Monday, June 17, 2013

Hard Charge

Ok, so the 4 mile obstacle course called Hard Charge has come and gone. I can honestly say it's one of the most fun and liberating things I've ever done! It was a TOTAL blast and I will definitely do it again! It's nothing like the ordinary drudgery of a plain run or a session of strength training at the gym.

When we first got there and registered, we saw SO many incredibly ripped bodies that we started to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into. Shirtless men everywhere strutting their fit bodies - and then there was us - a mix of sizes and fitness levels, none of which seemed comparable to some of our fellow competitors. But, there was no pressure on us to "win" so it didn't matter. Eventually we saw a lot of other "normal" looking people just like us and it seemed like maybe we'd make it through after all.

Here is a picture of our team "got soap?" before the race.
From left to right: me, Kelly, Brittany, Sammi, & Shawn

Here we are all lined up at the starting line. Pumped and ready to go! From here, we got to see some of the finishers from the "glory" heat - who were in it to win. They were dirty, tired, and quite a few of them were missing shoes.

I had no idea of the muck we would be running, crawling, wading and climbing through! The first mile was almost all MUD and water. We basically jumped into a ditch of water up to our thighs and as soon as you jump in, your feet sink into mud over your ankles. It was really clear to see how some people had lost their shoes. We saw them laying all around the course!

One of the first obstacles was crawling under wires that were hovering over muddy water. If you weren't very dirty before this, you were covered in mud and completely soaked after! It really gets difficult to run when your shoes weigh about 5 pounds each because they are caked with wet mud! But all I could think about was how excited I was to see what the next obstacle was! There were a lot of walls to climb over and muddy, water filled trenches to crawl through. We had to run a lap around a small track while carrying a tire, we climbed up ropes, crawled through dark sand filled tunnels, climbed over cars and muddy mountains. We slopped through a mostly muddy track with only short bouts of rest when we got to run on grass or gravel.

Here we are afterwards, all dirty and ready for free beer!
I am exceptionally proud of myself for making it through every single obstacle without having to go around any. Especially the rope wall, where I was able to make it up quickly on my first try when most people around me were struggling to make it over again and again. And the very last wall was huge, but I made it over all on my own. I am in way better shape than I give myself credit for and this obstacle course was exactly what I needed on so many levels. I loved EVERY minute of it!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Post Workout Shake

At the gym, I'm called "the smoothie lady", "slushy girl", and whatever combo you can put together involving a female who makes protein shakes. Most of the time, it's the people who already know my name who call me this. It's just an endearing way of referring to me. At least that is what I like to think ;)

So since I'm the smoothie queen, I thought I would share with you my SUPER POWER HEALTHY POST WORKOUT SMOOTHIE recipe.  This is my own creation. I've got nutrition facts and everything for you. You're welcome.

1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen berries
1-2 cups frozen kale
1 cup unsweetened coconut almond milk
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 scoop Green Superfood chocolate flavored greens powder (you can get this at Swanson's)
1/2 scoop Muscletech chocolate protein powder
1 tsp glutamine
1 tsp Coconut Oil

Blend it all together for about 5 minutes. I've read that you should blend smoothies for at least 2-5 minutes otherwise the fibrous cell walls won't adequately open and be available for absorption. Also it will keep you fuller longer. But I've also read you shouldn't use frozen fruit because ice makes it harder for you to digest food. Whatever. I think we don't really need to get too technical here.

I buy giant bags of kale from Costco and I freeze them so that they last. Otherwise I find that kale will go bad too quickly before I can eat it all. I also find that by peeling, halving and freezing bananas is a great way to keep them fresh for use in smoothies. I don't know how many times I have had bananas get too ripe because we didn't eat them fast enough. So those are a couple of my little "tricks" I've learned. It's a nice way to get your money's worth from super nutritious food. And if you have it around, and it's convenient, you'll use it.

And now for the best part: I add cayenne pepper, cinnamon and a few drops of liquid stevia to it and BAM! Really, really great flavor. Plus, we've all read about the benefits of cayenne pepper and cinnamon with regards to our appetite.

This gives me almost two large glasses full. So it's perfect to share with a workout buddy.

Here is the nutritional information - as per MyPlate:

Calories: 437
Fat: 13.1
Carbs: 49.2
Fiber: 9.1
Protein: 33.8
Sugar: 17.9

Macronutrient ratios:

Carbs: 43%
Protein: 29%
Fat: 28%

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


To quote Tony the Tiger. Lame. I know.

I was just shocked into reality today when I discovered that Hard Charge is in 10 days. TEN DAYS!!!! Not comfortably 3 months away like it seemed it just was. That wasn't the worst of it though. The worst of it was realizing the last time I actually....ran. Or rather, not realizing, because I can't remember.

I kept telling myself, I'll start running next week. But "next week" never happened. I was enjoying Dance Fit far too much to be bothered with running (eck!). I honestly think the last time I ran was when I did the 5k in the beginning of April.

And it's not just that I haven't been running. I haven't been lifting either. I had planned on really working towards better upper body strength to get me through the obstacles easier. Yeah. That didn't happen.

But, it doesn't matter. My teammates and I are not in it for any kind of seriousness whatsoever. We aren't racing for bragging rights. There are specific heats they call "glory heats" and heats called "fun heats". Glory heats have the competitors who are racing to win. We are in the fun heat. To go at our own pace and get some free beer at the end :)

So, with the bonus of knowing it really doesn't matter how long it takes us to get through the course, I've taken my training to a new level of lax.

Right now I'm drinking water and preparing myself for a little treadmill workout. Not traditional "cardio", but a nice sweaty HIIT session. Partly because I had a big bowl of fattening pasta at my favorite Italian restaurant for dinner last night, and partly because I haven't had a workout since last Saturday. (wow)

And speaking of the word...cardio...I read a good article on about it. It was good in the way it neither praised nor bashed this form of fitness, but rather gave good insight about what it really does for you and how you should approach it depending on your goals.

For obvious reasons, if your goal is to be a better distance runner, and you have the time to do it, you can do steady state cardio. However, if that isn't your goal, and you don't particularly enjoy all the endless running, you may be wasting upwards of 5 hours of your life each week. Because your little device telling you that you just burned 1000 calories running for an hour and a half isn't telling you that: A) it doesn't raise metabolism, B) it doesn't put you in a "fat burning zone", and C) it's not the most efficient way to train for fat loss or athleticism.

"If you're endurance training because you think it's the best way to burn're wrong." So what should you do? Focus on weight training and HIIT to get lean.

Another thing that is really helpful in trying to decide if you should run or not at the gym you like to run? I know, obvious, right? But if you don't like to do it, don't do it! There's no need to! Do what you like. Avid runners run because they like it! Weight lifters lift because they like it! Spinners spin because they like it! I think Dance Fit is fun, therefore I do it. I enjoy it. I can burn calories and get in an hour long workout that doesn't feel like torture.

"Don't hate people for following their passion. Just follow yours." - great quote!

So there you have it. The type of workout you should be doing depends on your goals and what you like. Easy peasy.

Article from written by Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP