Workout

Thoughts on the Weekend

Ah, another weekend is upon us. Like the end of every week, I can’t wait until Friday at 5 pm. There is something about having two days where I don’t have to set an alarm, make my lunch, and rush out the door that excites me. If you are like me and are always running 15 minutes late in the morning, you need to check out this article about the seven habits of punctual women (I’ve only adopted two of them, so I have some work to do).

For me, this weekend is all about getting back into shape (we’ll see how my back feels about that!). I plan to return to kickboxing for the first time in almost a month. After that, I will probably be unable to do much of anything…except relax.

Here’s hoping you have a restful weekend!

Sunrise

{Rise and Shine!}

Spring

{More signs of spring}

Can't Adult Today

{Target, you know me so well}

Flowers

{A perfect flower}

My Favorite Yoga Poses

Yoga Poses

My back has been bothering me for a couple of weeks now, which has meant no kickboxing for me. I never like missing my Saturday morning cardio workout because when I do finally return (four weeks later), I feel out of shape.

Determined to keep up some kind of exercise routine while not further aggravating my back, I turned to yoga. I have been going to yoga fairly regularly as of late, and with my back injury I have noticed an improvement in pain and mobility as a result of the stretching.

Here are the poses that have helped to ease my sore back:

1. Cat and Cow: This simple routine of rounding and arching your back while you are on all four’s is so easy to do. I instantly feel my lower back relaxing and a lot of tension leaving my shoulder and neck. To get the full benefit, remember to round your back on the inhale and arch your back on the exhale.

2. Child’s Pose: This is one of my favorite yoga poses, and I have found it to be a good stretch first thing in the morning or before bed. When the yoga class gets a bit too intense for me, this is the pose I retreat to—and my back thanks me for it!

3. Corpse: As the name implies, there isn’t much to this one. Just lie on your back with your palms facing the sky and let your body relax. You can also bring your knees to your chest and slowly rock from side-to-side for a gentle back massage. I like doing this one to conclude a yoga class.

4. Standing Half Forward Bend: Can’t quite get your hands on the floor? Don’t worry. This pose can be modified so you bring your hands to the front of your shins while stretching your torso. It is a great spine and lower back stretch.

5. Cobra Pose: The cobra pose is a gentle lower back stretch. Lying face down, use your arms to gently lift your upper body off the yoga mat. With your hips on the mat, come up only as far as you can without pain. I did this pose a couple of times in a sequence the other night and felt my shoulders, neck, and back loosen up.

As with any exercise routine, you should consult a physician before beginning. But if your doc gives you the green light, these are some easy poses to get you started and loosened up.

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga

As most of you know, I took quite the hiatus from yoga. Despite repeated efforts to get back into the practice regularly, my busy schedule and constant soreness after my weekly kickboxing class left me with little energy for an additional workout.

But over the last couple of weeks, I have pushed myself to give yoga another go. While I might step onto my mat reluctantly after a long day of work, I always feel much better by the time the class concludes.

Here are a few ways yoga has helped me:

It gives me something to look forward to
Let’s face it. Mondays can be hard. But knowing that I am starting the week with an evening yoga class makes getting out of bed when my alarm goes off a little easier. Add to that dinner with a good friend before the class and company during, and I’m not sure my Monday could get better than that.

My muscles thank me
I am always sore after kickboxing—for days. But since I started going to yoga, I’ve noticed that the soreness dissipates faster than it used to.

I’m more flexible
Each week I can do or hold a pose longer. Yoga is a nice complement to my kickboxing class, too. I’ve found that my roundhouse kicks have improved significantly as a result of my increased flexibility.

My mental clarity is sharper
I often say that I have thyroid brain fog…and I do. Since having thyroid cancer, my memory is not as good as it once was. The good thing is that I never have to worry about repeating something I shouldn’t because nine times out of ten, I won’t remember it anyway. But it can be frustrating when I really need to concentrate and am unable to do so. Yoga has given me the ability to clear my mind and focus on a task, which has improved my memory overall.

I feel calmer
The best part about yoga is that I feel a sense of calm long after the class has ended. I love that the class is on a Monday and that I can stretch that feeling well into mid-week.

Getting in Shape: My Kickboxing-versary

Kickboxing

Thanks to Facebook, I will never forget a memory — or in this case, my kickboxing-versary. That’s right. It has been a year since I took up kickboxing. As a former equestrian, with no prior martial arts experience, I never thought I would enjoy kickboxing as much as I have. The class has challenged me both mentally and physically — and the results speak for themselves.

The workout: In one word — intense. Even though I have been taking the class on a weekly basis, there are still some days when the workout just wipes me out. The warmup consists of either indoor running or shadow boxing, push-ups, and jumping jacks. By the time I get through the warmup, I’ve already gone through half of my water! Next, it’s time for some actual kickboxing — usually with a sequence of punches (jab, cross, hook, and uppercut) and then kicks (front kick, side kick, and roundhouse). And just when you think you’re done, it’s time to partner up for some relay sprints, sit-ups, and of course, more push-ups.

The benefits: I couldn’t do a single push-up when I started the class. Now, even though I hate them with a passion, I can get through a few sets of push-ups (before I need to cheat and drop to my knees). I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my overall stamina as well. I used to have to take frequent breaks between exercises, but now I can make it though the hour class without them. And my muscles are no longer sore for days afterwards. Last week, I attended two kickboxing classes. A first for me!

Kickboxing Results

The results: I love taking my weekly Saturday morning selfie. But more than having an Instagram-worthy image to post, it’s helped me document my progress. My biceps are much stronger than they’ve ever been. And now that it is almost time to hit the beach, I am really proud of how far my abs and core have come.

The takeaway: Trying a new workout can be intimidating. There have been plenty of times during the year that I’ve wanted to quit (and some months where I was less disciplined than others). But by sticking with this workout, I’ve tested my body and my mind. While I don’t always love waking up early on a Saturday morning, having a workout buddy has made it more enjoyable (thanks, Fran!). So, if there’s a workout you’ve been wanting to try, I say go for it. And bring a friend along. It just might become what you look forward to all week long!

Have you tried any new workouts recently?

Crunching it with Crunch Live

Crunch Live

I enjoy working out and staying in shape, but I wouldn’t consider myself a gym rat. My ideal fitness environment includes a class at a studio, or a work out in the comfort of my own home. So when Crunch approached me about trying their online Crunch Live program, I suspected I might get hooked. And I was.

The idea of going to the gym after work has never appealed to me. Add in that they are noisy and crowded and that is enough to make me skip working out altogether. For the past few years, I have enjoyed various apps on my iPad to help keep my fitness goals in check. But Crunch Live has streamlined the process by offering different types of workout classes of varying lengths all on one platform, thus simplifying my life, keeping me motivated, and reducing the amount of apps on my iPad.

The first class I tried with Crunch Live was Yoga Body Sculpt taught by Bethany Lyons. It was a fast moving yoga class and really got my heart rate up. Unlike traditional yoga classes, which focus on stretching and relaxation, this class was all about burning calories in a short amount of time….and, boy, did it accomplish the goal. Halfway through I felt as though I had done more work then in some of the longer fitness classes I’ve tried in a studio. Bethany was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and she offered accommodating variations for those who may not be comfortable with certain poses. That is something you don’t always see in online classes!

Crunch Live also has cardio and strength training classes (which were a great supplement to the kickboxing class I take on the weekend), Dance Rythms (something fun to do when you aren’t in the mood to work out, but just want to move around a bit), and Quickies, 15-minute workouts when you are crunched for time.

If you’re like me, and enjoy working out at home, or you find yourself traveling a lot for work and missing your fitness routine, then this platform is worth a try (and you can try all their videos with a 3-day FREE trial!). I found that even on days when I was tired after a long day at the office, Crunch Live made it convenient to squeeze in a quick workout without adding extra travel time to make it to a studio. With many different classes (they have over 70+ online workouts), all tailored to getting you fit in the shortest amount of time, this is a great way to stay in shape and have fun doing it.

Image courtesy of Crunch Live

Summer Fitness

Kickboxing

If there is one thing I love more than summer, it’s all the sweet treats that the season brings. Take one look at my Instagram and you would know that I have been indulging in gooey chocolate chip cookies, sinful pudding, and homemade ice cream sandwiches. And while I’ve enjoyed eating all the sweet stuff, I also feel like I should be working out extra hard to burn it off.

I recently took up kickboxing and love the workout. The class is the hardest thing I have ever done and tests my endurance (which is seriously lacking). But during my last class I noticed that I’ve gotten much stronger and less winded. Don’t get me wrong, the class is still intense, but now I don’t feel like I’m going to have a heart attack after 15 minutes of rigorous exercise. After taking a two-week hiatus to enjoy the summer I need to up my fitness game — in the form of an additional evening kickboxing class this week (yikes!).

The only problem with this idea is that I’m still sore from the last kickboxing class. So, here are a few of my tips if you find yourself facing a similar workout quandary.

Try to work different muscles: Like, the ones that aren’t sore! Thankfully, my instructor is good at varying the class. My arms are still feeling all the bag work we did the other day, but they are noticeably less sore than my shoulders and abs. My plan for the next class is to work more on my kicks, if possible.

Rest up during the day: I like to take a two-mile walk on my lunch break, but since I will be doing this class after work, and probably will be tired to start with, I’m going to limit my daily activities before the class to working and eating. With any luck, this will help my body be ready come evening.

Stay hydrated: I tend to get headaches after vigorous exercise — and this happens frequently after kickboxing if I get dehydrated. To combat this, I’ve started drinking lots of water in the morning before my class and I make sure to drink throughout the day. Bringing along a frozen water bottle has helped and allows me to get a few sips in during an intense class (it melts nicely in the hot dojo, giving me a cold drink).

Stretch…stretch…stretch: I find stretching before and after a class very helpful, especially when I’m sore. I will be doing some extra stretching before the next class to help loosen up my muscles and avoid injuries.

Give your body some down-time: My second kickboxing class will be less than 48 hours after the first, and I’ve noticed that I am more sore on day two. After this class, I’m planning on taking the rest of the week off from any strenuous activity so my body can recuperate.

How do you stay in shape over the summer? I’d love to hear your tips for exercising when sore.