Fitness Update

fitness update

Over the past few years I’ve made working out a huge priority. I did CrossFit 4-5 times a week for a year and a half, then when we moved I started going to a normal gym and running (more like a slow jog and lots of walks) with my dog until I found some workout studios that were right for me.

I’m definitely a class person. I’m not good at just going to the gym and doing a workout on my own. I want to just show up, and have someone tell me what to do. Which is why I started going to [solidcore] and Mind the Mat.

I started going to both of these workout studios in late December so now that it’s May (where did the year go!?!) it’s been a solid four months of dedicated workouts so I thought it was a good time to do a little update, and also because some of you have been asking me for a fitness update!

So over the last four months I can say that I definitely prioritized my workouts. I plan things around them, I’m “busy” when someone asks me to meet during the time of my workout. To me, it’s just as important as any other meeting and has to be treated as so or it might not happen. Because if I’m not healthy and I don’t take care of my body, I can’t function anyway. I look at it as you only get one body in your lifetime so you need to take care of it if you want it to last. And isn’t going through life feeling good much better than going through life feeling icky, being sick, and having pain, and being immobile? Obviously just working out cannot fully prevent getting sick etc., but it helps!

You might have read how I started working out in the morning (when I was doing CrossFit and going to the gym I would go at 5 or 6 pm). I started going to [solidcore] at 6:30 am about 3 times a week. I didn’t mind it at all, I actually love working out that early and getting it out of the way and still having my entire workday versus having the workout cut into typical work hours.

I haven’t been to [solidcore] super early in a while as I started going to the later morning classes around 9 am because I had been having trouble sleeping. I had a few projects that were giving me a little anxiety and I just wasn’t sleeping well, and since I don’t have to workout at 6:30 am because I work for myself and I can do it whenever I want, I felt like getting enough sleep and working out later in the morning was better for my health at the time. But now I’m sleeping better and can certainly go back to early mornings.

Also, the classes and teachers I like to take at Mind the Mat are all during the 9 am hour, and I enjoy those classes so much that I don’t care what time they are at, I’m going to them. I go to Georgia’s yoga class, and Megan Brown’s Hawt Pilates, and just started going to her Pilates Barre class as well.

Thanks to technology and personal tracking, I know exactly how many times I worked out each month and where. I did a combination of [solidcore], pilates, yoga, and going to the gym, plus had a few of what I consider “active days” where I either was outside working in the yard, painting the fence, painting a mural that required lots of climbing up and down ladders and scaffolding, etc.

In January I worked out 23/31 days. Four of the days I didn’t workout was because I tweaked my neck during a workout and didn’t feel like it was a good idea to workout with the pain.

In February I worked out 26/28 days. Plus I did several doubles where I worked out twice in one day. February was definitely my best and most dedicated month.

In March I worked out 23/31 days.

April was a bit of a different story. I “worked out” 20/31 days, but several of those 20 were what I consider “active days” where my husband and I spent 8+ hours doing yard work, or painting our fence, or me doing some other type of physical thing for most of the day. Painting a fence might not seem active, but we were basically doing hundreds of squats over an entire workday. I was so sore. So April wasn’t my best workout showing which means I need to STEP IT UP in May.

I have a really busy next few months work wise but I will not let that deter me. I’ve learned I just have to schedule it in and stay dedicated.

So, how do I feel and what changes have I seen in my body after all of this?

[SOLIDCORE]

The workout I did the most during the last four months was [solidcore]. I wish I had done it even more often than I did, but sometimes you have to give your body a break. I can definitely say that [solidcore] definitely works your core more than most other workouts. The core and arms part of the class are still the hardest for me (give me legs and glutes all day!) but that probably means I need to work on my abs and arms even more. They even have classes dedicated to abs and arms but I don’t like going to them because I’m the worst at abs and arms. I love the legs and glutes part of the workout.

I used to hate the bungee, but now I hope it’s in every class and I can see how much better I’m getting at it. The slow lunges are so hard but I love them.

When I started the class I couldn’t do ANYTHING more than one rep on my toes. I did the entire workout on my knees. Now I can do parts of it on my toes but still have to go down to my knees. I’ve definitely seen more definition in my abs and all of my muscles. My abs I’ve seen the most definition in my upper abs. My glutes and quads are more defined, my arms are noticeably bigger and stronger.

So after four months, I can definitely see improvement. Moves I could hardly do in the beginning I can do now. I’m still not one of the stronger people in the class, but I’m way stronger than I was four months ago. I have certain moves I like, others that I don’t.

I also have a problem with my hip flexors firing when I’m supposed to be using my abs. This is a problem for me in a lot of the workouts I do.

My lower abs are probably the weakest and the hardest for me to turn on. I have to focus really hard to get them to fire, and they are weak so it doesn’t take long to wear them out.

[solidcore] is one of those workouts where you work the entire time. Which I love, when I’m in a class, I want every second to be working. It’s also low impact and is hard to hurt yourself — you are on a machine the entire workout. While it’s super hard, it’s nothing to be scared of. You should definitely try it, but I think you have to give it like 5 classes before you decide whether you like it or not. The first few classes you are just trying to figure out the machine and the moves so I don’t think you really get a sense of if you will like it or not.

PILATES & YOGA

Now let’s talk about pilates and yoga. I take those classes at Mind the Mat and I’m officially hooked. I’ve always loved yoga and I really just feel much better when I’m going regularly. I like the heat, and I think getting stretched out and twisted up, and sweating it all out is great for your body. I challenge myself a lot and am so close to getting headstand on my own. I think if I went everyday or every other day versus just 2x a week, I probably would have it already. So there is definitely room for improvement. I want to try going more often and see what that does for me.

Pilates is something a little new to me. I’ve taken a few reformer classes with my friend Hilary. I’ve taken a few mat classes at other studios, and [solidcore] is sort of similar to pilates, and while I loved the reformer classes and obviously [solidcore], none of the mat classes stuck with me. That was until I was talked into taking Megan Brown’s Hawt Pilates class. And wow, it’s unlike any other pilates class I’ve ever taken. I get SO SWEATY and the workout is insane. I’m not great at it since I’m still working on my abs, which is why the class is so good for me because I need all the ab work I can get.

Yoga is helping me stretch out, pilates is helping me strengthen and tone and giving me a bit of cardio, and [solidcore] is toning and strengthening as well.

LOOKING AHEAD

I’m definitely stronger than I’ve ever been. While doing CrossFit definitely helped me build muscle, I wasn’t a big fan of all the heavy weight. I think weight lifting in general is great, but since the workouts that I’m doing with pilates and [solidcore] are giving me that strength without the weights I just don’t want to go lift weights. And I just my class workouts better.

One thing I feel like I’m missing is cardio. To really achieve what I’m going for, I need to add some cardio in. Now that it’s getting nice outside, this is something I plan to do on my own (no classes). Taking the dog on long walks and even try to run a little more, I want to go on some hikes, and also getting my bike out and doing long bike rides.

Over the past few years of I’d say a pretty good dedication to working out, I can tell you that at my age (35) working out just isn’t enough (for me at least). What you eat is so important. I haven’t been great at restricting my diet besides when I did this diet for 2-3 months last year. And if you feel like you are working out consistently for a year and maybe you’ve hit a plateau or you aren’t seeing the results you thought you’d see, really try to work on what you are eating.  I know it kinda sucks, I’d rather workout than not eat bread, but it’s just how it is.

I love food. I love good food. I love cheese, and carbs, and wine, and sugar. And restricting your diet just isn’t the most fun. I don’t love cooking, and I’m picky so I’m not just going to munch on a bunch of raw veggies. Eating really healthy is just hard and time-consuming. I try to do it by making it simple, but I get tempted by yummy things all the time. I’m not perfect but I try. But I should probably try a lot harder.

I’ve been thinking about this food thing lately and a few things are on my mind. One is that I think my portion sizes have been a little out of control. Just eating too much. While I’m pretty good at not over-eating, I hate the feeling of being full, I still feel like at times I eat too fast and I really just didn’t need that much pasta if I would have eaten slower. So portions is something I’m working on figuring out. Eat something small and then see when you get hungry again before eating a ton of food all at once.

I’ve also been listening to a lot of health-related podcasts. I’m obviously not a doctor, nutritionist or fitness/health professional AT ALL so my opinions and thoughts on these things are just that — my opinions. You do you. But a few things have stuck in my mind. One was that one guy said if you are trying to lose weight and diet by eating less calories you are just going to be hungry sometimes. I just thought it was refreshing that he said that. I’ve never really heard anyone be so honest in a relatable way about it.

Another person (and no I don’t remember which podcast I heard this on) said eat the amount of calories you think you need for fuel for the next 3 hours. So if you are just going to be sitting around doing nothing, obviously you don’t need that many calories. If you are about to go workout in 2 hours, fuel your body for it. I thought that was an interesting way to think about food as well.

I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong and all the experts disagree half the time. I think you have to decide what you want, what works for you, and how hard you’re willing to work and how far you are willing to go to reach what you want to reach for yourself. I know what I want in my mind. It’s not a number, it’s just a feeling.

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Photo by Emma Weiss