Trying to Hold On

According to Merriam-Webster, a pipe dream is a hope, wish or dream that is just not possible or practical. Today on my walk home from the gym, I wondered, is achieving an unassisted pull-up my pipe dream?

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As a child, *Sandra (a friend from my past) wanted to be the next Julia Roberts. As teenagers, we loved Mystic Pizza. We took Mr. Hook’s drama class in high school, and Sandra usually got the leading roles in his theatrical productions. The always precocious Sandra promised that as soon as she turned 21, she was Hollywood bound. On her way to Tinseltown to become the next leading lady with luscious curls and a big, white smile. I lost touch with Sandra when she went away to university to study drama and English Literature. Recently, a mutual friend of ours sent me a friend request on FB. I asked this friend about Sandra. Did she ever pursue her acting dreams? No, the mutual friend responded via a private FB message. Sandra is 42 with three children, on to her second marriage and works in accounting. Odds are that Sandra is not going to hop on a plane to Hollywood and make it as the next Julia Roberts at this stage in our lives with three children and a pending marriage.

That’s the funny thing about dreams. We can have them, but who’s to say they will come to fruition? We are told the old cliche of working hard and believing and it will happen. Surely though, we can work hard and pray and believe, but will it always happen?

This is how I feel about my pull-ups now. Maybe it is just not in the cards for a body shape such as a T-rex. Yes, weights have made me drop a lot of weight while transforming my body, but I still am genetically prone to having a larger lower body and a smaller upper body. A cop out? Perhaps.  I wanted to do 20 on my toe push-ups, and I made it happen. I progressively saw improvement. Starting with wall push-ups, then onto elevated bench push-ups, to on the knees and then on to toes. Same thing goes for planks. I wanted to do a 2 minute plank, and I made this goal happen. When I look back and think I could not do a plank for more than 20 seconds, I can’t believe the gains I have made. It feels incredible.

Naturally, I want this feeling in my pull-up progress, but it’s not even close to happening. I have received excellent advise from seasoned lifters of which have helped me immensely in many ways, such as building upper body strength and I truly am thankful. I am working, but I am starting to question the believing part. To be honest, I kind of feel a little foolish for putting it out there on my blog that my goal of one unassisted pull-up will happen, because I truly don’t know that it will. My palms are calloused and swollen. But for what? Okay, maybe for a nice tapered back that is starting to develop and better posture. True enough.

IMG_2577I am beginning to resent pull-ups. What I used to find fun and challenging, I now find daunting and intimidating. I don’t want to resent strength training because I love the sport and what it has done for me both mentally and physically. So, I have decided to let go a little bit and scale back in the demands I make on myself. I am not going to outright give up, but I am not going to give myself a time limit or be so hard on myself. I want to bring the fun back!

So, my very supportive brother-in-law Rick has made me a fun challenge I can’t refuse. He has put a pull-up bar in his basement, and we are going to work on our pull-ups. He wants to do 10 in a row, and I want to do 1…..when I’m ready. There will be no time limits and no more comparing to the countless women who can do pull-ups without assistance.  Exercise should be enjoyable, as well as challenging.

It is never something I want to come to resent. I love it too much.

A Sprinkle of Health

I have seen Hemp Hearts for a while now at my local health food and grocery stores and was always curious about them and what they are exactly. So I was excited to be offered the opportunity to sample Hemp Hearts and review them through the Sweat Pink community and Manitoba Harvest.

Before trying out these little power seeds, I had to do a some research from the company. Coming from the top of the hemp plant, hemp hearts are the edible insides of the hemp seeds. They can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on salads or yogurt, as well as in a number of other healthy recipes. Grown in Manitoba Canada, the seeds are produced in a strictly hemp-dedicated facility. For further information about Hemp Hearts visit their fact sheet here.

When I posted on Instagram  that I couldn’t wait to try Hemp Hearts, I discovered that they are well-known to many people who are making wise food choices to benefit their health and well-being.

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Last week, I sprinkled a tablespoon on my chicken salad.

IMG_2548This morning, I added a sprinkle to my breakfast berry yogurt parfait.

IMG_2555The Hemp Hearts added a nice texture, and the taste was that of a subtle pine nut in my comparison. There was also a nice earthy flavor I detected as well, which made the salad pairing perfect. What I really loved learning about Hemp Hearts is the nutritional value these seeds pack. High in protein, Omega 6 and 3, fiber, as well as an array vitamins, such as, A, B1, B2, D and E. I am always looking for ways to increase my protein intake, so this is the perfect, convenient, no fuss way. As an extra bonus, the high protein content provides long-lasting energy and can curb hunger and over-eating. (info source: http://www.livestrong.com) I’ll take that, which is why I will be adding this product to my grocery list.

Now comes the fun part. Manitoba Harvest is giving away a bag of Hemp Hearts to one lucky reader. All you have to do is follow @ManitobaHarvest on IG and Twitter, tweet about the giveaway, and comment on this post.

Go for it! Health is just a sprinkle away.

Contest is open to residents of the U.S and Canada only.

I’m a Thief

Post title aside, I have never stolen anything in my entire life. Well, truth be told, I did steal a Barbie Chapstick when I was seven from Woolco in a brief moment of weakness. Little did I know I have been stealing lately…and a lot.

I was perusing the Muscle and Fitness site reading a few online articles. An article about gym etiquette caught my eye, and I clicked the link to be entertained (I enjoy reading gym etiquette write-ups.) I want to ensure my etiquette is up to scratch. Clean sweat marks off benches and wipe down apparatus after use. Check. Don’t hog equipment and use up benches with your towel, water bottle or iPod. Never do that and always welcome to work in a set with other members. Wear deodorant. Of course. I don’t want to be a smelly Suzie. Hit on hot girls with cheesy pick-up lines. Non-applicable. Then I saw it! My first gym etiquette “don’t” that I commit often.

See below…..

imageI am always eavesdropping on the trainer to client conversation since I can’t afford a trainer right now along with my membership fees and Kundalini Yoga classes I want to start again in the Spring. This is nothing short of tacky. Tack, tack, tacky! Sometimes when I see the trainer spotting the client through an exercise I have never seen before, and want to learn more,  I may discreetly inch closer to them to get tips on form and take a closer look at the move.

When I think about this gym crime, I realize that I have been stealing. This is the program the trainer has spent time on designing to implement for the client and I’m just swooping in and taking the ideas from this plan without paying for them as the client has. I’m piggy-backing on a program I did not pay for. It’s like cheating on a test, stealing an idea from a colleague, but telling the boss it was your idea, reading a blog post from another blogger and putting it on your own blog. Oh the shame!

I am not going to be so sneaky in the future. If I see a trainer exercise that interests me, I will simply approach them and ask. Turns out I’ve stolen Chapstick and exercises.

Have you ever committed gym thievery? 

If you’re a trainer, has this ever happened to you? What did you do about it? ( and I’m sorry) 

Exercise for Folks that Hate Exercise

I was reading a post from JenniferLynn about motivation and the lack-there-of today. She made a very good point along the lines of some people joining a gym, class, crossfit box, but losing motivation. In a discussion group she joined in Facebook where lady lifters chat about all things weights, someone mentioned that they are so unmotivated and just have no drive get to the gym. JenniferLynn mentioned that she loves Crossfit and her passion for the sport keeps her going back for more punishment WODS and that for her, it does not feel like a chore at all, but sheer enjoyment. Someone questioned that perhaps if this lady is so unmotivated and uninterested in her weight training sessions, maybe this is not the workout for her.

I think that God designed the human body for movement. Without question, physical activity is crucial for longevity and a good quality of life.  Exercise can prevent many ailments, as well as keep the body at a healthy weight. Exercise keeps me energetic, healthy and just plain happy. Exercise can change a bad mood into a good one. I think most people know this, but what if you just don’t like conventional exercise?

Movement and exercise. There are many, many forms. From marathoners, to dancers, to weight trainers, to cross fitters, to body-pumpers, to Yogis, to Zumba lovers, the list is endless. How we chose to move our bodies is not one simple answer. For some people, a class or gym membership is just not for them. Our likes and dislikes are unique. Take my gym friend Desi for example. Before she moved to the other end of the city, we often went to the gym together. I love lifting and she loves Zumba. I invited her to the weight room floor many times, but it was not really her thing and she was always just going through the motions without much passion. A meet up for Zumba and then coffee? She was all over that! In Zumba I could see she was happy. She was dancing, prancing, moving her hips and sweating up a storm to Pit Bull and J-Lo. I could see that passion for dance and Latin music. I like Zumba too, but whenever given the choice between weights and Zumba, weights win every time. Like I said, we are all unique. Both Desi and I are exercising and doing good for our bodies, just in a different way. I think the key here is finding something that makes you happy that you will be consistent with. This is not only good for body, but also for mind and spirit.

If you don’t like tradition exercise and Spin, Body-Pump, or Insanity is just not your jam, have no fear. There are many other things you can do for the non-exerciser in you. Here are a few things that people I know who were never fond of the gym do to keep their bodies in motion.

1. Got a dog. My neighbor is always telling me how much she dislikes the gym. So, she has her little French bull-dog to keep her busy. She walks Mady three times per day at a brisk pace.

2. Be a kid with your kid. Couch potato life be gone! Being a kid will ensure you are running alongside your toddler, running to and through the park or walking up and down a hill when tobogganing. Your heart rate will go up and it will be fun.

3. Watch the big O and Dr. Phil.  My former supervisor would rather be reading or watching the tele than sweating at a gym. So what did she do? She bought a stationary bike. She reads her book or watches Dr. Phil and Oprah while peddling. Sometimes she says a whole hour will go by and she doesn’t even feel like she was exercising because she was so engrossed in her show.

4. Fit in quick bursts of activity.  Park far from the entrance of Walmart and Target and walk briskly to the entrance. Avoid escalators and elevators and take the stairs whenever possible.

5. Call a friend for a walk and talk.  Don’t sit on the couch and brood over your problems. Hit the path or ground walking and discuss these things on a walk with someone. It will clear your head and make you feel better.

Exercise has to be a motivating and passionate endeavour, or lets face it, we won’t be consistent. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it, we have to move to stay healthy.  It is heart health month and time to get active. Find your passion and make it happen, just like this little fellow:

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Turn a Negative into a Positive

Originally posted on 2HelpfulGuys:

Can we have a moment of silence for my fallen headphones? I jumped on the treadmill; my headphones got snagged and snapped.

For the next half hour I wallowed. Ugh, I spent $40 for those. Now I have to go and get a new pair. My entire workout was ruined.

I made a conscious decision to let it ruin my workout. I allowed broken headphones to affect me. I chose to perceive the situation as wholly negative and submersed myself in turmoil.

After wallowing, I remembered some advice Steven gave me: Don’t sweat the little things. They are insignificant in the big picture. 

Don’t let it ruin your happiness

Today, a friend complained that she was having the worst day ever because she missed her bus.

She caught the next bus and made it to school. Was it really worth letting her entire day get ruined? It made me think…

View original 435 more words

Because you’re not you When you’re Hungry.

My favourite commercial circulating right now is the Snickers ad where Marsha Brady becomes actor Danny Trejo due to hunger and not being herself when hungry. Trejo is often portrayed as a mean, harsh-faced, Harley-riding, bandito gangster in many of his roles, often found downing a tequila in a seedy Mexican bar.  He is the oxymoron of wholesome American sweetheart, Marsha Brady. The clincher in the commercial is when Jan Brady becomes actor Steve Buscemi due to hunger. Buscemi is often portrayed as a slimy, sleazeball in many roles. Again, the polar opposite of bouncy, innocent, braced-faced Jan Brady. I love when Steve takes a hissy fit, and stomps away in a flouncing tantrum, proclaiming that famous line. “It’s always about Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”

If you haven’t seen the latest Snickers ad, take a look:

This ad got me thinking. Who do I become when I am famished? Who do I capriciously morph into? I don’t think I become a cantankerous grouch, or anything close. I do think I become a pestilence. I could easily be compared to the chubby dalmatian puppy, Rolly, in 101 Dalmatians. This chubster was constantly sniffing around saying, “I’m hungry mother. I’m hungry.” Without stopping! Imagine how annoying that would be to a mom. Well, that’s me when hunger strikes without a doubt.

I remember when I was around eighteen years old or so. I went on some crazy diet/fast where all I was allowed to eat were pears and carrot sticks. Of course I did so in secret, and explained my way out of eating at home. I didn’t want anyone giving me flack, and discouraging my goal of losing twenty pounds. Around this time, we went out to celebrate my granny’s birthday at a restaurant called Little Bo Peep’s. As I watched granny take the stash of salt, sugar, ketchup and mustard satchels and slickly put them in her purse and shut the clasp of her bag, I felt that I was about to faint with hunger.  I started to whine and complain. “I’m hungry. Where is the waitress with our food. I’m so hungry. I’m hungry mother!”  I could feel the dalmatian spots begin to appear as my family watched me with odd expressions. I wanted to grab those satchels out of granny’s purse, rip them open with my teeth, and suck them back. When the waitress brought my pasta, I think I scoffed it down in record time and was whining for dessert in true Rolly style.

Hence the reason I don’t fast, diet or implement restrictive deprivation in my life. It doesn’t feel natural to me. I need nutrients. I need sustenance. Ah, the crazy thinking of my youth. Now, I feel my spots beginning to appear as we approach the dinner hour.

“I’m hungry mother. I’m hungry….”

 

Who do you become when you’re hungry?

 

 

Trex to Tigress Tidbits- February’s Here!

I get a little hopeful when January is over and February arrives. That means we will soon be over with winter, and February is a short month. Groundhog day has come and gone, and soon it will all be hearts and love in the air. You’ve got this, Charlotte. Don’t let S.A.D get the better of you. You’ve made it this far.

On the fitness front, we finally got in a run to prepare for the Bum Run in April last week. We ran a 3K, and hope to add another 1 to that tomorrow, weather permitting. It’s hard to run on slippery snow, ice and slush so another run has yet to be determined. It was glorious while it lasted. I loved being out in the fresh air running again with others.

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Never laugh at the U.S. for getting a pounding of snow, and proclaiming, “we have no snow, and we’re supposed to be the great white North! Haha!” Karma will get you and this will happen shortly thereafter reminding you that you are indeed in Canada:

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I don’t like walking in a winter wonderland.

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T-Rex does TRX.  I have recently fallen in love with TRX straps. For variation I love using them to do bicep curls and tricep extensions. It is a multifunctional move because while doing the curls and extensions, you have to keep your back straight and core engaged. I am using my own body weight so it really is challenging.

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I used my new and improved stronger core, arms and back the other day. I had to shovel my parents’ driveway, and I was able to shovel the whole thing (with a little help from Andy I must confess.) In the past, my little T-Rex arms couldn’t shovel for more than 10 minutes, but now I have the stamina and strength to shovel beyond half an hour. I would say that is functional fitness.

As for the diet, it is also going well. I always try to plan my meals in advance, and become a little frantic when I don’t because I really want to make sure I stay on track and not eat whatever is available out of convenience. I am abstaining from alcohol right now, because on Valentine weekend I have two functions and I know myself well enough to know I will have a few glasses of vino.

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She’s Winning it! I just found out I won a copy of the book, She’s Losing it, by author and gorgeous bodybuilder Lisa Traugott. I have been following Lisa’s journey from day one and she has been a great support to me as I try to become healthier. Lisa is a wife and mom of two who was once borderline obese and lost over fifty pounds when deciding to enter a bodybuilding contest at age 38. At 40, she entered a pole dancing competition and now she’s training for the Arnold Classic. Lisa is a phenomenal lady who helps me keep things in perspective in both good and tough times from her story. I am sure her book will be a heart-warming, humorous and authentic read, as is her blog. You’ve got to check it out.

High-Resolution-Front-Cover.48372091                                            (photo source)

 

Have a fabulous week, and remember, February is a short month! Here is a visitor from a special friend before I sign off:

Chill people, I didn't see my shadow!

Chill people, I didn’t see my shadow!

 

 

Do you Train your Brain?

I walked down the hallway to the office at work the other day with plans to ask the secretary an important question. It was approximately 25 steps. By the time I got to my destination, I forgot the question. Snapping my fingers, I asked Mrs. S, “what was I going to ask you again? I completely lost it!”
I put my car keys in my winter boots, thinking I would have easy access on my way out the door and no searching for said keys after I packed my lunch. Fat chance. I was looking furiously on the shelf, in my coat pocket and in the kitchen where I just was for my car keys. I didn’t remember where I put them for “convenience” until I sank my foot in my boot and a sharp key pierced the bottom of my foot. Ohhhhh, duh.

What the heck is going on? Memory loss already? Young people please say this happens to you too some days and make me feel better. I have always been a bit discombobulated and scattered. When I’m stressed or pressed for time, even more so. Losing keys, weight training gloves, winter gloves, sunglasses, important papers and my engagement ring is my thang. I have noticed this haphazard way of life increase in the last two years or so. I spend a lot of time training my body to be fitter, but am I neglecting my brain? I still want to do one unassisted pull-up, but I also want to improve my questionable short-term memory.

Since early January, I have been playing games on Luminosity. I haven’t purchased the premium downloads, but I have access to various free games.

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These games focus on key areas to improve your brain:

  • Memory/recall
  • Multi-tasking
  • Problem-solving
  • Quick decision-making

I have read findings that say such games do nothing to improve your memory, but it’s worth a shot. Like I said, I’m not paying anything or losing anything, but might be gaining a better memory, so why not give it a try? The games are fun, and really do engage my thinking.

Match the word to the colour

This is one of my favourite games. Trying to get my little orange penguin to the fish before my opponent, the grey penguin in the maze. It may seem easy, but the maze flips and turns, so you really have to think about direction and quick decisions:

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Luminosity also has reminders to train your brain on the app. (Just so you don’t forget of course.) Perhaps as your memory improves, you won’t need the reminders.

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At the end of each training session, you get a some encouragement and positive feedback from Luminosity:

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I have heard from several doctors, one being the great and powerful Oz (not the Wizard guy) the other with the TV show, that being active and eating a diet rich in Omega-3 is essential for brain health. Since I have those areas covered, I will do what I can to challenge my brain.

A fit body is important to lead an active life, but so is a fit brain.

Do you think these games for the brain are effective?

Now, please excuse me while I look for something. “Andy! Can you call my cellphone again? I can’t find it!”

Walk Like a Bear- Breaking Out My Comfort Zone

It’s the last week of January already. In keeping with my promise to try new things and get out of my comfort zone, I am trying to incorporate new exercises that are difficult instead of avoiding them, and then sharing these moves on the blog. In my constant quest to build shoulder strength, ability and mass, I was delighted to discover the new-to-me bear walk in HIIT class. Forget walking like a man, walk like a bear! (Insert bad joke here.)

The first time I tried bear walks in HIIT, Maureen (the instructor) told me my bear looked a little drunk. To which I laughed and lost my concentration. My bear walk was wobbly, off balance and weak, as though I licked the remnants of one too many Budweiser cans from an abandoned camp site. I’m sure bears do that don’t they? They’re scavengers after all. Maureen encouraged me, and she added bear walks to each session despite my grumbling protest, promising that it would get easier and not to give up. I really love her class. She’s always encouraging and humorous. A perfect combo in my books. Guess what, Maureen was right. After many attempts of falling to my knees and saying (or growling) “I can’t do this much longer, Maureen,” my bear walks improved, and I became a big, bad grizzly!

Bear walks work and strengthen many areas of the body, from the core, to the legs, my teeny-tiny wrists and I find especially my shoulders. This move also gets my heart rate up, as I can now bear walk for 40 seconds per three sets in HIIT. Booboo and Yogi would be so proud of me.

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....and go back to starting line.

….and go back to starting line.

 

For form and safe technique, check out this link to unleash the grizzly in you. He can describe the move much better than I could. But stay away from those abandoned beer cans.

*Never attempt a new or advanced exercise if just starting out. Always consult with a certified group instructor/personal trainer.  Safety and physical limitations should always be considered first and foremost. *

 

Now I’m Getting Advice from a Snowman.

I think Olaf (the lovable snowman in Disney’s Frozen) and me are kindred spirits. Although we both live in climates that are cold for at least five months out of the year, we daydream of warmer pastures, signs of Spring and ahead to summer. Don’t ever ask a group of Kindergarten girls who Olaf is, by the way. You are just setting yourself up to go deaf. I asked a couple of four and five-year old girls who Olaf was when Frozen first came out and I got, “HE’S THE SNOWMAN FROM FROZEN!!!” screeched in my ear in unison at that. Talk about your ears ringing.

I know there is still a long time away from the first bud of Spring on the trees, but I think I am getting a dose of the SADS again. Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is not much snowfall, but it is cold. Last week was bitter. That wind! The trees look so dreary and depressing. I don’t feel like leaving the house unless absolutely necessary on cold, damp, sunless days.

Just another cold, gloomy day……

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Take this morning for example. I used my last good sponge to wash the dishes and it got very dirty. Instead of going across the street to the dollar store to buy more sponges, I just ripped up an old tee-shirt and I have been washing dishes with that. Had it been warm and sunny, I would have made the trip to buy those sponges. I hate the darkness I live in from January to April(ish). I miss the sun. Which reminds me, I must stock up on vitamin D.

Last week at work, Debbie (the kindergarten teacher) read “How to be Happy” written by Olaf himself. Although I was busy doing stuff in the classroom, I was listening to Olaf’s advice. I gotta tell ya, that is one positive snowman. I stopped what I was doing, and sat down to listen even more intently.

Olaffrozen                                       (photo source)

From the wise words of Olaf. One piece of advice being, look forward to something positive or exciting. I miss running, but I detest running in the bitter cold. It is cruel and unusual punishment. So, Lisa, Mary and I looked on Toronto Races dot-com and found a few 5k’s that we want to run. The Bum run, which raises money for colorectal cancer is in April and the Spring Fling run is in June. If the weather is not so that are faces are burning and we can’t feel our toes, we hope to start training next week at least two days per week.

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Look at that running bum.

   (Photo source and bum run info)

Another Olaf suggestion. Go out and live. You live in the cold so stop complaining and just deal with it. I really want to try snowshoeing, but first there must be snow. It has only snowed once and the snow didn’t last too long. I used to like to skate, but I can’t risk falling and breaking something at this point in my life.

Finally, warm hugs help and feeling positive and thankful. Always try to see things on the bright and sunny side (although there literally is no sunny side right now.) In the words of Elsa, “Let it go.” So I am going to try to push on this winter, and apply some of Olaf’s tips. There is no reason for me to be sulking about the season, but rather I should be appreciating that I am able to experience the season. Right Olaf? By the way, don’t ask a group of five-year old girls who Elsa is. Big mistake if you value hearing.