Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Week of Supersets and Aha! Moments

After a busy holiday week, last week went the other direction and things were mostly quiet on the home front. Not that I feel like doing much when the weather is either hot or rainy with a large side of humidity to go with both. I did get out and enjoy my brand new Oofos one afternoon when the sun was out (affiliate).

I also enjoyed my workouts this week. One thing I love about carb cycling (and I probably sound like a broken record) is the variety in the workouts. Even the strength training workouts vary day to day and week to week.

By the way - if you are interested, you can learn more about the Faster Way to Fat Loss® carb cycling program I did here (affiliate). The next round starts July 16!!

Interval Workouts:
I did elliptical sprints on Monday, which I bumped up to 25 this week. I think it might be time to increase the interval and recovery times instead of number to complete. I just haven't been feeling the same intensity as I used to. On Tuesday I grabbed an old yoga mat and headed to the park for another HIIT workout. Full-body workouts are always intense and this one was no different. My low intensity sustained state cool down walk literally cooled me off when it started raining.

Strength Training:
This week all of the strength workouts featured supersets ---> A superset is performed when two exercises are performed in a row without stopping. The exercises can work opposing muscles or similar muscle groups. Because there is no stopping between exercises each rep is more effective and more calories are burned than with a typical workout. Supersets are also good for boosting metabolism because your heart rate is up and your body works harder to recover.

I loved doing a week of supersets! It reminded me of how we did the exercises in Bodypump class with the break coming between tracks. It feels like you are pushing each muscle group to the max and then you move on to the next superset. 

It was also fun to have some exercises on the plan that were new to me or different from the usual, like face pulls. I had actually never done them before. They're tough!

Active Rest Days: 
Friday morning instead of yoga, I volunteered in the soup kitchen of a homeless shelter. Chopping, washing, rinsing, and serving sounds easy enough, but my arms and back muscles were tired after only two hours. Sunday I did Balancing Flow - a 30 minute Yoga with Adriene vinyasa video and then squeezed in a nice 2 mile walk with mrC. There is a strong monsoon warning and the winds are sooo nice, but too strong for us to get out on our SUP boards this weekend (affiliate).

I had a couple of aha! moments this week ---> non scale victories that gave me little boost in confidence.

1. During my leg day workout (which had a circuit warmup, 5 supersets, PLUS a treadmill hill repeat workout) I realized that two weeks ago I couldn't lift that weight or do that many reps and what seemed hard is now a warmup.

2. After seeing a number on the scale that discouraged me, I put on a pair of shorts that I hadn't worn because they were uncomfortably snug and they felt great.

Do you use supersets in your training?
What was your last aha! moment?

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Monday, July 2, 2018

4th of July Week: Holidays and Working Out

Let me start this post by saying (because I haven't blogged since last week's Weekly Wrap), Happy Independence Day America!!

I think we would all agree that staying on track with fitness and food choices can be extra challenging during a holiday. My week was busy. I allowed myself some grace and that took the pressure off. In the end, I enjoyed myself and my choices didn't throw my nutrition off by much.

The key to my success is everything in moderation. I don't try to be perfect, just the best that I can while enjoying life. Plus, it's bloody hot in Hong Kong and a strawberry daiquiri is quite cooling ;)

Monday & Tuesday:  I stuck to HIIT workouts. I always do my workouts fasted, but Monday's elliptical sprints kicked my butt! On Tuesday I took my Tabata workout to the park. It was hot, humid and the total body session was tough! I like the way a tough workout feels when it's over though. I guess that's why I keep doing them.

Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday: Strength training days. This week's arm workout included 10 to 1s. This looks like an innocent workout, but it's haaarrrd. My arms felt like they would fall off and I was only using 3 pounds by the end. Leg Day took place in my old fitness center in Shenzhen. It was fun and a little weird to be back in my old workout space.

We celebrated the 4th of July twice this week. On Wednesday we went to a friend's cookout. It was fun showing off our patriotism. I was so excited to have a cheeseburger off the grill. We don't have one here and we miss it a lot.

On Thursday we attended the Celebration of the US Consulate General's 175th year in Hong Kong as guests of the US Consulate through my work with the American Women's Association Hong Kong Hosts program. It was probably one of the fanciest and highest security parties I will ever attend. US Consul General Kurt Tong was obviously there, but so was Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR Carrie Lam (she's the top political official in HK). It was an impressive event.

Friday & Sunday:  I did my normal active rest day yoga which I am really enjoying again. Then on Sunday the weather stayed dry long enough for a morning paddle. It was picture perfect right until we were literally pulling the boards out of the water. Then it rained.

As I mentioned earlier, we went to our old neighborhood in China to have dinner with friends on Friday and see what has changed (because things are always changing in China!).

So after a fun filled, super busy week I still managed to get in every workout and not go too crazy with my eating and drinking.

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Staying On Track

This post has affiliate links.

It was another good week of carb cycling. mrC and I have been faithfully following the eating schedule and matching workouts. Already we are seeing changes and feeling better. And we are having fun!

Monday and Tuesday were low carb days. I did one sprint swimming workout and one HIIT workout at home. My swimming sprints (25 meter freestyle sprint, 25 meter breaststroke recovery x10) were good. I was able to push myself on the sprints because I was the first one in the only lap lane. My HIIT workout was ok, but I didn't push myself as hard as I could have --> cue goal for next time.

Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday I did strength training. I have to admit that I am really enjoying using weights again. I've been going to the fitness center for these workouts because I need the variety of weights equipment and I'm trying to go heavy on leg day. It's still a learning process to figure what is too light versus too heavy. At the end of each session I add in a plank workout and on Thursday I swam 300 meters.

Friday and Sunday were active recovery. I did some yoga both days because my body needs that extra stretch session, but we also took our inflatable SUP boards out on Sunday. It was really windy so I got more of a workout than I anticipated, but it was still fun being on the boards.

We lost faith in the scale at the fitness center after getting vastly different readings one week apart. Instead, we decided to purchase a smart scale for home use and found this Mifit for a reasonable price. This smart scale shows more than just our weight. We now also know our body score which includes assessment of body fat, BMI, muscle, water, bone mass and more.

In terms of personal results, I focus mostly on how I feel in my clothes, but I am also a data junkie and like seeing the numbers confirm my progress. It also gives me another challenge to increase my muscle over fat percentage.

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June: The Month I Didn't Run

After having more than a few good runs while in the US in April and May, I came up with a brand new running plan and then totally didn't follow it. I couldn't resist flat routes and beautiful Colorado, so I ran more than I said I would.

My knee wasn't happy about that.

For a couple of weeks while littleC was visiting, I gave my knee a break from running and focused on low impact workouts like swimming, easy hiking and walking.

My knee was super happy with that.

So, June became the month I didn't run. It's not the first time I stopped running, but it is the first time that I have admitted that I like it more that my knee is happy than that I went for a run ---> major change in mindset happening here.

Instead I continued to log time in the swimming pool ---> 2950 meters to date. Swimming is going to become my "new" running. It's not the same but swimming does not aggravate my knee and I get a great cardio workout. Bonus, it's perfect for this hot and humid climate I live in!

I found my motivation to get back in the gym after completing a video workout challenge. The goal is to keep strength training in my weekly routine again. My body definitely responds when I pick up the weights.

Lastly, I added more walking into my daily routine and logged 14.26 miles so far. I would like to get into the habit of walking every morning, but it takes awhile for this creature-of-habit girl to get a new habit going.

It kind of feels like my fitness has been a little all over the place. My motivation over the last couple of months has been up and down and up and down. I think it's because I was putting off the inevitable decision to stop running and take care of what is left of my knee. It's scary to give up something that you spent years doing and focusing on it so much that you actually started a blog about it. I mean, what would I do without it? It kind of feels like a fitness identity crisis, ha!

June might have been the month I didn't run, but it is also the month that I realized I'm still a fitness junkie and I'm going to keep running through life one fitness adventure at a time!

Today I'm doing the link-up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! 

How well do you follow your own fitness plans?
Are you a creature of habit or are you more impulsive?


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Weekly Wrap: Pulling Out the Carb Cycling Playbook

After doing the two week video workout challenge, I realized that I was still missing a couple of important parts: good nutrition and strength training.

So, I have pulled out my carb cycling playbook and been matching my workouts to how I'm eating, tracking my macros and adding strength workouts. (you can see my daily carb cycling activities in my Instagram story if you're interested in what an average day looks like)

Here's a look at how my first week following the plan again went:

Monday - low carb day + speed bursts workout

I did some morning stretches to complete the two week workout plan. Later, mrC and I walked to the pool (just over .50 mile). I came up with my own swim sprint workout: 5 minutes WU, 25 meters freestyle sprint x 25 meters breaststroke recover x 10, 10 minute pool walking CD.

Tuesday - low carb day + speed bursts workout

For the first time in forever, I took my workout to the fitness center. I did sprints on the elliptical: 20:40 seconds work:rest x 20 plus 15 minute cool down. Then I cooled off in the pool.

Wednesday - regular calorie day + strength training

I was back in the fitness center for my strength training because I only have two choices of hand weights at home. Walking ten minutes to the fitness club was the warm-up. I did my favorite dirty dozen arm workout (and coached mrC through it -> he did great) two times and then I did a couple of sets of adductors and abductors. Wrapped things up with a good stretch session.

Thursday - regular calorie day + strength training

Another strength day at the fitness center. Used the 10 minute walk there as the warm-up again and then jumped right into the dirty dozen leg workout. Half way through I realized that the workout is probably better as an at-home workout, so I'll be switching things up next week. Threw in some plank work at the end and swam 250 meters as my cool down.

Friday - low calorie day + active rest day

Happy to say that I will be using these days for yoga along with other acceptable rest day activities (SUP, swimming, walking). I did two Yoga with Adriene videos ---> one for opening hips and heart and another detox flow.

Saturday - regular calorie day + strength training

I did not lose my motivation even though my workout buddy had a trip. I did Leg Day at the fitness center with a roundtrip 1.5 (ish) mile walk there and back. This workout had a perfect combo of weights, machines, and body weight moves. I also added core work at the end.

Sunday - low calorie day + active rest day

I found myself looking forward to starting my day with some yoga. I really enjoy the Yoga with Adriene videos and there are so many to chose from. I like that I can pick one that fits my mood or needs, but my favorite is flow.

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How To Do Summer in Hong Kong

Let's face it, summer is hot, humid and sticky and in Hong Kong it is worse than anywhere I've lived before. For someone who loves to be outside, it is hard to accept that you are always, and I mean always, going to be hot and sweaty (unless you never leave your apartment).

After three years of living in China, I think I have finally come up with a fool proof plan for surviving the summer heat. Today I'm sharing my plans for the summer as part of the Tuesday's on the Run topic link-up. Check it out:

Spend as many days as possible on junk boats (which just means hired boat). This popular activity is a great way to escape the city, cruise around the islands, enjoy good friends, good food and go for a dip in the refreshing China Sea. I went on a day junk a couple of weeks ago and I can't wait to do it again!

Go to the pool and swim, swim, swim. Since swimming has replaced my running, I want to swim as much as I used to run which was usually three days a week. With running, it took a lot of miles for me to feel comfortable and confident. The same is true for swimming. I've got a lot of laps to swim and learning to do.

Enjoy our iSUP. This is the time of year to get the boards out more. No worries about jelly fish and the water feels so nice (even if I like to stay on my board because I'm not a fan of deep water). I hope to be on the water for active recovery days and any other time that sounds good.

Travel ---> get out of the city. I'll go anywhere (hint, hint mrC), but the trip I am most looking forward to is our family vacation to the Cape at the end of August. Our goal every year is to get all three of the kids there with us at the same time. Crossing my fingers that this is one of those years.

What are your summer plans?

See what others are doing by checking out the link-up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Popsugar Fitness Two-Week Video Workout Challenge

After taking a brief hiatus from scheduled workouts and enjoying a bunch of family fun, I was ready to get back to regular workouts. I was in the mood for something different, so I challenged myself to follow the Popsugar Fitness 2-Week Video Workout Plan.

For 14 days, I did a variety of 30 minute workouts that mixed cardio, strength, Pilates and yoga. One day a week was dedicated to active rest with stretching and foam rolling.

Here's the plan and my thoughts on each workout:

Day 1: Cardio workout (burned 335 calories). This was a fun video with a blend of cardio and strength circuits to keep things interesting. Each circuit takes about 5 minutes to get through 4 moves and you do each circuit twice. A couple of minutes of stretching is included at the end.

Day 2: Cardio Pilates workout (burned 268 calories) Mix of cardio and Pilates with weights that really worked my abs. After a cardio warm-up, the exercise sequence targets legs, arms, and abs...spending about 20-30 seconds on each move.

Day 3: Power Yoga Flow (burned 154 calories) Perfectly timed full body yoga to stretch things out that were feeling very sore. A typical yoga flow, the workout stretches and tones at the same time.

Day 4: Active Rest with Foam Roller (burned 65 calories) Full disclosure, this was a pretty painful session, but another well timed activity. The must-do foam rolling moves provided probably made this the best foam rolling session I've ever done, especially because I actually timed myself.

Day 5: Tabata Workout (297 calories) I love this form of HIIT that alternates between 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest in four minute rounds. Just when you think you can't go any longer, you get a quick break. Another bonus to this workout was the instructor ---> great energy and super funny!

Day 6: Strong, Toned and Full-body workout (253 calories) Another circuit training session, but this time with weighted moves added in. I like the mix of exercises in circuit workouts.

Day 7: Active Rest with Stretching (95 calories) I did both the 10 minute video and the ultimate stretching guide (see it here) ---> 28 different stretches. My body was grateful for this head to toe love-fest.

Day 8: Cardio Boxing & Core (308 calories) This was my first try at cardio boxing and I didn't love it, but was pleasantly surprised to see the calories I burned. Obviously no experience necessary to get a good workout, even one that feels a little awkward.

Day 9: Pilates workout (196 calories) This should have been called Speed Pilates! The pace was hard to keep up with at times, so I focused on going at my own speed. Some of the moves were killer, but the instructor kept things fun and lively.

Day 10: Feel-Good, Feel-Strong Yoga (186 calories) easy to follow flow that hit all my favorite poses. I liked how the instructor grouped poses together and tossed in a couple challenges ---> like side plank with leg raise!

Day 11: Active Rest with Foam Roller (did not track) This was the same as the previous foam rolling day but it didn't hurt as bad. That's a clear reminder that the more you roll, the happier your muscles are.

Day 12: Cardio and Toning Boot Camp (283 calories) Simple 8 move circuit repeated 3 times. I liked the mix of cardio (jump squats, mountain climbers) and strength, but I loved the combination moves (squat shoulder press, bridge chest press) the best.

Day 13: Total Body Toning (262 calories) This workout had a fun mix of moves that focused on legs, cardio, arms, and abs. Each move was demonstrated in modified version first and then the advanced options were shown.

Day 14: Active Rest with 10 Minute Stretching (74 calories) Easy 10 minute stretching routine that hits all the important areas. It's a nice option to always doing the same stretches from memory and some of the stretching variations were new to me.

So, what did I think?

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen the answer ---> I LOVED following this two week workout plan. It was a great way to get away from repeating the same workouts day after day, which I am known to do. The mix of cardio, strength, yoga, Pilates, and rest days felt really good on my body too.

30 minute workouts really are manageable and effective. It was apparent right away that I was getting good workouts because I was sore! On the days that I missed my morning workout, knowing that it would be 30 minutes made it easier for me to get myself moving to do the workout in the afternoon or evening.

In addition to the 30 minute video workout, many of the days I also walked (usually 2 miles) or swam laps. I LOVED that I could do the video workouts at home, especially since we were having a lot of rainy days during the two weeks, but I also love to get outside.

I would definitely do it again.

PS: To make it easier, I created a playlist of the videos on YouTube here. There is also a direct link to the Popsugar Fitness plan there.

Have you ever followed a free online workout plan?
Do you like workout videos?

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!