Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is it safe to come out now?

MAN, this has been an insane week...and it's only Wednesday.

Thankfully (1) the office is closed Friday, so it's really more like a Thursday, and (2) I blasted through my fire drills AND most of my to-do list, so I have a little breathing room this morning.

Last night I finally got to try Plyo -- oh, I'm sorry, "PLYOMETRICS X." After PhillyGuy stole the DVD last week, I was looking forward to trying it for the first time -- especially since it left his legs aching for days last week. He had previously pointed out that there was absolutely no way both of us could do the workout at once in our "home gym," so we packed up the laptop and took it to our complex's new gym.

The new gym includes a big, wooden-floor workout room, complete with mirrored wall and plenty of space -- I figured it would be PERFECT for our plyo. And it was...except that when we got there, the room was occupied by a yoga class. Figures. Without any way to tell how long it would be before they were out of there, I forced PhillyGuy to suck it up and get our workout started right in the middle of the gym.

I'm sure we looked like idiots at first, staring at a computer and jumping up and down just a few yards away from "normal" exercise equipment, but believe me, once you got into it, there was no time or energy to waste on dwelling on what other gym-goers might be thinking. There were plenty of variations on squat jumps: reaching squat jumps, standing tuck jumps (no using your arms for momentum, like I did in cheerleading!), runners squat jumps, squat jacks, traveling "frog" squat jumps, blah blah blah...and MAN, did I feel it. Half an hour blew by, the room cleared out, we booked it into the aerobics room and killed the second half hour.

By the end, I was absolutely dripping with sweat. Unlike Kenpo, where my heartrate never really peaked, I could tell that I was consistently where I needed to be, above 185 and, at the peak of each interval, much closer to 200-205.

I'm sore today, but not overwhelmingly sore. Some of the moves hurt my knee, though I simply don't know yet whether it's because I have poor form or because my knee isn't healed enough yet (or both). I'm going to try it next week with a knee sleeve and see whether that helps.

Today is (I think) biceps, triceps, and shoulders. I think. It's hard to remember. If that's the case, we're definitely going to need to pack up for the gym again, because the resistance bands just ain't cutting it for me.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the words of Britney,


I. Am. So. Busy.

I really need to recap my first week on P90X and catch up with the blogworld, but work is just NOT letting that happen. Also, there's a small matter of our adopting a second dog (!!!!!)

Cosmo came home with us last night, and my evening was spent putting together a crate, trying to wrangle one super-excited Sophie and one sorta-skittish Cosmo on a couple of walks, and generally supervising the tornado of dog as it whirled around my house. Not conducive to even doing a nonstop 1:15 of chest, back and abs, let alone blogging about it.

The short version? P90X is full of tool-box, d-bag phrases like "BRING IT!" and "AB RIPPER X!", but also full of really effective exercises. Some of them come naturally; others will take a little work, at least for me, before I can really perform the moves effectively (ahem, Kenpo). The diet/nutrition plan has been very good -- I'm eating a lot of chicken (grilled, or poached and shredded into chicken salad), tuna, spinach and Greek yogurt. Also, my abs have been consistently OMG-if-I-sneeze-something-is-going-to-tear sore.

I've shed a LOT of water weight this week -- on Monday morning, the official one-week checkin point, I was down 5lbs. Not gonna lie, that's really, really good to see, even though I know that, at most, it's only a couple pounds of "real" weight loss and mostly water weight shedding.

I can't wait to catch up on everyone's weekend shenanigans, races, blah blah blah -- and hopefully I will be back tonight with a better review and a recap of plyometrics.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

PhillyGirl Fails at Abs


On deck for yesterday was a shoulders/biceps/triceps DVD, followed by another round of "Ab Ripper X."

I really enjoyed the shoulders and arms workout. It was organized in about six rounds of "supersets" with 30-second stretch breaks in between. Each "superset" included six moves, with no rest or break in between -- one set of a shoulder move followed immediately by one set of a bicep move followed by one set of a tricep move, with the whole sequence immediately repeated.

As with most of the resistance DVDs, you have the option of using resistance bands or dumbbells. Since we've been working out in our guest room and don't own dumbbells, resistance bands it was. I was definitely feeling the shoulder and tricep moves, but the bands didn't provide enough resistance in the lower portion of the bicep moves. PhillyGuy and I decided that we'll be taking the (oh so helpful) workout booklet to the gym next time, and doing this workout there, where we have access to dumbbells.

But then. Oh, then. It was time for Round 2 with "Ab Ripper X." And god, that name is so, so dead on. Not because I'm going to "get ripped" in the sense that they want you to think -- in the rippling, rock-hard 6-pack sense -- but in the sense that, every time I tried to complete one of the abs moves, I was completely certain that my abs were, in fact, going to rip open. That's also the same feeling I get when I have to sneeze or cough or try to sit up in bed.

I'm really looking forward to improving. I didn't think I had a particularly weak core, but apparently I do. Blech.

Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point had a really interesting post today on your "secret rebellious side." I loved reading the comments, and this is a topic that sort of hit home for me. I may have mentioned before that I'm a biglaw attorney -- which means that I keep a certain appearance. I like to think that I have a "classic" style -- I like nicely cut suits and handbags, I wear makeup and pearls. I'm pretty infamous around my office for my penchant for high-heeled shoes (I have 5 or 6 pair under my desk, with heels ranging from 4 to 5 inches), but that's about as "funky" as I get, at least outwardly.

You'd never know by looking at me that I am a punk rock fanatic. When I was in high school and college and law school, I had plenty of piercings. In addition to the 90s/early 2000s standard of two holes in each earlobe, I also had my left tragus, navel, and tongue pierced. (I may or may not have had piercings in less visible places, as well...) I retired the tragus ring when I started interning for a federal judge after my 1L year, but did not say goodbye to the tongue ring until the bar exam.

I'm now down to a more "normal" set of mods -- one earring in each each and my navel ring, which I don't plan to take out anytime soon. It's funny to think that, just a few years ago, I was much more heavily decorated -- and I certainly wasn't a different person! I still go ballistic when Green Day comes to town, and I still rock out to NOFX and Rancid in the car (when PhillyGuy lets me -- since he's not so much a fan). When I was 18, if you'd told me that one day I'd be voluntarily taking out my piercings to fit a more corporate image because I wanted to (NOT because "someone made me!") -- I would NEVER have believed you.

Crazy how things change, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Law of the Fist!

Oh my god.

So, yesterday, I was SUPPOSED to do a plyometrics DVD. My dear husband raved about it -- he did it in the morning, before he left for work, and he kept telling me how intense it was. How he could barely complete some of the sequences. How his legs were burning and screaming.

I was really looking forward to it. After walking Sophie, I went upstairs to our "home gym" (formerly known as the "guest room," more recently and realistically known as "the room that only has a lamp and an ironing board in it"), set up my laptop, and opened the DVD package only to find out that my dear husband had forgotten to take the plyo DVD out of his laptop when he finished his workout. Those burning legs must have distracted him.

So, I poked around on the internet to find out what would be a good substitute. PhillyGuy wasn't getting home until after 8, and I didn't want to wait that long to work out. Half of the review sites suggested substituting an hour of cardio, the other half suggested substituting the "Kenpo X" DVD. I checked our schedule -- we're supposed to do Kenpo on Saturday. So, I figured I'd just swap it out -- do Kenpo then, and plyo on Saturday.

OK, guys, Kenpo X is everything that I find laughable about P90X. The description? "Kenpo means "law of the fist", and that's exactly what you'll be throwing during this cardio-intense workout, that and a whole bunch of kicks, elbows, knees, and forearms!" OK, REALLY? "Law of the fist?" WTF. How can I take this seriously?

I have mixed reviews on Kenpo. My heartrate did get up decently high -- max of about 170 -- but not as high as it would get during a run, which is more like 180-195. Also, I am not particularly coordinated, and there are a LOT of combination moves in this. Before this will be really effective, I think I'd need to get through it a few times so that I don't spend the first few reps of each move tripping over myself trying to figure out what the hell I'm supposed to be doing, and where my legs are supposed to be vs. my arms, etc. I'm not sure it's worth the strain it put on my knee, though -- I'll give this another shot next week, but this might end up being a cardio sub-out for me.

One thing I'll say for the Law of the Fist! is that it didn't leave me nearly as sore as the chest and back day. My abs are still sore, but nowhere near as bad as they were yesterday, when I thought my stomach was going to rip open when I sneezed and I could not even sit up in bed without propping myself up on my arms. Which is good, since tonight we've got yet another "Ab Ripper X" session on deck after our shoulders and arms.

This weekend is going to be a challenge. PhillyGuy's aunt and uncle are coming into town for a couple days with our niece/cousin (technically she's a cousin, but since she's about 20 years younger than us, it feels weird to call her that), and I know we'll be spending a TON of time out on the town with them. Usually, this would be one of those occasions where I'd throw diet and restrictions to the wind and indulge with everyone -- have a nice glass of wine or two with dinner, share some dessert, order whatever I wanted. But we're not even a week into this new plan, and I'm just not interested in derailing it. Dinner with the fam wouldn't be so bad -- we're taking them, by request, to Fogo de Chao -- if I didn't ALSO have a client lunch earlier that day at Smith & Wollensky. I'm inclined to just order soup at lunch and stick to the salad bar at dinner and just fill up on my "normal" food during the afternoon -- at least I have an excuse.

You know, it'll be really nice in a couple months when I'm posting my "after" pictures and I can tell you wonderful bloggers how worth it this all was!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010



THAT is how I felt this morning when I woke up. An hour of pushups and "modified" (i.e. done 100% with a resistance band) pullups followed by the lamest attempt at 15 minutes of abs ever is no freakin' joke!

My chest is sore -- a little more so than I typically am following a chest workout, but nothing ridiculous. My ABS, though -- ooooh boy. Not only did my 15 minute "ab ripper X" shenanigans burn like crazy, I could really feel everything clenching during the pushups. Because, you know, I have the weakest abs EVER.

We'll get there! I'll improve. That's the idea.

Today is plyometrics. PhillyGuy did his this morning, and gave it stellar reviews -- he had trouble completing it. I think -- HOPE -- I'll do better with it, but we'll see. I'm working out at night, which is what I prefer.

I can tell eating is going to be a struggle with this. P90X gives you a diet plan to follow. As I've mentioned before, I do significantly better when I have a specific plan laid out for me, and so I'm planning to follow this to the letter. Unfortunately, like most commercial "diets," this comes in three phases, the first of which is quite restrictive. Unlike -- I'm sure -- a lot of people, I don't mind and sort of appreciate an initial, brief restrictive phase. I've "officially" done the South Beach diet a few times -- it's how I lost weight the first time and how I lost my law school 20 during my 1L year. In theory, I intend to live my life on Phase 3 of that diet -- eating whole, normal, good-for-you foods. That is theory. In practice, I eat a little of this and that here and there, until suddenly I realize I've just been eating whatever I want for long enough to have completely fallen away from eating reasonably.

Anyway -- I don't mind the idea of that initial "Phase 1" restrictiveness. You can't deny the motivational kick from seeing the number on the scale drop quickly as you lose your water weight, of course, but more importantly, I find that quitting crappy food "cold turkey" is significantly more effective in making sure I don't overdo it. Moderation and I are not the best of friends, and while I never miss chocolate once I break my habit, I find that "just one ounce a day" turns into "one ounce at work after lunch" plus "a couple small handfuls of mini chocolate chips at night after dinner" plus "just a spoonful of almond butter to go with them" and BAM, I've just dedicated an extra 600 calories to stuff I don't AT ALL need.

Regardless, though, this phase is super restrictive. Like every Phase I that I've seen, it's very low-carb, high-protein. Calorie-wise, it's pretty standard -- about 1800 per day. But the types of foods I have to eat are, at least initially, unsatisfying. Here's yesterday's eats:

- Breakfast: "protein shake." They call it that, I'll call it my Green Monster (woo, now I feel like a real blogger!). 1/2 banana, 1/2c berries, handful of spinach, scoop of protein powder, 1/2c milk, ice.
- Midmorning snack: Clif Builder's Bar
- Lunch: tuna salad made with 6oz tuna, plain Chobani, stone-ground mustard, dill and various spices over salad made with 2c spinach and 1/2c total of chopped red pepper, tomato and portabella mushrooms
- 5pm "snack:" 6oz plain Chobani
- Dinner: 6.5oz grilled chicken, 1/2 sweet potato with Texas Pete and plain Chobani, 2/3oz reduced-fat cheddar "snack cheese"

Let's be clear: I am NOT hungry on this diet. I get more than enough food in terms of calories and fuel, and it's GOOD stuff...but my dinner left me feeling full, but unsatisfied. I wanted something else to eat -- a side of veggies would have done the trick. Alas, I get X number of "servings" (e.g., 3oz of chicken breast is one protein, 1 cup of cooked veggies is one veggie), and I had used up my veggies by frontloading them in my lunch. I've learned my lesson and made sure to save a veggie for tonight. It's going to take some getting used to, but I can do it for two weeks -- I get to add in more fruit and veggies in a couple weeks, so I can live. Also, it ain't going to kill me to learn to just STOP EATING when I'm full, instead of mindlessly continuing to much just because I feel like there should be something else there.

(It does, however, make me want to punch PhillyGuy, who gets about twice as much food as me and complains that he doesn't know just how he's going to manage to eat all of this protein!)

Also, I should really buy stock in Chobani. How did I live without Greek yogurt? Yet another thing I owe to the blogworld. Thanks, guys :)

There are so many things that are a regular part of my life now that didn't occur to me before I started reading blogs. What has the blogworld introduced to you?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Isn't it brutal... taking even a short vacation never fails to leave you needing another vacation?

I. Am. Tired.

PhillyGuy and I went to NYC for a nice three-day weekend. We had a bunch of hotel points to use up, so we stayed gratis at a great Marriott right across the street from the Waldorf-Astoria. Fabulous location, perfect what did we do?

Friday night, we had reservations at Del Posto, one of Mario Battali's restaurants. We spent the equivalent of our "free" hotel on dinner, and I am NOT SORRY. Not even a little bit. We did a five-course menu, including an antipasto (I had clams with fried artichokes; he had roasted winter veggies), two pasta tastings (homemade pumpkin ravioli-esque filled pastas with a cream sauce; fresh penne-type pasta with a bison bolognese), entree (pork for PhillyGuy, ribeye for me) and following up with dessert and cappuccino. I'm flaking on the details now, and honestly, that might have a LITTLE BIT to do with the bottle of wine we shared...or the martini I had before that...or the gin and tonic(s) I had afterwards next door at Collicchio and Sons. Oops. (STILL not sorry!)

We spent the vast majority of Saturday lazing around in bed. Honestly, I can't picture a better, more necessary way for me to spend some time off than that. I slept for hours, and hours, and hours, waking up only to lazily stroll down the street to a deli for a quick sandwich and return to blissfully nap until I woke up panicking -- it was 7:15 and we had 8pm tickets to Rock of Ages!

By some miracle, we threw ourselves together and made it with perfect timing -- about five minutes before the curtain. And let me tell you -- that show was hysterical. I love, love, LOVE the whole Big Hair Band/"power ballad" era, and this did it up perfectly.

After a lazy weekend away, I'm finding myself struggling to get back into the swing of things today. I had a filing kicked back and I'm trying to get it fixed, I have documents to review, and I had a bunch of voicemails that I still need to return -- I really, really need to get some caffeine in me, since my peppermint tea just ain't cutting it.

Probably not helping matters much is the fact that PhillyGuy and I dragged our sorry butts out of bed this morning at 5am for the first day of P90X. (I'm still sort of ashamed to be associating myself with this, since it is unforgiveably tool-box-y.) But, d-bag advertising or not, this is no joke. This morning was back, check and abs -- I'm sorry, "AB RIPPER X." We basically spent an hour doing various types of pushups, modified pullups (since neither PhillyGuy nor I can actually complete a single unassisted pullup) and a few other pull-type exercises using resistance bands, and followed it with a nonstop 15-minutes of various ab exercises. The chest and back was tough, but doable -- I felt nice and sore and happy and sweaty afterwards. The abs? F that mess. It calls for 25 reps each of probably 7 or 8 exercises. I could only complete all 25 reps of MAYBE one or two. The others, I pulled out maybe 15 or so...and there was at least one where I could not even manage more than 3 or 4 reps. THIS is going to be brutal.

Oh well. I'm looking forward to improving to the point where I can at least complete what I'm supposed to, you know? Such is life. Right this second, though, I am heading STRAIGHT downstairs for an iced coffee.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day of New Things

Apparently, today is a day of adventure for me.

(More importantly, it is my last day of work for the week -- since PhillyGuy and I are leaving for a weekend in NYC tomorrow!)

For some reason, I've decided to try some new things today.

I headed out this morning in that oh-so-bizarre combination that the weather this time of year makes necessary: a skirt and Uggs. (Look, I'm so sick of tights -- and it's going to be mid-60s! That means it's OK to wear a skirt with bare legs! Unfortunately, a 38-degree morning is NOT really flip-flop weather. Hence, the oh-so-chic gray Uggs.)

For some reason, I decided to vary my usual route to work. Instead of cutting through Fitler Square and that area, like I usually do, I headed straight down South Street to 20th. That meant that I didn't pass Good Karma, my usual coffee place -- instead, I hit up La.Va, which I've passed a thousand times but have never stopped in. Verdict? I prefer Good Karma, but only a little bit. They're both a bajillion times better than Starbucks -- not that I dislike Starbucks by any stretch of imagination. But after trying a real, handmade latte, Starbucks tastes...well...corporate.

Anyway. My next change-up for the day? Breakfast. I'm out of yogurt, so I sliced up some strawberries and packed those up with a little baggie of granola, figuring I'd just stop on the way to work and pick up a container of my go-to Chobani. Except the grocery store I stopped at only had two or three containers of Chobani left, none of which I wanted (2% plain, 2% pineapple, and one lonely nonfat strawberry, which I'm sick to death of). They DID, however, have a massive variety of other brands of yogurt. I was intrigued by this:

(Forgive the lousy blackberry picture.) Skyr? Icelandic-style yogurt? The ingredients list looked good, so I grabbed the pomegranate/passionfruit flavor and headed out.

Verdict? MAN, is that stuff tart. It's a little bit of a different texture than Greek yogurt...more of a thick custard texture than a sour cream texture. With the strawberries and granola mixed in, I really liked it -- but plain it was a bit much, even for me. For the whopping $3.29 per container, though, I don't think I'll be making this a regular habit.

Next on the list of changes...well. Guys, I started this blog for a specific reason: to help keep myself accountable in losing the 18lbs I let creep on over the past year. Instead, it seems like it's been a venue for me to record justifications for having several lousy weeks in a row. That's not really what I had in mind, you know?

In honesty, I don't know WHY I've been letting myself be lame like this. Some of it had to do with my nagging knee, but not all of it. I worked late a few times, not getting home until 7:30 or later, but nothing stopped me from getting up early to work out in the mornings instead...except for my desire to sleep in. This has GOT to stop. Because let me tell you, justification ain't helping my ginormous thighs fit back into my suits, you know?

I'm almost embarassed to admit this, but...well...PhillyGuy and I bought P90X. Yes, that DVD set with the d-bag-ish infomercial. He's at his breaking point, too, and we decided together that this was something we'd do -- TOGETHER -- to get past this lousy stage we've let ourselves fall into. Do I need a 13-DVD set to show me how to work out effectively? Nope. Do I need the eating plan that it comes with me show me that eating less crap and more veggies and egg whites is going to help me drop body fat? Nope. But, here's the thing about me -- I just do better with a program laid out for me. I tried the whole keeping-myself-accountable thing, and while I generally do fine MAINTAINING that way, I never get anywhere new with it. This isn't limited to losing weight, of course -- I know that I need to do speedwork and tempo runs to improve my race times, but without a specific week-by-week plan, I don't work out the way I should and, shockingly, my race times don't improve. By contrast, give me a Runners' World SmartCoach plan that tells me to run X miles at Y speed on day Z, and what do you know, I PR.

So here I am, with an overpriced DVD set, a door-mounted pullup bar, and a husband to accompany me on what I hope will be three months of getting my ass in gear (and, preferably, getting my ass back in that navy suit I bought in April 2009, none of which fits right now).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Busy Weekend

Sorry for the lack of posting...this was a REALLY busy weekend!

Saturday, we had a pretty nasty nor'easter. Constant rain, gusting winds, the whole nine yards...PERFECT day for a little car shopping, right? Blech. We got up early and grabbed breakfast sandwiches at Healthy Bites ToGo, a new take-out place just around the corner from us. Both of us went with the same thing -- bacon, egg, and cheese on onion bread. Um, let me tell you, there was NOTHING "healthy" about that sandwich...but MAN was it good! They use really fresh ingredients -- pretty much everything is local and/or organic -- and it makes a difference. Since it literally is right around the corner from me, I see more than a few lazy-night stops there when we can't decide what we want for dinner.

Since PhillyGuy and I went into this whole car-shopping bit not really knowing just what it was we wanted, I knew it was going to be a long day. Our tenative plan included as many as FIVE dealerships, depending on whether we found anything we liked. Thank goodness we did -- we only hit up three dealerships, at which point we had it narrowed down to two cars (a 2007 white BMW X3 and a 2008 silver VW Touareg). We left the house at 9am, and it was after 5 when we FINALLY pulled into the garage with our new VW!

The VW was my preferred car. I am a VW fanatic -- in college, I was actually in a VW car club. I had a 99 Passat for a while, but my real baby was my 2003 Jetta Wolfsburg edition, which was mildly modified -- my friends and I installed a cold-air intake in the parking lot of a Chili's at one of our get-togethers. That car was my BABY. I traded her in for the Caddy when PhillyGuy moved up here, because he doesn't drive stick and the Jetta was a little small for him. I still miss that car, but I was SO HAPPY to be driving the Touareg!

But, I digress. Something about the car shopping triggered what turned out to be a NASTY headache for me. I had to chew on a napkin to relieve the pressure in my head while we were sitting in the dealership waiting for the car to be ready, and I was nearly in tears by the time we got home. I thought I was going to be sick and had to lay down in the dark for almost two hours before I felt OK enough to come downstairs.

Yesterday, we woke up bright and not-so-early, thanks to daylight savings time. I spent most of the day running errands...I am embarassed to say that it had been nearly three weeks since I'd gone food shopping! We were really down to the dregs. After getting stuck in insane traffic coming home thanks to the St. Patty's day parade, I managed to get the house cleaned up a bit before heading out for what I intended to be a quick, easy four miles.

But...they can't ALL be good runs, you know? Within the first 3/4 mile, I developed a nagging side stitch/cramp under my ribs that just would NOT go away. Even with the stitch, my first two miles were fine -- about a 9:25 pace for each one, so a little slow, but consistent. After I crossed the 2-mile point, I decided to stop and try to walk the stitch out. And I did...sort of. Except that, when I started running again, I accidentally turned off my Garmin...and didn't realize it until I'd gone about another half-mile. So, I stopped, turned it back on, started again...and promptly felt the cramp return. Walked again. Ran again. Stopped for every GD traffic light on the way home. All in all, the run was OK -- but the best part? NO KNEE PAIN. None during, none after. I was THRILLED! I have no idea what my actual distance and time was, but based on my Garmin readout (you know, when I actually bothered to keep it on), the amount of walking I did, my much faster pace when I *was* running during the second half, and the route, I'm guessing I did about 4 miles in 43 minutes or so.

I have a bunch of hearings this afternoon, so I'm thinking that I might bail out of here and just head straight home after they're done. Depending on how gross it is outside, I think I'm going to try to get out for at least a short 2-3 mile run after work. Our gym is officially closed while they relocate the equipment and get the new gym up and running -- cannot WAIT to see the new setup!

Happy Monday all!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Win and a Fail

It's the beginning of what's supposed to be a week of rain here in Philly -- including a nor'easter this weekend! Perfect opportunity for me to spend some quality time with that one-bedroom condo they've called a "gym" for the past year and a half :)

Last night, I hit up said "gym" for push (chest/tris), cardio and my first round of knee rehab exercises. I had been debating all day about what KIND of cardio to do -- easy three or four mile run? Easy two mile run plus 15 or 20 minutes on the elliptical? I was torn, because on the one hand, Broad Street is only six weeks or so away, and if I'm going to run it, I need to, well, RUN. On the other hand...I JUST went to the doctor. I'm not sure how much I can handle right now, and the treadmill seems to be signficantly harder on my poor knee than the road (weird, right?)

So, I ended up making a last-minute decision to ride the stationary bike. I figured it was low-impact and would be good for strengthening my quads, which is my whole problem in the first place. I eyed that thing up suspiciously -- I NEVER ride the bike! -- and then hopped on, picked a program (hill intervals), a level (10), and a time (30 minutes), and went for it. And WHEW, was that a workout. Not necessarily in the calorie-burn sense, although I was sweating like mad, because my heartrate just wasn't anywhere near what it is when I run. No, I mean in the "OMG my quads are ON FIRE" sense. (And also in the "holy crap, my butt is KILLING ME" sense, because recumbent bikes force you to sit the whole.freakin.time.)

Lifting was the usual:
-chest press, 3x8 at 75lbs
-tricep bench dips, 3x8, bodyweight/straight legs
-shoulder press, 3x8 at 45lbs
-skullcrushers, 3x12 with a 20lb dumbbell
-tricep pressdowns, 3x8 at 45lbs

What REALLY surprised me was the knee rehab stuff. I got a printout with exercises to do from my doctor. The first "exercise" is a hamstring stretch. It cautions you to start with the hamstring stretch and then "build up" to the other exercises once your quads have gotten stronger. So, I figure -- oh god. This isn't going to be enough for me. I mean, I have some DIESEL legs. Andplusalso, I stretch my hams EVERY FREAKIN' DAY. So, I went right for the rest of the exercises. Which were, generally, non-weight-bearing, short range of motion things, like "side-lying leg lifts" and "quad sets" -- where you, no joke, sit up with your injured leg straight out and basically flex your quads for 10 seconds at a time for a whole bunch of reps.

Let me tell you -- that is DECEPTIVELY effective. As silly and Jane-Fonda-esque as I felt laying there on my side, lifting my leg over and over again with no added resistance, I was REALLY feeling it a few reps in. And then it hit me -- um duh. You are clearly not as diesel as you think, because if your quads were as strong as you seem to think they are, your patella would stay where it belongs and you wouldn't be sitting here doing "exercises" that belong on a video hosted by women in tights and sweatbands and leotards.

So, in short, that was a WIN. Now, on to the fail:

Last night I prepped myself overnight oats for the first time. I used 1/2c oats, 6oz blueberry Chobani, and about 2-3oz water. I didn't put in any other spices, since I wasn't sure what would work with the fruity yogurt. Popped it in the fridge overnight and grabbed it when I left for work -- I got in about 45 minute early this morning, since I had some work to get done ASAP.

Well, I don't know if I got the proportions wrong, or if this just isn't my thing, but...EW. I stirred it and it seemed normal enough, but I popped it in the microwave for a minute to take the fridge-chill out of it. Stirred again, again, normal! Tossed in a little pack of dried cranberries, got so excited to taste it and...oh, GROSS. It just And I don't know why -- if it was the texture or the flavor or what -- but I just know that I could NOT stomach it.

So, that is how I found myself wasting 15 minutes of my precious early morning running down to DiBruno's for some PROFESSIONALLY-made oatmeal. Much, much better.

Also...SWEET, it's Friday! Any good plans for the weekend? I think I mentioned yesterday that PhillyGuy and I are car shopping...I can barely contain my excitement. :) I'm actually pumped to get a new (to us, anyway) car, but just less pumped about the idea of spending hours at dealerships, in a nor'easter, to get it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stupid cold

or allergies, or something. Either way, it's Thursday and I haven't been to the gym yet this week. Blech.

I had planned to wake up and run in the morning both yesterday and today...FAIL. Part of it was because I woke up sniffling with a sore throat -- but honestly, part of it (most of it?) was because I just used that sore throat as a big ol' excuse.

Lame. Because both yesterday and today, I found myself walking to work, WISHING I'd gotten up and taken advantage of the nice weather...especially since it's supposed to start RAINING today or tonight, and not stopping for, oh, like a week.

Oh well. Since today is one of the very last days EVER that I have to deal with the little condo gym, it's probably fine that I spend some time on the treadmill tonight.

Also, just an FYI on a product I will NOT buy again: Skippy "Natural" peanut butter. I figured I'd give it a shot -- Sophie gets a kong every morning filled with kibble and topped with a bit of peanut butter. I usually buy natural PB at Costco -- two enormous jars, tastes good, good texture. For eating off of a spoon, anyway, which is generally how I eat my peanut butter. But, unfortunately, the natural stuff tends to run a bit when I put her kong down, which -- if she doesn't eat it right away, which she usually doesn't -- leads to a pretty frequent crate-cushion-washing.

So, I was at the store the other night grabbing a few things, and I figured I'd give the Skippy Natural a shot, figuring it would have a texture closer to that of "regular" (read: fake and sugary) peanut butter.

Um, and it sort of does. But...ew. First of all -- it's got just as much sugar in it as "regular" peanut butter, which means it tastes like candy to me. Blech. But also, they use palm or canola oil instead of the oil from the peanuts themselves...and it gives it this weird, almost gel-like texture. Sophie doesn't mind it, really, but I think it's freakin' gross. Food is NOT supposed to behave like that. I almost want to throw the rest of this jar out, but I don't have any other PB, and she doesn't really care for almond butter (freak dog).

On a related note, I cannot WAIT to go grocery shopping this weekend -- we have nothing in the house. NOTHING! (OK, well, not NOTHING. We have a couple sweet potatoes, a package of Arnold's thins, a ziplock baggie of mushrooms, and about half of a Costco-size container of Sabra hummus. But that is NOT the makings of a satisfying meal.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Who wants to...

run Broad Street with me, slowly?

I saw the sports medicine doctor this morning, and MAN, do I feel better.

He gave me a more thorough exam, asked plenty of specific questions, and -- this is the best part -- gave me a very realistic prediction:

"You can probably run Broad Street this year. Are you going to run your fastest time ever? Nope. But do I think you can train enough to finish it? Yes."


Basically, I've been given a regimen of stretching and strength exercises to work with on my own, as well as a referral for a sports medicine PT place up at Penn. I can run -- but nothing tough. Slow and flat, no hills (meaning inclines OR declines), and if I'm improving in a couple weeks, I can add distance OR speed...not both. I go back for a follow-up at the end of March.

I can live with that. I really, really can. Especially since -- I'm assuming -- the continous PT and whatnot will, eventually, allow me to actually train hard again, at some point.

I seriously feel like dancing. I'm hoping that "slow" means I can still keep a 10:00 pace for my training runs, but I'm willing to be patient (for once in my life). Anyone interested in running slow with me??

Now, if only work would stop blowing up. I cannot WAIT to get up and run in the mornings.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gorgeous Monday!

I'm determined that this is going to be a good week.

The weather this morning was absolutely gorgeous -- sunny and mild -- and my walk to work was relaxing. I have an appointment with the sports medicine guy tomorrow morning. The soreness from Saturday's run is completely gone. I am the proud owner of a new Burberry quilted jacket -- but in a color I can't seem to find online. It's a bright peony-ish pink shade, and I flipping love it.

I bought it as a sort of consolation prize, in part from last week's drama and in part from the fact that PhillyGuy and I are really, really dumb. You see, our current car is leased, and the lease is up at the end of the month. Before we can return it, we need to buy a new car -- otherwise, um, we'd be stuck at the car dealership with nowhere to go.

So this weekend was supposed to be car-buying-weekend. We're not sure what we want, except that we'd like a small SUV. So, we'd planned to hit up about 4 dealerships along the Main Line. We got up early on Sunday, I took Sophie to the dog park to make sure she was nice and worn-out for her afternoon at home, and then we set out.

Except, about 100 yards from the entrance to the first dealership, PhillyGuy had a realization. "Um, car dealerships are closed on Sundays, aren't they?"

Ooooooooh. Right. Yes, yes they are. FAIL. So, rather than waste a trip out that way, we went to King of Prussia for lunch. And a new spring coat. Wooooohooooo.

Tonight's plans include some more joint-friendly cardio and a long lifting session -- probably push and legs.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

you know...

...maybe I really do keep having crazy weeks...or maybe I'm just a lousy blogger?

Blech. This week was kind of weird. Tuesday and Thursday evenings, I had events after work. Tuesday's event (judging moot court at my old law school!) went until about 10pm -- that is seriously my bedtime. By the time I got home, walked Sophie and ate a yogurt (starving, but wtf do you eat at 10:45??) it was after 11. I was draaaaaaggin' the next day.

Friday was a little rough -- had to deal with some work-related issues in the afternoon that left me pretty drained. It wasn't anything particularly bad, just drama I didn't really need, especially on a Friday afternoon. So, I came home, got Indian takeout (palak paneer and chicken makhni), and ate a whole bunch of chocolate chunk cookies for dessert while watching Arrested Development. Not exactly blogworthy (though, um, I'm blogging about it, who knows).

This morning, I woke up pretty early for a Saturday -- I was out of bed and outside with Sophie by 6:45. I knew right away I wanted to go for a run, but it was still pretty chilly (25!) and windy, so I crawled back in bed until about 8 to give it a chance to warm up a little.

And I'm so glad I did. By the time I left, it was 33 and sunny -- pretty much what I consider ideal running weather. It's not too cold, but it's cold enough that I never feel overheated or even notice myself sweating. I wanted to be conservative given my injury issues, but still wanted a little alone time to recharge and leave this week behind.

I took it slow and just ran without any specific goal or route in mind. I ended up doing a total of 4.65 miles in about 46 minutes, including two stretching breaks and a few strides at the end in a (futile) effort to shake out my cramping glutes and tight hips. My route took me down 24th Street, up Sansom and then down Market to Logan Square, up the Parkway, looping around the Art Museum and then taking the Schuylhill train back to my 'hood. My splits:

Mile 1: 9:26
Mile 2: 9:38
"Lap" 3 (.16mi): 1:39 (?? must have accidentally hit the lap button when pulling my sleeve back over my Garmin)
Lap 4 (miles 2.16-3.16): 9:57 (includes a stop to stretch my hips)
Lap 5: (miles 3.16-4.16): 10:23 (includes a stop to stretch)
Lap 6 (.48mi): 5:31 (mostly strides)

I felt so much better when I got back. The run was very easy aerobically, with minimal physical issues -- my hips were tight after the first two miles, but stopping to stretch really helped. My knees never hurt during the run. Afterwards, PhillyGuy and I went to breakfast and then walked into Center City, where he camped out to do work and I wandered around doing some shopping (Anthro, your Plaza cardigan is finally mine!). After standing/walking for about 4 hours, I was really starting to feel the impact of my run, with my hips starting to tighten and my knees feeling stiff and achy.

I soaked in the tub for a while tonight, and the heat seems to have helped. I keep stretching periodically (I'm actually typing this while sitting in a butterfly stretch on my bed!) and I'm hoping things are OK in the morning -- we'll see.

Tuesday morning I see the sports medicine guy. I can make it, I swear!

Any fun weekend plans? PhillyGuy and I are going car shopping tomorrow (I know, I'm sure you can all barely contain your excitement).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I don't even know what to do anymore.

All I want to do is run.

I love running. And I'm not even that bad at it! When I'm in halfway-decent shape, I do long runs at a 9:00 pace without much trouble. But WHY does it have to be so difficult for me to get into even halfway-decent shape? And I'm not talking "difficult" in the sense of, oh "OMG I can't hold this pace!" or "OMG my lungs are BURNING!" or even "OMG my legs feel like lead and I couldn't possibly take one.more.step."

I've been there, to all of those places, and those are the easy things to surpass. You have your tough runs and your easier runs and it's the tough ones that make it possible to have those fantastic I'm-flying-this-is-amazing! runs later on.

No, I'm talking "difficult" in the sense of "every time I've tried to train and run more than 20 miles per week I get a stabbing pain under my right patella." And I have trouble going down the stairs. And my hips are incredibly tight. And I spend half the day the next day at work doing IT band and hip flexor stretches in my office when no one's looking.

What really kills me about this is that -- while I certainly don't SUCK at running -- it's not like I'm pushing myself unusually hard. Yeah, I'd like to PR in Broad Street this year, but right now, I'd settle for just completing it, even if it's at a 10:00 pace instead of 2008's 9:05 pace. There are plenty of people who are in far worse shape than I am, aerobically speaking, whose bodies can handle even the 9:00 pace I aimed for in '08 that sent me to the doctor that month.

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to throw myself on the floor, kicking and screaming and flailing about, because really, what it boils down to is "IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!!!!!!"

And life ain't fair. That's just how it is, and I know I'll get over it, but right now...UGH.

I went to the doctor yesterday. What a tremendous waste of time. I saw a GP, who did get me set up with a sports medicine specialist for next week, but I was so frustrated when I was done. I explained that I've recently been able to run about four miles at a time, once a week, without pain during the run, but that I feel a flareup afterwards. And he's like "Oh, four miles -- well, that's good!" I got the distinct impression he really didn't get why that would be a problem, and why I was wasting my time? He offered to write me a prescription for motrin, which I declined. It ain't the pain that bugs me, brother. It's the fact that IT PREVENTS ME FROM DOING WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO, and no amount of motrin is going to make it safe for me to run on these stupid lower extremeties of mine.

Blech. Well, it's now almost 9am, and I need to roll into my boss's office for a delightful conference call. But I feel a little better having gotten that out.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Okay. I was a bad girl last night. But I just couldn't HELP myself.

I ran. Less than 24 hours away from my doctor's appointment, and I ran.

And my knees were really okay. No real pain during the run at all, and only a little bit walking down the stairs to let Sophie out afterwards.

My hips, however, are somewhat of a different story. They are TIIIIIIGHT. And achy. I keep stretching them, but nothing gets it QUITE right.

Really, I don't regret it. It felt freakin' awesome. I was just going to do some short intervals, a'la Oxygen - 5 minute warm-up at 6.7, followed by five two-minute sets of 90 seconds at 7.0/30 seconds at 8.6, with a cool-down at 6.7 and then a short walk. But I just felt so good to be I kept going, at an easy pace, for a total of 3 miles in something like 27:15 or thereabouts.

After that, it was on to pull -- back and biceps.

- lat pulldowns, 3x8 at 75lbs
- dumbbell bicep curls, 3x8 with two 15-lb dumbbells
- renegade rows, 3x8 on each side with 15-lb dumbbells
- preacher curls, 3x8 at 45lbs

I can definitely feel myself getting stronger, especially with the dumbbell curls. Even last week, those 15lb dumbbells were a CHALLENGE, where I was making ridiculous faces just to complete the last couple of reps and was not at ALL sure it was going to happen. This week -- well, I wasn't worried about actually completing them. But I probably still made the faces.

I'm feeling those renegade rows in my abs today for sure. I tried that as a replacement for both my usual 45-second planks and single-arm rows with resistance bands. I think next time, I'll go up to 20lbs, or do more reps, because -- while they weren't exactly EASY -- they should have been more difficult.

We also got an email from our HOA that gave me mixed feelings. First, the YAAAAY: they expect to have our new gym open and running by the end of March! THAT is exciting. Our current gym is in a one-bedroom condo, and is sort of lacking in both space and equipment. When 8 people are at the gym at once, like last night, that place is jammed to the gills and it's hard to get anything done.

Then, the BOOOOO: in order to relocate the existing equipment, the gym will be closed for TWO WEEKS starting on March 15. GAH! Depending on how I'm feeling and whether I've gotten the OK from my doctor (and physical therapist! hopefully...) to run, I might buy a one-month pass to the Philadelphia Sports Club downstairs. I don't really love the idea of taking two weeks off of lifting completely, but if I can run, I might be able to squeak by with just a set of dumbbells and some of those free Jillian Michaels videos on demand.

Such is life. Hope everyone is having a good week!

Monday, March 1, 2010


I just signed up for Twitter yesterday.

Yes, I'm officially the last person on earth to do this. Whatever.

I'm still figuring it out -- but follow me! @phillygirlruns

I didn't go for my run yesterday -- as much as it was killing me not to. I was even wearing my favorite cold-weather running hoodie all day, which made it so much worse. (That thing is fantastic -- it has built-in mittens in the sleeves, so you don't have to deal with carrying your gloves once you start to warm up.) I'm really behaving myself this time around so that when I get to the doctor's tomorrow, I can be ready to start PT as soon as possible and get to training.

Happy Monday all!