Fitness

I Joined a Gym!

I joined a gymPerhaps you saw this coming from a mile away. For me it was a surprise. I prefer being in the great outdoors walking, running, kayaking and cycling.  I am not a “gym person” or at least I didn’t think I was until June when I won two 6 month free membership to Gold’s Gym (Thank you Krista and Michael). I volunteered my mom to be my fellow workout partner during my new fitness adventure.

So far, I have taken cycling, body flow and ab classes. When I took the Zumba class I learned that I am even less coordinated than I previously thought. In Zumba you move your hands, hips and feet all at the same time and usually in different directions. The most I could do was two of those things at a single moment. The instructor was fabulous and I really did have fun which means I will definitely go back again. Hopefully, I will be more coordinated next time.

One of the things I really liked about the gym was a private ladies-only workout area. The whole “see and be seen” thing has never been my style. Having an area I can go to workout quietly has really been a confidence booster. The fact is, I have no idea how most of those gym machines work. The ladies-only workout area gives me chance to fumble around, figure stuff out and ask fellow ladies how machines work. Which means I am more likely to keep going back for more.

I’ll share my fumbling around story: I could not figure out how to get the elliptical machine to power up. I pushed all manner of buttons. I checked to see if it was plugged in. I went to 3 different machines and was puzzled. I finally asked the lady working out on the elliptical next to me how they worked. She told me the only way they power up is if you start working out. I jumped on started moving and the screens flashed on so I stopped to enter my data which is exactly the moment the screen went blank. I did it again with the same result. The kind lady then said, “You have to keep working out or it turns off.” Okay. Remember my Zumba experience? I am glad only 2 other women were in the private workout room to see me try and balance myself on the elliptical while entering my data on the screen. I eventually did manage to balance myself, enter my data and ended up with a challenging 30 minute workout. I was bummed when I realized the time I spent working out while entering in my data did not count towards my overall workout numbers. Surely, I should get extra credit for that, right?

Are you a gym rat or gym noob? I would like to hear your story. Drop me a line in the comments or via email: jennifer@healthfitnessbeautyquest.com

Cha-Cha-Changes

Your Healthy Life SignSince beginning the Health Fitness Beauty Quest, there have been many changes in my life over the last 9 months. Some are big changes but most are small little nuances of change that have combined to leave quite the impression in my life. I am the first to admit that my life has not been the healthiest.

There were many times I knew there had to be a better way, but I always thought it would be too hard. I thought a healthy life meant a life of denial. A life without spice or flavor or fun. If I could go back in time and talk to that Jennifer from 20 years ago I would explain how empowering it is to be physically strong after a walk, run, cycling or gym workout. How liberating it can be to make knowledgable nutrition choices. How satisfying it is to be full from eating a delicious meal and not feel bloated afterwards. I call it clean simple living and it’s wonderful.

Over the last 9 months, my life has changed in so many ways. Some I will share with you here on the Health Fitness Beauty Quest. Let’s start with my outlook. Even though my family is long-lived. (90’s to 100’s) and I knew I had the potential to live to a ripe old age, I wasn’t living like I would get there. Each year as I got older, I could see my girth increasing, myself aging and my health dwindling. Now, after 9 months of focusing solely on the three things (health, fitness and beauty) I felt were of importance, my outlook has completely changed. I look back on my previous life and wonder why it took me so long to make the decision to choose a healthy and empowered lifestyle.

If you have been waiting for “some day” to get healthy. That someday is right now. Look yourself in the mirror and verbally claim your healthy, strong and empowered life. Believe me when I tell you, it is so much closer than you think.

Fitness: 100K Bike Tour Jalapeno100

As part of my ongoing fitness journey, I am working towards a 2015 cross-country bike tour. Yes, you read that correctly. I first became inspired after reading the journals from the crazyguyonabike site. The more I read, the more I could imagine taking such a journey. In order to be ready to embark on a ride that lasts for weeks on end means putting some serious miles in the saddle. So, part of my training is to go on longer rides. A fun way I have found to do so is by participating in bike tours. In the past, I have ridden 50 hilly miles and 54 flat miles. My goal on this bike tour was to hit the 100K aka Metric Century milestone. Which for those of us not on the metric system is 62.5 miles.

Jalapeno100 route

The Ride

My fellow cyclist, Penny Muckleroy also had a goal to complete 62.5 miles by April, so we signed up for the Jalapeno 100 Bike Tour in Harlingen, Texas. Originally she was only going to ride 50 miles which is still quite the feat for someone who has never done a bike tour. But once we got riding, Penny decided to go for the gusto and complete her goal a couple of months early.

Turns out where there are wind farms, there is a lot of wind. Did you know that we cycled through fields and fields of wind farms? So, while the route was flat, the wind was the real challenge we had to overcome. And overcome it we did.

Still smiling after 62.5 miles

Still smiling after 62.5 miles

Post Ride Surprise

As readers will recall, Penny Muckleroy is an Independent USANA Distributor who is providing me with supplements for the Health|Fitness|Beauty Quest. I already take my AM and PM nutritional supplements but, for this particular ride, Penny recommended I take some additional supplements to combat muscle fatigue. So I took them before the ride, during the ride and after the ride.

Here is where things got interesting. I have done quite a few bike tours over the last 2 1/2 years. After every long distance ride, I typically have muscle stiffness and achy legs for a couple of days. The fatigue was always especially noticeable after sitting for a while. Since our plan was to drive straight back to San Antonio after the ride I was expecting some serious muscle stiffness to make getting out of the car after a 4 1/2 hour drive a less than pleasant experience.

Imagine my surprise when I got out of the car and didn’t think twice about it. I felt normal. Which was so far from what I had come to expect as normal from my post-ride body. I was puzzled for a couple of seconds until I realized that this was the first long distance bike tour since I began taking the AM/PM pack supplements in September 2013.  That coupled with the extra supplements Penny gave me specifically to combat muscle fatigue for the bike tour made all the difference in my post-ride experience.

I Am A Believer

In previous posts I have written about the changes I have seen in my energy, skin and hair from taking the AM/PM packs. I have shared my story one-on-one and up in front of a crowd. If there was even the tiniest shred of doubt lingering in your mind that the USANA supplements will make a difference in your life, then let me challenge you to give your body the 30-day USANA AM/PM pack a try. I can’t tell you what benefits it will have for you specifically. I really believe each person’s experience is unique to them and their particular circumstances. What I can tell you is that for me each new discovery has been a wonderful surprise. I continue to be impressed by how well I feel and how well my body performs.  Yes, I am a believer. So much so that I now have family members on the AM/PM pack daily regimen. When you know something works, you share it with the people you love.

 

A FitBit World: Better Health through Technology

Better Health through Technology

I am a recovering addict of shiny things. Little health and fitness tracking devices and pieces of technology that claim to make me more efficient, healthier, happier, and all around a better person. Well….who am I kidding? There’s no way I’m giving up my shiny things. Maybe I’m extending my wish-list instead of impulsively buying everything as it is introduced, but several little devices, mobile apps, and websites  HAVE made me better in the area of fitness and awareness of my overall health. At last count, I use approximately 24 different technologies to help me understand myself and accomplish my health, fitness, and beauty goals. I started to list these out all at once, but quickly realized it would be easier for you to take in piece by piece (and more likely that these posts will see the light of day). Today marks the start of my ongoing series: Better Health through Technology.

Gadgets #1 : Fitbit Fitness Tracking Devices

FitBit One

For starters, lets talk about my Fitbit One. Well, to be honest, this is my third Fitbit tracker, and I’ve had every generation they’ve made (addiction perhaps?). During the day, I tuck my Fitbit inside my pocket, or if my outfit does not have pockets, it hides clipped on my bra or underwear while I roam about.* I wear my Fitbit all day, EVERY DAY. I’m naked without it. Funny thing is, I rarely actually look at it during the day. But what it tells me about my habits is astonishing.

The Fitbit One device clipped onto shorts

*Note: I have lost a Fitbit Zip tracker by wearing in the manner shown in this posts’ picture. I normally wear my Fitbit with the front toward my skin so that it does not wedge itself out of the rubber carrying clip.

In one day, this little device tracks…

  • my total steps taken,
  • my total distance traveled by foot,
  • how active I am in any 5 minutes period of time through my day,
  • how many flights of stairs I climb,
  • how many calories I burn,
  • my sleep patterns (awake, restless, or actually asleep)
  • total length of sleep.

it also provides words of encouragement if I do happen to look at it, and shows (via a growing flower stalk) how far I have progressed in my daily goal (which I set through the website or app).

 

 

 

As far as tracking sleep, Fitbit Sleep Data Pie Chartthat is done by inserting the Fitbit device into an included velcro wrist wrap/strap with a mesh pocket on it, and then pressing and holding the main button for a few seconds to start the sleep clock. I’ve recently had some issues with my device falling out of the strap while I sleep, so lately I’ve just been flipping the pocket on the strap toward my wrist instead of leaving it exposed, and that seems to do the trick.  I can’t stand the sensory overload of wearing bracelets, so the Fitbit Flex is out for me, but I’ve heard great reviews from friends who have that device. It solves the whole “transition the device to sleep mode” issue. (plus the Flex is waterproof, and can be worn in a shower, FTW)

The best part of it all- my Fitbit tracks all of those steps I take to let my aging dog out 2-3 times in the middle of the night. They count!

FitBit Aria Scale

Then there is my Fitbit Aria Scale. This beautiful little white glass scale recognizes up to 8 people (and knows when your friend comes over and decides to weigh herself- it tracks her as a guest), and tracks…

  • my weight
  • my BMI
  • my Body Fat Percentage.

Both of these health and fitness tracking devices quietly sync to the Fitbit website via either my phone or my home computer through Bluetooth or Wifi. Even if I purposely don’t choose to look at the scale, their website does, and it tracks my journey for me.

Fitbit Website Dashboard

The pinnacle of the Fitbit family of products is the personalized Fitbit.com dashboard. Here is where the rubber meets the road and I meet accountability.

What did I really do yesterday, today, or this week? Did I sit at a desk for hours on end or did I walk about the building at least 5 minutes every hour?

Did my weight fluctuate drastically or did I keep on a smooth and steady pace? Where am I with my goals? How many times did I wake up to let my dog out to do her business this week, or did I actually stay up later than I wanted just to watch shows that I can easily catch up on the next day?

If I journaled my food intake, I could see how much I consumed and if there are any trends I need to work on. I can track my intake of water, enter my heart rate, blood pressure or glucose levels, and even see trends in things I’ve set up to track, like “Did I take my meds at the right time(if at all) this week?”

The Fitbit dashboard shows graphical representations of weight, activity, steps, sleep, calories burned, distance, and calories in versus out.

 

Fitbit even offers a premium membership ($50 for a year) that offers a digital trainer, benchmarking, more in-depth reporting, advanced heart rate tracking, and unlimited glucose and custom tracking. I personally have not decided to use the premium membership. I haven’t ruled it out, I just don’t feel like I need that data right now, since some of it I get from other sources (which will be covered in later posts in this series).

Fitbit Friends

Finally, there is a social and competitive component to the Fitbit universe, should you choose to opt into it. You can add friends to your dashboard and compete against the for the most steps taken. Results are shown in a Leaderboard every week. I’m not a super competitive person, but it is nice to see that when I’m having a less than optimal week, someone I know is also doing the same. (Sorry Fitbit friends!)

Fitbit provides groups you can join (or create) to track certain sections of your social sphere. A great example might be to create a group for an office, and involve employees in the group by introducing some healthy competition. At the time of writing, there are 9,476 public groups in the Fitbit universe, with more added every day. There is a group that is bound to fit you.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Fitbit line of products have become invaluable to me over the past few years, creating automatic accountability and awareness of my habits and lifestyle. In another post, I plan to talk about how the data collected by these devices works with other tools I use to create a holistic and strategic healthy living approach. Until then, remember to keep your devices well charged and let your eyes look up once in a while! Happy gadgeting!

Meeting Bicycle Touring Peeps: Matt and Pam

Earlier this year I came across a site called CrazyGuyOnABike. It is a place where folks from all across the globe can journal their bike tours. Folks tour from coast to coast, border to border and everything in between sharing the story of their bicycle touring adventures. I have been all kinds of inspired from reading the journal entries of cyclists who ride all over the world. Did I mention it is inspiring? Oh, I did? Well, it really is inspiring.

Dinner with Cyclists Matt and Pam who are traveling across the country from California to Florida.

Dinner with Cyclists Matt and Pam who are traveling across the country from California to Florida.

Last week I happened upon a journal for Matt and Pam who are cycling from California to Florida along what is commonly known at the Southern Tier. I began corresponding with them in the hopes of being able to visit with them somewhere along the Central Texas portion of their ride. Luckily everything worked out for us to meet for an early dinner while they were taking a couple of rest days in Comfort, TX. Below is the quick audio interview and a picture from our delicious dinner at PO PO Restaurant.

I really enjoyed spending time with Matt and Pam. I hope they didn’t mind all the interrogating…er..um…questions I had regarding the down and dirty aspects to bike touring that typically don’t make it to the journal entries of CrazyGuyOnABike. Thank you both for your candor, honesty and not balking when I asked the tough questions. I hope to begin my own CrazyGuyOnABike adventure in early April.

So, if Matt and Pam’s journey interests you, if you have ever been on a bike tour or are fired up and ready to join my West Texas Triangle Tour let me hear form you in the comments or via email.

Martindale Triathlon Complete!

On Saturday, October 26th I participated in my first ever triathlon. As much as I thought I had prepared for the 7 mile run/16.5mile bike/5.5mile kayak I was not. I wasn’t concerned with cycling since I had been doing that regularly for the last 2 1/2 years. I had participated in bike tours of up to 54 miles. Kayaking was something I had picked up recently, but felt pretty good about. What had me concerned was the running.

Now if you’ve been following my blog, then you may recall a post titled, “I’m A Runner”. And I was back about 8-10 years ago. In mid-September I started the run portion of my training in earnest. The more I did it, the better I felt about things. I have never been a fast runner, cyclists (insert given sport here), but I have always been someone who finishes. So, I knew the only way I wouldn’t complete the triathlon would be if I were injured. Thank goodness that did not happen.

To get my body accustomed to shift from running to cycling, I started stacking my workouts with a short run followed by a short cycle. I felt okay and thought I would be able to finish the run and bike portions of the triathlon within the 3 hour time limit.

The morning of the event, Michelle Geyer and myself discovered that there were some hardcore folks competing and that quite a few of the folks participating were doing so in teams. One person to run another to ride then a team kayak. When a fellow participant asked, “You are doing it all?” in a surprised disbelieving tone I knew I was in trouble. My response was, “It’s our first triathlon, we didn’t know any better.” That’s not to say there were not other “doing it all” folks there, but I get the feeling they were the ones who looked a whole lot more fit than this recreational cyclists/runner/kayaker.

It didn’t take long for me to find myself running solo. I was extra glad I had brought along my iPad Mini inside my backpack. I had been training using Todd Lange’s 10K101 podcast and needed the familiar beat, encouragement and rhythm to keep me going. Todd was there to tell me I was doing a good job, tell me when to run and when to walk and even had crowd sounds to cheer me on. Call me crazy but I was so thankful that I even told the recorded Todd, “Thanks!” when I heard words of encouragement. I knew I was the last of the runners, but I also knew I wasn’t going to give up.

It was an out and back course so it wasn’t too long before I started seeing runners on their way back. I decided to encourage them by cheering them on and giving them high fives. It was funny because encouraging them actually encouraged me. Naturally they were supportive in return.

When I finally made it to the run/bike transition the organizers and volunteers cheered me into the bike corral. Although I was encouraged to speak to the Race Director before proceeding. They told me that I had 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete the 16.5 mile bike portion before the 3 hour cut-off. I told them that I wasn’t in this event to win or compete. This was simply a challenge with myself to see it through and that if they would let me do that then I considered it a win. They understood my goal and wished me luck.

I headed and out and saw cyclist who were completing their second leg of the triathlon and knew I really needed to cycle as fast as I could. This was where I knew I could make up time. Cycling was my real strength in this event. My legs were worn from the run and I faced a headwind in the first few miles. When I got to my second turn was when I encountered the man who became my own personal cheerleader. He was on a motorcycle and helping to direct the cyclists. Being the last one meant that he was waiting on me. And wait on me he did. He told me how much time I had at each turn. Would come back to check on me and tell me I needed to, “Ride like hell” and “You’ve got this!” and “Pedal as fast as you can”. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was going about as fast as I could on legs that felt like lead. He was also there when I was rounding the last turn to let me know that it was exactly the 3 hour mark and to, “Ride in with my head held high”.

As I neared the end of the bike ride, I heard cheers and looked up to see my family with signs encouraging me to “go faster” and telling me, “you can do it”. They made me feel like I had already won. When I pulled in to move to the kayak portion, I was met by a spitfire of a woman who told me, “Get changed and lets go. You’ve got a personal escort.” In my thrilled but bewildered state I complied and in no time at all I was kayaking.

Jeannette, my kayaking hero

Jeannette, my kayaking hero

The spitfire’s name was Jeanette and over the course of the next 5.5 miles of kayaking she became my friend and inspiration. Her story of how she became an adventure racer is one that requires a post all it’s own. I hope to sit down with Jeannette soon for an interview so that you can hear it in her own words. I wish I could share more, but what I will tell you is that my life changed that day. The Martindale Triathlon and it’s wonderful, and in my mind heroic, volunteers are worth their weight in gold.

I finished the entire event but if you look me up you’ll see that I am labeled “disqualified”. By finishing the run and bike portion in 3 hours and 13 minutes I went beyond the official time limit by 13 minutes. When I climbed out of that kayak on even more wobbly legs my family was there once again to cheer my success. And that’s exactly what it was, a success. I set out to see if I could complete a triathlon and by God I did.

Fitness: Martindale Triathlon

TriathlonTomorrow morning Michelle Geyer and I will be making our first ever attempt at a triathlon (7 mile run/16.5 mile bike/5 mile kayak). Event starts at 9am.

We must complete two legs of the event (7 mile run and 16.5 mile bike) within a 3 hour window. My goal is to complete the 7 mile run by 1 1/2 hours (I’m more of a tortoise than a hare). My goal for the 16.5 mile cycling is to complete it in no more than 1 hour 15 minutes. Allowing 15 minutes for the transition from running to cycling.

I am doing this event not as a competition against anyone else but more as a personal accomplishment. I just want to finish the entire event.

Originally, I was concerned with the run portion of the event since it had been a good long while (over 2 1/2 years) since I had done any serious running. The Duathlon I participated in last year (2 mile run/15 mile bike/2 mile run) was tough on me. The fact I did not train for the run portion had a whole lot to do with the difficulty and extreme soreness afterwards. A 7 mile run is not something I could even begin to take lightly. So, this time I knew I needed to actually put some training time into running.

I found the 5K101 training podcast by Todd Lange and knew right away I had found the perfect training partner. I started out running with the 5K101 podcast and quickly graduated to the 10K101 podcast. 1 1/2 weeks before the triathlon I actually completed a 7 mile run in 1 hour, 29 minutes and 32 seconds. Talk about cutting it close. I then knew that I could handle the run. The next training test was to combo or stack two events. 4 days before the triathlon, Michelle and I went out for a 4 mile run and a 13 mile bike. I felt pretty good about that training, too. All in all, I was feeling confident about completing the triathlon within the time requirements.

Can I admit to now being nervous about the kayaking portion? With my slow running and cycling, I already know I’ll be left way behind everyone else. During our training I have felt comfortable kayaking with Michelle, but the idea of kayaking solo is a bit daunting. I have been told this is a calm portion of the river but for someone who has only kayaked 3 times calm could mean something entirely different to this newbie vs. someone who is a seasoned pro.

I am going to rely on my training and hope that the Good Lord will see to my safety. See you all on the flip side.

 

Struggling on a Saturday Morning Run

I am a speaker at an inner circle retreat in Tennessee this weekend. I decided to go for a run to keep up with my triathlon training. To say it was less than stellar would be putting it mildly.


nike run struggle

Fitness: The Workouts

Quick update: As many of you know, I am training for the Martindale Triathlon which is happening at the end of the month. My main concern has been the running since it had been 2 1/2 years since I put forth some serious effort towards any kind of running. Using the 5K101 podcast training, taking the USANA supplements from Penny Muckelroy and about 3 weeks later, I am on track to complete the 7 miles without much fuss.

Here is the workout I did on Sunday in the rain. I felt so good I could have done a few more miles, but the rain was falling harder and I knew that I need to stick to training and not overdue it if I want to be successful.

Ran well on a rainy Sunday afternoon

Ran well on a rainy Sunday afternoon

 

Food: Keeping Track

I have decided the best way to really understand the balance between fitness and food is to keep track of them both. I already do a fairly good job of tracking my bike rides with MapMyRide and runs with Nike+. I took a look at several tools and apps, but after review opted to work within the “Log Food” under the Nutrition section of MapMyRide.

Synching

It actually works pretty well because I have my Nike+ runs sync with MapMyRide. So, whether I run or bike all my workouts are tracked in one place. Which makes tracking food in the same place a no-brainer. Here is a snapshot of the workout and food consumption calories from Saturday:

MapMyRide Food and Fitness Log

 

The Numbers

As you know the part of the taking you on my Health|Fitness|Beauty journey is sharing all the pros and cons nitty gritty. Did you notice the Daily Snapshot not only lists allowed daily calorie intake and calories burned, it also shows my age, height and weight? This was pretty tough for me to share. I pondered this for a while. I realized that while I am not using weight loss as an indicator of success, it does give everyone a true picture of my starting point. I have not owned a scale for a long time and do not plan on owning one anytime in the future.  My philosophy when it comes to fitness has more to do with the way I feel and how my clothes fit than it does a number on a scale.

What platforms and/or apps do you use to keep track of your health and fitness goals?