Tuesday, June 30, 2015

B@%&h, I'm Natasha!!!

Nice title right?  It was either that or "It's Natasha bitch!"  That one may only work for Britney.  Anyway, I'm trying to get back on track with this whole blogging situation.  I can't believe that it's been several months since I've posted anything.  Frankly, I don't feel like I've been doing anything.  After the half marathon, winter refused to go away.  Being stuck inside because of the snow (and now the heat) gave way to recreational eating and couch potatoing.  I don't know what it is, but I've lost that loving feeling where exercise is concerned. 

I will always run, just for the love of it.  I just feel that there should be some signs of progress and there haven't been any.  My weight has been holding steady for almost one and a half years and those abs are ever-elusive.  Maybe it's time to try something new.  What do you do for tangible (visible) results?  I did my first track workout of the year this morning and also tried my first Pi-Yo class (ouch).   I'm sure that those things will be beneficial, but I just don't know how to get that excited feeling back. 

Where do we go from here?


Ten Tunes Tuesday (Overtime can suck it)

"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." -- Michael Jordan

I feel like all I do is work and workout lately. I know, I know... it could be worse! Still, this new routine has me torn between enjoying my new, fitter lifestyle and mourning the lifestyle that I used to have. I honestly didn't love my old routine, but sometimes it's nice to just come home, make dinner, and go to bed. I'm hoping that my workload lessens once our new team member arrives... maybe then I'll regain some semblance of work/life balance, and can enjoy my evenings again. This 13-hour workday business gets old really fast, especially when you're forcing yourself to work out another hour to hour and a half afterwards.

Speaking of my workouts... Running is getting easier day by day, and I think my new strength training routine is helping that a lot. Since rejoining the gym last December, I had largely relied on the same strength training routine that I had known and used since college. And why not? It had proven results (once upon a time), and I was comfortable doing it. But... it's always dangerous to get too comfortable, especially when you have big dreams. To quote the great Jon Bon Jovi, "Don't get too comfortable with who you are at any given time - you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be." Incredibly wise words, especially when you're trying to fight for a dream. 

Because I love this quote so much, I thought it would be fun for this week's Ten Tunes to be centered around the music genre that made Bon Jovi a household name. So here it is - a hair band / 80s rock band tribute playlist to help you rock out while you work out!
  1. Bon Jovi - "Livin' On a Prayer"
  2. Joan Jett - "Bad Reputation
  3. Guns N' Roses - "Welcome to the Jungle"
  4. Sammy Hagar - "I Can't Drive 55"
  5. Motley Crue - "Dr Feelgood"
  6. Twisted Sister - "I Wanna Rock"
  7. Metallica - "Enter Sandman"
  8. Pat Benatar - "Heartbreaker"
  9. Poison - "Nothin' But a Good Time"
  10. Aerosmith/Run DMC - "Walk This Way" <-- You didn't think I could have a whole list without a little hip-hop, did you? Haha.
My niece is visiting for the next couple of weeks, so it'll be interesting to see how well I hold up my fitness commitments while she's here. We're off to a good start - she woke up Monday morning at 6am to run a morning mile with me! It's so good having her here... 

Well, keep on rockin' this week, friends! Don't let the upcoming holiday derail your fitness goals. Incorporate your fitness commitments into your plans, and stick to it! I believe in you!



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday (I think I can, I think I can...)

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination." -- Tommy Lasorda

See that face? That is the face of a girl who worked too late and, as a result, is late posting her Ten Tunes Tuesday blog... again! Ugh! I'm so sorry for that, friends. I had a busy and fit weekend, which I'll blog about later. For now, here's the ten tunes that kept me pumped during my workouts yesterday and today! 
  1. Dami Im - "Super Love"
  2. New Politics - "Girl Crush"
  3. Bonnie Anderson - "Blackout"
  4. Major Lazer and DJ Snake - "Lean On"
  5. Passion Pit - "Lifted Up"
  6. Imagine Dragons - "I Bet My Life"
  7. Fergie - "Glamorous"
  8. Outkast - "Hey Ya!"
  9. Red Hot Chilli Peppers - "Can't Stop"
  10. Iggy Azalea - "Fancy"
In other news, my recent half-marathon registration has definitely motivated me to go at the gym harder and longer lately.  I'm exceeding every goal I set for myself in June. I need to work on the diet part, but the workouts are going great. Let's keep this momentum up! What are you doing to challenge yourself this week?

I have a couple of ideas for upcoming blogs, so hopefully I'll find time this week to get to them. In the meantime, have a happy, healthy, safe, and fit week friends!



Thursday, June 18, 2015

This Girl Can Too!

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." -- Confucius

I love the above video. Although I had watched it a while ago, a friend's recent post of the same this week reminded me to share it with you here. "This Girl Can" is a terrific campaign out of the UK that strives to help people overcome their insecurities so they can work out without fear. They have some great role models on their website and in their videos to help this campaign - I highly recommend you checking it out.

Friends have sometimes asked me how I overcame the fear of judgement by the meatheads at the gym when I started hitting the weight rack hard last winter. For me, this was easy... I honestly just don't care what people think, especially when I am working out in the gym. But I get it... It's easy for me to say that because I have worked out before. I know how to workout, and am not afraid of messing up when it comes to the gym. For many of you, however, I know it has to be hard to go to the gym when you're new to the gym scene. There's a fear of looking "stupid." There's the fear of looking fat. And lord knows that those of us with ample tops are concerned with bounce! Just keep in mind that everyone has to start somewhere. Even Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had a day one at some point.

Don't let the fear of other's opinions keep you from your goals. This is easier said than done - I totally get that - but fear is keeping all of us from living the best lives that we are totally capable of achieving. Women have curves... and curves jiggle. And that's ok! Move your body anyway. Be glad that you have a body capable of moving!

In other news, I signed up for a half marathon today! Hurray! I will be running (or walking... whatever) the Star Wars Half at Disneyland in January. This will be my first long haul race since college. I'm both nervous and excited! My main goal is to finish at the required pace - I'm currently running a 11-12 minute mile, and average a 14-15 minute/mile walking, so I think I'll be ok. That said, I haven't been able to maintain that pace so far much further than 3-5 miles, so endurance training will be key for me in the coming months. If I can finish the race at a 12 minute mile, I'll be happy. If I finish faster, I'll be overjoyed! Either way, I'm just glad that I have the will to try in the first place. If you'll be there too, let me know! I'd love to see you and maybe run or walk with you for a bit while we are there.

That's about it for me tonight, folks. Hope y'all have a pleasant weekend! Keep up the good work!



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday

"Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare." - Muhammad Ali

Hello my fit and not-so-fit friends! I can't believe it's already Tuesday... am I the only one experiencing a week that is just flying by? I also can't believe we're already well into the month of June. I declared 2015 my year back in February, but in doing so I didn't mean that I wanted to rush through it! Geez!

I spent the weekend at home this weekend, giving me lots of free time to check out new and exciting music to share for this week's Ten Tunes Tuesday post. I spent most of my weekend doing cardio - a huge departure for me lately, as I tend to be more of a gym rat lately. Give me a cold steel weight in my hand over a treadmill any day! Alas, I noticed that my energy levels in the last couple of weeks have considerably dropped, so I figured a few good pumps of the heart could be the ticket to renewed energy in the week ahead. So here it is - this week's top ten for the runner/spinner/sprinter in all of us:
  1. Holychild - "Running Behind"
  2. Jason Derulo - "Want to Want Me"
  3. Hilary Duff - "Sparks"
  4. Fall Out Boy - "Immortals"
  5. Tove Lo - "Talking Body"
  6. American Authors - "Best Day of My Life"
  7. Calvin Harris - "Outside"
  8. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "Thrift Shop"
  9. Fitz and The Tantrums - "The Walker"
  10. Beyonce - "Run the World (Girls)" <-- Dedicated to Natasha (see below)
In case you were wondering, yes... I am a 15 year old girl trapped in a chubby, thirty-something body. Ha! Whatever... this music motivates me when I do my cardio!!!

Anyway, I just have to brag about my co-blogger before I close this post. I have been giving her grief about giving up on this little blog of ours, and she responded that she would write more but she just hasn't been very "fit" lately. I never believe her - this is the same girl who came to California on vacation, running a good 3-4 miles each day and saying that she was out of shape. Pft. Anyway, the day following her rant about her latest fitness disappointments, Natasha uploaded the below photo to Facebook, explaining "This is what you look like when crossing the finish line after a 4-miler in 90+ degree weather." SMH - this girl... 

So proud of you anyway, Tash! If a 4-miler in 90 degree weather is your idea of being lazy, I have a lot of catching up to do! Thanks for pushing me to do better :) (And to think I was proud of my little 3-4 mile power walks this weekend. Oy...) Until next time, my friends.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Weekending at Home

Hello, my friends! As many of you know, it's a rare weekend when I spend the entire weekend at home. I don't know why I am wired like this - I just hate sitting at home. But then again... California is an amazing place to live! There's just so much to do! I am not married, and I don't have kids, so I try to take advantage of that and get out to see new places as often as I can. This weekend, however, I ended up staying home. I wasn't looking forward to it at first - I really wanted to go hiking, or possibly go to the beach. In the end, I stayed home this weekend (my body needs a break), but I decided to use that opportunity to discover new neighborhood walks to fit in to my routine!

My first three mile walk was really just a power walk through my neighborhood. I'm a very lucky girl - my neighborhood (pictured above) is pretty great. Even before trying to get back into whole workout thing again in December, I regularly walked my dog through our neighborhood, and I have often commented on how beautiful it is. I have been doing all of my cardio at the gym lately - what the heck have I been thinking? 

Oh wait... NOW I remember! That sun is hot, y'all! It's fairly nice in the morning and the late evening, but my morning walk was interrupted by a few neighbors. It was enjoyable chit-chat, but man-oh-man did I burn! Check out my super red selfie that I took in my backyard. OUCH! Yet... the sun wasn't my only worry. I used to also be concerned that I couldn't go with as much intensity, or for as long, when the weather turned hot in the summer. If my Polar FT4 is correct, however, my 3 mile run/walk burned just over 600 calories! Woohoo!

Knowing that today was supposed to be even hotter than yesterday, I decided to wake up earlier today and walk along the river. I've walked this area with my dog before, but forgot that the bike trail itself was too busy to stay on it the entire time. Using the Map My Walk app, I mapped out a new four mile route using a combination of the bike trail and the sidewalk paths within the parks on either side of the highway. 

The bike path here is paved and well-maintained. North of where I started, it widens to allow for both foot and bike traffic on the trail. It's fairly well shaded by the trees that line the path, so this helped with the heat as the sun continued to rise too. 

The route I planned with Map My Walk eventually passes by a series of lakes and streams in an area park. If you've been following the news, you know that California is experiencing a terrible drought. When I've taken my dog to this park lately, the  lakes have been nearly dry and the fauna burnt and browning from the California heat. We experienced a couple of decent rainfalls last week, however, and it apparently replenished this park's lakes! It was such a pleasant surprise to walk by this morning.

Without the distraction of friendly neighbors, I was able to get a much more rigorous walk this morning. Granted, the calorie burn was less but that's only because the time it took me to finish my route was shorter too! I hear from friends and family every day that they "wish" they had access to a gym so they could work out like I do. What a terrible excuse! My sister, Rachel, has lost one hundred pounds, and she did it 100% at home. And at my most fit in college, I was doing almost everything outside. The lesson? You don't need a fancy gym or fancy workout equipment to keep your body in shape. Use what you have! Walk or run or bike outside. Do bodyweight exercises from the comfort of your living room. Keep your body moving. You only need to get your heart going for 30 minutes each day to make a difference. So tell me... what's your excuse now? :)



Friday, June 12, 2015

Hello Hollywood! (Hiking to the Hollywood Sign)

"Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? 
Everybody comes here - this is Hollywood, the land of dreams!
Some dreams come true; some don't - but keep on dreaming'! 
Always time to dream, so keep on dreaming'" 
--- Pretty Woman

I have been completely fascinated with the Hollywood sign and Griffith Park since moving out here to California over three years ago. Although I had visited Los Angeles dozens of times before, I had never actually seen the Hollywood sign up close and knew nothing about its origins. I have never had a desire to be famous - I don't want my picture taken, and I don't care to be an actress, model, or singer. All this being said... Hollywood (especially old Hollywood) has always fascinated me! When I learned that you could get this close to the Hollywood sign from a fellow blogger, I was super excited and quickly headed out to visit the location with my dog, Diego! We met some fun people while we were there, including one guy that told me how cool it was to hike up to the sign. Yes, YOU CAN HIKE TO THE SIGN! I figured all of that was private property, so it never occurred to me that you could hike to it. Since that fateful encounter, I have been a bit obsessed with hiking Mount Lee, eager to get my own close-up view of the infamous landmark.

There are three unofficial hikes to the Hollywood sign that I'm aware of: a relatively easy hike up from Beechwood Canyon, a more challenging, moderate hike from Canyon Blvd near Camp Hollywoodland and the Bronson Caves, and the challenging Wonder View Dr hike over Cahuenga Peak (you can read about these hikes on the Hollywood Sign website here).  I knew I wasn't quite ready to tackle the Cahuenga Peak trail, and didn't feel like dealing with the NIMBYs in Beechwood Canyon, so I elected to hike the Canyon Blvd Trail. I was able to get my friend Emily and her friend Ryan to join me without too much prodding, so off we went to hike the trail last Saturday! Note that while this trail is fairly wide and maintained, it is still in fairly rugged terrain. Wear appropriate footwear (flip-flops will do nothing to protect you from snakes like the one I snapped on our hike above), bring plenty of water, and wear your sunscreen!

The 6.5 mile trail (roundtrip) is deceptively difficult. Long, winding curves and a relatively flat and wide appearing trail make you forget how quickly you are gaining altitude. The first mile or so is probably the most difficult, with hikers climbing close to 60% of the total altitude within that span. You get some pretty interesting views of the Hollywood Sign as you climb, and you encounter a lot of fellow hikers and their dogs.

You level out quite considerably for the next mile or so. It's such a welcome reprieve! There's a nice bench overlooking the canyon at this point, and you'll notice that quite a few people use the opportunity to take pictures and stretch their legs out a bit. Emily and I took the opportunity to do just that :)

You continue west on this much flatter, albeit winding, dirt trail for about a mile until you encounter the paved service road for the antennas on top of the peak. Both the Hollywood Sign and the antenna seem huge from here! At this point, you have a choice: you can stay to the left on the paved road, and get an amazing view of the sign from directly below it, OR you can bear to the right and begin your ascent to the top of Mount Lee - getting an amazing view of the city from behind the Hollywood Sign. This was a no-brainer for me, and so my friends and I turned to the right to make our way to the top!

As you near the finish line, your trail meets up with the more challenging and newer Cahuenga Peak trail. (You'll watch in awe at the hikers climbing this path, and you'll be immediately thankful that your occasionally fit behind decided to take the moderate route). The above plaque commemorates this location, thanking the generous sponsors who donated the money to save this part of Griffith Park from luxury real estate development. It's amazing to think that the Cahuenga Peak area was barely added to the park in 2010 - before that, it was private land. So glad so many people in California cared enough to keep this area public. (It's funny to read this plaque, with donors including Steven Speilberg, Hugh Heffner, several film studios, and Tiffany & Co! Sooooo Hollywood!)

Immediately around the corner from the Cahuenga Peak plaque, you'll encounter the large fence that surrounds the Hollywood Sign. I wish I could explain how much larger these letters are than I imagined they were. I thought there were probably 20 feet or so high, but later discovered that they're actually 45 feet tall! It's very, very difficult to get a good picture of the sign from this viewpoint, so you must continue up to the peak itself.

Tad-a!!! This is the view you just worked so hard for, hiking a little over 3 miles and over 1,000 feet up in two hours time.  Everyone at the peak was happy and friendly. I overheard so many conversations from others about their journey to this viewpoint, and shared with my friends how long I had dreamed of this myself. The view is spectacular, and I'm saying this even though we visited during June gloom. I can only imagine how much better it could be on a clear day. You can easily see Griffith Observatory and Lake Hollywood from here, along with hazy views of downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood. A fellow hiker's phone started playing Drake's "Started From the Bottom," which garnered a quick laugh. I am so happy to have made it here!

The 3 mile hike down the hill goes by much quicker - we completed the roundtrip hike in a little over 3 hours, which is what several websites warn that this hike will take you. This hike is much more challenging than I expected it to be - although I attempted to do the same last year, I honestly am not sure I could have in the condition I was at this time last year. I'm so grateful for the renewed energy I have had to improve my health and fitness in these last several months, and I cannot wait to do this hike again. The only things I will change next time? I definitely need to stretch before and after this hike - my legs were sore for days afterwards! And I need to bring more water - a liter isn't enough! My friend Emily would likely want me to remind everyone of the importance of sunscreen, even on one of those June gloomy-ish days. Poor thing burnt to a crisp on our hike, and I probably should have reapplied myself at the midpoint. 

Hopefully the weather will cooperate next time Natasha visits, and we can attempt this hike again someday! I can't wait to challenge other friends to this and other hikes in California. Hiking is something I missed the most for the six years I lived in Houston and New Orleans, so I want to make sure I take advantage of living where I can hike again now that I live here. Well, I'm off to bed my friends. Until next time...



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday

"I ain't worried; doing me tonight
A little sweat never hurt nobody" -- Beyonce

Howdy, y'all! Can you believe it's already week 3 of our Ten Tunes Tuesday series? I'm impressed with my own consistency at this point! Ha! The above picture has nothing to do with music, but I loved it and wanted to share with my Fit buddies a little slice of one of my favorite new things in LA. For those curious, I'm standing in front of Projection LA. Originally intended to only last two weeks after its unveiling in late April, I'm happy to report that it's still there on the corner of Bates Ave and Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake. You can learn more about it by clicking the hyperlink above. So many fun photo opportunities - I only wish I was dressed more colorfully when I was there! (I was headed to a Dodger game - you know I had to represent my boys in blue!)

Saturday was a very fit day for me and two of my friends, but I'll write about that in a later blog. Today's blog post is dedicated to my love of music! My friend Shika thinks it's hilarious how much I love rap/hip-hop, so today's post is a little hip-hop centric. I have several playlists featuring some of my favorites, so I decided to highlight a few of these today (punctuated with a little pop/R&B for good measure). It probably goes without saying, but these songs tend to have explicit language, so proceed with caution. Anyway, here's today's Tuesday Ten:
  1. Beyonce - "Get Me Bodied"
  2. Eminem - "Till I Collapse"
  3. Iggy Azalea - "Beg For It"
  4. 2Pac - "California Love" <--- Heard this at the Dodger game, and it's been in my head ever since. Still love it!
  5. Missy Elliott - "Lose Control"
  6. Childish Gambino - "3005"
  7. Drake - "Started From The Bottom" <--- At the top of Mount Lee this weekend, a fellow hiker's phone started ringing to this tune. SO very appropriate. 
  8. Nelly - "Batter Up"
  9. Flo Rida - "GDFR"
  10. LL Cool J - "Mama Said Knock You Out" (Hat-tip, Chris F)
I know friends disagree with me on how motivating this music playlist can be when working out, but I absolutely love it. What types of music do you incorporate into your workout playlists? Do you change it up depending on what type of workout you do? Or do you pick a genre and stick with it? Let me know some of your favorite jams! Curious to see what everyone else's workout style is :)



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday

"If we could buy time, I spend my last money
Now I'm spending time, you in a bind
This little light of mine, I'ma let it shine..." - Kanye West

Hello friends! It's Tuesday... or rather, it WAS Tuesday when I originally wrote this post. But as I was about to turn in at midnight, I noticed that this never posted. Why? Because I never hit publish on my stupid laptop. D'oh! Anyway, here is this week's Ten Tunes Tuesday (now Wednesday) post for the week. This mix of jams of today and yesterday has been in my head non-stop since the weekend. I'm only so-happy to pass it along to you! Ha ha. :)

  1. Kanye West - "All of the Lights"
  2. Janelle MonĂ¡e - "Yoga"
  3. Mark Ronson - "Uptown Funk"
  4. Elle King - "Ex's and Oh's"
  5. Banks - "Beggin for Thread"
  6. Fifth Harmony - "Worth It"
  7. Walk the Moon - "Shut Up and Dance"
  8. M.I.A. - "Bad Girls
  9. Eminem - "Lose Yourself"
  10. David Guetta - "Hey Mama"
Again, a huge thank you and shout out to my friends at GymJams.club for helping me learn about new music this week. I don't know how you have the time to find all this music, Jay, but I really dig it! 

As always, keep up the good work my fitter than me pals! I may not be perfect, but I do a little better every day. It's thanks to awesome friends like you that I keep at it. I hope sharing this music helps motivate you too! Have a great week!