Tag Archives: Physical fitness

Crazy Committed

16 Jun

No matter what I did yesterday I couldn’t get on the right foot. I woke up late, drove to work in horrible traffic, forgot to take my supplements during the day, drove to the gym in horrible traffic and to top it off the parking garage at the gym was under construction.

All of that was fine, not even too much of a problem, but I forgot my gym clothes at home and I had a boot camp class with Armando that was part of my 1/2 marathon training, a class that I had paid for and could not make up.

So I bought new gym clothes.

JoannaBurgraf_gymclothes

Joanna's new gym clothes

I made it to class and you know what I’m really glad I did. But it got me thinking, is this ‘normal’? Is this just a testament to my commitment to working out? Or am I just crazy?

For me the former is true. There is very little that will get in the way of me and my time at the gym, especially if I’ve already paid for class or a personal training session. I really like to get my money’s worth when I pay for something. That’s a major motivating factor, it’s worth it to me to pay to keep me motivated when sheer will won’t do it alone.

I think that everyone has their source for motivation, what’s yours?

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More than Running

13 Jun

I’ve officially completed my first week of half marathon training. So far so strong.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Joanna's First Half Marathon

As I mentioned I signed up for a special 10-week training program with Armando at my gym. (P.S. He has a guest post coming up soon about massage therapy). The training program includes a boot camp class once a week, a personal training session once a week, a 10-week running schedule and a nutrition expert looking at how I’m eating. Given all I have learned about my body this past March (the resting metabolic rate and SubMax tests) I want to be under careful supervision for this race.

What I’m most excited for is fine-tuning my training. In the past I’d created workout plans for myself for races and that worked just fine. I now want to focus on taking racing to the next level to be stronger, faster and more efficient. I’ve set a goal of finishing this race in under two hours, it’s really going to take some diligent training on my part to accomplish that.

Some things that are different this time around are that I’m focusing on strength training, stretching, foam rolling and eating for endurance sports. Yeah I will do the running, but I really think that for me to get faster and stronger I need to incorporate all of these other aspects of training.

The first week’s schedule looked like this:
Monday – Personal Training Session, focus on agility, balance and strength
Tuesday – Rest day
Wednesday – Boot Camp
Thursday – Running Club, 50 minute run
Friday – Strength and stretch, chest and abs
Saturday – 6 mile run
Sunday – Strength, legs

For you runners do you think about strength training and stretching when you’re training for a race? For you non-runners, does this make running races more appealing to hear that stretching and strength training are crucial components to running?

I am not a Runner

10 Jun

Recently I told a friend that I am not a runner. Really. I’m not.

As a young girl, I watched Ironman competitions on TV thinking it was the coolest thing ever and that I could never do that because I am not a runner.

In high school, I had a hard time running a 12-minute mile, I think my fastest was 13:30. Always in the back with the slow pack. In college I dabbled in treadmill and never made it much past 2-miles @ 12-minutes a piece huffing and puffing the entire time.

Then came the late twenties when I tried my hand at triathlon, I did 6 my first year. I’d smoke most people in the water, I felt strong on the bike and everyone would pass me when it came to the run. The fact that they were all  passing me didn’t even matter, I felt slow. My legs were heavy and my lungs never quite big enough. I was not a runner.

I don’t like feeling limited. I don’t like to feel like I can’t do something. So I signed up for a 15k race. Had Armando train me for it. I finished with an awesome pace. I signed up for a 10K. Armando kept training me. A month later I ran it and shaved a minute off my pace. All of sudden I was capable of running 9:15 miles. That was fast for someone who’s not a runner.

This year, I completed a 3.5 mile race and to my surprise was the fastest woman in my company. Two days later I completed a 10-mile race. The 10-mile run felt awesome. Sure people were passing me up, but I felt fast. Legs were strong, I had plenty of space in my lungs, I felt like I was flying. I was a runner.

Running Club

Me after a midweek run

Now I wonder what else I’m telling myself that I’m not capable of that I can actually do. I have a few ideas, but I bet I’m not alone. All those things you don’t think you can do, I bet you can.

Is there something you’ve recently accomplished that you were sure you couldn’t do? What’s something you tell yourself you can’t do?

Racing and Blogging Friends

8 Jun

Where oh where have I been lately? I’ve been exercising, racing, eating well, meeting blogger friends, traveling, co-planning fundraising events and enjoying the Chicago summer.

For a quick update, in the last two weeks I ran a 3-mile race, a 10-mile race and registered for a half marathon:
Chase Corporate Challenge – Finished in 29:54, I was the fastest female at my company.
Soldier Field 10-Miler – Finished in 1:42:11, 10:14 pace, my longest distance race to date.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon – Registered for this race and signed up for a special training program at my gym. This will be my longest race ever. I’ll be blogging about my training as I go along in the coming months.

Also in the last week I met some blogging friends: Tiffany, Amy and Stacie. Thanks to Tiffany for coordinating the meet-up and picking a great spot, Coast Sushi in Bucktown. I officially love blogger meet-ups. Usually I get nervous meeting new people but you would have never known it with these ladies, we were chatting it up like old friends the entire three-hour dinner!

I ordered a seaweed salad and sashimi, two different tunas and salmon.

Sashimi

I’m not terribly picky about sushi, very easy to please. This place was especially fresh. I love sushi because it’s so easy to eat clean as long as you avoid the mayo and fried stuff. Sashimi is my dish of choice, unless brown rice rolls are available.

For dessert three of us split four pieces of mochi ice cream.

Green tea and tiramisu mochi ice cream

Green tea and tiramisu mochi ice cream

The pink one (tiramisu) was AMAZING! A small bite was the perfect end to the meal.

And here are the gorgeous ladies (excuse the red-eye):

Amy, Tiffany and Stacie

The beautiful Amy, Tiffany and Stacie

I was very happy to break my routine of staying in on Thursdays and go out to meet these women. Looking forward to the next meet-up.

What have you all been up to in the last couple of months? How have your fitness goals been going? Has anyone competed in any races or fulfilled on a weight loss goal? I’d love to hear from you!

Random Report: Balls, Hancock and Lunch

3 Mar

Remember that bowling party I went to a couple of weeks ago? Remember how ballsy I was and asked to order off the menu? Well my request was granted and I ordered a grilled steak salad with extra arugula. They prepared it just how I like it, medium-rare and dressing on the side.

Steak Salad

Steak Salad

It’s a good thing I made the request because it was an after work party and I was very hungry by the time I arrived. The buffet food included pizzas and fried mac and cheese balls, which I would have resorted to eating. This way I got to stay on track with eating clean.

This past Sunday was my second Hustle Up the Hancock race. I participated last year and ran up 94 flights of stairs in 20:30. I had a goal of 18 minutes and I DID IT! My final time was 18:05.

Hustle with my trainer

Hustle with my trainer

This is all thanks to my trainer. He had me on a weight-lifting, stair-climbing regimen specific to meet my goal. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a fitness goal after training hard!

It’s been a busy week this week and I haven’t had much time to prepare meals and shop for groceries, luckily where I work (in the heart of Chicago) I have an abundance of  lunch spots to choose from. Yesterday I chose Freshii and ordered off their Freshii 15 menu. The Freshii 15 is a menu of low-cal, portion appropriate options created by Ashley Koff, RD. I like that they have this option, I think it helps if you aren’t confident with choosing healthy off a menu on your own. It does the work for you.

Freshii 15 menu

Freshii 15 menu

The thing that I really like about Freshii is that everything is customizable and they have almost endless combinations for creating soups, salads and wraps.

Freshii Boostii-q salad

Freshii Boostii-q salad

For lunch I chose the Boostii-q salad because it has all the ingredients I would use at home: greens, bbq chicken (skip the cheese), avocado, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and a splash of Sriracha (which I have never put into a salad before but now is going to become a staple salad ingredient).

I can’t wait to recharge this weekend. I’ll be registering for races, planning meals, hitting the gym and creating some running plans for the spring and summer.

What have you been up to this week? How do you manage eating healthy during a busy week?

Resolve to Fulfill on your Fitness Resolutions in 2011

11 Jan

With the New Year having just arrived and everyone making resolutions, I don’t think I can escape at least one post. This post isn’t going to be about resolutions per se, it’s about achieving your fitness goals and the difference it makes to work with a personal trainer, regardless of the time of the year. Some people see working with a trainer as a luxury or for people just starting out, I see it as a necessity for someone who is looking to make a real impact and change in their approach to health and fitness.

Over the years I’ve changed the way that I workout from massive amounts of cardio (triathlon training) and almost zero lifting weights to primarily supplementing weight training with cardiovascular exercise and stretching. I used to go to the gym and hit up the treadmill or elliptical for 60-90 minutes and these days I head straight for the free weights. I’m now well versed in the benefits of weight training. I have never had better results in terms of changing the shape of my body than with weight training. I didn’t learn this on my own and I don’t train on my own. I have a personal trainer and his name is Armando.

Even before working with Armando I had a triathlon trainer to coach me in the right amount of training for racing such long distances. My coach was and iron man competitor. I like to be trained by the best!

Working with Armando I have completely transformed the way I approach exercise and the way I relate to food. Relate to food? Yes, that may sound strange and it is something that you may never think about, but it’s crucial to producing results. He has not only taught me about how to most effectively workout for the type of results I want to achieve but also how to eat for performance. In the three years I have been working with him, I went down four pants sizes from 12 to 4. I really never thought it would be possible for me to wear a size 4, that my body was just not made that way I was wrong and I am still losing weight and gaining muscle. Additionally, under Armando’s care it took me less than 2 months to go from running an 11-minute mile to 9-minute 10k pace. That’s an insanely fast increase and I’ve never been that fast or had such an extreme jump in pace – not even with my former Iron Man trainer!

So you can get an idea of what going from size 12 to 4 looks like, here are some embarrassing photos of me in Vegas:

Me at the pool in Vegas

Me at the pool in Vegas

Another one of me at the pool in Vegas

Another one of me at the pool in Vegas

Me in Vegas

Me in Vegas

And here’s a YouTube  video of me jumping rope. You should know that before my training with Armando, I couldn’t walk without tripping. I just wasn’t that coordinated or balanced!

This is what convinced me that Armando is a specialist at what he does; he knew what I needed to do to enhance my performance.

I could go on and on about why training with a trainer is a great idea, but I will let the expert tell you in his own words. Thanks Armando for sharing your expertise!

Armando, personal trainer

Armando, personal trainer

What does a trainer provide that people can’t get from a book?
A trainer provides accountability. That word represents many things when used in relation to a personal trainer. First and foremost, there is having someone actually there with you pushing you along as you exercise. Exercise can be a ‘solo’ activity and often times that alone turns people off to idea of training.

A good trainer knows that he/she will be your cheerleader (sometimes the only one) and that his/her role is crucial in having you continue and be successful – a master trainer knows that it will take much more than just that. A crucial part to achieving any kind of success is having a community of people around you moving in a similar direction.  How do you do that?  How do you get others around you to be in sync with what you are out to accomplish even if they aren’t committed to that? Well, an expert trainer can and will have this happen. This is one area that has me stand out among the rest. I focus my attention on getting the people in my clients’ lives to support them in their fitness goals.

The bottom line is that there is an emotional connection with food. If you are human, you have this emotional connection. No exceptions.  A highly skilled trainer will not only help you work on your physical/biological muscles, but also will aid in you transforming your relationship to food.  Why is this relevant?  Nobody can just switch from one form of eating to another; I don’t care who you are.

A good fitness coach/personal trainer is in so many words, someone who can communicate effectively to people and above all, a leader.

What should someone take into consideration when they are choosing a trainer?
Make sure they are certified.  It matters that they know what they’re talking about. Anybody can tell you to do certain exercises – ANYBODY. A certified/educated/specialized trainer will not arbitrarily have you do that. He/she will know how to start you off and why to start you off that way.  It isn’t just about grabbing weights and taking off – oh no, not at all – this is a very common thing average trainers will do.

Is the trainer in shape, do they have the type of physique that you want?
I’m a long time athlete and former amateur bodybuilder. I have trained with and by the best.  I prefer to know that my trainer isn’t just someone who read a book and knows a bunch of stuff. I want someone who knows it AND has lived it. I want someone to look at and admire as I bust my ass.  I need a look at a desired future in front of me, not a reminder of why I am working out in the first place.  Finding the combination of both the scientific knowledge and the matching physique is a rare commodity, but trust that when you find that combination it will matter to know and see what you’re working with.

Do they live the lifestyle themselves (eat healthy, etc.)?
They better! I would want someone who has deep seeded roots in what it is they do for a living, someone who is a walking billboard of what it is that they say they are about. In other words, are they living it – or are they your average prototype personal trainer. You wouldn’t hire a business coach who doesn’t own his own business and furthermore not been successful with it – well the same follows suit.

Is the trainer only knowledgeable in creating workouts?
Once again, exercising is so much more than working up a sweat and calling it a day. As I told you earlier, ANYBODY can come up with a workout. A world-class trainer will know to test/look for imbalances, structural deficiencies, postural alignment, testing for appropriately firing muscles – oh yes, muscles have an order in which they are meant to fire.  You’re in a heap of trouble if your trainer doesn’t know how to look for that and correct it.  This is only the beginning…

Do they have, at the very least, foundational knowledge about nutrition?
Personal trainers are not nutritionists (unless they actually are), but I personally feel that anybody who says they train/teach people how to exercise HAS to have more than an adequate amount of knowledge in what to eat. There is so much more than simply eating.  Knowing what to eat, when to eat, and sometimes how much to eat will make or break an exercise program. Period. I strongly believe that the client should most importantly know WHY it is they are eating what they are eating. The second there is a reason, a context, if you will, for why you are ingesting what you are ingesting – the most crucial part has been connected. Once you know why, most will be able to envision it, feel it, and even taste it (yes, the experience of food can alter the second you view it as something other than food).  All the tremendous success my clients have experienced have been only after they knew the in’s and out’s of it all.

Are they fun?
Training is not always enjoyable. Especially if you are continually being asked to go beyond what is comfortable for you physically. Do they not only make the experience fun and enjoyable and have it not seem like “work”, but do they change things up and keep you mentally stimulated. This is crucial especially to people who get bored easily.  An excellent trainer will know that changing things up will keep the muscles growing while still maintaining the catered goals/workouts all intact.

If you have any questions for him, leave a comments, he will answer right here.

Working out and Feasting with Friends

23 Dec

I am a social being, I love being around people. This is a fairly new realization for me because most of my life I’ve spent thinking I was a loner. I have shy-ish tendencies. I wouldn’t consider myself shy by any means but I do get self-conscious at times. To understand why, we have to take a short trip to my past.

Our first stop is Kindergarten. When I was a little girl first starting school I didn’t speak English; Polish was my first language. I couldn’t actually talk to the kids so naturally I was a quiet kid. Although I’ve grown into a loud out-spoken adult, sometimes that child-like self-consciousness takes over.

Our next stop is my office, two years ago. After a series of reorganizations, moves and people leaving I was stuck in an office by myself. At first I thought it was the best thing that could possibly happen to me. After a few months, I couldn’t stand it when all I had to interact with was the computer screen. It became very clear to me that I thrive and am happiest when I am around people.

Let’s move along to the present, bringing our little trip to brief halt. This past weekend, I spent both Saturday and Sunday working out with people. On Saturday I went to the gym with my brother and his girlfriend and then they came over for dinner. I made this delicious meal.

Maple-glazed chicken, sauted kale & swiss chard with raisons and rosemary maple covered acorn squash

Maple-glazed chicken, sautéed kale & swiss chard with raisins and rosemary maple covered acorn squash

On Sunday I went to the gym with one of my best friends. Then after a stop at Whole Foods we made this delicious meal.

Clean montechristo sandwich and coconut carrot soup

Clean Montecristo sandwich and coconut carrot soup

When Monday rolled around I felt like I had been on vacation for a week.

As I drive along in life, I increasingly realize the importance for me to be around friends and family. Alone time is cool if I have to clean or read or study, but working out with a buddy is so much more fun and fulfilling.

What’s your workout style? Do you prefer to go alone or go with a workout buddy?

A Slump

16 Dec

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe the stress and monotony of work, maybe it’s other personal stuff, but I’ve been in a slump. It’s this phenomenon that I know exactly how to change and at the same time I’m not doing anything about.

I’ve been diligently working out on the weekends. During the week I head straight home from work.  I cook or read or study when I get home. I stay up later than I want and then I go to bed late. Then I sleep in, get to work later that I wanted and start the same cycle. I already know that I focus and feel better after having gone to the gym, yet there are those days that I just don’t do it.

Then there’s my social calendar, I can’t seem to create a balance. I schedule to hang out with friends or go to events during the week and that throws off my schedule. I stay on track with training when I don’t plan to do anything with friends but then I feel like a hermit.

The truth of the matter is, I’m healthy by many standards. I eat well, I run, I lift weights. But that is just not the game that I’m playing. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to have a lean muscular body type like the women in fitness competitions (I’m not kidding, since I was 8 I remember watching shows of fitness competitions). For as long as I can remember I have been talking myself out of going for it. It may not be everyone’s goal to look like Jillian Micheal’s or have arms like Angela Basset or Madonna, but that’s just what I want. My current workout regimen is just not cutting it. It takes so much more than doing an ab workout once every couple of weeks to get rock solid abs, it’s not going to work to eat pizza a couple of nights per week or eat cookies over the holiday season. Maybe some can get away with it, but I don’t have those kinds of genes.

The question is, am I willing to do what it takes? Am I willing to listen to my trainer? Am I willing to go the extra mile? Am I willing to train those days that I want to the least? Am I willing to do what it takes? Will I even like it when I get there?

I have no idea but I do know one thing, I won’t know until I just go for it and I won’t know if I keep talking myself out it.

Turkey Trot 10K

7 Dec

On Thanksgiving I started off the day with a Turkey Trot 10k in my Five Finger shoes. (I know it’s way past Thanksgiving time, but everyone can take away the value of maintaining a fitness regimen during the holiday season.) I’ve been breaking my Five Fingers in slowly, increasing a mile or less at a time.

5Fingers

Five Fingers

On race day it was about 40º F, I thought I had dressed appropriately…

Me Pre-Race

Pre race me

…I wore compression pants, sports bra, dry weave t-shirt, dry-weave long sleeve shirt, vest (that came in the race goody bag), gloves and a hat. I stood around outside waiting for the race to start for about an hour. I thought I was freezing. I was worried about my toes and body before the run, my mind started to go into a mild panic and I began to have thoughts like, “maybe this was a bad idea,” “what if my toes are numb the whole way,” “I should have never worn these stinking Five Fingers,” “I should turn around and go home.” I guess you can call that pre-race jitters, I get these each and every time I race.

Well, there was no need to panic because after the first 10 minutes of running, everything warmed up and I was sweating. I think I had put on just enough layers to stay comfortable and my toes were just fine.

A few tips for those of you doing cold weather racing:
• Dress for 20º warmer than it actually is
• Your toes will warm up if you’re wearing Five Fingers once you get moving (in 40º weather)
• If you’re running with a buddy and their race starts first, don’t check your bag with them

As for race results, I did some personal bests!
Time: 57:03
Mile: 9:12 (that’s 30 seconds faster than any mile pace I’ve ever run)

My next race isn’t until the end of February, I’m doing the Hustle up the Hancock. My goal is to beat last year’s time of 20:30.

Is anyone doing any cool races this winter? I don’t know about you, but I love the challenge of a winter run.

Life Works When I Workout

17 Nov

Pretty sure that this is going to be my new life motto.

Remember that awesome run I did almost two weeks ago, well that’s the last time I worked out. Initially I though it would be a great idea to get some rest and take a week off, what I didn’t realize is how much working out is integrated into my schedule. Typically I workout 4-5 times a week and I work my schedule around gym time. It requires some planning. Taking this long of a break and not having exercise on the mind at all has put me into a funk.

What do I mean when I say funk, let me define it for you.
Funk=
• going to bed really late
• little energy during the day
• less productive at work
• not paying attention to what I eat
• minimal grocery shopping
• eating out for lunches and dinners
• larger than normal portions
• more than usual sodium consumption
• less water intake
• fewer raw vegetables and fruits
• overall crabby mood and feeling unsatisfied
• no blogging
• minimal motivation to cook

As a human being I do many of these things on a regular basis, just not usually at once. This is the first time, however, that I have noticed the direct correlation between exercising and being in a funk. So now I know, in funk = go work out. 🙂

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