Training Tuesdays: cardio and I might be on a break

If you read with any regularity, you know that my workouts used to be 95% cardio-based with just a sprinkle of strength training for good measure. I was a runner and hiker, first and foremost, and anything else was basically just a way to fill a gap in my workout schedule when neither running nor hiking was a possibility for that day. Oh, how the tides have turned.

These days, I am lucky if I fit in 3 mediocre cardio sessions per week, all of which have been relegated to the spin bike. I find myself talking about how I need to get my cardiovascular endurance back, how I see it as a sign of my overall fitness. I say it wistfully, recalling my former cardio glory while simultaneously wondering how I will ever get it back.  Admittedly, every time I’ve tried to get back into the cardio game, I’ve been left feeling discouraged, disappointed, and woefully unfit. This even though I’m lifting more, lifting heavier, and finding myself significantly stronger.  Still, despite these gains in other areas, I’ve always felt this underlying need to reassert myself as a cardio queen.

I’ve been wondering lately if all this longing for days of cardio past is wasted energy. Perhaps it’s time to focus instead of my continued gains in strength training. It’s what I most often feel like doing these days. It’s what makes my body feel best. It can also be one hell of a challenging workout.  I used to run so much because I felt it was the only way to stay fit. Well, when running causes your body to fall apart (only a slight exaggeration), you have to start to reconsider whether it’s worthwhile. When cardio, in general, makes you dread and curse every second of your workout, maybe it’s time to admit that it’s not what you need right now.

I’m wondering if it’s time for cardio and I to go on a little break, you know, like Ross-and-Rachel-from Friends style.*  I’m not sure how long it’ll last. Maybe we’ll get back together in the end. But for now, cardio just doesn’t feel right anymore. Sorry, cardio, I’m just not that into you right now.

*If there’s anyone out there who actually doesn’t know what I’m referring to, I couldn’t resist sharing this gem.

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Training Tuesdays: working out without carbs

Look, there are tons of legit nutritionists and experts who’ve written at length about how your body can perform without carbohydrates. I’m not going to attempt to counter their assertions, which I’m sure are scientifically backed, with what is essentially just my own experience. But damn it, this is my blog and I am still going to tell you about my experience. I’m just going to preface everything I write by saying a) I’m not attempting to refute science and b) my experience is  100% uninformed by science.

I’m going to do a whole post on my very brief experience with the ketogenic diet, but for today I’m just going to focus on how low carb eating has impacted my workouts for the last week and a half. Let me just say in no uncertain terms: my workouts have sucked since I gave up carbs (!!!!). There is no point in mincing my words. Let me bombard you with my list of negative workout experiences:

–inability to lift my usual weights without my muscles feeling like they’ve spontaneously atrophied
–inability to sprint or hill climb at my usual spin bike tensions without feeling like I’m trying to push my bike against the weight of the world
–workout dread (i.e. inability to muster the will to workout out of the fear of just how bad the workout will be)
–zero energy for intense cardio activities like running (I’m talking feeling winded and fatigued after, like, one minute)

As you can see, it’s been a crap week for activity. Spare me all the research that shows that this is just a phase, or that it’s because I’m not eating enough fats to fuel my workouts. I have read all the articles about how it takes time for your body to adjust to ketosis and to properly fuel your workouts with fat. I don’t care what the reason is, I care about the result, and the result is that my workouts have been abysmal since I gave up my sweet, sweet carbs.

I fondly recall my relatively peppy carb-fuelled workouts from a mere week a half ago and dream of their return. At this stage, I don’t want ice cream or cake. I don’t even want pasta. I just want some bloody oatmeal, which is arguably the saddest of the carbs.  I’ve tried to rationalize eating oats because they’re low on the glycemic index, but I know full well that they are still not acceptable on the ketogenic plan.  So I do not eat them, and instead suffer another day of crappy workouts.

Perhaps I am just too impatient for this diet. Or perhaps my body just needs some damn carbs to muster up the strength for a legitimate workout.  Either way I look at, the best possible answer seems to be: eat some carbs.*

*Although I’m not sure how much longer I’ll stick with ketogenic eating, truthfully I am not throwing in the towel quite yet. This post is mostly tongue in cheek…but I really would like a bowl of oatmeal…and the fact that oatmeal is the carb on my mind really does make me sad.

TWIR #83: no sugar = no energy

Ugh. My friends, it has been a week.  As I alluded to in my cake-ploration post on Wednesday, I’ve decided to take a hiatus from sugar. Well, we dove head first into an experiment with the ketogenic diet and I am here to say, man I am freaking tired!  I felt great the first few days, but since then it has been a steady decline and my workouts have certainly suffered. I’m not going back to carbs and sugar just yet. I don’t even miss them, to be honest. But I do miss having energy for workouts.  Enough whining, on to the workouts!

Saturday
Activity:  planned rest day
Relevant Stats:  afternoon birthday cake + evening candy cane blizzard
Observations: No, I clearly had not started the ketogenic diet yet. We had a early afternoon birthday party for our niece, and then all of my walking for the day consisted of roaming the mall in search of clothes and not finding a single, damn thing. I then felt the need to dive deep into a very large blizzard because, hello, it’s candy cane blizzard season, plus you have to go big or go home before going off sugar for a while.

Sunday
Activity: park workout!!!! (i.e. running intervals + strength)
Relevant Stats: 45 min park workout + one final slice of chocolate cake
Observations:  This was not my best park workout. I forgot about those days where you just don’t feel like running and every step seems supremely arduous as a result. This was one of those days. I can’t even blame the ketogenic diet because I still hadn’t started yet. Regardless, my outdoor park workouts are my favourite of the week and thus, this was by far my best workout of the week.

Monday
Activity: spin + elliptical
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 10 min. elliptical
Observations: Ugh. This spin session sucked. I felt like I’d travelled back in time to two weeks ago when I was filled with nothing but rage for the spin bike. After half an hour I gave up and tried the elliptical, but I have to say I was hating that just as much. All in all, this was not a good workout, mentally or physically.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: Whoa. Day two into ketogenic living and my muscles wanted nothing to do with working out. I can’t blame the diet for sure, but I can say that my arms felt 10 times more fatigued than usual and I was counting down every last second until this workout was over. Every once in a while I have this type of training session, so it could have just been a blip, but I like to think that if I’d been running off fumes from a Monday night dulce de leche donut from my favourite bakery the workout would have gone better.

Wednesday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: Okay, definitely by this point in the week I was convinced the lack of carbs was impacting my cardio. I’d managed to suffer through Tuesday’s strength training session, but I barely survived this spin workout despite being all sorts of slack-assed on the tension dial.  There was absolutely no sprinting happening, and even my hill climbs lacked their usual oomph.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: This was a brief bright beacon of hope in my week of workouts. Afterwards, I felt certain I was on the upward swing in terms of my workouts. I loaded weight onto that prowler like nobody’s business and even upped my weights on back squats. Aside from the negative pull ups, I felt certain I was ready to rock Friday’s workout….

Friday
Activity: spin + random strength +internal whining
Relevant Stats: 15 min. spin + 25 min. strength
Observations: …and I was not ready to rock this workout. My discovery: cardio is not my friend right now. I tried spinning, I really did, but even on lower tension settings my legs were having none of it. I gave up after 15 minutes and was like “what now”? “What now” consisted of random exercises like dead lifts and push ups and single-leg bridges and I think even some back squats. All I know is I moved from thing to thing with no sense of logic or purpose until I finally threw in the towel altogether. Ugh. TGIF.

So that brings this week of workouts to a close. I am so, so hopeful that this is just a delayed “keto flu” and that my energy will spontaneously rebound come Sunday. Otherwise, I am giving up on this and doing a face plant into something deliciously sugar-filled. You think I’m kidding, but I’m probably not. Happy weekend y’all. May your weekends be full of wine and sugar and sweet, sweet carbs. Someone has to have fun, and that someone is not me.

TWIR #82: back to 6!

Back to six days of workouts for the first time in a long time. Even on the days where I contemplated bailing on a workout, I dug deep and dragged my ass to the gym (sometimes even walking through torrential Vancouver rain). At week’s end, I can say I feel good about that. I will feel even better when I eat birthday cake tomorrow. Cake makes everything better.

Saturday
Activity: park workout!!!!! (i.e. running intervals + strength)
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I live for a my weekend outdoor workouts! The park is so lovely in the mornings, especially with this week’s low fog during the sunrise. It makes running laps in between sets of exercises so much better than being in the gym. We rounded out the day with a solid walk and with beer…on a patio…at the end of October. You have to seize a warm-ish, sunny day this late in the year. I’m convinced if you don’t take advantage, it causes a bad winter weather curse to descend upon the city in which you live.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day + walking
Relevant Stats: 13 km, one tragically disappointing hot chocolate and a very large slice of vanilla salted caramel cake
Observations:  It was another warm-ish, sunny day, so after hitting the most dreaded of malls in the lower mainland to run some errands, we hit the outdoors for an epic walk. I splurged on a hot chocolate wanting nothing more than a heavy crown of whipped cream, only to be insulted with the smallest possible swirl of whipped cream you can imagine. Now maybe you understand why I had to drown my sorrows in a giant piece of cake.

Monday
Activity: spin + after work walk
Relevant Stats: 40 min. spin + 60 min. walk
Observations: I do not know what happened, but spinning has become tolerable again. I still don’t love it, but at least I can last more than 30 minutes and I’m not slacking off for a good portion of the workout. I am doing some seriously challenging hill pyramids these days and my hamstrings are feeling the burn.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: Good lord, as if it wasn’t bad enough when my trainer made me tow the tiny sled-thingy loaded with weights, this week she made me tow the damn prowler. Let me just say, that prowler does not glide nicely like the tiny sled-thingy. I was doing walking lunges with just 50 pounds on the prowler and I almost fell backwards after the first step. That prowler was not budging. Suffice it to say, the whole workout was rather brutal.

Wednesday
Activity: spin + after work walk
Relevant Stats: 40 min. + 45 min. walk
Observations: Another spin workout in the bag. It was solid, even though after Tuesday’s training session, my legs wanted nothing to do with sprints. Hills for the win! I think this was also the first day after Halloween in years that I didn’t wake up with a humongous sugar hangover.  Also a win!

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: I loaded more weight onto the prowler and my legs were not impressed. I also doubled up on my negative pull ups so my arms were similarly unimpressed. I supposed it is a sign of a good workout when your body is angry with you. But the most exciting thing about Thursday was that we had snow mixed in with rain on the way home(!!!!!). I am team snow all the way so I was thrilled, even though social media has convinced me that I’m in the minority on this one.

Friday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: I came so close to spinning for 45 minutes today. So close! But then I did some hard core sprinting in my last planned drill care of some particularly upbeat music and my legs were just done. All in all, I feel good about this week in workouts, so I feel like the five minutes of slacking was totally appropriate.

With Friday’s workout and work day done, it’s time to catch up with some friends over deep fried pickles. They sound disgusting but I promise you they are delicious. There will also be wine involved which, as far as I’m concerned, is the hallmark of a good Friday. Happy weekend y’all!

Training Tuesdays: strange things women do in the locker room at my gym

There’s something I’ve noticed at my gym, and it’s that the women in the locker room exhibit behaviors I’ve not seen in other gyms I’ve frequented.  Okay, maybe some behaviors I’ve seen before, but certainly not to the extent that I’ve seen in this locker room. Perhaps my gym has made its locker rooms a tad too comfortable. Perhaps it’s just the downtown gym vibe. Regardless, here’s just a smattering of the strangeness I see almost on the daily:

1. Extended phone conversations: The locker room has these squishy square seats near the lockers, which I assume are actually for putting down a purse or bag, or maybe sitting to do your makeup in front of the mirrors. However, some women seem to find them so comfortable that they engage in lengthy phone calls…from the comfort of a locker room, that is teaming with other women trying to change, get ready, blow-dry their hair, and all sorts of other activities that I would find terribly distracting if I were on the phone. And when I say lengthy phone calls, I mean it. I’ve even left for my workout while women are talking on the phone only to return after my workout to find them exactly where I left them. Maybe they’re talking to different people, but that’s still, like, 35-45 minutes of phone conversation in a locker room.

2. Have full blown conversations with each other while naked: Women seem to really enjoy talking to each other in locker rooms, and being naked seems to be no obstacle to conversation. I suppose it’s a good thing to be so confident that you don’t give a f&^k that all your lady bits are hanging out (i.e. maybe I am just too repressed), but many of these women at my current gym are also co-workers. I know this because they are very loudly gossiping with each other about their workplaces. I can say with certainty that I’ve spent most of my career avoiding seeing my coworkers naked, and that includes the coworkers I’ve considered very good friends.

3. Eating…full meals: Eating in a locker room is akin to eating in a bathroom, as far as I’m concerned. Sure, the locker room is clean as far as locker rooms go, but it’s not the most appetizing place to consume a full meal.  Once, I even saw a girl eating her lunch on one of the stools that faces the mirrors with bright lighting meant for applying makeup, just staring into her own empty eyes as she shoveled food from a Tupperware into her mouth. To that I can only say: WTF.

4. Working on their laptops: Okay, I can’t definitively say they were working on their laptops, but they are doing something more than just looking up a quick piece of info. There is a big different between looking something up on your phone and hanging out on your laptop. In fact, that difference is an abyss.  And, much like with the phone conversations, these laptop sessions aren’t always short.  I’ve showered and gotten ready for work and watched women do whatever they’re doing on their laptops the whole time. Surely this can’t be just for the free wifi. Or the comfy stools.

5. Hang out in the lounge area: Yes, I said lounge area. My gym has this back room, one with no lockers, no mirrors, no mechanisms whatsoever for getting ready or showering or do anything remotely related to being at the gym. It is just a room with plush chairs and couches, and a tv. It’s like a posh dorm common room.  Its presence alone is inexplicable. Even more inexplicable is the number of women who appear to legitimately hang out there. Back in the days when I’d spend an hour and a half at the gym, it wasn’t uncommon for me to see the same person in there from the time I arrived until after I was gone. Sometimes, these women gave no visual clues that they’d even worked out. They were often in street clothes, with fully styled hair and makeup and had no gym bag with them.  Are they escaping bad roommates or spouses? Are they really into cable television, because, let’s face it, no one has cable at home anymore? The potential explanations are both limitless and puzzling.

All I know is that I seem to be an anomaly in my locker room. I’m the girl who gets ready as quickly as possible, who faces the locker when she changes, who never says a word to anyone, and who’s not once sat on the plush stools and chairs. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe if I had experienced their delicious comfort firsthand, I would end up spending hours on the phone in the locker room too…

 

 

 

 

TWIR #81: walks and workouts and Fall leaves

It’s been a good week. I’ve felt like my workouts were on point, and we’ve been walking almost every day after work. I have to tell you, the Fall scenery is spectacular this year. I don’t recall so many changing leaves in Vancouver, but there are golden yellow and flaming red and orange trees everywhere. My Instagram feed is full of this autumnal splendor. Here’s what I got up to this week:

Saturday
Activity: strength + running intervals
Relevant Stats: 60 min. (!!!)
Observations:  It was pouring rain, like the pelting, giant rain drops we get out here on the west coast. I had to begrudgingly let go of my track workout and hit the gym instead. I was reminded of how much running on treadmills suck. I don’t think it’s that the treadmill itself is that bad; it’s that they insist on anchoring mini TVs on every single treadmill. I cannot watch a TV that close to my face, and I hate having my entire field of vision blocked by the TV when it’s turned off. Ugh. But, aside from that, the workout was solid and my longest self-directed workout in some time.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: this should tell you everything you need to know: road donuts
Observations: We drove up to our new hometown to check on progress of our house and to meet with the developers on Monday. As such, I spent most of the day in car, with a donut in my hand. We did manage a short stroll through town once we got there, but mostly I just ate bad foods and sat on my ass.

Monday
Activity: semi-planned rest day
Relevant Stats: more car time! and a neighborhood walk
Observations: What goes up, must come down. We drove up on Sunday and down on Monday. We finally made our choices about flooring and cabinets and paint. I gather that women are supposed to be more excited about these things, but can I tell you that I have zero interest in picking colours and tiles and laminates, etc.? I mean, I want the place to look good, but I have no skills in interior design. Ugh. Most notable event of the day: the best poppy seed, cheddar and apple scone (sounds like a weird combo but I assure you it’s not) I’ve ever had.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session + after work walk
Relevant Stats: 60 min. session + 60 min. walk
Observations: After two weeks off from training sessions (my trainer was off hiking in Peru–lucky!), I was back to 6 am workouts (yuck). I feel like she took it easy on me. I still had to do prowler presses, but I did not have to do any of the following despised exercises: push ups, pulling stuff behind me, negative pull-ups or front squats. She also told me my form and mobility looked good. Excellent.

Wednesday
Activity: spin+ after work walk
Relevant Stats: 40 min. spin + 60 min. walk
Observations: Determined to get back on the spin train, I opted for a different approach to this spin session: return of the epic hill pyramids. I did a 12 minute hill pyramid (6 min. up/6 min. down) and it helped considerably to make the workout feel shorter. I also think I just had good energy. Some workout days are better than others. What’s most important is that I didn’t want to set the spin bike on fire.

Thursday
Activity: strength training + after work walk
Relevant Stats: 45 min. strength + 50 min. walk
Observations:  This was one of my best solo strength sessions in a while. I loaded extra weight onto the prowler and my back squats, and did negative pull ups AND push ups. I normally subject myself only to one or the other since my arms continue to resist multiple forms of torture in one workout.

Friday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 4o min.
Observations: Hallelujah! Two good spin workouts in one week! It’s as though some new music in my playlists has made a world of difference. Or maybe it’s knowing I’ll be able to get outside this weekend and won’t have to suffer the gym. Either way, it was a solid workout.

After a fine week, we’re gearing up for a (rare) Fall weekend of sunshine. That should mean a return to my track workout (yay!), lots of walking (double yay!) and maybe even some late season golf. This, coupled with the release of Stranger Things’ second season, has me practically giddy! Happy weekend.

TWIR #79: a whole lotta walking

Well, I’m just going to confess. I worked out twice. Twice in one week. I’m not kidding. I was travelling. I got sick. Excuses, excuses. But before you judge, just know that I walked and walked and walked. And walked. Sure, most of that walking was to bakeries and other treats, but let’s set that aside. This will be short and sweet, so let’s get to it.

Saturday
Activity: walk, walk, walking
Relevant Stats: 14 km
Observations: We walked from King West to the Distillery District, and back again, and then a whole bunch of other walking to parts of Toronto I can’t even name. Especially with a cold, I feel like that’s pretty impressive. My reward (and more to come on all these treats): a fancy-ass dipped soft serve treat. Worth every kilometre walked.

Sunday
Activity: more walking
Relevant Stats: 15 km
Observations: Walking was one of the few things that unclogged my stuffed nasal passages, so I kept moving as much as possible.  I longed for gelato, and spent most of the afternoon scanning streets for it, yet somehow came back empty handed. Don’t you worry, though, there were plenty of other treats (again, more to come on all my travel sweets).

Monday
Activity: airport sitting
Relevant Stats: 6 hours at Pearson (ugh)
Observations: My big lesson from Monday was that it is never a good idea to attempt to save money by sharing a cab to the airport at an earlier time than you need to. I arrived already knowing I’d have to kill three hours before my flight, but then my flight got delayed by two hours, and then by another hour and suddenly I spent the entire day, often livid, in windowless gates deep in the bowels of Pearson airport. My reward for this was a giant slice of carrot cake from the famed Magnolia Bakery when I (finally) arrived in New York.

Tuesday 
Activity: epic walk
Relevant Stats: 17 km
Observations: The sun was shining. It was 80 degrees in October (!?!). I walked to one bakery, then to the opposite end of Manhattan to another bakery. That’s commitment to finding baked goods. While I’m under no illusion that 17 km of walking balanced out the caloric intake, all that walking was certainly healthier than taking the subway.

Wednesday 
Activity: strength training (!!!) with minimal walking
Relevant Stats: 45 min. strength training + 5 km
Observations: OMG, I made it to the gym! Finally, after nearly a week off, I visited the Sheraton’s supposed world-class fitness centre (you already know how I feel about hotel gyms). It was a decent workout, and I even managed to knock out some negative pull ups, from which my arms have still not recovered. My reward: more cake and attending the live taping for Late Night with Seth Meyers (!!!!!!). A good day.

Thursday 
Activity: strength training + walking
Relevant Stats: 45 min. strength training + 15 km walkig
Observations: This workout was even better. I actually felt awake and energetic, and I still managed to bust out a long-ass walk in search of a stuffed cookie which turned out to be my greatest disappointment.  Let me tell you, though, by the time I got back to the hotel at 6:50 pm, I was done with walking and done with New York (yes, that is possible).

Friday
Activity: mostly sitting on airplanes but some walking
Relevant Stats: 9.2 km walking
Observations: I am always amazed when I accumulate any kilometres on travel days. I had to get up at 4:25 a.m. today, which is really just a completely ridiculous hour at which to get out of bed. Somehow, I managed to wander airports so aimlessly that I had almost 4 km of walking under my belt before I even got home, where the sunshine beckoned me to walk another 5ish km.

Although I had some good adventures and some great sugar finds, I cannot tell you how happy I am to be home, lounging in pajamas before 7 pm because, let’s be honest, I probably won’t make it up past 8 tonight. It was an exhausting week of travel and I’m looking forward to some solid laziness, but also getting back to normal with my workouts. I promise a more typical TWIR next week. Until then, happy weekend y’all!