never know.  You can eject water from it by turning the knob, and the sound-waves from the speaker will spit it out.
  • Decently accurate heart-rate tracking (so far) without the annoyance of a chest strap.
  • Indoor Run: fairly accurate distance detected in spite of my laziness to calibrate it
  • Outdoor Run: GPS integration
  • Can get e-mail, texts, and calls and speak right into it to input into the phone
  • Can turn on Siri without touching buttons
  • Activity reminders telling you stand and move at least once an hour, and "breathe" (guided breathing exercises) reminders
  • Decent number of useful apps: e.g, Amazon, Lyft, Yelp, the thing I use to log into my work VPN, weather, calendar, maps, ApplePay, Skype, even Instagram
  • Notifications come in via little "haptics" that only you can notice
 
Cons:
  • Needs to be charged nightly.  You *might* be able to get a second day out of it if you're not using it intensively (maps, GPS, etc.).
  • This probably user error, but I'm having trouble syncing my Activity to other platforms (even Nike Run Club, which you would think should work since this is marketed by them)
  • Apps have limited functionality and integration (e.g., my calorie burn doesn't automatically roll into the MyFitnessPal app)
  • Siri doesn't always work correctly, but this is true on my phone as well
  • Without locking the watch regularly, it's all too easy to have the maps talking to you all of a sudden in the middle of a meeting (yes, this happened to me) or end a workout prematurely
  • Locking the phone does not appeal to my laziness and adds a PIN, but it's hard to punch in because of the tiny buttons.
As you can see, the Pros outweigh the cons, and most of the cons are due to user error.  Overall, I'm relieved that I am not regretting my decision to splurge yet.  While it hasn't gotten me to become more active necessarily since I'm pretty self-motivated, I think it will be a great tool to have once I kick my running into gear again.  It's pretty much my next FitBit/Garmin rolled into one.
 
I'll keep updating this post as I use this a bit longer, but if you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to address them. 
 
Now, my watch is saying I need to get up. :)
 
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FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this product on my own and am expressing my true opinion.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: Red Ace Organics Beet Supplements

If I could give myself a slight pat-on-the-back for something this year, it would be that my coffee consumption (and let's face it... usually not straight-up kind but mixed with sugar and some kind of faux milk) has gone way down. 
 
That doesn't mean I don't want an energy boost to fuel the daily grind and toddler-chasing, so when I was offered a chance to try these Red Ace Organics beet-juice shots, I went for it.  Truth be told, while I will eat beets, I can definitely live without them, but in this form, I could reap some of their benefits in a concentrated form.
 
 
 
 
I tried the "Greens" version first, though it also comes in straight-up Beet flavor as well as Tumeric.  The greens, as the title suggests, has spinach and kale in it, while the turmeric serves to combat inflammation.  They all taste the same, in my opinion, which might be a good thing.
 
I stored these in my fridge, because they are most palatable cold.  Each one has a slight tang to it, kind of like when you order a veggie juice.  It's slightly viscous (and I'm not a big fan of viscous drinks unless they are smoothies), even after shaking, so I don't think I dwelled on the flavor as much as I could have just to so I could finish the drink quickly.  Overall, it went down fairly easily.  As a warning, though, these didn't sit well for me on an empty stomach, so I'd recommend having it along with, say, a healthy breakfast.
 
 
 
As for the energy factor, I did notice that my usual mid-day slump would happen later than usual.  I'm pretty sure my slumps are just impossible to avoid, but I guess it's better to run on beet juice than syrup and coffee.  I'd definitely recommend anyone avoiding stimulants to give this a "shot."  At the very least -- hey, there are veggies involved, which is usually a good thing.
 
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FTC Disclaimer: I was provided samples of Red Ace Organics to review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Consistency is Key

It seems like I keep falling off the blogging bandwagon, but like running or other exercises, I keep trying to hop back on it.  The daily grind and my general forgetfulness have resulted in me "forgetting" one of my favorite past-times.

Speaking of favorites, Tuesday is definitely doing a lot of growing up lately.  He is so verbal, and I think we're finally approaching a stage where we can really play and communicate with each other.  Being able to understand (some of) his needs is huge, resulting in less frustration for all involved.  In about a month, Tuesday will be turning 2, which is kind of mind-blowing since it has flown by just like everyone says. 

I've been very good about being active regularly, although not-so-good at doing many of the things I used to do for exercise.  Mainly, I used to (even as late as Spring) run more often and for longer distances.  These days, while I do get out there, I take breaks a lot more often because my mental willpower isn't what it used to be.  I've gotten a lot better since the weather started to bob into more Fall-like conditions more recently, so hopefully that gets me on a better path soon.  The race that I did not get to run due to a last-minute cancellation is rescheduled for early March.  I waffle between withdrawing my registration (grandfathered in), trying to train again (ahhhh), or winging it (even more ahhhhh).  Maybe the new year will give me a motivational boost.

Besides running, I actually finished Insanity Max 30.  Of course, not all in a row like it's supposed to be done, but every workout nonetheless.  I crammed some of the last workouts together, and boy, if I had done them on the correct schedule, I probably would have seen some good results.  I know I haven't finished reviewing each of the workouts.  Maybe eventually.  Now I'm doing the same with Focus T-25.

Then finally, I've been trying to keep up with the weight-lifting aspect of fitness.  I've kind of stagnated there due to my lack of visits to the gym.  I usually only do about 20 minutes, twice a week, usually after a little running.  On "leg day" (in quotation marks because it pales in comparison to what it needs to be), I usually do leg presses (I am hovering at the 200-lb point), leg curls either sitting or laying (35-ish pounds...weak hamstrings!), abductor/adductor (about 130 lb for both by the time I max), and then I'll do wall-sits, squat pulses, or single-leg squats on the TRX (suspension area).  On "upper body" day (should probably be separate arm/chest/back days), I usually end up doing lat pulldowns (maybe 70-90 lbs depending on how I feel that day), rows (maybe 55 lbs by the time I max), and then random stuff like lateral raises, rows with free-weights, or shoulder presses.  My upper body, as large as I often perceive it to be, is my weak area.  Carrying around a 30+ lb kid helps, but sometimes I think it's just my legs benefitting from that.

I'm hoping to update here more.  I have some reviews pending, and life's going pretty well in general.  Case in point: me and Nesquik bunny.


I was the primary coordinator for our company's team at the YMCA Stair Climb, an event I've both participated in and coordinated twice.  I decided NOT to participate this year, because coordinating was enough for me.  It is a heinous amount of work for little recognition, so with any luck, I'll be taking a more minor role next year and not go crazy between July and September (although if anyone from my company reads this, I'm sure they will egg me on).

Anyway, I'm off to unwind before bed.  After a year-plus of sleep deprivation, I love being able to sleep decently most nights.  It's something that I took for granted growing up but certainly as an adult, and especially now, I value it very much.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Free

www.acaseoftheruns.com
Life is good.
I guess I haven't been able to keep up as much as I thought I would, but better late than never.

In late July, I took a certification exam.  I believe I have mentioned studying for it a couple of times on the blog, but I was only 50% certain I would pass, so I pretty much felt defeated from the get-go and didn't want to blast it all out there that I was even making the attempt.

I signed up for this in late January, back when Little Tuesday was just barely randomly sleeping through the night.  Something must have clicked in my head at the time as thoughts became more coherent.  Either that, or I was still slightly insane thinking I can prepare for a test with only a roughly 50%-pass rate while still holding down my job and maintaining my new little family life.

A co-worker of mine leant me her study materials, so I slowly chipped away at them -- books, flash card, and practice exams randomly littered the house for five or so months.  I even bought a testing app, which proved to be very helpful when I was playing with my son or on-the-go.  Note that I did pretty poorly on the practice exams, so I wasn't feeling very good about the exam as it approached.

In early July, Pokémon Go came out.  Knowing the exam was coming, I was stressed, and that game paradoxically helped channel it but at the same time, took me away from studying a bit.  By then, though, most of the proverbial hay was already "in the barn," much like the point when you taper before a marathon.  The morning of the exam, I think I sat around hunting Pokémon before I walked into the testing center.

The actual exam was mind-boggling.  I'm the type of person who rarely ever takes the entire time allotment for a test, but I used every darn second of those three hours, even though I was telling myself that I should take a bathroom and snack break at some point.  Knowing they give you the result at the end, I sort of froze when I clicked "Submit..." though the next screen was actually a survey -- hah!  But even as the result did come up, I didn't trust it because it said "Preliminary."

Weeks later, I received this in my e-mail.  I finally got the certificate in the mail this week.

Why am I sharing all this?  Well, I think it's to explain my relative absence from here, in part, and also, it is one of the few tangible accomplishments I've made this year.  Well, besides keeping my husband, home, job, and raising a smart little boy.  Funny how easily those important things are relatively unacknowledged, isn't it?

Anyway, with that huge test burden off my back, I am definitely still feeling the burn out but enjoying reading more and thinking about what else I can tackle next.  Hah!  So much for "freedom!"

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Speaking of "free," I'm still trying to catch up on my product reviews, and this one is very long overdue.  This ToiletTree Rechargeable Toothbrush has taken over my existing electric toothbrush for the past several months. 

I started using electric toothbrushes a couple of years ago because my dental visits kept ending in "you need to floss" when I already did nightly.  Since making the switch, I am not always on top of flossing but don't get such comments anymore, so they definitely do the job!  What I like about this one especially is that you don't need to attach it to a base.  In fact, since we still have the other brushes on the counter, it pretty much charges wirelessly off of those!  Pretty neat!



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FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of the ToiletTree Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush but was otherwise not compensated for providing a positive review.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Milestone Pod

I'm back!  I miss the days when I had infinitely more time to blog, as it really is more fun to express myself in complete sentences than to scroll through social media where I generally default to "Emoji-glish." 

Growing up, writing was one of my favorite hobbies and an area in which I excelled at school.  In fact, I can probably attribute many of my life's decisions to my passion for writing.  Over time, I became too mentally drained to write (thanks, dissertation!), and then I started spending most of my days writing e-mails at work, which has comprised most of my written expression for many, many years outside of this blog. 

Anyway, I find myself struggling to write, even in this casual medium.  I have picked up in my reading again, which is no problem for me, but I guess it will take a while for that to translate into more coherent writing.  I'm pretty convinced that nobody wants to read coherent writing anymore, right??

Speaking of struggles, running has been a bit of a struggle for me since the half-marathon I was supposed to run in June had been postponed.  I have been getting myself out there just so I can catch more Pokémon, but those outings tend to be run/walks, which is probably not going to keep me in shape to sign on to the race when it is rescheduled.  We will see.

A downside to running with the Pokémon app is that I don't run my normal tracking apps on my phone, mostly because having one app on is distraction enough.  Frankly, I haven't really tried to see if it was actually possible, since my phone would probably die from the overload.  Luckily, it was time for me to review another Milestone Pod model, upgraded from last year.  I like the sleek design and its ability to attach to your laces without having to undo them.

Also, the new app is really stylish as well!  It generates a wealth of information, as you can see from the screen shots below.  It even asked me for the shoe I was using to run (go Stabils!!).


 
It is refreshing to see other metrics outside of distance and pace, and over time, I'll figure out how these actually tie into the quality of my runs since they remain relatively short for the time being until I need to ramp up again (hopefully) when my half-marathon is rescheduled.
 
For now, it's a great little tracker that I can use when I am unable to use my phone for tracking or don't have it on me.  It syncs up very quickly, as well.
 
 
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FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of this product but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July Highlights

Whew, it has been a long time since I've posted, and July is already nearing its close.

In a nutshell, I've been playing a lot of Pokémon Go this month (my computer just auto-corrected the "e" in there, wow!) since it came out in early July.  Since I downloaded this game, I've been more casual on my morning runs and taking the appropriate walk-breaks to catch the creatures I've known for... wow... close to two decades.  Running is excellent with this game, because before you know it, you've gone the 2k, 5k, or 10k needed to hatch eggs and hopefully encountered a lot of new Pokémon or PokeStops along the way.  Let's just say I hardly use the treadmill anymore, and I have a gnarly PokeTan now.

I should add that my playing has slowed way, way down over the past couple of weeks because I got what I wanted:
 
Right around the corner from my house!  It was meant-to-be!!

Anyway, I'm still on a strength-training kick.  I usually go to the gym for this, but when I can't/won't, I use these Performance Health Thera-Bands.  These things are pretty amazing -- they have multiple slots where you can anchor something (a door, yourself, etc.) so that you can customize the length/resistance of the band, unlike conventional resistance bands that have the handles built-in.  Also, you can step on them more securely than a tube-shaped version.  I've also been using them to stretch.

These would be excellent for travel (like I do that anymore, hah!) since they roll up into a pretty small ball.  They are also latex-free for anyone who is sensitive to that.



On the consumable goods front, I'm a bit behind in reviewing these things that came in the mail.  First up is the Skinny & Co coconut oil I received (pictured below, left, in a cute sample size).  It tastes and works like other coconut oils I have used, though I've been pouring coconut oil onto cotton pads to help with diaper rash (my son's, not mine!).  It' products are high-quality, raw, and wild-harvested, so definitely check them out if you are looking for a wide array of good coconut-based products. (Discount code: SKINNYCO15)

Fun fact: when Tuesday as born, we were using coconut oil in the hospital so that all those sticky first diapers weren't quite so sticky, and it worked!  However, the nurses frowned upon this since you never know about allergies, which is true, but if you're going to mess up, no better place than the hospital, I guess.


Finally, I got to try CitraGreen, which kind of reminds me of other fizzy tablets that I've tried during races.  It contains B-vitamins, electrolytes, and antioxidants, and is pretty tasty after being fizzed in cold water (which did turn a light green eventually after I took the picture).  I liked the flavor and would definitely pop in another tablet the next time I'm feeling run-down (which is... often!).  This is a good, affordable (~$12/pack of 10 tablets) alternative to my former latte habit.

Anyway, I should have more time to post now that I've crossed a major hurdle that has been on my back for the past few months.  I'll go into that more in my next post, which I'll commit to getting up soon!

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FTC Disclaimer: I was provided samples of the aforementioned products to review but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review, so the opinions posted are my own.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Goals on Hold

We are halfway through 2016 and already deep into Summer, so I thought I'd give an update on the items from my "resolution" post so that I can spend the second half of the year catching up!

It has been a busy six months, so much so that I am struggling to remember most of it.  At the beginning of 2016, I was still nursing, which is hard for me to believe since that felt so long ago.  Tuesday (no longer a baby) has no recollection of nursing of course, since he won't even let me hold him that way for even a second, nor does he acknowledge that part of my body anymore.  He also learned how to walk and is now a total expert. 

The year, so far, has brought a lot of learning at work and cooking toddler meals at home.  It has brought on more sleep, thank goodness, since at the beginning of the year, it was still pretty choppy... and then it took me significant time to adjust once Tuesday started sleeping like a champ.  It has also involved shocking changes with "The Ukrainian"'s work, so we expect the second half of the year will be filled with even more transitions.

Anyway, onto the list:

1. Give more compliments

I don't feel like I've been doing as well at this as I should, mainly because I'm not always in the office, and social interactions outside of this are kind of limited.  (Maybe that should be another goal of mine... but alas.)  I will focus on this more regardless -- I think I said 5 per week, which is really not hard at all, and maybe I'm already hitting this target but need to be more aware of it.

2. Complete a round of Focus T-25

I'm currently on Month 2, Week 2, Day 2 of Insanity Max 30, which ain't T-25 (I guess I just got distracted by an infomercial or something), but the intention behind it is the same as my goal.  I'm doing the workouts in sequence, just not on the schedule since I have other workouts interspersed in there, so I can't really say I'm doing "the program," either.  However, I enjoy getting a great workout in 30 minutes and will likely start T-25 sometime after I'm done.

3. Clean up closet/wardrobe

I sold/got rid of some of my older stuff earlier this year, but somehow my closet still feels wayyy underutilized and still full of things I don't wear, but I think that's partly because I'm still feeling self-conscious about some items and am a creature of habit wearing the same few things over and over again.  I have not been buying clothing lately, so that should help the cause, but I do plan on doing one more clean-out this year.

4. Donate blood

I haven't been able to commit to this yet because I am still carrying my 25-30 lb toddler very regularly (hey, he's only little once, right!), though I'm hoping sometime toward the end of the year, I will feel up to it.

5. Read 1+ book a month

I have read 4 books and 6 (big) study books this year, so that technically puts me behind where I want to be.  I've been focused on an exam I'm taking next month, so after that's done, I hope to catch up.  I miss reading for fun.  One of the books I read so far is Orange is the New Black, which is on Netflix, though I don't really have time to watch... so I read the O-G version.  At some point, I hope to catch some of the episodes to see how it compares with the book, which was very interesting since I don't think I've read any other realistic works on female prison life.

6. Weight

This has been a struggle.  After weaning, I gained five pounds in a month, added on top of what was already an out-of-shape postpartum me, even though I was working out regularly.  I've been bouncing (hah!) back-and-forth over a few pounds, and I'm not getting any closer to my pre-baby weight.  For the past couple of months, I have overhauled my eating and started lifting weights again, so I am definitely better off than I was in terms of body composition (fat/muscle ratio), just not where I want to be yet. 

At the moment, I have been able to work out just a little bit more than before (I'm talking 40 min on the weekdays vs. 30, so nothing huge), though that can change with aforementioned transitions later on this year though with Tuesday up-and-about, I know there will always be activity.  However, I also know that this is the smaller part of the equation -- my diet is so much better than before, and I think it's because I can make better decisions with more rest.  Will I hit the "magic number" by year-end?

7. Focus on relationship with husband

They say that every cloud comes with a silver lining, and let's just say that the silver lining of the aforementioned circumstances has given us more time together.  We've been going out for lunch more, and since I don't have to sleep as early (though I should) as before since I can mostly get a reliable stretch of sleep at night, we've gained that time back even if I'm generally studying or working during it.  With more sleep also comes more patience on my part, so I'm hoping that this helps us ride through the next part of the year smoothly.  Maybe we'll even do a night outing.


Other:

As the year started, I decided to pursue running 366 miles this year, an average of one for every day of the year.  This did not make it onto my original list, but I've been hacking away at this goal for the past six months, so I'm putting it here.  As of now, I hit 256 of those miles, so I think I'm pretty well on my way to this goal.  This is not a lot of mileage, but I haven't really been motivated to run a lot, so in a way, it is. 

I had registered for a half-marathon, so that training did add to the mileage.  I did long runs of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, but as the race approached, I was feeling tired of running, probably due to Summer kicking in and the heat.  Well, the Monday before the race was scheduled, a few wildfires broke out, and ultimately, the race was postponed (supposedly until Fall).  I saw this coming because I had the same experience in 2008, and it's all for good reasons.  A part of me says I will train again and race in what will hopefully be much cooler conditions, but another part of me is disappointed that I will need to ramp up again, especially when I don't have as much motivation and time as I had before.  But until I see the new race date, I'll try not to worry about it and trrrryyyyy to stay in *just* enough shape to do the ramp-up again as needed.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Building Blocks

Since my last post, I've had quite a month.

So far, I've built up to 9 miles in my half-marathon training.  The race is coming up in a few weeks, and while the ramp-up hasn't been as bad as I had feared, I'm still struggling with finding the time and will to check off these kinds of distances.  My crazy mind has also started setting goals, even though my only real goal should be finishing the race.  I am just going to put it out there, though, that it would be really nice to come in under 2:10.  Yes, I've done better, but I haven't been focusing on speed at all, and based on my training paces, I think this is probably where I am going to land.  Now, let's just hope it isn't 90 degrees on race day, which in late June, is not out of the question!

In addition, this month was kind of rough, health-wise.  I had two separate bouts of illness that required a few different kinds of antibiotics to remedy, and I am not one to take medicine very often.  So I'm still trying to focus on boosting my health in the aftermath, although I am feeling pretty okay now.

On a higher note, we went on a family road-trip a couple of weeks ago.  Traveling with an 18-month-old is NOT easy, but it was worth the new experiences.  The little one visited his first amusement park, played on the beach, toured popular attractions, slept like a champ in hotel rooms, ate good food, and swam in a few pools.  I think I need a vacation from that vacation, though!

On a work front, things have been kind of crazy, though I'm still loving it.  We moved to a new office building last week, so now I get to spend my days at a standing desk, which I blogged about before, so we'll see what kind of impact that makes.  I've also been focusing on eating more protein... wayyy (whey?) more protein... which is hard when I'm a self-proclaimed carb-o-holic and dislike most protein sources.

Well, besides cheese, hah!  Oh, and while I know there is a lot of debate out there about protein consumption, I'm experimenting with this for a bit because I still feel like a postpartum blob sometimes, and it will also hopefully help when I take blood sugar tests in the future.

These protein bars from BPI Sports are an exception, though.  They sent me a Cookies n Cream and S'Mores flavor sample, and both were surprisingly soft and didn't have the aftertaste that I'm used to protein bars having.  I would buy these in the future, though these sample sizes are pretty neat, and I know I'm not going to find that size out in the world.  I've gotten pretty good at self-control, though, so cutting bars in half is not entirely out of the question!


I was also sent a sample of SlimSation's pants to review.  Like my lazy shoe pairing?  These did not really fit well on me, even though the design seemed awesome online.  I think I need to be taller and thinner...  I asked for a "small," though.  With summer coming, though, I like having a light-colored pant to wear.


Anyway, I know this post was kind of all over the place, but I'm about to run off to the next thing.  I'm hoping things slow down as summer starts in earnest.  I'm going to try to embrace the heat and longer days... well, as much as one could, anyway!!

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FTC Disclaimer: I was sent samples of the products and was not otherwise compensated for providing a positive review.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Running Post!

Two posts in one week?  This must means that I am publishing these on an automatic schedule, since I'm finding it verrrry difficult to keep up lately.  Still, this post is going to be a fun one for me to write because it has to do with running!!

I've mentioned this here before, but sometime after the new year, I saw that Mark Zuckerberg started a "year of running" in which he'd try to run at least 365 miles this year.  It took me more than halfway through the month to get on board with this, so I was running a lot of catch up and as of last week, I'm at 179 miles for the year, which I believe leaves me in good shape because it's still early May.

Most of my miles were on the treadmill, but I'm doing more outside now, carving out paths around my hilly neighborhood.  The weather has mostly been amenable to running outdoors (for now!), though sometimes it calls for this little number from CozyPhones that "The Ukrainian" is modeling nicely since it doesn't quite look right on my larger head and bunchy hair.  These are great because there aren't any ear-bud-falling-out moments, and it keeps the cord away pretty tidily.

www.acaseoftheruns.com

Also, I was recently sent the book below to review, and this one is kind of near-and-dear to me because I initially used Hal Higdon's training programs when I started running long distances.  Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training is a compilation of many of his half-marathon training plans from novice to advanced, and it pretty much starts out from a pure-beginner's standpoint as to not intimidate.  Much of the content is familiar to me since I have followed Hal for years, but it was nice to refresh my memory...

 
 
...because I'm running a half-marathon next month.  I already announced this on Instagram, but now it's on the blog record.  It was sort of an impulse decision.  I had wanted to run my 30th half-marathon (which is what this will be) before I ended year 30, but alas, that did not pan out for various reasons, mostly because I didn't feel I was ready to train or wake up early.  Of course, I was also nowhere near in-shape, which also contributed.
 
So I'm STILL not totally in half-marathon shape, but I have done a 5, 6, and 7-milers in my ramp-up because my previous post-partum distance record was about 5 miles that I think I did once last year.  I'm going totally "novice" and am probably going to peak at 10 or 11 miles because I didn't have as many weeks as I would have liked to ramp up any higher.  So far, the runs have been going fairly well considering this is kind of uncharted territory for me again, and nowadays, I am training on much hillier terrain, which I hope will help carry me through my race since it's flatter. 
 
I feel like a beginning again in many ways, as I often second-guess myself.  For example, each week that I go another mile longer, I start feeling my favorite ole' right calf tightening.  I tweaked my ankle on my last long-run in the trail-y area.  Also, I haven't bothered to wear compression socks for this, mostly because I prefer running in pants these days, but I may consider wearing them again starting next week????  And I should probably start carrying hydration with me.  I also haven't decided if I want to try to train to finish the race without fuel or not, but whatever I decide, I better start incorporating soon, and all my old energy things are expired.  If this was Instagram, I'd be using a hashtag along the lines of #newoldrunnerproblems .
 
As for goals, I am not fast by any means, so I really just want to finish the race in one piece and preferably not be walking a lot.  I haven't been walking during my training but fully expect that things can go awry on race day.  More specifically, I am hoping I can run this at pace I've been training at so that I don't take forever.
 
Needless to say, I am excited about rounding out my half-marathon count and finally doing something that I missed in my two-ish years of gestating and being a mom.  I can't say whether this will be a one-time thing, since yes, my priorities have changed, and it really is a commitment in both time and energy when I do have other goals, too.  So we'll see how this next month or so goes.
 
 
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FTC Disclaimer: I was sent samples of the above-mentioned products to review but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive opinion.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: INSANITY Max 30 - Sweat Intervals


Happy Monday, everyone!  It's already May, and Mother's Day weekend came and went.  It felt really early this year, but then again, everything feels like it sneaks up on me these days. 

I spent the weekend with my in-laws and niece and the extended version of my nuclear family, and by that, I mean all my sisters and their families.  It's always a good time having a bunch of kids under 5 (and mostly under 3) running around my parents' house!  And of course, I spent lots of time cuddling my little one, who was getting over a bug and let me snuggle him and cut his nails without a fight!  I called the easy nail clipping my Mother's Day gift.

Anyway, it's back to reality.  I've been reviewing the Insanity Max 30 program, and I'm getting really close to the end of the first month, doing the workouts consecutively but not on this schedule since I didn't want to give up running.  More on that later this week. ;)

I did Sweat Intervals all four times (as prescribed on the calendar) before getting to this review to make sure I captured my feelings about it over time.


At the beginning of Sweat Intervals, Shaun T says, "This workout is called Sweat Intervals, and you're about to find out why."  At the end, after the stretch portion, he then says, "...come back; don't be afraid."  Each time I popped this DVD in, though I was afraid, though.  To start off, after the regular warm-up, there is no actual water break, just a brief stretch.  Then, the actual workout starts.

The first portion involved moving jabs, push-up punches, and squat lunges.  You can see a lot of the cast "maxing out" already, which makes me feel better about feeling like death.  I can outlast many of them by this point, but it really varies by how I'm feeling that morning.  The breaks come about every 5 minutes, and they are much needed by then.  One comic relief in this workout is the appearance of Shanita, one of the original Insanity cast members that I briefly made fun of here because she's always quitting.  However, I don't blame her for pooping out early in this video!

As the workout goes on, you end up doing things like wide pike-ups (this is usually when I "max out," only about 11-ish minutes into the workout), ski abs, hop-hop runner... it feels like a lot because my quads usually feel heavy and don't really have a chance to fully recover.  I guess I'm not supposed to be fully recovering during such a short workout.  And just when you're kind of dying by the end, squat obliques, hit the floor, and cross-jabs are thrown in. 
 
 
This is definitely one of the more difficult workouts on Month 1, although they are all hard.  I just get an extra pang of dread when this one comes up.  Also, you're supposed to do the Ab Attack (10 minute that I mentioned in my first post afterward.  I think I actually followed through with this half the time due to time constraints that I had on those particular days.  Yes, I still battle time issues even with such a short workout... blah!

I have two more workouts to review before I get to Month 2, again, trying to go through them a few times before recording my thoughts.  I'm pretty freaked out about getting to the next set of DVDs, because as I said, these Month 1 ones are already pretty difficult!

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FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this product and was not compensated to provide a positive review.  I am not affiliated with Beachbody in any way.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Getting in Gear - the "31" Edition

My birthday is this week, and the first thing I have to say about that is...
 
...wow, that came up quick(ly).  Pretty sure that's going to be my reaction every year from here on out.  I'm not sure if it's my aging brain or the whirlwind of parenting that is making time pass disproportionately quickly compared to my younger days.
 
Speaking of younger days, here's the little one, who is 17 months today!  Lately, he's been refusing to let me feed him, so there are a LOT of messy times.  This picture below is slightly dated, and he is actually much, much cleaner about it now.  Other than that, he's started saying some words and thinks that the world is his oyster.
 
www.acaseoftheruns.com
 
Oh, so back to 31, the number of flavors they used to have at Baskin Robbins.  I am definitely feeling like I am getting "up there" in age!  I am also somewhat embarrassed to admit that I've hit up this establishment a couple of times this past year... alone!
 
 
Looking back, thirty was the year that I started feeling somewhat human again... make that, the second half of the year once sleep improved.  I'm finally at a point where I think I can commit to healthier choices so I don't feel like I need to hide behind baggy clothing so much.  Besides times when I had to watch my intake, I was easy on myself these past couple of years because I often felt hungry and deprived.  If I couldn't have freedom/sleep, then at least I could eat when I felt like it, right?  I generally ate healthy things, but I also ate them whenever and in whatever portion.  Although I worked out regularly, this clearly was not something I wanted to do long-term.
 
So here's to hoping that 31 will be a healthier year!
 
To start off, I have been sitting (lol) on some fitness product reviews.  The first is this Card Ninja smartphone wallet.  It's a great idea since it's pretty easy to dash out of the house and remember your phone but not the other stuff you might need, like money, your license, etc.  I live close to a grocery store, so I sometimes end up walking/running there, and there's nothing worse than starting off and then realizing you didn't bring your post-it with your shopping list.  Yep, that happened to me, and yes, I also realize I could have gotten that on my phone somehow.  A plus -- it's reflective!
 
 
Second, this Flip Belt has been a staple on my runs outside.  I had to get a new running belt because I can't find my older one for the life of me, which is sad because it means I haven't been needing it and also because it was a good belt.  I am so happy with the Flip Belt, though, that I am even showing my very much in-progress pre-run abs so that you can see it on a person rather than on a table.  I really like that I can cram my phone (+case) securely in the flaps, and there is a zippered compartment for stuff that I am paranoid about.  I was told it can even hold a passport.  Finally, it has a little hook for my key, and the cord stretches so I can open/close the door without removing it from the belt. 
 
I bought this one at the Surf City expo, proving that yes, you can buy stuff at an expo if you're not even running the race!  Truth be told, it does ride up a teensy bit, but it is very, very minor, coming from someone who is easily annoyed by stuff like that.
 
www.acaseoftheruns.com

Finally, here are some Perfect Fit meals that I was sent to try.  They are available at Albertson's (Safeway) and can hang out in the fridge for a while or frozen.  These things have saved me on certain busy nights, as they contain protein, veggies, and a side.  I'd split the portion with "The Ukrainian" and add rice, though I have also just eaten the entire thing myself just by itself.  I like that they are high in protein and are generally "clean" meals on their own.

This one below is the Chipotle Barbecue Chicken, which wasn't as spicy as I feared.  I should mention to my longer-time readers that yes, I am still eating meat right now.  I spent a few years as a 99% vegetarian, then added fish, then in particular when I had to manage my blood sugar during my pregnancy, I started eating meat regularly.  Nowadays, I have cut down and generally only do fish and poultry and am not sure what I'll end up doing in the future. 

 
I especially love the shirt that I got with them!

 


Anyway, if anyone is wondering what I want for my birthday, I think I've already received the gift of generally consistent sleep.  I think I keep mentioning that here, but man, it's a big deal so I finally have my nights back... and even some mornings!  Besides that, some time off work so I can shop at the mall would be amazing right now.  I've been trying to de-frump myself and could use a bit of a wardrobe refresh and makeup.  But one thing at a time!

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FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of the Card Ninja and Perfect Fit meals but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review, so... just posting my true opinion!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: Insanity Max 30 - Tabata Power


In my previous post, I mentioned that I was trucking along the Insanity Max 30 program, so now I'm back to review the second DVD in the set.

Tabata Power focuses on a "20 seconds on, 10 seconds off" pattern.  While that might sound like a lot of rest to some, those 10 seconds become much, much needed as things move along.

The workout starts with a five-minute warm-up, and then a series of lower-body exercises that follow the 20/10 pattern.  There are a lot of lunging/small jumping moves in this part of the workout, so those 10 seconds are great for a shake-out of the legs.

The second part of the workout focuses on the upper body, and I know I've probably mentioned this before on this blog, but upper body is definitely a weakness of mine, even though I've been doing a lot of kid-carrying this past year.  Shaun T leads you through a series of different push-ups, some of which are pretty much impossible for me to do at the moment, but I give it my best shot.  For instance, the first move is "plyo pushup," which basically means you "pop-up" when you are pushing up.  I do attempt it, but I find that I am really just popping one hand up at a time, but I think it's the effort that counts until I can actually do it, right?


The section ends with many, many tricep dips.  On the upside, I think my arms have benefitted in their tone from this and the push-ups.  Then, back to the lower body, including Power Jumps, which are NOT my favorite.

The next part is abs, which is mostly a lot of scissoring-type moves.  The last five minutes are a combination of everything I just described, ending with a whole minute of Power Jumps.  This is the part when I'm glad that there isn't an "Ab Attack" portion on this DVD.


My next review will be of Sweat Intervals, which is quite a beast, though I could say the same of pretty much everything so far. 
 

 
One thing I really like is hearing the cast members discuss their "max out" time at the end of the workouts.  During the workout, they run up to a blackboard and write down the time when they need a breather, so they can use that to reflect upon in that ending segment.  It makes them seem more relatable, even though they LOOK a lot more fit than the average person (ahem, me).  In Tabata Power, my first "max out" point is when they start the push-up portion, which is around minute 9.  I would be curious to see if I ever get past that point!


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FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this product and was not compensated to provide a positive review.  I am not affiliated with Beachbody in any way.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Checking In

I remember when "checking in" meant finding your current location on Foursquare, but since those times, the app tanked, and ain't nobody got time to check in everywhere anymore.



There really isn't a lot of "everywhere" to check into, anyway.  I'm usually either at home, at work, at the grocery store, picking up Baby Tuesday, or taking him to a select number of places that I wouldn't care for people to know, anyway.

March is nearly over, and for a month that normally is as slow as molasses, it has pretty much just come and almost gone.  In about a month, I will be 31.  I wonder if 31 will "hit" me hard, since I was still is a postpartum whirlwind when I turned 30 and had it not been for the date on the calendar, I would not have known that this went by.  I definitely feel a lot older than I was, though.  Most of the time, I am tired and feel unfit and a piece of work in general when I don't really have the time to work on myself.  I'm lucky if I have 5 minutes to get ready for anything.  What also could use some work is my brain -- I am having a hard time focusing on studying for an exam I'm taking in a few months, and I frequently do inane things like go to the grocery store without the shopping list that I put RIGHT BESIDE my keys so I wouldn't forget it.  If this is what the 30s are like, I am bracing myself.

Lately, I'm more focused on the number of months Baby Tuesday has reached (16!).  He's irresistibly amazing and more and more like his father every day.

www.acaseoftheruns.com

I have to be careful what I say around Tuesday these days, as his comprehension is more than I thought.  I used the word "dinner" in passing in a conversation, and the next thing I know, I'm being pulled to the highchair and expected to pull out a meal earlier than usual.  His newest thing is learning to answer when I ask stuff like, "What sound does a tiger make?"  So adorable!

Although I've had a cold for most of this month, I've run 29 miles this month as of this publishing and 112 miles for the year (my goal is to run ~1 mile per day this year).  This is just enough for me to incorporate other things like Insanity and Physique 57 to keep me from getting bored.  Running on the treadmill has become slightly more bearable now, but that's because I'm on there for relatively short periods of time and I'm not on it every time/day.  I don't feel like I'm progressing or getting fitter, though, which is kind of a bummer but I've consistently worked out 5 days a week and am at least proud of that effort.

Sometimes, I wonder if things will ever be as they were, but I try to remember that I was always a casual runner (I shouldn't kid myself and tell myself otherwise!) and although that looks different now, a casual runner is what I can remain.  I recently agreed to become a LEGEND Brand Ambassador partly because the line appeals to athletes of all levels.  I got to try their compression sleeves, which I really liked because they were more comfortable than other compression gear I've tried (affiliate link in case you're interested), comfortable enough to wear casually without the some of the difficulty of peeling them off.  I don't think you need to be a super athlete to wear compression gear, as it even comes in handy when you're doing certain types of plyo workouts

I almost registered for a half-marathon for early next year because it was taking place very close to me so wouldn't require a lot of time commuting.  However, it was already over $100 to enter this far ahead, and I can't commit to paying that much to run in my own stomping grounds.  I'm sure I'll be kicking myself for this later, but hopefully before that, I will stumble upon something that will work out with my schedule and won't be so hilly.  Heck, I should probably just set aside some time and run that distance on my own, for free, if I just want to prove to myself I could still do it.

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FTC Disclaimer: I received a sample of LEGEND products as an ambassador but was not paid to provide a positive review.  I will be credited with any purchases made through affiliate links associated with LEGEND.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Review: INSANITY Max 30 - Cardio Challenge

I have been sitting on this review for quite a while, as I have had the INSANITY Max 30 set since last summer and am just posting a review of the first workout now.

If you've been reading here for a while, I am a huge fan of Insanity (it's supposed to be all capitalized but I am going to leave it like this from here on out).  I've done the 60-day program twice and some of the workouts here and there a countless number of times over the past 4-5 years.  I also own Focus T-25, which I should really get on soon, but I keep coming back to Insanity!

What keeps me coming back to Insanity is:
  • challenging but do-able workouts
  • maximize time spent by working out different body parts at a rigorous pace
  • no equipment needed
  • doesn't require much space
  • Shaun T is motivating
  • workouts really do produce results in fitness and appearance if program is followed
This is my second half-attempt at doing the program.  I have not been able to commit to doing a program because I don't want to cut out running right now, so I've been slowly doing this program with "everything else" in between.  While I realize this is not how it's supposed to work, I do feel like my fitness level is increasing thanks to this program.  The huge upside of Max 30 is that the workouts are, as you can guess, 30 minutes long, so the 45-60 minute commitments of regular Insanity are cut in half, which is huge!

So far, I have slowly cycled through a couple of weeks of the program, which actually translates to me doing each DVD a few times since that's how the calendar works.  With all of my random starts, though, I've done the Cardio Challenge workout the most number of times, so I'm reviewing it now.


The Cardio Challenge workout, besides being an all-around good cardio workout, serves as a gauge of progress (Insanity veterans will know that as the "Fit Test").  Basically, you work out until you need to take a break outside of the ones given and then record that time as your "Max Out" time.  The first time I did this workout, I "maxed out" at around the 7-minute mark, which was kind of demoralizing, but I started making it to 9, 12, and most recently, I miraculously didn't have to take an additional break at all through the 30 minutes.  Maybe I wasn't pushing hard enough, because apparently this feat is not possible.


Much like Insanity, the workout starts with about 5 minutes of warm-ups, which don't really feel like a warm-up at all and just goes right into it.  In fact, just like Insanity, the warm-up is one of the hardest parts of the workout for me.  In this case, there is a lot of jumping-jack-type moves in the warm-up, so my calves already start to tighten up in the first few minutes, but once you make it to the first break, the rest of the sequences are considerably easier (hah!) to get through.

The folks in the video don't drink water during the first water break.  I sometimes do, depending on how well I've hydrated prior, but I like to use the break to loosen up my legs.  Then, there is a sequence of moves that is repeated three times, followed by another water break, and this pattern continues until the 30 minutes are up.  The moves are reminiscent of those in Insanity but with minor changes.  For example, there is this move called "hit the floor" that I really hated, but the reincarnation of this move takes out the "hands in the air" part of it, which makes the move easier but picks up the pace.



The great thing about these DVDs is that you can set it up so that you only see the "modifier" on the screen.  This person shows the lower-impact version of each move, which can help lessen the blow of some of these workouts.  Since I haven't had problems with the impact, I generally don't follow the modifier unless I really can't crank out another rep along with the rest of the gang.  This happens mostly in some of the other workouts.  I also like that the timer at the bottom is much more sophisticated and accurately shows the timing segments and the name of the moves, along with lines showing an upcoming water break.  It really does apply the whole "breaking a task into small pieces" thing!

There is a quick cooldown at the end of each workout, which is an active stretching that is welcome after all that intensity.  Cardio Challenge also has a 10-minute add-on called Ab Attack, which is 10 minutes.  I sometimes have time to get to this, but man, it's a TOUGH ten minutes, or maybe my abs are still weak from baby-ing.  The ten minutes alternates sitting/laying and plank ab moves that go on for a minute each, but I'm honestly dead by the third minute or so.  Here is where I either modify or take more breaks than I should.  As much as I dread these 10 minutes, it's still a short commitment.  I keep telling myself that when I master Ab Attack, I might finally get close to my pre-baby shape... though at the moment, that all seems impossible.


I no longer wear devices when I work out, so I don't have a calorie-burn for this, but I would imagine that someone my size (petite, average BMI) would burn around 250 calories because it's 30 minutes of cardio that is more involved than running when you're following along correctly.  I know some of the other DVDs are more strength-based, so the total burn would be lower.  For 30 minutes, I think this is excellent, and more importantly, you definitely feel like the 30 minutes were well-spent!

As you can see, I definitely recommend Insanity Max 30 for anyone who is pressed for time.  I can't say enough good things about Shaun T and am glad I have more variety that also involves being able to still work out with him.  Besides how great shape he's in, I feel like his motivation is not annoying or cheesy at all.

I'll be back soon to review the other Month 1 DVDs!

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FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this product and was not compensated to provide a positive review.  I am not affiliated with Beachbody in any way.