#AvengerinTraining – Iron Man Week

Introduction

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

Photo by Cristina Fowler
Photo by Cristina Fowler

Week 1: Iron Man Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

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

Inspiration

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.

Movies

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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!!

Music

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!

Meals

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!!

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Weekly Workout Challenge

For Iron Man week I chose a plank challenge. Here’s the daily breakdown:

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

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.

Extra Credit

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 @ Lifestyle MMA Academy

Photo from Lifestyle MMA Academy
Photo from Lifestyle MMA Academy

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!!

Power Pilates @ The Art of Fitness

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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:

Rock Climbing

MMA

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!

5 Fandom Friday

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5 Things I Like About Winter

Today’s 5 Fandom Friday, brought to you by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick are things you like about winter. This is a tough one for me. I actually hate winter with a deep, fierce passion! It’s mean and cold and it’s just brutal trying to get around the city. But this is a list of things I like about it. I guess that means I have to choose positive things, so here goes!

#1 – Flying Home

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Photo by Liz Tailor

My family lives in sunny, sunny Florida. So one of my favorite things about the winter season is that I know I will be leaving the cold to fly south. This year it was a lovely 71 degrees on Christmas day. Now, that’s what I call Christmas!! I should be wearing flip flops… it just makes sense!

#2 – Christmas

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Photo by Liz Tailor

Which leads me to the next thing I love about the winter. Christmas! Jesus’ Birthday! The season of giving. It’s the best holiday of all. Especially since my family dresses in themed costumes every year. So it’s basically Christmas with a little Halloween thrown in. I love going to Christmas Eve services and having breakfast at my Granny’s on Christmas morning. I love seeing my cousins and brothers and parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents. It’s such a happy time. (Made happier when there is no cold weather and no snow!)

#3 – My Birthday

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Photo by Liz Tailor

32 years ago, a lovely thing happened on the day after Christmas. Yours truly was born into this world. And the world would never be the same again… cause I’m awesome! 😉 Winter is worth it all because of my birthday. I have always loved birthdays. And most years I  had elaborate parties and invited every person I ever knew in life. We’ve always been a Do-It-Yourself kinda family. (Why pay someone to do something when you can do it yourself?) One year we did our own homemade Glamour Shots. Complete with before and after pictures. I had a really elaborate Alice in Wonderland tea party one year (I was 25 years old!) Age never stopped my birthday fun. Every year we go to the Cheesecake Factory where we are able to be loud and boisterous and eat Cheesecake and just have a blast. It’s the best!!

#4 – Wearing Fuzzy Slippers

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Photo by Liz Tailor

Last year for Christmas I got these amazing fuzzy slippers that are really only best when you are completely freezing. And I love that I can wear them all winter long. I live about 10 blocks away from the subway stop and on a blistery, winter night when I’m frozen all the way through, I love walking through the door and immediately hoping into these babies. They go best with flannel pajamas, a bowl of mac and cheese and a well thought out Netflix binge session!!!

#5 – Snail Mail

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Photo found on Pinterest (contact for credit!)

Winter is really the only season in which I get a steady flow of mail. You know… the mailbox kind. And not just junk mail and bills and offers to sign up for a new Capitol One credit card. But real deal mail. Mail that I get excited to open and read. I have always loved getting mail!! It just makes me happy. It’s fun to get an envelope and not know what’s inside. Is it a picture of my friend’s new baby? Is it another da-gum wedding invitation? Is it money from my Gran? I don’t know!! And that is the best part. During the winter I am usually inundated with cards! Not only Christmas and Holiday cards, but Birthday cards too. I love taking a huge stack of mail out of my mail box and sorting out the good stuff! It’s such a joy.

So all in all there are some things to like about cold, gross winter. I guess it’s an important season to have in the mix, after all! What do you like about winter? Let me know in the comments below! And if you wanna send me some snail mail or receive some, I’d be happy to send you my address and take yours. Let’s be pen pals!! 😉

Happy winter, my lovely nerds!

30 Days of Nerdy Hair

Day 13: Elsa from Frozen

After an unanticipated and unwelcome day off yesterday, I am right back in it today with this year’s Queen of Halloween costumes, Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. It seemed like everywhere I turned on Halloween there was a little girl dressed as Elsa. I believe we had about 13 at our preschool alone. She is a pretty cool character!! And no matter how many times “Let It Go” gets played, I still can’t seem to get sick of it. So here she is, Queen Elsa of Arendelle.

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I don’t often lament the lack of my long hair, but for this one I can just imagine the kind of twisted bun I could’ve accomplished back then. But these days I’ll have to settle for a more modest version of Elsa’s coronation hair.

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Make sure not to miss a moment of the rest of this series. Subscribe to my blog and also head over to YouTube and subscribe there too. Lots of fun nerdy stuff happening over here!!

25 days of (nerdy) Christmas!

“Have yourself a nerdy little Christmas!”

Day 3: Superhero Snowglobes

What you’ll need:

-Mason Jars (however many snowglobes you want to make.)

-Glitter (whatever color suits your fancy, though silver looks the most snow-like)

-Water

-Figurines, small toys, action figures (whatever you want to put inside your snowglobe)

-Goop (or any other water resistant glue)

-Christmasey decorations to go inside with your nerdy figurines (pinecones, mini Chrismas trees, ribbon, small Christmas village houses, etc. Be creative. Think outside of the jar!)

Take the tops of your Mason jars and begin gluing your chosen decorations and filling inside the top of the jar.
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I also glued some on the base of the jar so that they would suspend from the roof of the snowglobe as well.
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Make sure to leave your windows open for any strong apoxy glue. Leave the glue to set overnight, if you can, to ensure that it will resist the water.
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When the glue has fully dried, add water and liberal amount of glitter into the jar.
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Then apply more glue onto the lid of the jar before screwing on to seal the top and keep any water from coming out.
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There you go. Perfectly nerdelicious snowglobes for your holiday viewing pleasure!

Tomorrow: Nerdy Christmas Cards