Sunday, April 29, 2012

What I Love About Sundays

There are so many things I love about Sundays.

Starting with Church. What better way to start the day than by spreading the word of God.

Followed by groceries and flowers. I love keeping fresh flowers in the house! Hubby is a huge fan of protea (pictured above). I've made it a new habit to pick up fresh flowers every Sunday to brighten the entryway throughout the week.

Photo and recipe courtesy A Couple Cooks.

Another thing I love about Sundays is having time to try new recipes. I saw this Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese featured on Sacramento Street earlier this week and pinned it right away for Sunday lunch. It was subsequently re-pinned about 100 times.

I love having a little extra time on Sundays to spend on crafts. This artwork featured above is a gift for a very special little baby girl named Blair. A tutorial for this craft and others like it can be found here.

And last, but certainly not least, I love spending Sundays with my itty bitty family.

What do you love about Sundays?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nothing Says BAMF like Neon Pink Chalk

So I wanted to write a quick post to talk about tonight's workout because I felt like a bad@$$ superstar!

See those numbers written in HOT pink chalk on the gym floor? Those are my reps. There is something completely primal about etching your workout on the gym floor in pink chalk. Ok, so cavemen may not have had pink chalk, but there was red pigment around more than 15,000 years ago, so it's kind of the same thing.

Cavemen probably also never did overhead squats. They were missing out.

Remember my first CrossFit workout post? My first official workout involved overhead squats. I can lift weight over my head, but when I have to squat too, it adds a new degree of difficulty. My technique was awful. My max weight was 40 lbs for a single rep.

Today's workout was as many reps as possible in a single minute, rather than as much weight as possible in a single rep. So naturally, my trainer thought my best form was with an 18 lb bar. I realize that isn't much weight, but I can still celebrate that I successfully stuck out both my butt and my chest for today's squats, and didn't fall on my face. 

Huge improvement in nearly one month!

The"B" stands for Burpees. As in Bob Harper's favorite form of torture exercise. My husband gets pumped up when we watch Biggest Loser now and he recognizes the workouts that Bob prescribes. Don't tell him that I told you he watches the Biggest Loser with me...

The secret to burpees (which a fellow gym member let me in on last week) is to not stop moving. Burpees are just like running. The second you stop, it's over. You lose your momentum and your brain starts to tell you that you can't go on, even when you're body is eager to keep moving.

You. Just. Don't. Stop.

Last, but not least (unless you're counting my reps), was toes to bar. Theoretically, you hang from the pull up bar and lift your toes to touch the bar. But if you're me, it looks a little more like this:

Hey, nobody is perfect. Looks like I have my next exercise to improve upon picked out already.

(Side note: Unfortunately, hubby and I had to miss out on the Sole of the City 10K. We had to attend a funeral instead. If you're looking for a recap of the race, pop on over to Shoulda Ran Faster.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Death by Feather Duster!

Yesterday was a long day. A very long day.

I was ultra productive this weekend, getting in a 5.5 mile run, a lunch with friends, lots of Outlet shopping, Sunday morning Church, grocery shopping, car cleaning, laundry, and some arts and crafts... what I didn't get was ample amounts of sleep.

Monday afternoon included a nice trip to the salon after work. It was a quiet trip, as there were only three stylists working at the time. I enjoyed a nice glass of wine and some good conversation with my stylist (the one who introduced me to CrossFit).

Because we have a 10K race this weekend, this week is a fairly timid week as far as training goes. My intentions were to run an easy two miles when I got home from the salon. At least, those were my intentions pre- drinking a glass of wine at the salon.

When I returned home, I was ready to hit the hay. But as I pulled up to the house, my hubby was sitting on the front porch. Straight away I could tell something was off. We will call this sign number one.

He greeted me pleasantly, and assured me everything was ok as he helped me carry my things inside from the car. Sign number two that things were not right.

As I took my stuffed pepper out of the oven that he had warmed for me from the weekend's leftovers, he offered to get me a glass of water. Sign number three, for those of you who are counting.

And then he dropped the bomb.

"I have a surprise for you," he said. Go on...

Last week, we found out his uncle, who has been ill for quite some time, passed away. We knew his mother would be coming and staying with us as she passed through for the funeral, but I assumed (foolishly, apparently) that it would be later in the week. False.

She is coming today.

**pause for face melting**

After regaining my composure from the initial shock, I shouted, "CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!" I shoved the stuffed pepper into my mouth and leaped from the table to start cleaning.

Now, we by no means have a dirty house. We usually straighten up on the weekends: I dust about once a week just because I can't stand seeing dust on our dark furniture; the toilets typically get cleaned every other weekend; and we recently (about a month ago) did a deep cleaning of the kitchen where I even scrubbed the stove clean.

That being said, with all the running around we have had with just starting CrossFit, cleaning out the cars, and visiting friends and family out of town the passed few weekends, it was a bit of a sty.

Thankfully, the hubster sprung into action as well. I picked up everything off the floor and starting putting items in their rightful places while he and the vacuum roared to life. I started by cleaning off the breakfast bar, then cleaned the bathroom in the basement, then returned to the living room to take down our Christmas wreath (yes, there was still a golden Christmas wreath hanging in my living room ;don't judge, I haven't had time to hang our new Pottery Barn mirrors).

In short, there was no method to my madness. If I had to go somewhere in the house to put something away and I saw something else out of place, it got put in its place. If I was passing by the bathroom on my way to put towels in the laundry, that bathroom got cleaned.

About thirty minutes in, he dropped another bomb on me. His aunt was going to be coming as well.

**more panic ensued with a rejuvenated cleaning effort**

Finally, after two hours of running around and shouting like a crazy person, the house was spotless. We put the two sets of guest sheets in the dryer as we headed out for work this morning. After work, hubby will dress the beds while I am at CrossFit, and then we'll be ready to greet our guests.

Why all this madness to prepare the house, you ask?

I cannot help but feel like how well we keep the house is a representation of how well I care for my husband, or at least I feel that is a possible perception. If the fridge is stocked with healthy food, I motivate him to stay in shape, and the house is clean, I am taking good care of him.

There may or may not be a direct correlation, and I may be crazy a little off center, but I felt like this was a bit of a surprise inspection!

I love my mother-in-law and I really want to impress her and show her that I am taking good car of my hubby. She did such a wonderful job raising him, I feel like anything less would be an insult to her.

On that note, I got very little sleep last night. And while the feather duster wasn't able to kill me, today's CrossFit workout might finish me off. Today's WOD is "Death by Kettlebell."

     2/1.5 pood Kettlebell
     1 kettlebell swing the first minute
     2 kettlebell swings the second minute
     3 the third, continue until you are unable to complete required amount of reps in the minute.
     Score is the last full round of minutes plus number of reps in final partial minute.

See you all on the other side!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I decided to bring back the Wednesday weigh in this week to check my progress since starting my CrossFit regimen. As always, I give the disclaimer that you should not restrict your fitness goals to a number on the scale. In fact, I am including my measurements (**gasp**) with this post because I have seen a drastic change in just a little over a week!

For best results, always measure yourself at the same time of day as your body may fluctuate as many as five pounds throughout the day based on dieting and exercise habits. I choose to take my measurements first thing in the morning as a good baseline.

Along with our CrossFit gym membership, we get access to the website, Here, you can become affiliated with your gym, post Workout of the Day (WOD) results, track your dieting habits and sleep patterns, and keep tabs on your overall health. If you are obsessed with counting calories and keeping a journal of your progress like I am, this is a great new tool to become obsessed acquainted with.

After completing my fundamental sessions and becoming a full-fledged member, I created my BeyondtheWhiteBoard account and got started. One of the first things my hubby and I did was take each others' measurements (height, weight, abdomen, hips, neck, upper arm, squat height, etc.) to accurately track our progress along this journey. The website also allows you to set goals for yourself, whether it be to achieve a result in a specific workout or to obtain a weight loss goal.

Now, I have mentioned before that running is not necessarily the best means to lose weight, especially when training for long distance runs. It is important to give your body the nourishment and energy it needs to function at full capacity. That being said, I had put back on about five pounds through my half-marathon training.

When I weighed in for the first time on April 2, I weighed 132.4 lbs with a body fat percentage of 24.2 percent. Based on those results, I set what I thought was a timid goal weight of 128 pounds (for a BMI of 22) and a lean body fat percentage of 20 percent by June 9 (the day of a dear friend's wedding).

Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale this morning to find that not only had I already achieved my weight loss goal, but I had passed it, and I am darn close to achieving my body fat percentage goal as well!

Here is a look at how far I have come since the start of my journey in 2010 at my peak of 154 lbs:

Measurement 1/9/10 4/2/12 4/11/12
Weight (lbs) 154 132.4 127.8
Body Fat (%) N/A 24.2 20.6
Neck (") N/A 12.5 12.5
Abdomen (") 30.5 28.5 27
Hip (") 38 36 35
Upper Arm (") 10.5 10.25 10.5

As you can see, my neck and upper arms have not changed throughout the process. But I can see a difference visually. My upper arms used to be soft and flabby. Now, the 10.5 inches on my upper arm looks lean and toned. I cannot say I have seen much difference in my neck, but when was the last time you looked in a fitness magazine and thought, I wish I had her neck. Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

As for goals from here on out, I will continue to try to build muscle and bring down my percentage of body fat, but I am not terribly concerned in the weight department. So long as I keep a healthy diet (with a few beers and glasses of wine here and there, and let's not forget cake when it's warranted) and stay active, I will measure my success on how I feel and how fabulous my butt looks in my jeans. Just kidding. But seriously.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A New Adventure

Confession: I started writing this post nearly two weeks ago and it's just getting posted. It is not easy to find the time to commute, work, workout, cook, clean house, and write a blog. Oh and let's not forget sleep! It's all about making priorities. And like I posted earlier this year, I plan to spend more time with family (especially in light of recent family illnesses), spend more time focusing on myself and my health, and more time nurturing my relationship with God. So far so good. I'm sorry that my blog has been neglected in the process.

The hubster and I recently started a new chapter in our lives. Chapter one of our married life began with a commitment to getting in better shape. I took that idea and ran with it. I ran 13.1 miles with it. He took that idea and cheered me on from the starting line, to mile 7, to the finish line where he greeted me with flowers. I kid, I kid.

The fact of the matter is, hubby would join me on most of my long runs and would run as far as he could, but running just is not as thrilling and motivating for him as it is for me. I also noticed that while I was enjoying a great aerobic workout, I had slacked off on my strength training that I enjoyed so much in losing weight for the wedding. I was becoming a little soft around the middle and losing some of that muscle definition in my arms I had gotten used to seeing.

So the new goal became to find a workout that would inspire both of us and push us beyond any bounds we had come close to crossing before. Enter CrossFit. A program developed by experts in their fields, "designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience," according to the umbrella website.

If you've never heard about CrossFit or are unsure of what exactly the workouts entail, this video should give you an idea of what we're working with.

I had heard about CrossFit on fitness forums, and I had been curious, but as far as I knew, there were no gyms in the immediate area. Flashback to the end of February. I'm getting my hair done at the salon when a patron asks my hairdresser why he has not seen her at the gym lately. "Oh, I've been doing this thing called CrossFit instead."

HOLD THE PHONE! CrossFit, you say? Where?! I must know!

Apparently, one of my hairdresser's clients and her husband just opened a certified CrossFit gym out of their home in early February and my hairdresser was one of their first clients to sign up. So of course, through the natural progression of band-wagoning, I signed my husband and I up for our fundamental sessions following the half-marathon.

CrossFit workouts are based around nine functional movements. Our three fundamental sessions were taught around these functional movements and the theory of CrossFit, followed by a workout demonstrating the skills we had just learned. Our trainer had warned us before our first workout that CrossFit workouts have been compared to the feeling of being chased by a lion, but you really cannot understand the feeling without trying it for yourself.

As a fair warning, my hubby nearly turned green at our first workout. To top it off, there is a bucket in the corner of the gym etched with names of people who have been so privileged to use it after a workout. On such occasions, their workouts were deemed "Pukie" workouts.

Have I painted a bad picture of what CrossFit is? Because really it is the most traumatic amazing workout experience I have ever had. My favorite part of the whole experience so far has been the camaraderie and social aspect of the gym and its members.

Our classes are small, with a maximum of 4 to 6 people at once. On a few occasions, it has been just my husband and I. But that means specialized attention and critiquing from the trainer. And trust me, my squats can use all the attention they can get.

In addition to specialized support from the trainers, you get the spirit of competition and cheering each other on. There is nothing more motivating during a workout than the thought of passing my hubby during situps and finishing my workout in a faster time. (I should note, I only beat him during the first workout, the one where he nearly turned green, and he has crushed me ever since.)

Overall, I am thoroughly enjoying CrossFit. The workouts are challenging (it really does feel like you've been chased by a lion afterwards) and I am pushing myself to do things I never thought possible. Hubby is getting his cardio and strength workouts in, in a motivating environment where he too is pushing himself outside his comfort zone. And I am still running.

How long I can keep up with my running training schedule and three days a week of CrossFit is yet to be seen, but I have proven to myself that I like a challenge. And I love being told I can't do it, because it makes me try that much harder to prove that I can.