GPP fitness

Head vs. Heart

Happy Hump Day, or, as it is known in my neck of the woods, middle of Hellth Week. 3 days of GPP’s Hellth Week down, 3 to go!

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The first few days of Hellth Week were extremely cold, but nevertheless I’ve been trucking on.

What’s Hellth week? Hellth Week is a week-long challenge where GPP throws its roughest, toughest workouts at you. There’s generally no programming behind this week, unlike normal GPP workouts. Hellth Week is designed to push you hard and help you tighten up ship on any bad habits that have slipped into your routine—we’re specifically targeting added sugar this go around.

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Hellth week (my second) has been tough for me. I took a workout break for a few weeks around the Holidays and just really got back into the swing of things last week. To jump head first into this challenge has, of course, been physically taxing. My legs are so sore.

But I’m surprised by how mentally challenging I’ve found the week to be. It’s me vs. me as my heart and head battle it out. My heart wants to persevere and stand strong. My head wants to quit. The two have been fighting it out during every single workout this week, with today’s being the worst.

Two rounds into today’s 10 round workout I wanted nothing more than to turn around and run (okay, maybe more like slow walk) home. But I kept moving by letting my head talk me into just completing 8 rounds. “That will be good enough,” my head told my heart. I completed all 10 rounds and let my heart give a nice, big “F You!” to my head.

You know what’s good enough? My best. And nothing less.

Truthfully I’ve been pretty afraid throughout Hellth Week, so far. Afraid of failing. Afraid of being the  slowest. Afraid of working out in the cold.

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My good friend Annie has taken to using this saying a lot lately. I didn’t think about it too much until this week, but it’s really been resonating with my soul as my head and heart collide.

Afraid to fail? How about getting out of the way of succeeding. Afraid of being the slowest? Applaud yourself for completing what you set out to do, no matter how long it took you. Afraid of the cold? Warm your muscles up before starting the workout to prevent injury and count your blessings you have the space to workout.

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Assume the best and only the best for yourself. Why automatically fear the negatives? All that negativity and fear do not put you in a place of success and motivation—they just drag you down. Choose to meditate on thoughts that will lift you up, even when you feel like the challenge ahead of you is impossible.

My goal for the second half of Hellth Week is to stay positive and assume the best. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m up for the challenge.

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I’ve also been working on foam rolling and stretching every day. Flexibility, in general, is one area of physical fitness that I am weak. I don’t have a lot of patience to sit around and stretch. I’ve been doing it before bed each night and I think it’s made a big difference in keeping the soreness level lower than it otherwise would be.

I’ll check in at the end of the week and let you know how it all panned out.

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Struggling with motivation

Happy New Year! The Holidays went by pretty fast this year, with all the busyness of moving home and all just a week before Christmas. It’s hard to believe the first weekend of 2014 is about to begin and I’ll be turning 27 this year. 27 used to seem so old to me. These days 27 doesn’t feel so old… I still feel like a teenager most days.

Sometimes I act like a teenager ,too.

Since moving home, I’ve really been struggling to find and keep motivation. I never thought I was the kind of person who cared for working out with others—it’s okay sometimes, but I prefer going solo in the gym. However, I’ve noticed my motivation to go out into the cold garage gym on my own is pretty low… I guess even though I don’t necessarily want to be working out with someone else, it’s nice to have some company around. Someone to commiserate with, perhaps?

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I could have used someone to commiserate with today because GPP’s Daily Workout kicked my ass so hard that I threw in the towel.

After moving back home, I took a few weeks off from seriously working out (I did exercise a time or two, but it was wishy-washy at best). That time off, along with all the sweets and junk has caught up to me and I feel like I’m hitting a wall with all my workouts this week.

Truthfully, I think I’m just aggravated that I’m not coming back guns a blazing after doing so well in the Skin In The Game challenge I completed before Thanksgiving. I’ve been on a bit of a downward slope since that challenge ended.

At first I justified my worsening eating habits by “needing” to eat through our fridge and pantry before moving out of our apartment. And now that we are home I’ve used the holidays, as well as our families as an excuse. Neither mine nor Jeremy’s families are healthy eaters. His parents (whom we live with) eat out a lot and even when they do cook it is often things I wouldn’t normally eat.

Luckily, our living space has its own kitchen, so all of the excuses involving our families are really lame. And need to stop. My poor eating has been a result of my own choices—not saying “no thanks” when we have something planned for dinner, but Jeremy’s parents want to go out, not choosing healthier options most of the time when we do choose to go out, and mindlessly eating way too much sugar.

It’s funny. GPP Challenges seem to come along right when I need them. I really needed the accountability that the Skin In The Game Challenge gave me. And it helped a ton! Next week GPP is hosting it’s annual Hellth Week. (Yes, that is the correct spelling.) A week of tough as shit workouts to not only kick your ass, but help you recommit to your health.

In conjunction with Hellth Week, GPP is also hosting a Sugar Challenge. No added sugar (natural or artificial) at all next week. Time to detox.

Hopefully somewhere in the midst of Hellth Week and kicking the sugar I’ll rediscover my motivation.

Stay tuned.

Skin In the Game Challenge Recap

On October 7 I started an Optimal Health Challenge with GPP Fitness. I’d hit a slump in my training and was feeling pretty blah. I was getting in most of my workouts, but eating pretty crappy and just kind of drifting along with no goal. GPP’s Skin In the Game Challenge was just what I needed to re-light the fire under my ass.

You can see more about the challenge and “rules” by clicking the above link.

Participants were asked to create at least 3 goals (one for physical health, one for nutrition, and one for lifestyle health) and decide how much “skin” ($$$) they wanted to put on the line and risk losing if they did not reach their goals.

My goals were:

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I didn’t set any goals based on numbers or weight loss because I wanted this challenge to be a stepping-stone for a healthier lifestyle in general, not a quick fix of some sort. Also, I am a healthy weight and any weight lost is for merely vanity. Basically, I just needed some consistency in my life, especially with food.

I decided to take progress photos along the way, instead of focusing on a number on the scale.

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September 30, 2013 – a few days before the challenge began

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Mid-October 2013

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Early November 2013

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Late November 2013

At first, I attempted to follow GPP’s Burst Cycle diet as it is written, but very quickly realized it was not enough calories or nutrition for my active lifestyle. I felt like crap for the first few days and had absolutely no energy.

I ended up modifying the BCD to fit my needs, cycling three days “on” with very clean eats and sticking to a 40/30/30 macro split, and one day “off” as a burst day, where I ate mostly clean, but indulged in whatever I’d been craving without worrying too much about macros. My diet sort of ended up being a combo of Burst Cycle and IIFYM.

A few weeks into The Challenge I realized how much I was loving the more muscular physique I was starting to develop. I wanted more! My focus shifted and I began to concentrate on building strength and muscle, which meant I needed to eat more! I continued the BCD pattern of 3 days “on” and 1 day “off” and stuck to the 40/30/30 macro split, but increased my calories to fit my goal.

Did I Achieve My Goals?
Yes! I put $50.00 on the line and will be getting $40.00 of it back. (Every time you went off plan you could pay a penance of $2.00. All money collected from failed goals and penances are going to a food bank.)

I achieved 5 workouts a week every week of the challenge. There were 51 days in the challenge and I paid penance for 5 of them, meaning I stayed on track 90% of the time. I’d say 90% is pretty darn consistent. My husband has been very, very busy with Grad school, so it was nice to make sure we were spending quality time together regularly no matter how busy we both were. And finally, my ability to wake up at the same time each morning improved.

Was it worth it?
Absolutely! There was a $25.00 buy-in for the challenge and then whatever Skin you wanted to put on the line (and hopefully get back!).

The one thing I really wanted to get out of this challenge was consistency. I’ve always struggled with over-indulging in the things that should be treats and not focusing enough on clean eating. Moderation has never been something I was able to make work because I didn’t understand how to balance treats and clean eats. Rotating the 3 days “on” with 1 day “off” helped me to understand how treats in moderation looks and feels in practice.

I also started to feel really strong and see a lot of progress in my arm and back muscles.

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What will I take away?
I plan to continue with the general principles of the BCD and IIFYM mixture I’ve been using, along with calorie counting. It works for me and I love the way I feel with this “diet.”

I will also continue with my 5 days a week of GPP workouts. GPP recently released a Shaping Bias (Bodybuilding) protocol that I am considering adding to my programming. I really enjoy heavy weight lifting and find it very motivating and I just want to keep going with that.

My focus will continue to remain on staying healthy and getting stronger—not on a specific number on the scale.

Think about it: Let Today’s Best Be Enough

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For the past few months I have gotten very competitive concerning my workouts. If I’m not able to beat a previous time on a workout I’ve done before, I’ get defensive and start making up excuses about why today was slower or not as good. Then I realized I’m the only one who cares about my time anyway and I needed to move past the excuses and just let the workout and my time be what they were: the best I had in me that day. And that’s OK!

I’m all about the Me vs. Me mentality and striving to be greater today than I was yesterday, but it’s easy to push those thoughts too far and let them control my mood. My performance and workout should not be based only on a comparison of how I’ve done before. Just because I’m slower today or I lift less weight today doesn’t make me less than I was the previous time I did the workout.

There’s more to it than that—I’m not competing with the same person I was before (especially with GPP workouts because we only repeat most of them every few months). Hopefully I’ve developed more physically and mentally in those months. And there’s so many other factors that come into play, too, like how you slept the night before, if you’re dehydrated, if you’re tuned in mentally, etc.

Take each workout as what it is: a chance to grow and better yourself and a blessing to be healthy and in good enough shape to complete it. Let today’s best be enough.

GPP looks good on runners

Today I had planned to share with you my eats for the day, but I got busy and forgot to take pictures. I’ll try again next week.

Instead, let’s talk about running. Or maybe I should say let’s talk about how little I’ve been running.

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As you can see from my Daily Mile account, I abandoned running during the fall and winter and started picking it back up in March. My left foot started bothering me in early April, so I stopped running entirely again, to be careful. I’ve since started running again, however I rarely just run. Most of the running I’ve been doing is incorporated into my GPP workouts.

Last Saturday I decided to go for a run. My legs were feeling really good, and I thought, “Why not see where my mile time currently stands?” So I gave it my all to see how fast I could run a mile.

fastest mile ever

7 minutes. 43 seconds. My fastest timed mile ever. A new PR. With minimal focus on running. How is that possible?

Clearly, GPP is doing amazing things for my body—far greater than looking better, light years beyond being at my goal weight, and even more important than building bigger muscles. I’m stronger (mentally and physically) than ever before and getting speedier just happens to correspond with that.

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My mile times have dramatically decreased over the last 10 months—some of that has come from becoming a better runner in general. But most of it has come from sticking with a FANTASTIC strength training program and being consistent. I’ve been doing GPP consistently (at least 4 times a week, usually 5-6 days a week) since the beginning of March.

I’m so proud of how far I’ve come as a runner. And now that I’m feeling stronger, I’m ready to turn myself loose even more as a runner and see what I am capable of.

half marathon training plan

That’s why I’ve started training for a half marathon. I’m not registering yet (I tend to register and then get injured during training…so I’m going to hold out and see how it goes first), but the plan is to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon international half. I’d like to break 2 hours, so I’m going to put my heart and sole into this training. I’ll be hitting GPP 5 days a week and running 3 days a week—taking Sunday entirely off for rest and family.

I’m excited to share my half marathon training adventures with you.

What I Ate Wednesday: Handstand and Fast 5K

Before I share with you today’s eats, I have to share THIS:

my first handstand

My first “all by myself” handstand

Yesterday’s GPP workout called for HSPU (handstand pushups). On Monday night my husband helped me practice just getting up into a handstand—let alone the pushups. It was tragic to see me trying so hard and getting nowhere fast. Please trust me when I say you would have laughed your ass off at me… because it was the farthest thing from a handstand.

One of the trainers at my gym helped me learn to not freak out about being upside down. He kept catching my legs, while I held myself in handstand position. I came home from work and kept practicing until something clicked and I DID IT. My first unassisted handstand. No handstand pushups, but I’ll take it!

 

Today was a VERY active day. I ran a 5K before work, did my regular GPP workout, and then taught a spin class in the evening. Very active=lots of fuel.
 

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My gym hosted a 5K fun run this morning—it was free to all, but started at 5:30 AM. I’m not a morning person, so I really needed some help getting moving this morning. Fit Mixer to the rescue. Really digging this Clean Energy mix because it gives me some quick caffeine, but also tastes like a cherry Jolly Rancher.

Had a bowl of really simple oatmeal (Breakfast #1) before the run. I can’t run on an empty stomach.

my fastest 5k race ever

Kicked ass on the run (my fastest 5K ever!) and came home and crashed for a few hours.

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When I woke up, I made a piece of Ezekiel cinnamon toast with almond butter (Breakfast #2) before heading back to the gym for my GPP workout.
 
After finishing up my workout, I grabbed my first snack of the day from my lunchbox, which I packed last night.
 
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I threw the following into a blender at work to make a Green Monster:
  • Body Logix Vanilla Ice Cream protein powder (1 scoop)
  • Designer Whey French Vanilla protein powder (1 scoop)
  • 1/2 banana and 2 handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1 scoop Amazing Grass
  • 2 T PB2 (powdered peanut butter)
  • 1/2 T chia seeds
  • handful of ice

green smoothie

Looks gross, but I swear it tastes amazing. Easy way to get some greens in, too.

lunch

A few hours and a few Zumba auditions later, it was time for lunch. Today I had a turkey+guacamole+Laughing Cow sandwich on Ezekiel bread with an apple and a pack of almonds from Trader Joe’s. Felt good and full after this lunch, but also very satisfied.

chobani and strawberries

About an hour before I taught my Spinning class this evening I grabbed my final snack for the work day. I started with a few strawberries and some black cherry Chobani.

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I also had this Vega One all-in-one bar (chocolate almond flavor) while getting ready for class. The Chobani and strawberries was great. This bar was just meh. I wouldn’t mind eating another of these bars, but I don’t think they are something I’d spend my own money on. The flavor just didn’t knock my socks off and there are a lot of bars that I do LOVE the flavor of.

papa john

After work and teaching class, I headed home fully intending to cook dinner at home. Tonight, though, my husband wasn’t feeling the dinner we had planned and, to be honest, not cooking sounded great. We compromised on take-out pizza. This falls into 20% of my “diet” being whatever the hell I want. Tonight I wanted pizza. Went back for a 3rd slice.

Took the dog on a walk after dinner—I’m so glad the weather is nice enough that we can do that almost every evening now.

Today was an abnormally active day for me. Typically on Wednesdays I do my own workout in the morning and teach Spinning at night. Today’s 5K run and Zumba auditions were spur of the moment activities. I do realize I am more active than most people… I do work at a gym after all. I do my best to eat with this in mind, making sure I get enough nutrition and calories to fuel my active lifestyle.

Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

Forgive me for the Kanye West lyrics (and the month break from blogging), but they really do describe this exact moment in my life. I’m training harder than I ever have, feeling better than I ever have, running faster than I ever have (even with less effort!), and my body is stronger than it has ever been in my whole life.

GPP training, running, and eating well 80% of the time has become a natural extension of me and it’s not something I put much active thought into anymore. I just get up each day having already made the decision that I will workout before I start work and I will eat clean, with 2-3 treats each week. It is working for me. I have never been happier with my fitness or running program.

I’m currently doing 5 GPP workouts a week, scaled by 1/3, and running 3X a week. My goal is to run a sub-2:00 half marathon this fall. I’m not currently registered for anything, but I am starting to train. I’ll find a race when I get further into my training. I tend to register for races and then something comes up and I can’t run them, wasting my registration money… not doing that this time.

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This afternoon I ran 4 easy miles at Gallup Park—2 were on a running path and 2 were on the trails. Everything about this run reminded me of why I first fell in love with running: the weather was awesome, I felt like I was flying, the environment around me was breathtaking, and my body felt strong.

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I finished the run in just under 37 minutes.

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Truly, the trails were a stunning sight this afternoon and a welcome break from the daily grind.

A few hours went by between breakfast and my run, so I decided to try out some Pro Bar Bolt energy chews before taking off. These were a (free) sample I received while at Blend last weekend.

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My opinion on the energy chews? I would (and will) buy them with my own dough. They taste great—like candy—but even better, they have fantastic ingredients that I can read and pronounce. They were easy on my tummy and gave me just enough *oomph* to knock out my run. All around winner!

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Back home, I demolished some Annie’s mac ‘n cheese leftovers along with half a package of Alexia red potatoes, carrots, and green beans. The Alexia frozen veggie mix has become a fast favorite in my house.

It was such a nice, spring day. A few hours later we hopped back in the car for another trip to the trails.

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This time with Link by our side.