Category Archives: Fitness

Foam Rolling

Good morning!

Yesterday morning, I had my normal oats for breakfast but I put them in an almost empty peanut butter jar to eat. The jar had about half a tablespoon or so of peanut butter left in it so I just cooked the oats in the microwave and then added them to the peanut butter jar.

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Oatmeal with peanut butter is amazing. Actually peanut butter makes most things better – french toast, apples, crackers, chocolate, pretzels. :)

Since I went to CrossFit on Tuesday night, I just decided to stick to cardio at the gym on Wednesday morning.

I ran/walked 3.5 miles on the treadmill. I haven’t gone that far in a long time! Unfortunately, my Achilles tendon still bothers me when I run so I’m glad that I cut back on running lately but I still like to run shorter distances sometimes.

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I make sure to foam roll almost every time I go to the gym. My calves are always tight, my quads are usually sore, and my glutes get sore, so I really focus on foam rolling those three areas.

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If you’ve never used a foam roller before it’s a great way to loosen muscle knots. Foam rolling is also called myofascial release and when you use a foam roller to apply force to a muscle knot, the muscle fibers go from a bundled position into a straighter alignment.

When you apply pressure to a muscle that is sore or tight, you stimulate the Golgi tendon organ and create autogenic inhibition. This decreases the excitment in the muscle spindle, releasing the tension in the muscle. Basically, foam rolling helps break up knots in the muscle.

I usually start rolling back on forth on my calves until I find a spot that is really sore or tight. Then I apply pressure to this spot for at least 30 seconds. It takes at least 30 seconds for autogenic inhibition to kick in. The same goes for stretching -hold stretches for at least 30 seconds.

I usually foam roll all the tight spots on my calves, quads, and sometimes glutes, then I stretch. I break up the knots first with the foam roller and then I make sure to stretch them out.

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I also have a foam roller at home to use! You can find them for less than $20.

Foam rolling doesn’t always feel the greatest. It might hurt slightly depending on the muscle knots but it will really help later so stick with it! You can also use other object like a tennis ball to help break up knots.

When I was running and foam rolling at the gym, Jaden was taking a cooking class downstairs. My gym is also a park district so it worked out that his cooking classes were in the same building!

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Jaden loves to cook. He went to a breakfast and lunch cooking class and today he’ll be taking a dinner cooking class.

Last night, we went to my mom’s house and out to dinner with her to celebrate her birthday!

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We’re off to Jaden’s last cooking class. Have a great day and don’t forget to foam roll! :)

  • Do you foam roll or stretch?
  • Favorite thing to put peanut butter on?

 

10 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Fitness, Working Out

Friday Favorites

Good morning! We finally have some sunshine here in Chicagoland! I hope it stays around.

Let’s talk about today’s favorites!

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This recipe is so cute and perfect for Father’s Day, not to mention protein pancakes are delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Premier Protein vanilla shake
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Make a well in the center and add the shake, milk, egg, and melted butter. Mix until smooth.

Heat lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Put batter into a Ziploc bag and cut off the corner. Create a tie shape on the griddle. Brown lightly on both sides. If needed, use kitchen scissors to clean up the tie shape. Spread a thin layer of honey on the tie and decorate with blueberries and raspberries!

How cute is that?! And perfect for Father’s Day!

I am a Premier Protein ambassador but I do not receive any compensation on links. I just had to share these amazing pancakes. :) 

  • Pretty Little Liars

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I love this show. I don’t even care that it’s geared towards high school teen girls. I love it.

  • My New Reebok Nano 4.0s

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I got new shoes! Since I went ahead and joined CrossFit, I decided to invest in a pair of CrossFit shoes. I was finally able to find a size 11 online! I did find one pair of size 11 at Dick’s Sporting Goods but they were red and I didn’t like the color at all. The color choices are very limited in a size 11 but I did manage to find this pair!

I’ve only wore them a couple of times but so far I love them.

  •  The Stairmaster

I have been trying to add more cardio into my workout routine and lately I have been loving the Stairmaster.

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It can be a seriously hard workout. I usually do a HIIT workout on the treadmill for about 20-20 minutes. I climb at between level 5-6 for a minute and then I climb between level 15-18 for a minute. I repeat this for the entire workout.

Those are my favorites for today! I hope you all have a great weekend!!

  • What are your favorites today?
  • Favorite TV shows? Any Pretty Little Liar fans out there?!

2 Comments

Filed under Fitness

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!

I hope you all have been having a great week and are looking forward to the weekend. I know I am!

Let’s get right into today favorites!

  • FitRadio App

I usually listen to my iPod at the gym but I’m not really good about changing up the music so I tend to listen to the same playlist for months and months. I recently discovered the FitRadio app and I love it! I think it’s available on both Android and iPhone.

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It’s great for working out or for instructors teaching a group fitness classes. You can pick a genre of music or create stations. They have a genre or station for everything! And a lot of the stations gives you the beats per minute for specific exercises like spin, zumba, tabata, running, crossfit and more!

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I have the free version which mean there a few ads but they’re really short so they don’t usually bother me and you can turn on the feature to give you motivational quotes while you’re exercising.

  • Tabata HIIT Timer App

I don’t think I’ve ever had an app in my Friday Favorites and now I have two! I use this tabata/HIIT timer all the time.

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All you do it set the amount of time you want to work and the amount of time you want to recover and the app displays the number of seconds left on the screen and beeps when it’s time to stop or start.

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You can set the time and amount of rounds depending on what you’re doing.

  • Broccoli Slaw

Most night for dinner, I make chicken and brown rice but sometimes I get bored eating that all the time. Instead, I’ll use broccoli slaw which I love. It’s shredded broccoli, carrots, and cabbage. You can eat a large amount for little calories which is always good.

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I usually saute the broccoli slaw in a pan with some garlic and then I add the pre-cooked chicken to warm it up. I add in one tablespoon of lite soy sauce and yesterday I added some leftover green beans that I had in the fridge.

It’s a nice change from my normal chicken and rice.

  • Double Under Wonder Jump Rope

I have been loving my jump rope lately!

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I have been keeping it in my gym bag so I can practice double unders after my workout. I’m getting better but still working on them. I think it helps me to rest a day in between practicing because my calves get really tight which makes jumping hard. But I’m still going!

  • Chips and Salsa

I love Mexican food and I really love chips and salsa! I recently tried out these Way Better Snacks sprouted blue corn tortilla chips.

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They are awesome with Mrs. Renfro’s peach salsa – yum!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

  • What are some of your favorite things today?

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Fitness, Working Out

Glutes, Abs, and a Birthday

Good afternoon!

Yesterday

Now that school is out, I can get to the gym a little bit earlier than usual which means I get on with the rest of my day sooner! Before my workout yesterday, I had some of the Cellucor C4 pre-workout in pink lemonade.

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The icy blue razz and pink lemonade are my two favorite flavors!

At the gym, I focused mostly on working my glutes. I did a bunch of different exercises including: deadlifts, barbell step-ups with a kickback, barbell step-up to a knee raise, barbell hip thrusters, and split squats.

I didn’t do any regular squats or lunges because my quad was really bothering me yesterday but normally I’ll add those in to my routine too.

The weather was very sunny and very hot yesterday – around 95 degrees (today it’s rainy and about 20 degrees cooler – Chicago weather!) so the kids and I headed to Starbucks for some refreshing, cold drinks.

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Drinking outside at Starbucks.

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Jacob was there too but he hates when I take his picture :)

Today

This morning at the gym, I did an ab pyramid circuit workout that left me tired and sweaty!

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(Yes, my hair is always crazy. Always.)

I started with 10 reps of each exercise, completing all the exercises back to back. When I was done, I rested about a minute and then did all the exercises nine times each. I rested and then did them all eight times each. I only made it down to six reps of each exercises before I had to go get Jaden out of the kid’s room at the gym.

Next time, I’m going to try and make it all the way down to one rep, it’s just a little time consuming!

Happy Birthday

Today is my brother, Paul’s, 30th birthday!

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Welcome to Club 30, Paul!! :) Happy Happy birthday from your older sister. :)

Have a great day!

  • Favorite core exercise?
  • Favorite Starbucks drink?
  • How did you feel about turning 30?

 

4 Comments

Filed under Fitness, Working Out

Double Under Wonder – Jump Roping

Disclaimer: Double Under Wonder sent me a jump rope to review at no cost to me. All opinions and hard work practicing are my own.

I am loving CrossFit so far because it has been challenging me and giving me goals to work towards. One of those goals is perfecting the double unders (which is passing the jump rope under your feet twice on one turn of the rope).

Ever since I first tried the double unders at CrossFit with their speed ropes, I knew I had to get a speed rope of my own to practice. I looked at a couple different stores but couldn’t find a speed rope that I liked or one thin enough.

Then I came across the Double Under Wonder jump rope website. I was so super excited to find this website because you can customize your own jump rope! Who doesn’t love customizing things?!

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(Source)

I had way too much fun on this website coming up with different combinations of jump ropes. You can pick out each handle color, the design on each handle (chevron, polka dots, or no design), and the color of the jump rope. There were so many awesome color combinations that it was hard to just pick one!

In the end, I decided on pink handles with chevron print and a black rope. I love how it turned out!

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I also love that it came with a carrying case so it’s easy to throw in my gym bag. And the shipping was super fast which I always appreciate because I tend to be a slightly impatient person. I customized my rope online and it showed up in my mailbox a few days later!

I immediately tried it out in my front yard which brought every neighborhood kid within a mile radius running over to try out my new jump rope.

I was looking behind me to find one of the neighborhood kids because he totally showed me up with his jump roping skills and I wanted to show him that I could in fact jump rope even though I kept tripping repeatedly.

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Of course, Jaden loved the jump rope.

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The jump rope is adjustable so once I had it adjusted to a comfortable length I was able to jump easier.

I took my Double Under Wonder rope to the gym to practice. Doing double unders in a little bit different than regular jumping roping. On the Double Under Wonder website you can sign up for free workout demo emails and I did a little research on how to do the perfect double under.

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First, your elbows need to stay close to your body. The turning of the rope should come from the wrist not from the shoulders. It’s small wrist circles rather than large shoulder circles.

Next, you need to jump a little higher and a little slower than normal. I began just by practicing slow and high jumps. I picked one spot to stare at so I wouldn’t move all around while jumping. Also, make sure to jump straight up rather than piking your body.

After I got the single jump down, I started trying to add double unders. I am still a work in progress and need a lot of practice. Every time I was able to do one, I would get too excited and speed up the rope which just ended up with the rope smacking me.

So far I am only able to get five double unders in a row but the day before I could only do three. With a little bit of practice every day or so, I know I will soon  master the double under!

The downside to the thin speed ropes is if you mess up they smack your body like a whip leaving red slashes on your wrists and maybe ankles and butt. I also managed to slash my back and that one hurt.

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I am loving my Double Under Wonder jump rope and enjoy practicing with it. I can’t wait until I’m able to do lots of double unders in a row!

Check out the Double Under Wonder website to order your own customizable  jump rope! You can also check them out on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Have you ever tried a double under?
  • When was the last time your jump roped?

6 Comments

Filed under CrossFit, Fitness, Product Review, Working Out

Graduation Party

Good afternoon – I hope you all had a great weekend!

On Saturday, we had an 8th grade graduation party for Jacob. I can’t believe that once summer is over, he’ll be in high school!

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I actually bought a new dress to wear to the party but Jaden and I stopped at the store to pick up the food for the party and a small disaster occurred. I was in the alcohol aisle and somehow my purse or cart bumped a giant bottle of what must have been beer. The bottle fell off the shelf, exploded on the ground, and then splashed all over my new dress covering me in alcohol. As I was trying to pick up the bottle, I almost knocked over another bottle. It was quite a diaster that was witnessed by three guys who just stood there staring at me. Fun times.

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So, we had to leave the store so I could go home, rinse off, and then change my dress. I still had to go back to the store and pick up the food.

Luckily, the party ended up being a lot of fun and the weather was gorgeous so we were able to stay outside most of the day.

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We got chicken and sandwiches catered from a local grocery store, but I made tons of cookies.

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I used my favorite cookie recipes from Sally’s Baking Addiction – chocolate chip M&M cookies and butterscotch Reese’s Pieces cookies.

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Thank you to our family and friends for celebrating with us!

Sunday

On Sunday, Danny and I went to the gym.

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We haven’t gone to the gym together in so long because we have been so busy with baseball and different things going on during the weekends. Danny just started training for the Chicago Marathon so he just did some cross training. I am trying to add a little more cardio into my routine so I did a 45 minute HIIT workout on the stairmaster.

I was dead by the time I was done – that stairmaster is no joke!

Today is the kids first day off of school for the summer and tonight is Jacob’s actual graduation ceremony!

Have a great day!

  • Favorite cookie?
  • What are you looking forward to this summer?

 

1 Comment

Filed under Family Fun, Fitness, Working Out

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!

It’s the last day of school which means the unofficial start of summer!

I haven’t done Friday Favorites in a while so I thought I’d talk about a few favorites today.

  • CrossFit

Of course, I have to start with CrossFit as a favorite! As of yesterday, I have been going to CrossFit twice a week for a month. Yesterday’s workout was tough. I just talked about how I’m trying to run less and part of our workout of the day yesterday was to start with a mile run – figures! Really though, I don’t mind running short distances.

Our workout was a one mile run, five minutes straight of dumbbell snatches, and a plank for as long as possible. My mile time was 9:18. I did 82 dumbbell snatches in five minutes, and held the plank for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Afterwards, I was so dead. I brought Powerade Zero with in the car to drink after my workout and at that moment, it was the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. I’m only smiling because I was so darn excited to drink that Powerade. In actuality, I could barely move. :)

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  • Lemonade Sparkling Water

I have mentioned my love for sparkling water a few times and I’ve tried just about every brand and flavor there is and have finally found an absolute favorite.

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The Glaceau Fruit Water in Fizzy Lemonade is the best flavor I have ever tried. I have only found it at one grocery store near me so I always make sure to stock up on them!

  • Meal Planning/Meal Prep

It’s so much easier during the week to plan out meals ahead of time. Life is always so busy with work, the gym, crossfit, baseball, and the kids’ activities. I find it helpful to make a meal plan and prep what I can ahead of time.

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I eat a little different than my husband and kids so I find it easier to prep my meals ahead of time so I can cook their dinner and then mine is ready to go!

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I usually only prep meals for two or three day in advance. My favorite is to cook chicken and green beans ahead of time. Then I make some instant brown rice in the microwave and add the chicken and green beans. I also have a few Premier Proteins smoothies ready to go after a workout. I have a small insulated bag than I usually carry with me to the gym.

  • Skinny Cow Salted Caramel Pretzels Bars

Most evenings as a treat, I have a Yasso Greek yogurt bar but for some reason my normal grocery store stopped carrying them. Instead, I picked up the Skinny Cow ice creams bars and they are amazing.

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So good and portioned controlled so I won’t eat an entire pint of ice cream!

Have a great weekend!

  • What are your plans for the weekend?
  • What are your favorites things today?

 

1 Comment

Filed under CrossFit, Dinner, Fitness, Working Out

Spin and Kettlebell Class

Hello!

Today’s Workout:

  • walked one mile on the treadmill – 15 minutes
  • Spin class – 30 minutes
  • Kettlebell class – 30 minutes

I wore my printed leggings to the gym today. I feel so self conscious every time I wear these! I hate drawing attention to my legs but they are really comfortable.

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Pre-workout, I had some Cellucor C4 in the fruit punch flavor. I don’t really take a pre-wrokout often but it was just sitting on top of our fridge so I decided to take some.

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#AllTheSelfies

I planned on doing about an hour of cardio this morning and I started off walking on the treadmill. A friend from the gym that I was walking with was going to spin and kettlebell class so I decided to tag along and try out something new today.

Spin class was only 30 minutes which was perfect for me. Spin tends to bother my quad a lot so I only do it once in a great while.

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The kettlebell class is immediately after spin so I decided to stay for that too. I really liked the kettlebell class. We did tons of kettlebell swings. My glutes were already sore from my workout on Tuesday so now I’m really feeling it!

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The kettlebell class on Thursdays is new at my gym so I hope to keep taking it!

On Tuesday evening, I went to CrossFit and the workout was killer. We did sumo deadlift high pulls and ball wall throws in sets of 30/20/10 for each exercise. I was dead!

Luckily, I usually use Wednesday as a rest day. I teach a class at 5:45 am on Wednesdays and then work at the fitness desk from 9 am to 3 pm so it works out as a rest day!

I can’t believe that tomorrow is already my kids last day of school! Most of my day will be spent running errands and getting snacks and decorations for Jacob’s 8th grade graduation party on Saturday. I can’t believe that I’m going to have a high schooler!!

Have a wonderful afternoon!

  • Have you ever tried a spin or kettlebell class before?
  • Favorite group exercise class?

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under CrossFit, Fitness

CrossFit

Okay, I have a confession to make…I’ve been going to CrossFit. For a month.

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Bur first, a long back story:

I have been running since 2008. My grandma was always a runner and in 2008 she was doing a race called the Muddy Buddy and asked me to do it with her. The race is between 6-7 miles long and alternates between running and biking with your partner. One person starts out biking and drops the bike at the designated spot. The other person starts out running and grabs the bike. This continues the whole race with about 6 obstacles along the way.

At the end of the race, you must climb through a giant mud pit to cross the finish line.

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Anyway, this was my first experience with running. I remember practicing and practicing and being so excited I was finally able to run a mile without stopping. After that race, I continued running. I run tons of 5ks, a 10k, and a 15k.

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However, I have never been a strong runner. At first my goal was never to train for a half marathon or marathon. I just ran because it was a challenge and made me feel accomplished. I liked running races with my family.

I was always a slow runner. Like I said, it was hard work for me. I couldn’t quite master the breathing and I always seemed to have some kind of injury. But I kept up with it and my race times went from 36 minutes to 30 minutes.

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Some people are natural runners. They can run fast, they can run far, they can run without injury. This is not me. Running is extremely hard on my body and as a result, I have suffered many minor injuries.

I’ve had hip bursitis and had to get cortisone shots. I’ve had torn rib cartilage – so painful! I’ve also had plantar fasciitis.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, which basically means that my calves muscles are too tight in their sheaths. This is something that can only be fixed with surgery which I decided not to do. This also means that my calves get rock hard and painful whether I’m running one mile or ten. I usually wear compression sleeves when I run even short distances. After a race, my calves stay hard and tight for up to three days. I did physical therapy for weeks but it never really helped. It’s not super terrible pain, I just make sure that I stretch and foam roll a lot.

As you can see, running causes me lots of problems. But the biggest problem I’ve faced was femoroacetabular hip impingement and had to get hip surgery last summer.

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At the time, I was teaching BodyPump and training for my first half marathon. It was just too much for my body to handle. I had a small abnormal growth on my hip bone and the repetitive movement caused the growth to tear my labrum in two places. This left me in constant pain especially in my quad. This was something that needed surgery to be fixed.

So, last July I had hip surgery to shave down my hip bone and repair the tears in the labrum. I spent one month in a hip brace and on crutches. I spent six months in physical therapy. Even today, I am not 100%. My hip gets sore very quickly and my quad still bothers me. Of course, it feels so much better than it used to but the recovery process is long.

As you might know, I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon. To me, that seemed like the ultimate goal.

But lately, my thoughts have shifted.

I honestly don’t believe that my body was meant for running. I have suffered from numerous injuries. And I still have calf, hip, and quad pain when I run. It seems like the more running I do, the more pain I cause my body. So why do I continue to do it?

Why do I feel the need to run when it hurts? Why do I feel the need to run when it causes me injuries? Why do I feel the need to run when it’s obvious my body doesn’t like it? I don’t know. I guess running made me feel like I had a goal. Running made me feel like I was accomplishing something. I could say, “I’m a runner.” I come from a family of runners so it seemed like the natural thing to do.

My stepmom is a fast runner. My grandma has run a marathon, half marathons, triathlons, and plenty of other races. My sister-in-law ran a half marathon and a full marathon in two days. My husband is training for the Chicago marathon.

I cannot do any of these things. And trust me, it’s not for lack of trying. My family is extremely supportive of one another and have always supported me in what I’ve done but I felt the need to do what they could do. If they can all run, why can’t I?

I’ll tell you why – because my body was not made for running. Sure I can run a 5k. I’ve even run a 15k and 10 miles on the treadmill. But the more I do it, the more it hurts, and the more I push my self, I’ve come to realize that I don’t enjoy it.

Yes, I feel accomplished every time I cross that finish line but I also think why couldn’t I have been faster? Why does my leg have to hurt so much? Why do my calves always have to be tight?

I’ve come to the realization that maybe running a half marathon isn’t my dream anymore. Maybe I should focus on other goals. Goals that make me happy. Goals that make me feel accomplished. Goals that I enjoy.

And that brings us to why I have been doing CrossFit. Instead of running, I am focusing on a new activity.

If you aren’t quite sure what CrossFit is, it’s company founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai. It involves using functional training movements through high intensity interval training. It also includes Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, and calisthenics. Each workout consists of a WOD (workout of the day) in a CrossFit box (gym).

The workouts help you achieve speed, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, balance, coordination, etc.

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I have been taking the CrossFit beginners class for about a month. Even though it’s a beginner’s class, it is in no way easy. I leave drenched in sweat, tired, and burn between 450-550 calories each workout. I love it.

CrossFit lets me focus on goals like learning proper form for Olympic weightlifting exercises such as deadlifts, cleans, push presses, overhead squats, front squats, and more. It has been helping me work on my pull-ups and double unders (jump roping while passing the rope under your feet twice in one turn of the rope). I work on rowing, running shorter distances, and really work on challenging myself.

Most CrossFit workouts are time-based. You want to finish the workout or a certain amount of rounds in the fastest time possible. For example our WOD the other day was a 800 m (1/2 mile run), 50 push presses, and 30 pull-ups (I did mine with a band since I’m still working on a regular pull-up). My time was 10:31.

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Every workout is different and challenging and lets me push myself in a way that makes me feel accomplished. So far, I am really enjoying CrossFit and plan to continue. I don’t think my running days are over – I’ll still run races here and there. I just don’t think running is going to be my main goal anymore.

Stay tuned for more posts on my first CrossFit class and more!

Have a great day!

  • Have you ever tried CrossFit?
  • What’s your biggest accomplishment or a goal you’re currently working on?

 

19 Comments

Filed under CrossFit, Fitness, Running, Working Out

Workouts

Good afternoon! I hope you all had a great weekend!

We have been so busy lately. This is my kids last week of school and last Friday, Danny and I volunteered at Jaden’s Field Day at his school. Later that evening my son, Jacob, went to his 8th grade graduation dance and my younger son, Jaden, had a baseball game on Saturday morning.

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Saturday night my family came over to watch the Blackhawks game. My family are huge hockey fans so this was an important game. Luckily, the Blackhawks are advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs! It will be another few weeks filled with hockey!

I meant to share a great shoulder workout that I did last week but life got busy so I figured I’d share it now.

Shoulder Workout

  •  dumbbell push presses
  • plate front raises
  • lateral raises on cable machine
  • bent arm lateral raises with external rotation
  • seated shoulder presses
  • side plank with lateral raises

I did 3 sets of between 12-15 reps of each exercise.

I finished up my shoulder workout with some jump roping that really got my heart rate up!

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Today’s Workout

This morning at the gym, I worked on back and biceps and then did a 20 minute HIIT workout on the treadmill. I ran fast for one minute and then walked to recover for one minute. I repeated this for 20 minutes. By the time I was done, my calves and hamstrings were killing me, so I made sure to stretch a lot after my workout.

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Stretching with my Premier Protein mat:

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We’re having an 8th grade graduation party for Jacob this weekend, so most of this week will be spent working, doing errands, and getting everything ready for the party!

Have a great day!

  • If you have kids, are they out of school yet?
  • Do you watch any sports? Play any sports?

5 Comments

Filed under Family Fun, Fitness, Working Out