Perspectives of an Adult Athlete: Redefining a Workout

I continue to redefine myself within the framework of the athlete I once was…20 years of competitive sports has definitely had a lasting effect! I hope those of you that come from competitive athletics can identify with my struggle to find happiness, fulfillment and accomplishment in fitness. I have rediscovered and redefined the athlete inside of me. This is part 2 of a series of posts about this transition.

 

Typical rowing practice: .5 mile warm up run, stretching, 3 mile run, weights, then hit the water for pyramids, warm ups, start drills, 4 race pieces, cool down Total time: 3-4 hours

typical ultimate practice: 2 mile warm up, active stretch, throwing drills, movement/agility drills, positioning drills, sprints, scrimmage. Total time, 3-4 hours

I did those workouts day in and day out for years! My life revolved around my sport. The classes were in the morning so I could practice in the evening. Nothing too late on Friday so I could travel to the tournaments. Never stayed to talk to the teacher because I would miss the van to boathouse. If I wasn’t at practice, I was thinking about the next one.

 

I didn’t take long for fitness to take a lower priority in my life after I graduated and went into the real world. After work, I would go to the gym but feel like I was just wasting time because I “only” had an hour. I would “only” get a 30 minute run followed by a 30 minute weight circuit in before I had to go home. I started thinking “What’s the point?” when I noticed I was getting weaker and slower than I had been in college. The rational side of me knew why but my competitive side thought I should be able to maintain my fitness level. I couldn’t find the time or the motivation to go for 3-4 hours so I started giving up all together…no running, no weight training, nothing! Forget it!

My “rock bottom” wasn’t terrible. In my period of inactivity, I was still more active than most, playing a few pick up games here and there, running once a week, and walking the dog. I put on about 15 pounds and lost a lot of my muscle. The deterioration physically wasn’t really the problem though…the worst part was that I lacked the confidence I had when I was an athlete. I would stand in front of people and think they were judging me for not looking like I used to look. My self talk was full of insults and put downs.

It took 2 years but I reached my “I’ve had it!” moment. That moment when I put my foot down and decide to do something about my crappy self talk and lack of confidence. I knew there was something between doing nothing and going to 4 hour practices and I needed to be okay with that physically and mentally.

I needed to start being an athlete again. I needed a plan, a goal, and a feeling of success. I needed a new approach. Once I acknowledged that I was no longer going to be competing, I finally let myself change the definition of what an appropriate workout is. If I can dedicate 60 minutes/day to something physically active, I consider that a huge success. Some days it is 30 minutes but that is fine too. I pat myself on the back. The first thing I did was a half marathon training plan and race. The next plan was P90X and to get to the end of that. I have continued doing Beachbody programs and running races since.

I still fight the urge to think that a 30 minute run is what you do before you get to the hard part of your workout. My brain still tells me that if I am going to go workout, I need to make sure I have 2-3 hours to dedicate to the task. I acknowledge that I will likely be fighting that notion for the rest of my life. But now, if I put 30-60 minutes in to getting stronger or building my cardio, I’ve had a good workout. If I wake up sore in the morning, even better! At the end of the day, if I can carry myself with confidence and feel good from the inside out, I am an athlete.

 

5 Foods you can Freeze to Help with Meal Prepping

I was struggling as a single person to eat well because it always seemed like a hassle to cook well-balanced meal and then have to do all the dishes afterwards. I always hated spending more time prepping and cleaning than actually enjoying what I prepared…and to do this every night was getting frustrating and time-consuming! I wanted an easier way. So my friend shared with me some of the things you can cook ahead of time and I was surprised at some of the things I hadn’t even thought about freezing.

1. Pasta – you will want to make sure this is al dente so that when you throw it into a stir fry, reheat for 30 seconds in boiling water, or microwave for one minute, it has some time to cook. I checked out http://www.momables.com/how-to-freeze-pasta/ for the best tips  to freeze and the author suggests first coating your pasta in olive oil and flash freezing it for 30-60 minutes before portioning into separate bags. You can do this with spaghetti in muffin tins if needed!

2. Rice – I HATE cleaning the rice pan after it is done so this was huge for me. Cook as much rice as you will consume in the week/month and as soon as it is done, but it into a Tupperware container and close the lid to retain the moisture. When you are ready to reheat, put it in the microwave for 2:30 and you have rice! Find out more at http://www.justonecookbook.com/how-to/how-to-freeze-rice/

3. Taco meat/Ground beef – This preps me for spaghetti sauce, tacos, a quick salad topper, chili preparation etc. Brown the ground beef and add whatever spices you would like in it. Allow to cool and then portion into bags. It is so nice to come home and have a taco with none of the work (or course this requires chopping veggies ahead of time too)! http://food.unl.edu/fnh/ground-beef-recipes

4. Chicken – Most of us know we can freeze chicken but why not cook it first! Individual portions in baggies can be thrown on salads or grabbed as a snack…you wouldn’t believe the number of times I just grab a baggie as I am running out the door! If you want shredded chicken, throw chunks into your Kitchen Aid with the paddle hook on low for a few minutes and voila!

5. Pancake batter – Okay, this is for the weekend mornings for me but why not just make up a full batch, put the batter in freezer bags and thaw (by placing the bag in warm water) when you are ready to use it? My mother spoiled us when we were growing up by preparing a delicious breakfast most mornings before school…I’m sure she would have loved to know this! http://www.thekitchn.com/did-you-know-you-can-freeze-pancake-batter-185748

If you have other ideas, please share!



What are Your ‘Barriers to Entry’?

The economics term ‘barriers to entry’ is roughly defined as obstacles that make it difficult to enter a given market. These can be hindrances such as government regulations and patents or capital.

I like to use this term to apply to fitness and nutrition. These are the simple things that are holding you back from doing what you would like to do. Here are some examples from my own life.

1. What prevents me from eating more salad is the single step of cutting up and washing the lettuce. I consider the lettuce as the barrier. I have proven to myself a number of times that if I see that the lettuce is ready to be eaten, I will grab it and prepare a salad. Looking at the full head of lettuce is a mental block that forces me to reach for something else. Solution: Now I either purchase a ready to use bag of lettuce or as soon as I bring a head of lettuce into the house I wash and cut it up and put it into a Tupperware container.

2. A barrier to entry for working out early is my outfit. When I am tired and groggy in the morning immediately after the alarm goes off, the fact that I need to then decide on an outfit stops me from doing my morning workouts. If I lay out the clothes and shoes the night before, then I am changed and in front of my video before my brain even knows what happened.

3. Most often on the nutrition side of my life, my barrier to entry for a proper dinner is the lack of a plan.  In the past, I would just order a pizza or Chinese food. I have developed a backup plan for those times when I failed to plan for dinner.  I stop at the grocery store and buy a healthy, prepared meal or the preseasoned meat with precut veggies from the produce section so all I have to do is throw it into a pan for 10 minutes and I have a stir-fry ready.

 

Can you identify a barrier that is holding you back and what you might do about it? Leave a comment!

 




 

Do the Workout You Want To Do, Even if it Isn’t on the Schedule

I know many of us come from a background of training for a particular purpose…a race, tournament, dual, or whatever your sport’s competition is called. We have spent our lives with a workout plan designed for the optimal performance for that particular event paying close attention to working our base and then building up the strength, endurance, acceleration, explosion, and peaking at just the right time before tapering for the event.

Thinking this way starts failing when we are no longer training for something. I have tried many times to stick to a workout program that had all of these things in place but without the accountability and motivation of the final competition. My goal is just to be healthier and workout more but I didn’t know anything besides what I had done for training in the past.

What has happened more than I want to admit is that I start skipping workouts because I don’t “feel” like doing them. Many times, I would get to that one workout that I just didn’t like…say intervals at the track…and continually put off my workouts. Ingrained in me from decades of training was the idea that this was the workout I had to do because it was on the plan I had put together.

I have since realized that I am much more fulfilled if I am doing the workouts that I WANT to do. Let’s say I have a scheduled weights workout but my husband invites me to go on a run. I no longer feel obligated to do the weights and instead, I enjoy the opportunity to go for a run and share that time together with my husband. Maybe you have children and one of them wants to bike down to the playground. Strap those shoes on and run along side the bike…get your workout in while enjoying time with your family.

Think about those things that energized you as a kid. Shooting hoops? Go outside and chase the ball around for 30 minutes. Riding your bike? Strap the helmet on and go ride for 15 minutes. Climbing a tree? Go do it!

If you can make the transition in your head from the strict athletic schedule from your past to workouts that are fun, the idea of working out will be fun and not a burden.



Perspectives of an Adult Athlete: Missing the Team

I continue to redefine myself within the framework of the athlete I once was…20 years of competitive sports has definitely had a lasting effect! I hope those of you that come from competitive athletics can identify with my struggle to find happiness, fulfillment and accomplishment in fitness. I have rediscovered and redefined the athlete inside of me. This is part 1 of a series of posts about this transition.
Even a retired Cal Ripken Jr. has felt it: “I don’t have a need to make a play in the ninth inning of a game anymore. But being on the inside and being part of a team is something that you really do value and you really do miss.”

 

In high school, rowing was my life. Runs down Ironhorse Blvd, weight circuits, erg pieces, bus trips, sectioning the boats, and of course the time on the water all brought us together in ways that nothing else could. And after all of that, we would hang out at lunches, carpool to and from school, watch movies and laugh until curfew every Friday and Saturday night. These were some of the joys of being teammates that feel like they happened yesterday even though it was 20 years ago!

 

In college, I made the decision not to row. I couldn’t imagine rowing without the people back home! If I had joined the Indiana rowing team, I knew I would have made friends again but once I got away from the teammates I had spent 8 seasons with, I realized that it wasn’t the sport of rowing that kept me going that whole time, it was the people I was rowing with!  It was time for me to try something new and within 1 week, I was hooked on ultimate frisbee and fell in love with my teammates in much the same way. The added benefit was without parents around, we could spend even more time with each other! Runs, weights, practices, tournament, roommates, travel buddies, road trips, parties, tournaments, bars and all the rest that makes college interesting and through it all, I had my teammates by my side. I remember those practices that ended in a late night dinner at the closest place to the field. I remember those nights at the buffet when we returned on a Sunday night after a two-day tournament when we knew a standard sized dinner wasn’t going to cut it. I remember those times lifting in the gym while discussing the fight I had with my boyfriend the night before.

 

These were my friends; My companions through thick and thin. Even the people I didn’t know somehow felt like friends because, in the words of Cal Ripken, we were all on the “inside”. We were athletes doing something that only those within the community can truly understand: how difficult and technical it is, how much works goes in to every second of the race or game. Being on the inside means that when you saw a t-shirt with a race or tournament that you were at, there was that immediate connection and you started up a conversation or at least gave that “what’s up” chin raise of camaraderie as you passed each other.

 

This was true friendship. The friendships that stand the test of time. Not only were we friends of purpose, we were friends of soul. I needed to get some distance on the sports themselves in order to understand just how much the team brought into my life. It wasn’t until my late twenties that is dawned on me just how much of my life centered around my teammates. I started struggling with motivation to go to the gym and do the most basic of workouts. I struggled to go to pick up games in my neighborhood. I even struggled with weight gain which had never been a problem before.  And what it boiled down to was the desire to have those deep friendships that had come so easily in high school and college that no longer ‘just happened’ as adults. Those people who depended on you to arrive at practice so that the boat would be able to go out on the water or so the offense would run smoothly no longer were drawing me out of the house.

 

It took me a long time to admit to myself that I would have to separate the two in my head. Sports don’t guarantee deep friendships anymore. Just because I go to a practice once a week, doesn’t mean I’m going to be invited to dinner on the weekend. Practice ends and we no longer go on the assumption that dinner or drinks follow. The husbands, wives, and children are at home waiting for dinner. The presentation for work needs revising tonight so that it is ready to present tomorrow. Those papers need grading before that 8am class. Friendships with teammates takes more effort, it takes more motivation: A LOT of it!

 

I’m still an athlete. That hasn’t changed and for many that I talk to, no matter how long it has been since you left your team, you feel the same way. The challenge for all of us is figuring out how to balance being an athlete without the support of teammates.

If you are looking to join a team of athletes in an online community, message me at my facebook like page or join my Beachbody team by filling out this online form
 



Reallocate that Gym Membership Fee to Create Time

When I was in my mid twenties, I subscribed to the idea that the gym membership would be the key to my fitness success. I no longer had practice four days a week and tournaments on the weekends so I needed something to keep me fit. I paid $40/month and stayed dedicated for a few months. Then the excuses came up and this was by far the most common one:

I don’t have time today for the trip there, workout, shower, and return trip. I’m too busy! I’ll just do two workouts tomorrow.

For some reason, despite averaging around 3 trips to the gym a month (maybe), I held onto the stupid membership for years! The guilt of wasting money did pull me to go a few times but inevitably, I would just feel worse off when I saw the automatic deduction for the fee. Whenever I thought about cancelling it, I could always convince myself that I NEEDED to keep it. I wanted to have access to the pool for those times I wanted to swim laps. I wanted to have the rowing machine if I felt the urge to relive the erg pieces from highschool. I wanted to use the racquetball courts if I found a partner that wanted to play. It took hundreds of dollars and months for me to finally admit that I was NOT going to go to the gym on a regular basis and I needed to try something else so that I could have greater success at sticking to a workout routine.

If you are one of those people who are hanging onto their memberships but not using it, you might not have thought enough about what is keeping you from getting to the gym. If time is your main problem, I want to share a few ways that you could better use your money to help you actually have time.

1. Get your Groceries Delivered How much time to you spend grocery shopping? Not just when you are actually in the store but everything before and after the actual shopping part.  Imagine that you could have everything show up at your door once a week. Quick google searches produced options such as Peapod for Stop and Shop and Giant shoppers who will deliver you shipment of $60+ for $6.95. netgrocer.com is another option that is relatively cheap for the east coast but increases in price as you move west. Kroger is entering the delivery market on a limited basis right now. Amazon.com and Walmart.com are even trying their hands at delivery of groceries and produce. If you didn’t have to get yourself to and from the grocery store twice a week, you could use that hour (or more) to take a walk, go for a run, stream a workout online, or do a workout DVD.

2. Househelp Don’t be afraid to reallocate your gym membership to hire someone to come in and do a chore that would free you up to workout. This could be 1 hours of cleaning, laundry, dishes or just babysitting. I was able to hire someone to come and clean my apartment for $25/hour so I use this example knowing that it might not be within the same price range for you. But with a clean house, I was able to come home and workout instead of having to clean for a few days in a row.

3. Digital Freelancing with elance.com If you haven’t heard of elance.com, you might not realize that some of the tasks that take you hours to figure out or that are just busy work can be outsourced for cheap! This is a database of IT, sales, marketing, and writing experts where you post a job you want done for you and the freelancers bid for it.  For example, if you have data that needs to get entered in a certain format (address for Christmas cards for example) you can hire someone for $10/hr to do it for you. Or let’s say you have a grocery list and you don’t have the patience to find all the items in the computer database of peapod.com. Hire someone else to put your order together for you! Maybe you have a proposal at work that will take time to reformat for handouts. Think of ways to free up your time so that you can work out.

4. At home workout programs This was the solution that I used immediately after canceling my gym membership. I committed to P90X  when I realized it would give me the equivalent of 3 months of workouts, a trainer (Tony Horton on the video), a nutrition plan, and a community for the same price as I was paying for 3 months of the gym…AND I couldn’t use time as an excuse because I didn’t have to account for driving/locker room time. Beachbody has developed even newer programs for those of us with busy lives P90, P90X3, T25, or Insanity Max 30 which are all around 30 minutes. I am currently doing Max 30 and love it. I can change into workout clothes, get a full body workout, shower, and change for work in just around 60 minutes.

If you have more ideas on how to use your gym membership fee to create more time, please share in the comments below.

If you would like to learn more about Beachbody programs, contact me at bbcoachkimw@gmail.com or join my team for free.



Identical Twins are NOT Genetic and Other Interesting Facts About Twins

I have spent the last two years improving my public speaking through Toastmasters, a group I encourage all of you to check out at some point. As part of that group, I prepare speeches roughly every month. I researched twins for my most recent speech and thought it might interest some people. Enjoy!

 

June 23, 1979: My mother goes into labor with her third child one month early. My father has to syphon gas from the neighbors car due to the oil crisis at the time to get to the hospital. At the hospital, the nurse checks the pulse of the baby and finds the heart rate on the top of mom’s stomach. The next contraction, another nurse finds the heart rate on the bottom of her stomach. My parents then learn that they are having twins and 1 hour later, my sister Rebecca was born, followed by Baby B…that was me!

 

I'm on the left

I’m on the left

My parents had one hour to prepare for the unexpected fourth child.  They called their church and asked for a complete set of everything, and 24 hours later, named me Kim and brought me home.

At the time, my parents were told that we were fraternal twins…that means we started as two separate eggs which were fertilized by two separate sperm. We would just be siblings that happen to have the same birthday. My parents always doubted this though…our dentist said our teeth were the same structure, our eye doctor treated both of us for lazy eyes, and frankly, just looking at our red hair next to my sisters’ blond hair and brown hair made it hard to think we just by chance ended up this way.

The doctors made the determination of “fraternal” based on the facts they knew at the time.

A common misconception at that time was that two placenta = fraternal. In fact, around 25% of identical twins are born this way, it just means that the egg split within the first 3 days. If they present with two amniotic sacs and one placenta, which accounts for 70% or identical twins, the egg split in 4-8 days. 1% of the time you see one sac, one placenta when the egg splits after 9 days. If the split occurs after 12 days, it usually results in conjoined twins.

With the advent of regular ultrasound and the advancement of medicine, the myth my parent’s doctor believed will likely fall into the past. But the myth that I keep running into is the one that people say “you better watch out, you are more likely to have twins”

Actually, this in not really true if you solely base this on the fact that I am a twin. Any given mother has a better chance of having fraternal twins than identical twins. Personal history, age, race, and other factors come into play. Fraternal twins run in families. Identical twins are by “chance”

According to Twins Magazine: 4 out of 1000 pregnancies are identical twins, no matter the location. The rate of fraternal twinning is 22.8 per thousand and location DOES matter.

Factors that affect twinning:

Age comes into play: age 35-40 doubles your chance of having twins. Having previous children also increases your chances. On your 4th and 5th pregnancies, you are 4 times more likely to have twins than you were on your 1st pregnancy

 

Personal history: Do twins “skip a generation”? Not really…Having fraternal twins only appears in the female. If my mother had fraternal twins, I have a higher chance of having fraternal twins. But if I had a brother…he wouldn’t see this tendency and neither would his sons…but his daughters would.

 

Race: Africans have the highest rate of fraternal twins at 16 per thousand. Asians the lowest rate 3 per thousand. Caucasian 8 per thousand

The Yoruba tribe in Africa has the highest twinning rate in the world twins at 1 in 22! The identical twin rate is the same but the fraternal twin rate is affected by what they eat…a particular species of Yams! The Yams contain a high level of substance similar to the hormone estrogen resulting in multiple ovulation.

I hope I have given you a better understanding of identical vs fraternal twins and have clarified the fact that identical twins are not genetic and that fraternal twins can run in families but are also the result of other factors such as age and race.

I want to leave you with two other interesting facts…I have the same genetic make up as my sister so our children are half siblings..if we had children with another set of identical twins, our offspring would be genetic siblings.

According to Twinsmagazine.com: Caution for those of you trying to conceive:  The most fraternal twins are conceived in the month of July! It is thought to be due to the length of daylight and its effect on the secretion of follicle stimulating hormone.



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Eating Right is ALWAYS a challenge for me

I had a friend comment to me about how much easier it must be to eat healthy in Tokyo. The reality is that it is exactly the same challenge as it was in the USA.

My biggest temptations are all the ramen shops. Unfortunately, a bowl of ramen has a ton of calories! The tempura (think fried) is delicious and on every corner, and the globalized fast food (McDonald’s, TGIFriday, Denny’s, Dominoes) is all here too. I can’t seem to get away from the temptation of pizza! Luckily, there are some options. Sushi is my healthier goto at the moment and luckily the portion sizes at a decent restaurant are reasonable.

Fruit is super expensive with the highlight of the moment being cantaloupe. 1960JPY = $16.50. I’ve heard watermelon is usually around $40 or more. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain veggies and fruits that are reasonable. I can get 5 bananas or a head of lettuce for about $2 but in general, the prices tend to mimic or exceed the level you would find at Whole Foods.

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Eating a generally healthy diet is difficult for me no matter where I am…I constantly need to avoid the temptations and make choices every day. Some days are better than others. I keep trying to be better than the day before and I encourage you to do the same.



You are not born with athletism, you must practice

If you want to be good at the piano, you have to practice. If you want to be more athletic, lose weight, build speed, or run marathons, you have to practice that too.

Have you ever watched athletes and thought…

“I could never do that!”
or maybe
“That person was born more athletic than I was!”
or maybe
“I want to look like that but I can’t!”

I’ve thought all of these things and then some.  I have these thoughts when I’m watching the World Cup, the runners on the street, and even the Beachbody DVD’s.

I just finished a great book called The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown by Daniel Coyle. I realize that I need to keep putting the work in. He has opened my eyes to the idea that talent is something we have to develop through thousands and thousands of trials, errors, and fixes. Maybe some of you have failed at dieting, workout programs, or the like. Keep getting up and trying again!

Lately, I have been getting down on myself for two things, my slow progress with learning Italian and my lack of progress in fitness. I want to be fluent in Italian and I want to be thinner and more muscular with the ability to run with the youngest players on the ultimate field. All of these things will improve with time and practice…and Coyle has reminded me this.

I’m keeping this brief but would be happy to correspond with any of you about the things you are working on improving and how you are developing the talent in fitness, language, or something else!

Reach out to me if you are struggling or succeeding in something! I want to hear from you.



Balanced approach to fitness-workouts and nutrition

I just love it when a friend shares their story. Here is a great one that was shared in one of my challenge groups when a participant was discouraged about the hard work they were putting into their workouts but they were not seeing the results they wanted in weight loss. This was a comment left by another member of the group.

“I have run 5 full marathons. Training for this takes about 13-14 weeks – the same time as a P90X program. Every single time, I gained weight. I was able to complete the marathon each time. So was my training a failure because I was heavier? No. I was focusing exclusively on one goal – get ready to run 26.2 miles. That’s a simple goal, and it doesn’t require much “balance” to the training.

10 years ago, when my daughter was an infant, I decided I was too heavy. I found a diet plan I thought I could stick to, and I did it for 6 months – I lost almost 50 pounds. I got so much smaller that people at work were concerned I was sick. Again – a very simple, single-minded goal. I wasn’t in shape, I had no endurance or strength, but I could wear smaller clothes. Was my diet a failure because I wasn’t fit? No – I only had that one goal.

These Beachbody programs are interesting – they give you a recipe for a balanced fitness experience – they can be tuned to balanced goals like being leaner and stronger at the same time, and in my experience, they are effective. But I also know from experience that just doing the workouts isn’t enough. After completing P90X twice in 2012, I did P90X workouts daily for more than half of 2013, and gained almost 15 pounds – because I was eating whatever I felt like eating.

All of that was a long-winded way of saying “Diet is so important” – you hear it all the time because it’s true.”