Friday, January 23, 2015

Gettin' Tricky

I have a notebook with several pages of ideas of things I want to cover in this blog. I mentioned it before, and since then it has grown quite a bit, thanks in part to many of you sending me your ideas and topics of interest related to sports, fitness, and health and/or psychology. Despite all these great starts, I have spent the entire week trying to write something interesting. I thought I might stay in line with what I have already talked about, maybe discuss the Broncos loss to the Colts, or maybe continue discussing confidence in another arena maybe mentioning the shooting slump my favorite basketball player had been in for the past few weeks (emphasis on "had"). I wanted to comment on the state of professional sports in terms of league rules, in the aftermath of a call against the Cowboys', Dez Bryant ruling this was not a catch.

While these are all topics I would definitely like to discuss at length in the future, my heart just wasn't in any of them this week. In the first month of this new year I have already made some major changes to my routine including quitting my "big girl" nine to five in exchange for a low stress lifestyle as a nanny while I embark on my final year of graduate school, and a 20 hour per week, unpaid internship. The change in my schedule has freed up some time for me to concentrate on my eating habits, and my workout routine. Still, change is never easy and it has required some discipline on my part, especially with the lack of outdoor running (outdoor anything if I'm being honest) as an option for cardio. Let this serve as a disclaimer: you will not catch me running in this Chi-town cold. Something I have realized about myself in the past year or two, however, is my high intrinsic motivation to workout. I think for me, it's simply because I enjoy physical activity. I find it fun, really. Not to mention, physical activity triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, a feel good hormone and my degree in psych makes me acutely aware of this fact. Plus I swear I notice an improvement in my overall mood after getting some energy out. Anyway, not everyone feels the way I do and therefore getting motivated may be easier said than done,. So I figure now, the beginning of the year and peak of ambition to workout for many, is a good time to talk about creating and maintaining a plan to stay in shape.

I really believe finding the fun and enjoyment in being active and fit has more to do with the way you approach it mentally than anything else. I really do. Here are a few little tricks I play on myself:

Avoid routine. I never do the exact same workout twice. Seriously. This is so important. I have a Pinterest board, "Workouts" and I spend some time every week or two updating it with new pins, usually when I first wake up in the morning and need a minute before I get out of bed. I just browse the homepage and see if anything stands out to me. If I think it's doable it goes on the board. When I get ready to workout I set myself up with my tunes and then look at the board and figure out which workout I wanna do. [Also important: don't start a workout you don't really feel like doing, one that's unrealistic in terms of completing all the reps, or one with moves you don't know how to do. You'll half-ass it, I'm tellin' ya.] Even if I really enjoy one of the workouts I do, and am sore enough the next day to consider it a job well done, I don't do it in exactly the same order again or if I do, I combine it with another workout; maybe one that focuses on a different muscle group. Along with not getting stuck in one exercise routine, I try to mix up the times of day I workout. I hear people say things all the time like, "I only workout in the morning." But what if you happen to get off work early one day and have no plans?! Instead of sitting on the couch for an extra hour you could get busy on your body! I just think it's a shame to limit yourself like that. Another glimpse into my life:

Try new things people!! Life begins at the end of your comfort zone! You will feel great afterward, ready for dinner, a cold shower, a little House of Cards, and then you will sleep great, all exhausted,clean, and freaked out by Frank Underwood (if you haven't watched House of Cards, do some dabbling.)

Playlist. Above I mentioned getting my music established before I workout. Actually, maybe I should have written this part first because it is absolutely essential and really I just love music. I might love music as much as I love sports. Make yourself a playlist of songs that really pump you up and ones you just generally enjoy. I also use Pinterest here, and I am afraid you might be catching on to some of my problematic behaviors when it comes to social media at this point of the blog, but there are tons of lists of great songs to get your sweat on to. Some of my favorites are (don't judge me): Gaga- Do What U Want, Britney- Till the World Ends (the remix y'all, with Nicki and Ke$ha), Rihanna- Where Have You Been, Justin- Let the Groove Get in, and (duh), Katy- Dark Horse. Also really into Hozier- Take Me to Church thanks to the LeBron Beats commercial.... gets me pumped to pump iron... you're welcome. Disclaimer #2: I'd like to think I have better taste in music than this list exemplifies. these are just my workout jams... I swear.

Theme Song. On the topic of music, something I came up with recently to keep things interesting and fun, is finding a song that's particularly motivational for a certain exercise, to include on my workout playlist. Whenever that song comes on during my workout I stop whatever else I'm doing and switch to the exercise I like doing to that song. For example, for whatever reason, I think "Get Buck in Here" -DJ Khaled is a good song to do crunches to. I'll be mid-burpee and it will come on and I'll immediately grab my yoga ball and get to work on my abs. You could have two or three of these songs without it becoming a distraction from the actual work you're doing.

Treadmill Blues. I don't typically run on a treadmill because it makes me resent the workout and the stale, smelly gym air. However, I have in the past, and I know sometimes it might be the best option for cal burnin' especially if you are in the mid-west during Winter, like me. What I did to cushion the blow to my soul, is play little games with myself. I would agree (with myself) to run at 7.0 mph for 5 minutes and then the deal was, I could gradually decrease the rate by 1.0 mph per minute for the next five. Then I would change it up based on how I was feeling. If I still felt good I would work my way back up to 7.0 mph over five minutes, stay there for five, and then go back down (or really whatever worked). It simply distracted my mind and gave me accomplish-able short term goals to work toward. At the end of the treadmill workout however, you have to "kick it" as my dad would say. My step-mama, Brandi Martinez, told me one time the only way you will get anything out of the run is if you run as fast as you possibly can for the last part of it whether that be the last mile, half mile, or 30 seconds. I don't have any research to back that up, I'm sure she knew what she was talking about though so it stuck with me and I don't feel accomplished unless I give it my all at the end. For me, the real key to running is to run outside in a place with scenery that inspires me. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to live a 5 minute run from Lake Michigan so here's my view while running on Lake Shore Drive path:

South facing view of Chicago along Lake Michigan, from this morning's run

View at night 01/19/2015
Find somewhere beautiful and just use it to enjoy the grind!

Up 'n At 'em. For the days I do want to get a workout in first thing in the morning I find it is extremely important to get up right away removing the opportunity to talk myself out of it. I lay my workout clothes out the night before, have a plan in my head for what the workout will be, and accept zero excuses from myself. Just do it, don't think about it. Maybe even try setting one of your pump up songs as your alarm sound, you hear it and you hop to it. Sometimes I even skip brushing my teeth first just to get myself out the door before I think about how nice it would be to watch sports highlights from the night before (or the news I guess), with a cup of coffee.

Food Matters. I have read a million different things about whether to eat, and what to eat before your morning pump. Personally, I find it best to get on with it without stopping for sustenance. If I wake up and know I won't be able to sustain energy without eating, I do a piece of fruit or a bar (my favorites are: Kind or Cliff Mojo they are ones I have found to be made from the most simple ingredients... I will talk about my weirdness with food another day), anything I can grab and eat without taking more time wandering my home. So of course, I am human, and this definitely does not happen (especially when I have a lot of time anyway on the weekends or days off), so if I am going to get work done before I do work, I make a smoothie which includes a non-dairy liquid (almond or coconut milk, coconut water, carrot juice or pure orange juice), greens (kale, spinach, chard, arugula), a banana, and often an additional fruit and/or veggie (pineapples, berries, cucumber, avocado, beets, etc.), really just whatever I have on hand, and if I have it, chia. Beware, it's green (or brown), but it is always delicious and keeps me full until I do get down to the real job (the workout).

Okay, I'm done for now I guess. That was long winded. I could go on for days... In fact, I think I'll make this a periodic post. I am getting extremely excited for basketball season and can't wait to write about that a bit, but if you're looking for something in particular, keep the ideas coming!

1 comment:

  1. Shay: This is a really good post. I particularly like your advice for smoothie ingredients. Thanks, and keep on bloggin'!