Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holiday Sweat Challenge: Week 3 Update

Week 3 of the Holiday Sweat Challenge was about getting moving and having fun!

I'm all about making fitness fun. At the beginning of the week I celebrated reaching day 50 of my run streak. And, on Thanksgiving Day I joined the Runner's World Holiday Run Streak Challenge to add some extra motivation to streaking through New Year's Day and because it just sounds fun to streak with runners all over the world.

How about a little pineapple spin to make a plate full of freggies fun? mrC and I found a great little Thai restaurant at one of the malls near us and I couldn't resist the sweet and sour chicken with veggies and pineapple.

Getting moving means getting hydrated too. I use my Simple Hydration bottle to make running with water easier. Easier for me means I'm more likely to keep my body hydrated properly and that keep me moving!

I'm the type of person who likes to have fun and get moving with a group. I used to start Thanksgiving Day with a 10K race in Cincinnati, but this year I joined a group of SWIC ladies for an awesome 4 hour hike on Lamma Island in Hong Kong. I will also add that at two different times that day, several of us were running to catch a bus!

For most of my life I have been fortunate to have the day after Thanksgiving off from work so fitting in some post-turkey fitness has usually been easy. This year was no exception. After a Thanksgiving dinner buffet at the local Hilton, mrC and I got out to burn off some of those calories with a morning run.

I'm thankful that I am still able to get moving and have fun despite having moved to the other side of world away from family and friends. I'm thankful for the technology that lets me keep in touch with my loved ones and still enjoy the important moments. I'm thankful for mrC and this amazing adventure that we are able to experience together. I'm thankful for the three incredible step children I have in my life. I'm thankful for the new friends I have met, the old friends that remain in my life, and my best friend who is there no matter what miles separate us.

What are you thankful for this year?
How did you get moving and have fun last week?
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Sweat Challenge: Week 2 Update

Week 2 of the Holiday Sweat Challenge with Fit Approach was all about the core!

At the beginning of the week I set my core strength goals. My focus is to continue to increase my core strength, but I needed a way to test myself. At the beginning of the week I could hold a plank for about 1 minute and I could barely do 1 full range of motion push-up (not on my knees).

Every day I practiced my planks and push-ups and completed a core workout. I found some good ones on Pop Sugar Fitness, but the one I liked most was from RunToTheFinish's Amanda. She puts together good dynamic core workouts, ones that combine strength and stability.

The call for creative core workouts inspired me to think beyond my normal plank routine and challenge my body in different ways. I've always heard that it's good to mix things up and make the body work in ways it's not used to.

On Thursday I hit my plank goal! This was just what I needed to motivate me to keep working on my push-ups which continue to be a struggle for me.

On Friday, my core workout took place at Pilates. 60 minutes of strength, stretch, and sweat on a yoga mat. Sometimes during class, it feels like all I'm able to accomplish is slip and slide in my own sweat, but then later my muscles tell me that I actually did work my body.

At the end of the week, I could hold my standard and forearm plank for 90 seconds. Push-ups have always been harder for me. I was able to increase my full ROM to 4 (squeezing out that last one), but I still have a lot of work to do to get to 10...and then more.

Did you reach your fitness goals last week?

Friday, November 20, 2015

How to Watch TV without a TV: Perfect for TM Long Runs

Whenever I was forced to do a long run on the treadmill, I queued up something to watch on TV. I was usually limited to whatever I could find playing at the time and let's face it, sometimes there is nothing on TV!

Now watching TV without a TV is not a problem thanks to NBC TVEverywhere. And if you are a runner, this makes treadmill long runs just a little more bearable.

NBC TVEverywhere makes it easy to watch full episodes the day after they air, or as I like to do most often, binge watch full episodes of your favorite shows right from my laptop/desktop.  NBC TVEverywhere is better than a DVR because it works no matter where you are. Just log on to the website, find your show, and hit play. 

I've recently developed an interest in CIA/FBI/spy programs, so the NBC show The Blacklist quickly became one of my favorites. The 3rd season is about a manhunt for FBI agent Liz Keen who is on the run with a known criminal. Meanwhile a major manhunt is being led by her former colleagues and she is trying to stay one step ahead of them. It's intense. Maybe watching Agent Keen on the run helps me keep my legs moving?!

I've also been a big fan of The Voice ever since a local Manchester, NH man was invited to compete in the vocal competition. I didn't get to see every episode, but I remember he did win his first battle. The show has been on now for 9 seasons and the competition just keeps getting better and better. This show is like a live concert and music always makes my runs go by faster.

mrC has been a fan of Chicago Fire ever since his cousin was hired as an extra in an episode where there was a train wreck. I like the show because you get a day in the life view of what it's like to be a fire fighter. And my BFF's husband happens to be a fire fighter/EMT, so I feel like I'm rooting for him when I watch the show. 

Try it yourself. Click any image above to find out how easy it is to watch TV without the TV!

Which show would you choose to watch during your treadmill long run?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Catching Up: In Pictures

Friday morning I went on a 4 hour hike. The SWIC hiking group explored Phoenix Mountain in Shenzhen.

Later, I dodged some down pours to get in my run. The weather was cool, which was nice, but I was so tired from the hike. I'm happy to see my pace is back to my "normal."

This morning I went to a Health & Wellness Fair. It was in an area of Shenzhen that I had never been to before, but I found my way there. It was small, but nice because it was an English speaking event. I attended an interesting talk on positive energy, browsed the displays, and tried Body Flex fitness (which focused on breathing during exercise). I also came home with a nice gift bag and some goodies that I couldn't resist purchasing.

When my heart is heavy, I run.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Reasons to Love Planking

Each week I leave my apartment with the hopes that someone will be waiting to join me for a run, but lately it has been just me. I used to walk to the meeting place for the running group, but today it dawned on me that I really should be running. I hate to admit it, but I figured no one would be there, and it seemed silly to waste my time walking.

After waiting about 10 minutes, I continued to do one of my regular routes to the Peninsula light house and then down to the mermaid statue and back. Even though the sky looks kind of ominous in the picture, it was nearly a perfect day for running. If the temps are going to stay in the 70s, then thank you very much for cloudy skies.

Today's prompt for the Holiday Sweat Challenge asked, what's your favorite strengthening move? For me, without hesitation, it's the plank. When I got to the lighthouse, I thought it would be a perfect backdrop for a plank photo and that got me thinking about why I love planking so much...besides the obvious strength benefits.

1. I can stop and plank anywhere (as demonstrated above). This makes it convenient to do even a little strength training at home, in the gym, when traveling...ANYWHERE!

2. There are so many ways to plank that it's very easy to keep it fresh and new. In the photo I'm doing a standard plank, but I also like to challenge myself with some dynamic planks like spiderman or up-downs.

3. No equipment needed. This makes it easy to do planks anywhere because all you need is you! No need to worry about buying weights or finding a gym, just stop, drop, and plank! *On a side note, adding props can increase the difficulty of a plank. For example, balance hands or feet on a bosu, medicine, or stability ball.

PopSugar has a great 1-minute video that shows how to do 12 plank variations:

I mentioned the other day that my right calf was feeling tight and a knot had formed on the inside. Add a lot of jumping at Zumba last night and it was feeling tighter. Before my run this morning, I foam rolled my whole body, but spent extra time on my calves, then I stretched. I recently read that it's just as important to stretch after foam rolling as it is after your workout.

My calf felt much better during today's run than the last couple of days. After completing my daily F2F Challenge workout, I brought out the stick and spent just a couple more minutes rolling it out.

One part of the Holiday Sweat Challenge is to track your freggie (fruit & vegi) eating habits. I don't eat nearly as much as most people. Today I tossed some spinach into my scrambled eggs and felt pretty proud of myself.

What's your favorite strengthening move?
What do you love about planking?
Favorite way to sneak in more freggies?