Pocahontas is easily the fittest Princess in the bunch. She climbs willow trees, canoes rivers, free runs through the forest and swims. This week I did as much of that as I could with my main focus being on running and canoeing.
This is my canoe, her name is Grandmother Willow. There is a lake with all kinds of canals leading to other lakes right near my apartment. I strapped Grandmother Willow to my roof and we went canoeing 4 days this week.
As an added bonus this week, I took a class at Orange Theory Fitness. They offer a free 1-hour trial class and since they incorporate a rowing machine, treadmill and free weights, I thought it would be a perfect addition for Pocahontas Week. I was right! This class is a hard hitting, interval workout that and hits every muscle group. I walked away pleasantly sore and I believe it would be a great class to incorporate into a weekly schedule. But I couldn’t sign up, because I had other princesses to focus on.
Here we are in week 2 of the Zombie Apocalypse. Maybe it hasn’t happened to you yet, but there will come a time, my little zombie hunters, when the music will die. This is, after all, an apocalypse and one simply has no time for the finer things in life. Disc Jockeys will be turned, Spotify developers will get eaten and eventually that little battery in your beloved mobile device will peter out. What will accompany you on your frantic runs through the hoards?
Nothing, little one.
Nothing, but the steady beat of your own heart and the gentle lull of your feet against the pavement.
In preparation for this inevitable occurrence, I urge you to get used to that sound. The sound of solitude.
Go for a walk or a run and listen to what happens when you have no option, no song select, no fast forward, no skip, no replay, no loop, no track, no beat, no lyrics, no strings. I’m sorry if this sounds rather grim…these are hard times.
Recently I had an unfortunate occurrence involving my mobile device…it was turned to the dark side, never to return and I was forced to go running without my Dance, Dance Revolution playlist on Spotify (the struggle was real!) I had spent days avoiding the inevitable believing myself incapable of being motivated without my headphones firmly planted in my earholes.
But something wonderful happened, future zombies of America (not you, of course not you…no the person next to you, that’s the future zombie!) I discovered the music of my rhythm. Instead of pushing myself to match the beat of each song and losing steam in the middle of song two, I found that my breath matched my feet. One two. One two. One two. I went 2 extra blocks that I usually do on my first run after weeks of inactivity.
I don’t know if it was the motivation of knowing that at any minute, if I’m not fast enough, I could get my brains eaten by walkers, or if I finally just allowed my body to go at it’s own pace instead of Justin Timberlake’s but it was good…no it was GREAT!!
I learned something! We will make it through this, survivors. There’s still music out there if you’re listening for it. The zombies haven’t taken it from us completely. Keep your ears open for your rhythm and your eyes open for biters.
A big deterrent to physical fitness is the weather. Mother Nature has her own ideas sometimes about when you’ll go for a run or a walk or a fitness class outside. But guess what…zombies don’t care about the rain.
That’s why it’s vital for you to continue training in all kinds of weather. Listen, I’m not encouraging you to go out in Hurricane Matthew and get a run in just to keep in peak physical condition. (Today’s hurricane threat is a real one…take it seriously.) I’m just saying that if you had to choose between a hurricane and a flesh eating monster, I think you might take your chances with the wind and the rain. (But don’t do that today!!!)
Yesterday, I did a little rainy day recon and I really enjoyed it. The rain was cool on this hot Florida day, making the distance not feel so far. I enjoyed my (non threatening) rainy day run. And now I feel pretty confident that the elements won’t slow me down. If I need to run in a torrential down pour to avoid getting my brains eaten, I’ll do it.
You have to decide for yourself, survivors. Are you willing to do what it takes? Maybe it’s a gorgeous sunny day, maybe it’s pouring out. Maybe you live in Siberia and there’s a freaking blizzard…actually you, Siberia guy…you’re probably pretty save from the zombies. Carry on!
I’m a pretty inspired person. I find inspiration in music. I find it in movies. I find it in books and blogs and friendships and in daily quiet time with God. Out here in California I find it when simply gazing at the sunshiney sky or a perfectly placed palm tree.
But sometimes the well runs dry.
So I made a list of the things that usually help me get my inspirational groove back.
Step 1: Turn to God
This is usually the first place I turn. I admit, sometimes it takes a back burner in the quest for motivation and inspiration. But it should always be first. My favorite devotions are “My Utmost for the Highest” by Oswald Chambers and “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. I try to do these consistently. When I reach a stagnant moment, I will always have a place to turn.
Step 2: Make a List
After placing my path back in God’s hands (time and again) I try and list the dreams He’s placed on my heart. The passions that I can’t shake. The “unreasonable,” “unaccomplishable” musings that fill my brain and heart constantly. In list form, they seem much more attainable!
Step 3: Watch any and all Marvel movies
For some reason the MCU really sparks my imagination! I dream of being a superhero. I dream of saving the world. And after watching Captain America or Avengers, it just seems easier to accomplish.
Step 4: Walk, Run, Jump, Spin
When I’m in a season of laziness and drought, it’s easy to forget or ignore the things I love most. Happiness doesn’t seem attainable in the darker moments. But I love working out! I really do. I had a guy at Crunch gym, a guy who was trying to sell me on a membership by the way, tell me that people work out to lose weight or gain weight or look better, but never because they love it. To which I responded, that’s nice…show me to my spin class. Cause I love spinning!! The feel of aching muscles, muscles that you may have forgotten existed is what keeps me moving.
Step 5: Read
In addition to my Bible and my daily devotionals, I love to read biographies and autobiographies of inspiring people. People like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and Bobby Kennedy and Mindy Kaling and Ellen Degeneres and Rock Hudson and Felicia Day and Amy Poehler and anyone else who strikes me as an inspiration. Their stories inspire my own.
Step 6: Write
How can you expect to write about life if you aren’t living one. Staying home and catching up on 11 seasons of Supernatural may lead to some searing pieces about the show, but it won’t give you life experiences or insight into the greater struggle. So do all the other steps on this list and then write it all down. Share your life with people. Or take up a challenge like #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) I’ve never written a book in my life…but I’m gonna try it!
How do you stay inspired when inspiration seems lost?
Do you ever have those moments? They often happen around bedtime for me. You know…when little revelations about your life seem so attainable?
You think maybe you’ve figured it all out. And you can finally say the things you’ve bottled up and you can face those demons head on without fear.
When I’m about to go to bed is when I feel the most motivated. Motivated to run the next morning. Motivated to start that new project. Or write that new novel. Or create a manageable budget that will fix my monetary foibles. Or solve those relationship issues. You get the idea!
And then I wake up and it’s like a lazier version of me has body snatched that productive, healthy person. And I’m left with the one who wants a frozen York Peppermint Patty for breakfast (can’t blame her for that) and chooses to watch 2 episodes of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt instead of going on that run (what’s wrong with that? That show’s awesome!)
What goes on when the dreams come? Do I have to stay up all night so that productive girl doesn’t run away?
But wait! Sometimes…a miracle happens. Usually when I haven’t eaten 3 cookies before bed and I haven’t stayed up till midnight watching episodes of Star Wars: Clone Wars.
A miracle where that productive girl laces up her sneaks, picks her ass up out of that bed and she runs. She runs to feel healthy and to know she is powerful. She runs to finish the projects she’s started cause there is another one brewing in her mind. She makes a to-do list and checks every single thing off of it. She is successful. She has her shit together.
I wish that girl was always me instead of only sometimes me. I love the whole package, but sometimes those girls get into a fist fight. And it ain’t pretty.
The productive one doesn’t always win, but then again, neither does the lazy one. They both lay dormant inside waiting for their days to come. The runner comes out when the lazy one has turned my body into something too soft for her liking. And the lazy one comes out when she feels that other girl has been working too hard and needs a margarita.
Maybe you don’t have a war going on inside of you. Maybe you are always productive or always lazy or always whatever it is that you are. And maybe I’m the only one having conversations between the 2 of us…the 3 of us. To be honest, I’ve lost count.
But I wouldn’t be me without those crazy girls. And I guess what I’m trying to say is that inside my head, no one always wins. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After 6 weeks of weekly challenges, superhero meal plans and different classes all around New York City, I lost 15 pounds and I feel stronger than I ever have. 15 pounds is by no means as extraordinary amount of weight to lose. But it’s a good amount and it’s enough to be very proud of. There were times I faltered. Times I gave in to the temptation to fall off track. But it’s the getting back on part that makes the difference!!
If you decide to take this #Avengerintraining challenge, remember that any amount of activity is better than none.
-Staying motivated is sometimes hard, but never impossible.
-The second you make it about more than just a number on a scale…that’s when you find out the reason you want to do it in the first place.
-Never compare yourself to someone else’s goals or progress. Not the models in a magazine or fit actors in a movie or your coworker who is always hitting the gym. Their plan isn’t your plan. Their plan might not work for you. Find what does and ignore the rest!
Thank you for reading! I’ve got a couple ideas for some new nerdy workouts in the future. So I hope you’ll check back! And come follow me on other social media platforms! I love to connect with new people.
Let me know what you thought about my workout. Did you try it, did you like it? And which week was your favorite?
After hitting the wall during Thor Week, I was back on track and pushing through Week 5. Spring had returned, making morning runs a joy to complete! I really love to workout in the morning. I feel like it’s my personal time to get things done. Like the rest of the world is asleep and the early morning hours were made just for me. I live right across from Astoria Park in Queens and I love to run along the water. It’s a gorgeous view and if it’s a particularly warm morning, the breeze from the water feels wonderful. It’s definitely one of my happy places!
Week 5: Hawkeye Week
Clint Barton was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor, when he was sent to the compound to keep an eye on a certain grounded Asgardian Prince. Barton, aka Hawkeye, is a proficient marksman in archery and joined the Avengers to help save the world from it’s biggest threats.
Jeremy Renner has been doing action films for a while now, The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so stepping into the role of Hawkeye seemed like an easy fit (though I’m sure the workout regiment was not easy.) Renner is 44 years old, though you’d never know it. Take a look at his fitness regiment over at Muscle World.
Avengers, Age of Ultron… duh. You can also go ahead and rewatch Thor if you’d like, since Hawkeye is introduced to the MCU in that one. I also added a couple excellent films starring Jeremy Renner. In Bourne Legacy, Renner takes Matt Damon’s place and runs around being awesome! Also, try Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to keep with the spy spirit. And for good measure and an extra dose of archery, go ahead and watch The Hunger Games.
Hawkeye is a warrior and a soldier, so I put a lot of music in this playlist that made me feel that way. Like I could run through bootcamp and finish the toughest challenges.
For Hawkeye’s meal plan, I took my shopping list from CelebritiesExercise.com Honestly, I really believe that if you are watchful in your eating and keep to the simple rule of moderation, you could eat just about anything and maintain your health (with glaring exceptions of course.)
Weekly Workout Challenge
To channel my inner Clint Barton, I worked on my abs and did a crunch challenge. I know we see a lot of arms from Jeremy Renner, but the core always comes in handy, no matter which Avenger you are channeling! And since I have a serious sweet tooth, my stomach is one of my problem areas. All that sugar just sits right there. So working on the core and getting it strong was a big priority for me!
Day 1: 30 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 2: 60 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 3: 90 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: 150 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 6: 175 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Day 7: 200 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)
Make sure to take all the final day’s challenges from each Avenger with you into Captain America Week.:
-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)
I loved archery! And Big Apple Archery in Queens is a really great place to learn. They do a great job of showing you proper technique and give you plenty of time to practice what you’ve learned. They have excellent equipment and a great range on which to practice. The class had a decent number of students, but wasn’t so full that it seemed overcrowded or anything. Plenty of room on the range for everyone in the class. I used a Groupon deal to take this class, but the first equipment rental is free and if you purchase a bow from there, the first class is free. Definitely worth a try!
Hawkeye is a warrior, a soldier, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I figured he’d have done a lot of different things to train. I took an intro class at Velocity where they focus on conditioning the whole body for different sports. We pulled weights, ran sprints (thought I was gonna die after the sprints) and worked with resistance bands. It was indeed a full-body workout! Every inch of me ached the next morning. An introductory class is free and when you walk in you might be a little intimidated, but don’t be. The instructors are really great and will help you make it through the whole class and finish strong. I trained with 3 other men on my team and it was a really great experience!!
I would consider myself a fairly fit person. I enjoy running and Soul Cycle and walking and when I’m vigilant, I eat marginally well. But then came the winter and I was discontent. Chilly weather caused my motivation to disappear. The running stopped. The Soul Cycle stopped. I still tried to walk and get at least my 10,000 steps a day. But I counteracted that by overeating fatty ‘comfort’ foods.
One day, I realized I had gained 20 pounds that I did not want on me (it may not sound like a lot of weight, but it sure felt like it.) Somehow I’d let the weight sneak up on me. And that wasn’t ok with me!! My sugar intake was at an all time high, due to eating a lot of macaroni and cheese and mint chocolate chip ice cream (my favorite comfort food!) And I am genetically at risk for diabetes, but I just didn’t seem to care. This was the heaviest I’d been in quite a while. All the previous progress I’d made in the fall was being wasted thanks to laziness and a complete lack of discipline.
One night, while watching Avengers (for the 19th time), I realized that if aliens did invade Earth or the zombie apocalypse finally happened or some other menacing force became reality, I’d be one of the first to go. And as I watched Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow kick serious ass on screen, I knew…that wasn’t gonna work for me!
So I embarked on a journey that would eventually become a transforming experience.
A lot of what I’ll share is not ground breaking. It’s not even new information. It’s constantly posted and reposted in many forms. You just have to tailor it to you. That’s what I did. I made something that would be fun, inspiring and made just for me!
Now, I prefer fantasy to reality sometimes…it’s true. But I know I’ll probably never be called on to fight for my life or to save another person’s. But if I ever was called upon, I wanted to be ready.
I delved into each of the 6 characters that make up the team known as The Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America. I researched what each individual actor did to prepare for their roles, then I went about crafting a 6 week fitness plan that I thought would be fun and that I knew I could accomplish. Most of the workouts I found online that were based on the Avengers, were mainly geared towards men. The meal plans too. I’m not about to start eating 2300 calories a day. That just wouldn’t work for me. This plan is meant to be tailored to individuals, men or women. If you like it, keep it in the plan. If you don’t, take it out. (Keep in mind I am not a fitness or medical professional. Just a nerdy fangirl who wanted to make a change.)
I do not have the money or the time to dedicate to actually looking like an Avenger. (and I am not being paid by Marvel to do this either.) But I knew that I wanted to do more than I was at the time and I decided to use the inspiration I felt while watching the Avengers to help transform my lazy habits into constructive discipline.
Below is the complete breakdown of Week 1, including the things I turned to for inspiration, the weekly challenges I made for myself, my food shopping list, and the amazing classes I took all in my endeavor to get healthy and become an #AvengerinTraining
Week 1: Iron Man Week
The first Avenger on my the list was Iron Man. I decided to go in order of their introduction to the franchise. And who better to start it off, than the Iron Avenger himself. Robert Downey Jr., at 50 years old, is in the best shape of his life. Physically and in his career (as of 2014, RDJ tops Forbes’ list of highest paid actors in Hollywood). His onscreen alter-ego is Tony Stark who, after getting kidnapped by terrorists, witnesses the damage of what has become a destructive legacy at Stark Industries. While incarcerated in an Afghanistan prison, Tony discovers himself to be more than just the “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” that he always had been and starts down the road to becoming so much more.
To prepare for the role of Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr, “started training using the Wing Chun technique, made famous by Bruce Lee.” (MensFitness.com) He also cut way back on the cardio in favor of increased weight training. By the time filming for Iron Man began, RDJ had backed on 25 extra pounds of muscle. Check out his full training regiment over at MensFitness.com
Sometimes the hardest part is taking that initial first step out the door. Being inspired is a fleeting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Movies and music are two of my favorite things to partake in. So while preparing to take on this 6 week challenge, I thought a lot about what would keep me moving towards my goals.
Obviously, Avengers and Age of Ultron are on the movie list for each of the Avengers as they serve as inspiration for all 6 characters. For Iron Man Week, if I needed a little extra oomph of energy or motivation I watched some or all of the above movies. Iron Man and Iron Man 3 are also obvious choices. Spiderman may seem like an unlikely choice (Peter is a poor college kid, Tony is a wealthy man), but I think there are a lot of themes that overlap between Iron Man and Spiderman. And Casino Royale has billionaire, playboy written all over it. Plus I LOVE James Bond!!
This list is comprised of music from Iron Man and music that makes me think of Iron Man. Anything to get me in the mindset while on a run in the morning. Hope it pushes you like it pushed me!
I created a meal plan (you won’t hear the word diet in this blog series, I don’t believe in them) based on the foods that Robert Downey Jr ate while training. Again, I’m not being paid by Marvel and I don’t have unlimited time on my hands. So I had the master list of items that I used to stock my refrigerator and pantry and then I made meals out of them that I knew I would enjoy and would be easy to make on a daily basis. I did a lot more cooking this week than I had been doing and I liked it!!
Weekly Workout Challenge
For Iron Man week I chose a plank challenge. Here’s the daily breakdown:
Day 1: 2 sets of Kneeling Side Planks (60 hold second, rest in between)
Day 2: 2 sets of Kneeling Side Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)
Day 3: 3 sets of Incline Side Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)
Day 4: 2 sets of Front Elbow Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)
Day 5: 3 sets of Front Elbow Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)
Day 6: 2 sets of Full Front Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)
Day 7: 2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)
When Iron Man week ended, I took the last day’s challenge activity and rolled it over into the next Avenger’s weekly workout schedule. So Day 7 of the above plan will be used for the rest of the 5 weeks of training.
If you were to call me an overachiever, you might be right. Especially when it comes to doing things I love and enjoy. I’ll go the extra mile and I’ll run the whole way there. So when I came up with this idea for my time as an #AvengerinTraining I chose a couple different workout classes and gyms for each week that I thought might represent the Avenger of that particular week. For Iron Man week I did:
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not for the faint of heart or the shy wallflower. If you are squeamish about being up close and personal with complete strangers… this isn’t for you. If you find the prospect of hand to hand combat daunting… turn the other way. But if you want to be pulled out of your comfort zone and challenged beyond what you think you can do… find the closest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio and give it a try. Channel your inner Iron Man. And if you live in the New York City area, head to Lifestyle MMA Academy in Astoria. They will kick your butt. They sure kicked mine and, bonus, the first trial class is free. So you have no excuses!!
I’ve done pilates before, it’s one of my favorite ways to workout, but Power Pilates at The Art of Fitness will take your practice to a whole new level. And at just $10 a class, it’s a really great deal for a whole lot of workout!
Other options for Iron Man Week:
Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America
And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc!
You know that time of the morning when the only light around comes from the street lamps? And as you walk or run by one it seems like your shadow is racing you? This morning I played chase with my shadows. During my run I’d speed up to try to beat it. (Knowing of course that it’s impossible to beat your own shadow.) And as I was playing this game with… myself, I realized what a lovely illustration this was about life.
Shadows will always be there. Accept it and then do something about it. Chase your own shadows. See how fast you can run!!