Kettle Whaaaat?

For those of you that follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen noticed this picture I posted on Friday.

Say hello to my little friend.

Say hello to my little friend.

Let me introduce you to Big Blue, my newest tool to help me reach my core / upper body strength goal.  Yep, I named my kettlebell.   Thanks to my friend Stacey, I’m now the proud owner of a 15lb piece of pain inducing, muscle making cast iron free weight.  Yippee!!

After owning up to my 100 Push Challenge flop I wasn’t ready to give up on my goal of increasing up core and upper body strength.  Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Don’t ask why I just randomly quoted Dirty Dancing.  It seemed appropriate to me.  But I digress…

I remember the first time I heard someone talking about doing a kettlebell workout, it was about two years ago and all I could picture was a huge cow bell.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to swing a cow bell around as a workout.  Oh, Gina.  *sigh*

Yeah, I'm not ashamed to say this is what came to mind when I first learned about kettlebells.

Yeah, I’m not ashamed to say this is what came to mind when I first learned about kettlebells. Whoops….

Fast forward to me getting back into shape and the light bulb comes on… Oh, you mean it’s not actually a cow bell?  And it’s not just for upper body strength?  Cool!  I’ve actually been wanting one of these torture devices for about a year now but every time I thought about buying one I needed new shoes, or I registered for a race, or bought workout clothes, err, you get the point. So when Stacey offered to give me her’s I jumped at the opportunity.  SAHWEET!!  I love freeeeee.

I took my new prize home and immediately started googling.  I’m a dork and like to know the history behind things, how they work, why they work, etc… so I did some research on kettlebells.  Turns out they’re not new at all, just to me.  They were developed in Russia in the 1700s and were used as part of their army training programs well into the 20th century.  Cool right?

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Russian stamp featuring a kettlebell.
Source: Wikipedia

And kettlebells aren’t just for building upper body / core strength.  They’re actually a really great total body workout tool.  I quickly found out that it’s one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can have at home.  The versatility should make my hubby the minimalist happy because it means less equipment he has to try to find a space for.

After checking out the history  and benefits, I naturally wanted to give it a try.  I turned to the best free video resource out there….Youtube….and found a workout video that looked doable.  It was only 12 minutes long and had you do a 3 sets of shoulder presses, kettlebell swings, bicep curls, and clean and presses.  Sounds easy right?

HOOOOOOLY TAMOLE

The first 120 seconds went well.  I’m like this is cool, challenging, but cool.  I finished the first set.  During the 2nd set I started to feel the burn and by the time I finished the 2nd set, my body was full on, OMGeeee, what the heck are you doing to me?! I didn’t do the third set but I was really happy with my workout. Plus it gives me something to work towards.  If you’re curious to check out the video I used, here is the link.

And then, because I’m a total glutton for punishment, I did 6 miles of speed work immediately after my kettlebell workout.  Hello Yassos!  My goal is to run a sub 2 at my next 1/2 in February (2 weeks before the Rock-n-Roll marathon) so I need to start focusing more on speed.  All-in-all, I’m really excited about incorporating the kettlebell into my routine.  I plan to do it twice a week along with using the weight machines at the gym once a week.  After the beating I gave it last night, my body hates me today, but doggoneit I’m making good on my upper body strength goals!

Question:  Have you ever done a kettlebell workout? What’s your favorite way to strength train?

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#GoalGetter2013

Sometimes I think I may be the only person in the world who doesn’t mind Mondays.  Most Mondays that is.  After a particularly lovely weekend I have trouble embracing the newness of the week but, let’s face it, there’s no stopping it.  This would be one of those weekends.  I had a great 16 mile run with my running girls on Saturday and then Sunday my hubby and I went for a 20 mile bike ride.  I’m not going to lie, it was a pretty blissful weekend.

Beautiful sunrise from my run.

Beautiful sunrise from my run.

Last month I had a ton of fun with some fantastic blends (blogging friends) putting together a daily photo challenge.  And, WOW – y’all blew us away at your enthusiasm with the #holidayaday photo challenge.  We had over 6,000 pictures uploaded to Instagram with the #holidayaday hashtag!

So we figured why stop in December? Why not continue this challenge into the new year AND help encourage you with your New Year’s resolutions.  We decided right off the bat that doing a daily photo challenge wouldn’t be practical so we went back to the drawing board and TA-DA!! came up with:

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Introducing #goalgetter2013.  This is an easy-peesy, one photo a month challenge designed to help keep you accountable for the goals you want to achieve in 2013.  What you do is pick a goal each month and then snap a picture of you working towards your goal. For example, if you’re goal is to eat healthier, snap a picture of you noshing on those veggies.  Want to be a faster runner? Snap a picture after you’ve crushed your run.  Easy, right? Don’t feel like you can only take one picture a month though, I know we’d all love to see as many pictures as you little goal-getting heart desires to upload.

Throughout the year we’ll be checking in on your #goalgetter2013 progress.  We’ll have fun progress updates and maybe even a surprise giveaway or two so make sure to follow us via our blogs and on Instagram.

And for even more accountability, you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter.  Each month we’ll send out a reminder newsletter with motivational tips, success stories, and more.  I can’t wait to see what goals you have planned for 2013!  What are you waiting for?  Take the pledge today and go get your goals!

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100 Pushup Fail

If you remember about 7 weeks ago (I know, that was like an entire year ago) I wrote about my 100 pushup challenge.  The basic premise of the challenge was to increase my upper body and core strength through a 6 week program designed to get you to 100 pushups.

pushupsIf you’re the type who skims posts, I’ll give save you the trouble and give you the short and not so sweet version:  I failed.

For those of you still reading, here’s what happened.

I started the challenge out with realistic expectations.  I had very little upper body strength and wanted to do something about it.  So I downloaded this 100 Pushup app and set on my merry way.  I did a fitness test before starting the challenge to see what level I should start on. I was able to do 10 good form (boy) pushups which meant starting on level 2 (there’s only three levels).  The program has you doing pushups 3 days a week and uses a rep/rest pattern.

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This was the day I quit on. At first glance it seems harmless until you realize that you do 14 pushups, rest 45 seconds, 14 more, rest 45, 15 pushups, rest, and so on & so forth. The final tally is 150 pushups for the day.

Week one went by and yes, it was challenging but doable.  The first day I had to do 25 pushups and by the end of the week 1 (day 3) I was up to 42 pushups.  Week 2 came and I found myself still trucking along at a total of 60 good form pushups at the end of week 2 (day 3).

Week 3 (day 1)  started with 72 pushups and the last day ended with 88 pushups and a fitness test.  Apparently I failed my fitness test because I actually got knocked down to level 1.  I’m not going to lie, I was pretty happy to be demoted.  Also, during week three I wrote a brief update on my dislike for the program; I hadn’t yet been demoted.

The gratitude of being demoted didn’t last long because I soon found level one kicking my tail.  Week 4 came and went and then I made it through my first set of 100 pushups on week 5, day 2.  I thought I was going to die.  I managed to do all of them the regular “boy” way but found myself with a whole slew of problems during the last few reps.  My wrists and palms started hurting really badly, I developed a shoulder ache in my left shoulder and I was having trouble breathing. Not to mention I’m pretty sure I altered my form to help ease some of the issues I was having.

This is exactly how I felt.  Like someone cut my arms off and then beat me with them.

This is exactly how I felt. Like someone cut my arms off and then beat me with them.

Week 5, day 3….120 pushups.  Oy, what was I doing?! Week 6, day 1….130 pushups.  This was where I quit.  I made it almost all the way, I only had two more days left and I would have finished the program.  However, those 130 pushups killed me.  In fact, around 100 I had to stop doing ‘good form’ and finish with the girl ones.  I found myself almost in tears after finishing those stupid 130 pushups.  Tears from both pain and frustration.  I’m not one to quit but I knew there was no way I was going to be able to complete the 150 pushups week 6 day 2 had scheduled or the 170 pushups week 6 day 3 was prepared to heap on me.

So what did I learn from this?  First to forgive myself; I’m not a failure.  It’s ok to draw boundaries and acknowledge what I’m capable of.  I was not physically capable of finishing the last two days.  Does it irritate the snot out of me that I didn’t finish something? YES! But do I feel bad about it? Nope.  I did notice an increase in my strength; mainly my core, shoulders and back.  I was really hoping to increase the muscle tone in my arms but as you can see from the before/after shots, that didn’t happen. Oh well.

Before (100 pushup challenge) edited

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I was trying so hard not to laugh while taking this picture.

Would I tell people about this app? As much as I hated it, I probably would.  Would I give it a glowing endorsement? Definitely not.  I really think this program should be stretched out to 8 weeks.  The intensity of going from only doing 10 pushups in a day to 130 (170 if I had finished it) is just way too much for me personally to handle – at this time.  To end on a positive note, I will at least say I enjoyed the structure of program.   And I did manage to do a total of 1,049 pushups during my 5 weeks and 1 day.

So there you have, the good (what there was of it), the bad and the ugly. And I guess I’m a masochist, I’m actually considering trying it again.  I hate that something got the best of me.

Question: Have you ever reached a physical or mental breaking point? What did you do to overcome it?

Don’t be a Resolutioner

Happy 2013 y’all!! Did you have a great time ringing in the new year? I managed to make it until 11pm to watch the East Coast celebrate 2013. Wooooo! I sure know how to party into the wee hours of the night, right?  On the plus side, I did get to take advantage of the last day of empty machines at the gym.

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I adore getting free range of any machine that I want; I’m like a kid in a candy store.  But I know that as of yesterday the gym was filled with New Year resolutioners.  Each year tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, flock to the gym in an attempt to make good on their 2013 goals.  For that very reason I chose to spend my first workout of 2013 avoiding the fuss of the gym.

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6 mile tempo run in 95% humidity and 70* heat. Happy New Year to me!
My Sparkly Soul band kept all the sweaty flyaways our of my face.

Even though I just fussed about the gym, I have to admit that I enjoy the chaos during the first week in January.  I love that every machine is full and I love even more seeing people who haven’t exercised in awhile getting after it. But here’s the thing, I know that by the third week in January, most of the shiny newness of those 2013 fitness goals have worn off which means the gym will go back to it’s pre-New Year population.

Somehow putting down the goals on paper isn’t quite enough to keep most New Year resolutioner’s avid attention.  I’ve been there, I get it.  Life has a way of derailing even the most well intentioned goals.  So what does it take to stick with your goals and not become a resolutioner? When I was thinking about how to answer that question, I considered several years of resolutions.  I’ve broken dozens of resolutions in my life but it’s the ones that I stuck with that really caught my attention.  What did I do differently that year to not drop out like normal? This is what I came up with.

How to not be a New Year Resolutioner:

  1.  Make your goals attainable. Don’t choose a goal you know you can’t achieve; it’s setting yourself up for failure. By doing this you’re actually sabotaging all your goals, not just that one.
  2. Break them into smaller goals. Achieving smaller goals throughout the year will give you a confidence boost and help you reach your ultimate goal. Before I ran the Marine Corps Marathon I started with a 5k. Small goals lead to bigger goals.
  3. Make yourself accountable. Be annoying; tell everyone you know what you want to accomplish. Bu doing this you put a fair amount of pressure on yourself. Even better, get some accountability partners. Friends who will hold your feet to the fire when the going gets tough.  This one personally worked wonders for me when I hooked up with running friends.
  4. Be determined. You can’t accomplish anything unless you first believe in yourself and recognize the hard work that you’re going to put into making things happen.
  5. Reevaluate. If something’s not working and you’re tempted to give up on your goals, take time to reevaluate what’s not working. It’s totally ok to decide something’s not right for you.  Instead, consider altering your goals. Get rid of what doesn’t work and don’t be afraid to try new tactics.  This does not mean you’re a failure.

Now that you have some working tips on how to stick to our New Year resolutions, I hope you feel more comfortable with what you’re trying to accomplish this year.

And now as promise, I’m excited to announce the Sparkly Soul giveaway headband winner.  There were 101 entries and, using Random.org, lucky comment #80 was the winner.  Congrats, Kristy, get ready to sparkle! I’ll be getting in touch with you soon with all the details.  I know you’ll be stoked to experience first hand how this band doesn’t slip and slide like the rest – cheers!

UntitledQuestion:  What do you do when the going gets tough with New Year resolutions? I’d love to hear any tips that work for you!

2012 in Review and Goals for 2013

I can’t believe today is the last day of 2012! I had so many great moments this year so I’m really sad to see it come to an end.  For those of you that are curious, I did manage to drag my sick butt out of bed Saturday and get a very cold and hilly 12 mile run in.  Although, I think I probably should have stayed in bed.

Here’s a bit of humor to start your day off with.  Saturday morning, I couldn’t see while I was driving to meet my running girls but I chalked it up to the fact that I got up ridiculously early (4:45); turns out I was wearing my husband’s contacts.  It was a 45 minute drive to where we were running and I was already 1/2 way there so I did what any reasonable person would do.  I ran 12 miles with basically beer goggles on.  Did I mention that his prescription is -5.25 (basically blind) and mine is only -1.25?? On the drive home I kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get pulled over.  I was pretty sure the “I’m not drunk, I’m just wearing my husband’s contacts” plea wouldn’t amuse a cop. Oy!! Ok, now that you laughed hysterically, let’s get back to your regularly scheduled New Year’s Eve post.

Happy-New-Year-2013-HD-Wallpaper-6Photo Source

I think what I’ll remember most about 2012 is that I feel like I finally rediscovered the person I was before my brother was killed.  It’s been so nice enjoying life and not carrying around unnecessary emotional baggage.

A lot of rediscovering myself had to do with rediscovering running this past year.   As of January 1, 2012, the furthest distance I had raced was a 10k.  I was just starting to get back into running and, with only one 8 mile ‘long’ (ha!)  run under my belt, I made the decision to run a marathon in memory of my brother.  10 short months and several races later I conquered the Marine Corps Marathon.  I didn’t start blogging until June so I thought it would be fun to recap some of my favorite fitness accomplishments from this year.

2012 – A Year of Fitness Firsts  

  • I ran my first 15k in February, the Double Bridge Run, in Pensacola, FL.  This race really is the one that flipped the switch in my head from someone who dabbled in running to ‘hey, I’m a runner.’
Taken at the Double Bridge Run 15k in Pensacola, Florida.  This was an amazing run! I was so happy to run it with Mary, my running inspiration - she's a beast on the road! (And also happens to be like a mom to me.)

The Double Bridge Run 15k in Pensacola, Florida. Luckily, I’ve learned how to take better race pictures since then.

  • I ran my first ½ marathon, Roll-n-Roll in New Orleans, LA.  I experienced quite a bit of marathon envy watching the marathoners split from the half-marathoners.  I wanted to call myself a marathoner so bad I could taste it at that point.

rnr

This is me ignorantly thinking that kayaking 2 miles would be a breeze. HA!

This is me ignorantly thinking that kayaking 2 miles would be a breeze. HA!

  • I ran my first ever beer run.  It was a 4k which added to the quirky fun.

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balloons

  • I set PRs in my 5k, 10k and ½ marathon.
  • I RAN MY FIRST MARATHON!! Need I say more?

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  • And finally, my legs logged 1,247 miles in 2012!!

The human body never ceases to amaze me with what it can do when you set a goal.  To go from very little fitness to running a marathon in 10 months is something that I’m very proud of.  Not just because of the physical aspect of it, but also because I conquered that annoying voice in my head always telling me “you won’t ever…” or “you can’t…”

2013 is going to be another great year that I get to tell that dumb voice to shut it.  Now that I have a solid year of running and my body is used to the abuse I give it, 2013 is going to be the year of focusing on speed.

2013 Goals

  • Run a sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon.  Realistically, I’m only 4 minutes away from that happening so this is kind of a default goal.  My real goal is to run a 1:55 (or better) 1/2.
  • Run a sub 25 minute 5k.
  • Run a sub 50 minute 10k.
  • Run a 4:15 marathon. (Hopefully I’ll get this one in February.)
  • Improve my running form.
  • Weight train consistently.
  • 6 pack abs!!

Personal 2013 Goals

  • Continue to grow in my spirituality – super important to me!
  • Give back more; donate my time to various causes.
  • Focus less on me and more on others.
  • Continue to encourage others on their paths to healthier lifestyles.
  • Find a better balance between clean eating, running and life in general.

Super Ambitious Goals (AKA ones that probably won’t happen but I’m going to try anyways)

  • Compete in my first triathlon.  I really, really, really want this one to happen but, realistically, the cost associated with getting into the tri world is a bit prohibitive.  That and the swim scares the daylights out of me.
  • Run my first 50k.  I’ve been researching these this week and unfortunately most of the ones in the South are in the spring and registration has closed.

Question: What did you accomplish in 2012 that you are super proud of?  What are your goals for 2013?

10 Running Questions Answered

Today is my hubby’s birthday! It’s hard for me to believe he’s 27; especially since he was 17 when we met… GAH, we’re getting old! Time for a throwback pic – Jody’s Senior prom!

We had a fun day of kayaking planned (I even took today off from work) but he’s not feeling great so I’m not sure what today has in store for us.

As far as this post goes, I’m totally taking the easy way out and doing a survey.  I’m not really one to do survey/answer type posts but when Darlena from Run Find Your Happy Pace tagged me last month I put it on my things to do.  If you have a minute, check out her blog, she’s always posting something inspirational; plus she makes SUPER cute headbands for runners. Also, thanks to Another Mother Runner for originating this great idea.

Another Mother Runner posted 10 questions about running and here are my answers:

1. Best Run Ever.  Hands-down, my first 1/2 marathon which was Rock-n-Roll New Orleans this past March.  It was a phenomenal race and I loved everything about it and it solidified my love for racing.  I remember at mile 12 having marathon envy watching the marathoners split from us as we entered the last mile of the course while they continued on to achieve their 26.2.  I felt so great at mile 12 that I {briefly} entertained the idea of following them.  Luckily common sense kicked in and I stayed in the 1/2 marathon lane.  But that 26.2 finisher’s medal will be mine; I’ve already registered for the 2013 full (yes, I’ve registered for my 2nd marathon without having run my 1st)!

2. Three words to describe my runningEntertaining (I like to sing very off tune to my running friends), focused (because I know when to stop singing and get down to business), accomplished (nothing feels better then tackling a hard run you thought you couldn’t finish).

3. My go to run outfit.  Anything that covers me so I’m not charged with a public indecency crime.  HA! I don’t actually have a go-to outfit but my must have accessory is my Garmin.  I literally cannot function without it!

4. Quirky habit while running. I guess I gave it away in my answer to #2 but I’ve been know to burst out singing random lyrics on occasion….

5. Morning, midday or evening runner?   I’m an equal opportunity runner…no discrimination here, I’ll take it anytime I can get it.  (Does this make me sound like an addict? I might need to rephrase the answer…) Typically I run at night during the week and in the very early morning on the weekend.

6. I won’t run outside when its... Pre-marathon training, I had a huge list of elements I wouldn’t run in but I can honestly say I’ve ran in every single condition possible – to include a hurricane.  Thanks Isaac

Soaked to the bone = thumbs down

7. Worst injury & how I got over it.  The worst injury I’ve ever had from running was years ago when I was in high school.  I tore my MCL (from running) and had to do physical therapy for a few months followed with wearing an annoyingly huge brace for what seemed like forever! Unfortunately I let this injury dictate my running (or lack there of) for the several years until I just said ‘no more’.  So last year I figure if I have to have knee surgery eventually I should at least wear my knee out doing something I like.  Yes, my logic is very flawed…I realize that.

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when…I finished my first half marathon in New Orleans.  In just a few short months I went from someone who was just getting back into running and had trouble with a 5k to someone who ran a 1/2 marathon and still had energy left over! Seriously, for anyone who has ever said “I can’t run”, I’ve been there and if I can do it so can you! You just have to train, train, train!

9. My next race is?  This Saturday; woot-woot!!  I’ll be running the Gulf Coast 1/2 Marathon and then just two weeks after that I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon in DC – AHHHHH!

10. Potential running goals for 2013.  Speed is the name of the game for 2013.  I really, really want a sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon which is totally doable if I train myself properly.

I am tagging the following four of my favorite fitness blogs to participate:

Carrie from Fitness and Frozen Grapes

Kat from Sneakers and Fingerpaints

Abby from Back at Square Zero

Jennifer from Wine to Weight Lifting

I want to hear from you, too! Tell me, what is your answer to #2? What 3 words describe your running/cycling/lifting/ect?

Kick the “I Can’t”

This wasn’t the post I intended on writing, but apparently I needed to write it since it’s what came out of my fingers/brain.  I’m totally overwhelmed with things going on this week and needed to remind myself that I can get things accomplished.  I had a terrible run last night and between work (we have a huge event Saturday), marathon training, and just life in general, I think I might be bald by Monday.  I’m pretty sure my face can’t pull off the Britney Spears look.

Something I hear come out of my mouth way more than I care to admit (especially weeks like this when there’s not enough hours in the day) is “I can’t…”  I can’t do this, I can’t do that, blah blah blah… I have so many things that I want to do but have never done because “I can’t”.  After Sunday’s long run, I had the realization that unless I have some physical impairment, which thankfully I don’t, I should be able to do anything I put my mind to.  I may not be great at it, but who cares?

One of my favorite quotes of all time!

If you would have asked me a year ago if I would ever be able to run 20+ miles, I would have looked at you like you were crazy and then I would have spit out something like this: “Oh, I can’t do that because I injured my knee a while back”.  Oh boy, have I used that excuse WAY to much. Well luckily I came to my senses sometime over the past year and something amazing happened.  I was able to do something I “couldn’t” do.  Yippee! (Side note – I’m certainly not telling you to ignore an injury; just don’t use it as a crutch like I did.)

But I really started wondering.  Just how many times have I cheated myself out of something amazing because I told myself I couldn’t do it? Honestly, I have the type of personality that if I don’t do something well the first time or don’t see instant results, I chock it up as lost.  Call it fear of failure.  I sometimes get so scared of failing that I convince myself I can’t do ‘x-y-z’.  Seriously? With that type of mentality, it’s amazing that I’m not living in a plastic bubble, quivering at the sight of my own shadow.

I am happy to say that I’ve noticed the older I get the less I worry about failing and the less I hear “I can’t” come out of my mouth.  I’m pretty happy with myself and I actually tend to embrace my imperfections and have fun with life.  If I can’t keep up with the big dogs, I can at least entertain them, right?!  Maybe by the time I get into my 30s I’ll have life figured out.  Probably not.

So why am I sharing this? In hopes that you realize you can be amazing.  There isn’t anything you can’t achieve with the proper amount of work.  I have some goals in my sights for 2013 (like a triathlon) that I’m going to have to set aside the “I cant”s in order to accomplish.  So we’ll see if I can stay true to myself and kick the “I can’t”s out of my life.  As far as the rest of my chaotic weekend goes, if do lose all my hair, I’ll make sure to post some pictures!

Question:  Have you ever told yourself you can’t do something only to surprise yourself later on when you did it?