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I have reached the end of my 30 day yoga challenge.  I’ve done a supported headstand every day for 30 days straight.  This was a great challenge and I feel I’ve reached a great mile stone.  To do anything 30 days in a row is quite an accomplishment.  So what did I learn?

Day 1 was rocky to say the least.  I could get in to a headstand but not very well.  In fact, I have a camera app called Blink which takes several pictures in rapid succession.  I had my wife use this app to get a picture of me with my feet straight up and had to pick the best one to display in my Day 1 blog post.  I was only able to hold this pose for a couple of seconds before falling over.  Many times I would fall backward which resulted in me rolling over my interlocked fingers which kind of hurt.  Still I pressed on.

Day two I took a picture but did not post it here.  My legs were slightly forward.  At this point in the game it was a little tough getting in to a headstand.  I struggled with it a little.  By day 4 I definitely felt like I was making some headway not only in getting in to the pose but in balance and staying in the pose.

Somewhere around day 16 I had a bad day.  I felt like it was very difficult to get in to the pose.  I got in to the pose and felt like I couldn’t hold it.  I felt tired for some reason.  Later I figured it was that I hadn’t done any warm up and my back was stiff.  A great lesson to learn and from that day forward I had no problems at all once I was properly stretched.

So now that I’ve hit day 30, I can get in to this pose very easily and hold it for a lot longer.  I tossed my wife my phone and asked her to take a picture of me.  I don’t think she realized what was going on.  I quickly got inverted and was standing on my head for about 15 seconds before I called out to her.  She responded, picked up my phone and as she was about to take a picture someone called.  She hung up on them and went back to the camera app.  I stood straight up on my head for about 30-40 seconds total before she took this picture.

Supported Headstand Day 30

Supported Headstand Day 30

What I love about this picture is how my back is almost straight but my legs are aligned over my head and my toes are pointed up about as much as I can point them at this time.  I held pretty straight like this for a good amount of time and it is the first time I’ve seen my accomplishment since day 4.  I am celebrating this victory today and feel a real sense of accomplishment.

Interestingly enough this fit really well in to my minimalist theory.  I took less than a minute a day to learn a new pose that was quite hard in the beginning.  I really had it learned in a little over 2 weeks but continue to perfect my skill and gain strength.

Strength is something that I still have to work on.  This takes a lot of arm and back strength to hold for this long.  I will most likely keep doing my headstands almost daily.  I really enjoy doing them because they give me confidence and for the strength.

Do you have pics of you doing headstands?  What should my next 30 day challenge be?

Namaste my friends.

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So I’m on day 12 of my supported headstand yoga challenge and I thought I’d write an update.  Day 1 was a bit of a challenge in itself.  I wasn’t very stable and had problems staying upright for very long.  I wasn’t able to keep my feet together without falling over and was inverted for maybe 10 seconds.

It didn’t take me long to start to gain balance.  On day 4 I felt a lot more solid and I was able to hold the position with my feet together.  Now, on day 12 I feel like I can stay inverted for a much longer period of time and keep my feet together.  This stability gives me the opportunity to focus on my breathing which isn’t easy when inverted.  I’m confident that by day 30 I will have improved a great deal more.

So I was showing my friend who is a yoga instructor and she gave me a couple of tips which I don’t think I’m ready to implement.  Quite honestly, I don’t think I have the strength in my shoulders or back at this point.  She told me that I’ll eventually want to get in to the supported headstand pose by putting my arms and head down then walking my feet toward my body.  Then, as my friend showed me, I’ll keep my legs straight and feet together as I lift.  Right now I’m lifting one leg at a time and they’re bent.  Still, I’m reaping the benefit of being inverted as well as gaining strength in my shoulders and core.  

I’m more than 1/3 of the way through my challenge and still enjoying it.

I love a challenge.  Why wouldn’t I?  Since I was a young kid I’ve been challenged to keep up with my big brother, to learn how to use computers (as primitive as they were in the 80’s), to make the basketball team, to graduate high school then college, to get a job… I thrive on a challenge.

I went back in time on my personal facebook page.  Not far, I just wanted to see what day I started doing yoga.  I think it was March 1st and since it was the beginning of a new month, why not make that the date?  So I’ve been doing yoga for a month and a half.  Nearly ever day… nearly.

So I think I will challenge myself to something.  For the next 30 days I want to do a supported headstand pose.  It wont take long, just a minute or two but will help me in core strength and balance.  I also want to challenge myself to do yoga 6 days per week even if it is just a couple of poses.  I want to build and build upon this and focus on opening up my chest, gaining arm and core strength and improving hip flexibility.  At the end of 30 days I should be a lot further along than I am now and will issue myself a new challenge going forward.  Wanna start with me?  It starts tomorrow, April 15th.

Ok, so it hasn’t been quite three months since I last posted but it’s getting close.  I’ve missed writing and I’ve missed a lot of my old WordPress friends.  I’ve been doing well though.  Regular readers from when I was a regular writer will recall that I had a strained rotator cuff once upon a time.  I’ve completely healed, I have no pain whatsoever.  I did not, however, go back to push ups, sit ups or squats.  I got in to running for a little while and then somehow pulled a back muscle.  Not enough stretching, I suppose?  This was a pivotal moment for me.

When my back was hurting I started to think about my direction in fitness.  I still 100% believe in my minimalist workout.  But I started to think.  Maybe I push myself too hard or just have the genetics but I seem to be a little accident prone.  A woman I work with is always talking about yoga and how much she loves it.  She told me she broke her neck years ago and had 3 slipped discs.  She told me yoga took all the pain away.  Not knowing much about yoga I asked her if she could give me some good poses for my back which was bothering me.  She gave me three poses which I researched right away.  They were bridge pose, cobra pose and camel pose.  These poses are awesome for elongating the spine, opening the chest and stretching everything out.

So I kept going.  YouTube has endless yoga videos.  I simply search for yoga, beginner and the area I want to work on that day whether it’s upper or lower back, abs, legs, arms…  Then I build a playlist and pull up the YouTube app on my blue ray player and workout in my living room.  My 5 year old has enjoyed doing yoga with me so much that we built her a playlist of just kids yoga.  She loves the kids  yoga because it’s like acting out a story with yoga moves.  She’ll giggle and do her poses for the entire 15 minutes and then sit down, put her hands together and say “namaste”.

In the few weeks I’ve been doing yoga I can already see my posture getting better, my body is getting more flexible and the poses are getting easier.  I’m really loving the yoga.  I plan to write more about yoga in the future, maybe I’ll post some pics of me doing yoga poses and maybe some instruction on how to do poses, although I’m not an instructor and am learning to do these poses myself.

I’d love to hear from anyone who is doing yoga.  Leave me a message in the comments.

I’ve been doing some research in to running technique.  I’ve decided I want to work smarter in 2013 instead of working harder.  In fact, I’m making it my New Year’s Resolution.  I plan on finding the best ways to make the most of my workout time.  Today I went out for a run and decided to try out a new running technique I saw in some YouTube videos.  In fact, let me pass this video along to you.

In this video you see one runner, two weeks apart.  On the left she is striking down on her heel and on the right you see her striking with her foot coming down flat.  You will also notice that when she lands her foot flat she brings the opposing foot up much higher than she did in the video on the left.  With a slight forward lean and good posture she uses gravity to push her forward.  The technique on the right is more efficient because she limits the time her foot is on the ground.  Also, from what I understand, when you strike with your heel you slow yourself down slightly before you pull yourself forward.  The more efficient way is to land with your foot flat, without stretching it out in front of you so that you push yourself forward instead of pulling.  This also cuts down on risk of injury.

So how did this work out for me?  I improved my distance by about 25% over Tuesday’s run.  In fact, my legs felt as if they could go a lot further but my lungs are not yet acclimated to running this far.  I have no doubt I can improve my performance a lot quicker than I have in the past.  My biggest barrier is waiting for my lungs to build up their capacity.

When I was running before I would use an app to give me cues as to when I should run and when I should walk.  I’ve decided to map all my runs ahead of time and shoot for distance instead.  My favorite website for mapping my runs is RunningMap.com.  I like it mostly because it isn’t overloaded with menus and the need to sign in first.  I keep an eye on the approximate time it takes me to run certain distances and then put the information in to Wolfram|Alpha to calculate my speed.  I seem to be running my first leg at about 6.5 mph.  This is quite an improvement for me.  Less effort (leg wise) is translating in to faster speeds aka traveling further in the same amount of time.  It’s all about efficiency.

I will say, however, this technique doesn’t make running so easy that I don’t have to worry about drinking enough water or eating properly.  Proper hydration and nutrition will always be essential.

Admittedly, I’ve never been a strong runner but thankfully, with proper technique, I can become strong.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions and how are you working to accomplish them?

The holidays were great.  I took a trip to Michigan and visited friends and family and overindulged on great food but unfortunately, the holidays are over and I have extra weight as a result.  I decided to wait until January 1st to get my act together and that’s what I did yesterday.  I got up and got my act together.

I started the day off with a breakfast of eggs and several glasses of water.  After about an hour I got out and went running.  I had some problems with my running app and my headphones kept popping out of my phone but I didn’t let it stop me.  The weather was too nice, there was too much to lose by quitting and I just didn’t want to stop.  I ended up running a but further than I had anticipated but today I feel pretty good.  My muscles are tired but not sore.  This is encouraging because it tells me I drank enough water and helps me feel good about myself.  That good feeling translates in to my enthusiasm to get out there tomorrow for more running.

While I was running yesterday I was thinking about something.  I’ve heard from people in the past that they decided to start running and just went out and ran a couple miles.  This kind of story has always baffled me because running just isn’t easy for me.  So I went to YouTube for a little research.  I search for “efficient running stride” and found endless videos showing how I can fix my running stride.  This should allow me to run further with less effort.

When I first started running in 2008 I read somewhere that you should strike with your heel first.  According to many videos I watched yesterday this is incorrect.  Not only that but some people suggested that this type of stride could eventually lead to injury.  The correct way, the way the best runners run, is to strike down with a flat foot and limit the amount of time your foot is touching the ground.  This is something I’ll have to work on.  In the end I hope to be a stronger runner.

My lungs weren’t so happy with my running.  This is probably due to the fact that I haven’t been aerobically active in a little while.  When you work out you take in more oxygen.  Your lungs contain Aveoli which are responsible for exchanging gasses with your lungs and blood.  When you do aerobic exercises you form more aveoli.  Also, your lungs are able expand more, your diaphragm loosens and it becomes easier to breathe.  This will only come with time.

So all in all I feel like this has been a fantastic start to 2013! How is your year starting out?

Well this is it ladies and gentlemen.  Tonight is the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.  I have a lot of goals for 2013 but for now I’m thinking back at what I’ve accomplished in 2012.

2012 started out fun.  We had some good friends over a year ago tonight, they stayed with us that night and we all went out for some go-kart fun on the 1st.  I also started a blog on Jan 1st, 2012 where I would celebrate a different food holiday every day.  The secret I didn’t tell people is that I was dieting 6 days a week but would cook and eat my food holiday foods on Saturday as part of a cheat day.  This lasted until April when I totally burned out on the grind of putting together a blog like this.

February was a very up and down month for me.  My family and I moved to another part of town where we are much happier.  My parents came to visit to help us move but we lost my grandma the same weekend.  It is something that still hurts even now.  I went off my diet and began gaining weight again.  This weight gain lasted until June.

In late May I had been reading a couple of books and had seen some research that suggested that you could exercise a few times per day in short duration and still benefit as if you’d gone to the gym for an hour.  I decided I was going to try this and write a blog about it.  It took me a few days to flesh out my program but ultimately, as many of you know, I settled on push ups, sit ups and squats.  At first it was all three each day but I would get tired and need to take days off to rest.  This is when I started doing one of each per day and my program really took off.

In June I started dieting and experimenting with food and weight loss/gain.  I ended up losing 29 lbs before feeling the need to stabilize for a while.  I felt at that point I was losing too quickly and needed a break.  Yes, I know, this is a great problem to have!  The fact is, I have been working on writing a book about my experiences and the research I had done had given me so much knowledge that I really feel my mental state couldn’t keep up with my physical state.  In other words, I got the program down but my mind was stuck with a comfort level that was at a higher weight.  Does that make any sense at all?  It did to me.

Physically, my biggest setback hit in late September.  I was having trouble doing push ups and determined that I must have strained my rotator cuff.   I kept up with some exercises for a while but round about November I decided I should take the rest of the year off to rest my body.  I was doing my push ups wrong.  I had my elbows out when they should be closer to my body when doing a push up.

With the holidays coming I acclimated myself back to eating bread and some cheese and I thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner and all the Christmas festivities I attended.

So how does 2012 end for me?  My wife and kids are still in Michigan and I’m in Florida working tonight.  I’ll put the TV on and watch the ball drop… I dislike that ball… and text and call my friends to say happy new year.  Tomorrow I’m getting back to the grind and will be running, doing push ups, sit ups and squats.  I’ve already gotten myself back on my diet and am feeling optimistic about it.

I will work harder on my book and hope to have it completed soon.  Don’t worry, I can’t always proof read my blog posts due to my family and work schedule but the book will be proof read, and read by a few people before I put it out there for people to read.

I also plan to write more on the blog like I did for a the first few months.  I want to give you some advise for reaching your goals based on my research.

Here’s to a great new year!

When something seems to be trying to get my attention in life, I try to answer.  Recently, I feel as if the subject of running has come up quite a bit in my life.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, a fellow blogger asked if I wanted to do a run with him and Saturday evening my wife told me that her friend had to back out of their scavenger hunt/fun run that was on Sunday.  I told her I’d take her friend’s place.

I should say that this fun run was more scavenger hunt than endurance challenge.  We ended up running about 2 miles but it was over the course of nearly an hour and a half.  The run is called “Orlando Challenge” run by an organization called “Challenge Nation”.  We were given 12 clues and told we would have to find 11 of the 12 and take pictures of ourselves at each stop.  So for instance there was a clue about a large piece of rock that was a gift to the city of Orlando from a sister city in Taiwan.  The rock is in Lake Eola Park.  Since I used to work in Lake Eola Park I knew right where to go.  An hour and a half later we had 11 of 12 pics and walked to the finish line at number 77 of 95.  While it doesn’t sound like it, our time was about middle of the pack.

If you click here you can see a picture of my wife and I in front of a sculpture, we’re acting out the sculpture.

What I really enjoyed was hearing the stories of people who had been in other runs.  There were people in funny costumes and everyone was having a great time.  I think I’m going to have to do more runs.

Today I went out for a run.  I put an app on my phone called “Endomondo” which track me and gives me all kinds of great information.  Unfortunately, the app got paused for nearly my whole first mile but I got a little information out of it.  I plan to keep using the app.

I’m going to use the app to track my runs, share with you all and hopefully get myself back in shape for distance runs.  My goal might be to get to a half marathon.  I’m a little apprehensive about it but given enough time I know I can do it.

Here is my first day’s run.  Please note that I didn’t run through the woods and over ponds, that’s where the app paused on me.

Tim’s Day 1 of training.

Click here to see my 7 Point Plan To Fitness Success

Now the fun begins.  You’ve looked at all your habits, saw places and way you could improve them, did a few reps of each exercise to see what you’re capable and you’ve started your journal.  Now is the time for action.  It’s time to put it all together and transform your life.

You are going to be on a three day cycle of workout.  You can start with any day you’d like but for demonstration purposes we’ll start on Sunday.  Each day you are going to do one of three different exercises.  You can do them in any order but I prefer to do them in the order of push ups, sit ups and squats.  In each seven day period you will do each exercise three days.  Your schedule will look like this:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
Push ups Sit up Squats Push ups Sit ups Squats Push ups Sit Ups Squats

So for example, your week of push ups goes from Sunday to Saturday, sit ups go from Monday to Sunday and Squats go from Tuesday to Monday.

When I first started this workout routine I had to find a way to form a habit.  Simply saying that I would work out a little bit throughout the day wasn’t enough.  I had tried that before and I would forget.  So what I did was set up rooms as triggers.  If I went in the kitchen I would drop down and do some push ups.  You can decide for yourself whether or not you want to do your exercises in the kitchen or simply acknowledge that it’s time to do them once you go to the kitchen.  You could really do them before or after going in the kitchen. And this is not to say you must set up the kitchen as your trigger.

In your trial phase you did a test to see how many of each exercise you could do.  You are now going to do 70% of your total throughout the day.  If you were able to do 10 push ups then do 7 every time you go in the kitchen.  It is as simple as that.  If you go in the kitchen 20 times then I would shoot for only four or five sets of seven when you’re starting out.  Keep track in your journal and be sure to tell someone throughout the day.  Keeping a journal and sharing your success socially are two of the most powerful things you can do.  I dare to say that they’re as important, if not more important, that the physical act of exercising.

I work a full time job and shoot for doing the bulk of my exercising before work.  I also try to get a set or two in during my eight hour shift and when I get home I try to do more.  I find that spacing my workouts apart like that gives my muscles time to heal.  Yes, they will be somewhat tired, but you will find you’re able to do more than if you did all your sets together.

If you have any questions at all please leave a comment below and I’ll help you out.  Also, check out my Minimalist Workout Quick Start.

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