Category Archives: Personal Fitness Updates

My own personal fitness goals and updates, as well as weigh-ins and measure-ins for anyone who would like to participate in reaching weight loss or inch loss goals in a community setting.

Getting Back Into Running After Time Off

Okay, my prolonged absence from personal fitness and the running world in general is a little more than “a little time off,” but the same principles apply. Let’s review. I’ve always been an avid fitness junkie, but then married into a toxic environment and gained over 100 pounds. Yes, you read that right — OVER A HUNDRED POUNDS. Yikes. So then I got divorced, then remarried, got back into fitness and started fixing that problem. Then had a baby. And another baby. Before you know it, I’m back to about 70 pounds above my goal weight.

So here I am, the 27-year-old mother of three who is, like a shocking number of women, totally unhappy with her physical fitness. After brief improvement followed by pregnancy, I can’t even jog slowly to the next block without feeling the burn. It’s truly square one for me. This is where we restart the journey that is this running journal.

One big tip for restarting…

The biggest thing I can say when you’re getting back into regular exercise and getting into shape is don’t expect too much of your body. At one time, I could take off cold and run for five miles. Now I warm up thoroughly and am short of breath within about 1/8 mile. Feel out what your body wants to do today, and push just barely beyond that. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about the exercise you want to do to make sure there are no major health concerns first.

Finding your way off the couch

Alright, so here we are getting started. Obviously, the biggest thing is to hydrate, eat healthy (note: this does NOT mean crash dieting…if you’re not sure what it means, let me know and I’ll do some food posts), and start off steady. If you push too hard too fast, you’re just going to end up sore and you’re not going to want to exercise.

Want to join me? Have you been doing anything up to this point? No? Go walk around the block, then come back and read more. I’ll wait. Don’t want to even get up and go outside? Try this, it’s even available for download right now:

Are you back? There’s your start. If you feel like you can’t even walk around the block once a day, walk in place beside your desk for five minutes. Try to take the stairs a little faster. Park a few more spaces away from the door.

My plan — first, I need to find the key to my treadmill. Wyoming has had a nasty winter this year, but I’ve been blessed with an office and jewelry studio space. This means that I can walk or run on the treadmill even in the dead of night without bothering anyone — at least once I find out what the kids did with the key. Happy exercising, and feel free to let me know how you’re doing.

What is yoga, and how does it help running?

I’m baaack! No, it’s not like the ghost of Christmas past, or some plastic zombie from an 80s horror show. I regret that I’ve abandoned you, my fellow running enthusiasts, for so long. In my defense, it had to do with serial pregnancies, huge life changes, getting a new dog, and learning skydiving through trial and error.

…Okay, maybe not that last part. But we’ve all had parts of life that feel like that.

All that said, I’m finally back in the swing of things. The last Wyoming snows (at this elevation, anyway) stopped falling just over a week ago, and it’s nearly Memorial Day. I’ve been back to concentrated workouts for about 10 months, and decided it’s time to get my mind and rear end back into running.

So…where does yoga come in?

I will say that I’ve become virtually obsessed with yoga since last I posted. Absolutely love the stuff. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more yoga coming out, and I’m actually in the process of finding some great resources for yoga specifically tailored to runners. In fact, I did find this one, which teaches a lot of the same things I’ve learned from an in-person teacher over the last several months, but for a LOT cheaper. Despite a bad left hip, I’ve seen drastic improvements in my running ability, thanks in large part to the additional challenges yoga offers.

Before I get into that too much, I figured I better stop for a second to explain a bit about what yoga actually is. This might seem silly, because I don’t know anyone in the connected world who hasn’t at least heard about it, and yoga is one of the oldest and fastest-growing fitness trends on the planet.

Beliefs I’ve encountered about yoga

Ever since I started yoga, I’ve had all sorts of responses about it. The biggest is, “Well, I like all but the spiritual side of it.” On the extreme side, it’s, “Sure you get fit, but you’re opening your mind to the devil.” Seriously. I’ve gotten these responses, and more than once.

If you truly believe that I’ve become a devil worshiper, then feel free to sign off and find a new running journal now. For anyone who has just realized that they don’t know much about yoga, read on.

Top goals in yoga

Okay, it’s true that people from all different belief systems use yoga, and that it’s often used to assist meditation. That said, there’s nothing inherently religious about the practice itself. It’s spiritual inasmuch as you might hear something different when you get your brain to shut up, but that’s not an essential part of the experience.

Basically, yoga works on teaching your mind and your body to play nice with each other. Have you ever thought, “Yes!! I am going to jump this ditch, run uphill 10 miles, and then go for a swim across heavy currents!” Then you get halfway to the corner of your own block, and your body says something along the lines of, “Haha. Yeah, right.” Sound familiar? The scenario doesn’t have to be exactly identical.

At any rate – yoga works on helping raise your body awareness so you know exactly what you’re doing, and what you can do. The various poses (asanas) and stages of poses help you discover where you are now. It then encourages you to relax and stretch just a little more, and hold the stretch just a little bit longer. Before you know it, your posture is better, your range of motion is better, and your muscles are all toned.

How can yoga benefit runners?

Obviously, having a stronger body is always a plus in running. That’s one. Runners also often suffer from a loss of range in motion, because you end up spending so much time on that one exercise that other fitness activities kind of get kicked to the outskirts. Finally, a huge number of injuries occur in and around the knee joint.

Yoga helps strengthen the muscles that surround and support your knees and ankles, reducing your risk of injury. The better coordination yoga offers helps ensure you won’t trip over as much (assuming you run in the daytime and with your eyes open) or can catch yourself better when you do fall. It increases your versatility on varying terrains for the same reason.

Finally, you have to learn to empty your mind in order to do well in yoga. This is also usually what it takes to get to your second wind, and get past the various stages of lactic acid burn during your run. Overall, you just have a lot better running experience.

So yeah, if you’ve never tried yoga before and don’t want to go to a teacher, try this program to get a head start. It gives you a lot more instruction on proper form than videos do, and it’s developed expressly for people who want to improve running.

Personal Fitness Update: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Today marks the commencement of my post-pregnancy organized exercising! Just in time to warm up for the 500-mile challenge, which begins in two days, I finally heard back on the financial aid application from the YMCA and got my membership card. In celebration, my mom and I took a nice one-mile jaunt around the indoor walking path…

…where it quickly became apparent just how out-of-shape I am. It is a good thing that we didn’t have time for much more walking. On the best day, I am a mediocre power-walker at best – it has always been easier for me to simply break out into a run when I want to go faster. If this is your habit, it may be worth considering putting some effort into learning how to power-walk effectively. Power-walking is an excellent cardio workout, but it also does wonders for the hamstrings. Like those sleek, muscular legs that actresses and models unfailingly possess? This is one of those ways to get there and stay there.

On a more positive note, this short jaunt met with none of the soreness and abdominal pain that exercise has caused since the six-week post-baby mark, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m definitely ready to jump into the rigors of the 500-mile challenge, as well as training for the upcoming fun run season.

If all goes well I will be attempting one half-marathon this year, but shorter 5K fun runs for charity abound in this area. These are a great way for casual runners to get in a little bit of friendly competition, a nice workout in the fresh air, and help support a worthy cause while they’re at it.

Losing Weight and Exercising After Pregnancy

Finally, the baby is here! My daughter was born five days ago, and it’s probably not a surprise that my mind has already turned to losing weight after having a baby. While I have been aware that running after having baby would be difficult, it never seemed like it would be TOO tough until now – the post-natal got-run-over-by-a-semi period where just getting across the room can be an arduous task. Does that mean I don’t want to find ways to run even with my new baby? No! It merely means that right now I need to focus on post-natal exercises and slowly ease my way back into the right mode for running.

Let’s face it, ladies, one of the first things most of us want to do for ourselves after the brand new bundle of joy makes its exit is focus on losing weight after pregnancy. Luckily I don’t personally have to worry about post C-section exercises, though I intend to research some options that will work well for both.

Where I am right now in running – I’m stiff, sore, have stitches in uncomfortable places, and an aggravated nerve injury in my left hip that was caused by my son’s birth and renewed by my daughter last week. I’m also under strict orders from my doctor not to do any strenuous exercises for six weeks. This means that I won’t be able to post any results from post-pregnancy exercises for a little while, but that doesn’t mean I can’t plan.

For my next few posts, I’d like to explore some different exercises targeting different areas that tend to gain weight during pregnancy, or where the loss of muscle tone tends to be the most obvious. I’d love to hear from anyone who would like to see specific areas targeted, or who have some ideas for specific problem areas. Result stories are always a wonderful thing!

Once I’ve recovered sufficiently to try out these exercises myself, I intend to post my own starting point, and then revisit all the different exercises discussed and see how well each works, and how quickly.