Saturday, March 15, 2014

14 Workouts to Try

So I got an email from MyFitnessPal today. I've still been tracking my weight and checking in with MFP, but I've found more success with WW, so my tracking has become more consistent on WW than on MFP.

I still think MFP is a great free tracker/database resource for those interested in living a healthier lifestyle.

So anyway, MFP sends me a newsletter entitled, "14 for 2014"...... Points off because it's March... but the newsletter had some intriguing recipes, mantras, and workouts to try during the year. I've included the workout section of the email below:

Here are 14 fresh workouts to try–that you may end up loving all year long:
  1. Tabata Training. Okay, it’s not new, but it’s the 4-minute workout that a lot of fitness buffs are still loving this year. The basic principle is this: go all-out for 20 seconds and rest for 10. Repeat 8 times and for a 4-minute round. Do 4 or 5 rounds and you’ll be spent! Changing up the moves keeps things fresh and your muscles sore afterwards. Read up on it and then check out some of examples of Tabata workouts on Pinterest.
  1. FitSteps. People in the UK have been stepping out with FitSteps, a new dance exercise based on moves from popular dances like the Cha Cha, Tango, Jive and Quickstep. Fat burning, ab-tightening, and arm sculpting are just quicksteps away.
  1. Werq. This dance workout borrows its name from dance slang and is a little less traditional than FitSteps. Apparently if someone says,  ‘werq it’, you’re dancing very well! These fun classes will have you shaking it and sweating to pop, rock and hip-hop.
  1. CrossFit. If ‘werqing it’ isn’t your thing, maybe box jumps, sprints, squats and cleans sound like fun? If so, give CrossFit a try. This workout involves performing high-intensity, functional movements in a group gym, or a box as CrossFit fans call it, and are scalable to accommodate any fitness level.
  1. Animal flow. This workout is a mix of the Brazilian martial art Capoeira with a dash of gymnastics, yoga and dance thrown in. Be prepared to crawl, jump from side to side, and balance on your hands, among other things, all the while keeping things moving and flowing. The focus is on strength and flexibility.
  1. Indo Board Yoga. Bikram is out, Indo Boards are in. Hop on this 6-foot-long wooden board and rock on. Staying balanced on the board engages way more muscles during each pose which means you can get a much harder workout from this form of yoga.
  1. Battle ropes. These aren’t the ropes you used to climb in gym class. Battle ropes are thick ropes of varying lengths that you can wrap around floor-bound anchors and use as bodyweight resistance tools. Research suggests that battle ropes may burn more calories than running or spinning, so tie one on and give these Top 20 Battle Rope Exercises a try.
  1. Bells. Not the kind you ring, KettlebellsSandBells, or if you’re really tough, SteelBells, are super hot this year. These versatile weights can give you quite a combined cardio-strength workout in a short amount of time. Check out a kettlebell class near you to learn the proper form, or ask if a trainer at your gym can show you a few SandBell or SteelBell moves.
  1. Tower running. People typically go out of their way to avoid walking up a lot of stairs, but others are finding new ways to run them! Tower running, also known as vertical racing, is a fast growing sport involving running up the stairwells of some of the world’s tallest buildings. Find a monster set of stairs near you and give it a go–just watch out for the occasional employee making personal phone calls.
  1. Cardio Barre. The barre method is a body sculpting exercise that originally focused on a ballet bar. Cardio Barre takes it up a notch, and a few steps away from the barre by incorporating cardio for a more intense, full-body workout.
  1. Boutique biking. Not a fan of spinning? Boutique biking salons like SoulCycle and FlyWheel are popping up all over the country. These classes combine high-intensity cycling with inspirational coaching, choreographed playlists, and some of the wildest moves you’d never think to do on a stationary bike.  It’s been a celeb favorite for some time now, which probably explains the high price tag!
  1. Aqua cycling. If SoulCycle makes you feel like you’re going to fly off your stationary bike, slow things down with aqua cycling this year. It sounds relaxing but don’t be fooled… The burn of pushing those pedals while submerged in water will torch calories and strengthen muscles. It’s been a ‘thing’ in Europe for awhile, and has quickly earned a reputation  for being a great full-body, strength and cardio workout that keeps you cool.
  1. Playground workouts. This fun workout can be a nice change of pace, but it isn’t kid’s play. Running, climbing, and sliding non-stop around a playground can make for a rigorous cardio and strength routine. Just get your workouts in early before the kiddos arrive!
  1. HIIT. Last but certainly not least,  HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a type of training entails short blasts of high-intensity effort followed by a brief recovery period. It’s not much different than Tabata training in terms of maximizing time and efficiency, but intervals can be longer with more rest time in between.
Remember, at it’s core, exercising should be about doing what you enjoy. It’s hard enough to find time and motivation to be active daily–there’s no need to dread it all day long, too. If you like your routine, stick to it–but if changing it up sounds fun, give one, or a few of these a try.
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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Progress on Weight Watchers

Since joining Weight Watchers in June 2013, I have lost:

  • 18.4 pounds
  • 3 Dress Sizes
  • 0.7 inches off my thighs (each)
  • 2 inches off my arms (each)
  • 3.7 inches off my bust
  • 3 inches off my waist
  • 3.85 inches off my hips

I'm pretty pleased. Feel free to check out my breakdown of the program here. I'm a big supporter, so if you have any questions, let me know!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Israeli Post #1: Grocery Store Anxiety and High Tech Tortur---Treadmills

Dammit, another month went by with only one post. I'm so sorry, dear readers, I am epically failing the blog while I'm away.

Let's catch up:

I've been in Israel for a few days more than a month. And it's been..... interesting.... I think most people thought, when I explained that I was moving to Tel Aviv for several months, that I'd be off site-seeing, visiting museums, touring historical sites, and laying out on the beach. Unfortunately, I am not a tourist, but a working visitor, in this country, so I needed to be a functioning person able to communicate with the public, contribute to client projects and conversations, and get myself from point A to point B.

It's definitely been an adventure, with both overwhelming and fantastic moments. I wanted to share a few food/fitness related highlights:

Kitchen Accommodations in the Israel Apartment

If you're a regular reader of CCAIRC (God, I really do need a new name), you have realized that I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen. I had really planned to cook most of my food during my time in Israel, as I always had.... that is, until I walked in on a COCKROACH in my apartment's kitchen on my first night.

To put it lightly, I LOATHE cockroaches. I have been very very fortunate to only have one past encounter with one (and honestly, my FANTASTIC college roommate, Becca, took care of it before I woke up). Now, like any rational person, I started avoiding my kitchen completely... as in, the menu was..
  • Yogurt for breakfast (because I could grab it and run before the bugs came to eat me)
  • PB sandwiches for lunch/dinner(I kept the PB in the fridge so the cockroaches wouldn't touch it)
  • Fruit (which again, was kept safely in the fridge)
Don't worry, I've since reclaimed my kitchen, and cooked some great meals.

Grocery Shopping Anxiety

I mentioned before that I don't know Hebrew. That is, I can recognize letters, and (with vowels and certain punctuation marks) can sound out words. However, I do not understand what I am reading. This has made reading food labels and their corresponding directions, quite difficult. So for the first 10 days, I'd go into a grocery store... browse... realize I had no idea what I was doing... and walk out with 3 produce items. It will forever be a mortifying moment. I've since gotten better. I am able to identify cottage cheese, deli turkey, veggie frozen shnitzel, and have even found a pasta sauce that I prefer.

Fit & Slim, The Gym of Nightmares

At the urging of my roommates, I have committed to a two month subscription to the gym, "Fit&Slim". Normally, I wouldn't go for this, but I have a bit more disposable income during this temporary transfer, so why not, right? 

Fit&Slim has only two kinds of machines in it. The first is this "aquabike", which resembles a spin bike, except you use this one with your body almost completely submerged in a giant pool of water -- for added resistance (of course).

The second machine resembles more of a torture device. Fit&Slim calls it the "Silhouette+", but the machine is known around cyberland as the "Vacufit." At its more basic form, the Vacufit is a type of treadmill. Except, to use this treadmill, you first have to put on this "skirt" made out of what I can only assume is a heavy-duty wet suit material. Then, the "door" to the treadmill opens, because, oh by the way, the thing has walls and is enclosed from chest level down. FINALLY, a Fit&Slim employee takes the edge of this wet-suit skirt and stretches it around the opening to the treadmill compartment -- sealing you in.

So at this point, you're on a treadmill, strapped into an airtight compartment. And then the Vacufit takes you through a 30-minute program of varying speeds an elevations. Normal, right? NO! Because, with the Vacufit, the machine is also vacuuming the AIR out of the compartment to change the pressure and resistance as you're going through the program. Not that difficult at 3.0 mph, but good LORD, when the program hits 6.0 mph -- a speed many people run at, and you're FORCED to walk...... it's flipping insane.

I'm told the vacuum actually makes your blood vessels expand, so that the Vacufit reduces cellulite. I really don't buy that at all. I am, however, viewing this as a change in my workout routine, and absolutely the oddest thing I've ever done at a gym. I'll let you know my results!