Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July: 82 Workouts

A friend of mine from Shenzhen came to visit today with her son. We spent the day at the beach and took the SUP boards out. It was a super fun way to wrap up the month of July.

The end of the month means that it's time to link up with the Tuesday's On The Run group (Patty, Erika, and Marciaand give myself a grade.

After sort of coming clean and declaring myself a non-runner in June, my focus in July turned to interval training, strength training and active rest days. Basically I recommitted to taking my fitness to the next level without running.

One thing I discovered recently about my Apple sport watch is that it keeps all kinds of workout data in the phone app. According to the app, I have completed 82 workouts in July.

Here's the breakdown:

Strength Training x 12 
I learned more about supersets, pyramid sets, drop sets than I ever have before and loved every minute.

Interval Training x 13
Tabata, HIIT, elliptical sprints, treadmill hill repeats ---> I loved the variety.

Walking x 38 total 26.61 miles
I walked a marathon this month! While I didn't get out and walk every morning, I did make a point to walk more often.

Yoga x 6
I embraced my yoga mat on active rest days and it felt really, really good. Some days it was hard to move into a pose because, well, LEG DAY. Thankfully my Yoga with Adriene videos helped loosen things up.

SUP x 3
I could do this every day. There's just something about being on the water that relaxes me.

Overall, this month reminded me that fitness comes in many forms and to be honest, I haven't missed running that much. I've gotten stronger, my knee has been happier and I feel like I won this one.

What made you feel like a winner in July?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Weekly Wrap - Never Never Never Give Up

It's that time in the summer when things really start to heat up around here. It makes it hard to want to do anything, (except hang out in the water) especially workouts. I know that there are no shortcuts to results and that if I want to stay fit (and get fitter), I have to push on. Fortunately there were signs that reminded me to never give up and by the end of the week, I was feeling really good! Here's my Weekly Wrap with Holly and Wendy.

Use my affiliate link to learn more about the FWTFL program here.

Interval Training:
Monday's outdoor Tabata workout was a tough one and my body was not a happy camper afterwards. I think I was suffering from a little dehydration stomach cramping. Tuesday I used the motivation from my new Lorna Jane tank to bounce back and had an awesome treadmill hill repeat workout. PS - I shared some treadmill workouts for non-runners here.

Strength Training:
This week's workouts on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday were all pyramid sets: when you start out light and gradually increase the weight while decreasing the reps. I really liked this method. Each rep felt more effective because I wasn't trying to power through with heavier weights. I am beginning to really feel my muscles working in my upper body. I still have a lot of work to do in my legs, but two separate compliments this week reminded me that the work pays off.

Active Rest Days:
On Friday I took a sunrise walk along the beach, but Sunday! Sunday mrC was back from a trip and we took the SUP boards out for an amazing paddle. I love when we sit down and just float, talk and take in the views of where we live. It was a great way to wrap up the week!

Do you use your workout gear as motivation?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Treadmill Workouts for Non-Runners

For my interval training workout today I choose treadmill hill repeats. I was in the mood for something different ---> aka something other than the elliptical. I still love the elliptical for sprints, but I've been missing my old friend the treadmill. So I took a workout that was meant to be for runners (and I have done it that way in the past) and modified it to be a walking interval workout.

Broke in my new Lorna Jane Never Never Never Give Up tank today. Love!
(can't beat the price on Amazon)

This got me thinking about other treadmill workouts for non-runners like me. Just because we can't run, don't like to run or have a running injury doesn't mean that the treadmill is off limits for a good interval training workout.

I talked about interval training in this post and today I'm going to share some really good treadmill interval workouts (including the one I did today) that can be modified to match your level of walking.

This is the workout I did today (my speeds are in kph...because I live in Hong Kong):

From online friends and apps that I've tried and liked (if no speed or incline is indicated, chose what's best for you):

I thought this one sounded fun, but I haven't tried it yet (I've got to get over my worrying about what others at the gym will think issues):

This shows how to use the basic interval training plan, just choose the walking speed that fits your fitness.

Of course these workouts can all be modified for all the runners out there, too.

Do you do workouts on the treadmill or do you just walk/run?

Today I'm doing the link-up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! 

*Please note that all speeds are suggestions. Set your treadmill speed to what best suits your fitness ability.

**Also, if a warmup/cool down is not included in the workout, be sure to include 5-10 minutes of movement before starting the workout and 10-15 minutes after finishing.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Never Miss a Workout - Weekly Wrap

It was one of those weeks when daily life commitments clashed with the workout schedule. With a little pre-planning, I was able to rearrange my workouts. I'm pretty excited to be able to say that for the past five weeks of following my carb cycling program, I have never missed a workout.

Interval Training 
On Monday I did a new elliptical sprint workout. I still used a 1:2 ratio, but did 30 seconds sprint to 1 minute recovery instead of 20:40 like I had been doing. That extra 10 seconds of work definitely maxed out my muscles. After 10 sprints, I did a 15 minute cool down on the elliptical and then a plank circuit. Tuesday's HIIT in the park turned out to be my favorite ---> because it almost beat me but I pushed through and finished 7 rounds of 7 reps of 7 different exercises.

(PS - did you see my interval training post?)

Strength Training
I had to move some of my training days around this week, but I still got everything done. Thursday I needed to do my workout at home, but the leg day home version was just as tough even though most of it was bodyweight exercises. Drop sets on Wednesday and Sunday were fun. Each week feels like I'm getting better at using the right weights and I like that I can push myself to go heavy for one set then drop to lighter for the remaining sets. Using heavier weights is hurting my hands though, so I'm thinking about getting a pair of training gloves ---> something like these from Nike on Amazon, but I don't know if they're what I need or not.

Active Rest Days
Friday and Saturday I did Yoga with Adriene videos - Go With The Flow and Total Body Yoga. The change of workout days worked in my favor as my legs were really sore from Thursday's leg day. Two days of yoga felt good.

Do you wear training gloves?

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Interval Training in 5 Easy Steps

Interval training is one of my favorite ways to workout. I love the combination of high intensity and low intensity periods used back and forth, back and forth, throughout the workout. In a quick 15-20 minute workout, your body can burn calories more efficiently and continue to burn longer throughout the day.

The key to interval training is push to max effort during the high intensity period (work) and then rest from cardio (but keep moving) during the low intensity period (recovery).

Interval Training in 5 Easy Steps

1) Decide what kind of workout you want to do: What are you in the mood for or what can you do? I'm all about what you can, when you can so I mix things up. There are lots of interval training options like HIIT, Tabata, sprints (run, elliptical, swim), even jumping jacks alone can be your workout. Any type of aerobic workout will work. Pick what works best for you, but at the same time will challenge your body.

2) Plan your intervals: Again, so many options! If you are just beginning, you will want to start with a work to recovery ratio of 1 to 4 which means your recovery will be 4 times longer than your work. For example: 5 seconds work to 20 seconds recovery or 30 seconds work to 2 minutes recovery. As you become fitter, you can adjust the work to recovery ratio so that you spend more time at max effort and less time in recovery ---> 1:3, (intermediate) 1:2, 1:1. 2:1, (advanced) 3:1, 4:1.

3) Warm-up: I highly recommend doing at least 10 minutes of easy warm-up (like walking) before doing high intensity workouts.

4) Use a timer: This will make doing your workout so much easier. Instead of staring at a clock or your watch, download an interval app (this is my favorite) on your phone or look for something like a Gymboss timer.

5) Cool down: A low intensity cool down is just as important as the workout. The longer the cool down the better so the body can metabolize the fat it was using during the workout instead of letting it return to where it came from!

I really began to understand the impact of interval training when I first started carb cycling. FASTer Way to Fat Loss® pairs interval training with low carb days, which forces the body to reach for stored fat as energy (learn more here). I wasn't running at the time, so I did all my interval training workouts on the elliptical or doing HIIT workouts. It's really easy to make interval training work for you.

Do you do interval training?

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Avoiding Muscle Soreness: Three Common Supplements

With all the strength training I've been doing and using heavier weights, I expected to have more muscle soreness than I have been (not that I'm complaining). Don't get the wrong idea, my muscles definitely FEEL like they've been through a workout. It's just that in the past, my soreness would be seriously intense. Like hard to walk and move intense.

Do I stretch after every workout? For the most part, yes. Do I foam roll? Not as often as I should. I have a lot of faith in my recovery sandals, but since I just received a new pair from Amazon I don't think they can take all the credit.

So what's going on?

My answer...supplements. I have started using a couple of new supplements that have super powers.


I started taking BCAAs after getting the flu in February as an energy aid. BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) also play a major role in muscle recovery. Basically, by taking one serving before my workout I get an energy boost to my muscles that helps me get through the workout. That same serving helps me bounce back quicker with less delayed onset muscle soreness occurring.


Every night before I go to bed I take a magnesium pill. Magnesium is calming and helps muscles relax which can help with sleep issues (which I have sometimes), but it also aids in the muscle recovery process. Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory which can help with post-workout inflammation and it relieves tight muscles which are a common result of lactic acid build up.

Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM)

Natural Eggshell Membrane was recommended to me by my chiropractor because it is known to help repair cartilage and because Glucosamine makes me nauseous ---> which I learned before having my meniscectomy. NEM contains naturally occurring glucosamine (so no side effects) which in some research is said to also help repair damaged tissue and reduce inflammation aiding muscle recovery.

While I started taking these supplements for other reasons, I will happily enjoy the extra benefit of less muscle soreness.

What I use (affiliate links):

BPI Sports Best BCAA Powder - arctic ice flavor

Life Extension Magnesium - 160mg

Healthy Origins Natural Eggshell Membrane

Do your supplements have super powers?

Today I'm doing the link-up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Week of Supersets and Aha! Moments

After a busy holiday week, last week went the other direction and things were mostly quiet on the home front. Not that I feel like doing much when the weather is either hot or rainy with a large side of humidity to go with both. I did get out and enjoy my brand new Oofos one afternoon when the sun was out (affiliate).

I also enjoyed my workouts this week. One thing I love about carb cycling (and I probably sound like a broken record) is the variety in the workouts. Even the strength training workouts vary day to day and week to week.

By the way - if you are interested, you can learn more about the Faster Way to Fat Loss® carb cycling program I did here (affiliate). The next round starts July 16!!

Interval Workouts:
I did elliptical sprints on Monday, which I bumped up to 25 this week. I think it might be time to increase the interval and recovery times instead of number to complete. I just haven't been feeling the same intensity as I used to. On Tuesday I grabbed an old yoga mat and headed to the park for another HIIT workout. Full-body workouts are always intense and this one was no different. My low intensity sustained state cool down walk literally cooled me off when it started raining.

Strength Training:
This week all of the strength workouts featured supersets ---> A superset is performed when two exercises are performed in a row without stopping. The exercises can work opposing muscles or similar muscle groups. Because there is no stopping between exercises each rep is more effective and more calories are burned than with a typical workout. Supersets are also good for boosting metabolism because your heart rate is up and your body works harder to recover.

I loved doing a week of supersets! It reminded me of how we did the exercises in Bodypump class with the break coming between tracks. It feels like you are pushing each muscle group to the max and then you move on to the next superset. 

It was also fun to have some exercises on the plan that were new to me or different from the usual, like face pulls. I had actually never done them before. They're tough!

Active Rest Days: 
Friday morning instead of yoga, I volunteered in the soup kitchen of a homeless shelter. Chopping, washing, rinsing, and serving sounds easy enough, but my arms and back muscles were tired after only two hours. Sunday I did Balancing Flow - a 30 minute Yoga with Adriene vinyasa video and then squeezed in a nice 2 mile walk with mrC. There is a strong monsoon warning and the winds are sooo nice, but too strong for us to get out on our SUP boards this weekend (affiliate).

I had a couple of aha! moments this week ---> non scale victories that gave me little boost in confidence.

1. During my leg day workout (which had a circuit warmup, 5 supersets, PLUS a treadmill hill repeat workout) I realized that two weeks ago I couldn't lift that weight or do that many reps and what seemed hard is now a warmup.

2. After seeing a number on the scale that discouraged me, I put on a pair of shorts that I hadn't worn because they were uncomfortably snug and they felt great.

Do you use supersets in your training?
What was your last aha! moment?

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Monday, July 2, 2018

4th of July Week: Holidays and Working Out

Let me start this post by saying (because I haven't blogged since last week's Weekly Wrap), Happy Independence Day America!!

I think we would all agree that staying on track with fitness and food choices can be extra challenging during a holiday. My week was busy. I allowed myself some grace and that took the pressure off. In the end, I enjoyed myself and my choices didn't throw my nutrition off by much.

The key to my success is everything in moderation. I don't try to be perfect, just the best that I can while enjoying life. Plus, it's bloody hot in Hong Kong and a strawberry daiquiri is quite cooling ;)

Monday & Tuesday:  I stuck to HIIT workouts. I always do my workouts fasted, but Monday's elliptical sprints kicked my butt! On Tuesday I took my Tabata workout to the park. It was hot, humid and the total body session was tough! I like the way a tough workout feels when it's over though. I guess that's why I keep doing them.

Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday: Strength training days. This week's arm workout included 10 to 1s. This looks like an innocent workout, but it's haaarrrd. My arms felt like they would fall off and I was only using 3 pounds by the end. Leg Day took place in my old fitness center in Shenzhen. It was fun and a little weird to be back in my old workout space.

We celebrated the 4th of July twice this week. On Wednesday we went to a friend's cookout. It was fun showing off our patriotism. I was so excited to have a cheeseburger off the grill. We don't have one here and we miss it a lot.

On Thursday we attended the Celebration of the US Consulate General's 175th year in Hong Kong as guests of the US Consulate through my work with the American Women's Association Hong Kong Hosts program. It was probably one of the fanciest and highest security parties I will ever attend. US Consul General Kurt Tong was obviously there, but so was Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR Carrie Lam (she's the top political official in HK). It was an impressive event.

Friday & Sunday:  I did my normal active rest day yoga which I am really enjoying again. Then on Sunday the weather stayed dry long enough for a morning paddle. It was picture perfect right until we were literally pulling the boards out of the water. Then it rained.

As I mentioned earlier, we went to our old neighborhood in China to have dinner with friends on Friday and see what has changed (because things are always changing in China!).

So after a fun filled, super busy week I still managed to get in every workout and not go too crazy with my eating and drinking.

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Staying On Track

This post has affiliate links.

It was another good week of carb cycling. mrC and I have been faithfully following the eating schedule and matching workouts from FASTer Way to Fat Loss®. Already we are seeing changes and feeling better. And we are having fun!

Monday and Tuesday were low carb days. I did one sprint swimming workout and one HIIT workout at home. My swimming sprints (25 meter freestyle sprint, 25 meter breaststroke recovery x10) were good. I was able to push myself on the sprints because I was the first one in the only lap lane. My HIIT workout was ok, but I didn't push myself as hard as I could have --> cue goal for next time.

Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday I did strength training. I have to admit that I am really enjoying using weights again. I've been going to the fitness center for these workouts because I need the variety of weights equipment and I'm trying to go heavy on leg day. It's still a learning process to figure what is too light versus too heavy. At the end of each session I add in a plank workout and on Thursday I swam 300 meters.

Friday and Sunday were active recovery. I did some yoga both days because my body needs that extra stretch session, but we also took our inflatable SUP boards out on Sunday. It was really windy so I got more of a workout than I anticipated, but it was still fun being on the boards.

We lost faith in the scale at the fitness center after getting vastly different readings one week apart. Instead, we decided to purchase a smart scale for home use and found this Mifit for a reasonable price. This smart scale shows more than just our weight. We now also know our body score which includes assessment of body fat, BMI, muscle, water, bone mass and more.

In terms of personal results, I focus mostly on how I feel in my clothes, but I am also a data junkie and like seeing the numbers confirm my progress. It also gives me another challenge to increase my muscle over fat percentage.

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!