Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer in Hong Kong: heat, humidity, typhoon, repeat.

The summer weather in Hong Kong certainly lived up to its reputation this week. Believe it or not, we were hit by two tropical storms in five days: Severe Typhoon Hato and Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar. Needless to say, my workouts for the week were not the norm.

Monday - The week started off with record-setting high temperatures. That didn't stop me from getting outside for my low carb Tabata workout and it was a good one: jump squats, in and outs, scissor jumps (I did star jacks instead), mountain climbers with a twist and toe taps. I decided to forego my normal Bodystep class because the Tabata workout sounded good on paper. Even in the heat, it felt good to do my workout outside.

Diverging for a minute...I've been meaning to share my FASTer Way to Fat Loss carb cycling results and since I keep forgetting this seemed like a good time to squeeze it in.

My initial six week program ended while we were at Cape Cod, so I took my measurements after doing another two weeks once we were back. Overall, I lost about 6 pounds and a total of 4.25 inches (mostly from my belly, hips, and thighs). I think it is hard to see a difference in the photos (easy to see my bad posture, ha!), but my clothes are definitely looser and my stomach feels flatter (most days). After doing multiple rounds and loving the program, I've continued carb cycling with the FWTFL VIP program which means that every month I get a new set of workouts along with even more interaction and accountability in the VIP online group.

Back to my Monday workout, my second time with the Discovery Run group was a hot one and mrC joined me this time. At 7:45pm the temperature was still 90 degrees with a feels like temp of 104! It did not stop us or the other 38-ish people from showing up to run together. The run was a little short of a 5K (that was ok with me because it was so hot) and it was a different route. I like that they will be switching things up week to week. I wore my favorite tank and shorts from Oiselle and they were soaked when we were done.

Tuesday - I had another laser hair removal appointment in Central which means no sweating for 24-36 hours. I ran some errands and then hung out with mrC in the AC because it was another record breaking hot day.

By the way, we all know how important it is to stay hydrated, not just in the summer when it's hot, but all the time. Hydrant wants to help you stay hydrated. Sign up here for a chance to win a one month supply. Winners will be announced September 1st.

Wednesday - Typhoon Hato came. This was the biggest storm I've experienced in Hong Kong. The winds were so powerful that I could feel the change in pressure and the building sway. I alternated between watching the storm from our 20th floor apartment or the lobby and being worried about it. Thankfully, mrC was home to keep me calm!

I did a little #typhoonyoga to distract myself and that helped a bit in the beginning. It felt good to go through a flow and just let my muscles stretch out and relax. Well, try to, when there's a raging typhoon going on outside.

By late afternoon, the storm had mostly passed, so we took a walk to see if our SUP boards survived. I was expecting to find them blown off the rack. I did not expect to see trees down and boats/canoes upside down and piled up like a mass collision on a highway.

Thursday - we walked down the hill to the boat club to get our SUP boards. The cleanup would involve removing the fallen trees and we didn't want to worry about the boards being in the way or getting punctured. We deflated the boards at the beach, rolled them up, and backpacked them up the hill to our apartment. 

Friday - the weather was quite nice for a walk in the morning. It was still warm, but the strong breeze and lower humidity made it feel cooler than it had in a long, long time.

In the afternoon, we joined one of the beach cleanups. If you have never done this kind of cleanup before, it is quite a workout! There is lots of squatting, lunging, lifting and dragging. 

Saturday - mrC had to work, but I headed to the boat club for some more beach cleanup. The nice thing about this one was the boat club fed us! Again, it was all about squats and lunges. I even double dragged trash bags across the beach once ---> it reminded me of dragging the tire on the rope at Bootcamp.

Sunday - Another day of watching stormy weather out the windows. Pakhar was not as strong as Hato and it was farther away, but the winds were still strong enough to blow a leaf up to our bedroom window on the 20th floor. It's crazy that there is a huge hurricane happening on the other side of the world at the same time. We are praying for you Texas.

It was a wild and wacky week. I am hoping that things will be nice and quiet and normal around here until we leave. We are heading back to the US in a week and I can't wait!

What's the most extreme weather you have run during?
Have you ever had to ride out severe weather?

Linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!

Monday, August 21, 2017

My First SUP Race Review (+ my Weekly Wrap)

When mrC and I decided to bring Stand Up Paddle boards to Hong Kong, we joined the Lantau Boat Club - Paddlers Section to have a place to store them right at the beach. LBC is actively trying to involve SUP-ers in club events which is how we ended up participating in our first Stand Up Paddle race.

SUP race participants

I've always thought of SUP as a recreational activity with a goal no greater than just enjoying being out on the water and getting a light workout. Since we live in a world that celebrates competition, it is easy to see how a casual day of SUP grew into a whole new world of racing.

Like running, SUP is suitable for all ages and abilities, so racing is not reserved for elite athletes. Realistically, anyone who has been on a board for 15 minutes can participate in a race. You might not win, but you'll have fun. Races vary in distance from a few kilometers to 15km+ long distance races. There are also short sprints and relays.

My first SUP race experience all started Saturday morning. Lantau Boat Club Paddling Section was hosting the race day event with a BBQ lunch to follow. We arrived at the beach at 8am and put our boards in the water for a little warm-up. Since it was a paddling event, there were outrigger canoes there too. The race schedule went loosely like this:

8:30 OC6s and SUP Around the Rock 3km

9:00 OC1s 500m sprint relay heat 1

9:30 SUP 500m sprint relay

10:00 OC1s 500m sprint relay heat 2

We watched the start of the 3km race and cheered for a fellow DB Ladies SUP group member. She was the only female competing in that race and she did amazing. I'm not strong enough or brave enough to go that far yet. Maybe one day.

When it was finally time for our relay, we were paired up to even out the skill levels (except one guy was a team one because he is that fast!). This meant mrC and I were not on the same team. The SUP sprint relay started on the beach. At the horn those who were doing the first leg, grabbed the SUP board and ran for the water.

I went first for my team, but quickly found myself in last place (there were four teams). mrC was right ahead of me and I paddled like crazy to try to catch him. At the turn-around buoy, I thought I was going to pass him, but he took off again. My partner made a valiant effort to make up the difference, but we still came in last place. My arms were so tired but I had an absolute blast. I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Here's how the rest of my week looked:

Monday - Bodystep and a 5K night group run

Tuesday - at home HIIT workout

Wednesday - Bodypump

Thursday - strength training at the gym

Friday - low intensity SUP

Saturday - SUP race

Sunday - 4 1/2 mile hilly walk

Highlight of the week: 

As usual I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Group Run and Tips for Newbies

Last night I took my introverted self to a group run in my neighborhood for the first time. Discovery Run is a free weekly meet-up that was started in June by three well-known local fitness enthusiasts in Discovery Bay. Their goal is to help DBers get healthy and have the opportunity to participate in running in a non-competitive way.

With all of my recent knee issues, I was nervous about attending the free Monday night 5K run. I've done group meet-ups before (usually with at least one friend in tow), but it's been a while and this time I did not know a single person. I was also a little worried that I might be doing too much in one day since I had attended Bodystep class in the morning.

See the girl in the green top? That's me behind her in white ;)

At 7:45 on the dot, the organizers welcomed all 30-ish of us and led us through some dynamic warm-up stretches. I'm guessing most people had walked or run to the meet-up, so the stretches were nice. After a rundown of the route (including where the leaders would be standing and directing us) and a quick photo (see above), we were off.

I was excited to wear my Nathan lights for the first time (I think). I don't even remember where or when I got them, but they made it to Hong Kong and if I need more, they're available on Amazon ;) I clipped them onto my shorts, but only used one because they are very bright and there were plenty of street lights. Speaking of shorts, I just picked up this pair of Track This Run shorts from Athleta and I love them. I can't wait to maybe get another pair when I'm in Cincinnati next month.

Most of the runners took off very quickly and at first I kept up with what I would call the "middle of the pack." I stayed with them for the most part until the turn around, but eventually we were pretty spread out. I passed about a half dozen runners on their way to the turn around and it felt good to know that I was holding up better than I had expected. I tried to keep a couple of runners in my sights (you can barely see them in the photo below), but the second half of the route had a lot of downhill that I was taking slowly and walking occasionally. Overall, my knee felt good.

With less than a mile to go, my watch died (I don't know why I didn't think to charge it ahead of time). I brought my phone with me (for pictures of course) and in case I needed to catch a bus home I'd have my bus pass (I wasn't sure how my knee would do). Because I had my phone I used an app to track the end of my run. So I don't know my exact time but between the two runs, I think it was about 34 minutes.

When most of the group appeared to be back from the run, the leaders led a quick cool-down stretch. Even though I didn't really "meet" anyone (this time), I did have fun and look forward to joining them again.

Here are a few things I do to make joining a run group for the first time a little easier:

1) Introduce yourself - just saying hi and making some small talk let's others know that you are new. The regulars will catch this and make you feel welcome. I got some extra information about the group this way.

2) Don't worry about your pace - most group runs are social which means ALL ARE WELCOME. If you are still worried, call or email the organizer. I reached out on Facebook and was relieved to hear that there were indeed runners of all types.

3) Walk when you need to - I knew that I would need to walk, especially the downhill portions because my knee doesn't like them. You will probably find other people need to walk too or you will eventually catch up to the people who slow down. I did end up passing a few people.

4) Know the route - I've never heard of anyone getting lost on a group run, but knowing where the run is going will make anyone feel better. This group had shared run routes on the group page, but the organizer also told us the route before we left.

What tips would you give someone who feels nervous about going to a group run?
What gear do you use for running in the dark?

By the way, it's good to be back. I didn't blog at all last week because it felt like I was saying the same thing, week after week. It felt like a good time to take a break and let my fitness experiences inspire me. I'm still following my carb cycling program and have some pretty awesome results to share with you soon!

(If you are interested in joining the FASTer Way To Fat Loss program, use my affiliate link to join and start carb cycling with me! Click here).

Today I'm linking-up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Weekly Wrap - It's Sunny in Hong Kong

We finally had some great weather around here and just in time for the weekend.

Work before play, Saturday was Leg Day! Before heading to the pool to soak up some vitamin D, we hit the fitness center. For my warm-up, I ran for 10 minutes on the treadmill. Normally I would have gone for the mile, but my knee was feeling little wonky, no pain, just off. I used to push through moments like this, but not anymore.

The rest of the workout was the same as last week, except the one-minuters were doubled up and I increased my weights. I could still only do one round of the finishers although this time I did some really slow lunge jumps. No one said they had to be fast, right? I was toast at the end.

One of my favorite things to do after a good and sweaty FASTer Way To Fat Loss workout is relax at the pool. I'm so thankful that our fitness membership gives us access. It's so nice to just change in the locker room and walk outside to this beautiful view. It feels so good to just sit in the water to cool off and then dry in the sun.

We took advantage of the sunny weather again today and took our SUP boards out for a couple of hours. It had been awhile since we had them out. Between rainy days and other workouts in the morning (it is way too hot even for the pool or SUP after lunchtime in my opinion), it just hasn't worked out. Until today. I forget how tall my board really is 10'6". We got our boards on Amazon and brought them to Hong Kong as checked baggage. My exact board is not currently available, but they have this newer version out now.

We paddled out and back and then out again. The second time I went around the corner of the little beach bay area further than I've ever gone before. Then I did a little SUP yoga - my version anyway. It was so peaceful laying there. I could have taken a nap.

After we put our boards away, we walked down to the other end of Tai Pak Beach to check out the Funtastic Summer event that has been set up for the month. For the kids they have big inflatable slides, mini powerboats and a couple of inflatable endurance games (like a mild version of what you would see on Wipeout). For the adults there are deck chairs with umbrellas and a big misting zone. This is provided by the company behind the development of Discovery Bay and it is all free.

The other big highlight of the weekend was making banana protein bars. I mostly make these to have for hiking, but I was in the mood to make them today. I changed the recipe a bit and used almond butter instead of peanut butter. Both ways are good.

Here's how the rest of my week looked:

Monday - Mixing sprints and Tabata

Tuesday - Outdoor HIIT workout

Wednesday - Bodypump ---> and revealing breakthroughs

Thursday - Strength training at-home workout

Friday - Easy run ---> my attempt at a heart rate run

I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!

How was your weekend?
Any big events going on in your neighborhood?
Favorite DIY snack?


Friday, August 4, 2017

That's Not the Fat Burning Zone!

That's what I thought when I looked down at my watch during my run.

This morning I set out to do an easy two mile run. My goal? Stay in my fat burning zone. My zone is between 108 and 126. I don't normally focus on my heart rate during a run, but on FASTer Way to Fat Loss® low calorie days our workout is supposed to be low intensity.

I did my usual loop which starts off with a gradual and mostly down hill but then ends with a giant climb up a hill to get back to our apartment. It was muggy (partly the stormy weather and because it is pretty much always like that here), but there was a small breeze (a little relief is all I need).

It took me a few tries to check my heart rate because I don't know how to work the screen on my watch very well. Turns out two clicks will toggle between apps. I found that out completely by accident. Maybe I should have planned a little better. Anyway, my heart rate was way above my fat burning zone. I made myself slow down, but it stayed too high. Once I hit the hill I knew it was going to stay up there.

Well, I tried. I'm thrilled that I was even able to get out for a run. This is what it looked like before and after. Torrential rain? No thanks.

In the end, I had a good run. Here's why:

1. I liked listening to my playlist on my wireless earphones (available on Amazon) which I hadn't done in a long time. It had been so long that I forgot how to connect the earphones to my phone.

2. My shoes earned another two miles and I'm still very happy with the way my knee feels since I started running in them.

3. No intervals! I totally ran by feel. I took breaks when I needed (or wanted for a photo). Once or twice I stopped to stretch my quad and hamstring because that is what makes my knee happy.

4. I didn't want to die, haha! Sometimes the two mile loop that I ran can feel overwhelmingly hard. There's a tunnel and if there's no breeze, it can feel like an eternity running through it. Then there's the hill at the end. Today it didn't feel that long. I'll be holding onto that for awhile!

5. I did it. It's not easy going out alone when I worry about my knee ALL the time. Add to that, I worry about the weather. Not because I'm afraid of getting wet, but because I'm afraid I will slip and fall and hurt my knee. So getting out there alone is a pretty big deal these days!

I used to stretch in the car on the drive home after a run. Now I'm multitasking in the elevator. We live on the 20th floor, so I have some time to kill. I figured I might as well make the best of it!

Low calorie day - the meals

Broke fast at 11:15 (while watching the USWNT defeat Japan) - scrambled eggs with ham and PB&J rice cakes.

Lunch - Left over cheesy quinoa and tuna plus a snack bag of Cheez-its

Dinner - shrimp carbonara and green beans!

Do you listen to music when you run/workout?
Strangest place you have ever stretched?
Are you a soccer fan?

I'm linking up with Lacey and Meranda and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Just One of Those Days (TOL #2)

My usual trip to the fitness center for strength training was scrapped when severe storms passed over Hong Kong. I woke up to the sounds of thunder and lightening echoing off the mountains and multiple alerts hitting my phone. I can do rain, but I don't do storms.

So instead of doing the planned gym workout for the day, I did the FASTer Way at-home version. I love that I have options for my workouts so that I can do what works for me any given day. Even with options, it took me a while to get motivated though.

-I was tired from waking up earlier than usual.
-Our small apartment is not exactly an ideal space for workouts.
-The hand weights we have are not really heavy enough for me anymore.
-There may have been multiple episodes of RHONY playing via Slingbox (available on Amazon)

It was just one of those days. We all have them once in awhile and it's totally ok. Eventually, I put on my workout clothes and got out my gear. We don't have much. A couple of 4kg hand weights that we bought in China.

Today's strength focus was back, biceps, abs and finishers at the end. It actually went ok even with my underweight dumbbells. I was expecting to feel underwhelmed, but it wasn't like that at all. Only couple of exercises felt a little futile. Thinking out loud, even if the first part of the workout had been mediocre, the finishers kicked my butt. As usual.

Regular calorie day - the meals

Broke fast at 11:30 - breakfast while catching up on the Bachelorette!

Lunch -

Dinner -

How do you motivate yourself when you don't feel like working out?

I'm joining the Thinking Out Loud linkup with Running with Spoons

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Strength Training and Breakthroughs

This morning I went to Bodypump. It was a strength training day and I have finally figured out how to match Bodypump to my carb cycling workouts. My workout plan for today focused on legs, chest, triceps and shoulders. I can do all of these on my own at the fitness center weight room, but Bodypump is a lot more fun.

In true Hong Kong weather fashion, as soon as I was getting ready to leave it started pouring rain. Instead of walking, I took the bus to stay dry. Ha! At least my shoes stayed dry. By the way, I'm loving these new Nikes for my indoor workouts. They're good for running too, but I like the simplicity of this shoe for cross training. It's actually the first running shoe I bought about a thousand years ago, just kidding. It was 2005.

Bodypump went like this: warm-up, legs/squats, chest, back/glutes/hamstrings, arms/triceps, arms/biceps, legs/lunges, shoulders/arms, abs, cool-down. Bam, bam, bam. It was a fast one today and it was good. 800 reps but it was over before I knew it.

Today's class was packed. Not a single piece of equipment left on the rack. And it was 100% women. It's amazing to look around the room and see so many strong fierce women sweating it out. I realize that many of us here in DB are traveling spouses and we don't work, but I still love it!

It wasn't raining when class ended so I took advantage and walked back to the apartment. Even with the looming storm clouds, I have a pretty awesome view no matter which way I look. I wasn't sure if I would make it without having to pop open the umbrella, but I was willing to risk it. I made it.

There goes my bus! No sweaty marks left on the seat today, haha ;)

Walking home lets me get in additional low intensity cardio. The goal is to keep the heart rate in the fat burning zone. I determined my zone to be between 108-126. I was powering up the big hill today (which felt easier than normal!) and probably spent more time above my fat burning zone, but during Bodypump my average heart rate was right in there at 114.

When it comes to fitness, I have had a few breakthroughs over the last year.

1. I'm RUNNING again! This is by far the biggest and best thing happening right now. I am so thankful that my knee has responded to the osteopath and chiropractor work and just me taking things slow and steady. I'm not running long distances, but I embracing the fact that I can run a 5K and a little more.

2. LISTENING to my body. I can honestly say that I do this. I have tried to do it in the past, but now I really, really do. If I'm not feeling it, if my knee is cranky...I don't do the exercise, the workout, the activity. I take time off. I don't let FOMO make me do something that will ultimately hurt me. I just finished this super funny book that makes fun of all the wild and crazy things people will do in the name of fitness. I used to be that person!

3. Working out SMART - this year I have learned not to push too hard. I'm following a workout plan and taking rest days. I warm-up and I stretch. I foam roll and do yoga. All the things the super smart people tell us to do. I'm finally doing it.

4. I understand the relationship between FOOD and WORKOUTS. When I was younger I didn't need to know any of this because my body was a fat burning machine 110% of the time. As I've gotten older and my fitness habits have changed, I've had to educate myself on how fuel and exercise affect my body. Through the FASTer Way to Fat Loss carb cycling program, I have gained valuable information that has become a lifestyle for me.

5. I've embraced STRENGTH TRAINING. I used to dread anytime a coach or instructor told me to lift weights. Now I know that my body will not burn fat without muscles and the muscles I used to have are, well, gone. I have to build new muscles, 46 year old muscles.

Regular Calorie day 1 - the meals

Broke fast at 11:00 - I was seriously craving the grapes today.

Lunch - I was feeling lazy and went for the Cheese-its.

Dinner - One of the recipes I make most often when mrC is on a trip, cheesy tuna and quinoa (recipe here)

Snacks - 1 cup of Chex rice cereal

What breakthroughs have you had recently?
Do you watch your heart rate during workouts?

It's Wednesday Word and I'm linking up with Deb. Today's word is breakthrough and I'm linking up with AnnmarieNicole and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Intense Circuits and Magazine Covers!

Since I didn't pass out while doing a portion of my workout outside yesterday, I thought I would do it again today. I knew it was going to be warm. The weather has been nothing less than intense here lately. However, I was hoping to find some amount of relief from a breeze because I was going to do my workout right outside our building at the windiest spot in Discovery Bay.

Except today there was no breeze. At all. mrC joined me and as soon as we stepped outside, it was like we walked into a sauna. We decided to tough it out. Behind our building is a play area with some benches. It's next to what can best be described as a side street although it's mainly used by golf carts.

The FWTFL workout was basically three parts:

Part 1 - HIIT circuit: four exercises (burpees, jump squats, push-ups and mountain climbers with a twist) broken up by 30 seconds runs repeated 3-5 times. We used the benches to do the exercises and then ran the 30 second runs on the street. It really worked out perfectly ---> minus that whole no breeze thing. We did three rounds and called it.

Part 2 - Ab circuit on steroids: 5 sets of weighted Russian twists, 5 sets of ab bicycles, and 4 sets of leg raises. We went inside for this part because I cannot lay down outside on the dirty ground. I was literally sweating from every body part including my knees! This part was tough and I wondered if I would make it through. I said something to mrC and he replied, "two more sets." And that kept me going.

Part 3 - The cool down: low intensity cardio. We went back outside for a walk. We ended up walking a mile loop. There still wasn't a breeze to speak of, but it felt good to be outside moving slowly. We practically had the streets to ourselves except for the occasional dog walker and one guy whizzing by us on his bike.

All of my workout gear was completely soaked in sweat when we stopped including my cute tropical shorts from GAP. I was less than thrilled that the windiest spot on DB wasn't windy at all. But, just like yesterday, it felt good to finish a tough workout. Tough by design and tough because of the heat.

In other news, the magazine article about the DB Ladies SUP group came out. It's a great article, but I didn't expect to see myself displayed on the cover! It's very weird to walk past this magazine stand at the entrance to our building and see myself.

We made the crazy decision to go out in the afternoon heat to pick up mrC's dry cleaning. A short walk to the plaza had us dripping in sweat and seeking refuge in the grocery. Ironically if you stay inside too long, you'll freeze by air conditioning. We had some time to kill before an unexpected appointment for a quick checkup with the doctor and there was finally a breeze blowing, so we relaxed at the plaza tables.

Low carb day 2 - the meals

Broke fast around 11:00 - I was hungrier today than yesterday.

Lunch - I have to admit, it was hard to resist adding Swiss cheese to my roll-ups.

Dinner - a little leftovers from last night plus a big salad

Do you ever use outdoor public areas for your workouts (besides running)?
What words motivate you to keep going during a tough workout?
Ever been on or in a magazine?

Today I'm linking up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run!