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Posts Tagged ‘workout’

Burn, baby, burn!

Here’s my new favorite gym workout. It’s a great way to get an intense burn when you’re pressed for time, and I always feel it the next day!

  • 10 minutes on a StairMaster (not a stepper, the machine with the actual revolving stairs). If you don’t have access to a stairmill of some sort, walk on a treadmill fast at a high incline…I’d say level 10. Go hard, it’s only 10 minutes!
  • Weight circuit including: chest press, upright row, shoulder press, tricep press, alternating bicep curls, hip hinge, and wall squats using a stability ball. Try 20 reps of each exercise, using a weight that is uncomfortable but not too too heavy.
  • 10 more minutes on the stairmill. You should really start sweating right about now.
  • Repeat weight circuit with at least the same number of reps as the first set…add 5 more if you’re feeling frisky.
  • Finish up with 10 minutes on the stairmill (no slacking!).
  • If you still have time, do some sort of ab work; I usually do center and side planks.

– albledsoe

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Cari Wohlrabe (right) with fellow ARRG member at the first bout of the season.

Last week’s post, Girls on Wheels, gave a glimpse of what roller derby is all about. This week, I talked with Cari Wohlrabe, an Arch Rival Roller Girl (ARRG) Newbie, who made the cut last October and has been practicing regularly in hopes of being drafted to one of the four ARRG teams this spring. Cari shares her insights about how to balance being a member of ARRG with being a mother of two with a full-time job.

How did you become a participant?
Well, I found out about the roller derby because a friend of mine was on a team. I came out to watch and support her pretty regularly. After a while, I wanted to give it a try. I like being active, but I don’t like my workouts to feel like a chore. It (the derby) is about having fun and being a part of a strong group of women; the derby makes you feel good about yourself. Also, being able to look back when you are 60 and know that you were a part of the roller derby – that opportunity was something I just couldn’t pass up.

How long have you been involved with the ARRG organization?
I made the cut during tryouts in October. I am a part of the, “Newbies” group. I am an active member of the league now, but not on a specific team. Newbies have to go through skill testing and lots of practice.We are very serious about training. As you get better, you get promoted to higher skill levels. I’m now at a level where I can scrimmage with the big girls.

What do you do during a typical practice?
Each practice lasts about three hours, and we do different things each night. Monday nights are for Newbies. We usually run for at least ten minutes, do stretches and then get in our skates as soon as possible. Once the skates are on we warm up with skating drills, partner drills, team drills, and blocking drills. You basically skate and squat the entire time during practice. We also have a personal trainer in the league who helps with our strength training. Our workouts are customized to strengthen the muscles we use most in our sport.

Normally, on Tuesday we do exercises off of skates for about an hour. A lot of these are pilates based moves. We also do walking push-ups and the spiderman (they are both ridiculously hard) across the entire track. We do a lot of endurance training to help you become a really strong skater. You have to be able to do 5 laps in 55 seconds to be eligible to scrimmage.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are the scheduled league practices. I try to make three of those per week. We are required to make at least 7 practices per month, but they also recommend doing your own cross-training and workouts on your own time in addition to the league practices. The recommended activities are endurance activities like swimming, cycling and running and strength building for legs and upper body. You must have good core strength.

What is your favorite part about participating in the roller derby?
I obviously enjoy having something for myself to do. I like being a part of a team sport. This requires me to make myself compete with others to make myself better. I used to participate in track and I always just competed against myself. I really look forward to going to practice. “I don’t want to go,” never crosses my mind.

What is the time commitment to be a part of the roller derby?
It is amazing how much work and time goes into this. It (ARRG) is a member run league so everybody is a big part of it. You are on a committee, responsible for talking it up to other people and attending three-hour practices up to four times per week. We also have monthly bouts; our local teams play four times during the season. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun to be a part of the league.

It seems like everyone’s personality really shines through in this sport; what would you say the common thread is among your fellow teammates?
Ha! Everybody has, “controlled aggression.” That’s what we call it.

You have two boys who are six & three. How do you manage working full-time, being a mom and participating in the derby?
I have to thank my husband; he has been incredibly supportive of my practices in the evenings. We share a lot of duties so I can practice. I have dinners planned during the week, so I walk right in the house and head straight to the kitchen to make dinner after work so can eat and have time together as a family. Jim, my husband, also cooks a lot.

Since my practices start at 7, I really only miss about an hour before bedtime. It’s all about the support of your family when you are trying to make it work.

It’s hard being a mother and not feeling guilty, but you need time for yourself too. I know that it’s benefiting them to see me doing something that I love and am passionate about. That way they can learn how important it is to follow your passion. It’s good for them to see me doing this instead of them seeing me doing nothing at all.

What advice do you have to share with others who might be interested in participating in the roller derby?
Don’t doubt yourself, give it your best effort and be serious about it. It’s definitely been inspirational to me to know that I can do this; if I had waited any longer I might have missed out. We have a newbie who is 40, so there you go. Try it and you might just be surprised about what you can do.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the F2BT readers?
Come out to our bouts and support your local ARRG!

-Sara

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Remember the story of the little engine that could? I think I can, I think I can…

That mantra is not only for locomotives. Our bodies and minds work in the same way, in that with determination and mental toughness, our bodies are capable of a lot. Think you’ll never be able to run a marathon? I can pretty much guarantee you won’t. But make up your mind that you can do it, and chances are you’re going to finish.

The second episode of Biggest Loser (Season 9) is on tonight, and I thought it would be appropriate to include this quote on mental toughness from one of the contestants, Tongan cousin Koli Palu:

“As a coach, I know our bodies are amazing things,” said Koli. “That we don’t know the capablities of our bodies. I need my football team to know that you can go that extra step. This is more of a mental game, a mental toughness. As long as you push yourself, the physical part will be there.”

Ever since I ran my first (and only so far) marathon two years ago, I’ve been on the mental toughness bandwagon. I started the race injured, but managed to finish despite my body begging me to call it quits. I’ll always have that, and now it inspires me to get through any other discomforts.

And since I visited San Diego on a business trip in October, where the Navy SEALS train, that’s been reinforced. I signed up for a NAVYSEALS.com e-newsletter, where mental toughness is the ongoing theme. The message of one email was that mental toughness means five things: discipline, clear thinking under stress, calmness amidst chaos, suffering in silence, and familiarity with discomfort. Bottom line: “Quitting is not an option for the mentally tough.”

This keeps me going when I’m feeling whiny and puny and sorry for myself. There are soldiers who put their bodies through unimaginable things. There are people who survive cancer treatments or lost limbs and go on to complete an Ironman. All I did was sit in my office all day and I’m whining about a workout being too hard? Those people are in human bodies, just like me. The only thing that makes them capable of doing more is that mental toughness…they think they can. And they will not quit.

– albledsoe



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Ah, the winter months. There’s no way to sugar-coat it; I’m sour grapes about winter weather as soon as the holidays are over. I have no patience for it. January hits and I just want fun in the sun. Unfortunately for me, that’s when things really start to kick up and in the midwest.

Last week we had our first real snowfall of the year with a side order of single-digit temps. I knew we were expecting some snow, so I set the alarm an hour early to ready my brain and body to deal with the snow, traffic issues, etc. First things first, shovel the drive and clear the snow off of our vehicles. So, I bundled up like little Randy on The Christmas Story and headed outside, shovel in hand, ready to tackle the driveway.

As I was diligently shoveling the driveway that morning, trying to remind myself to be thankful for having a driveway to shovel, it clicked. My early morning rendezvous with the snow shovel probably gave me a pretty significant jumpstart on my calorie burn for the day. As soon as I came inside and thawed out I checked out the handy calorie burn counter over at SparkPeople.com. My reward for 40 minutes of shoveling: 288 calories. Not too shabby for 6 a.m.!

The truth is, there are some everyday activities that really do add up quickly. Yardwork and other outside chores are at the top of the list. I’m not saying that you should ditch the gym for the snow shovel until the end of winter. But, during this time of year when it is much easier to snuggle under the covers instead of exercise, any extra “workouts” you can sneak into your day deserve acknowledgement. Just think about the easy things you can do to lead a healthier lifestyle. It’s as simple as saying goodbye to the elevator and hello to the stairs. Once I realized I started my day off with a mini-workout (I log most of my sweat sessions after work), I felt great about staying on track with my food and exercise goals for the rest of the day. Is it actually possible that my snowy encounter put me in a good mood for the day? That sounds like crazy talk…

Since I’m sure we have several more snowfalls ahead of us (at least the midwestern F2BT readers) before we get to check the calorie burn on lawn mowing and leaf raking, grab your shovel and make the most of that snowy driveway. It just might be the jumpstart you need to point your day in the healthy direction.

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Stick it to me

Since I got into endurance sports a few years ago, I’ve heard lots of praise for a gadget called “The Stick.” It was supposed to work wonders for sore, tight areas, especially IT bands, where I’ve had some trouble. So I was super excited this Christmas when Santa Clause brought me one of my very own (well, it was actually from my mother-in-law, but you get the idea).The Stick comes in various sizes, and is a flexible, plastic…well, stick, with spindles that roll independently to stretch and apply pressure to problem zones.

the stick

The Stick

I tested out my stick this afternoon after returning from a run of just over 9 miles. I followed the instructions, which include about 10 recommended exercises for arms, back, neck, and legs, and then added a couple of my own. The verdict? My muscles don’t feel nearly as sore as they did after last week’s run. Plus, using The Stick forced me to take the time to stretch following my workout, which I admit I don’t always do. I think I could use this almost every night and it will help with my general well-being. It’s super easy to use, and small enough to tuck away in a corner or on a shelf (as opposed to the foam rollers which are often recommended for similar use).

If you’re like me and can’t afford weekly massages during training, I would recommend grabbing a Stick of your own. Your body will thank you!

– albledsoe

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This year, the Christmas season just couldn’t get here fast enough for me. I was one of those ridiculous people who actually started listening to Christmas music right after Halloween. However, even with my zealous attempts to get to the holiday season just a little bit sooner, I had to wait for Thanksgiving to put up the tree, hang the lights, etc. Thus squashing my allotted Christmas ramp-up into a mere 28 days. Between travel, work, guests, parties and, oh yeah – working out(!) it’s been a stretch to actually sit back and soak in that holiday spirit.

So, to remedy that, I filled up my iPod with some of my favorite Christmas tunes and hit the gym. We know that if you are movin to the music you will be in workout mode. My tunes had to perform double duty – get me through a tough workout AND lift my spirits enough to make me feel nice and Christmasy in this hectic whirlwind of go-go-go.

My playlist:
White Christmas – Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters
Baby It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
Deck The Hall – Nat King Cole
Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) – U2
Christmas Vacation – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Step Into Christmas – Elton John
All I Want for Christmas – Mariah Carey
Chirstmas in Killarney – Anne Murray
Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry
Rockin Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty
Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
Trim Up the Tree – The Who Village Choir
Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby
Joy to the World – Anne Murray
White Christmas – Otis Redding
Silent Night – Sarah McLachlan

This mix starts off slow with a classic by Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters, and then gets kicked up a notch with tunes by U2, Elton John and Mariah Carey to put you into full-on-workout mode. All of these are fun sing along songs, so I probably would have enjoyed jamming out to these in the comfort of my home even more! For a cool down, I included two of my very favorite versions of the slower classics, White Christmas (again – can you tell it’s a favorite?) and Silent Night.

The verdict: Workouts + Christmas Music = Holiday Cheer!

What are your favorite holiday songs? Have you updated your playlist this season?

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What’s Next?

You’ve been working hard for months and doing everything right. You diligently burn away calories and make good food choices but that number on the scale just won’t budge. And, those jeans you’ve had your eye on are still a little too snug for your taste. Ah, the dreaded fitness plateau…

First of all, don’t give up! Give yourself a pat on the back and take credit for your new improved healthy lifestyle. You’ve worked hard and you should be proud of this accomplishment. This is no time to fall off the workout wagon. What next? It’s time to add some pizzazz to your workout to get to the next level.

Check out these articles on Workouts For You and EHow.com. Both give some really great advice on how to make manageable changes to your workout that will challenge your body by tweaking the frequency, intensity, time and type of exercises you do.

It’s time to get your fitness routine out of a rut. How do you really know what your body can accomplish if you don’t turn up the heat every now and then? Another benefit to spicing up your routine? You might actually find yourself looking forward to your new and improved workout!

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