Working around injury

Ever since I started working at a newspaper back in college, I’ve had mild carpal tunnel syndrome. Most of the time, it’s a minor annoyance; tingly fingers and sore forearms, but it can be quite painful. It’s pretty dependent on how many days I work in a row and what other activities I’ve been doing. It’s been pretty bad lately, so I’ve been trying to scale back the types of exercises I do to give my poor little wrists a break. Given that Jillian videos and circuit training typically comprise my workouts, that puts me in trouble! Push-ups, planks, mountain climbers, etc., are integral to those routines.

To shake things up and give myself the chance to recover, I’ve been doing my regular videos but modifying exercises that require me to be in push-up or plank position. Instead of mountain climbers, I’ll do jumping jacks; instead of push-ups, I’ll do dumbbell rows; instead of plank twists, I’ll do bicycle crunches. You get the idea. This enables me to get the general benefit of the original exercise without aggravating my injury. I’ve also found that it helps to use a set of hand weights as hand holds for push-ups and the like. Instead of placing my hands flat on the ground, which puts them at a 90-degree angle, I’ll set my weights down where my hands need to be and grasp them like a handle while I do the exercises. This keeps my wrist straight and reduces the amount of strain I put on my forearms.

These modifications seem to work for me, and I don’t have to sacrifice my workout. What do you do to work around injury and give yourself a chance to recover?

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Making time…again

Life has been insane mode ever since the beginning of February, when we did our taxes and found that we owed the government a disgusting amount of money. From that point on, our free time was consumed with working overtime and looking at homes to buy so we could take advantage of the tax credit (something we’d been hoping to do, anyway).

Let me tell you, living under that kind of financial stress for so long can really put a damper on working out and eating well. We were hellbent on saving as much money as possible, so the quality of our food was downgraded a bit, though we did cook at home much more to save some cash. And by cook, I mean we made a lot of tuna sandwiches and fruit smoothies. In fact, I think there was a period of about two weeks where we didn’t eat a single hot meal.

THANK GOD IT’S OVER.

Anyway, Dan and I both fell off the workout horse, but we’ve picked ourselves up and are back in the saddle for yet another ride. I’ve been loving some of Jillian’s older workout videos that I found via The Shredheads. They are similar to 30-Day Shred in approach but incorporate more moves from her book, Making the Cut (which I wrote about at length here). You can read a review of the Biggest Winner set here.

So, I’m writing to say … I’m baaaaack.

Making the Cut – The Verdict

So, I’ve more or less finished Making the Cut. I have to admit, I didn’t stick to it 100% – I switched up some days off and modified the meal plan. It also took me longer than 30 days; more like 35, but I’m pleased with the results.

I took my measurements yesterday to find that I’ve lost a total of 6.5 inches from my body. I feel that’s pretty impressive, considering I wasn’t particularly out of shape to begin with. I don’t know what my weight is, but I’ll try to access a scale in the next few days to find out.

I can only imagine the results I’d have gotten if I’d followed the plan without any modifications. I have to say, Making the Cut is a superb program, especially if you have a specific event (wedding, vacation, whatever), that you want to look fit for. Even if you can’t follow it to the letter, just limiting your calories to the suggested amount and doing the prescribed workouts will yield serious results.

Moving forward, I’m upping my calorie uptake a little, and I’m going to do a rotation of Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism; No More Trouble Zones and 30-Day Shred. Once it warms up a little, I’ll hit the ground running again.

My hope is to keep this up so I won’t have to make a mad dash to feel comfortable in a swimsuit come pool season. And I want to beat everyone at arm-wrestling.

A test of patience (I passed)

Yesterday was a stupid day.

It was one of those days that start out great, but end up being terrible because so many little things go wrong.

  • The Internet wasn’t working, and we had bills to pay
  • I had to call the car insurance people to deal with a bill issue
  • The desk was so messy that I had to clean it to find what I needed before I could call the insurance people
  • Slider knocked a huge, full glass of water over, where it spilled all over my purse and its contents
  • Some work stuff went awry
  • So on and so forth

So nothing really big happened, but all the little things really added up to wear me down.

That morning, I really wanted to get to the grocery store to take advantage of Shop N Save’s $10 off $50 or more coupon, so I knew I would have to cut my workout short. Naturally, I was going to do the 30 Day Shred, just because I was so pressed for time, but I COULDN’T FIND IT ANYWHERE. So I tried to hunt down my No More Trouble Zones dvd to do a few circuits of that. Same thing … nowhere to be found.  I was so irritated that I couldn’t find what I was looking for that I nearly scrapped my whole workout so I could go to the store.

Then my voice of reason kicked in: “At least put in Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism and get in a few circuits. Just put it in. Do it.” And I did.

Even though I only got in about 25 minutes of exercise (and ran out of time for the store anyway), I felt so much better. Had I not worked out, I would’ve regretted later. I also would’ve been a grumpy mess. Taking that 25 minutes to get my sweat on helped me to diffuse my frustration and start my day with a kick.

Not only that, but I don’t have to feel guilty for skipping a day.

In which Jillian Michaels finds new ways to make me sore

Well, Jillian’s done it again.

Instead of taking a day off like Making the Cut instructed, I tried out Jillian’s “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism.”

By this point, I’m pretty familiar with her workout style and feel like I can handle it. I’m “Making the Cut,” I’ve done the “30 Day Shred,” and, despite the fact that I still have a few, “No More Trouble Zones” is a staple in my workout regimen.

This was a little different. It’s basically 40+ minutes of heart-bursting plyometrics and ab exercises. She starts you out with a six-minute warm-up, then moves into seven six-minute circuits.

Each circuit is broken down into a handful of exercises that you do twice before moving on to the next circuit. Unlike the shred and NMTZ, there are no weights involved, just your own body. Think jumping jacks, butt kicks, punches, side kicks, uppercuts, planks, leg raises, supermans, etc.

I didn’t have time to do the whole thing — warm-up to cool-down is nearly an hour — but I did go through the warm-up and the first four circuits.

By the end of my fourth circuit, I was dripping sweat, and my shoulders, hips and booty were on fire. I’m still sore nearly 12 hours later.

I think the best part of this video is that you don’t need any workout equipment (other than a mat, if you’re working out on a hard floor). It would be a good for people who travel and can’t haul a bunch of junk around with them.

The workout was definitely challenging, but it goes by so quickly because of how the moves are grouped together. You never get a true break, but she lets you catch your breath a little by following a high-intensity move (like mountain climbers) with one that’s less challenging (like supermans).

All and all, I’m pleased with the video and will likely incorporate it into my regular routine. Hopefully I’m not too sore to do Making the Cut tomorrow!

Charging ahead

After last week’s disaster, I’m back the game. I jumped right back into the program, doing each circuit twice, both yesterday and today.

I am sore.

However, I could do it. And not halfway, either. I concentrated on each rep as I was doing it, taking great care to remember to breathe and keep good form. Tomorrow is supposed to be a day off, but I feel like I need to catch up after last week, so I think I’m going to try out the “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism” video (by Jillian, of course) that I recently bought. I haven’t tried it out yet, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

In other news, I took my measurements again, mostly out of curiosity to see whether my lax week cost me progress. I was surprised to find that I’d lost an additional inch in my hips. The rest of my measurements stayed the same.

I’m proud of myself for sticking to this so far, and I hope that I can find something I like just as much after I finish Making the Cut in a couple of weeks.

What are your favorite workouts? How do you switch things up when you’re feeling bored or burned out?

Finding deals on organic food

I’ve been doing a lot of research on how the foods we eat can affect our bodies, and let me tell you, it can be quite terrifying. Dan and I watched “Food, Inc.” a few weeks ago (it’s on Netflix’s Watch Instantly, if you’re interested.) It’s a documentary about how our food is produced and processed, and how the farms and slaughterhouses of today are far removed from the farms of early America. I’ve also been reading Jillian Michaels’ “Master Your Metabolism,” which is an interesting bit of literature that explains how the artificial colorings, pesticides, preservatives and other chemicals we are exposed to affect how our endocrine system and metabolism work.

After becoming more aware of how our food is grown and processed, I’ve become a stickler for reading labels. High fructose corn syrup and artificial colors/flavors are in the strangest things. For instance, I never would have expected to read the ingredients on my Sara Lee 100% Whole Grain Bread and find high fructose corn syrup and a heaping dose of sodium among the ingredients, but they were both there, along with artificial colors/flavors and a variety of other nonfoods that I can’t pronounce. I was really surprised, and have since switched to BrownBerry Whole Grains. No corn syrup, no artificial colors/flavors, no preservatives.

After going through what I thought was a pantry stocked with healthy foods, I realized I’d been eating junk without even knowing it. Armed with my new knowledge and a desire to get the crap out of my cupboard, I headed to the grocery  store (Schnucks) to restock on good stuff.

It was expensive. Like, twice our normal budget.

However, after shopping around, I’ve found that Shop N Save has some of the best deals on organic items. The company carries a low-cost brand of organics called Wild Harvest. I was able to get a week’s worth of mostly organic groceries for two people for less than $60. Not too shabby.

Moving forward, here are some other ways I plan to save:

  • Shop for produce when it’s in season; it’s cheaper that way
  • Buy from farmer’s markets/local vendors
  • Look for organic proprietary brands at each supermarket
  • Stock up when there are good deals and freeze what I can’t use right away
  • If things are really tight, buy organic the foods I eat the most of and save on things that are one-time uses or occasional treats

I’d also like to try my hand at a growing a small veggie/herb garden, but that will have to wait until Dan and I have a yard of our own.

At any rate, I’m glad that I’ve found a way to get good, clean, ethically-produced food without breaking the bank. Happy shopping!