The Balancing Act

First off, apologies for missing Thursday’s ab post. I barely squeezed in my workout after visiting a friend in hospital and picking up other friends from the airport. That means today is a double post.

Thursday’s Pinterest workout was:


At first I had intended to do this workout as a circuit, but I was low on time. To make the workout a little more rounded, I started and ended with about 10 minutes of Zumba. The only new exercise to this routine was the seated leg scissors – which were much more challenging than I had imagined. I have found that for me the two most effective exercises are the butt lifts and the side v crunch. I felt them working straight away. Cheek-to-cheek planks were also pretty great. I used to be able to do them no problem – and I’m looking forward to getting back to that. This routine is definitely one I’d like to keep in my arsenal. It can be done quickly once through or used as a circuit. As for the original site this came from, Pinterest blocked it when I tried to click through, saying it may lead to spam. Sorry.

And then there was today – which brings us back to the title. I am always trying to balance getting in what I consider a good workout with not passing out while working out. As I mentioned last week, leg day is always cardio. Big muscles work hard and take up a lot of energy. But I love the sense of accomplishment when I finish a workout. Today, however, I didn’t finish. Here’s the workout:

leg toner.jpg

From the beginning, I was huffing and puffing. Those frog jumps are super effective. My quads were burning right away. I’m still a little shaky on my side planks, so I modified them by staying on my lower knee but lifting my bottom hip off the ground. As my abs and shoulders get stronger, it will get easier. The split squats were so-so. At this point, I prefer a regular lunge. Lateral single leg raises (or fire hydrants) were great. I kept my knee bent, but the effect was the same. Sumo squat jumps – felt the cardio, felt the burn. One legged rows were shaky – literally. After I caught my breath, I focused on keeping my core tight, and I stopped falling over. Love, love, love plié squat calf raises. For the bench glute raises I modified by laying face down with my pelvic bone to the floor, and squeezed my heels together. Love that one! Wall sit squats were a little odd. I think I’d rather do wall sits or regular squats. And I was just not coordinated enough for the lateral lunges. That’ll take some practice.

After pushing myself through the first set of 15 reps for the exercises, I felt beat. Thanks to the article 5 Ways to Tame Toxic Thinking and Negative Self-Talk from MyFitnessPal, I kept trying to positively motivate myself. I kept saying, “I can do this. I’m strong. I have what it takes.” But as each exercise progressed, I got dizzier and more lightheaded. When I stood up, I had to give myself a while to get my head back. Then I negotiated with myself. “Second time through, sets of 12, then sets of 10 for the third time.” Then I told myself, “Let’s break it up to mini circuits. Just get through frog jumps and side plank leg raises.” And I did. 12 frog jumps. 12 leg raises (each side). Then 10 frog jumps. 10 leg raises. And then a long break. I did the same with the lunges (because I had given up on split squats) and fire hydrants. But at that point I knew I needed to listen to my body. It was time to stop and let my brain get the blood and oxygen it was craving.

My latest theory is low blood pressure. The last trip to the dentist required a blood pressure check. My numbers were within “normal”, but on the lower end of normal. After reading a few different articles, it seems like a logical answer to my workout-induced nausea and lightheadedness. Most experts recommend slow transitions, especially when it comes to posture. The exercises I was doing today had me kneeling, standing, jumping, all in succession. My body didn’t know what to do. I’ll keep monitoring this and adjust as need be. It is always a balancing act.

Well, that’s it for today. Headed downstairs to bake some chicken and chop some veg. I’ll be back Monday with another upper body workout.



Push-ups Are Not My Strength…Yet

Sunday was busy. But it ended with good friends, good food, and good beer. That’s right beer. While getting in shape, being healthy, and losing weight are important to me, so is enjoying life and the abundant pleasures food and drink have to offer – but in moderation. Last night’s dinner composed of gyoza as appetizers, Waterfall Pork and sticky rice, and six ounces of a dark German lager. Yum!

Today was less busy. Chores around the house, FaceTime with family, and a friend stopped by from out of town. I was still rather unmotivated for today’s workout. One reason, of many, was trying to figure out how I would modify the exercises. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I don’t have much equipment, including dumbbells – which was required for each exercise. So I tried using my resistance bands. This was only partially effective. Well, take a look at the exercise, and then I’ll explain.

Tank Top Arms

Superset 1: First of all, I cannot do a full push-up yet. I can do a few on my knees,  but I couldn’t do 15 of them well. So, by step one, we were already off to a rough start. I did end up doing all 45, on my knees, without great form. As for the second half of this set, I held my resistance band down with my front foot so I could attempt the lawnmowers. It went so-so.

Superset 2: This set went more smoothly. Using my bands with handles I was able to do both exercises with relative ease. It still would have been easier with dumbbells.

Superset 3: See problem number one. By this point my arms were jello. I couldn’t even lift myself off the ground. I tried just doing a plank and using the resistance band to do rows. By set three I had given up and just did an extra set of bent-over rows.

Superset 4: And then there were more bicep curls. I did another set of 45, and just skipped the last exercise, which was just more curls.

Overall, I was underwhelmed with this workout. For my fitness level, there were too many push-ups. And I just don’t have the right equipment for it. But I will say, I can barely hold my arms up to type this post, so it wasn’t all for nought. I might try and come back to this workout someday, but not in the very near future. But I may go back and check out more of the workouts on the site In Fitness and In Health.

Check back Thursday to see what ab workout I put myself through!

Bum + Leg

I thought I was going to die! Not really, but almost. Have I mentioned I’m out of shape?? But the good news is, I finished the workout. Here’s what I did:

Leg + Bum

When I chose this workout I looked at each set and thought, “I can do that!” It was just that doing them in succession was a bit more than my brain had planned for. My muscles kept up with the exercises, but the real struggle was the nauseated, dizzy feeling I get when pushing myself to a new cardio level. Working my lower body is always cardio for me. Back in the olden days of working with my trainer, we never quite figured out what my nausea trigger was. I ate before my workout and to gave myself enough time after eating. I was hydrated and in a cool room. I personally thing it’s just my body adjusting to a new set of circumstances. We will see how leg day goes next time.

Instead of just doing three sets in a row of each exercise, I did one set each, all the way through the workout, then started again from the top. The first two sets took me about twenty minutes. The last set took me another thirty because I had to pause so long in between exercises. I opted to slowly complete the whole workout instead of just giving up because I couldn’t do it quickly. And for that, I am proud.

This workout came from WorkoutLabs. I hadn’t heard of it before.  Non-members can only access three workouts per month. The service is $12.95/month. Since I’m doing this on the cheap, I won’t signing up and paying for any workouts. Several of the plans also require full gym equipment. If you’re looking for a digital trainer, I think this site is great. The features they advertise are: workout plans for every fitness level, a workout calendar you can access from all you devices or print and take with you, and customized workouts. There are also detailed instructions for each workout that highlight which muscles you’ll be working. There are definitely a lot of perks that come with  WorkoutLabs. However, if you just want to workout at home, or you don’t want to pay a monthly fee, there are many other free sources out there. It will just take a little more work and planning on your part.

Well, that’s today’s summary. As soon as the water comes back on in our house, I will be taking a shower because, to be honest, I now smell disgusting. It’s the badge of a good workout.

Check back in on Monday when we tackle arms!

The Experiment

Pinterest. Where we spend countless hours pinning projects we’ll never finish, recipes we’ll never cook, and workouts we’ll never do. Until now. If you’re anything like me, you have some sort of fitness or health board on Pinterest. At last count I have 782 pins on my board. I’ve probably only ever done one of them. To be fair, many of these are motivational quotes (we see how well they’re working). But the movie Julie & Julia gave me an idea (and it wasn’t just about using copious amounts of butter in my cooking). I’m going to systematically go through all of the workouts that I have pinned one by one and try them out and then report how it went.

As one of my many pins says, “If you spent as much time working out as you did pinning workouts, you’d be in shape by now.” (It’s not verbatim) Now, let’s put it to the test. Somethings will have to be modified. I don’t have much equipment – just a few resistance bands and some jugs of water. I’ve been using 6L bottles of water with handles to do  weight lifting. We’ll see what we can do with what we’ve got. Also, I won’t be doing any running. Reasons: (1) It’s very hot and humid here (2) I don’t have a treadmill to run indoors with my air-con on and (3) I don’t particularly enjoy it. So all of those interval treadmill exercises are off the table. And as for 30 day butt/ab/etc… challenges, they will be postponed until another experiment. Everything else I will make work as I go.

Scheduling. I’m starting at the top. I’ve created a second board for all of my completed exercises. As I finish one, I will move it from the old board to the new one. At the moment, my goal is still to workout Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Anything else is bonus. After I feel comfortable in this routine, I’d like to add another day to the mix. Gotta stick to realistic goals right now.

Motivation. The last couple of days I’ve felt less than excited about sticking to these changes. I’ve got to give a shout out to @getfitwjessica on Instagram. I’ve found her journey super motivating and looking through a few posts today helped re-energize me for my upcoming workouts. So many times I’ve given up quickly after not seeing immediate results and ended up right back at the beginning. Her story has been inspirational because she has persevered and has seen the fruits of her labor.

So, today being Thursday, our workout is:

Abs, Obliques & Transverse Slim Waist Summer Workout for Women  Slim Waist

First and foremost, I was very impressed with Spotebi. When I followed the link through to the website I found more than just an infographic. After the visual, there were written instructions for each exercise. And then, best of all, they had it all set up. Push play and the timer counts runs automatically, each exercise is announced, and I didn’t have to think. Having to time circuit workouts is one of my biggest deterrents to doing them. Spotebi made it super easy. Thanks!! I will be returning to them in the future for more workouts. They even had a playlist from Spotify ready to go. Unfortunately,  Spotify hasn’t launched yet in Thailand. I can deal with that.

When it came to the actual workout, I survived. I’m still at the beginning of this process, so some modifications were made. For the ‘toe touch’ my legs just couldn’t make it to 90°. Not yet, anyways. I took more breathers than were probably intended, but kept up pretty well. I keep reminding myself  that the mind is the master of the body. If I tell myself I can do it, I can. And I did.

One Pin down, countless to go. Check back Saturday for Leg + Bum day.

17 Days and Counting

Well, it’s been a whole 17 days since I got back on the taking care of myself wagon. In the last 17 days I have worked out 10 times. Some days I worked out when I hadn’t scheduled myself to workout – just because I enjoyed it. It wasn’t out of guilt either. Exercise for the sake of exercise.

I’m really glad I found some Zumba videos on YouTube. They’re not the greatest – I definitely miss my old class – but they do the trick for now. Although, I am finding that I am less motivated to push myself while doing Zumba as I was in an actual classroom setting. Using others in the class to set the bar higher, the instructor pushing me to go that little extra bit – I need to be that for myself. But overall, it has definitely motivated me to workout more.

Sometimes it feels like diet will be a lifelong battle. When I do watch what I eat, I don’t eat enough. When I don’t watch what I eat the calories come easily – but all from the wrong things. Living in a tropical place means fruit is abundant year round – and it is delicious. So, I end up having a lot more sugar than recommended. The only added sugars I have in my diet right now are a daily dose of honey in my earl grey tea. Although, I did eat a snickerdoodle yesterday (the hubby really wanted cookies – and who can bake 85 cookies without tasting one?) But overall, I’m not having dessert everyday – except for fruit. I feel like at this point in my journey I’m not going to deprive myself of fruit. It’s my compromise for not having ice cream every other day – which is tempting when its 90 degrees outside everyday. My favorite treat right now is frozen grapes. They’re like healthy popsicle bites. Delish.

I am pretty excited to reach my first fitness goal: week four = two hour massage. I’m working very hard to not reward myself with food. So every four weeks that I keep up my workout schedule and eat well I get a two hour Thai massage. This is an affordable splurge here: $12. Seeing as I don’t have a scale, I can only track my fitness results via a tape measure. This is fine by me. But next I need to set a goal and a reward for loosing x number of inches. Both the goal and reward are to be determined. In addition to setting these short term goals, my specific long term goal is to be a size 6. At the moment I’m between 12-14. I hope this is a reasonable goal. I just need to believe in myself!! I can do this!!

Next post will be at week four – after the massage and some measurement updates. Until then, stay healthy!


Not Giving Up

It has been ever such a long time since I last ventured to write about my health journey. And so much has changed! Amidst all those changes, taking care of myself hasn’t always been at the top of the priority list.

As a brief synopsis, in the last two years my hubby and I had been working towards moving abroad. This meant lots of moving, living with friends, selling our things, and being unsettled for about a year. In that time I tried my best to at least keep moving. I’ve always struggled with routine in my life – in all aspects – so having an unsettled life made it that much more difficult. But in all the craziness, I found Zumba. This was the last thing I thought I would love.

I first attended a couple of Zumba classes with a girlfriend. And then I went alone. I was hooked. This is coming from someone who generally finds dancing a rather unenjoyable pastime. But I found myself loving the music, having steps to follow, and letting go. I could shake my booty without any worry of judgement. In the beginning it was a little daunting, not knowing the steps yet. But after a few sessions, I began to pick up on it. It got easier, and therefore more fun. And the more of the routine I knew, the harder I could push myself. For the first time ever, I found a cardio activity that I loved. An hour flew by. Never before would I do an hour of cardio. I always found it so boring. So with that, I tried going to class 3 times a week. It didn’t matter what I was doing. I would schedule work and other plans around Zumba. And then, I moved.

I had grand intentions of keeping up with my Zumba via Youtube. I have now been in Thailand nine months and only ever did it once. First of all, it’s very hot here. And I only have air-con in my bedroom.  Working out in 90+ heat and 75% humidity doesn’t sound appealing to me. But I need to make it work.

A few times here and there the last few months I’ve done some circuit workouts, but have not kept up the motivation (did I mention it’s hot here). But something clicked last week – I can do this, no matter where I am. So, I re-downloaded MyFitnessPal, re-downloaded Sworkit and got to it. I’ve tracked food for six days, and exercised thrice since. Although running the air-con is a bit spendy, I’ve told myself I’m worth it. If that’s what it takes for me to workout, then I’ll do it. And my hubby is on board. So, current plan, workout Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. I’m just getting back in to the routine, so I’m trying to make realistic goals.

So, last Saturday I started with 20 minutes of Sworkit abs for beginners, then five minutes of stretching on either end of that. Monday I did 35 minutes total of full body with stretching.  I’m not scheduled to workout until tomorrow, but I had the motivation and the time to get in a workout today. 38 minutes of awkward, uncoordinated Zumba with a video from Youtube in my air-con room. There was no end to the sweat. But it felt good to do it again. I hope to incorporate it more in upcoming weeks.

On the nutrition front – I’m struggling. I’ve given myself a goal of 1750 calories – but for some reason I can break past about 1300. Perhaps because it is so stinkin’ hot. I don’t feel terribly hungry. Living in Thailand, my options for eating out are all laden with rice, MSG, sugar, and canola oil. Because of our busy schedule, it’s often convenient to grab food out. But even just eating home-cooked, I struggle to reach my calorie goal. Balance is always a challenge, and perhaps in time I will figure it out.

For now I will continue to forge ahead with this endeavor. I will also do my best to keep journaling for the mental health aspect of this journey. I haven’t given up yet.

Back On Track

Well, it’s been another chunk of time since I last wrote. But this post is much more positive. I say my Naturopath in December and we came up with a game plan. Anti-Inflammatory Diet. I am feeling much better. My anxiety has decreased drastically. I feel better about my eating choices. All in all, it’s pretty good. It was difficult at first to try and find the time to make the food I could eat. Almost anything in a package was out. I’ve been able to add some things back in to my diet successfully, and others not so successfully. The biggest food groups I still avoid are Gluten, Dairy, and Sugar. (Not that they are “food groups” per say, more like genres, but you get the picture) I recently splurged on some “still in the diet” junk food – organic kettle corn and some coconut milk ice cream (which is my major weakness) and I felt miserable after a day of garbage. Makes me not want to do it again. So, I’m happy with my food situation (finally) and plan to continue with it long into the future.

As for exercise, I’m back on that wagon, too. Last month I began my interval training again. When I started, less than a month ago, I ran/walked two miles in 30:56. That was about average for me. Yesterday, I ran/walked two miles in 27:32, running for two minutes at a time. It’s progress for me and I’m proud of it. My heart rate has also lowered when I exercise, so that’s getting into shape, too. We’ve got a big hike coming up on Memorial Day. Every year my husband and I join one if my Besties and her husband to hike the Multnomah Falls – Wahkeena Falls trail in the Gorge here in Oregon. It’s a beautiful hike challenging enough for me. I’m hoping it will be easier this year as I continue to workout, not just in interval walk/running, but with other cardio activity. I find that when I cross-train (if I can even call it that) the next time I do the previous type of exercise, my stamina has increased noticeably. So, today, I will do my Daily Burn workout (I’m just using the free trial) as a change from running, and hit the gym again Wednesday. It’s going to be a busy month, so I have to stay on top of my workouts.

So, what’s the result of all this eating right and working out – no surprise – and here’s the big reveal – as of this morning (and less than one year from when I started working with my trainer) I have lost 20.4 lbs. Yaaay!! Huzzah!! Yes, thank you, thank you for all your applause. Haha. I kid. But I am tremendously proud of myself. I know I have a long ways to go, but I have to keep reminding myself that I have come so far, too. Clothes that haven’t fit in years fit again. That, my friend, is great feeling all on it’s own. I feel slimmer. Things have firmed up, tucked in, and smoothed out. This is another huge motivator.

So, with all that in mind, I need to go whip up a delicious and healthy breakfast and then go (or stay, rather) workout.