Thursday, March 26, 2015

Book Review :: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Now I understand.

Now I understand why Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the great American authors.

The Sun Also Rises is beautiful illustrative of the Lost Generation and the morality shifts of a post-World War I world.  Though I still struggle with Hemingway's rambling prose, I enjoyed this allusion to key character points and use of bullfighting as a powerful symbol.  Not going to lie, there were enough layers to this book that I had to pull up Sparknotes to make sure I didn't miss anything.

Outside of being an awesome piece of literature, the story is entertaining.  Who doesn't love a good love triangle and fist fight?!  The main character Jake is wonderfully tragic and you truly do root for him.

If you haven't read The Sun Also Rises yet, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Earning My Wings :: Training Weeks 9 & 10


The past two weeks have flown by!

My training in Week 9 was in preparation for my first 8k - ever!  I was really intimidated by the distance and the heat.  Arizona's "spring" is really an aggressive jolt into summer and the temperature was rising quickly.

I went out to Glendale for the 5th Annual Kiss Me I'm Irish Run.  I couldn't believe how many people were there!  Over 2500 runners - all waiting to get their morning run done in exchange for free green beer.  The route was diverse, though crowded.  I had to take a few walking breaks but I powered through with a pace I was really proud of.
Completing this 8k has really built up my confidence for my 10k in a few weeks.  The distance doesn't seem so scary anymore, although running in the heat does.  I'm focusing on getting more runs outside done as the temperatures increase to condition myself to that environmental challenge.

In Week 10, I focused on toning my body up.  Lots of weight workouts and short distance runs.  I'm trying to be cognizant of varying my workouts and keeping my body agile.

I also participated in a basketball shoot-out competition at work, during which I tanked in fashion.  Doesn't matter how fit I am - I still suck at basketball.
So what am I most proud of?

Weeks 11 and 12 come with an interesting challenge.  I'll probably double up that post intentionally as it will tell a complete story.  Stay tuned... it's ridiculous...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Earning My Wings :: Training Week 8

Well, I'm halfway there.

The past week focused on resetting my eating habits and working out... a lot.  I actually did two workouts a day.  Crazy, right?  The reason why may surprise my friends.

I've always been a strong critic of crash diets, slim down plans, "get skinny quick" solutions though I have never actually tried one.  So, deciding not to be a hypocrite and embrace the "Don't knock it until you've rocked it" philosophy, I planned to follow the Tone It Up 5 Day Slim Down.  I chose this specific slim down because I trust Tone It Up and it seemed manageable.

Last Sunday, I did all the prep work, took my measurements and my "Before" picture, and braced myself for the coming week.  Honestly, it seemed really intimidating to completely change the way I eat for a week while adding in an extra workout every day (first thing in the morning).

Here's what I learned...

1.  I really love working out in the morning.  Sure, going to bed at 8:00 PM is difficult, but the benefits of working out first thing in the morning can't be disputed.  I felt more energized, accomplished and after the first two days, it didn't seem optional.  After only two days, it was part of my morning routine.
2.  Eating 5 small meals a day is incredibly manageable.  A little bit of prep work goes a long way.  I'm not talking about cooking all your food on Sunday night and filling up 8,000 tupperware containers.  Really, all you need to do is make a meal plan for the week and get your grocery shopping done.  Half the battle is knowing what you're going to eat first before hunger kicks in and you make poor decisions.  Also helpful - having an alarm to remind you to eat.  I programmed my Jawbone to buzz me when it was time to eat, but you can have your cell phone alert you just as easily.
3.  On the topic of food, you have to really love healthy food to get through a slim down menu.  Like... really love veggies.  Otherwise, you're going to suffer.
4.  Working out twice a day - not nearly as exhausting as you would think!  By the time I was done with work, I was ready to run or do yoga.  Something to shake out the rest of the day.
5. Be very careful with these slim downs!  Tone It Up's plan puts you in the position of a 1000 calorie a day DEFICIT, which is why they don't recommend doing them more than 3 times a year.  By the time Thursday came around, I found that I was slightly impaired.  My thought process was a little fuzzy and my reaction times were way off.  Don't worry - I fixed that with a Snickers.  I'm kidding, of course.  I added more protein than recommended and had just a few carbs to rebalance.

So how did it end up?  You tell me...
Definitely an impact.  I didn't lose a significant amount of weight - which is fine by me.  But I did tone up - losing about an inch off every measurement.  Even better, my eating habits are back on track and I learned a ton about my body.
I'm happy to be back to my normal healthy eating (with some modifications due to lessons learned) and focusing on my running for an 8k on Saturday.

Until next week...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Earning My Wings :: Training Week 7

I spent the majority of the past week at a conference for work.  While my eating habits took a small detour (so much chocolate in those goodie bags), I am proud to say that I remembered to work out doing cardio and toning exercises every day.

Working out at the conference was rough though.  Not because of the early hours or the soreness.  The air quality.  Unfortunately, the fitness center was on the second floor of the hotel, which was open to the attached casino.  The second-hand smoke created quite a challenge while I was ramping up my heart rate on the cardio machines.  I powered through but my muscles didn't feel so great afterwards.  Oh well.
 I was excited to hop back on an elliptical and rowing machine.  I don't utilize my apartment's gym very often so it's been quite a while.  What felt best was doing something other running or HIIT sessions.  Shaking it up really gave me my groove back.

At this work conference, we received some amazing gifts, one of which being a Jawbone UP.  I never thought I would like having a fitness tracker.... and then I got one.  Truly I'm in love.  I like the way it tracks my activities and specifically how easy this one is to use.  It also syncs well with other apps, like RunKeeper, to make tracking easier and less cumbersome.

If you have an UP, add me to your team via my Twitter handle jen_evans_.

Going into this week, I decided to give Tone It Up's 5 Day Slim Down a try to get my nutrition back on track.  You have to purchase their Nutrition Plan to get the details but essentially it creates quite a slice in calories, while upping your workout time and focusing on fuel (not feeding time).  After three days of meetings with a goodie bag filled with candy, my body needed a non-detox detox.  I'm not much for diets, but my body felt gross and felt like it needed a reboot.  I'll let you know how it goes next week.

So what am I most proud of this week?  I'm really proud of myself for completing my workouts despite being at a work conference, which is the adult excuse for being super lazy.  Go me!

Catch you next week!

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