Fitness Check-In

fitness check-in january 2015

I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin.  I have read and re-read her books on happiness, and I am anxiously awaiting her new book on habits, Better Than Before, which will be available in March.  While researching her book, she developed a theory about how different people start and maintain new habits.  Basically, it has to do with the way people respond to internal and external obligations. She breaks people into 4 categories: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.  (If you’re interested, you can read more about it and take a quiz here.)

I fall into the Obliger category, meaning that I naturally meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations.  In Rubin’s words:”>Obligers are motivated by external accountability; they wake up and think, “What must I do today?” Obligers excel at meeting external demands and deadlines, and go to great lengths to meet their responsibilities, so they make terrific colleagues, family members, and friends. Others rely on them tremendously. However, because Obligers resist inner expectations, it can be difficult for them to self-motivate—to work on a Ph.D. thesis, to attend networking events, to get their car serviced.

In order for Obligers to establish new habits, Rubin recommends creating external expectations to hold us to our desired goals.  I’ve been in a bit of a rut when it comes to working out lately, so I’m going to try to put her recommendations to use.  Here are her suggestions for Obligers:

• Hire a fitness trainer, personal organizer, financial planner, coach, nutritionist, or other accountability partner

• Team up with a friend who will be disappointed if you don’t follow through, or take a class with a teacher who will notice if you don’t participate

• Consider yourself as a role model to children, employees, friends, and the like, to be an example of fulfilling commitments, showing respect for yourself, or modeling good behavior

On a personal note, I’ve noticed that the external motivation of paying race entry fees can be very motivating for me — I guess it’s the combination of being an Obliger and a tightwad.

One of my goals for the year is to run a half-marathon, but I’m in a workout rut these days (the cold weather isn’t helping).  Apparently I need some external motivation to kick me into gear.

I signed up for a half-marathon in April with a friend who I know will bug me to make sure I’m training for it.  But we live far apart so we won’t be able to do most of our runs together.  I need to start doing some longer training runs soon.

Who else out there is trying to get into a fitness routine or training for a long race?  I need an accountability buddy!  And if you have a long-distance workout buddy, how does it work?  Do you log your workouts on something like Dailymile or Map my Run?  Bug each other via text?  I love to hear how you’ve made it work.

Anyone else out there a Gretchen Rubin fan?  Where do you fall in the Rubin Tendencies?

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Fitness in the Fall

Fitness in the Fall

It’s officially COLD outside here in Missouri and the holidays are right around the corner. For me, that means food! I’m not just talking about the pumpkin pie, stuffing, and Christmas cookies… don’t forget about all those other yummy treats that make an appearance during the holidays: tins of Topsy’s popcorn, homemade Chex mix with bacon, and perhaps a few extra glasses of wine.I don’t mind treating myself to a few extra goodies during the holidays, but I try to balance it out with some extra exercise. During most of the year, I love to get outdoors and walk, hike, and bike in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks where I live. But the temperatures hit 10° this week so I’m having to get creative with some indoor workouts. I don’t belong to a gym so I truly do have to get creative.

Join me at Missouri Women Bloggers where I share how I stay active through the winter months.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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September Goals

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This summer was all about survival mode, but I am tentatively dipping my toes back into the water here at my beloved little blog, and of course that includes my monthly goals post. In the first draft of this post, I started by brainstorming all the goals that I might want to work on for the month, and I came up with over 15!  Umm…. that’s not good.  Apparently I’m a bit of a jack-rabbit when it comes to setting goals.  (You know, those runners that start out super fast, but they’re walking by the halfway point?)

I don’t want to set myself up for failure, so I’m forcing myself to pick one area and really focus on it for the month.  My blog-friend Steph is hosting a Choose your Own Adventure goals challenge, so I decided to pick a simple goal that goes along with their theme for the month (September — fitness), and actually try to do it for 30 days, instead of letting my jack-rabbit brain go off in a million directions.

So here it is: a simple fitness goal for September. I want to walk or run for 30 minutes a day, and do Mutu ab exercises every day.  (There may be a sticker chart involved.)

I’ll report back at the beginning of October to let you know how I did!

Life According to Steph
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Beyond “losing the baby weight” — diastasis recti

I had my second child nine months ago, and I’m one of those annoying people that loses lots of weight while breastfeeding, so I’ve been back in my normal clothes for a few months now, lower than my pre-pregnancy weight, etc. But as the weight came off everywhere else, I couldn’t help but notice that my belly just didn’t seem to be shrinking like the rest of my body. I tried to be patient with my body for several months, but something just seemed off.

To start with, I’ve always been shaped like a pear, not an apple, so being thicker around the middle just didn’t seem like my normal body composition. And it wasn’t just a flabby gut, it was like my stomach muscles were sticking out way further than they should be. I have to admit, there was a wee bit of vanity going on, too. Basically, I felt like I was in the awkward stage of pregnancy where your normal clothes don’t fit but maternity clothes are like a tent.

I started researching online and discovered that ab separation, or diastasis recti, is fairly common after pregnancy. A lot of people hear me talk about this and assume it’s a horizontal separation from my abs being cut during my c-section. (They don’t actually cut your abs, FYI.) But this is a vertical split down the middle of your “6-pack abs” (rectus abdominus).

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Diastasis recti is caused by the weakening of the inner layer of abdominal muscles called the transverse abdominus, that runs horizontally around your trunk like a corset and holds everything in, underneath the ab muscles you’re probably more familiar with, like the obliques and “6-pack” muscles. Without the strength of that underlying transverse muscle, my reasonably strong outer ab muscles just splay out and give me that 2nd trimester look, as well as cause lower back/upper glute pain. (From what I understand, the weak abs put more strain on the back to compensate.)

I did the test that I found online to check if I had it, and by my measurements I had about a 4-finger-width separation. (It should be zero.). I called my OB’s office to ask what I should do about it, and after disagreeing with the nurse’s over-the-phone assessment that I’d probably need surgery…(I’ve had two c-sections, that’s quite enough surgery for me)…she spoke with the doctor and he referred me to a physical therapist.

the physical therapist confirmed that I have a 4-4.5 finger gap, and that this is a legitimate medical issue — I’m not just being vain about my stomach being poochy!  She said that left untreated, the gap can widen, especially when you try to do traditional ab workouts.  I’ve had four PT sessions so far, and my exercises are mostly squeezing core muscles, either my abs or my back, and squats. Crunches actually make it worse, and my PT recommended to avoid most core work (planks etc) until I closed the gap to at least 2 finger widths.

I am still able to run, but I’m really supposed to pay attention to keeping good posture/alignment, and she recommended not doing long distances because generally you get too tired to keep your core engaged.

After learning so much about diastasis recti, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s much more common than most people realize. I hope that sharing my experience here might help someone else.

I took some pictures of myself at the beginning of my PT, but I don’t quite have a successful “before and after” to share with you yet.  I’ve heard it can take anywhere from a few months to a year to fully close the gap.  I’ll keep you updated!

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Nothing is small, in fact…

Photo Credit: Chicago Man via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Chicago Man via Compfight cc

I had just arrived in Chicago with one of my best friends, and we were running a half-marathon the next morning.  This was a big deal for us; it was her first half-marathon, and my first since having a baby.  We’d been training for months for this race.  We’d slowly built up our mileage, practiced different fueling strategies, debated carrying water versus water stops, and carefully pondered the placement of the porta-potties along the route.  We’d booked airplane tickets and hotel rooms.  Later that day, we would go to a crowded convention hall on Navy Pier to pick up our race numbers and timing chips.  From my pocket, I unfolded and re-read the pre-race email that detailed our transportation options for getting to the starting line, several miles south of our hotel.

To continue reading and find out what small thing turned out to be a very big thing for that race (and my outlook on life), please check out my guest post at Be, Mama, Be.  

Linking up with the Humpday Blog Hop

The Hump Day Blog Hop
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Why you need a workout buddy

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What’s my inspiration to keep running and to stay active, in the middle of my busy life?  Of course, I want to be healthy for my family, and fitting into my pants is a pretty good motivator too, but when I think about what actually gets me to lace up my running shoes or hit the gym, I’ve only got one word: Amanda.

Yep, Amanda: she’s my workout buddy extraordinaire.  Having a dependable, regular person to work out with has made all the difference in my fitness journey, especially as life has gotten busier and threatened to push fitness to the back burner in my life.

If you want to hear all the reasons that I think you need a workout buddy in your life, click over to my guest post on Running Loving Living.

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What getting back into shape after having a baby *really* looks like

postpartum fitness

Since I’m still in the middle of trying to get back into shape after having a baby, when I got the opportunity to write a guest post for one of my favorite fitness bloggers, I thought I’d share my experience with that process.  If you love your fitness with a side of wonderfully inappropriate swears and hilarious gifs, you should definitely check her out.  Kathy and I do definitely have one thing in common, though — we have “found fitness Jesus.”  If you’ve ever read her blog, you know that getting into shape, not matter what your circumstances, is not easy, but it is worth it.

To read my tips for getting back into shape after having a baby, whether your baby is 6 weeks old or several years old, join me over at Vodka and Soda.  (And yes… that is my real post-partum pooch.  Medals of bravery for putting that picture on the internet may be sent to my attention, c/o “Have you gone mad?”)

If you’re visiting for the first time, here are some more health and fitness posts that you might like to check out!

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The Bobsleddies, Part 2

Photo Credit: [rotten apple] via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: [rotten apple] via Compfight cc

Yesterday I started my mini-Best Of series with a list of my top 5 most-read articles from 2013.  Today I’m highlighting some of my favorites from the year, even if they didn’t get read the most.

My post about Christmas morning at my grandparents’ farm when I was a kid.  Somehow my (surprisingly tech-savvy) grandma found this post and asked me to read it to everyone in my extended family before we started opening presents this year.

My goal setting posts.  Here’s a good one reviewing my August goals — I had a baby in late July, so my August goals were things like “take a nap everyday.”  I love reviewing my goals monthly and coming up with goals/projects that make a concrete impact on my happiness in a relatively short time span.

Sisters in Spirit: Forgiveness was all about the struggles of forgiving myself when I feel like I’ve royally screwed up as a parent — yelled, spanked, and utterly missed the mark when trying to design a punishment that fits the “crime” of a squirrelly three-year-old.

My posts on running/weight lifting/etc. were pretty slim this year, but this one I wrote at 33 1/2 weeks pregnant makes me smile.  I am so proud of myself for continuing to stay active throughout my pregnancy.  I do actually enjoy exercising, so that helped, but since this is my second kid, I knew it would be a lot easier to exercise before the baby came than after!  (5 months post-partum, I can attest to the truth of this statement.)

I loved writing about reading this year!  I know it pushed me to read more than I would have normally, even after my extra reading time during maternity leave came to an end.  I talked about some of my favorite books of the year (Bread & Wine and The Art Forger) in my October Twitterature post.

I got back into scrapbooking this year, using the Project Life system.  (For the uninitiated, it’s basically an album + photo pocket pages + a “core kit” of color-coordinated cards for filling in dates, writing down memories, etc.)  My favorite part was the little Project Life baby book that I created, since I knew there was no way I was going to keep up with a traditional baby book for my second child.

What was your favorite thing you wrote (or read) on a blog this year?

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My Year in Running

Best race experience?  It’s got to be my 5k leg of the Bass Pro Marathon Relay that I ran in early November.  It was my first race after having my second baby. and I totally blew my goal time out of the water.  It was really fun to do a run with my co-workers, too.  (And we beat the Health Department team after they trash-talked us the whole week before!  Booyah.)

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Actually… was that my only race this year?  Oh, no, I also did the Color Run in April (when I was 23 weeks pregnant — more like the Color Walk.)  And there was this:

NOT the Happiest 5K on the Planet for this little boy.

NOT the Happiest 5K on the Planet for this little boy.  This was 8 months ago and he still talks about it.  Except now his version of events goes like this:  “I got too much yellow.  I got a little fussy.”  Uh huh.  A little…

Best run?  I have really good memories of a run on a warm day in February with my running buddy Amanda.  I think it was one of the last days I was able to run before I was diagnosed with low-lying placenta and had to go on some exercise restrictions.  We came across this Valentine’s themed yarn bomb on a sculpture in Park Central Square and I just couldn’t resist having her take my picture with it.

Valentine's yarn bomb!

Valentine’s yarn bomb!

Best new piece of gear?  Arm warmers.  I got hot pink ones from Saucony and they live in my gym bag all the time.  They hardly take up any room and they’ve come in handy many times when I didn’t pack quite warm enough clothes for the weather.

Best piece of running advice you received?  From lots and lots of people when I was whining about feeling like I would never get back into shape after having a baby: take it day by day, be patient, cut yourself some slack, and keep working at it.

Yep -- he was worth it.  Even if my stomach still hasn't quite recovered.

Yep — he was worth it. Even if my stomach still hasn’t quite recovered.

Most inspirational runner?  Laura of Mommy Run Fast.  She’s a super speedy runner, but I was really inspired with how she took a recent injury in stride and backed out of a big race and took some time off to heal fully.  She also writes a great running blog, runs a menu planning link-up with lots of healthy recipes, and has a super cool health coaching business.  Maybe I want to be Laura when I grow up?

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?  Even when I can’t run, I am still a runner.

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Three cheers for running buddies!

How was your Year in _________(whatever it is that you love to do)?  

This post was inspired by Jan from Running on Fumes, linking up with Miss Zippy.

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Bass Pro Marathon Relay

I did it! My first post-baby 5k is under my belt, and it totally rocked, if I do say so myself. The race started at 7am with a 10k leg, and our first runner told me I didn’t need to worry about getting to the start until 8am. That combined with the extra hour of sleep from the daylight savings time switch made for a strangely leisurely race-day morning.

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Get it? Cause we’re city employees?

Since the race was on a Sunday, my husband had to leave early for church stuff.  My friend Kristy volunteered to drive me to my start point and chauffeur my kids around while I was running.  They hung out while I waited for our first runner to show up, but it was pretty cold so eventually they headed back to the car and I kept waiting.

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Obligatory pre-race phone pic.

Our first runner finally appeared, we slapped hands, and I was off! My leg of the race was mostly in my neighborhood and ended up behind the church where my husband used to work. I have run those roads hundreds of times, so I felt right at home. I started humming my pace song and tried to settle into a good rhythm of breathing and footfalls.

(Ever since I was I high school track and ran the two-mile to the beat of Tainted Love, I’ve always tried to find a “pace song” — something familiar that I can sing along to in my head, with a beat that’s the same speed I want to run. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that my pace song for this race was Teenage Dream by Katy Perry. I must have heard it on the radio just before a training run last week, but it had just the right BPM so I just went with it.)

Passing people in a race is always motivating to me, and since I was running a 5k along with a bunch of marathoners on miles 6-9, obviously I got to do lots of passing. I felt kinda guilty about that, but I think our race shirts made it obvious that I was part of a relay team, so I didn’t feel too bad.

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About 2/3rds of the way through the race, I started really noticing all the marathoners who were walking (of course this happened to be on a long uphill section, and I’d been moving at what felt like a pretty quick pace). I got really tempted to take a little break. But I knew I only had a mile to go, and forced myself to get up the hill and keep going.  Just as I was turning one of the final corners of the 5k, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my coworkers standing on the side of the road, cheering on our team!

After I tagged off to the next runner, I met back up with Kristy and the kids, we stopped at Panera for a quick snack (the downside of not finishing your race at the finish line — no water or food), and drove home to get Kristy’s car and I took a quick shower (oh wait, there’s the upside!) before heading to Bass Pro to watch the finish and take a team photo. Walking toward the finish line, I ran into the Health Department team, who were still bragging about how far ahead of us they were.

Well guess what… apparently we’d slowly been gaining ground on them during each leg of the relay, then our super speedy final runner caught up and beat them!  I think we were the first coed City team to finish the race.  Yay!

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Hee hee – I just noticed that I have antlers in this picture. Fun!

Another surprise — We got finisher’s medals!  I wasn’t expecting them for the relay.

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Yep, that’s a bear. Hey, it’s a Bass Pro race, what do you expect? My half-marathon medal last year had a wolf on it.

About a hour after the race was over, the result were finally posted, with relay splits.

overall place: 26 out of 89
division place: 10 out of 34
gender place: 15 out of 48
time: 3:56:12
pace: 9:01
10ksplit: 1:14:23
15ksplit: 1:39:38
25ksplit: 2:34:18
30ksplit: 2:58:51

That means I ran my 5k in 25:15!  I could hardly believe it — I had to check my math.  I totally blew my goal of 28:00 out of the water… I don’t think I’ve run a 5k that fast in years.  I just can’t even tell you how great that makes me feel.  Having a new baby is awesome, but it kind of takes over your life (and your body!), so something like this really goes a long way to making me feel normal again.

If you made it to the end of this ridiculously long post, you deserve a medal, too.  What’s something you’re really proud of yourself for?

 

 

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