Breakin’ in the New Shoes!

Well, that Super Bowl was entirely depressing! As a *huge* Denver fan, I would have really appreciated it if the Broncos had decided to SHOW UP for the game. Props to Seattle though — their defense was definitely every bit as good as advertised. And how about that half-time show?! I’ve never really cared all that much about Bruno Mars…don’t dislike him, but don’t own any of his albums kinda thing…but he totally killed it! Best half-time show in a while.

What did you eat during the game? I managed to keep it relatively healthy with this KILLER ImageMexican pizza! The crust is whole-wheat, then covered with a cilantro white-bean pesto (cannelloni beans, garlic, lemon juice, and LOTSSSSSS of cilantro), and then corn, black beans, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and avocado to top. It was another recipe from my “Better Than Vegan” cookbook that I got for Christmas!

In my last post, I told you all about my fancy-schmancy new running shoes…I gotta say, they seem to be making a definite difference! Maybe some of it is just the mental pizazz of new workout gear (Does anyone else get that extra kick of motivation from being in a new workout outfit or new shoes? Maybe it’s my girly side…), but I was able to push myself and get in a 3.5-mile run today. I know it’s not a ton, but that was more than I set out to do today, and I was able to do it at a quicker pace than any of my runs since last summer. Yay for progress!

After my run (and on legs that were already feeling somewhat like jello!) I managed to get in a killer leg session. Overall, I was totally in the workout groove today. This was one of the best workouts that I have had in a while! I completely know that I am going to feel it tomorrow….

Cardio – 3.5 miles! Woot!

Strength – Legs

  • BOSU Barbell Squats
  • BOSU Barbell Deadlifts
  • Barbell Good Mornings
  •                 BOSU Jump Over Squats 15
  • Walking Dumbbell Lunges
  • Leg Curls
  • Leg Extensions
  •                 Split Squat Jumps
  • Single-Leg Deadlifts
  • Smith Machine Sumo Squats
  • Bulgarian Split Squats

Enjoy and make it a great week!!!!


Friday’s Workout and New Kicks!

Friday was a running day for me. With a 5k coming up in less than a month (eek!), and now that I am finally (mostly) over my cold, it’s definitely time to start building up some endurance. I have always had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with running. I love the progress that you can see with running. Whether it’s increasing distance or time or even improving form, the results are evident and easily measurable. For me, it has always been extra challenging to get into a groove with running though. I can knock out 100 Burpees, no problem, but ask me to run a mile and it’s like I crumble! Maybe it has something to do with the style of workouts I tend to like best (described in this post) or maybe it is some long-standing mental block, but I have the hardest time running.

One of the other issues I have always had is shin splints. If you have never experienced them, consider yourself lucky! It adds a whole different challenge to adding running into a fitness routine. After a lot of reading up on shin splints and running injuries, I came to the conclusion that my 2-year old, el cheapo running shoes were probably a significant source of the problem. After much debate and self-battle over parting with my hard-earned dollars and cents (yea, I’m kinda a cheap-a$$ sometimes), I finally caved and went to Fleet Feet for some new kicks.

Now, if you are a “runner” (at any level) and have never been to an actual running shoes store, I highly, highly recommend changing that! Fleet Feet is also an excellent choice destination! The Occupational Therapy student nerd in me was in complete heaven!

After a few questions about your athletic/training goals, one of the first steps they take is (surprisingly) NOT pulling down the most expensive pair of shoes off the wall and handing them to you. Actually, you start off their “analysis” completely barefoot! I spent about 2 minutes running barefoot on a treadmill while the store expert filmed my gait. It is amazing how much you can learn about gait just by filming a few minutes of your foot strike and stride on a treadmill!

From the movement analysis, Dave (the wonderful associate who assisted me) was able to tell me that -like many runners- I over-pronate, especially on my left foot, leading to my ever-so-common shin pain. By switching to a shoe with a firmer support in the arch, my foot and ankle would be better supported, keeping me in better form throughout my stride. 

After trying a few pairs on for size (actually a size and a half larger than what I normally wear. Did you know most people choose running shoes in too small a size? Since you are placing such an additional force on your feet by running, your foot actually needs a little extra room to expand!) and going for a test run (lame pun intended 😉 ) on the treadmill, I ended up with these awesome Sauconys!  Image

I am still getting used to them, but so far, I am thoroughly enjoying the difference they seem to be making! I was able to complete a 3 mile run on Friday and a 3.5 mile run today! Normally doing that much running that close together would kill my shins, but today was actually a little less painful even than Friday. Plus, I was able to up my pace! I might be able to get into this whole running thing yet…but shh! don’t tell gym buddy…I’ll end up doing 10-milers or something crazy like that!

Ok, before I start totally rambling, here is the rest of Friday’s workout. Today’s leg session to follow!

  • Dumbbell Step Ups with Kickback
  • Tricep Kickbacks w/ Row
  • Tricep Overhead Pulls
  • Smith Machine Squats
  • Single Leg Deadlifts
  • Push-ups (Regular, Triangle hand positions)
  • Bench Press
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
  • Tricep Bench Dips


PS, this post was not sponsored or endorsed by Fleet Feet or Saucony. The opinions in this post are just that – opinions – based on my own personal experience.

Much Needed Yoga Day

Well, after a crazy work week, I am a couple of workout posts behind. My team lead, Positively Bri, got a wonderful opportunity to advance her career, so has decided to move on to a new position. I am so incredibly proud and excited for her…but she will be sorely missed as a member of my work team. Since we are a relatively small office that handles a relatively large patient base, losing anyone makes for a little bit of craziness, but especially someone with the talent and impact she has had. We will miss you!!

After a week of craziness, I was definitely ready for some relaxation. Yoga was just the prescription I needed. I did a couple of videos, including this flow from Melissa Bender and a great 10-minute stretch session with Tara Stiles. These two are a couple of y favorite go-tos for online yoga videos. They both post a variety of videos, with a lot of “entry level” options. For someone who is relatively new to yoga practice, they are a great at-home option.

Ok, so I still owe you a couple workouts, but here is my strength session from Wednesday! After a frustrating work day, I kicked this one off with a 2-mile run. Enjoy!

Strength – Shoulders, Abs, Calves

Abs: (1:00 each)

  • Russian Twists
  • Double Leg Raises
  • Single Leg V-up
  • Bicycles

on the BOSU

  • Dumbell Shoulder Presses w Squat
  • Dumbbell Lat Raises
  • Plate Drivers
  • Barbell Shoulder Press (front/back) (Do these shoulder presses continuously moving the bar from the front to the back of your head.)
  • Front Barbell Raise
  • Barbell Rear Delt Raises
  • Barbell Calf Raises

Workout Changes = Kick my Butt!

I love workouts that teach me something about myself and/or my workout style. As I posted on Monday, yesterday I participated in workout #1 of the Winter Shape Up (the printout is available via the link). For the past month or so I have been pretty well independently designing my own workouts (with a little input/distraction from people at the gym). I have felt like I have been pushing myself and adding new and challenging elements to my workouts…and then I did another workout designed by someone else. One word – OUCH!

Gina’s first workout of the Winter Shape Up definitely challenged me differently than even my own HIIT/Tabata style workouts. I modified a few elements (I repeated the squats/lunges x3 times to get in a lower body session, but did just one set of the upper body work since I strength-trained upper body on Monday), and I was definitely huffing and puffing by the end! This workout was awesome because I was able to complete it in about 35 minutes (with the additional lower body reps), so it was perfect for a day when I had plans after work (Happy Birthday, Travis!), but I still felt like I had gotten a complete strength/cardio session in!

Doing this workout also showed me that, despite the variety that I try to add into all my different workouts, I still have fallen into some patterns in my workout design. You like what you like, and I’m noticing that, for me, it tends to impact the elements I use most often in my workouts. Changing elements in your routine helps to allow continued progression and prevent plateauing. Whether it’s running at a different time of the day, changing the order/reps/sets of exercises, or doing a different workout all together, change keeps your body guessing and promotes physical change.

Well, that’s all for now. I will have another workout up tonight!

Mondays and Snow Rollers

Who’s ready for spring??? Generally, I don’t mind the winter. I actually thoroughly enjoy the first snow of the year. I love the smell of snow — so crisp and clean. I almost always go outside and dance under the snowflakes the first time it snows for the season. But this year…I’ve about had enough! It was snowy and cold all weekend, to the point that much of the weekend I didn’t feel safe out and about on the roads. I did a few of the new Blogilates videos and some yoga, but after two days of being cooped up, immediately after 4 days of the cold from Hades, I am totally getting cabin fever! And then, the cold…today it was 7 degrees…tomorrow, -10 degrees with a -35 degree windchill. EWWWWW! I am so ready to be done with all that!

The big news in Columbus — Snow rollers. Apparently, when it is SUPER-DUPER cold, snowy, and there’s enough wind, mother nature decides to try her hand and snowman building. Craziest phenomenon ever. Check it out. Snow balls, courtesy of mother nature!

And some more… Definitely quite the site to see!

Winter Shape Up 2014

Despite the bitter cold and my car’s mild protests at such, I did make it to the gym today. Today, I focused on back and biceps. I am still taking it a little easy on the cardio as I try to get over the linger cough from the cold I managed to catch last week. Tomorrow I will be joining in the Winter Shape Up, designed by Fitnessista. I adore her blog, so thought it would be a great time to change up my routine a little bit and give some of her workouts a try! Since a lot of the time I focus a little more heavily on strength training, I will likely be combining some of the elements of her Winter Shape Up with some of my own strength training routines. If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, it is definitely a MUST-READ! I will keep you up to date with some of my favorites from her workouts, but check out the site, too. There’s a meal plan component, designed by another blogger/ dietician that’s sure to be good for some winter food ideas! I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but I scanned through them today and there’s definitely a few I intend to check out!

Ok, so here’s my workout from today! I am going to try to head to be at a decent time tonight — Shooting for early morning gym session tomorrow! (Wish me luck!)

Cardio – 15 minutes on StairMaster

Strength – Back and Biceps!

  • Assisted Pull-ups
  • Close-Grip Lat Pull Down
  • Stiff-Arm Cable Push Downs
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls
  • Close-Grip Seated Row
  • Bent-over Dumbbell Row
  • Bench Crunches
  • Dumbbell Curls
  •             15 Box Jumps
  • Barbell Bent-over rows
  • Barbell Curls
  • Barbell Deadlifts
  •             30 Plank Reachers (15 Each Arm)

Alright, for all my fellow mid-westerners, stay warm out there!

Self-Discovery: Ya learn something new everyday…

…at least some of it might as well be about yourself!

I was really struggling to write a workout today. I wanted to get some cardio in, but had to do so in a way that didn’t cause me to leave >50% of my lung stranded on the gym floor after a nauseating and decibel breaking coughing fit. So, I resorted to asking my “gym friends” for ideas. The suggestion — Spinning. “That’s a great idea!” you might be thinking… except for the fact that I long ago decided that I am not, in any way, shape or form a fan of pasting my butt to a stationary bike for countless minutes and pedaling to no where. Or hell, even biking in the summertime! Not a fan. Bruised butt, pedal scratches, and helmet hair – that’s the worst! Maybe that’s rooted somewhere in the months I spent in Costa Rica where a bike was my only method of transportation…I don’t know. All I know is I was hard set against the idea, so I adamantly protested.

Until I couldn’t come up with anything better. I caved.

Click here to view larger image

And you know what, I actually kind of enjoyed it. I am pretty fortunate at my gym. While it is a relatively small, locally owned facility, they tend to spice things up by bringing in some truly cutting-edge equipment (just this week the added a treadmill desk to the repertoire – FitBit steps and studying? SCORE!), and one of the jazzy things they have is this lovely e-Spinner (or one similar). The cool thing about it is that it has these lovely video programs that are similar to taking a real live spinning class! It tells you when to go faster, when to slow down, and when to change the resistance settings. It even has a speed gauge on a bar and you have to keep your speed in between the two points to keep the screen green and happy. It also breaks down the session into 2-3 minute intervals of changing pace (cadence) and resistance, so you aren’t just sitting on the bike pedaling monotonously for however long you self designate. I planned on about 15 minutes of cardio and ending up getting into it and staying at it for the full 25-minute program. I won’t go as far as to say I’m hooked yet, but it was an acceptable change of pace. Props to the gym buddy on this one.

What I learned about myself in this whole debacle is that I will probably enjoy pretty much anything you throw at me, so long as you find some way of segmenting the workout so that it keeps things interesting. That is probably why I gravitate towards things like HIIT, Tabata, and even weight lifting — it allows me to constantly change gears, instead of monotonously repeating the same motion. Anyone else like that in their workout styles? How about in daily life?

Anyway, here’s what I got for ya today!

Cardio – 25 minutes on the bike (interval program)…or TRY SOMETHING NEW!

Strength (Chest and Triceps)

  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes
  • Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
  • Dumbbell overhead Tricep extensions
  • Barbell Chest Press
  • Barbell Skull Crushers
  • Bench Dips
  • Tricep Pushdowns
  • Cable Crossovers
  • Tricep Overhead Extensions

Takin’ it Easy

After 4 days of feeling totally under the weather, I finally felt about 80% myself yesterday, so I decided to head back to the gym. Since I am still coughing quite a bit (especially on exertion), I wrote a workout that was designed around taking it easy and not triggering a coughing fit. While it felt great to be back in the gym, I can tell that I am still operating at about half speed. I made it through the whole workout, but I was completely drained by the end. I even ended up going to bed around 9:30 last night – which, for a night owl like me, is CRAZY early.

It is so frustrating to be sick. I feel like a have taken several steps backwards from all of the progress that I have made. I know that I will be able to get back to where I was relatively quickly once I am feeling 100% again, but it’s hard! I am trying not to let my motivation take a nose dive from this set-back. I am trying to remember that fitness is a journey, not a destination and that, while I’m at a different place today, I’m still on that journey.

Anyway, here’s yesterday’s workout. It was definitely a lighter one!


15-min incline (4.0+, varying) walk on treadmill


  • Stability Ball Leg Curls
  • Stability Ball Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Stability Ball Crunches
  • Bridges
  • Lunges
  • Toe Raises
  • Plie Squats
  • Barbell Squats
  • Barbell Good Mornings

Well, time to be productive. More tonight. Make it a fabulous day!

Down and Out

Well, after avoiding it for a couple of seasons, the cold/flu bug finally caught up with me. It hit me hard and has had me down and out for the past few days. I hate missing gym days, but sometimes you just have to know when to lay down and get better. I am finally feeling about 80% today, so will be heading back to work tomorrow. I may even try to get in a little gym time, but I will for sure be taking it easy for, at very least, the rest of the week.

Since I haven’t been doing a whole lot of working out the past few days, I guess it is a perfect time to get you caught up on the rest of my Montana adventure!

Monday: We went snowshoeing! If you have never been, let me tell you, it is one heck of a workout! We hiked along a ridge in the mountains to THIS beautiful view. I don’t remember the name of the area where we were, but it was in one of the many parks there.


The snow was so deep and crisp! There is something so fascinatingly beautiful to me about fresh snow-covered ground. I can smell when it’s about to snow. I always go outside during the first snow of the year — to me, it’s still magical!

ImageMy dad is a pretty awesome photographer!


And this may or may not be what happens when you try to walk backwards in snowshoes! Can you believe how deep the snow is?! In this part of the hike, it was easily waist deep. I have never been in powder that deep.

Tuesday: Was my sister’s birthday!!!! Happy Birthday, Sis!!! We trekked up to Helena, MT to hike a little mountain that was a

Imagerelatively easy summit. After snowshoeing the day before, and driving from Great Falls, I was starting to get a feel for how different each trail and range in Montana truly feels. Having really only visited the Smoky Mountains or the Colorado Rockies previously, I had no idea that different ranges in the same area could have a completely different feel! In Montana the most certainly do.

The hike to the top of Helena was a little more harrowing than snowshoeing the day before. the trail was steep and narrow in some places.

Again, the view at the end of the hike was well worth the journey…

ImageAnd I was even able to get this pretty awesome shot of me on top of the mountain! (One of my goals for this year is to perfect Dancer’s Pose, so that next time I hike here, I can get the perfect pic…I’m not quite there yet, but still a pretty nifty photo!)Image

Wednesday: We had to take my parents to the airport. 😦 After two days of hiking all over, we were pretty worn out (and so was Fred – my sister’s dog!) so we decided to make it a low-key sister day. My sister asked me for a few ideas on how to use the stability ball and resistance bands she had gotten for Christmas, so we did the workout below together! (Yea, thought you were getting out of a workout since I was sick, huh!?)Displaying 2014-01-06_11-16-51_661.jpg

Tabata 1: (0:20/0:10)

  • Split Squat Jumps
  • Burpees
  • Jumping Jacks

Strength w/ Stability Ball

  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Ball Wall Squats
  • Hamstring Curls w/ Stability Ball (For these, lie on your back with calves across the stability ball and butt off the ground. Using hamstrings, roll the stability ball towards you.)

Tabata 2: (0:20/0:10) x3

  • Plank Reaches
  • Up, up / Down, downs

Strength w/ Stability Ball

  • Pike Push-ups
  • Crunches on Stability Ball
  • Ball Plank (Elbows on stability ball)

Tabata 3: (0:20/0:10) x2

  • Skaters
  • Squat Jumps
  • Plie Squat Hops

Strength w/ Resistance Bands

  • Chest Flyes
  • Shuffle Squats (Shuffling in squatted position with resistance band wrapped around thighs.)
  • Tricep Push Downs

After that, my sister was pretty much ready to murder me! I think I made up for it with a mini-shopping extravaganza and sushi dinner outing. Then we went to a bar called the Sip’N’Dip, which has been featured in GQ magazine. Going in, it seems like just an average hole-in-the wall casino bar…

…but this kinda makes a big difference!

Thursday: Was my last hiking day in Montana…so, of course, we had to try to hit EVERYTHING (<- not possible). First stop, the Buffalo Jump.

Image                     Image

It was so wild in Montana that the landscape went from plains to HUGE mountain plateau instantly. It was very neat. After visiting First Peoples Buffalo Jump, I can definitely see how the early people could have hunted buffalo by leading the herds off the cliff.


 Our next hike was by far my favorite — Tower Rock! Image

The actual trail for this park ends right at the base of the rock face, but you can hike up the valley (which is actually super-duper steep) or along the ridge to get to the crest of the mountain. Since there’s not a marked trail, it is kinda a “hike at your own risk,” and there was definitely an element of risk involved. But the adventure and the view were beyond incredible. In fact, I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves on this one.

ImageThere’s a huge mountain goat!






This is what we hiked up and down to get to that amazing view…


It was every bit worthwhile. I am hoping to do this one again over the summer!

Friday: SNOWBOARDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We went to Teton Pass, which has made me see virtually no purpose in snowboarding in Ohio. Real powder is so much more fun than Ohio’s ice! And props the Teton overall — the people were so incredibly nice! The kitchen offered to make me a special lunch since I was a vegetarian, and virtually everyone stopped to say hello to my sister and introduce themselves to me. It was a bit of a journey to get to (the only road to the mountain is a gravel pathway), but the mountain was well worth it. It was a little windy…actually, a lot windy. In fact, they actually had to close down the entire mountain for about an hour due to the high winds. But it snowed all day, and we were making fresh tracks through powder the whole time.


Teton, we will meet again

Well, that’s all until my next adventure! I am already planning to head back to Montana. I had so much fun. Experiences like this trip are part of the reason I work so hard to maintain good health. For as long as I am on this Earth, I want to be able to access and experience the beauty that has been placed around us. It never ceases to amaze and awe me. It makes me so grateful to be who and where I am, each and every moment.

Gym and Wine

So, taking vacation RIGHT after the holidays might not have been the BEST plan. I have had so many not-full work weeks that I’m not going to know what to do with myself when I actually work every day! Plus, I am totally still in “it’s not routine time…it’s FUN time” mode… which makes gym time (as enjoyable as it is) twice as difficult.

So, a note on that… My workouts are long. I design them that way because I truly enjoy my time at the gym. It is kinda like a sanctuary to me (which I have called it on multiple occasions). It is a place that I can go and visit with random people (which as an extrovert, I enjoy!), or I can blast my music on my iPod and shut the world out for an hour or two. As a healthcare manager, I am surrounded by people all day, every day and often times, I am talking to only the angry and frustrated ones. Sometimes I need some time to be away from that side of my life and in a totally different world. And to be honest, in some ways I live for that part of my day. So, I design my workouts to take enough time that I can relish in those moments.

However, I know that I (and most everyone in the WORLD!) don’t always have an hour and a half to devote to working out. Part of the beauty of my workout designs is that the HIIT, Tabata, Cardio, or strength sessions could be done completely independently of one another as a complete workout all to themselves. I usually devote my HIIT/Tabata at least partially to whatever muscle group I am focusing on for the day, so you can get a great workout by doing just that. Or, if you aren’t feeling the cardio, the strength training makes for a great workout on its own as well!

Without further ado… here’s today’s workout!

HIIT (0:50/0:10)

  1. Mtn Climbers
  2. Jumping Jacks / Box Jumps
  3. Squat Jumps
  4. Star V-ups (Just like V-ups, but instead of going back down to the mat, keep abdominals flexed and extend arms overhead and legs out into a star shape.)
  5. Sumo Squat Jumps
  6. 3-way Froggers
  7. Scissor Legs (Lie flat on your back and raise legs to ~45* angle. Cross left leg of right and then reverse in a scissor pattern.)
  8. Split Squat Jumps
  9. Plank Jacks
  10. Burpees
  • Stability all Leg Curls
  • Dumbbell Step Ups
  • Dumbbell Side Lunges
  •                 Superset with weighted Plie Squats
  • Barbell Good Mornings
  • Barbell Lunges
  •                 Barbell Toe Raises
  • Leg Press
  • Leg Curls
  • Leg Extensions
  • Walking Lunge w/ Twist (25lb Plate)

Tonight I also attended a wine tasting at one of the favorite spots, House Wine. The theme was “Italy Under $20,” and the rep spent a few moments explaining the grapes and growing region of each wine. A couple favorites from the tasting were: Casale del Giglio Petit Verdot ($20) and Tacco Barocco Negroamaro ($13). The Petit Verdot packed a punch, but waas well-balanced enough to be drinkable. The Negroamaro was lighter with a lot of bold spice and almost sweet bitterness. If you are looking for a new wine to sip, check them out! 

Lesson Learned

ImageDon’t make friends with people at the gym…unless you want someone to give you a hard time and push you to work harder. Then you’re good. I just started running again recently (and to proffer…I am NOT a runner!) so my goal today was to finish run 3 miles. If you have never heard of Couch to 5k, it is a pretty good guide for non-running runners. I used it to train for my first 5k last year (the lovely photo is from me after the Color Run! It poured, and was an absolute blast! I highly recommend it as a “first” or fun race. And no, I’m not usually covered in blue dye.) Now I use it as kind of the basis when I am working to build up my running distance again. Today, I was running 8-minute intervals with about 3 minutes of walking in between. I was all bummed because I couldn’t finish my last 8-minute interval, so of course, my “treadmill neighbor” had to subtly challenge me to run more. So i ran another mile. Thanks a lot for that one. You are evil! (You know who you are.) Now, I am exhausted. 

Here’s the rest of my workout for the day.


  • Plank 0:45
  • Reverse Plank 0:45
  • Russian Twists (x25)
  • Double Leg Lifts (x25)
  • Bicycle Crunches (x25/side)
  • Incline sit ups (x20)

Back and Biceps

  • Stiff-arm Cable Push Downs
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curls 
  •             Super-set with Concentration Curls (I did these as a semi-pyramid set so 8 Bicep Curls, 7 Concentration Curls, 6 Bicep Curls…and so on.)
  • Lat Pull Downs
  • Seated Rows
  • Bent-over Dumbbell Rows
  • Barbell Mid-Back Rows
  • Barbell Curls

I am sooooo sleepy, so I am going to cut this one short. I promise, the rest of my Montana story will be up this weekend, along with photos! Make it a great day…and ta’ heck with it…go that extra mile!!!