Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Strength training vs. Cardio

Yesterday's Workout:
45-minute BodyJam Class
60-minute Burn & Firm Class

Total Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes
Average Heart Rate: 120
Total Calories Burned: 675

Today's Workout:
(4 minutes running, 1 minute walking=25 minutes)
Total Body Workout (Circuit-style, 3 sets of 12 reps for each exercise)
1A: Wide-grip lat pull-down
1B: Dumbbell side lunge
1C: One-arm dumbbell row
1D: Dumbbell squat
1E: Bicep Curl
2A: Narrow-grip reverse lat pull-down
2B: Reverse dumbbell lunge
2C: Wide grip barbell row
2D: Straight-leg dumbbell deadlift
2E: Triceps dips

Shoulder Complex (3 sets of 10 reps per exercise performed back-to-back)
3A: Press
3B: Lateral raise
3C: Upright row

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Average Heart Rate: 136
Total Calories Burned: 694

I really do love to workout. Sure there are days when I have to drag myself to the gym, but I never regret going and I always enjoy myself once I'm there. I'm pretty addicted to those endorphins that exercise gives me without fail.

For most of my adult life, I would be considered a cardio-junkie. I started running when I was 15 and ventured into aerobics classes, spinning and riding the elliptical in college. I ran three half-marathons while going to school at BYU and generally felt pretty good about my fitness abilities. My obsession with cardio workouts continued after my first child was born and when she was about 15 months old, I started training for my first marathon. I trained for about 3 months before I found out I was expecting baby #2 and I ended up running that marathon (Richmond) when I was 11 weeks pregnant! (Note: This is not something I would recommend doing nor do I ever plan on doing it in the future!!)

Soon after my second baby was born, I was back at the gym and a year later I was training for another marathon (Baltimore). Soon after that marathon though, I knew I needed a change in my workouts. While I had great cardio endurance, I felt really soft and I wanted to firm up a bit of that extra flab. Near the end of 2009, I began to get more serious about weight training and I loved the results. I finally started to see the changes that I had been seeking by combining quality cardio workouts with intense weight workouts and I really liked these changes. In the spring of 2010, I was healthier and thinner than I had even been in my adult life. I loved the way my body had changed due to weight training and loved the strong feeling it left me with after every workout. So with this pregnancy, I've changed things up a bit. In some ways, I'm performing an experiment with my own body. I exercised throughout my second pregnancy but it was almost all cardio-based. With this pregnancy, I'm still doing plenty of cardio workouts, but I am trying to emphasize doing more weight workouts as well this time around. I really like doing total body weight workouts and I do them circuit-style in order to get the most bang for my allotted time at the gym. I'm really interested to see the results of this informal "experiment," to see if I'm able to bounce back quicker after this pregnancy and how my body will respond to these changes. I guess we'll all find out in a few months!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

My kinda smoothie

Today's Workout:
(4 minutes running/1 minute walking=25 minutes)
Total Body Weights (Circuit-style, 3 sets of 12 reps for each exercise)
1A: Single-leg straight-leg deadlift
1B: Push-up
1C: Goblet squat
1D: Incline dumbbell chest press
1E: Dumbbell lunge

2A: Dumbbell sumo squat with heel raise
2B: Barbell skull crushers
2C: Walking lunges
2D: Incline dumbbell fly
2E: Dumbbell ab pulls

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Average Heart Rate: 143
Calories Burned: 670

After every workout, I always come home and make this smoothie. It's chock full of good, healthy ingredients and has a great combination of fats, carbs, and protein to aid in muscle recovery. It's also really tasty!!

Post-Workout Smoothie:
3 ice cubes
Handful of raw spinach
Large spoonful of plain greek yogurt
Spoonful of chia seeds
Chocolate soymilk
I blend all of these ingredients for a few seconds in my magic bullet, and viola....

(I swear it tastes yummier than it looks!!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Favorites

Today's Workout:
Treadmill Workout (15 minutes of walking/running )
Total Body Weights Workout (circuit-style, 3 sets of 12 for each exercise)
1A: Dumbbell squat
1B: Cable row
1C: Dumbbell step-ups
1D: Lat pull-down
1E: Barbell straight-leg deadlift
2A: Biceps curl
2B: Dumbbell lateral lunge
2C: Dumbbell shoulder press
2D: Dumbbell sumo squat
2E: Ab pull-ups

I thought that each Friday I would post things that are my current "favorites" regarding health, fitness, food and just life in general. So here goes...

1. SPRING!!!
This definitely tops my list this morning. Today is actually a dark and gloomy day here in Maryland, but we've had enough nice days to make me really excited that spring is finally here. We love to drive around and see all the new blossoms on the trees and the flowers that are beginning to pop up.

(Image found here)
2. The PUSH-UP
This is one of my favorite workout moves because it works almost the entire body, can be done just about anywhere and requires no special equipment. I have to admit that these are getting harder and harder for me to do as my belly expands, but I still love 'em!!

(Image found here)

3. My Magic Bullet

Jason got this for me for Christmas and I use it just about everyday. There are lots of things that you can use it for, but mostly I just make smoothies with it and I absolutely LOVE it. It's super quick and easy to clean and makes a perfect single-serving-after-workout shake for me each day.
(Image found here)

So what are some things that you are loving today?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What's your choice?

Today's Workout:
60-minute Kickboxing class
35-minute walking on treadmill (5% incline)

I saw this quote recently and it really registered with me...

"There is going to be pain in your life. It is going to be the pain of discipline....or the pain of regret. What’s your choice?”

Sometimes it is painful to do what you know you should. Maybe it's getting up early to exercise or resisting something very yummy and eating spinach instead?!?!? I have definitely had my share of regrets when it comes to eating and even working out. I have never regretted passing up something fried for something a bit healthier nor have I ever regretted rolling out of bed for an early workout...but I have regretted making the opposite choice too many times to count.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely believe in moderation in all things, but there are many times when I eat (really I should say "overeat") something that is really not good for me and I feel so yucky afterward. I tend to really regret those decisions later. Like take Monday afternoon for example. I made the mistake of not eating lunch before I left to run some errands with the kids and I was STARVING before we were done. I picked up some raspberry lemonade for the kids at "Long John Silver" and before I even really thought about what I was doing, I had ordered myself a meal consisting of two pieces of fried chicken, fries and a Sprite (clean eating at it's finest, don't you think!?!?) While the food was pretty tasty (the fries at least, I ended up throwing most of the chicken away because it was pretty nasty), I walked out of there feeling so gross. Fried foods really don't agree with me much anymore and while I knew I would probably regret this feeling later, it didn't prevent me from indulging in the moment.

Even though I know that when I eat foods that are more natural and healthy, I feel SOOOO much better, I still don't always make the best decisions. I am improving slowly, but it is still a battle most days. I wish I was the type of person that could look at a really yummy desert and be satisfied with one or two bites, but I'm not. I feel like I HAVE to eat the whole thing, even if it will make me feel sick later. I am hoping to get to that place where I can be satisfied with just a nibble, but I am not there yet. (Sad story: Sometimes when I am eating something really good, I am thinking more about my next piece or serving of it rather than enjoying what I am eating right then!!)
(Photo found here)
(Hmmmmm, chocolate....I only wish I could get away with devouring it like this!!)

I guess that's why life and one's "diet" is a work in progress. I'll celebrate my successes and try to improve upon those weak moments.

Does anybody else struggle with making good choices when it comes to food or exercise?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just Say No

Today's Workout:

While I talked a lot in my last post about the great benefits of exercise while pregnant, I also need to point out the fact that I do tend to take more rest days when pregnant vs. non-pregnant. In general over the last few months, I have been averaging about 4-5 days of working out per week (probably closer to 4 most weeks.) Sundays are always my rest day, pregnant or not, but I tend to take 1-2 additional rest days during the week in order to give my body a bit of a break. It's a lot of work to make a baby after all!! So today was one of those rest days with no formal workout planned (but raising two small children=no REAL rest day, right?!?!)

I did have something interesting happen to me yesterday. I was walking into my doctor's appointment yesterday afternoon when a man stopped me. I really thought he was going to ask me for the time or maybe even directions on how to get someplace, but what he did actually ask me kind of took me by surprise (any guesses???) He asked me....

"Do you have a cigarette?"

Really? Really? I had to chuckle a bit as I said no. I think it's pretty obvious that I'm pregnant at this point and it's hard for me to fathom smoking at all, but especially while pregnant. Unfortunately I do see quite a few pregnant women smoking around town so maybe it wasn't such a weird question to be asking me....but really, shouldn't it be??

This picture is so sad to me. Here's a pregnant woman with a cigarette in one hand, complaining about the effects "on her unborn child from the sound of JACKHAMMERS!!!" (REALLY?!?!?)
(Picture found here)

One thing that I also find really bizarre is to see people smoking outside the gym and then to see them come inside to workout reeking of cigarette smoke. I admire these people for wanting to get healthy, and maybe they are really trying to quit, but it just seems counterproductive to run 30 minutes on the treadmill and then go outside for a smoke. I know nicotine is so powerfully addictive. I have had many friends and family members struggle for years trying to quit only to be drawn back again and again to this deadly habit. I really do admire those who are finally able to kick the habit for good and I'm very grateful I never had the desire to take it up.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Benefits of exercise for those "with child"

Today's Workout:
45-minute BodyJam workout (This wasn't a very strenuous workout really, but it was a lot of fun!)
35-minutes Eliptical

(Photo found here)

Sometimes while I'm at the gym, I get compliments for continuing to exercise while pregnant. But there are other times when I get some really strange looks and even a few comments such as "Are you sure you should still be doing that?" or "What would your doctor say?" or even "Be careful with the baby!" Generally these looks and comments come from older people (say 60+) and I know that advice back when these people were having babies was far different than today's recommendations. Pregnancy back in the 1960s was considered more of a disease than a natural phase of life and women were encouraged to lead pretty sedentary lives and engage in lots of bedrest. Of course like everything else, exercise during pregnancy has gone through phases of various recommendations. In 9 BC, Plutarch stated that the women of Sparta "...should harden their bodies with exercise of running, wrestling, throwing the bar, and casting the dart, so that they, by gathering strength thus by exercise, should more easily away the pains of childbearing" (Shrock).

Hmmmm....I think I would REALLY get some strange looks if I started wrestling and casting darts during my gym time!

Advice shifted again early in the twentieth century, with doctors who feared that exercise could damage the fetus, and recommended bed rest for even their most athletic patients.

However, another shift has occurred with the current generation that highly recommends exercise during pregnancy. According to, there are seven great benefits of pregnancy exercise...

1. Boost your energy
2. Sleep better
3. Reduce pregnancy discomfort
4. Prepare for childbirth
5. Reduce stress and lift your spirits
6. Improve your self-image
7. Get your body back faster after childbirth

I also read that it can result in easier and shorter labors (woohoo, who wouldn't want this?!?!) Some studies have also shown that those who regularly engage in physical activity during pregnancy tended to have smaller and healthier children. Obviously this can be different for every person though. I have been blessed with two healthy children but certainly not "smaller" babies (at least at birth anyway.) I ran a marathon with my last baby and exercised up until the day of delivery and he still came out a chunky-monkey at 9 lb 14 oz. But I tend to believe that because I was in pretty good shape going into that delivery, his birth was fairly smooth and I pushed him out in less than 10 minutes despite his big size.

Of course, there are many cases when a woman should use extreme caution when exercising while pregnant and many others who are required to remain on bedrest for a good portion of their pregnancies. And it isn't always easy to get out there and do it even during a normal pregnancy, especially during the first trimester when nausea can be so bad and during the third trimester when tiredness, achiness, and general "largeness" are difficult to overcome. But for healthy and normal pregnancies, exercise is great for both mother and baby and has many lasting benefits. Maybe I should make a t-shirt with all of these benefits and wear it to the gym to avoid those well-intentioned but ill-informed comments!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm baaaack!!

Today's Workout:
25 minutes on treadmill (4 minutes running + 1 minute walking)
Total Body Circuit Training (3 sets of 12 for all exercises/60 second planks)
1A: Single-leg dumbbell straight-leg deadlift
1B: Jumping pullup
1C: Dumbbell swings
1D: Cable row
1E: Side plank
2A: Barbell row
2B: Underhand grip lat pulldown
2C: Straight-leg deadlift
2D: Rear lateral raise
2E: Plank

So after a three-month hiatus, I've decided to bring this blog back to life!! I am now 28 weeks pregnant and I thought that regularly blogging about fitness again will help to keep me motivated for these last 12 weeks before delivery. I am amazed at how fast this pregnancy is flying by!!28 weeks down...12 to go
(Please excuse my awkward right hand in this photo...I can never quite figure out where to place it!!)

I do have to admit something kind of embarrasing though...I think I need to invest in some bladder protection pads here pretty soon!! I've never been able to run this far into pregnancy before (with both of my other two pregnancies, I've always had to stop right around 20 weeks or so because it was just too uncomfortable.) I'm happy to say that at almost 7 months I am still running but my bladder is quite compromised with the extra baby weight pressing down on it. This is especially true when I run. I came off the treadmill today pretty sweaty and admittedly a bit leaky too. Anybody else have this problem? Please tell me I'm not the only one with terrible bladder control these days!!
(Disclaimer: "Running" is a pretty relative term these days. I am definitely slower and can't go as far, but I am still out there plugging along so I will still continue to call it "running" although "jogging" or even "shuffling" may be a bit more accurate!!)