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Temperature Update!

Well, today will be partly cloudy in NY with a high of 41 degrees F…

Just kidding!! Actually, sadly, I’m not…spring has not sprung here apparently, but this post is not about the weather. I owe you guys an update about my coconut oil experiment!

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I’ll be honest, I dragged my feet on this one because I was hoping to report glorious rising temperatures in the 98 degree range…unfortunately, I haven’t broken my 97.9 degree record and have been averaging about 97.3. I’ve still been going grain/gluten free, and the only other change that I can say I had since I started the coconut experiment is that I cut back on weight training (and the gym in general) after a head cold and daylight savings kicked my butt. So of course, less activity could have affected the body temperature, but I’m still a little bummed that I don’t have more exciting news on the temperature front.

HOWEVER, I will say that I’ve noticed lots of other positives:

  • Clearer and more radiant complexion (a few people told me I was glowing!)
  • Better digestion and, ahem, regularity
  • Less cravings, particularly for sugary snacks
  • More energy during workouts
  • Faster recovery from strenuous weight lifting…particularly leg daycoconut_spr03_310

So, it’s safe to say that I’ve noticed enough benefits to keep making coconut oil a part of my daily diet…especially now that I’m hooked on Liquid Armor Coffee (my own version of the Bulletproof® Coffee that’s been getting so much hype). I named mine Liquid Armor because evidently the company demands that you use a ® symbol when speaking about “Bulletproof® Coffee” because it’s a specific recipe using specific (and overpriced/over-hyped IMO) beans. Anyyyyywayyyy, this is just a lil teaser of a future recipe for my own Liquid Armor Coffee that will be delightful to both your tummies and wallets 🙂 Stay tuned!

Ciao for now!

-E

Rollercoaster Week…Ending on a High Note!

Hey guys, sorry for the delay in a post this week. I’ve had a hard time getting into my normal groove since last Thursday when my neighbor’s house caught fire in the middle of the night. Due to the massive flames and wind, I was evacuated in case it spread to my house.

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Ultimately, 3 houses sustained damage and mine was next in line. So THANK GOD for looking out for me! In the meantime, please send out some positive vibes to my neighbors who are dealing with this unfortunate disruption to their lives.  While I fortunately did not incur any damage, it was incredibly scary and unnerving and kinda threw me off for a good week or so.

On a positive note, I’d say this experience has made me MUCH more aware of and grateful for many things I often take for granted: a roof over my head, being able to wake up and have coffee in my living room, my closet full of clothes to choose from, getting to shower in my own house after a good workout, etc.  And I have been so grateful for the therapeutic effect of the gym this week…It’s amazing how an hour or so of doing something great for your mind and body can have a positive effect on your whole day!
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Speaking of which, I had something VERY great happen at the gym today that I wanted to share with you!  Now, I may not have really mentioned it lately, but since I started focusing on weight training (roughly 6 months ago), I’ve been dedicated toward building muscle and shifting my body composition.  From everything I’ve read, I know that it’s normal to experience feelings of water retention, swelling around the muscles, etc when building muscle. Buuuuttt, for someone who has had past issues with body image, knowing this and feeling this are two different things. In other words, it can be kind of a mind f*@k!

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Anyway,  lately, I’ve been feeling like I can’t tell if my hard work is showing or not.  And in the wake of the fire I mentioned above, I’ve just been a tad out of it.  So I finished an arm/shoulder workout today and wrapped up with a 20 minute run on the treadmill. I was on my way out the door and saw my friend Carol (die-hard gym goer and fitness competitor), and as I was about to say hi she blurts out “Oh my god you have been working HARD!!! You look GREAT!!!!”  She went on to tell me how she was on the elliptical behind me and was so motivated by how toned and powerful my body looked while I was running that she wanted to get off and run beside me! Run beside ME!!! I was seriously coming out of my skin with excitement because I know she isn’t blowing smoke.

So, yeah, I’ve basically been on a high all day because I’m feeling like my usual positive, energetic self. And it’s always great to know that the hard work you’re putting in (whether it’s the gym, a relationship, a career, a hobby) is paying off.

Cheers to the weekend!

Ciao for now,

-E

 

Legsssss!

Well I’m feeling super after a kick a** leg workout this morning. I got up a little earlier because I wanted to do a longer workout to make up for a fun weekend with family. I took Friday-Monday off from the gym while traveling to Massachusetts to spend some much needed time visiting my sister, dad, and grandmother…and even got a surprise visit from my brother on Saturday!  It was awesome and after going HAM last week at the gym, it was good to have a few days off to rest and allow my body to recuperate.  Sidebar: even though I know that rest is just as important as working out, I have to admit I often feel guilty for taking more than a day or two off from the gym. Of course, if someone else told me they were sore and felt like they needed several days or even a week off, I’d encourage them to take the rest rather than overdo it…funny how it’s easy to give advice but not always easy to follow it!

Anyway…back to legs. I am proud to say that I’ve still been using the power rack instead of the smith machine…If you remember, I blogged about making that switch on my birthday last month.  Today I started off with a lil cardio on the elliptical and then went straight to squats. Normally, I do seated leg curls & extensions first (and on the same day as squats), but I know squats use a lot of energy and you generally get more power if you do those first. So I did a warmup with the bar and then did a combo of narrow and wide-legged squats for 15 reps each at 10, 15, 20, and 25 lbs. The weight is moderate, but I know if I try to go heavier right now, I’ll sacrifice form.

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Next up, 3 sets on each leg of weighted static lunges with 15lb dumbbells. Emphasize the glutes and give them a good squeeze on the way back up, and you’ll feel those puppies burn! haha It hurts so good!  Followed those up with donkey kicks for 3 sets of 25 reps each leg with foot to the sky and 25 reps each leg with a lateral raise.  You start off feeling okay, but toward then end, your booty and thighs will be screaming. Trust me.

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Donkey Kicks

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In the spirit of true masochism, I finished up with a combo ab/side leg raise for 3 sets of 20 reps each leg, and wrapped it up with about 100 calf raises (50 with toes pointed straight, 50 pigeon-toed).

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I’m hoping for a little delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) tomorrow morning…Told you I was a bit masochistic 😉

On that note, have a super week!

Ciao for now,

E

Hittin’ Records Baby, Yeah!

As I write this I’m on a massive adrenaline rush from 1. Not enough sleep 2. The Grande Starbucks coffee I had before the gym and 3. Hitting some sweet personal records at the gym today.

I took a rest day yesterday and ended up staying up way too late talking and texting some friends while drinking some red wine (some well-deserved red wine I might add), so when my alarm went off at 5:15 this morning, I wanted to cry. I must confess that I shut my alarm off and set a new one for 7:15 when I’d have to start getting ready for work…and then I laid in bed. At this point I began a mental battle with myself that went something like this:

Emily, you didn’t go to the gym yesterday, so get your butt in gear. But maybe I could squeeze in a gym sesh after work and before my 7:30 meeting tonight with a client. Yeah right, you’re not going to have time, plus by then you’re not gonna feel like going, so get your booty out of this bed right now missy! Uhhh but I don’t waaaannnnna…my bed is warm and I’m tiiiiirrrreeeedddd. Oh stop it you little nancy…you can go to bed early tonight, and you know you’ll feel better after you go. You have a point there…but I’m still tireddddd. If you get up right this minute you can stop at Starbucks on the way and grab a coffee. Okay, deal. I’m getting up!

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Haha this little convo lasted about 15 minutes, so I was out the door at 5:40 and at the gym by 5:50, coffee in hand. When I saw all the other diehards that got their butts out of bed early too, I was glad I’d done the same.

After 30 minutes on the elliptical (incline 9/ resistance 9), I went over do a circuit of seated leg extensions and curls. I alternate sets on the two machines, going back and forth on them until I do 3 or 4 sets of each. It’s kind of being a machine hog, but at 6:30am I can get away with it.

In the past, the most I’d ever attempted was 70 lbs on both, so today, my sets went:

15 reps @ 55 lbs
15 reps @ 70 lbs
15 reps @ 80 lbs
5 reps @ 90 lbs

Awesomeness!

From there I went over to the standing glute kickback machine. On Saturday I was able to do clear 2 reps on each leg at 120 lbs, so today I was aiming for a little more. I alternate legs so each set includes x number of reps on the right leg followed by the same number of reps on the left leg. My sets went:

15 reps @ 75 lbs
15 reps @ 90 lbs
10 reps @ 115 lbs
5 reps @ 130 lbs

Wheeeeee!

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Next, I marched upstairs to do some deadlifts (which sometimes I do with back, but sometimes with legs, depending on how I feel). In the past, I’d always done them with dumbbells and the most weight I’ve ever used is 50 lbs, but I wanted to graduate to using a bar. Since I was on a friggin’ endorphin and caffeine rush at this point, I decided to start with a weight that would be challenging but realistic (I didn’t want to start lifting like a nut and hurt myself of course)…so here’s how the sets went:

15 reps @ 70 lbs
15 reps @ 80 lbs
15 reps @ 90 lbs

At this point I was coming out of my skin with excitement because I found these challenging, but not as much as I thought. There were a couple of guys doing biceps and shoulders near me and as I was basking in my glory one of them says to me: “Wow, you’re pretty strong! Not like ‘for a girl’ either…like just STRONG!” That felt awesome to hear! And I told them both that before today, I’d only used 50 lb dumbbells and wanted to see what I could lift if I actually pushed myself. I told them I just wanted to see if I could do at least 1 rep at 100 lbs (cuz at this point I was feeling a little fatigued and didn’t want to overdo it) and they were cheering me on like “Yeah, you can do it!!” So I picked up the 100 lb bar and to my surprise, I knocked out:

5 reps @ 100 lbs!

This isn’t actually THAT much, in terms of weight lifting strength standards (according to ExRx.net, an untrained woman of my weight should be able to do 70 lbs, a novice – 130 lbs, and intermediate – 150 lbs)…And by definition: Untrained = An individual who has not trained on the exercises before but can perform them correctly.  Novice= An individual who has trained regularly for up to several monthsIntermediate = An individual who has trained regularly for up to a couple years.  But considering that I’m relatively new to strength training (about a month), I’m happy to be halfway to novice…plus now I have some higher goals for the next month!

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I  practically skipped over to the mat to finish up with some kettlebell swings (which I’ve only recently started doing, but love them for the combo cardio/strength training they provide):

15 reps @ 20 lbs
15 reps @ 20 lbs
15 reps @ 25 lbs

At this point I was both high on endorphins and fatigued like I’d just been in a competition (which I was, with myself! And I think I won! Haha). Before I left the gym I scribbled down my numbers on the back of a class schedule sheet because I knew I wanted to write a post about it and share it with you all!

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I’m amazed at how much more I can do and how much better I feel when I focus on strength and setting goals around health and getting stronger rather than on losing or maintaining weight. And if these posts and inspire even a single one of you to push yourself just a little harder, get out of bed a little earlier to make your health a priority, or to just set some new goals for yourself (in or out of the gym), then that makes me feel awesome 🙂

Time for a second cup of coffee 😉

When I need to push myself, I think of all those nicely polished trophies waiting to be lifted up by the winner – and how that winner might be me. -Maria Sharapova

Ciao for now!

-E

Squat Rack City, Chick

Ok, yes, this title is a play on the Tyga song “Rack City,” but I thought it was clever and I’m going with it.  As you may have read in my birthday workout post, I have recently graduated from doing squats with the Smith Machine (which is nothing to scoff at, but in the workout world I hear they aren’t considered the “real deal”) and put my big girl pants on to mosey over to the power rack (which is like, legit squatting).

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So Monday (my birthday) I did a few sets of squats at the power rack, using (2)10lb plates on each side…so altogether, about 80lbs with the bar. I was mainly trying to focus on good form since, without the gliding track that the Smith Machine provides, you can really hurt yourself if you don’t have everything in the right place.

Tuesday I did back and biceps, and Wednesday I did triceps, cardio and abs, so when I woke up this morning I was itching to do some more leg workouts (I love working legs, in case you can’t tell). I woke up nice and early this morning, stopped by Starbucks for a grande blonde roast with cream and sugar (no fake stuff for me…if I’m gonna drink coffee, I want the real deal), and I headed to the gym.

I like to start with cardio (today I did 30 mins on the elliptical at a 10 incline with a level 8 resistance). I know some people say you should do cardio after weights, but I’ve tried it and it doesn’t really do it for me. Something about starting with a burst of cardio gets my blood pumping and puts me in “gym mode.”

Alright so now for the highlight of the gym session…

After cardio I was itching to get back to the power rack. I marched upstairs and went straight to setting up the bar with the same weight I squatted Monday. Then I stretched my chest a bit and I did a few squats sans bar/weight just to get my muscles fired up and make sure my form felt good. At this point I noticed a few of the guys upstairs watching (probably to see what I was going to do next), and then I did something a bit out of character…

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Before starting my first set, I walked over to one of the guys that was watching me set up. I’d seen him squatting in the gym before and noticed he had good form. And I told him that I recently “graduated” from the Smith Machine and am focusing on getting my form right on the power rack before increasing weight and wondered if he would mind coming over for my first set to give me feedback on my form.

Of course, he said yes, and he came over and watched me do my first set of 10 reps. His only critique was that I could lift my head up just a tad to keep it in line with my spine. I was being extra cautious not to hyper-extend my neck, as I’ve read that’s a big no-no, so I think I was overestimating how much to keep my head down for it to be in neutral position.  For positive feedback, he said he was very impressed that I kept didn’t let my knees bow in, that I didn’t let my knees go past my toes, and that I was able to get great squat depth. He also commended the nice shelf I created for the bar with my traps and that I didn’t use the sissy pad (woo-hoo Tara would be proud ;)).

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After I finished the rest of my workout, I stopped back over to my “squat supervisor” and thanked him for taking time to come make sure I was doing things right. He said that he was impressed to see a girl using the power rack, and even more impressed that I could put my ego aside and actually request criticism. He told me that while I was doing some ab work in the back of the room, another guy who had been watching me ask for feedback came over to him and asked him to give him feedback too. It was great to see even the manliest men put aside their egos and make sure their form is proper. It makes all the difference in being able to gain strength without injuring yourself, and if I was able to inspire someone to ask for help, then that’s great!

Needless to say, I felt awesome. It was one of the best workouts I had in a while, and really boosted my confidence about trying new workouts. And to top it all off, I felt like I earned some gym cred with the boys 😉  Next leg day I plan on bumping up the weight…Stay tuned 🙂

“The strong individual is the one who asks for help when [s]he needs it.” – Rona Barrett, columnist and businesswoman.

Ciao for now!

-E