Monday, January 25, 2016

How I Survived the Big Chill + Some Workouts

It seems like everyone is dealing with winter weather lately. Blizzards in the US and the coldest temperatures on record in Shenzhen. This tropical climate city even had some freezing rain! Apartments in China are not built for cold weather. We have single pane windows and tile floors. But we are one of the lucky ones who have a combination AC/heating unit.

This morning we were up early (4AM!) to watch the Patriots vs Broncos. During half time, I warmed up a little by doing a 10 minute inner thigh video from Pop Sugar. Going to feel that one.

Since the sun was shining, I ventured out to meet the hiking group, even though the feels like temperature was only 28 degrees (F). A few layers plus a few stairs and we warmed up nicely. It was a great hike on a new peak (recap to follow).

When I got home from the hike, the obvious choice for lunch was a big bowl of chili followed up by curling up the couch for some Netflix. It wasn't long before I took a little nap.

After my cat nap, I layered on some fitness gear and warmed up with my day 3 Yoga Camp video. The cold tile floors wore me down and I had to put on a pair of Zensahs.

I also did a plank workout that I created a few days ago. My goal is to do this at least 3 times per week to try to get back my core strength. I set my gym boss timer to 30 seconds work and 3 seconds rest. I struggle through the last set of leg lifts, but that's how I'll get stronger, right? If you try it, let me know what you think.

The forecast for the rest of the week is rain, so mrC took me out for dinner when he got home from work. We spotted Chinese New Year preparations.

To give you an idea of how people here are dealing with the big chill, our favorite Mexican restaurant provided this version of indoor heating!

 Fun day!

Now we're off to watch this week's Downton Abbey!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Yoga, Yoga, Yoga!

Since I haven't been running lately, yoga has become my new obsession. I never thought I would say that, but a perfect storm of all things yoga just kind of happened...

It started with Pilates class. I started taking Pilates to try to fill the space missing from my SurfSet and Bootcamp days at TI Fitness. I fell in love with Pilates. I love that for 60 minutes I work my butt off while confined to my yoga mat and only using my bodyweight. My instructor is amazing and I can feel myself getting better and stronger. I just wish the class was offered more than once a week.

Then the SweatPink #flexandflow Challenge started on Instagram. It's a pose of the day challenge and I find these completely addictive and motivational. I love seeing everyone's photos and the different variations.

And recently I found Yoga Camp with Adriene. I signed up because it's a home-based program, FREE, and her videos are (so far) short enough to cooperate with my unreliable China internet. I'm so excited to complete the 30 day camp and improve my yoga. You should check it out here.

I used to only do yoga for stretching after a run. Sometimes.

Now, the more I do it, the more I like it.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dragon's Back and Big Wave Bay

One thing is for sure. There are plenty of hiking options in China.

My latest hiking adventure was to the popular Dragon's Back in Hong Kong. To get there you have to cross the border. I did this at Shenzhen Bay with the rest of the group coming from the Shekou area. We take the bus to Central (¥45 and 45 minutes) and disembarked at Shun Tak Center where we catch the metro to Shau Kei Wan. This is where we met up with the rest of the group coming from Futian to catch the bus the trail head.

Seems like a lot of work to get there, doesn't it?

It's worth it.  The hike is a moderate one; long, but not an excessive amount of climbing. The climbing was mostly on flat terrain, but we came across some parts that were a little more challenging. I was told the hike was going to be 8.5 km, but I think it was longer than that.

At the top, the views were amazing. You can see where the mountain actually resembles a dragon's back. There was also a very nice place to stop and have lunch.

We came off the mountain at Big Wave Bay. The beach is beautiful and the sound of the waves is just heavenly! We enjoyed a little break here: some ladies took a dip in the water and some enjoyed a beverage from the friendly snack shack.


If you don't have a Hong Kong Octopus card, get one. It is accepted on HK metro, buses, and many shops and restaurants. I've even used it at the grocery. Makes traveling so much easier.

Pack a lunch. There are no (guaranteed) places to purchase food or beverages on this hiking route. If you're eating with a group, it's also fun to share food!

Bring your suit. It's a tropical climate, so even on a chilly day in January the water will be warm. Big Wave Bay has changing rooms available.

BYOTT. Bring your own toilet tissue. This is a given anywhere in China, but the toilets along the hike are what I would call for emergency only.

Wear layers. As with most mountain hikes, it's windy at the top. We were sweating one minute and freezing the next. In the summer, I would say bring lots of sunscreen and an umbrella for shade.

Other China hiking posts I've written:

Exploring Chiwan, Shenzhen

Shenzhen International Garden & Flower Expo Park

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Non-running Fitness Back-up Plan

For the past few years, running has been a huge part of my life. I even started this blog! I started 2015 rehabbing from knee surgery and set a goal with my Moms Run This Town group to run 300 miles. I exceeded that goal finishing the year with 422 miles, but it wasn't the calendar that brought my running to a stop. It was my knee.

I've been afraid to talk about the possibility of not running, but the reality is that my running days might be numbered. At first, this was devastating on so many different levels. Running is my thing. It's how I stay fit, deal with life, vent my frustrations. It's been the focal point of much of my social time. Practically ALL of my friends run!

Obviously, I had to come up with a back-up plan.  First I needed a schedule. Any runner will understand the need to know what to do on certain days of the week. My plan needed lots of cardio to mimic running workouts and strength/stretching to increase the odds of a runner come-back. And, I figured if this is going to work, I needed a goal.

Two things were right there ready to help me with my new non-running fitness plan.

Booya Fitness: I've mentioned that I am working with Booya and created a 4 week training plan called the Chilly Challenge. This plan has everything: yoga, HIIT, strength and it is already all laid out for me. I decided to sign up and get to work!

PS: Now is a great time to try Booya Fitness and join the Resolution Challenge! You can get rewarded for sticking to your New Year's resolutions with some AWESOME prizes and a rockin' body! Learn more here.

Oiselle Run Love Challenge: I'm teaming up with Nicolasa for the next 6 weeks and our goal is to do strength workouts at least 3 times a week! We'll be hitting it all: arms, abs, legs! This challenge will give me even more motivation to stick to my plan.

My workout plan still has room for Monday hikes, Wednesday Zumba, and Friday Pilates. No need to get rid of workouts that are already in place and that don't hurt, right?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Holiday Sweat Challenge Wrap Up including Fitness in Vietnam

After my last run two weeks ago, I've been in Pouty-ville. No running, no blogging. Lots of pouting.

After a couple of days following RICE protocols to alleviate the swelling and discomfort in my knee, I was motivated to do some light strength workouts.

Dirty Dozen Arms 3x (with my new hand weights!)
Awaken the Core - Booya yoga video

And then I went to Vietnam, for Christmas, to join mrC for a few days. I would have loved to run there, especially along the beach, but honestly I was too nervous to try. So instead, we included fitness in our little unexpected holiday in other ways.

We spent a day snorkeling in the South China Sea. The boat took us to three different locations where we able to be in the water for an hour each time. It felt so good to be moving through the water.

We went on a 18K bike ride and swam in a waterfall in the Vietnam country side. The bike ride was work as we made our way through some rolling hills, but the scenery made up for it. After the ride, we hiked and climbed a couple more kilometers to the waterfall.

After returning to Shenzhen, I made a trip to the fitness center to replace Pilates that was cancelled on New Years Day.

30 minutes elliptical
Dirty Dozen Arms 2x (with 5 pound weights)
5 laps in the pool

On Sunday I woke up to rainy weather so instead of riding my bike or walking to the fitness center in the rain, I went with an at-home backup plan. I even did a workout from my Booya Fitness training plan! (click the picture below to see it for yourself).

Dirty Dozen Arms 3x - my home weights are lighter
Yoga Express --> Chilly Challenge day 1!

Overall, the Holiday Sweat Challenge had some up and downs for me, but I crushed over 3000 minutes of fitness and more than 100 servings of freggies! Now I am ready to focus on a new year and a new me. I don't know if I will be running in 2016, but I do know there will be fitness!

How are you starting 2016?