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I recently started my second season of TRX training.  Not exactly ground breaking news – until you consider the fact that two weeks into the last season of TRX, I had decided that there had never been anything on this Earth that I hated more than TRX (ok – it still isn’t ground breaking news, but maybe it is at least slightly more interesting?).

I started January really excited about TRX and was really looking forward to the classes.  But to my surprise, I really struggled with the first couple of classes.  The workouts were so much harder than I expected (which I know is a good thing – but it can be hard to remember that when you are rolling around like a fish out of water trying to get your heels into the TRX straps).  And despite the fact that I had an awesome trainer helping me through the class (thanks Tracy!), I felt demoralized after the first few classes.

But I decided that TRX was something I really wanted to do and I made myself stick with it.  I formulated a strategy to get myself through those first couple of weeks and I’m really proud that it worked.  Now, I still have a long way to go before I master the TRX (I love the TRX motto of “Make Your Body Your Machine”!) – but I happily signed up for a second season and now when I’m done with a TRX class I leave the gym inspired (well – inspired, sweaty and tired).

I’m sure someday I’ll face a new fitness challenge (like when I finally work up the courage to take boxing!) and I’ll end up feeling like I did after those first few TRX classes.  So I decided I should document my strategy – and I thought I’d share it with you.

  1. Do not pay attention to or compare yourself to anyone else in the class.  Every person is at a different fitness level and has different strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Remind yourself that no one else in the class is paying attention to or judging you – and if they are, then they aren’t working hard enough (so they don’t count!)
  3. Once you get over any hang-ups you have about how you are faring in comparison to the rest of the class (or am I the only one that neurotic?), remind yourself that you are most likely in the company of some awesome women (shout out to Tracy’s TRX team!).  Support them and let them support you.
  4. Talk to your trainer/instructor and don’t be afraid to ask for (and use!) modifications.  I probably should have put this one first.  Tracy helped me few modifications I could make when I was having trouble with certain exercises.  Once I used them (a got over feeling weak for needing them), things became much less frustrating.   We have amazing trainers – we shouldn’t forget to use them (even if I do occasionally roll my eyes at them when they ask me to do burpies…).
  5. Set a date for yourself and commit to continuing with the workout (no matter how much you think you hate it) until that date and then give yourself permission to never do it again if you get to that date and still hate it.
  6. When all else fails, fake it until you make it…
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It’s true what they say about riding a bike. It just comes back to you, no matter how much time has passed. Within 3 minutes of my first spin class in over a year, my inner smile returned, my legs found their rhythm and every cell, muscle, thought, quickly remembered how important it was for me to be there.   As always, I enjoyed the dimmed lights, the loud music and the sense of being in a group while focusing inward. There is no competition, no comparison – it’s just a small room packed with individuals sharing an experience. Kind of how I always view the Boston Marathon, actually. No threat.

I was actually able to go to two spin classes this week and already feel like a new person.   I used to love starting my Fridays with Emily M at the Chestnut Hill club.  Unfortunately, with all of the changes in my home life, I have not been able to make that ticketed 9:15 class.  And now, I am thrilled to find that she has added a 10:15 to the roster.  That I should be able to enjoy on a regular basis.  Emily has great music, fun rides and a natural way of leading the class with just the right amount of conversation.   Her calm nature will surely ground you and help you to refocus on your own well-being.  If ever you are looking for a great way to start your weekend a bit early, try out one of her classes.

For a long time, I spied on the spinners from afar. From the safety of the treadmill and the elliptical machines, I watched the ladies ride in unison and then emerge from the room soaked in sweat and accomplishment. They wore power on their relieved and satisfied faces. Oh, how I envied them. And yet I felt trapped by my not-so-daring personality type and stayed put on the machines that I knew I could do well and without embarrassment or risk of “failure”.  Then, one morning I felt compelled to check out the class schedule and saw an Intro to Spin segment listed. Even though I hadn’t ridden a bike in a decade or more, I played with the idea of trying it and headed to the club.

Thank God I did, because it was love at first ride. On those stationary bikes, I soared into my own soul.  A few times a week on that seat, I met my 47 year old, bike-riding brother who had died suddenly of a heart attack. He met me there and filled my head and heart with humorous, healing and inspirational chatter. My dad then passed away and began piping in with a few lines and special appearances. And then I met and had delightful conversation with the baby boy who had been conceived. I rode with and spoke to him until a week before his birth. Before long, my rides were filled with the calls from my heart to allow my marriage to die a graceful death. And this week, my mind allowed visions of a new life to surface. The right class, the right teacher and the right space can support you in untold ways; it’s simply a matter of finding your place at the club and allowing your body and heart to take the lead.

As I hovered outside the door of the spin class on that Sunday morning so long ago, trying to gain the courage to enter the room, a stranger stopped to encourage me. As she swung the door open with a smile, she assured me that I could be in control of my own ride, that I could sit by the door and leave if I wanted to, and that she was fairly sure that I would be hooked by the end of the hour. She also clarified that the women who were riding, in full gear and full stride, were not there for the intro class, but had indeed chosen to ride through one class and into the next as a way to winter train for the PanMass Challenge. Suddenly, it didn’t feel so intimidating. I thought that she was the teacher and followed her to a bike on the right-hand margin of the room. She promptly introduced me to the teacher, David, and asked him to help me set up my bike as she headed to her own in the far corner of the room. She was right, by the hour’s end, I was hooked and ever so grateful to her. I don’t remember her name, but would recognize her anywhere, in or out of context.   After a while, I even had my own “gear” and “stride”.

And so, my advice to you is that if you want to try a new class or experience at the club, just go for it and leave all of your self-limiting labels at the door. It may just change your life. And, if you ever see anyone lurking on the borders of a class that you enjoy, please take her hand, guide her over the threshold and welcome her into your circle. It may just change her life.

I’m not talking about his certainty that we would someday find the rainbow connection (although I have my doubts on that as well) – I’m talking about classic Sesame Street number, “It’s Not Easy Being Green” (I am totally dating myself with my Sesame Street references here – anyone who was a toddler in the age of Elmo is reading this and wondering what I’m talking about.)  (To be fair, there is a good chance that *anyone* of *any* age that is reading this is wondering what I’m talking about).

With my most favorite Christmas present ever (that would be the Vitamix blender), I am find it very easy indeed to be green. To be more specific (and possibly start making sense), I’m really loving the spinach smoothies I can make with my new blender.

The first time someone told me about putting spinach in a smoothie, I looked at them like they’d just suggested I throw Kermit himself in the blender.   It sounded revolting to me and no matter how many times I heard people talk about them, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

To be fair, I must admit that I struggle with getting enough green veggies even under optimal conditions.  I wish I was one of those people that naturally gravitate towards fresh salads (they *do* exist – I’ve met them), but I’m not.  So the idea of pulverizing said green veggies and mixing them with a perfectly lovely fruit smoothie was slightly blasphemous to me.

But after using my Vitamix to make everything else under the sun (oh the soupy goodness!) and after reading Johanna’s “Sneaking In The Veggies” post (https://livewellwomen.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/sneaking-in-the-veggies/) from earlier in the month, I decided to give it a try.

I fooled around with some recipes and my calculator and came up with a 200 calorie smoothie that I could fit into my meal plan (spinach, half a banana, blueberries, light soy milk and ice if you are curious) and decided to give it a whirl (please excuse the blender pun!).

The first time I tried it, I grew weary as soon as I threw the ingredients in the blender.  It did not look very appetizing to me.

Things did not get any better after blending.  This just did not look like something I wanted to consume.

However, I fought my impulses and toasted to my health.  And it was quite simply a delight!  Despite looking kind of like the cartoon spinach Popeye used to squirt out of can, it tasted like the banana Laffy Taffy candy I loved last week when I was a kid.

I’ve fallen into a routine of having one every day (being a creature of habit, I haven’t tried any new recipes – but I will soon).  I go to the gym after work and then I have to trek out to Roslindale, so by the time I get home I am famished and likely to eat the first semi-edible thing I can get my mouth on.  This sometimes results in my snacking on string cheese or something similar (which I, ahem, sometimes forget to log) while I get my actual dinner ready.  Now I’ve been coming home and whipping up a smoothie as soon as I walk through the door.  I then sip it while I’m getting everything else ready.  And as a bonus, if I forget to throw a salad together to go with dinner, I’ve still consumed some fruits and veggies with dinner.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to enjoy my smoothie…

I’m feeling in need of pithy, clichéd sayings because I’m battling the impulse to throw in the sweaty gym towel.  Not when it comes to the gym in general mind you – just when it comes to my dismal performance in TRX TEAM training.  From a rational point of view, I know that it is perfectly fine that I’m struggling with TRX TEAM.  It means I have plenty of room for growth and I know that the challenge is good for me.  I know that if I stick with it, I will get better (and stronger!) and I will once again be in love with TRX TEAM.  However, if my rational point of view was always in charge, then I would be able to say that I have never once spent an entire day eating pizza and watching bad TV – and I can’t truthfully make that claim.

So I find myself battling the evil voices in my head telling me that I should just give up (side note:  why do the evil voices *always* manage to yell louder than the nice ones).  It has been so long since I’ve fought this impulse (that is, to just give up an exercise that is too hard) that I’d thought I’d totally conquered it.  When I first started seriously working out, I dealt with it a lot.  There was a six-month gap between my first and second BURN classes because I just decided I couldn’t handle BURN classes after the first one (and it took me six months to get back up on the horse – well in this case the treadmill).  And now, even when a BURN class leaves me wondering where the nearest AED is, I still love it.

So I know that I can work through this.  It is just really hard to focus on that fact when I’m struggling to get the TRX straps around my feet and then I’m barely able to do even one atomic pushup or when I fall out of the TRX while trying to do a one-legged squat (oh yeah, did I mention I fell flat on my butt in the middle of the gym?  That was awesome).  And it is especially hard to keep the proverbial “can do” attitude when I start comparing myself to the awesome ladies that are rocking the TRX on either side of me.  That kind of comparison I something that I firmly believe should be avoided in pretty much *any* circumstance – but this time I just can’t help myself.

Luckily, the TRX instructors at Healthworks are amazing and Tracy manages to keep me in the game even when I feel like my only option is flee the gym and never look back.  And I was so excited about starting TRX TEAM that I know all of the amazing things about it. And I know, to bastardize Eleanor Roosevelt, that no workout can make me feel inferior without my consent.  So, I’m going to keep at it.

My plan for this to not pay attention to how well anyone else is doing (unless I’m doing it to be inspired by their awesomeness) – I’m just going to focus on my own progress (no matter how incremental it is).  And I know that in a few weeks, I’ll be writing a post about how I can’t believe I ever thought I wanted to give up on TRX.

I might be the last person in the Boston area to admit that it’s Fall.  Just last week, the temps were gorgeous and I was going for a run on the beach after school.  I was wearing flip flops.  But this weekend I couldn’t handle sitting on the porch to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters, and yesterday I had to run my car for a little while before I could go anywhere to get the the frost off of the windshields.  I am also making the sad transition to wearing socks with my cute flats for work.  Sigh.

So now that the nice, outside-time weather is officially gone and our brief peak at Indian summer is over, I am reminded to keep active and healthy while keeping warm.  My first instinct when I get cold (um, after whining about it) is to get inside and stay inside.  This can lead to far too much hibernation mode and a serious drop off in my fitness goals; I want to put on my Slanket, read a book, and eat cream-based soups and macaroni and cheese.  Cold weather and comfort food just go together in my head and I have to consciously remind myself to get off of the freaking couch.

Yesterday could have been the beginning of a downward spiral for me.  I came home from school after freezing all day (our public schools at work – heat is either on or off.  No temp control.) and all I wanted to do was make hot cocoa and watch TV.  But after an hour and starting to doze off in the middle of the day, a thought occurred to me.  Maybe I shouldn’t snuggle under the duvet to watch the Tivoed finale of Project Runway at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Maybe I shouldn’t waste the opportunity of an afternoon free to make a good choice.

I’m glad I dragged myself up and changed into gym clothes and made it to Healthworks.  A little ellipticaling, a quick, sweaty treadmill run and a Body Pump class with Toni, and I felt back to normal.  My sluggish, whiny self took a backseat.  Now this is mildy dramatic, I’ll grant you.  Yesterday was 40 degrees.  I have a long, cold winter coming up that I have to put my big girl workout capris on and deal with.  But I feel like I avoided the first step in what could have been a winter of not caring.  Now I have to work on finding comfort food recipes that won’t break my calorie bank.

If you had asked me a few years ago what I thought about the Tufts 10K for Women, I would have told you that it’s annoying that they close of Memorial Drive on Columbus Day and you can’t get around Boston where you want to.  But last year, as I started pushing myself to run more and I found new challenges to take on, I registered for the race.  (Well, I convinced my friend to register for the race, was too chicken to actually register myself, and then had to pay the late entry fee when I got there because I couldn’t let her do it alone when it was my idea in the first place.)

Today was my second time running this race and I have to say, it’s amazing and inspiring.  It is not only extremely well-organized and planned out, but it is just fun.  I love their slogan – Start strong; finish stronger.  I love the route from the Boston Common through Back Bay, down Memorial Drive, across the Longfellow Bridge and back down Mass. Ave.  But I also love being surrounded by 7000 other women doing the same thing that I’m doing.

I never really think about being surrounded by strong, healthy women and how much that pushes me to continue on my own fitness journey, but today I was struck by the camaraderie that comes with sharing goals and common celebration.  Around mile 5, when I hit a slump, a woman in a green tank top came up beside me and said, “Come on, you can do it.”  She was right; I could.  That was the little push I needed to get me past my (mostly mental) wall and to the finish line.

I certainly didn’t set any personal records today, but I did accomplish a goal and I reminded myself what I need to do to keep at it.  Here’s hoping that while I keep going in my weight-loss journey, I keep getting the little pushes that I need to remind me that I can do it.  Thanks to that girl in the green top, if you happen to see this – I’m going to keep you in mind next time I’m feeling too lazy to pack my gym bag, make a healthy dinner, or treat myself well.

Yesterday, I had a serious case of the “Mondays.” One of those I-need-to-detox-from-the-weekend “Mondays.” After a great weekend that included: beers at a concert, Mexican food and margaritas at Jose’s, martinis at OM lounge, and beer, pretzels, and sausages at Fenway Park…I’m feeling the need to give my system a bit of a rest as I start the new week.  For the next couple of days, I figured I would try and cut back on white sugar, flour, excess caffeine, alcohol, etc.

 I’m also adding green smoothies back into my morning routine – something I haven’t done in a while. This morning, I made a healthy concoction by blending: 1 apple, 1 banana, 1 cup of water, juice from ½  a lemon, about a cup and a half of baby spinach, 1 stick of celery, and a sprig of mint.. The celery is a new addition for me, but Lauri from Joos raved about its health benefits so much, that I figured it deserved a spot in my detox smoothie recipe.  A quick online search of the benefits of eating celery revealed it as a great source of vitamins, as well as a source of potassium and magnesium, which help to aid as a diuretic. Drinking a green smoothie makes me feel great, knowing that I’m getting some fresh vegetables and fruits into my day, right away. I also plan on sweating it out tonight on the elliptical at Healthworks, drinking lots of water, and getting a good night’s sleep!

 What are your “recovery” tips to get back on track after over-indulging?

– Jean

I work best under pressure. It seems like unless there’s some kind of goal, I kind of just take it easy – that’s why I always feel so motivated when I’m training for a race. There’s a real deadline at stake: if you don’t train to go the distance by race date, well, you might not finish. And that really gets me going! Lately, I haven’t had a goal, and I’ve been kind of lax in my workouts. I’ll think, “well, just relax tonight, you can go tomorrow.” That’s such a pitfall.So, I needed to set myself at competition against myself. I really needed some reason to push and go hard.

I have decided to take the leap (literally, perhaps) into Healthworks’ Bootcamp Challenge. For those of you who don’t know what that means, Healthworks is offering a challenge. You pay $100 and can go to as many bootcamp sessions as you want between June 7 and July 4, and the person who looses the largest percentage of body fat wins some awesome prizes. I’ll admit, the prizes look awesome, but I am just excited for an opportunity to jump start my workouts and get off this plateau.

I went to my first ever bootcamp today, and Sunny pretty much kicked me in the butt. I workout regularly (I mean, sure, lately I’ve been lax, like I said – but I still go 4 times a week or so), but this was unlike any workout I’ve had in recent memory. I worked so hard that sweat was dripping off my nose, arms, and even knees. Class was an hour long and involved a lot of exercises that I have never attempted, or even seen before. It was awesome! I really can’t do pushups, and I’ve set an additional personal goal for myself, that by the end of this month of intensive training I’ll be able to do full out pushups. I’m also psyched to practice my side planks.

I’ve got a bit of a cold, and at one point I felt kind of dizzy and had to back off and drink some water. Today was just the first day, though, and gave me a great feel for what this is going to be like. Wish me luck!

I have a serious crush on Healthworks right now.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to take part in the Healthworks Blogger Bash, which was amazing! Along with about 20 other women bloggers, I took an awesome (and seriously challenging) spinning class with Eden Kessler, then headed to Alibi at the Liberty Hotel to imbibe some deliciously refreshing RIPE cocktails mixed with Double Cross vodka, and nibble on pizzas from Scampo restaurant. It was great to be around so many inspiring ladies who author health- and food-related blogging websites. A big thanks to Healthworks for organizing! And of course, thank you to all of the sponsors who provided our drinks, food, and pretty awesome swag bags — (pretty awesome being a vast understatement). I’ve been loving all of the new blogs that I added to my Google reader after the event, and enjoying the swag bag goodies.

Among said goodies was some Mad Hectic oatmeal, which was totally new to me. It comes in delicious flavors like raspberry dark chocolate and almond pecan, and provides 13 GRAMS of protein! I am a diligent breakfast eater, and a big fan of easy, filling recipes to whip up in the morning. I mixed about half a serving of Mad Hectic chocolate raspberry with a half a serving of regular plain oats, in order to cut down on the sweetness a bit. It definitely kept me full through my work morning. When I reached my mid-morning snack time, I had the pleasure of sampling a cup of Siggi’s Icelandic skyr yogurt, for which I had a coupon in my swag bag. Siggi’s is amazing – slightly tart, with very little added sweetener (no high fructose corn syrup here!), super thick (even thicker than greek yogurt), packed with protein, and comes in unique flavors like pomegranate acai, and grapefruit. I opted for blueberry today, and added a little granola for what I consider to be a perfect snack. I’m looking forward to adding these new foods to my repertoire, and trying out the rest of my samples and coupons in the next few weeks.

In case there was ever any doubt – Healthworks is truly the best gym ever, and amazes me with the ways that it goes beyond a fitness center, to really be a healthy lifestyle support network for us Boston women.

I’ll start off my saying that I am ok – just a little hurt (in the ego department, as well as my foot…).

Saturday morning I was walking my dog. I was kind of in a rush, because I thought I was going to be late for a lunch. I was crossing the street near my house, just starting out on my normal route, and I didn’t look very carefully – and my feet got run over by a car. Yes, you heard me right. I got run over.

I was in such shock that I didn’t know what to do. The car didn’t stop, and I kind of just looked at my feet in bewilderment. Did that just happen? I walked home, and it wasn’t until I took off my shoes and sat down on my bed that I realized what happened and started crying. That was really scary! I called my roommate, who rushed home. As soon as she looked at me, she said “we’re going to the hospital!” And don’t worry, nothing happened to the dog!

I had some x-rays, and nothing is broken. The doctor told me that, apparently, most people he sees with run-over-feet don’t actually break anything. It just hurts! I have an abrasion and some bruising, but overall I think I’m pretty lucky. They gave me some painkillers and told me what to watch out for (something called compartment swelling, sounds scary!), and sent me home.

I do feel kind of like an idiot – but, as my sister says, I think we all make not getting hit by a car our general priorities, and accidents happen. So, there we go. I’m letting my feet rest before I head back to exercise (it kind of hurts to put closed shoes on). See you all at the gym soon, I hope!

– Hannah