Tough Mudder F***er In Training

Have you ever held the desire to run for 10 miles through mud, ice cold water, fire and electricity? How about scaling walls and jumping over logs? Or sprinting up a double black diamond slope? I do. And that's only part of what Tough Mudder is all about. It's an obstacle course from hell, and I'm determined to finish that shit.

Unlike my previous attempts/desires at competing, I actually registered for this pain. It costs so much money that I better damn well do it ($155 registration fee!!). So today I'm moving up from just "working out" into "training" mode.

I know I'm definitely in the best physical shape of my entire life right now, but I need to be better. Harder. Faster. Stronger. It's time to pump up the volume on my running distance and endurance. I want to SEE my abs and be able to do a real chin-up by the time April rolls around. I've been working hard at all of the above this past year, and now it's time to work harder.

The thought of circuit training makes me want to vomit. I don't even really know why; I just have this deep-rooted fear of it. I'm going to have to get over myself and start it. My plan is to spend the next month upping the mileage on my sneakers and continue my weight training. I'm going to incorporate a HIIT session at least once a week between the lifting and running. After that I'm going to put a lot more attention on HIIT and circuits. BodyRock.TV is a kickass circuit program that'll make you bleed sweat and tears.

The Tough Mudder website recommends this minimum fitness level:
"At a minimum we recommend that you are running regularly (2+ times a week, working up to 5 miles per run), able to do 15-25 push-ups in a row, able to bang out 6 pull-ups in a row (especially the dudes), and able to swim 50 yards without stopping (although you can skip the water obstacles)."
I'm actually not too far off from those stats! I can't do a solid pull-up yet, but I will.

The drudgery takes place on April 29th in Pennsylvania. Wish me luck!


To Infinity, And Beyond! 2011 In Review

What better way to kickoff the new year than with an awesome new set of goals?! Well, first let's review how epically fantastic 2011 went for me...

It's been quite a while since I've posted... Rest assured I haven't deterred from the goals I set up for myself; I've just been too busy MAKING IT HAPPEN. Kicking ass, taking names, dropping pounds, and becoming a certified badass!

The greatness of this year kicked-off officially when I became a staff employee for one of the largest entertainment media sites on the Internet. Along with that came real health benefits, an awesome salary and the roots of my career firmly planted in the ground. I worked my ass off for 1 1/2 years and the fruits of my labor finally paid off. I'm a member of the cool kids club. "Look ma! I'm a real person now!" Greatest. Day. Ever.

Next comes my overzealous commitment to better health, fitness and weight loss. I've spent no less than five days a week in the gym, pumping iron and beating the crap out of my body for the better good of humanity. Squatting has become my religion and Chin-Ups my lord and savior. On the weekends I pray to the beat of my sneakers landing on asphalt... left, right, left, right, repeat. AND I LOVE IT. I feel like superwoman. I've discovered that I really do have biceps, and my ass has never looked better. I'll even shamelessly admit that I often catch myself checking out that afforementioned ass in the mirror quite often. Oh, and I FIT INTO MY OLD CLOTHES. What a glorious day that was, throwing myself a little fashion show in the bedroom.

My official weight-loss of 2011 was a resounding 35 pounds. Do you know how much that is?! Well, four gallons of water weigh 30lbs. Imagine carrying around four gallons of water with you, everywhere you go. Now put those imaginary jugs down. Thats how it feels to lose that much weight. Fucking fantastic. I've set my sights on losing another 15lbs by Memorial Day. And I'll damn well do it.

So... I also did this cool little thing called QUITTING SMOKING. Aww yeahhhhh! My stop date was September 18th, so I'm working on my fourth month tobacco-free. I didn't take the cold turkey route (call me a pussy if you like, I don't care), but instead weened myself off using the electronic cigarette. It's a godsend and I highly recommend every smoker out there try it. My favorite vendor is Vapor4Life (www.v4l.com) and they wrote the book on insanely amazing customer service. Do it, and thank me later.

Two other quick notes before I sign off:

-I successfully completed two 3-week stints without consuming any refined sugars. One from Halloween to Thanksgiving, and again from Decemeber 3rd through Christmas Eve. That meant no cake, no candy, no cupcakes, no cookies, nothing! The first round was intense, to say the least (detox, OMFG). Both drew awesome results and helped me curb my addiction to sugar. Sugar is a drug. Believe it.

-I also shot and edited this cool little audition video for a friend:

Look forward to my next post where I dive into THE BUCKET LIST!!

P.S. I plan to actually continue writing on this blog this year. I have lots of exciting things to share!


Weekend Weakness And Tough Love

The last two weekends I've been cheating badly on my diet. The guilt over my affair with pizza and chocolate is finally setting in. Is it really my fault when the temptation throws itself at me? Should I confess my sin and deal with the consequences? Is it even more terrible that I neglect my body and its desire to be fit and healthy?

Some people say it's O.K. to cheat on the weekends. I can't agree. There are so many other facets in life where if we cheated "only only the weekend" or "only a few times" it would label us monsters. It's not acceptable cheat in a relationship or on a test or take shortcuts at work, so why do so many people feel it's O.K. to cheat on a diet? You're letting down the most important person of all --you!

I need to take this week and repair the relationship between my body and food. I'm really more of an all-or-nothing kind of person, so when I only put in 50% the failure rings in my head relentlessly. I keep going back to that slice of pizza and regretting every deliciously greasy moment. I could have just as easily ordered a salad.

There's also this little vending machine at my office with M&M's in it, and for only a quarter you get a small handful of the chocolaty treat. I have a terrible weakness for that machine and an overabundance of quarters in my purse. I tend to treat myself on extra-stressful evenings in the office, and last week there were quite a few. Maybe I should just empty out my change purse before work? Then when I go hunting like a madwoman for that lone quarter I'll come up empty-handed and be forced to sweat out the cravings. Tough love prevails over gentle weaning. Buck up, chump!

Meanwhile, I did get a great workout this weekend ...moving into a third floor apartment. My body still aches everywhere and it was a slow trek to work on Monday morning, but it does feel pretty awesome to get my muscles moving. I'll be doing the same this coming weekend, except with larger, heavier items. Good times. I'd like to shout out the amazing friends helping us through this journey. You are the greatest people I know, and I promise you plenty of beer! (oh look, now I'm planning out my cheating, oye.)


Hello, Sunshine!

I feel like I'm on top of the world today, and it only took three steps outside of my building to fill me with that joy. I love the sun. There's just something about it that makes me smile like a child on the last day of school. On my way to the train platform the sweet smell of spring runs through my nose and a cool breeze hugs my body. It finally feels like the overcast lull of winter is gone. Days will grow longer as the moon delays its rise, and my legs are pumped for a jog through the park.

I smile through the entire ride to work today, staring out the window at bright blue skies and glittering reflections on our lovely brown Jersey water. It doesn't matter though; the sparkling dance of sunlight overpowers the murky Newark bay and bounces from tall glass buildings. Trees are still bare and skeletal, but I imagine the colorful leaves they will soon birth. The air conditioner blasts its manufactured comfort at my face, and I can only crave the moment I get to step back into springtime glory.

I see so many cars drive by with their windows securely shut. I don't understand why people find it necessary to kick on the air conditioner on a day like this. They depend on this man-made air entirely too much. I wish I were in my car right now, windows down, sunroof open, and blasting the perfect summer soundtrack. I love a good drive on a beautiful day.

Well, the train is about to come to its final destination. I will thoroughly enjoy my walk to work today, sucking in as much joy as I can before I'm condemned to my desk indoors. But I have a beautiful view from my desk, so maybe it won't be all that bad. :-)


Brown Bagging Is The New Black

I've been doing some calculations recently on how much money I unnecessarily spend each week, and how much I've been "saving." In finally analyzing my lifestyle choices, I've discovered a wealth of options that both cut spending and help my fitness goals. Two birds, one stone —count me in!

Stupid Expense #1
I failed to mention to you lovely readers that I kicked my Starbucks addiction weeks ago and started carrying my own thermos of chai tea every day to work. Not only did that cut an estimated 1,000 calories out of my week, but saved me around $30 each week. One large Starbucks order is the cost of a month's worth of tea bags, sweet n low and low-fat half & half. Why didn't I think of this sooner?!

I'll admit kicking the addiction wasn't easy. This stuff is like crack! Aside from the caffeine dependency, I pass four or five Starbucks on my daily commute through the city! I would quietly whimper to myself, walking by each one and smelling the espresso goodness wafting through the doors. I had to sip from my thermos and convince myself that it was better than the real deal. Entering the minimal calories into my tracking app was the only solace I had during the first few weeks of detox. Eventually the shaking and night-sweats stopped, and now I can confidently brush past a Starbucks without even glancing at the sign! My home-made tea rocks. Really.

Estimated Monthly Savings: $110

Stupid Expense #2
The day I finally bucked-up and learned the NYC subway system was truly glorious. I was kind of forced to due to a part-time job that had me running around the island of Manhattan into unexplored territories. Racking up taxi expenses wasn't exactly a viable option. Then I started spoiling myself. My regular job is a straight 12 block walk from Penn Station. Well, taking the 1-2-3 trainline cut 10 blocks out of that hike. I was in my glory, minimizing that fifteen minute walk to a quick two minute ride down Seventh Ave.

That wonderful shortcut started costing me $22.50 a week. I know it doesn't sound like much, but when you factor in the $75 weekly train ticket from Jersey, I was spending nearly $400 a month just to get to work! Any sane person can assume that's absolutely ludicrous. So in an effort to minimize my expenses, I've tossed out my metro card and laced up my shoes (O.K. well I held onto it for rainy days. 12 blocks in the rain isn't fun). The walk really isn't terrible. It takes about 10-15 minutes and burns off a chunk of my breakfast. It's a good thing I have this tea to keep me energized...

Estimated Monthly Savings: $90

Stupid Expense #3

I've never been big on packing lunch. Even in high school I always bought my lunch from the cafeteria. Brown bagging made you a dork for whatever reason, and I've carried that stigma to the workplace. The cool people go out to lunch together and the lame people sit at their desk alone with a soggy ham sandwich. I don't know where we get these ideals, or if it's really just in my own head, because honestly your mom packing a homemade lunch shows that you're probably loved more than the "here's five bucks" parents. Somehow that extra-special attention was turned into "you're poor" --probably by some jealous, spiteful rich kid.

I'd like to take a moment and thank my mom for all of those childhood years full of egg salad and bologna sandwiches. You always took the time to prepare what I loved to eat and bought us colorful insulated lunch sacks to store your handmade delicacies. I may have complained every week about not having dunkaroos and fruit roll-ups, but your insistence on not purchasing these pricey snacks kept me lean until my teenage years (when I demanded to buy lunch like the cool kids and spent your hard-earned cash on cookies and ice-cream, rather than the schools sad excuse for a hot lunch).

I'm now packing my lunch on a daily basis. Granted I've only been doing this for a week and a half, I plan to stick to it. Seeing that money sit in my wallet all week has been quite joyous, and I can keep a better handle on how many calories I'm consuming. Sure I gaze longingly at the variety of sandwhich shops and cafes on my walk to work, but having an extra couple of bucks at the end of the week to maybe treat myself to some take-out for dinner is a beautiful thing. Lunch in NYC gets expensive. The average meal will suck about ten bucks out of your pocket and even more if you opt for delivery! There are some major savings to be had in this department.

Estimated Monthly Savings: $150

These three areas alone are projected to save me around $350 each month. Wow, that's a lot of cash! Think of what you could do with that much money every month... That's a new 32" flat screen television; or a new summer wardrobe; or a weekend getaway; or a nice chunk of credit debt removal; or an extra car payment; or a new cute piece of Ikea furniture; or a start to an actual savings account. The list could go on forever, and that's EVERY SINGLE MONTH! Now the only problem is actually recognizing and holding onto that savings. It's really easy to blow it in small chunks every other day. Actually, it's too easy, especially for me. I haven't really recognized any of these weekly savings since I started implementing them. Where does the money go?! I think I need to start keeping track of my expenditures and monitor what black hole this money is falling into. Hmm... Maybe there's an app for that too? ;-)


Training Day (And Free Pizza)

"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -Will Rogers

It's time to get more serious about my running. Goals make you work hard, but obligations make you work even harder. I've decided it's time to turn around my "exercise" into something more serious: training. Rather than envisioning a fit version of myself as motivation, I'm going to slap a great big finish line in front of my eyes. My Couch To 5K training will be completed with the anticipation of participating in my very first 5K race! Finishing first isn't necessarily my goal; finishing at all is more realistic and still a great motivator.

I picked out the event I'm going to compete in, and it's going down on July 20th. I figure that gives me more than enough time to get up to par. The Downtown Westfield 5K and Pizza Extravaganza is a local event that benefits the community and involves delicious free pizza! Who doesn't love pizza? Well I suppose the pizza isn't free considering there's a $27 sign-up fee, but let's not worry about the logistics. It sounds like a great time and ends with a big party and live entertainment. What makes this even more exciting is how I've inspired a few friends to partake in the 5K! Hopefully they come through and sign up with me, but if they don't I'll be just as happy knowing they are cheering me on and supporting my efforts to better myself.

I've even opted to take this new-found drive and push myself to train even harder. I'm going to enter a half marathon in September. Now here's why I expect to be more than ready for a 5K in July --a half marathon is 13 miles (a 5K is about 3 miles). It's not going to be easy, but I didn't set out on this adventure with that expectation. Go big or go home is more like it. The event is the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. How cool does that sound? And it really is cool. There are live bands playing every few miles on the course and a big free concert at the close of the race. This year Brett Michaels is headlining! The race comes with an $85 price tag, so if fitness isn't motivation enough, getting my money's worth certainly is.

So, February 28th marks the first day of my impulsive, capricious-yet-serious training. I am really super excited about participating in my first 5K and half marathon. It's not something everyone does in their lifetime, and from what I hear it's a huge rush to complete one. I have a seasoned partner for the half marathon, but if anyone else out there is willing to make the training commitment it would be great to go with a group! Same goes for the 5K. I hope to find some more recruits for that considering the training is not too demanding and a little less eccentric (and there's free pizza, hellooo!). Otherwise, wish me luck! ;-)


Trainspotting, Issue No. 2 "Herding Cattle"

On a good day I actually get done work at the time I'm supposed to, 8:00pm. The problem with getting done at 8:00pm is the way NJ Transit runs its train schedule during that hour. They have trains at 8:04, 8:11 and 8:41. My building is a good 12 blocks from the station, so it's safe to say the first two trains are totally out of the question (that is, until they finally get around to inventing teleportation). So, you can only imagine my dismay waiting around for the 8:41, which doesn't get me home until 9:30pm. Grr.

Occasionally a really good day comes along when I'm able to run out of the office 5-10 minutes early and actually catch the 8:11 train. Now this rare phenomenon comes about once a week, and when it does I'm like a kid getting out of school on a half day. I rush out of the office in a windstorm, bewildering my coworkers with a faint "good-bye" shouted from down the hall and half-way out the door. It's really rather sad that five minutes determine whether I get home at 8:45 or 9:30 —and ultimately my mood for the remainder of the evening.