The Rustling Leaves

The shorter days are forcing me to run at dusk or in the dark. Last night, I chose a section of town that is new and only has a couple of homes in the subdivision. I knew this route would have less traffic, but it’s heavily wooded and lacks sufficient lighting.

What I didn’t count on was crossing paths with another person enjoying the evening. I was a lone runner climbing the hill leading into the woods when I met another person walking towards me. It’s a strange feeling when all that is recognizable is their long shadow and illuminated silhouette.

At that point, my imagination began to take over.

Eerie Haiku

The rustling leaves—
stranger lurks in the shadows.
Gone, without a trace.

~

Tuesday’s Writing Tip from the book The Portable MFA in Creative Writing:

This week is about “stirring the pot.” Spend about 45 minutes each day (break it up into 15 minute increments if needed) writing in your notebook.

“Record snippets of dreams or thoughts you have throughout the day…pay attention to sounds you hear, foods you taste, sensory physical details of your daily life that stick in your mind. Just ‘fool’ around with some words.”

Mantra for the week: “Don’t get it right, get it written.”

I allowed myself some time to do this today, although I find it difficult to break away from the morning pages. Those take about 30 minutes, and I don’t have an additional 45 minutes on top of that to let my mind wander some more.

So today it was a combined effort. For the next few weeks I am going to try to adhere to the MFA guidelines rather than the Morning Pages. Sorry Julia Cameron, you’ll have to wait.

I love this book and plan to share more information as I read along. I think it would be an amazing experience to go back to school for an MFA in Creative Writing.

Do you have any EERIE stories to tell, or poems to share? I would love to read them.

~Nicole

King of the Road

Last night was the first time in a month that I have had the time and energy to crank out a 60 minute run. There was a drastic difference between my run last Thursday and last night. I doubt that I was much faster than normal, but every step felt so good. I was only going to run for about 40 minutes, but at the 20 minute mark I was feeling so good I thought maybe I should go for 50 minutes. And, by the time 30 minutes hit, I questioned whether I could go for the gold. I continued through the run and managed to crank out 61:15.

When I arrived home, I watered the outside plants and stretched as I watered. I was so grateful for the energy that I had. I was also grateful that I didn’t have anything urgent I needed to do. Yes, I still have two lessons to finish for my online WordPress class. And yes, I still have my training article to finish for the Wagazine, but it isn’t due until Friday. Plus, I am waiting to hear back from the editor to see if my angle is going to work for this edition. I say this because the editor originally wanted the article to be more about pets in general rather than dogs. However, the contacts she provided were all canine people, so the article morphed into a Fido oriented article.

So, once I finished with my stretching, it was almost time to eat and relax. Adlai already had a pizza in the oven, so, we cleaned up for dinner, I made a salad and we sat and watched an episode of Scandal.

It was a great day and I am thankful that I have had some time to catch my breath. It isn’t much, but I’ll take. My schedule is about to get crazy again.

Stay Strong in all that you do!

~Nicole

Danger! Mango & Avocado Salsa Ahead!

Hey everyone! I hope you are having a great Tuesday!

Have I got a recipe for you to try! This healthy salsa is doubled in my household because it’s so doggone good! The tangy citrus juice from the lime and lemon pair well with the sweet, ripe mango. This is great with chips or use as a topping on a white, flaky fish like Tilapia. I have made this recipe several times for a variety of occasions and it’s never disappointing.

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Salsa Recipe

Combine salt, avocado, mango, chopped cilantro, lemon and lime juice, tossing gently. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Let stand 10 minutes and serve with chips.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 3 Tablespoons salsa and six chips)

Calories: 92; Fat 3.1g; Protein 1.9g; Carb 15.8g; Fiber 2.4g; Chol 0mg; Sodium 83mg; Calc 49mg.

I cut this recipe from a magazine years ago and cannot remember which one.

Before I sign off for today, it’s day 2 for the “plank challenge.” Today we are going to hold for one minute, like yesterday, plus we are going to add 20 seconds, for a total of 1 minute and 20 seconds.

To start your one minute, try the Rainbow Plank. If you need to, hold the plank for 10 seconds, then, do the Rainbow Plank for 10 counts. Repeat until the first minute is complete. Today, you are going to add 20 seconds. For this portion, hold in a forearm plank for the last 20 seconds.

Ready. Set. Go!

Stay Strong! Remember, I’m cheering you on!

~Nicole

Don’t Give Up!

Good Day to All!

Yesterday morning, my alarm clock blared at 4:30 a.m., a time when I usually roll over and go back to bed. But, I crawled out of bed and had my morning fuel. Almost every day of the week, I eat a mixture of two cereal flavors, both by Kashi. Usually, I don’t eat before a workout, but I figured I had about three hours to digest it before the big 10K.

I love to mix these two high protein and high fiber cereals together for my morning fuel!

I love to mix these two high protein and high fiber cereals together for my morning fuel!

After breakfast, I got myself together and hubby and I were out the door and on the road by 5:20. It was nice drive to Lake City, and I was surprised by how awake I was feeling. I suppose it was the excitement of the race pumping adrenaline through my body.

On the road!

On the road!

We arrived around 6:15 a.m. and I went straight to the registration booth to pick up my goodie bag and official race number. Most of the items in the bag were brochures about the area and small ticket stubs for free ice cream, free golf or free bowling sessions. Runners did receive one very bright, neon yellow t-shirt.

Free t-shirt!

Free t-shirt!

After I registered, I kind of walked around in a daze. There were lots of people there who looked like that had done this type of thing a time or two. I, on the other hand haven’t participated in an organized race in about 10 years, it was then I realized how nervous I was.

I watched as runners grouped together laughing and chatting and having a good time. They didn’t appear to be nervous at all. Then, I started to notice people who looked like they were professional runners. They were sprinting out in the grass, lunging side to side, front to back and doing calf stretches.

After walking around in a daze for several minutes, I finally decided it was time to just relax and have fun. I told myself that I have really enjoyed semi-training for this event and now it’s here and it’s time to to enjoy it. So I had my husband, Adlai, take a few pictures pre-race so that I could have this event cemented in my head just in case I decide to run another race.

Just finishing up my morning coffee.

Just finishing up my morning coffee.

Standing at the finish line pre-race.

Standing at the finish line pre-race.

We walked back to the truck so I could put on my shoes. As I started digging through my bag for my socks and shoes, panic struck. I couldn’t find my iPod and earbuds. I left them at home. Now, if you recall the blog post I talked about “Team Work,” the one where I ran without my music and Adlai followed along with his bicycle, it was awesome! So, I tried to remember that I could do it. I have run without music once, I can do it again.

For whatever reason, the race was delayed 15 minutes, so I used this time to check out the route posted next to the registration booth. I drank a little more water and I continued to stretch my muscles in preparation for this “no-music” havin’ 10K. Sigh….

Routes for the 5K, 10K and the 1/2 marathon.

Routes for the 5K, 10K and the 1/2 marathon.

At 7:15 the 1/2 marathon runners (thank goodness that wasn’t me) were called to the starting line and big, loud roar from the announcer shouted “GO!” The runners quickly disappeared up the first hill, and then, 5K and 10K runners were called to the starting line. Everyone casually walked to the starting line and waited for the announcer.

I stood at the starting line and  waited patiently for the race to begin.

I stood at the starting line and waited patiently for the race to begin.

I watched as some of the rail thin runners jumped in place and did a series of high knees. Then, I watched as the majority of runners clicked through their iPod’s and found their playlist. Sigh again….

By 7:45, the 10K began. There were people passing me left and right. I tried not to care, and I tried to keep up. I ran with the pack for as long as I could. I definitely had my game face on, and I tried to be strong, I tried to keep a positive frame of mind.

GO!! GO!! GO!!

GO!! GO!! GO!!

Hair blowing in the wind.

Trying to keep up with everyone was tough! I wondered how much prep that had prior to this race??

Trying to keep up with everyone was tough! I wondered how much prep that had prior to this race??

Little by little I was passed by the majority of the 10K runners and the 5 K runners that started about 100 feet behind us. There were even little kids passing me as I ran. I listened to my breath, I was panting hard. I felt like I was doing burpee after burpee with no rest.

I continued this pace and found a girl in a green shirt that had a great pace. She was very steady and I tried to keep up with her. I did for about the first two miles until she eventually pulled ahead of me. I slowed my pace and was able to breath again. I could focus only on the thick, humid air-it had to have been 94% humidity. I could only hear my breathing and my feet hitting the ground. Unfortunately, this was not a day that I felt like the king of the road.

I ran by myself for quite awhile until I caught up to a couple of girls that were running and chatting. I passed them and I was feeling pretty good. But, my breath was wavering again, and suddenly those girls I had just passed were passing me. I wanted to stop so badly. I wanted this race to be over! I kept watching one man run for a bit, then he stopped and walked. Then he ran. And then he stopped and walked. It looked so enticing, but I didn’t stop running. I kept going. I kept running, slow, but sure.

I finally made it to the home stretch, which was down hill, thank goodness. I noted that I either need to run more hills or find a 10K that was all flat-maybe one in Kansas or something.

Finally running down hill! The last 1/2 mile or so.

Finally running down hill! The last 1/2 mile or so.

Almost home! Hubby was cheering me on!

Almost home! Hubby was cheering me on!

And finally, I was done! My time was slow, but it seemed on par with what I have been running at home. I know that I am not ever going to be the fastest runner, but maybe next time, with a little music it will be an enjoyable run. Or at least a little more enjoyable than this one!

And although I didn’t enjoy every step of the way like many of my pre-race runs, I didn’t give up and that’s what I am going to take away from this humbling event!

Post run water break! I couldn't get enough water!

Post run water break! I couldn’t get enough water!

Has anyone had any humbling fitness experiences?

Stay Strong and have a great day!

~Nicole

The Challenges of Summer

Good Day to All!

As I sat at my desk snacking on fresh blueberries, strawberries and pears, I reflected on the intense workout and fabulous group of gals that came to 3.2.1. last night. They did a great job — you know who you are!

Although it was great to be outside getting our sweat on, there were some challenges. First, bugs. Big, bad bugs. Mosquitoes, chiggers and gnats, oh my!  But, a touch of bug spray helped us out a bit. Then, the weather looked a bit gnarly. The sky had big, ominous, gray clouds and the humidity made it a little tough to breathe, but these gals showed strength and endurance and handled everything quite well.

After our workout, I had a little treat for one lucky participant. I put all attendees names in a small cup and picked one name; that person won the “goodie bag” I had prepared the night before. Inside the bag was a little snack to keep her energized.

Two tasty apples, a packet of peanut butter and a packet of Emergen-C

Two tasty apples, a packet of peanut butter and a packet of Emergen-C

I am just about to head out for my evening run. Tonight is my night for a short run. My 10K is in four days and I am so excited to participate. I am really looking forward to getting an accurate read on what my time is for 6.2  miles. The race is in Lake City, Minnesota, and I am hoping the race has enjoyable scenery along the way.

If you would like to do your own cardio tonight go for it, but if you want to mix it up a little I have two Step routines for you. The following routines are completed on a vertical step. There is a Plank Circuit to round out your night!

Vertical Step: Walk the Box Routine

  1. 4 Charleston
  2. 4 Walk the Box
  3. 4 Knee Corner to Corner
  4. 4 Basic
  5. 1/2 L
  6. 1 U-Turn (Single Knee, Double Knee, Triple Knee)
  7. 1 Triple Ham Curl (This is where you will switch lead legs)

Repeat 3 times.

Vertical Step: Stomp the Bug

  1. 4 Basic
  2. 4 Stomp the Bug
  3. 4 Knee Walk Back
  4. 1 T with Straddle/Jump
  5. 4 Double Instep
  6. 4 Side Out Corners
  7. 1 Triple Knee (This is where you will switch lead legs)

Repeat 3 times.

Here is an Plank Circuit! Do each plank for 1 minute!

  1. Spider Plank (forearms to palms)
  2. Side Plank with Elephant arm (extend arm toward the sky, curve it under rib cage and extend to the sky again)
  3. Plank (rock back and forth on toes)
  4. Plank on Knees
  5. Plank (runner knees)
  6. Plank Jacks (plank, then feet go out/in, out/in)
  7. Plank with Arm Extension (extend right arm/lift left leg; extend left arm/lift right leg)

Done!

Let me know how you like the Plank Circuit. I am thinking about doing a Plank Challenge starting in July. Would you be interested in planking with me? Would you like a two week, three week or month long Plank Challenge?

Have a great night and Stay Strong in the workout of your choice!

~Nicole

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try Tabata Today!

Good day to all!

I live for cardio! I love running, walking, biking, high intensity interval training or Tabata and Turbo Kick, but that doesn’t mean that these types of workouts are all my body needs. It’s crucial to find time for toning exercises as well. I think that’s why I love 3.2.1. so much, because I am able to do my favorite cardio exercises while I tone different muscle groups.

Not only is toning beneficial for creating long lean muscles, but according to Mayo Clinic, toning helps preserve muscle mass, it controls weight, it reduces the risk of osteoporosis and it decreases your chance of injury. So check out the Tabata workout and get your heart pumpin’. And then, follow the toning exercises for your arms, legs and abs. You need heavy weights, a mat, a timer and some water.

I hope you have fun! Let me know what your favorite form of Cardio is in the comment section below.

Stay Strong!

~Nicole

 

Tabata-perform each exercise for 20 seconds, then, rest for 10 seconds. Complete all exercise in the group, then, repeat.

  1. Lunge jumps
  2. Plie Hops & Punch Hi/Low
  3. High Knees
  4. Lunge back & shoot
  5. Jumping Jacks

Repeat

  1. Power Burpee (Push Up on the floor)
  2. Fast feet
  3. Suicide Run (3 side steps & touch the floor)
  4. Jab/Cross/Heel
  5. Squat with side kick

Repeat

  1. Ski
  2. Ham Curl
  3. Floor Jacks
  4. Mummy
  5. Skate

Repeat

Toning

Arms: To complete each exercise please grab a pair of heavy weights…keep your water close too. Complete each exercise for one minute, repeat for 20 seconds for the Power Burn.

Biceps:

  1. Bicep Curls
  2. Hammer Curls with wall squat
  3. Wide Curls

Triceps:

  1. Overhead Extension
  2. Kickbacks with both arms simultaneously
  3. Wall Push Up

Shoulders:

  1. Military Press
  2. Bent arm lateral raise
  3. Front/Side Arm Raise

Legs:

  1. Center Squats
  2. Plie Squats
  3. Sissy Squats
  1. Walking Lunges (complete exercise for 3 minutes/do not repeat for 20 seconds)
  2. Side leg lifts (alternate point toe/flex toe and do 1 minute on each side/do not repeat for 20 sec.)
  3. Inner Thigh lifts (alternate point toe/flex toe and do 1 minute on each side/do not repeat for 20 sec.)

Abs:

  1. Punch Up x4 and Pump back x4
  2. Plank
  3. Side Plank with hip dips (one minute on each side)

Pat yourself on the back! You’re done!

 

 

 

 

 

Tough It Out!

Good day to all!

Last night, at 3.2.1., we had a blast! We had a few more participants this week, and I was grateful for each and every person that came.  I love to teach, and I love the energy that these women have — they push me to keep going!

I titled this post “Tough It” Out for two reasons. One: I’ve got a great workout planned for chest, back and abs, and I hope you can give it a try. Two: I have to “Tough It Out” because I don’t have time to exercise today, which makes me a little cranky. After going from my full-time job, I have two back to back events to cover for the newspaper that I write for every week. Therefore, no workout for me today; I’ll have to make it up tomorrow at Step & Sculpt.

As I said, today the focus is on chest, back and abs. I highly recommend a little cardio beforehand if you can. Take a walk, ride your bike or go for a run; you can even do the Step routine I posted for you last week. Remember, Step routines can always be done on the floor. I’ll be posting more cardio work for you at a later date.

Get your heavy and light weights, along with a mat, a timer and some water.

Follow the pyramid: Do each set of exercises for 30 seconds. Then repeat each set of exercises for 20 seconds, then repeat each set of exercises for 10 seconds. Now, go in reverse. Each set of exercises for 10 seconds, then 20 seconds, then 30 seconds…and done!

Chest:

  1. Push Ups-do as many guy Push ups as you can, then switch to girl.
  2. Standing Chest Press-stand feet shoulder width apart with heavy weights in hand. Bend elbows at 90 degrees and keep arms parallel to the ground or shoulder height. Weights start out to the side and then squeeze together in front. Open and close motion.
  3. Chest fly on the floor with legs extended. Legs up and arms up, then as legs go straight down and come 1″ from the floor (never touching the floor), arms open with elbows slightly bent. Then bring legs up as you close arms.
  4. Chest Press on the mat with a bridge pose (hips off the mat, squeeze bootie and push it towards the ceiling.)
  5. Forearm Plank

Back:

  1. Runner’s Pose with reverse fly (remember chest is resting on quad, drop back knee for modification).
  2. Superman
  3. Standing Row or Plank Row with heavy weights
  4. Quadruped -using a light weight-on, your positioning is on all fours. Extend left leg and right arm. Then, bring together in the center, crunching abs as well.
  5. Forearm Plank

Abs:

  1. Single, Single, Double (In plie stance, reach arm to one side then the other).
  2. Toy Soldier (Both arms up overhead, then lift right leg to meet arms about waist high).
  3. Crunches
  4. Extend legs out on mat, with one light weight in hands above chest, crunch up.
  5. Forearm plank

Did you “Tough It Out?” I hope so…you’ll feel so much better than just sitting on the couch watching T.V.  🙂

As always, Stay Strong!

~Nicole

 

Power Step!

Good day to all!

Last night was the first Power Step class that I have taught. The class was an hour and half long and featured several Step Aerobic routines, toning for the arms and a few ab moves to round out the evening. I intended to post a couple of Step Aerobic routines yesterday, but spent the majority of my allotted writing time working with the help desk at WordPress. I have vowed to create a more organized and fun website, but I am struggling with all of the WordPress Dashboard elements! Ugh!

Hopefully you found a way to get movin’ yesterday, but if you didn’t, here’s a fun way to get your cardio in and tone your legs and abs tonight. The Step routines can all be completed on the ground. You don’t have to have the Step, although that makes it a little more challenging.

Rockinghorse Routine

  1. 4 Basic
  2. 4 V-Step
  3. 4 Knee/Corner
  4. 4 Ham/Corner
  5. 4 Rockinghorse/Corner
  6. 1 Slow V
  7. Take it off the side and 4 single knees
  8. 1 Knee off the back
  9. 1 Triple knee

REPEAT 3x

Knee Around the World Routine

  1. 4 Basic
  2. 4 V-Step
  3. 4 Turn Step
  4. 4 A (Across box)
  5. Knee Around the World
  6. 1 Triple Knee

REPEAT 3x

Single, Single, Double Routine

  1. 4 Single,Single, Double
  2. 4 V-Step
  3. 4 Turn Step
  4. 4 Scissor (or A across the box)
  5. 4 Triple Curl/Corner
  6. 1 Single Glute

REPEAT 3x

Now for the toning portion of the workout. Please complete each exercise in the muscle group for one minute. Then, repeat each exercise for 20 seconds for the Power Burn.

Toning/Quads:

  1. Sissy Squats (heels on weights)
  2. Alt. Front Lunges
  3. Wall Squats

Toning/Glutes:

  1. Squats
  2. Bridge (on floor/lift bootie)
  3. Donkey Kicks (on all 4s, flex foot and push it to the ceiling/complete both sides)

Toning/Hamstrings:

  1. Deadlifts
  2. Reverse Plank (dig those heels in!)
  3. Bridge with one leg extended toward ceiling (complete both sides)

Abs/Complete each one for 1 minute: (repeat if you dare)

  1. Forearm Plank
  2. Spider Plank (palms walk down to forearms and back to palms)
  3. Plank (rock up on your toes and back)
  4. Plank (runner knees)
  5. Side Plank (both sides for one minute)

Stay Strong!

~Nicole

P.S. You can find a few music playlists on Spotify. In the search bar, choose fitness. 🙂

 

Welcome to The Fitness Loop!

Good day to all and thank you for visiting my healthy living blog. I have been journaling for more than 20 years and I have been an athlete and fitness junkie for even longer. As I reach out today with my first blog post, I am both excited and petrified. I have much to share, but I have a lot to learn about creating a well organized blog. So, as you follow along this journey with me, please be patient as I learn the ins and outs of blogging and WordPress.

Gettin’ My Sweat On

This evening, I am meeting with a wonderful group of women at the park for a workout. I met this group of ladies about six months ago when I was recruited to teach fitness classes at a small studio (please read the About section to learn more about my teaching background). I bonded with many of these women in a short time period. I had developed a loyal following, but out of the blue, the studio owner decided to close the doors. Heartbroken, we all decided to meet at the park once a week so that we could remain in contact. And tonight marks our first workout.

3.2.1.

The outdoor class will be based on 3.2.1. This class is three minutes of toning a particular muscle group, then two minutes of heart pumpin’ cardio, followed by one minute of torturous abs. We repeat this format five times to hit most of the major muscle groups. The class is one hour.

To get a taste of 3.2.1, I am publishing our first workout. I would love for you to try it and give me your thoughts. The outdoor version of this class is limited to the equipment we use because it’s not held at a workout facility. The only items needed for this class are heavy (8, 10 or 12 lbs) weights, light (3, 5 or 6 lbs) weights, a mat and water.

Toning/Legs (each 1 minute):

  1. Frog Squat
  2. Low Squat
  3. Squat with Shoulder Press

Cardio (2 minutes total):

  1. Jab/Cross Heel 30 sec.
  2. Jump Rope 30 sec.

Abs (1 min.):

  1. Cross Body Mt. Climber

Toning/Back (1 min. of each):

  1. Superman
  2. Alt. Row
  3. Reverse Fly

Cardio (2 min. total):

  1. Fast Feet
  2. Jumping Jacks

Abs (1 min.):

  1. Torso Twist

Toning/Biceps (1 min. of each):

  1. Curls
  2. Deadlift with hammer curls
  3. Alt. front lunge with wide curls

Cardio (2 min. total):

  1. Lunge back and shoot
  2. Bootie Kicks

Abs (1 min.):

  1. Standing side crunches

Toning/Triceps (1 min. of each):

  1. Kickbacks
  2. Skull Crusher
  3. Dips (you’ll a step, chair, bench)

Cardio (2 min. total):

  1. Mummy
  2. Tap sides

Abs (1 min.):

  1. Plank

Toning/Chest (1 min. each):

  1. Push ups
  2. Chest presses
  3. Chest Fly

Cardio: (2 min. total):

  1. Ski
  2. Skate

Abs (1 min.):

  1. Reverse Curl

Boom! Done! Stay Strong and Stay Motivated!

Good work!

Nicole