Wednesday, April 10, 2013


If I asked a year ago if any of you had heard of Tabata, the answer would most likely be "no".  Ok, I guess I couldn't have asked a year ago, because this blog didn't exist then (or even a month ago), but still, you get the gist.  Anyways, my bootcamp instructor introduced me to Tabata atleast a year or 2 ago, and to this day it is one of my favorite ways to get in a quick workout.

Here's the concept:

1.  Pick an exercise move.
2.  Do the move for 20 seconds without rest, then rest for 10 seconds.
3.  Repeat 7 more times, for a total of 8 x (20 seconds + 10 seconds) = 240 seconds = 4 minutes.
(Yes, I'm a math nerd.)
4.  Pick another move, and repeat the process.

Each move you pick takes 4 minutes to do "Tabata style", and you can combine as many moves as you want to create a full body workout.  I usually pick 6-8 moves, for a 25-40 minute workout.  Trust me, it's alot harder than it sounds, and your muscles will be burrrrning by the end of each Tabata circuit.  The goal is to pick exercises that work large muscle groups.  Here's a list of different exercises I use when combining a Tabata circuit:

This morning I did the Tabata circuit in my bedroom, so I didn't have access to weights or kettlebells.  That's one of the best things about this workout though - you can do it anywhere, without any equipment.  I chose to combine push ups (I do them on my knees for Tabata - trust me, they still burn), jump squats, tricep dips, lunges, crunches and sumo squats.  That's 6 exercises x 4 minutes, with a minute or so of rest in between.  I was done the workout in 30 minutes, and I'd bet money on the fact that I'll be sore tomorrow!  Try it sometime!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One of those days.

What. A. Day.  I take back everything I said about Wednesdays being better than Mondays or Tuesdays.

I woke up this morning at 6:45am, turned on the TV to check the weather and traffic, then rolled out of bed.  When I put my feet down, I felt something wet.  Like, really wet.  Turns out there were several wet spots all over my carpet.  Change of plans - instead of going to work at my normal 8am time, I had to wait for our property management office to open at 9am to speak with the maintenance man about why my carpet was suddenly saturated.  So now what to do with my 2 hours of morning free time?  The logical answer would be go back to bed, but since my mind was running a mile a minute, I did the only other logical thing and went to the gym.  Unfortunately I was not mentally prepared to push myself hard in a morning work out, so instead I zoned out for a steady 60 minute cardio sesh on the elliptical and bike.  I just read my book and took my mind off of all the possibilities of what could be leaking and how much it would cost to fix.

Cue 9am, on the dot.  I go to the maintenance office, bring the guy to my condo, and we both look at eachother bewildered.  All he could find is that my utility closet was damp on the floor around the hot water heater, so maybe that was leaking.  But leaking enough to seep through the walls, floors, and back up through the carpet?  Ugh, who knows.  Anyways, I have an appointment tomorrow morning with the HVAC company to check it out.  Part of me hopes it IS the hot water heater, even though it will be expensive to fix, because if it's not that, neither the maintenance man nor myself have any idea what else could be causing the wet spots.  The trials and tribulations of being a home (condo) owner.

So what does this have to do with fitness?  Nothing really.  However, I had planned a 5pm outdoor run and arm circuit for after work, and because I didn't get in until 9:30, I'm stuck at work much later and won't be able to get to the gym before my 7pm "Mud & Merlot" night with the girls.  Priorities!  We are drinking wine and making picture frames tonight, and that's more important than the gym, duh.  Instead, I got my panicking mind out the door and went to the gym with the free time I now had this morning instead of this evening.  FLEXIBILITY.  That's what it takes to have fun and be fit.  Who wants to miss Mud & Merlot night to go to the gym?  I Don't.  The same applies to skipping happy hour, or dinner, or that spur of the moment sports game you got tickets for.  Don't miss out, be flexible.  Bail on the evening run but get up an hour earlier and hit the gym in the AM.  Squeeze in a 30 minute walk during your lunch break when a late meeting pops up.  Do wall squats in the bathroom where no one can see you (wait, I'm the only one who does that?).  Regardless, fit it in where you can, because fitness should be fun and a stress reliever, not another obligation to add to your already busy life! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Diminishing Returns.

Sorry I've been a little MIA this past week - work was busy, life was hectic, and I was trying to squeeze in some fun.  I know, I know, you missed me, so I'm back in action!  Before I share a new little circuit training sesh, I wanted to fill you in on my experience with a new-to-me online dating-ish website...for all the singles out there!

So, everyone knows about the whole, EHarmony, standard online dating that we see beautiful, in-love couples raving about in commercials.  For those who have tried it, you likely made a profile, logged on, and realized that 95% of the people messaging you are either 1. creepy. 2. creepier. or 3. the creepiest.  I don't mean to bash online dating - it can work.  I know a few couples who met that way... but let's be serious, it can be a little sketchy and a lot awkward, and honestly it's just not for me.  Anyways, in comes a whole new world of online dating called Grouper.  It's half online dating, half meeting new friends, and all fun!  You sign up for a Grouper with 2 other friends, and the site matches you up with another group of 3 friends (from the opposite sex, duh).  Then, it picks a bar for you to meet at, and you get an email the day before filling you in with when/where to go.  It costs $20 and includes your first drink at the bar.  Well, my friends and I were feeling adventurous (and bored), so we went on our first Grouper last Thursday.  Let. Me. Tell. You..... it was a blast!  We met 3 really fun guys who were so similar to us, and spent the whole night laughing, drinking, and making fun of each other... and we stayed out way too late for a work night.  It even turned out that we had a few mutual friends through the guys' kickball league.  Now, I'm not saying I met my future husband on this Grouper, but it was a great way to meet new people, and way less awkward and more fun than a standard first date.  My friends and I had a pact before we went that if the guys were lame, we'd just bail and have a fun girls night out, so we looked at it as a win-win situation.  Luckily, they were the opposite of lame so no escape tactics were necessary.  I just thought I'd share my Grouper experience for any other less-than-enthused-about-standard-online-dating singles out there!!

Ok, enough about my eventful social life and onto the gym, since this is a fitness focused blog.  My whole body was burning after the workout I'm about to share... I swear, I was sore for 3 days after.  It uses the concept of diminishing returns - meaning you start with a heavy enough weight that your muscles are burnt out after the first set, but then decrease the reps on the next set so you can keep the heavy weights up.  I used a 12-10-8 rep count, but the whole concept works with any decreasing rep count.  The key is to pick a heavy enough weight to start with - so for this circuit, your muscles should be fatigued after the first set of 12 reps.  For the arm exercises, I used 15-20 lb weights, and for the leg exercises I used 20-30 lb weights.  Adjust that as needed for your strength, but don't be a wimp! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Escape the Treadmill Blues.

Happy Tuesday!  Tuesdays are always slightly better than Mondays.  Then Wednesdays are even better when you hit the mid week point and can officially start the "end of the week countdown"... no?  Just me?  Oh well.  I guess I'm always workin' for the weekend!

Yesterday I mentioned in my post that I knocked out a 7 mile treadmill run over the weekend.  I consider any run over 2 miles on the treadmill a success - because let's face it, the treadmill is boring.  There aren't many people... a.k.a. there is nobody I know... that prefers the treadmill over running outside.  I will make one exception to that - I prefer the treadmill when I want to do speed work.  I can't seem to get speed work incorporated into my outdoor runs, unless I go to the track and do the whole sprint the straightaways, jog the curves deal.  Anyways, I thought today I'd share a few tips and tricks that I use to make the "dreadmill" less dreadful.

1.  I love to plan my runs around TV shows.  One of my guilty weekend pleasures is watching Beverly Hills 90210 reruns on SoapNet (nerd alert), so often I can get a 6-7 mile run in during one episode.  For shorter runs, 30 minute shows would also work - my favorite is New Girl.  Most treadmills and gyms have TVs, or if you have a treadmill at home, make sure you have a TV nearby!

2.  I'm a total Top 40s girl, I download the new hit songs that are being played on the radio and listen to them over and over.  If you live near DC, you've probably seen me screaming (not singing) "I Knew You Were Trouble" at the top of my lungs driving down the beltway.  Music is a good pumper-uper, and a new playlist can be all the excitement you need to get through a boring treadmill run.  Another thing I do is use the Music Hour app for my iPhone (, which allows you to set a play list and it randomly selects one minute from each song on that playlist, then after a minute, shuffles to another song.  I use this in conjunction with tip #5, and change my speed every time the song changes to achieve 1 minute intervals.

3.  Distance goals > Time goals.  I promise, you will push yourself harder and faster if your goal is to run 4 miles, versus running 40 minutes.  You will want off that damn machine ASAP, and you will run like lightning to finish in 35 minutes instead of 36.  It's science.

4.  I can't read magazines or books on the treadmill, something about flipping pages + my not-so-great hand-eye coordination just don't add up.  But, now that I have a kindle, I am coordinated enough to "tap" the screen so the pages turn by themselves.  I love to read, and I get hooked on books and can't put them down, so I like to use this trick and say "go read your book for 10 minutes on the treadmill and then, if you still want to, you can stop."  I never stop, because I always want to finish that chapter.  Then the next chapter.  Then the whole book.

5.  Intervals keep runs fun.  They also improve your fitness, burn more calories, and are pretty much the holy grail of exercise.  Add in sprints or hills, and keep the pace and incline moving the whole time.  Like I mentioned in tip 2, the Music Hour app is great for this.  I'll often start at a 6.0, and bump the speed up 0.2 MPH after every song, up to 8.0, then back down to 6.0.  I call these "ladder" runs, but they are a kind of interval.  You could also just rotate between 2 speeds - an easy jog and a challenging run - and switch them every minute.  Intervals will get your heart pumping, and be less boring than a steady pace run, I promise!!

I hope some of these tips help you get out of your treadmill funk.  After typing this post, I'm actually excited to hit the treadmill tonight; who would've guessed!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Case of the Mondays.

Does anyone else almost ALWAYS wake up on Monday mornings and reset their alarm for 30 minutes later?  Luckily my work schedule is fairly flexible, so although most days I get in between 8:00 and 8:30am, I think my coworkers have come to expect the late 9:00am arrival on Mondays.  On Mondays, my bed + my pajamas > work; it's science. 

Anyways, I have my first workout to share with you all this morning!  I took one of my trusted routines from my little notebook and PicMonkey'd it until it was so pretty you won't be able to NOT pin it... or that's what I'm telling myself.  This is a full body workout, which are my favorite types of workouts.  I know some people will focus on "bi's & tri's" or "chest & back" on separate days, but I find my body responds best to full body circuits.  I like the concept of "pairing" exercises together, picking one upper body and one lower body.  That way, you can feel the burn on the first exercise, then give those muscles a chance to recover while you do another exercise using totally different muscles.  Once again - it's science!

This is what I call the "15's Workout" because you do 15 reps of each move (so creative, I know).  If you don't have a kettlebell, you can substitute box jumps (onto a box, bench or step) for swings, dumbbells for the rows and squats, and do shoulder presses instead of clean & presses.  I promise, if you limit the "rest time" to 15 seconds, you'll have your heart pumping the whole time and burn major calories!

I plan on doing this workout at the gym this evening after a quick 2 mile jog with my dog, which I'll use as my warm up.  It's always nice to get a good sweat sesh in on a Monday, especially after one-too-many Irish beers this weekend celebrating St. Patrick's Day (ok, maybe more than one too many...)  I did get a 7 mile treadmill run in on Saturday, which totally balances out all the beer, right?  Right.