It’s the Final Countdown

 

The countdown is on folks. We are officially less than a month away from our wedding and the lists are many. Fortunately, a lot of the things on the lists are getting crossed off.

Because I’m such a list fiend, I’m actually feeling pretty good about where we are in terms of being ready for the big day. I mean, there are still a lot of little details to take care of, but the beauty of having a small wedding is that there are fewer moving parts and consequently there is less to worry about.

(I’m also a pretty chill person, so getting worked up about a big party just isn’t my style.)

One of the things left on my list is my dress alterations. I actually go in today for my last fitting and I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you I wasn’t a little nervous about how it’s going to fit. I probably shouldn’t be, but I am, because that’s how I roll.

In order to allay my concerns about my dress fitting today (and in another month), Clay and I have been doing Whole30 – and really it’ll end up being a Whole48 – and I’ve committed to run at least one mile every day until the wedding. I know that I need cardio in my life to feel my best, and I’ve been away from running regularly for a while.

Inspired by one of my good friends who is in the middle of her own run streak (something like 100 days, now!), I figured that in addition to my normal gym routine, if I can get myself moving for even just one mile everyday, I will feel good. And I’ll have more peace of mind. And I’ll be running again. FINALLY.

Posting about this streak here will help keep me accountable – so feel free to bug me on social media and make sure I’m getting out and getting my miles in. Every. Damn. Day. Find me on insta and twitter @kylepjennings.

Here we go!

A Case of the Mondays

I don’t know about you all, but March has felt like a million years long and I’m pretty sure I just need a nap.

Between winter finally deciding to show its face and my man being gone for the first half of the month, March has felt really dreary and blah and basically made me want to escape. Which I did last week – my mom, my sisters, and my sister’s friend met up in Arizona for spring break. It was fantastic. 80-degree temperatures, laying by the pool, reading, shopping, visiting with friends… I would like to go back now please and thank you.

I was supposed to write about vacation workouts today. But you know what? I just didn’t work out on vacation. I was gone for a week and maybe truly exercised one day: we went for a short hike/walk and I did an ab circuit. But other than that? I just relaxed. Because it was vacation.

I struggle with this mindset though, I’ll admit. I get it in my head that I need to make time to work out, no matter what I’m doing. I need to stay on top of my workout regimen and my diet so that when I get home I’m not playing catch-up.

All that thinking does, more often than not, is ruin my vacation, because I get a little obsessed with what I’m eating and how much I’m moving, and I forget to relax and just enjoy myself.  I had one morning while in Arizona that I focused on exercise… and then realized that I was there to chill out. And all I really wanted to do was be in the sun, read my book, work on wedding-related things with my mom and sisters, eat good food and drink margaritas. So I did. And you know what? I got home, and felt a little unfit, but a lot more relaxed and even though I’m super tired and not ready for Monday, I do feel a lot more prepared for what we’ve got coming down the pike. A new workout schedule, the Whole30, a wedding.

So, no, I don’t have a post about “Six Super Easy Vacation Workouts!”, but I do have some words of affirmation: You are enough – so enough that you deserve a break. Enjoy it.

Happy Monday.

Feed Your Face: Thrive Market and Eating Evolved

Raise your hand if you like food.

*raises hand*

Now, raise your hand if you like food delivered to your door?

*Hand still raised*

Keep that hand up if you like that delivered food to actually save you money AND benefit other people?

*Both hands in the air*

Well, my friends, have I got something for you.

For the past year or so, I have been a member of Thrive Market, an online grocer of sorts, and I’m a little bit in love.

Thrive Market is a membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to our members at wholesale prices, and to sponsor free memberships for low-income American families.

Thrive is great because it gives me easy access to a lot of the typically more expensive paleo ingredients that I use in a lot of my cooking. AND Thrive not only ensures that the consumer pays less than retail, they also provide healthy food to low-income families. How great is that.

Here’s how their model works:

It’s seriously so great. I place an order probably once every two weeks, stocking up on baking ingredients like coconut flour, maple sugar, almond flour, or condiments like Sir Kensington’s Special Sauce (I’m obsessed with this right now) and snacks that are sometimes harder to find in my local grocery store. I save a few pennies on my purchase (yay for me!) and I feel good about how my dollar is giving back (yay community!).

Which leads me to my next rave this week: I generally follow a flexible dieting plan (not an official program, I just track my macros and food myself in MyFitnessPal). The flexible part of this plan is that I can still treat myself so long as at the end of the day, my macro profile remains balanced. Granted, I don’t take this to mean that I should go balls out on donuts or cookies all the time, but there are definitely days where based on what I’ve prepared and planned to eat, I can have some kind of treat.

A lot of times, I want that treat to be ice cream. But lately, I’ve been treating myself with Eating Evolved chocolate. Eating Evolved explains:

We have a guiding principle that influences every decision we make — Chocolate: It’s Food, Not Candy. When chocolate is done right, it’s a delicious, antioxidant-rich superfood — a far cry from the commoditized, sugar-filled milk chocolate candies that line supermarket shelves. It is this principle that also drives our simple mission, which is to be the go-to chocolate for health conscious consumers. We know what it’s like to have nothing suitable on the market, and we work hard to solve that problem every day.

It’s Food, Not Candy. DUDE. That’s like… probably one of the most profound things ever said about chocolate. Which makes me super happy, because there are few things in this world that I love more than chocolate. Like, maybe two things. Clay and cheese. But even cheese is a toss-up.

All of Eating Evolved’s products are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free and they are paleo and vegan, which is totally rad if you’re looking for a treat that is compliant with some kind of dietary plan.

They have a number of delicious snacks, but my favorite by far are their coconut butter cups. These dark chocolate cups filled with coconut butter are to dieeeee for. My favorite flavor is probably the caramel & sea salt, closely followed by the classic… but mint is right up there, too. I usually get a few packets of these with my Thrive Market order, toss them in my freezer, and bust one out for an after gym snack.

I can’t recommend Thrive or Eating Evolved enough. Big ups to both of these companies for fueling my workouts and my life – deliciously!

Review: Gainz Box

I don’t know about you, but I love subscription boxes. There’s just something fun about a box showing up on my doorstep with cool, curated stuff just for me. I’ve previously done Stride Box, I’m a frequent Stitch Fix-er, we currently subscribe to o the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Loot Crate, and I recently signed up to try gainz box.Gainz Box delivers a number of specially curated CrossFit and weightlifting products to your door – now, disclaimer, I don’t do CrossFit. I enjoy following CrossFit athletes and many of my workouts use elements, but I’ve never been to a box nor have I ever done a class. That said, I still felt like gainz box has products that were for me! I was thrilled to receive mine this week and was excited to see how the products could work in my gym life.

Each box could contain the following elements: apparel, supplements, equipment, snacks, collectibles, and since the boxes are curated by different experts each month, you also get a bit of their knowledge.

The February box was put together by Julian Alcaraz and Miranda Oldroyd – both well-known and seasoned CrossFit Games athletes. The products included are some of their favorites and the included write up gives you details about what’s included, as well as some discount codes if you want to buy more!

The first thing I pulled out of the box was WOD Welder hand cream. This moisturizer is supposed to increase the elasticity of your skin and help repair your callouses, ultimately protecting them from nasty rips and tears. I have some gnarly callouses from all of the barbell work I do, and I can tell you I need all the help I can get. Plus, it smells good and isn’t too heavy or greasy. That’s a win!

You guys. I love tea. A lot. I drink tea every day – usually hot, because it’s the easiest to make at work. But yeah, tea is great. I was super excited to see this in this box and I was even more excited to see that it was just that: tea – nothing extra added, tea and water. Paleo, no added sugar. I had this at work yesterday, and omg. It was awesome. I need to get my hands on more of these, because it’s starting to get warm in Virginia and iced tea is my jam. Gimme.

Also included? A shaker bottle. I probably have… six… seven shaker bottles? Clay and I use these daily, whether it’s for preworkout or protein shakes. One can never have too many. I threw this one in my gym bag, where it will probably live permanently, or get migrated to my office, so I have one there. 

Getting new workout clothes is maybe one of my favorite things ever – and this box had not only this v-neck tee from Wod Gear, it also included a pair of socks. I haven’t tried those yet (I’m picky about my socks), but I wore this shirt to the gym yesterday and it was great. Typically, I don’t wear sleeved shirts when I work out, but this one’s sleeves are short enough that I didn’t get too hot. It’s a nice add to my collection. All in all, I was really pleased with what I got this month. This box is a little pricey – for the month to month subscription it’s $32, but the value is great. You’re getting approximately $75 worth of gear for about half the cost. And with the coupon codes included as well? Yeah. I approve.

I’m going to keep my subscription for another month or two for sure – I’d like to see what other boxes look like and I definitely don’t mind getting some new swag in the process. I’ll say it again, you don’t have to be a crossfitter to subscribe to gainz box – honestly, I found everything in this box useful to me as someone who weight trains regularly. If you do, too, check it out! You’ll get some great products, and maybe you’ll be exposed to something you haven’t tried before.

 

Traveling? Modify Your Workouts!

Anyone who has traveled literally ever knows how challenging it can be to try to find time to exercise on a trip. Especially if that trip is one for work and your days are almost entirely consumed with work-related activities.

Between days full of meetings and education sessions, and evenings that have multiple events requiring your presence or attention, finding time to get even a 20 minute workout in can feel impossible.

That’s the situation I’m faced with this week. I’m on the road for the annual conference that the association I work for puts on. Fortunately, the hotel we’re taking over has a fitness facility and I’ve committed to working out at least three times during the five days I’m working there. Ideally, I’ll be able to make it happen all five days, but you know as well as I do that sometimes, you’re just too wiped by the end of the day.

Now, what might seem like a challenge is figuring out whether or not I’l be able to continue with my current workout routine. Currently, I’m doing a lot of barbell work – front and back squats, cleans, push jerks, thrusters, bench press, deadlifts… Without a barbell, these things seemingly become more difficult.

But that’s just how it seems. What’s cool is that al of these moves can be scaled or adjusted to be performed with Dumbbells or kettle bells. And some can even be done with body weight alone (I’m looking at you squats).

So, this week, depending on the equipment available to me, I’ve been doing my normal workouts or body weight workouts, based on the following:

Monday – bi tri/cardio
Row – 50 cal warm up – The likelihood that the hotel has a rower is slim, so I’ll probably just jog for five minutes or so
Standing curl – 4×8 (20)
Hammer curl – 4×8 (17.5)
Ez bar curl – 4×8 (35) – All of these cable-related lifts will be dependent on equipment. No cables? Tricep push-ups and kickbacks instead!
Tricep pushdown – 4×10 (55)
Rope pull down – 4×10 (38.5)

4 rounds
10 KBS (20)
10 burpees

Tuesday – legs
Back squat – 4×8 (185)
Box jump/air squat superset – 3 rounds, 10/15
Sled push – 1,2,3,2,1

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Wednesday – back
3:00 AMRAP (3 rounds)
Deadlift/push-up super set 185/135 – Deadlifts can be done with Dumbbells or kettle bells easily enough. I won’t be able to get up to my normal working weight, so I’ll probably up my AMRAP time to 5:00.

Barbell row 4×8 (135) – Dumbbells, lower weight, higher reps.

Cable row/lat pull down superset
4×10 (121) – If there’s no cable machine, I’ll add to my pull-up reps in the next movement.

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Thursday – chest
Straight bench – 4×8 (135-7,6,6,5) – Will sub with Dumbbells if necessary. Or push-ups if no Dumbbells are available.
Seated Fly – 4×8 (30×4)

15 min EMOM
18/12 cal row – If no rower, I’ll run!
18/12 air squat
18/12 dips

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Friday – shoulders
Thrusters – 4×8 (85) – Modify this with Dumbbells if necessary
Push press – 4×8 (75) – Modify this with Dumbbells if necessary

6 min EMOM
Wall ball thrusters max
Jump squats max

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Saturday – rest
Saturday is a travel day, so working out is a maybe. If I have time to do a short workout in the morning, I will, but I’m not going to scramble to make it happen.

Having a workout plan and schedule for the week should make my goal of working out while at Conference easier to achieve, but as well all know, things happen. In the event I can’t stick to my schedule, I’ll improvise, and that will be good enough. Because as long as I get to move my body and zone out for a little bit, I’ll be in a good spot.

New Year’s Resolutions? More Like Life Resolutions.

Now that we’re a month into 2017, those resolutions we made a few short weeks ago might have already fallen to the wayside. Or, you could have been like me and not made any resolutions at all, in which case you might still be trying to figure out what you want to do in 2017 and how you’re going to accomplish it.

We hear so much talk about #newyearnewme that is almost seems like a requirement that we all resolve to be skinnier or stronger or whatever. I have a hard time with that, because 1. The me that I am right now seems pretty okay, and 2. Shouldn’t we focus more on being a better human being and making meaningful changes in our lives than just the superficial?

Similarly, I don’t think the beginning of the year has cornered the market on when we’re allowed to set goals. Who says you can’t make resolutions at the end of January, or in May or in August? No one, that’s who.

Given that, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks really evaluating some *life* things and have made pledges to myself and to others. Some of these pledges are fitness related, others are more broadly applicable in my life. All are aimed at growing into a better person and maybe bettering the word around me, too.

1. Get more sleep.
This is a fitness goal if I’ve ever seen one. Having a history of troubled sleep or simply not getting enough has meant that I haven’t allowed my body the appropriate recovery time. In the last month and a half, Clay and I have prioritized early bedtimes in favor of getting the most sleep possible. Consequently, we’ve been feeling a lot better physically and been more successful in the gym.

2. Read more books.
This seems like a gimme, but it’s ones that I’m really excited about! I used to be voracious reader as a kid, but since graduating college, the time I’ve dedicated to reading has dwindled. However, now that getting to bed early is a reality, so is making time to read a little before falling asleep. My goal is to finish at least 30 books this year – I’m already two in (one of those being Game of Thrones. Go big or go home amirite?)
3. Balance my workouts.
Weightlifting has been front and center for more than a year, but I want to make sure I’m balancing that with cardio as well – I feel better physically when I make time for a run or a Kaza class or two during the week. I want to stick to this, especially while Clay travels for work and my gym partner is gone.

4. Get more involved in my community.
This is a goal that has grown out of the atmosphere of the past few weeks – I feel that to best do my small part to fix what is so broken, I first need to get to know my neighbors and our community. To better understand what challenges we all face and what our priorities are.

5. Adjust my five year plan.
Following the last goal, this one is broader. My new five year plan includes going back to school and getting my law degree, so that I can really make bigger moves in advocacy and political action. But, in order to make that happen, I need to make some other adjustments and allowances. I’m grateful to have a partner who supports and encourages these dreams – and who understands that they may take time to achieve, but they are still possible.

More than new year’s resolutions, these goals aren’t time-stamped, and they certainly don’t have an expiration date. My next steps are just to keep on trucking and make a little bit of progress every day.

How do you set goals for yourself? Do you buy into New Year’s resolutions?

A Few of My Favorite Things

With the beginning of the new year, I’ve got yet another new fitness regimen. We’ve worked up some new strength programming and have put a new focus on some HIIT-inspired movements.

Sweating for the wedding is real right now.

In an effort to stay inspired in the gym and feel good about the work we’re putting in, in conjunction with Clay’s new role at work being very focused on helping lead PT for his unit, our workouts have started to look very different.

It’s awesome.

What’s even more awesome though, is that Christmas meant new fitness accessories – and consequently better workouts. Its always interesting to me how having the right equipment can make such a big difference in how efficient your movements and lifts are. I feel so much better in the gym now that I’ve solved a couple of workout woes.

So what am I loving right now?

Nike Metcon 2

These shooooesssss you guys. If you’re doing weightlifting and cross-training workouts, these shoes are going to be your jam. I’ve read about them for a long time (I read a lot of fitness blogs, okay) and many athletes have shared how much they love this shoe. It’s an ideal cross-trainer, because while it’s the tiniest bit weighted and flat-soled for lifting stability, it also have a flexible forefoot, which means running and agility drills are comfortable. (I was going to say no sweat, but that is not the case at all. There is a lot of sweat.)

I’ve been using these bad boys for a couple of weeks and I’ve already noticed a significant difference. Squats, thrusters, push presses, and deadlifts all feel better – the flat sole of shoe connects me with the ground, and the solid heel helps keep my form correct. Workouts have gotten harder, but my feet are happier.

Nordic Lifting Wrist Wraps 

Originally, I bought wrist wraps and straps for Clay for Christmas. He was about them and has used them pretty much every day he could since then. Of course, his raving made me want to try them… and I borrowed his wrist wraps on days when we were bench pressing and immediately I noticed the difference. I’d never really thought I needed or wanted more wrist support, but the added stability has really helped me to continue to move heavier weight at higher reps. My wrists feel safer all around.

Qalo Ring

I’ve written about my Qalo rings before, but I can’t stress enough how much I love them. Qalo offers silicone rings to wear in place of your wedding or engagement rings while you workout, work or play outside. Throwing around weights and barbells can do gnarly damage to your jewelry AND your fingers if something gets caught wrong. Not to mention all that sweat. No good can come from that. I have a couple of these rings and I wear them a lot – always when I’m at the gym, sometimes when I go to Kazaxe and on days when I’m doing a lot of cleaning or hiking or playing outside. They have a ton of fun colors and styles, and even some rings whose proceeds go to charitable organizations.

It’s important to remember, thought, that at the end of the day, fitness equipment is just that – equipment. It doesn’t work unless you do. It’s not meant to turn you into a super athlete, its meant to help you be more efficient, more effective and safer in your workouts so that you can get the most out of them. So, lace up, strap in and get going!