Spending 30 minutes a day in nature for the 30×30 nature challenge was a bit difficult this weekend seeing as I spent 3 days in the most concrete of jungles – New York City.
I’ve never been to New York before and it’s not a place that I would place anywhere near the top of my must-see list (I prefer quieter spots to big cities when it comes to vacations) but the point of the trip was for Matt and I to visit my cousins who live there.
On Friday we explored Harlem and Midtown, naturally neither area is very green. We came across pockets of greenspace here and there in Morningside and the Columbia University campus but we never stopped in any of them long enough to relax. We were go-go-go on Friday with lots of sights to see an little time.
Saturday we did a little better. We made the trek to the Northern tip of Manhattan to The Cloisters museum which is surrounded by a beautiful park and heather gardens. Not to mention all the greenspace in the museum itself.
I really liked The Cloisters. It was quiet (by New York standards), and had some really cool medieval architecture assembled from parts of buildings acquired from Europe. I especially loved how they recreated cloistered gardens and filled them with typical medieval plants.
Bonus tip: Admission to The Cloisters (and The Met, it’s affiliate) is $25, but that’s just recommended and technically admission is by donation. Being cheap we gave $10 per person which was much more reasonable.
Sunday we got zero nature time since it rained all. day. long. It put a damper on our day in general but especially on any potential time spent outdoors enjoying whatever piece of nature we would have managed to find among the concrete.
Frankly we spent most of our weekend in New York eating delicious things: eating in Harlem. eating in Morningside, eating in Midtown, eating in Brooklyn, eating in the Lower East Side.
I hope to write a bit about all the deliciousness that was consumed over a 72 hour period.4 Comments
After posting my last waist goals update I’ve pondered the fact that I really haven’t been putting much effort into my diet. Yet gradually (very gradually) my body shape has been changing.
So I went back through my old blog posts to see if I could answer the question: “what’s changed?”.
The answer: my workouts.
From Fall 2011 (when I was training for my marathon) up until this past August when I started my waist goals, I wasn’t doing a lot of training with heavy weights and I wasn’t focused on building strength.
March-May 2012 – Full Body Circuits
I put aside strength building to do full body circuit workouts. I had goals to increase my strength too, but I didn’t put any concrete focus on them. So I made myself a 3 day full body circuit which got boring fast so I switched it to a 6 day full body circuit.
June-July 2012 – Slow Tempo, Light Weight, High Reps
I decided to start working with high reps (8-12) and pushing less weight around. I don’t know what I was thinking.
I wanted to fatigue my muscles in a different way so I worked on this Tempo Weightlifting Routine which focused on slowing down my weightlifting and increasing the amount of time my muscles were under tension.
It was so. fucking. boring. I hated it.
Looking back I believe the combination of having just come out of marathon training and then choosing circuits with low weight and high reps is really what shaped my body in a way that I was uncomfortable with by August.
This is when I started to make some changes to my workouts and decided to set a goal to lose size from my waist.
August 2012 – Olympic Lifting
After watching the badass women’s weightlifters at the Summer Olympics I was inspired to start an Olympic Lifting routine.
I would hog the squat rack for my entire workout so it was the kind of routine that I could only pull off during the summertime when people forget what the gym is.
Olympic lifting opened me up to a whole new world of high intensity lifting. It made me sweaty and hungry and tired so it basically emphasized my 3 favourite things (sweating, eating, and sleeping). It was fun and tiring and although I wasn’t lifting anything very heavy I felt like I was making improvements every week.
It was about 2 weeks into a 4 week Oly lifting routine that I set my Waist Goals although I didn’t post about them for a few weeks after that.
September-December 2012 – Crossfit Football
I didn’t have a specific workout routine which is really weird for me so I had to look back at my Fitocracy profile to figure out what I was doing at the time!
It was Crossfit Football. These workouts start off with Olympic lifts or big multi-joint exercises and then end with a high intensity conditioning component.
I really liked this style of workout because it incorporated heavy lifting with high intensity in a way that worked better than anything I had tried to come up with up to this point.
…and then I learned about 5/3/1.
December 2012-May 2013 – 5/3/1
When I heard about 5/3/1 I knew it would be great for me because 1)It focuses on strength building and multi-joint lifts, 2)There is room for creativity with the accessory lifts, 3)Having my loads pre-determined really forces me to improve my strength.
I’ve completed 21 weeks of this programme so far and it is awesome. By adding a high intensity conditioning component to the end of my workouts, I’ve set this programme up to be just like Crossfit Football but with a stronger focus on strength improvement which has helped me blast through PRs.
Now I think if I put even a little effort into my diet I think I could whittle my waist faster but it’s tough-going to cut calories when your workouts make you hungry all the time and when all you really want to eat is cookies.
I could probably make some healthy substitutions in my diet without sacrificing my quality of life in the process. This is something I need to work on.2 Comments
It’s been 2 months since my last waist goals update, ie. my September resolution to lose 6cm from my waist.
Goal: 77cm waist; 85cm belly.
Right now I’m feeling awesome. My weight had been spot-on 170 the last 2 months but has gone up a pinch in May as my waist size has gone down.
I’m only 2cm away from my belly’s goal now but my natural waist is thoroughly enjoying an 82cm girth. :-/
Progress: (the measurements are waist/belly/weight)
Aug 15: 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/88cm/170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
May 15: 82cm/ 87cm/ 170.8lb
Since March I’m down 1cm in both waist and belly. Fab!
Taken Aug 31
Taken Jan 28
Taken Mar 17
Taken May 14
. . . why hello there, shoulders and triceps.
As a refresher, my game plan was to increase my protein, cut out white carbs, plan out my late night snacks, include a cheat meal every week (with dessert and/or white carbs), and opt for high intensity exercise.
How I’m Following Through with my Game Plan:
So, umm… basically I’m not. I haven’t been following any sort of protocol in April and May.
I’ve easily decreased my protein consumption to about 50-70g per day (~15% of my calories) and my calorie intake dropped naturally (though not significantly).
As I mentioned in my March recap, I feel and function better with more carbs in my system.
Those carbs that I like so much are usually in the form of beans and vegetables, which make up most of my diet. I’ve continued to limit my intake of refined carbs, but not to the point that I’m only eating them once a week. It’s more like 3-4 instances per week of either pasta or bread or rice. . .
. . . as for dessert though, I’ve been eating it daily, so there’s that.
For me exercise is easy to follow through with. I’ve added a tonne more yoga to my weekly exercise and, of course, I can’t say enough about the awesomeness of the 5/3/1 programme that I’m working through right now.
I’m making some ridiculous strength gains and weirdly I’m not bored of doing the same exercises all the time. . . likely because I switch it up with all the high intensity cardio-style lifting I’ve been adding to the programme.
Going Forward . . .
I really think I have to rein in my sugar consumption. Maybe I’m not getting enough calories so I go for the quickest, easiest source? Or maybe I just have a sweet tooth (…it’s probably that).
Waist Goal Recaps:11 Comments
I love me some soda bread.
Finnish Rieska is a flat quickbread (ie. leavened chemically with baking soda and powder instead of yeast) made in Finland that can be similar to soda bread, depending on how you make it.
Though Rieska is a traditional Finnish flatbread, its preparation varies across the country. Often it’s made with barley flour, sometimes it’s oat or rye, and even potato is popular. The thickness of rieska can vary too from cracker-thin to thick-and-bready.
I’ve never been all that interested in making it until I saw a version containing oats on the King Arthur Flour website. I love oats! Their flavour imparts a nutty quality that I absolutely adore in pretty much anything.
Finnish Oat and Rye Rieska
From King Arthur Flour
This was my first rieska attempt and it turned out awesome! Instead of spreading my rieska batter thinly out over an entire baking sheet, I piled it up in a 9″ round cake pan to garner the “thick-and-bready” texture that reminded me of a muffin. This bread tastes fantastic with a robust cheese and if I sandwiched a fried egg in there too it made the perfect breakfast.
35g (1/2 c) rolled oats
113g (1 c) rye flour
128g (1 c.) all-purpose Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
25g (2 T) sugar
57g (1/4 c) butter
1 1/2 c buttermilk (or 1 1/2 c milk with 1 1/2 T vinegar)
Preheat the oven to 500°F (high temperature is good for a wet dough like this).
Grease a baking pan or baking sheet. The original recipe calls for a 9×13″ baking pan which would make a thinner bread than the 9″ round pan that I used. I’ve seen some recipes where the dough is spread very thinly on a whole baking sheet too, so the choice is yours. Just remember that the thinner the dough the quicker it will bake.
In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.
Crumble the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands until it is thoroughly distributed. Stir in the milk or buttermilk to get a very sticky batter.
Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and, using wet hands, pat it out so it fills the pan.
Bake the bread for 15 to 17 minutes (for a 9×13″ bread), until the top is light golden brown and springs back when gently touched.
Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack before slicing.9 Comments
This challenge definitely hasn’t been much of a challenge at all. We’ve been blessed with really great weather– warm, sunny, generally gorgeous– and with the endless rains we saw in April it’s been nice to finally enjoy the spring weather.
During the week I’ve been taking my lunch outside to eat at the benches we have under the trees at work. There’s my 30 minutes right there! I usually do this when the weather is nice anyway, so it hasn’t changed my usual pattern.
What has changed is that I’ve been trying to bring the dog to the park more often. I usually just walk her around the block, but this week, in an effort to get a little more nature, I took Bagigis to the parks nearby and spent a bit more time outside with her.
Also I did a few fun activities too. Matt and I went to Amherstburg for some ice cream & froyo took a walk down by the Detroit River.
And one day this weekend I took my book onto the front porch to read; a tall Greek Frappe and a book about a spruce tree read while sitting by a spruce tree.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
. . . okay, maybe it does. . .
So far, this is the coolest challenge ever.9 Comments
I’ve finished 3 of 4 weeks of cycle 5 in the 5/3/1 for Women Training Programme, which means deload time!
If you’re unfamiliar, the programme focuses on building strength in the big multi-joint lifts– squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press–by increasing weight and decreasing reps each week (5 reps/ 3 reps/ 1 rep/ deload, hence the name 5/3/1).
Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 Training
I set a personal record in each of the 4 big lifts this cycle. Every. Single. One. Guys, do you understand how awesome that feels? I dare you to try this programme and see what kind of badass you can be.
Deadlift: 230lb for 1 reps
Push Press: 120lb for 3 reps (that’s a small person I can hoist over my head)
Squats: 215lb for 2 reps
Bench Press: 140lb for 2 reps (without a spotter!)
But if we’re being honest I missed my goals for bench press (145lb) and push press (125lb) neither of which I even attempted, out of sheer fear of dropping so much weight on myself.
The push press is most terrifying. Just attempting 120lbs was making my heart race before I even grabbed the bar. What if my shoulder gives out? What if this thing falls on my head? I had lots of thoughts, mostly alarming ones, that kept me from trying for 125lbs but I’m still happy with what I did do.
Since I missed my goals for push press and bench press I’m going to take two steps back before taking one step forward. I will redo the cycle 4 loads in cycle 6 and then go forward from there using the normal load calculations.
My squat and deadlift goals for cycle 6 are: 225lbs and 240lbs respectively. Yikes! I’m nervous already.
Finally! Week 3 really exhausted me and I was easily sleeping like a log for 9+ hours a night. It’ll be nice to take it easy this week and get outside more for my 30×30 Nature challenge.
Deload week means doing the same big lifts but with much lighter weights, so I may put two workouts back to back and lift 2 days this week instead of 4.
What cardio? I call that my accessory lifts.5 Comments
I signed up for the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge.
For my American readers, David Suzuki is an environmental superstar here in Canada and his foundation does some pretty extensive research and policy work to further environmental conservation.
The 30×30 challenge commits the participants to:
Spend 30 minutes per day in nature for 30 consecutive days
The challenge starts tomorrow and I’m signed up and ready to go.
The event’s website has a pretty sweet infographic with a bunch of information about the detriments of nature deficit and the benefits of access to nature.
Here’s just a clip of the info:
I’m sure that everyone can attest to feeling better after spending time outdoors in a natural setting like a park or even your backyard.
Lucky for me I don’t live in a densely urban environment and I have some pretty easy access to nature. I’m really looking forward to taking part!
Will you be doing the 30×30 nature challenge?10 Comments
Last weekend for 4/20 The Body Shop had a cheeky sale on hemp products: 4 for $20. I discovered the Hemp Hand Protector when I went to Norway and think it is the most amazing thing ever and worth $20 on its own (especially during the winter, when my hands are chapped like crazy and I feel like I endlessly field questions about what the hell happened to my knuckles).
So I totally stoked up on 3 hand protectors and a body butter (just to switch things up a bit). I bought the stuff online and it just came in this week. Now, I should be good for at least 3 years.
And speaking of hands, my girlfriends came over on Friday and we painted our nails. For the record I never paint my nails because they last all of half a day before they’re chipped and looking like crap. My friend Andrea insisted that this is because I don’t have ‘the good topcoat’.
She was right, but only to a degree. These lasted me about 36 hours (instead of the typical 12) before the paint started to chip pretty badly.
Part of the nail chipping is likely due to playing catch and hitting some baseballs in the park with Matt and my BiL Sean last night. I love playing catch even though I am pretty terrible at both throwing and catching.
I have terrible hand-eye coordination so I’m lucky if I can hit a single baseball. It’s always a swing and a miss for me, except last night. Matt was pitching them nicely to me so I was hitting one ball after another (most of them aimed directly at his head, but I have no control over such things).
I was hitting ‘em so hard that I destroyed the baseball! (we’ll just disregard the fact that the baseball is about 20 years old and was already starting to fall apart).
Yesterday was finally Greek Frappe weather. Remember this awesome coffee drink that I exported back to me from my trip to Greece last summer? The one that tastes delicious but is ridiculously easy to make? Oh, I’ve missed it. Hello springtime!6 Comments
I haven’t run in a really long time.
I’ve done some sprints (mostly on the treadmill because the rains we’ve been experiencing lately are level: British) which are fun but not a lot of “oh I’m just heading out for a quick 5-miler” stuff.
I’m trying to maximize my cardio and minimize the amount of time I spend working out so I can increase my weekly yoga practices. It’s really as complicated as it sounds.
As I mentioned in my last 5/3/1 recap I am swapping out accessory lifts for crossfit-style complexes and circuits which can potentially get my rate of perceived exertion up to an “I’m gonna die“ level.
So four days a week, after lifting the big lifts (squat, bench, deadlift push press) +1 accessory lift then I do a circuit like the ones I’ve listed below.
Here are some that I enjoyed recently (and by enjoyed, I mean loved-to-hate because they were torturously exhausting)
Run 1000m (0.6mi)
50 Inverted Rows
30 Wall Balls at 12lb
30 Sumo Deadlift High Pull at 45lb
30 Box Jumps
30 Push Presses at 45lb
30 Push Ups
30 Squat Jumps
Repeat circuit once.
5 Push Press at 75lb
10 Deadlifts at 75lb
15 Box Jumps
Repeat circuit for 10 min (ie. AMRAP 10)
20 Kettlebell Swings at 35lb
10 Goblet Squats at 35lb
Repeat circuit twice.
I have been keeping track of my times or the number of rounds I do for these circuits so that when I repeat them I strive to do at least as well.
For more cool circuit exercises check out this programme.5 Comments
I think I have my Game of Thrones reading/watching outfit all set.7 Comments
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- Lose 6cm from my waistline
Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Oct 31: 81cm/ 88cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Jul 1: 79cm/85cm/ 164.0lb
Aug 1:: 80cm/ 85cm/ 163.4lb