Fit2B Inspired (Again)

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Photo Credit: Pierce Martin Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Things have been rather stressful around here lately, but exercise is one of my usual tools for self-care. I’ve been trying to make it non-negotiable, but it’s still been a struggle.

I don’t feel quite ready to move on to the Challenging pathway since my DR is not entirely healed but I still want to keep building strength and stamina. So that means, yet again, I’ll be creating my own workout routine. I always do better if I have a set plan than if I wing it. Fit2B is a great site and it has literally over hundred workouts. Without a plan, I’d spend too much time debating and not enough actually working out.

Honestly, I usually love exercise. But lately it has been hard. The kids always seem to be underfoot and I’m constantly interrupted. It has been very hot and even though we sometimes use our air conditioning, it still saps my energy. I’ve also been feeling generally icky and a bit under the weather. I know that exercise is supposed to help but sometimes I feel like I’m doing it in the sleep. So I had to ask myself what I was was looking for.

While I wouldn’t mind losing a bit of weight, my main goal is to focus on strength. My toddler is getting heavier and sometimes I still have to pick up or restrain my five year old. My body just isn’t up for it. I’ve been discouraged that my strength hasn’t increased the way I thought it would have by now. I always seem to hit this wall that I can’t seem to progress past.

 

My plan

 

Cardio (2 X a week)

This means favorite workouts like Basic Aerobics III and some longer ones like Tummysafe Kickboxing.

 

Strength Training (2 X a week)

This will often mean weights, but not always. Big (Little) Band workout works for this, but so does Weightlifting 101 and Weighted Warriors. I’m going to try mix and match a bit.

 

Full Body Workout

What you define as full body is relative. Honestly, most of these workouts are full body. My favorites in this category are 21 Tone Up and Kelly Dean’s Full Body Workout. But you could also do any of the pilates or yoga workouts as well.

 

Stretching

I have been neglecting my stretching and really noticing tightness in my hamstrings and hips along with pain in my SI joint. So I wanted to make sure it was a regular part of my week. I look forward to trying out Restorative Poses III, which I haven’t done before, as well as old favorites like Simply Stretching.

I’m shooting for 20-30 minute workouts, maybe longer once I get going. I really want to push myself with some of the harder ones but it is so difficult to find time for the longer workouts. I like the short and sweet ones and if you are short on time, check out my Fit2B Quick series.

I just know that I have to keep going. I don’t want to give up. It’s frustrating to have these limits I can’t yet overcome. But I’m hoping that if I’m consistent, I’ll be able to see progress.

 

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Fit2B 6 X 6: Week 2

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Each workout is a little longer this week, but still not too bad. I’m still really struggling with getting 6 workouts in 6 days. (It tends to be six in seven or eight days).
Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 16+ minutes

Pilates & Yoga Loaded
A long time favorite, I was able to use a heavier weight for this, for the majority of the workout. However I had to be especially cautious of keeping my core properly engaged and using modifications as recommended.

 

Kelly’s Core Cardio

It’s been a while and it felt great to be doing this workout again. Because of her background in ab rehab, I really appreciate the extra effort Kelly puts in to core engagement and the stretching portions of this workout. Plus, you definitely won’t find anything else on Fit2B that includes phantom hula hooping!

 

Hipster Chair Moves

I tend avoid this workout because it never feels like it is challenging enough.. One of those neither core, nor cardio nor weights and I don’t quite know what to do with it. But part of the point of 6 X 6 is the consistency, not necessarily the intensity. This provided important hamstring stretches that I’ve been neglecting. I especially like the way this workout reaches the inner hip ligaments (what we used to call the turnout muscles in ballet). Since we don’t have any chairs downstairs where I usually workout, I hauled my laptop to the living room and grabbed a kitchen chair. It worked wonderfully while my kids were downstairs for their regularly scheduled afternoon screen time. I may have to try it again soon.

 

Balanced

I was pleased that I was able to do at least a portion of this workout with my heavier 6 lb weights, though not all of it. Since I’ve hit a wall with my core, I’m trying to be cautious about increasing my difficulty but I don’t want to give up entirely. I like this workout because even though it is a full body, it still leans heavily (ha ha) on weights as the primary source of adding difficulty.

 

Body Sculpting
I love this workout. I like that it has a heavy weight component but also has a slight cardio feel as well. It definitely qualifies for my list of effective full body workouts without being too long or overly intense. I think it may also have made it to my list of returning favorites.

 

Hold It!

Whenever I see this workout come up in the rotation, I sigh a little bit. Because usually I don’t like this workout. But today when I was bumming about the state of my core and feeling a ton of stress in other areas of my life, I was able to really focus on the benefits of this workout. The slow sustained nature of the workouts allowed me to better concentrate on engaging my core, maintaining my alignment and breathing. Don’t underestimate the benefits of breathing and engaging your core when you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Despite being interrupted multiple times by my son, I still felt more relaxed and in better alignment after this one.
Two weeks down, four to go. I’m definitely have consistency issues but I’m refusing to give up. Just because I can’t do it perfectly doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it at all. I miss when I used to workout consistently 30-60 minutes, five times a week. But if that’s not where I’m at right now, that’s Ok. I’m also feeling the strange urge to run again, but I don’t want to start doing that until my core is better healed and I’ve built up my upper body muscles a little bit more. So I’ll stick with working towards the consistency of the 6 X 6 for now.

Week 3

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But What If It Isn’t Normal?: The Case for Abdominal and Pelvic Floor Rehab

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photos courtesy of The Tummy Team

 

My social media feed is full of it. Moms lamenting peeing their pants and the belly that just hangs and won’t budge no matter how many crunches they do or how long they diet. With Mother’s Day coming up there are even cute little memes about “Call your mom, she wets herself because of you.”

Except a part of me doesn’t find it cute. I’m glad for awareness and openness for discussing this important aspect of women’s health. But I just can’t get behind making a serious medical issue into the punchline of a joke. Pelvic floor and core weakness are certainly common side affects for women who have been pregnant and/or given birth. But I would hesitate to call them normal and they certainly aren’t healthy.

 

When I got to hear Beth Learn from Fit2B Studio speak in person last year, she talked about how our bodies were made to birth babies, and also made to heal. But our lifestyles have changed, and most of our lives no longer contain the kinds of healthy movement to used to help women recover from pregnancy and child birth. While modern medicine has brought us many wonderful things in the area of OBGYN care, this has not been one of them. Talking about the ability to heal has nothing to do with shame at the symptoms, but rather to produce empowerment at the possibility for recovery.

 

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This is why I love The Tummy Team. Kelly Dean’s own story provides inspiration. She talks about how her training as a physical therapist didn’t prepare her for the side effects of multiple pregnancies and deliveries. Her broken body left her feeling discouraged. Other than surgery she could find any practical solutions. But she searched until she found someone who offered real hope.

 

While Kelly agrees that hands on help is best, there are a limited number of trained core and pelvic rehabilitation specialists in the United States, and indeed the world. To that end she created online rehab programs through her office, The Tummy Team.

 

I completed the Core Foundations with The Tummy Team three years ago, and then the Prenatal program two years ago when I was pregnant with my third child. I found both programs to be educational, and encouraging as I went through my healing process. I’ve also done a Skype session with Kelly and found it hugely helpful in making sure I was learning proper alignment and a chance to ask any questions. While today I wouldn’t call my core entirely healed (the result of a difficult third pregnancy and delivery), I gained so many important tools through the course that I find myself returning to when my abs need a little bit of extra attention and support.

 

In honor of Mother’s Day, the Tummy Team is offering 25% off all of their programs and services, May 8-22. (If you don’t want to start now, you can purchase a gift certificate at sale price, and start your rehab later).

 

This Mother’s Day, consider investing in yourself (or your mom) and consider healing through the wonderful ladies at The Tummy Team.

 

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Fit2B Advancing: Week 6

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WEEK 6: Three Daily Double Workouts + Bonus

Daily Double One: Warm-up then do Yoga 4 Runners and Jump Change

Warm-up: Core Wakeup

Yoga 4 Runners

Jump Change
Core Wakeup was a great warm up. I want to continue to find ways to integrate proper core engagement throughout my day, and this is a good one to help do that. Jump Change is isn’t usually one of my favorites. It definitely gets the heart rate up and the higher impact aspect is supposed to be quite good for bone density. But it doesn’t have the flow of Beth’s other workouts. I also had to do a good bit of modifying since I seem to have this uncloseable core, despite all of my hard work. But I did my best to engage and do the alternatives offered and suggested. Yoga for Runners was a favorite of mine from back when I used to actually run. But it was still a good cool down and stretch. It’s definitely worth adding to your routine.

 
Daily Double Two: Weighted Warriors and Kelly’s Core Cardio

I loved revisiting Kelly’s Core Cardio and it was a perfect way to warm up for Weighted Warriors. I chose to use my lighter three lb weights since I knew I had lost some momentum during our weeks of illness. I probably could have gone a little heavier, but I decided to focus more on proper form and alignment. A great workout emphasizes just a handful of yoga movements but adding weights to increase the difficulty.

 
Daily Double Three: Warm-up then Wall Workout with Beth and Hold It!

Warm-up: Vertical Core

Wall Workout with Beth

Hold it!
Vertical Core provided a good, stationary warm up. I like these office routine workouts because they show how you can integrate healthy core movement. This is only the second time I’ve done the Wall workout with Beth. I definitely had to do some careful modifications, and you can be sure I didn’t end up upside down at all. It’s not quite as comprehensive as Kelly Dean’s Wall Workout, but it’s still some good movement in a short period of time. I’m not sure I’d ever do it by itself but it’s good paired with something else.

Usually I don’t like Hold It. The entire workout is focused on sustained movement. It is in this workout that I learn something important about myself, that I would rather do something hard and fast than slow and sustained. Because it somehow feels better to get sweaty and even hurt a little because it feels like a “real” workout. But in Hold It my arms were screaming from properly holding the various warrior poses. I was forced to focus on my breath, alignment and core. It is deceptively simple, because to do it properly requires a great deal of work.

 

Bonus
21 Tone Up

I love this workout. It has earned the rank of one I will come back to time and again; like all the Basic Aerobics routines and Kelly Dean’s Total Body Workout. It isn’t too long and while I appreciate the benefits of longer workouts, sometimes if I don’t have an hour it can be easy to just give up and skip it. But this packs a punch, without overdoing it and makes it easy to fit things into my workout. While it is fine as is, you can also add weights if you feel the need to bump it up a notch. Since I was having a tired day and working out in the evening which is not my preferred time, I did it mostly without.
Step & Pivot around the World

This was a new one that I have been dying to try. But since it was ranked as challenging I wanted to wait until I was in better shape. It didn’t disappoint. I chose the simpler modification of several motions and I’m fairly sure I was on the wrong foot the majority of the time, but this was a blast. Step aerobics may seems like a cliché from the late 20th century but it has a lot to recommend itself. If you’ve tried Basic Step and Basic Step II, and you are looking to try some more complicated choreography, give this one a try. It got my heart rate thumping without making me feel short of breath.
And just like that, 6 weeks is up and I’m ready to move on from Fit2B Advancing. I’m excited to come back in a week or two and tell you about the 6 X 6 Pathway. It debuted while I was postpartum, so I haven’t been able to try it yet. I’m excited to continue my fitness growth with Fit2B. Three plus years, and I still haven’t run out of ways to use this amazing program. I will always be grateful to Beth Learn, and the rest of her team for the positive impact they have had on me.

If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, I encourage you to give Fit2B a try. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

 

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Fit2B Advancing: Week 3

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This week I decided to slightly increase my weight levels. I didn’t always do this wisely. Sometimes I still battle the old tendency that if it doesn’t hurt, it’s not difficult enough. (I know this goes completely against Beth’s philosophy of gentle fitness, I’m still working on it).

WEEK 3 GOAL: Three Studio Workouts + 1 Daily Double

Studio Workout One: Warm-up for 5-10 minutes then do Balanced

Warm-up: Fingers and Toes

Balanced

I had originally planned to do this workout with 3 lb weights since it had been a while. Instead I decided to try the 6 lb. I was able to keep my core engaged, but my muscles were definitely fatigued afterwards, perhaps too much. I like that the focus is on balance as well as weight, not just straight weight lifting. Fingers and Toes was also a great way to warm up since my hands do actually get a little sore as I adjust to lifting heavier weights.

Studio Workout Two: Warm-up for 5-10 minutes then do Ultimate Upper Body

Warm-up: Basic Aerobics III

Ultimate Upper Body

I was feeling particularly tired this day, so it was hard to get through Ultimate Upper Body. I alternated 3 ad 6 lb weights. But I definitely was feeling it in my arms. Perhaps more than I should, because I felt a little weak and shaky afterwards. In the past I would have seen that as a sign of a good workout, but I’ve learned from Beth that we don’t need to destroy our bodies to make them stronger. So I want to feel the work without ended up in pain.

Studio Workout Three: Warm-up for 3-5 minutes then do Tabata Ball Workout

Warm-up: Mula Bandha

Tabata Ball Workout

I haven’t done Tabata Ball workout in at least a year or two. I used a 6 lb dumbbell rather than a weighted ball. (I’m still hoping to get a 8 lb one like this). Most of the workout went fine with that. But the squats were a little awkward. I couldn’t find a way to easily balance the dumbbell between my knees. Wow, did my calves hurt. You wouldn’t think that would be the worst part, but it was. Two days later and I was still feeling it.

Daily Double: Warm-up for at least 5 minutes then do Insane Upper Body & Totally Transverse II

Warm-up: Shoulder Stretches

Insane Upper Body

Totally Transverse

I used Shoulder Stretches as my warm up before Totally Transverse II and Insane Upper Body. As I’ve started to include 6 lb weights in part of Insane Upper Body the workout is beginning to earn it’s name for me. I’ve given myself permission to switch to 3 lb weights or complete fewer repetitions but between making sure my core is engaged, breathing properly and focusing on proper form, this is a doozy. I always feel a tad shaky afterwards. I won’t start advancing to a heavier weight until I can do the whole workout with the 6 lb weights without feeling my muscles get all twitchy.

BONUS: Try to accomplish some medium-intensity cardiovascular training for 30 minutes on two additional days.

Basic Aerobics IV & Basic Step

My 1 year old is adorable when I do step aerobics. He grabs the lid to his Duplo and stands on it like it’s a step. I like the basic concept of step aerobics because of the high cardio value as well as the need for coordination. I like challenging my brain and increasing the level of impact. Basic Aerobics IV was a nice add on because it increases intensity with the use of weights. Don’t go too heavy if this is your first time.  Light weights go a long way.

Kelly’s Total Body Workout

After using weights so much this week, it was nice to do a full body workout, including a killer arm routine, but without any necessary equipment. I am always continually mystified each time I do this workout that I am able to get such a great effect in my upper body without the use of weights. But of course the biggest selling point for me is the full body nature of this workout and in less than 30 minutes. (It’s also pretty easy to do in a small space).

This was a rough week with my kids being sick, but I still wanted to make exercise a priority. Sometimes I meant the kids literally being under my feet. But at least I’m setting a good example for them. It’s especially cute when they decide to join me. Occasionally, my five year old even asks for his own workouts to do. Even if you have an off week, don’t give up. If you have to repeat the week, or take two weeks to get through all the workouts, that’s OK too. Better to go at your own pace than to give up.

Week 4

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Fit2B Advancing: Week 1

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I will say upfront that it has not been easy to prioritize exercise lately. Sometimes I miss a day. Sometimes I have to split a workout over multiple sessions on multiple days. I prefer to workout without my kids, but more often than not, I have them literally underfoot while trying to exercise. Because I can’t afford to wait for a better time. I’m not willing to delay until things get easier. I want to start working toward my healthier, stronger body now. So I do, even if it means it’s not ideal or convenient.

Week 1

Studio Workout One: Go for a 5-10 minute walk then do “Pilates in Pajamas”

Walking Workout
Since the weather wouldn’t cooperate, I substituted the walking workout for a walk outside. While this workout is longer than the prescribed 5-10 minutes, you don’t have to do all of it. Or, if life is crazy, you can do like I did, and do them on different days.

Pilates in Pajamas
This is an old favorite and really a joy to start with. It is gentle, and has a steady pace without being too easy. I found that I didn’t break a sweat, but definitely felt my muscles working.

Studio Workout Two: Do Peaceful Blend

I don’t usually get to do this workout, first because it’s so long and secondly because for a long time it didn’t run properly on the Roku which is where I do the majority of my exercising. It was borderline miraculous that I got through it at all with minimal interruption. It was the first real workout I’ve done in the new house in our family room where the TV has taken up residence. While I absolutely still hate the carpet in here, the very cushy carpet pad makes things quieter and more comfortable than the wood floors in our old house.

I know that I still have a separation and from what I can tell, I haven’t made tons of progress. But I felt strong. I was able to engage my core at the times I needed to and thing didn’t feel floppy. In general my middle feels much less squishy than it has for the past few months.

Daily Double: Do TS Transitions to warm up. Then do Wall Workout with guest instructor, Kelly Dean.

I love both these workouts, though I actually find that pairing them together produces too much redundancy for my taste. Wall Workout with Kelly is one of the most complete upper body, lower body and core workouts in under 10 minutes. Bam! No excuses about not having enough time. Transitions is a nice get yourself moving kind of routine without being too aerobic. I know there is nothing inherently special about it, yet I find myself coming back to it again and again.

BONUS: Accomplish some medium-intensity cardio training for 25 minutes on two additional days.

Half-Round Foam Roller routine
I really enjoyed this routine. It was challenging and interesting. The balance component was especially fun. It reminded me of some aspects of ballet class that I miss. I had to do some modifications since my half foam roller is a shorter one. (I grabbed my son’s My Pal Scout to support my head at the end and it actually worked quiet well).

Get Up and Down
This is similar to Align it Flat but feels much more like a workout while still containing those important alignment cues.

I’m excited to feel like I’m finally making progress in prioritizing my health and fitness. I’m realizing more and more that I need and want to be stronger. Not because I want to look a certain way (though that doesn’t hurt) but because I need that strength to be effective in my life. I so appreciate the Fit2B Studio member forum. I shared some of my discouragement about my unclosed abdominal separation and feeling stuck in my fitness. I got so many encouraging suggestions and Beth Learn herself even chimed in to say that maybe I needed to challenge my core a little bit more while still maintaining proper engagement and alignment rather than just wait until things were fully healed. This is one of the many things I love about the Fit2B online community. Beth and her business partners have built a wonderful support network to help us heal and grow, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Week 2

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Fit2B Minimal: Week 2.5 – The Chair and Coughing Edition

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I was supposed to be introducing you to Week 3 of my series Fit2B Minimal. Instead I turned my ankle stepping of the bottom landing of my stairs and spent most of the week with my feet up hoping to recover well enough to dance the following Sunday in the performance at my church that I had been choreographing, teaching and practicing for the last three to four months. (The good news is that it worked, and I was able to perform but I’m continuing to try and take it easy).

So for the last week I’ve been focusing on my Daily Minimum, which fortunately were both chair workouts. I’ve also had a cough for three weeks that I can’t seem to shake. So instead of Week 3, I present my Week 2.5. Daily Minimum reviews plus some links to important info on how to protect your core when you have a cold.

 

Daily Core: Basic Transverse and Mula Bandha

I don’t often come back to this simple workout, but it really is a great way to return to my roots. I did fast forward through some of Beth’s opening pep talk (wonderful as it is) because I have done this many times before. But if you are new to it, it’s worth the extra couple of minutes. She says some very encouraging things about learning to love our bodies and honor the journey they have taken us on.

 

Daily Stretch: Neck Routine

This routine has been absolutely essential for the last week. It has helped relieve the tension from too much time spent in front of the computer and lots of time spent with my feet up while I heal my ankle. I love trying to incorporate the stretches (favorites like Stop and Drop and Prayer on the Side) into my day at other times, especially when I notice tension in my neck or I know I’m under stress.
Regarding the nasty cough I can’t seem to get rid of, as cold and flu season have arrived here in the North East, I refer you to Beth Learn’s posts

Protecting Your Abs When You’re Coughing & Sneezing

“Stressors can make you stronger, or they can weaken you further. It depends on how you face them, prepare for them, and recover from them.”

7 Cues for Protecting Your Core When You’re Fighting A Cold

“The list I’m about to give you reflects my notes on cues {because I’m a body nerd like that} that I tested on myself when I was in the thick of a head cold after a hard round of jumping on a trampoline. The specific situation we’re discussing here is how we deal with coughing, sneezing, and blowing our noses when our PF and TA are already a bit tired.”

Also, if you are out of commission for a bit, like I was with my ankle, check out the Sit and Get Fit pathway which features workouts which can be done seated or on the floor. Hopefully I’ll be back next week with my full review of the workouts from Week 3. Until the, take care of yourselves.

 

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