[Life] Paddle boards, birthdays, and triathlons

Life has been exhausting in the absolute best ways imaginable. Every morning just before the sun rises I’m up eating breakfast and heading out the door to run, walk, paddle board, or bike with Joe (and often Coco). In addition, three days a week I’m at the gym (the $20 a year membership gym!) circuit training with light weights and my own body weight. If you think I’m starting to look like a bodybuilder you’ll be disappointed to know that the only thing about me that resembles a bodybuilder is my tan (and even that’s not exactly accurate because of my fair skin, blonde girl problems). Anyway, it has been the most enjoyably exhausting two months and here’s just some of the latest and greatest happenings from the caribbean:

  1. Paddle boarding has become my newest addiction. It scares the H-E double hockey sticks out of me while simultaneously thrilling me to pieces. And to be fair, I’m only scared when it’s cloudy outside and I can’t see the bottom or if I’ve travelled too far into the deep that I can’t see the bottom. Perhaps you could say I’m not a fan of the deep, dark blue waters and what swims below. Flashbacks occur now and again to that time I drifted miles from shore into the deep abyss waters of Lake Superior in a tiny raft, having to be saved by my father who clearly thought I had better arm-strength, boat handling and navigational skills. However seeing sea turtles, beautiful sting rays, and countless starfish make it all worth it. Plus having Coco dangling over the front of my board or hiding in-between my legs or watching Joe move with ease on his board makes my heart full. Joe-Paddle boarding
  2. I celebrated my golden birthday! And it was extra-amazing thanks to Joe, my handsome husband! He spoiled me to an evening out at my new favorite restaurant, Zion Modern Kitchen, where I gorged myself on seared ahi tuna and banana bread pudding. There may have even been some late night snacking on french fries and a frosty and even pizza, three things I rarely eat but apparently you only have one golden birthday so… go big or be old!Ahi tuna-Zion Modern Kitchen
  3. I drove for the second time since we moved! It turns out that the need for coffee can be an extremely powerful motivator. Let me expand on this a bit further: Driving occurs on the left side of the road and although most drivers are polite, they drive a bit crazy and I’ve never had to deal with rush hour traffic until moving to an island. Figure that one out. And since we’re on the subject of driving, if you want a thrill drive 60mph once or twice a month after only driving 35mph at the absolute most any other day. I’m not even kidding, 60mph on the only highway on the island feels like 120mph and you better believe I’m holding on for dear life.Iced Mocha-Bistro Cafe
  4. I roped Joe and I into volunteering for St. Croix’s Ironman 70.3 and it was awesome (and exhausting)! Athletes endured jellyfish stings, poor road conditions, and pouring rain to make it to the finish line. Being up close and watching those athletes motivates me to want to do and be more in my own fitness and triathlon journey. It was amazing to see the diversity among the athletes—age, weight, fitness levels—and know that all it takes is the time, dedication, and mentality and anyone can push through to the finish.Swim Finish-St. Croix Ironman
  5. The dark side of the island… St. Croix is unfortunately a place where dogs are seen in a different light. They are seen as fighting dogs that will earn you money and not a member of the family like most of us view them. Pit bulls are top dog on the island (along with short-legged mixes of who knows what) and they are everywhere. Fortunately there is a rescue service on island and many dogs are given a chance at a better life. If you ever visit St. Croix I encourage you to look into taking a rescue dog back to the states with you for someone to adopt. Paws From Paradise takes care of all the details, all you have to do is fly.Sunrise-St. Croix

Until next time… Cheers! 💜

Every now and then bite off more than you can chew… then chew like crazy. -Lorna Jane Clarkson

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This Thing Called Life

Do you ever find that life has gotten in the way of your goals/dreams/fun? Maybe the question to ask is has all the other “stuff” in life, such as work, other commitments, and day to day must be done activities (mowing the lawn, doing laundry, finishing the plans for remodeling the house), interfere with the life you envision living? I guess what I’m trying to say is life gets in the way of life. So many things have come about in the last couple of months that my training has been sub-par, weak, lacking of time and consistency. There is no one to blame but myself for this set back in my training. I have let life get in the way and have not taken the time or built in the time to correct this. This goes for my blogging as well. Other things have taken priority and I haven’t carved out the time to do what I truly enjoy (blogging, running, biking, swimming). I could blame many of this on the weather and the fact that our Wisconsin spring was filled with more rain, cloudy days, and cold weather than I ever remember experiencing, but that would merely be an excuse to make me feel better. Simply put, all the other stuff has taken over and I need to learn how to tame it. I need to learn how to schedule my time more efficiently and to get the workouts in that I need to no matter what. I’m just a happier person when I exercise regularly.

How about you? Do you ever find that everything else has taken over your life, and how do you handle it? I’d love to hear your experiences and your suggestions.

Swimming Progress

Okay, it’s been a few weeks since I first talked about swimming and my abilities (or lack of). So let’s discuss progress. At the very start of this journey just a few months ago, I swam with my head above water the entire time too afraid to have it be in the water. Now, half the time I’m too afraid to lift it out of the water because my stroke is going so well and I don’t want to break my rhythm! Trust me, this is a much better problem to have. My kicking is also, according to my coach, looking really good. I’m kicking from the hip and not from the knee, which is exactly what you want as a swimmer. Then we have the dreaded (at least in my case) stroke. I’ve thought about what my arms are doing once they enter the water and if they are doing the correct movement, but I have yet to really focus on that. I have bigger problems. Like the fact that my left shoulder does the perfect shoulder shrug movement that it should be doing. My right shoulder, has a mind of it’s own and is causing too much, what I like to call “shoulder action.” I’d also like to interject here that I was told my swimming is too graceful. I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I did gymnastics all of my life until I graduated high school. My swim coach made a point of telling me “swimming is not graceful.” My toes, hands, and fingers, however, have a mind of their own and think otherwise. They have been hardwired to do graceful movements. So now I’m focused on my shoulders and trying to shrug them as often as possible (in the car, at home, working, anywhere I don’t look too ridiculous, although I seem to have the urge to do it at the grocery store too…) to train my brain to override what my right shoulder insists on doing.

I’ve also noticed other improvements in my swimming in regards to my stamina. In the very beginning we (my husband and I) lasted only 30 minutes in the pool. Keep in mind our 30 minutes involved resting about 1-2 minutes after every pool length. Now, I can go for an hour and not feel completely exhausted by the end. I still need a 30-second to 1-minute break after my down and back lap and often need to take about 3 breathes at the far end of the pool before I swim back to the start. Is this psychological? Do I know that I’m at the end of the pool so I stop? Does my mind think I’ve accomplished a victory and now I can rest before trying it again? Or maybe I just don’t know how to do the under-water-fancy-turn-around-and-kick-off-the-wall move yet. I’ve got things like shoulder shrugging and not kicking anyone in the near vicinity to worry about before I conquer that feat.

Overall, I’m really pleased with how things are progressing in my swimming. Do I wish I was a swimming goddess already? Of course! But, that will come in time. I’ve also starting dreaming about triathlons, which I think is great. The more I can visualize myself competing in the race the better. Let’s just hope in real life I don’t have to crawl through someone’s attic as one of the race stages…

Overtraining: Are You a Victim?

Okay, I’ve been MIA (missing in action) this week I apologize. The following are not excuses, merely just a glimpse into the recent events of my life. I work a full time job, recently decided to also get a part-time job, training twice a day (or at least once a day if I can’t fit in two), try to keep up on my blogging (which I love, oh by the way; writing is a great way to relieve stress and relax), taking a certification course to better my resume, and try to spend time with my amazing husband and dog while also trying to maintain somewhat of a social life with our friends. So with all of these things, with life going on, how does one stay motivated? I’ll be honest, this last week was hard and my motivation was severely lacking so my training suffered. But I started to question whether it was all of these things dragging me down or if it was something else entirely. Why would all of this affect me this week when the previous week I had great workouts and motivation of a goddess? Could this be a sign of possible overtraining? Maybe, but what exactly is overtraining and how do you know if you’re a victim? (Or is it just your hypochondriac tendencies kicking in)?

7 signs you are a victim of overtraining:

  1. Sudden drop in performance or you repeatedly fail to complete your normal workout. If you are beginning to go backwards with your workouts, as in, you should be continuing to go faster, harder, stronger, but instead you’re slower, softer (that’s all I could come up with for opposite of harder), weaker, there’s a good chance you’re overtraining.
  2. You’ve reached a weight-loss plateau/you’re gaining weight (and I don’t mean muscle mass). We all know that working out is a great way to lose weight and that too much or too often can cause weight loss, but few understand that the opposite effect can also happen. This is because the body’s hormonal balance has been tipped. Too much cortisol (released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids) increases insulin resistance and fat deposition, mostly around the midsection. Are you noticing a loss in definition, as in, you’re training like a goddess but your six-pack is fading?
  3. Family and friends are avoiding you because you are moody. Feeling irritable more than a day or two after working out may be an early sign that you are overtraining.
  4. Feeling absolutely exhausted all of the time, needing naps in the afternoon, and dragging through the day with the sole focus on resting your head and body in bed. Exercising releases endorphins (these make you happy!) and often you feel more energized and healthy post-workout. If instead you are feeling like you want to crawl back into bed, are so tired you can’t focus, and instead of the happy, healthy feeling normally experienced, you feel like the moody, irritable person in sign three above you need to take a look at your training and recovery schedule.
  5. Are you constantly suffering from a cold? Overtraining can negatively affect your immune system. Cortisol and adrenaline (those darn stress hormones again) raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels and suppress the immune system. With moderate exercise the immune system is strengthened, but if you are noticing an increase in cold systems and sore throats your immune system has probably been compromised.
  6. Pain in muscles and joints and an increase in injuries. Take note of how you are feeling each day to help you notice downward trends and rank your level of soreness. If you can barely make it down the stairs and every step you take hurts, you may need to take a few days of rest.
  7. Even though you are exhausted you are experiencing insomnia. Odd yes, but has been shown to be the case in many athletes that over train.

This list is not an all or nothing list. It is important to pay attention to your own body and know what your limits are and what your norms are. If you start to experience any of the above take a look at your training and recovery schedule to see if overtraining could be a possibility. Remember, rest is a good thing! As Kristen Dieffenbach, Ph.D., an assistant professor of athletic coaching education at West Virginia University said, “You don’t get stronger because you did an awesome workout, you get stronger because you ate right, slept, and recovered afterward.”

Sources: http: www.marksdailyapple.com/overtraining/#axzz2OMvZRZ21; http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm; http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/are-you-overtraining?page=single;http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/9-reasons-skip-your-workout-sometimes; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol

Post-Workout Recovery: What You Need to Know

Fueling your body, and what you fuel your body with, after your workout is essential for your body to recover and rebuild and will ultimately affect your next workout and training program. There is a 30-45 minute window for athletes to maximize recovery. Those athletes who properly recover soon after working out have a distinct advantage over those who do not. The key to post-workout recovery is to remember these 3 R’s: Rehydrate, Refuel, and Rebuild.

  1. Rehydrate: The best way to know how much to rehydrate your body post-workout is to weigh yourself before and after you exercise. The general rule of thumb is drink 24 oz. of fluid for each pound lost during exercise. If you weigh more than before your workout, you most likely are drinking too much water. Keep in mind that the goal is to stay properly hydrated while exercising, therefore maintaining the same weight. So, for each pound lost during activity, drink an additional 16 oz. of fluid the next time you exercise. For example, if you drank 8 oz. while exercising for 60 minutes and lost one pound, your goal is to drink an additional 16 oz. during your next workout, totaling 24 oz. of fluid intake while exercising. Ultimately post-workout, monitoring your urine to make sure it is clear (meaning hydrated) will determine if you are drinking enough fluids.
  2. Refuel: In order to refuel your body you need to eat carbohydrates to replace your muscle and liver glycogen to refuel your energy stores. You also need carbohydrates to produce insulin in order to drive muscle building.
  3. Rebuild: In order to help the growth of new muscle tissue, and repair existing tissue that may have been torn, it is important to also consume protein. Exercise drains critical amino acids, which are the building blocks for protein used to build and repair muscles. So how much protein should you eat post-workout? The recommendation for the proper ratio of carbohydrate to protein is 4:1 after endurance workouts (2:1 carbohydrate to protein following strength workouts). It is commonly recommended that athletes consume between 15-25 grams of protein post-workout. Also, according to Dr. Michael Colgan, author of “Optimum Sports Nutrition”, athletes typically need to consume more protein throughout the day. Colgan recommends consuming 1.4 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass as the optimal amount for endurance athletes to consume per day.

Many athletes may experience appetite loss post-workout as exercise can act as an appetite suppressant. Therefore, liquid meals are often more appealing as a post-workout recovery option. Liquids are also absorbed more quickly than solid foods resulting in better recovery. Choosing your fluid wisely is essential. The best options include: 100% fruit juice (“Antioxidant rich foods help reduce inflammation and decrease muscle soreness. One of the easiest ways to get an adequate amount of antioxidants and carbohydrates is by drinking tart cherry juice. Research shows that drinking tart cherry juice aids athletic performance and comes highly recommended for recovery foods. Following juice consumption with a form of protein would be recommended” http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Recovery-Foods-that-Ease-Muscle-Soreness), non-fat or 1% chocolate milk or soy milk, protein shakes with fruit mixed in, or sports drinks. Chocolate milk has actually been shown to provide some of the best post-workout recovery benefits as it not only provides carbohydrates, but also electrolytes, sodium, and potassium lost in sweat. Small snack options are also great in assisting recovery and include foods like: Greek yogurt, energy bars, crackers and peanut or almond butter, or cottage cheese and fruit with a small nutrient-rich muffin. I personally enjoy a protein shake made with chocolate soy milk with added fruit. I have included a few of my favorite shakes below.

Apple Almond Butter (Super Fabulous) Protein Shake

1 cup light vanilla soy milk
1/2 an apple of your choice (I use either Honey Crisp or Granny Smith as I like the tart, crisp taste)
Protein powder (I use 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder. Use whatever protein powder you prefer and measure to equal between 15-25 grams of protein as is recommended; see above).
1 tbsp. almond butter
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Enjoy!
Printable recipe

Chocolate Banana Almond Butter (Shut your mouth good!) Protein Shake

1 cup light chocolate soy milk
1 banana
Protein powder (I use 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder. Use whatever protein powder you prefer and measure to equal between 15-25 grams of protein as is recommended; see above).
1 tbsp. almond butter
2 tbsp. uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Happy eating!
Printable recipe

Sources: http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/5-High-Protein-Foods-for-Optimal-Recovery.htm; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Recovery-Foods-that-Ease-Muscle-Soreness; http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewMiscArticle.aspx?TabId=1596&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en&mid=196&ItemId=2640; http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/hydrationandfluid/a/ProperHydration.htm; http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/healthandlifestyle/exercise-recovery/186#C6; http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hydrate.html; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/How-to-Hydrate-Before-During-and-After-a-Workout?page=2; http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/food-rebuild-muscle-after-exercise-3987.html; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Your-Post-Workout-Recovery-Ritual.htm