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Posts Tagged ‘working out’

It’s no secret that I love hot yoga. And when I head to a class, I make sure to prepare myself. I have two towels, two bottles of water (at least), and likely an extra shirt. Plus the mindset that hot yoga requires – it will be hard; you’ll sweat your ass off; and you’ll probably slip on the mat or floor at least once.

Last night, however, I chose a non-heated class.

I wanted something a little less strenuous, a little less slippery, and a little more centering.

Of course, I was stressed from leaving work late, rushed to the class and forgot my water bottle – not the best start to a lovely meditative practice. But I lay on mat, trying to relax and focus – secure in the knowledge that this class would be far cooler than I was used to. Just what I needed.

Not even 15 minutes in, I was already sweating.

Okay, I thought. There are a lot of people; it’s a smaller space. But the instructor is adjusting the thermostat – I’m sure he’s making it cooler.

Which was quickly followed by, but then why are there puddles around my mat? And damn me for forgetting my water!

I started wondering if it was even possible to do non-heated yoga in the DC summer. Maybe the heat and humidity just permeate everywhere. Maybe there’s no escape.

Until the instructor announced, “Sorry everyone. The thermostat isn’t working. I have the air on, but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything. Don’t worry, though. I’ll report it to the building management.

And suddenly all those little puddles made sense, and I was back to cursing my lack of water.

I tried to get back to my intention, but my mindset was all off. All I could think of was powering through, cooling off, and changing into clothes that weren’t dripping.

There was a moment during the final resting pose that I thought I might have found my center again. The room was dark and quiet, and I’d just gotten a grasp on my intention.

But as soon as the instructor asked us to sit up, all too soon, I might add, my first thought was, What a shitty shavasana.

Center: still lost.

I’m already signed up for several more classes next week – all non-heated – so here’s hoping that they fix the thermostat in time.

Or that I remember my water.

But preferably the thermostat. And a longer shavasana.

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The first time I went to the Y, I remember looking at all the machines trying to decide which was for me. It appeared that most girls my age were either on the treadmill or the elliptical, and since there was no way I was going to run if I wasn’t being forced by the gym teacher, I hopped on the machine that vaguely reminded me of the old Nordic track that used to collect dust in our basement at home.

This is pretty easy, I thought. I must be a natural ellipti-cizer!

And so, over the next four years or so, on the very rare occasions that I went to the gym, I ellipticized. I would leave the gym barely sweating, and the only clue that I’d been working out was my clothes.

Then I became a runner.

I didn’t gain the freshman fifteen; I gained the sophomore twenty. I quickly realized that my sporadic elliptical trips just weren’t cutting it, so I started running. And the running, well, it turned me into a bit of a gym snob. After spending 40+ minutes on the treadmill, I would scoff (only in my head, I promise) at people on the elliptical.

You want a real workout you should try running. You’re barely doing anything over there! You’re not even sweating!

Fast forward to 2012, when I have nearly burnt myself out with running. The marathons were great last year, and I’m still signed up for some key races this year, but I just don’t have the drive to run every.single.day. So I had to come up with some alternatives.

On days I truly hate myself, I use the stairmaster. You sweat like crazy and your legs feel like jelly afterward. What’s not to love?

But on the other days, I need something else. So I returned to the elliptical.

In the past month I’ve probably ellipticized three to four times a week, and it only took the first time to realize that I’d been doing it wrong every time before that.

The elliptical is essentially a metaphor for life – you get out what you put in. You want it easy? That’s fine, hit that “quick start” button. You want a challenge? Go ahead and increase the resistance and maybe the incline, too. You want a little something extra? Try using the arms, or going in reverse for a few intervals.

Don’t worry if you stumble the first couple times you try. It happens.

But the workout is totally worth it.

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It’s been about two years since I’ve done yoga. And it’s been more than three since I’ve done hot yoga. But that didn’t stop me from signing up for and attending my first Bikram class last night, at Bikram Yoga in Dupont.

How bad could it be? I thought. Hot yoga was great. You sweat out all your toxins, and achieve this incredible calm afterward. In fact, I may have even described one particular class as orgasmic. How different could Bikram be?

About 20 degrees different. That’s how.

The hot yoga that I practiced in Baltimore was amazing. In fact, if you’re ever there, I strongly recommend the Charm City Yoga studio. While I was there, I thought that I was sweating up a storm, that I was completely detoxing my body.

And then I did Bikram. Where the room temperature is 105* compared to the cool 85* of a hot yoga studio. And the humidity’s no joke, either. When I left the studio last night, I looked like I’d just gotten caught in a rainstorm, with my clothes all a darker shade than they had been before, and water still dripping down my face and body. And I felt amazing.

They don't look so bad drawn out, but when you're sweaty, it adds an extra challenge.

Some observations:

  • The instructor was on her game. The studio had a weird set up – almost two rooms – where you couldn’t actually see all of your classmates, and not everyone would have been able to follow an instructor standing in the front. But ours walked around, calling out the poses and offering guidance as necessary. For the first time, I felt that that, coupled with observing other classmates, was enough for me even as a first time Bikram-er.
  • I knew I’d underestimated the temperature when I walked in the studio and immediately started sweating. When your skin is glistening before you even start the breathing exercises, you know you’re in for a workout.
  • I was pleasantly surprised with how many of the positions my muscles remembered. I may have lost some of my flexibility (I can’t touch my toes), but I could hold nearly every pose for the majority of the time. I’m not doing any crazy balancing yet, but we’ll see. I won’t rule anything out.
  • Bring two water bottles. They say you can refill during class, but walking around all the mats and still trying to dodge the sweat puddles makes it a little tricky.
  • You always have to be behind someone, but try to make sure it’s not the guy with the too loose shorts who almost kicks you in the face during positions 7, 17, and 18. It kind of takes you out of the zone. Briefly.

When all is said and done, I’ll definitely go back. I got the intro week pass, so I’m good until next Wednesday.

Who’s in?

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A few weeks back one of our softball captains, Vandy, came up to me in the office to touch base about a game that he was going to be missing.

Vandy: “Are you going to the game tomorrow?”

Me: *nod*

Vandy: “And is the boyfriend [who also plays] coming by to walk down with you guys?”

Me: “I know he’ll be there, but I’m not sure if he’ll come here, first. Why?”

Vandy: “Well, we just need someone to carry the equipment bag down to the field. I have it at my desk.”

Me: “Um…I can carry it down.”

Vandy: “I don’t know. It’s pretty heavy. Let me just check.

Me: “Vandy. I can carry the equipment bag. It’s not that heavy.” (Side note: It wasn’t even the bat bag. This one just had gloves, bases, and balls.)

Vandy: “Yeah…well…let me go see if any of the other guys are around.”

I shook my head as he walked away, mostly amused by his insistence and only vaguely insulted.

But then, just last night, I was picking up a package at the front desk of my apartment building and it happened again.

Front Desk Guy: “I don’t know. This box looks pretty heavy. I don’t know if you can handle it.

Me: “Well, why don’t I just try it and we’ll find out.

FDG: “Eh…are you sure? I mean it’s pretty big.” *eyes me up and down*

Me: You’ve got to be kidding me! Just give me my damn package! “I’m sure. Let’s just try.

Now, I appreciate FDG’s concern, really, I do. But as soon as he passed me the box I couldn’t believe how long he’d stalled. It’s not that it was light (it was a case of wine, sent by Mama, sadly NOT for my consumption), but it was only about 30 pounds! (Yes, you bet your ass I weighed it when I got upstairs.)

I may not have the guns of a body builder (not a bad thing, I don’t think), but I also don’t look like I’m going to break if I get pushed, so what gives? Consideration is nice and all, but I’m a big girl, fully capable lifting and carrying large objects.

Plus, suggesting that I can’t do something is only going to make me want to do it more.

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One of my goals this year was to complete a marathon, working my way up through 10Ks, 10 milers, and half-marathons. But, after finishing my first half-marathon this past Sunday, I resigned myself to the idea that, while I felt all right,  the full marathon might have to wait until next year. Unless, of course, I want my body to hate me. Then it’s no biggie.

marathon-2

One of these days...

Which is why I felt shamed when I watched The Biggest Loser last night, and saw all four final contestants finish all 26.2 miles! Yes, two of them walked, but they finished. And the other two – Tara and Helen? I’ll say it: I was impressed.

Tara finished in under five hours. And took only slightly longer than what  my marathon goal time would be. I’ve been racing for six months (and running for nearly four years). She’s been on the ranch for, what, four and half months or so?

My competitive streak immediately thought, If she can do it, I can do it. I’m in just as good shape. I have no more excuses.

And then my body spoke up and said, If you keep putting me through the ringer like this, I’m going on strike.

gnomeOkay, okay. Duly noted. But the fact remains that when I finally do run a marathon, I’ll have it in the back of my mind that if those contestants could do it, there’s no reason that I can’t. And there’s also no reason that I should be complaining after running anything less than that.

Otherwise, you might have to send me to the ranch. Or, boot camp with Jillian. And that’s just plain scary.

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I may be 23, but today I feel like this:

dead-mouse-chinatown

Actually, I was going for feeling like the old lady, but maybe it’s more accurate to say that I feel like the dead mouse on the ground. That she’s stabbing with her cane.

I’m thinking it’s a mix between the race yesterday, and the fact that I was so exhausted that I passed out last night around 7:30pm, fully clothed, practically sitting up, yet still somehow lying on something that did NOT do good things to my neck/back.

Clearly, my life is really hard.

What does a girl have to do to get her own personal masseur?

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I don’t watch a whole lot of reality TV. I never got into Survivor or Fear Factor or any of the Bravo shows, really. (Although, to be honest, I do enjoy the occasional Project Runway episode every now and again.) But this season, I’ve really started to enjoy The Biggest Loser – much more than I ever thought I would.

biggestloser

I can’t watch for the full two hours. (Not because I’m not interested, but because the new episodes of NCIS are on during the first half, and I have my priorities, after all.) But, regardless, the second hour of the show is the most interesting anyway. I get to see the last chance workout, the weigh-in, and the vote.

  • Working backwards, the vote is probably my least favorite part. There are too many tears and far too much whining about having to make a difficult decision. Yes, I know it’s hard to choose between two of your new best friends when deciding who to send home. But you’re an adult, presumably, and you will face many more difficult decisions throughout your life. Shed a few tears if you must, but, please. Stop blubbering.
  • Next up – I love the weigh-in. It’s the part where I can actually get excited for the contestants, because it’s a tangible result of all the hard work they’ve been putting in. Plus, it’s always a fun guessing game when they cut to a commercial before showing the “after” weight. Is it really good (losing seven pounds)? Or really bad (gaining three)? (Also, I’ve had this discussion with Miche before, but why do some of the women wear so much jewelry when they’re being weighed? If I’m getting on a scale, especially in front of, you know, cameras, I’m taking off anything that could conceivably weigh me down.)
  • And finally (or, rather, first), there’s the last chance workout. Admittedly, I often miss this part, because I’m still trying to see the NCIS previews for next week. But when I catch it, I’m ridiculously impressed with how hard everyone’s working (usually – except when Joelle was on the show – oy). And now, I have another suggestion for what one of these workouts could be: broken metro escalators. More specifically, Dupont and/or Woodley Park. (Yes, I know that a broken escalator is actually stairs. Just go with me on this.)

As I was coming back from dinner last night, I was leaving the Dupont station and noticed that the middle escalator was stopped, and everyone was crowding on the only upward moving one. I figured, hey, I’m in pretty good shape, plus, I don’t want to get stuck behind the crowd. So I started the climb. Oh. My. God. I hadn’t even hit the middle before my thighs started to burn. But I couldn’t slow down, because I was sure that people were watching, and would judge me if I took a break. I could hear my panting over my headphones, and cursed myself for wearing my heels home from work. Rookie mistake.

The light at the end of the tunnel...literally.

The light at the end of the tunnel...literally.

By the time I got to the top, I was still panting, quads were still burning, and I could feel my heart beating about a mile a minute. And my first thought was, well, at least I don’t have to go to the gym now.

So, Bob, Jillian, take everyone on a field trip to D.C. You can bring one team to Dupont, the other to Woodley Park and make them walk up the escalators. I guarantee that someone will pass out, cry, or break down – and isn’t that what reality TV is all about?

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