Thursday, February 25, 2016

CHALLENGE #12: Pull Ups and Push Ups!

I'm not sure how obvious it is that arms are my least favorite muscle group to train, but I am here to tell you... Arm workouts kill me.

Recently, my boyfriend became a live-in and one of his contributions to our home is a pull-up bar... *Life Changer*

I'm not sure if the novelty of the bar is still lingering or if I've just finally found the fun in arm day, but I love that thing. It's like I'm back in elementary school on the playground!!

Before you read the following, freak out, and close your browser window, let me explain:  This workout is to be done multiple times, expecting gradual improvement. Start by trying it out, setting a baseline for what you are capable of, then try it again a few days later, pushing for one more rep!

Secondly, feel free to take a break in the middle of a set. This workout is ONLY meant as a competition with oneself.

Warm Up:

With feet flat on the ground, and arms lifted and held out to the side-- parallel to the floor, begin doing forward arm circles. Continue for 30 seconds.

Jumping jacks- 1 min

Arm circles (backward)-  30 sec

Workout: (again, look for gradual improvement over days, weeks, or months)

5 pull ups, 15 push ups

10 pull ups, 10 push ups

15 pull ups, 5 push ups

Cool Down:

Yoga flow concentrating on asanas that promote relief of the muscles in the arms and back. See below for a flow I might use:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Loyalty: Players v. Fans

Patrick Says...

Hello again! I promise, this post is not about the Broncos... I will say, a week after their win in the big game, I am still absolutely reeling. If you follow my posts, you may realize my in depth analysis of the quarterback situation was for none. Turns out it didn’t seem to matter much who the quarterback was. The Broncos suffocating defensive play throughout the playoffs was what ultimately led them to victory. At no time was the elite status of the defense more evident than during Superbowl 50. So congrats to the Broncos and to Peyton who will hopefully take this opportunity to go out on top.

Anyway, we have just finished NBA All-Star weekend and I figured it would be a good opportunity expand on the topic I last wrote about:  loyalty. As fans, many of us are deeply loyal to our teams. Through thick and thin, we stick by them. Any true fan has experienced immense pride in their team, and also bitter betrayal. Now what about the players, coaches, and owners?  We hear all the time from players who've been released or traded, “it’s just part of the business.” It's true, professional sports teams are driven by revenue and at the end of the day, they are part of the entertainment industry. However, it does not take away from the fact these are still humans playing a game at a very high, emotional level. So, I have to think loyalty, betrayal, and pride have a consistent place in sports. 

BIG NEWS: I now officially live in Chicago now!  I don't know about you, but when I think of Chicago sports, the first name that comes to mind is Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. If you'e not familiar, check out an earlier post by my D. Rose fan of a girlfriend, here. The short of it is, he was born and raised in Chicago, drafted with the number one overall pick by the Bulls, and won league MVP during his second season in the league. The man had it all until a number of injuries sidelined his career. As he struggles to get back on track trade rumors circulate here and there, though the credibility of these rumors are questionable.  Up until now the Bulls have stayed loyal to Rose and Rose loyal to his team.

My question in all of this is, is this actually loyalty from the Chicago Bulls to their hometown kid? Are they giving him every possible chance to regain his MVP form and lead the team to a title? Sticking by him through thick and thin?  Or is it all about the money?

Rose was the youngest player to be named MVP of the league at age 22. At 23, the Bulls signed him to a 5 year, $94 million contact. That same year, Rose tore his ACL during the playoffs which started his run of tragic injuries. The good news for Rose? He plays in the NBA and not in the NFL. Not to get into too much detail but NBA contracts are mostly guaranteed... the NFL’s, mostly not. We hear about it every year, players getting cut from NFL teams to make create cap room. So, if the contracts were set up in a way the Bulls could easily part ways with Rose, would they have taken that opportunity? Perhaps we will know when he is a free agent in 2017. My hope: the Bulls will resign him, albeit at much lower number than he saw when he was 23. I expect Rose would stay loyal, but with the trend we've seen in the NBA of players chasing rings no matter what team or city it’s for, you just never know.  It all started with the Celtics acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Piece and bring a title to Bean town. And of course, it continued with the more hyped, LeBron James storyline between Miami, where the championship was there for the taking, and Cleveland, his "beloved" hometown. Currently, the buzz is of Kevin Durant's aspirations in Golden State (yes…seriously).

Being a fan of small market teams, I would like this trend to go in the opposite way, though I understand the lure for all-star players to go to big market cities.  Now, I'm not saying I want leagues to control the outcome of trades and free agent signings, a la the Chris Paul trade veto a few years ago. At the end of the day, it would just be nice if players could show some loyalty to a team that took a chance to draft them and vice versa...a little loyalty to the players the team invested sometimes millions of dollars in.  Maybe D-Rose will set the stage for players to maintain allegiance to their roots, by resigning with the Bulls for the rest of his career. In a perfect world, they'd have a little success and the NBA's sense of devotion would be renewed. A guy can dream can't he?

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Day Late: Super Bowl Snacks You Can Eat Any Day!

Quick post today, guys!

As you may know, I LOVE THE DENVER BRONCOS. You may also know, THEY WON THE SUPER BOWL!

My hectic life has been consumed by my day job recently, so I had to come up with quick, easy dishes to bring to the Super Bowl party I went to. I wanted to keep it simple, healthy, and paleo and here's what I came up with:

Keep in mind, I was going for BLUE and ORANGE (food coloring was involved)

The blue and orange sunset said it all

Thursday, January 28, 2016

CHALLENGE #11: Kettlebell Krazy

This is embarrassing to admit: For the longest time I was sure the piece of equipment that looks to me like a weighted ball with a handle was called a, "kettleBALL." I unknowingly called it this for awhile before my significant other informed me otherwise. Naturally, I still called it a, "kettleball" insisting that is what it was, for quite some time... you know, to save face.

Okay, okay, Patrick. I relent... YOU WERE RIGHT!

Warm up:

Walk/Run 10-20 minutes at an easy pace (C'mon, I never make you run)


3 Rounds: (round 1: 20 rep // round 2: 15 reps // round 3: 10 reps)

Rest: (after round 1: 60 seconds // after round 2: 45 seconds // after round 3: 30 seconds)

Kettlebell swings
Kettlebell clean and press (reps per arm)
Renegade rows with kettlebell (reps per arm)
Goblet squats

*Use any weight you are comfortable with.

Cool Down:

Repeat workout a final time, minus the kettlebell


Yoga flow 


Saturday, January 23, 2016

February 13th: Cupid's Undie Run, Chicago

What does being, "healthy" mean to you?

This is a question I have no choice but to consider when I claim to write a blog about, "fitness and health."  I'm not a doctor, nor am I a medical professional in any sense of the term.  I know so little about medical conditions I google,  "paper-cut" and conclude I have the plague. Yet, I keep on talking about health. I spend time everyday working out, preparing "healthy" food, reading articles about fitness, and then sharing what I learn with others. 

It occurred to me this week, that when it comes to, "health" I have been absolutely blessed. I am lucky enough to stand up every morning, and to lay completely down every night. My body is capable of so much more than I even have to think about... really, ever. But do I understand health? Does anyone understand anything fully if they only have experience with one side of it? Okay, take money for example. Can you speak intellectually about poverty as a whole, stating facts about what it feels like to be rich AND poor if you've only been rich OR poor. Or gender; can you comment on the feeling of being  male AND female, if you've only been either/or? Maybe that one's a touchy subject... but you get my drift, right?

I have exactly zero experience being unhealthy.  I assert, this makes me exactly 0% qualified to preach about health... But read on! Really! 

Cupid's Undie Run is next month, (February 13, 2016, if you're in the Chicago area). It's a fundraising, one mile(ish) run/party, sponsored by Children's Tumor Foundation (CTF) to fund research of Neurofibromatosis (NF). 

NF is, "a debilitating genetic disorder" which causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the entire nervous system. It often results in blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, and severe chronic pain. What's more is there's currently no cure for NF and very few options for treatment. Cupid's Undie Run is an effort to change this for the two million (1 : 3,000 births) people struggling with this disorder worldwide. 

You may have guessed by the name of the run, it is to be done wearing very little, and exposing a lot! Those diagnosed can't hide their disorder, because it effects their whole life and every move they make. NF is their most sensitive reality, and in tribute to their struggle, CTF wants us put ourselves out there too... Imperfections, extra holiday weight, beer belly... Cupid's Undie Run is a chance to bear it all  to support the rock stars big and small on their missions to a healthy future.

Here's the fun part of the post:  I will be participating in Cupid's Undie Run here in Chicago, IL and
I would LOVE for YOU to JOIN ME! 

You can sign up to run on my team by going to: and clicking, "Join This Team"

10% Off Registration with Code: CHICUR$

If you're not into running, don't own any undies, OR you're not in the Chicago area, you can still support NF research and my team by clicking here: MAKE A DONATION! 

Plus, right now every $50+ donation will be matched by The McMeen family. 

Anything you can give to help this cause would be so appreciated, you guys.

"Health" is a helluva concept to truly grasp unless you don't have it and so many of us take our health for granted. I am so fortunate to be in good health and have the capability to run a mile. This event is a reminder that not everyone has that chance.

So what's a mile in your undies... In Chicago... In February?? We've got this you guys!! It will be a blast and you'll be doing something to help so many families in need of an answer.

Hope to see you all out there. MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Planning Pt III: Scheduling Workouts

Hey Fit Followers!

The past year has been a testament for me to the necessity of planning when exactly I will work out each week, and what time each day. With so much going on, a pump is just not going to happen unless time is specifically set aside for that. Before I started working on a schedule there were so many days where I had every intention of working out and just never got to it. Now, rather than just having it on my list of things to do, (because let's be real, none of us finish an entire, "to do" list in the amount of time we expect to) I know when and where my workout will happen, and I stick to the plan.

I begin by creating a visual map of my week on a whiteboard. I block off each day with what I have to do. It looks like this:

As you can see, I include my workout schedule in the plan. Typically I don't write the, "when" or "where" on the board, but I do take the time to give it some thought. Like I'm sure you are, I am very busy during the week. My goal is to get in some physical activity every single day, even if that simply means walking to and from my errands rather than driving or taking public transit. When I write down what workout I'll be doing, I'm mindful of the other tasks I have to complete that day including work, school, meetings, and social activities. Beyond my visual of the week, I hang a monthly calendar so I can be aware of what's on the horizon. That way, if the next week looks packed, I can get some minor errands or cleaning tasks out of the way this week.

Also, and very importantly: before I go to bed each night, I run down the following day in my head making a mental note of the free time I'll have. I think, "Okay, session 8-9am, session 9-10am, session 10-11am, supervision 2-2:30pm, and babysit 3-6pm." Then, I think about what my evening will consist of... "I have to run an errand on my way home, and publish my blog post." On this particular example day, I know I am scheduled to get a "HIIT" workout in which will only take 20-30 minutes. So, I'd opt to squeeze it in before evening rolls around... otherwise I'll have to do it kind of late, and
there's a chance I'll bail or I'll do it and then be too amp'd to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. I'll think, "Looks like I'm getting my pump in between 11:30am and 1pm. For me, a small window is helpful because I know I have a limited amount of time, and I'll get right down to business rather than wasting time doing mostly nothing before actually starting my workout.

Another thing I just started doing this week, is making a little note in my day planner about how my workout went. I created a little key for myself in which a check mark indicates a very good/high energy sweat sesh, a dash indicates a decent/average pump, and an "X" indicates a poor/low energy excuse for a workout. I also note the type, time, and place. My intention here is to paint a picture for myself of the optimal workout and workout setting, so I can be most productive in the future.

Is my crazy showing?! I think I'm making my "type A" personality quite clear, but I'm telling you! People have asked me, "How do you stay motivated?" and this is the answer. I make it a priority in my life, as if I were getting paid to do it... because really, I AM getting paid... paid in health. I'll say it again, physical fitness has to be a lifestyle choice. So CHOOSE to live the lifestyle and it will get easier and eventually it will become a part of your routine. The key is to have a plan and stick to it

What is your workout plan?!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

CHALLENGE #10: Jump, Jump, Jump! (Legs)

You would be surprised at how much good you are doing for your body by doing a movement you learned before the age of 5: Jumping!

Jumping rope, box jumping, and jump squats and lunges provide you with an easy-to-do, multi-muscle group, cardio AND resistance workout. Plus, if you ask me, jumping is pretty fun. See cheesy jumping photo below:
My beauty of a friend, Kaitlin, and her bridesmaids. Myself included (right of the bride) // August 11, 2012
Photo Credit: Mark Hayes Photography

Warm Up:

You guessed, it... Jump some rope!

5:00 standard jump. Rest as needed.


Jump Squats- 10 reps
Box Jumps- 10 reps
Jump Lunges- 10 reps (each leg)
*Repeat x3

Alternating Leg Box Jumps- 10 reps (each leg)
Jump Squat/Lunge Combo (aka "X-Hops")- 10 reps (one squat + one lunge = one rep)
*Repeat x3

Cool Down:

Yoga flow, go!

As always, see Yoga for 2015 for tips!

ps: I will update that post for 2016 soon, stay tuned.