Posted in MAMA

An Active Pregnancy

Before I got pregnant – or when I very first got pregnant – I was beyond naive. I signed up for a 10K and 1-miler on the same weekend (instead of the Honolulu Marathon, of course) and assumed I’d slowly and happily jog through them with my barely-present bump and continue staying consistently, highly active through the whole 9 months.

By the time this weekend rolled around, I had been vomiting and barely eating for weeks. I was so nauseous in the first trimester I had trouble sleeping at night, didn’t want to socialize, and found most foods aside from bananas and crackers to be inedible. I still technically ‘completed’ these ill-fated digital races, but I half-jogged the one mile and walked the entire 10K. I also threw up several times during the 10K, and only continued because that was typical of any day at that time.

Now that I’m in my second trimester and counting down the days until the third, things have changed. I have a nice round belly that makes it tough to tie my shoes, but said belly is no longer growing and expanding like it was before. I can finally eat tomatoes again, have more energy, and can get through the day pretty normally with an afternoon nap. I can also walk/jog now that my new balance is under control, too.

Here’s a few things that have been incredibly helpful in staying active during my pregnancy.

Let It Go

This is the most important lesson of all. Whatever you thought pregnancy would be like, forget about it. You’re on your own unique journey and your body will be crystal clear on what it can and cannot tolerate. Sure, I’ve watched YouTube videos of women running half marathons or doing deadlifts or whatever else pregnant, but that’s their abilities and experience – not mine. I was an extremely active person before baby, and was almost completely sidelined by the first trimester alone. If that’s what’s right for me and my baby, I’m happy to stay on the bench as long as I need to.

Gym/Lifting Weights

The gym has been my go-to most days. I did some quick research to find safe exercises and even some that help build muscles for labor. My basic routine is a lighter/modified leg day with biceps & triceps and cool-down cardio.

At Home/Park/Wherever Workout

My husband is fairly active, and I’m usually playing soccer or skating right alongside him. Now that those things have been deemed off-limits, I started lugging my yoga mat, kettlebell and dumbbells with him to the park. This can also easily be done at home, at a kid’s soccer practice, or wherever.

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is, according to my doctor, one of the best exercises for moms-to-be. It helps stretch out tight hips and uncramp crampy legs, bring some peace and stillness, and help with nausea and balance. Here’s one of my favorite youtube videos with minimal equipment I can do right at home.

Walking/Hiking

Running has been out of the picture for most of my pregnancy. At first, I was sick and dizzy, and then became wobbly and off-balance and plain old tired. Walking has been my best friend. I walk all the time, from taking my dog around the neighborhood to going to the track to taking a (literal) hike. Walking is low impact, keeps the heart pumping, and is gentle enough that I can do it on my worst days – and on those days, it actually makes me feel a lot better.

Important – I’m Not a Doctor

Just a quick note – I am not a doctor, and am sharing what’s worked specifically for me during my pregnancy. I ask my doc all kinds of crazy questions, and those include checking that everything listed above isn’t only safe for pregnancy in general, but for me and my pregnancy, specifically. Be sure to do the same with yours!

Posted in Running

Motivation Monday: Marathonspiration

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Marathon training has crept into every aspect of my life lately. I’m always hungry, I’m always tired, and eternally stuck in runner-laundry purgatory. I’m constantly ducking into the copy room at work to  stretch. I’m asleep by 9pm most nights, given that I’ve somehow managed to stave off my nonstop hunger.

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Side effects aside, I am starting to really see my body changing. That lovely line that runs along the side of my calf is now a deep, sexy groove from my foot all the way up to my hip. My legs have leaned out, my abs have flattened, and the slightest hint ofrunner’s abs are starting to come through. I find myself craving healthy, beautiful foods like bananas, almond butter, vegan protein shakes and avocados. My happiness has runneth over.32bded4327cc079fc30de86fb8a8bcb0_400x400

Running has become such a crazy addiction that I’m heartbroken when my rest days roll around. Having a solid plan and a goal to work towards has cleared out so much chaos in my life. I can tune out, focus, and burn off all the stress, worry, and clutter. Every run feels like a victory.

I gathered up some of the best marathonspiration I could find to get you through a tough monday – since, like me, you’re probably stuck at the office daydreaming of your next PR.

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Posted in Lifting, Running

Marathon Training: Week 8!

It’s been quite a week – jam-packed with running, work, moving, job hunting and everything in between. Job hunting is such a complete nightmare that it’s been sucking the life out of me! Couple that with a hamstring injury and a bad cold, and it’s been rough.

Trying to get healthy with some yummy tofu pho!
Trying to get healthy with some yummy tofu pho!

Okay, okay, I’m done complaining! I still managed to do some running this week in preparation for my marathon in October, which is coming up every so quickly. I’m proud that I dragged my sickly arse through the hell-on-earth that was my 1o mile long run this Sunday (sorry, last complaint – I swear) but my cute little Camelbak made it way better 🙂

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I rested monday and did a 3 mile recovery run on Tuesday, where I just stretched out my legs. One of the awesome things about my new place is that we have a dog (yay!) and I get to run in a brand-new hood. Best of all, it’s right along the bay! So I can see the water the entire time.

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Wednesday I jogged a mile, did interval sprints for the second mile, and jogged home for the last mile. HIIT totally kicks my ass, so I was glad to get that out of the way.

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Thursday my hamstring was acting up, so I rested 😦 Friday, I did a little bit of yoga. Or, more accurately, attempted to do yoga while Kai ran circles around me eating geckos & bugs.

World, meet Kai
World, meet Kai

Tonight, I’m heading tot he gym for some arms & shoulders cross-training and foam-rolling before my 12-mile long run tomorrow.

Hope you guys all had a good week, and a well-deserved lazy Saturday 🙂

Posted in Lifting, Running

Preworkout the Natural Way

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I had an ‘experience’ recently where I took some of a coworker’s preworkout and literally felt like I was on crack. My skin was red, itchy, and on the verge of full-fledged hives; my heart was pounding, my palms were sweating, and I was freaking the f*ck out.

Have you ever been really drunk at a party and looked around and realized you could physically see all the other people at your stupefied level? Looking around the gym, I felt exactly like that – as if I had x-ray vision to single out every other individual going through a pre-workout induced high.

IMG_3106I was so panicky and paranoid, in fact, that my friend made me run on the treadmill until I calmed down and could rejoin society over by the squat rack. I wondered how many people were constantly ingesting neon-colored elixers promising everything from heavier sets to longer workouts, boosted energy or long-term results. After asking around and sharing my experience, I was shocked to discover that most of the people I knew swore by their favorite brand of pre-workout.

And the side effects? “yeah, that’s normal – my skin always feels like it’s on fire.” Um, excuse me?

Logically, nothing that comes in creepily neon colors can be too natural. But what’s exactly in pre-workout?

Most are a mix of beta alanine, which increases blood flow and dialates blood vessels, caffeine, vasodilator, and keto-glutarate. This mix gets you pumped up before and during a workout, but can have prolonged effects such as difficulty sleeping, increased risk of stroke and damage to the heart. And that’s just from the fact that it increases your heart rate, not from all the other effects of artificial coloring and chemical components.

What are some natural alternatives to pre-workout?

Naturally-occurring sources of caffeine, such as coffee and green tea, are wonderful alternatives to the fake stuff. Plus, both coffee and tea have other healthful benefits, such as a boosted metabolism & blood flow, increased focus, and regulation of blood sugar.

Green tea, in addition, helps fight cancer, is jam-packed with antioxidants, and even helps lower cholesterol. Coffee touts nutrients such as magnesium, riboflavin, potassium, and niacin, and boosts brain function and packs its own antioxidant punch. Furthermore, coffee is believed to help boost brain function and fight Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Despite their nutritional prowess, it’s still possible to overdo it. Loading up on caffeine, even the natural way, isn’t great for the heart. But sticking to 3-4 cups of either a day, particularly a cup before the gym, is a great way to pick yourself up without putting your health down.

 

Posted in Island Life, Surf/Bodyboard

Why Surfing’s a Killer Workout

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Surfing is a beautiful experience. It’s mental, physical, spiritual, social, even emotional – there’s no place I’d rather be than in the ocean, sliding into a turquoise blue barrel. Weeks, months, and years later, I still dream about some of my favorite waves. I’ve never felt happier or closer to God than on a perfect beach day, conquering the ocean’s full force and surrendering my fragile self to its mercy.

While I bodyboarded occasionally in California, Hawaii’s year-round swells made it an addiction. My first semester, I worked mostly nights and trudged through brutal online classes so I could frequent the beach. As the days in the water & under the sun passed, a metamorphosis had begun. My dark hair turned golden, my skin browned, and my body tightened. The last few stubborn pounds melted away in less than a month, although I was downing enormous lunch plates and Costco pizza slices post-surf sesh. My abs began to peek out, my limbs tightened, and my arms became sculpted and defined in that way that only paddling can produce.

Bodysurfing takes strength & control
Bodysurfing takes strength & control

Now that I work full-time, I’m a lot smarter about my after-beach munchies. But the lesson is clear – charging waves is one hell of a workout. Sadly, most fitness trackers and online calculators claim that surfing burns a dismal 170 calories an hour for a 145-pound woman. Coming from experience, that’s i m p o s s i b l e. If you’re actively duck diving, paddling out, and catching waves – not just sitting there like a buoy for an hour – you’re torching zillions of calories and building a strong, sexy core.

I mean, have you ever seen a surfer’s abs??

Pro Surfer Sally Fitzgibbon's abs
Pro Surfer Sally Fitzgibbon’s abs

Since I’m a little obsessed with tracking my calorie burn, it irks me that I can’t find a good calculator anywhere. However, I do know that surfing, bodyboarding, and  bodysurfing are kick-ass workouts. After a few hours on a decent beach day, my friends and I have the same exact routine: eat, sleep, and debate if we should go back for more.

Surfing is such an effective form of exercise because it’s multi-faceted. Paddling out is brutal full-body cardio, much like swimming. If you’re a prone bodyboarder, you workout your shoulders, back, and core when you drop in, grip your board, and steer.

If you drop knee or surf, you use your core, arms and feet to push your own bodyweight up, all while maintaining near-perfect balance and control. As you ride each wave, you’re also working both sides of your body, controlling your limbs, and using your core to maintain a middle ground and stay on your rails. This asymmetric action is what lends surfers their legendary drool-worthy abs.

Secondly, our poor bodies take an extensive beating from wipeouts. Our muscles have to work overtime to repair all the damage, exhaustion, and deep bruising that comes with the sport.

From the nutrition front, surfing brings us into a relationship with nature and grooms a healthy respect for the world around us. This spiritual connection to nature often encourages us to be more  mindful of the natural world in other areas of our life, such as what we eat. I’ve never seen a bunch of hangry guys down more salads, berries, grilled veggies, fish, and rice than the dudes I surf with.

Plus, we all want to maintain our hard-earned physiques. When we look and feel healthy, we’re more likely to apply that mindfullness to what’s on our plates.

So yeah, people – GO SURF!

Posted in Lifting, Running

Motivation Monday: Starting Fresh!

c545399b8ae92703eb412b899c240bccWake up, wake up it’s the first of the month…

Today’s a big day of firsts – the first of the month, of course, but also a Monday (the first of the week) and Labor Day, which is the first day of the brand spankin’ new semester. In short, today’s a day to relax, enjoy and have a fresh start J

I’m a big fan of fresh starts. Even though I’ve been dedicated to my health & fitness journey for the past few years without a major hiccup or weight gain, life does happen. It even happened to a fitness fanatic like myself – sometimes stress and heartache can overcome the best intentions.

But today’s a good day to start over! Which doesn’t necessarily translate into starting back at square one – a fresh start simply means forgiving yourself of past transgressions, letting go and embracing the blessing of a clean slate.

The best way to get started again (after letting go, of course) is to just get a plan and make the commitment. Pick up some good groceries, meal prep for the busy next few days, and make that shit happen. Go to the gym. Figure out when and how works best for you!

Basically – make the commitment and make it work. Fitness takes effort, planning, dedication, and, above all, time.

For example, I pass the gym on the way to and from work, so I always keep gym stuff in my car and go almost every day after work. That way, my friends are free to go with me, I’m passing it anyways, and I even kill an hour or two and miss the rush hour traffic.

Getting yourself into a routine is pivotal – it’s the simplest way to ease into good habits that will stick around as long as you keep working towards your goal.

Have a happy labor day everyone! And good luck with your fitness dreams 🙂


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Posted in Lifting, Running

Motivation Monday: Exercise as Therapy

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Exercise is the best form of therapy I know. It eases stress, pulls me out of a long day, snaps me out of a rut. However I need to feel – happy, tired, content, pumped, excited, at ease – working out can make that happen. With all of the craziness going on in my life lately, fitness has had my back.

Fitness is so damn therapeutic because it forces us to realize our own strength. Life’s negative emotions & outcomes often leave us feeling weak, in various forms. Powerless, out of control, hopeless, worthless, depressed, unwanted.

Even smaller things, like having a shitty day at work, can cause the strongest of us to feel unimportant or insignificant. So when life gets really, really fucked up, fitness has our back.

Working out is a positive outlet to get everything out. Even more importantly, it makes us feel strong. At our worst moments, a great run or going HAM on leg day reminds us of the badasses we truly are. 

For me, lifting weights is pivotal. It shows me my physical strength, which helps me believe in my emotional, mental, and spiritual strength as well.

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Crying on the couch or subsisting on a diet of wine & ice cream soothe the pain, too – but exercise is one of the few things that helps us improve ourselves as we heal. 

Whatever your thing is, I hope you find some solace in your workouts this week 🙂 

Love,

Nikki

 

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Posted in Lifting

Motivation Tuesday: Take the Gym with you!

If you haven’t noticed, my Motivation Monday posts have had a recurring theme: staying fit on vacation! The easiest thing, obviously, is to snag a hotel with a decent gym. But what if you’re going somewhere where a hotel-with-gym is nonexistent?

I’ve ran into this situation in France, Belgium, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Unless you’re a baller & staying at a big western hotel, you gotta improvise.

A jump rope & burpees seem easy, but pose a problem in a hotel situation. If you’re on the bottom floor, you’re golden. If not, the poor people below will hate you thumping around.

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I’m really excited to try out the Dyna Pro Resistance Band during my trip! I’m using the green 15-20 pound band. Initially, I thought it would actually weigh 15-20 pounds, but this gem is light as a feather. It just adds 15-20 pounds of resistance, which is great for my workouts on the road. I’m so looking forward to my adventures and keeping in shape during them!

And, of course, taking tons of pictures 🙂

Happy travels,

Nikki

Posted in Running

Motivation Monday: Stay Fit on Vacation

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I’m getting giddy, little-girl excited for my vacation! I apologize for the lack of posts this week – my kickass in laws are staying with us, and we’ve been super busy taking them around the island, running errands, and playing tourist. It’s been lovely, but I haven’t had much time to blog!

I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of summer. I love summer. Barbecues, bonfires, warm weather, beach days, long nights. The best part, of course, is that a lot of us – at least the lucky ones – are going on vacation.

The only trouble is that vacation can be a bit of a threat to our hard-earned fitness. We worked our asses off all spring and we don’t want to lose it all at the hotel buffet table. On the flip side, vacation is all about relaxing and indulging.

The challenge is to find a good balance between the loser sadly munching on lettuce and downing Vodka sodas and stuffing our faces like no tomorrow. Basically, we want to enjoy our vacation but keep our abs too.

I travel quite a bit, and while that’s a wonderful, I’ve learned a few tough lessons about not getting too cray cray on vacay.

Pick somewhere with lots of activities (if possible)

ballet1The easiest way to keep it healthy is to pick a place brimming with outdoor activities. A while back, a wrote an article about fit stuff to do in Hawaii – paddle boarding, snorkeling, diving, surfing lessons. There’s lots of options, and it’s a great way to explore your new surroundings. If you went to Colorado, for example, you could go white water rafting, hiking, etc. and get your fitness on. Your hotel/concierge usually offers lots of adventures, or at least can direct you to a few vendors.

Find a gym or bring it with you

While hotel gyms are characteristically shitty, at least it’s a gym. Look up/pick hotels with a decent gym or pool, so you at least have the option to crank out a sweat session before you head out for the day. If you aren’t blessed with  a gym, bring some lightweight equipment with you. Even some elastic bands, TRX or a jump rope can work wonders.

Walk the loads

Even if you’re in a landlocked urban jungle, walking is the easiest way to burn a few calories. You’ll probably do plenty of walking anyway, regardless of where you’re at. It’s the ideal way to find lovely little niches off the beaten track anyways.

Rent a bike

My absolute favorite memory of my trip to Belgium was a gorgeous bike ride through the countryside. We ended up finding the best espresso on the planet, an adorable river complete with old-school steamboats, and a teeny village that looked like Pinocchio’s neighborhood.

Don’t stress 

To be honest, I think this is the most important. Do not, I repeat, do not have a meltdown on your vacation. We work so hard to even be able to take a vacation. Don’t ruin it by obsessing over the scale  and missing out on local foods, good wine and great times.

As always – drink lots & lots of water!