Workouts for the holiday season

Happy November! Let’s all bask in all this month has to offer. The air gets crisper… pumpkin everything is still in style… we still have some warm days… and Thanksgiving. Yes, lets not forget about Thanksgiving and jump right to Christmas. You know who you are.

I’ve been slacking on my fitness so I’ve been mentally compiling ways to get my workouts in over these next few months. Luckily I have a great running buddy who loves getting out there with me.

RunningBuddySometimes it works out for us to run, sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless, I need quick ways to get some exercise in. Looking back over the past few years, these are some of my favorites. I figured I’d share in case anyone else is looking for some inspiration!

  • Couch to 5K – Can be done outside or on a treadmill (suck it up… treadmill isn’t so bad and is better than nothing!)
  • Hail to the home workout – I made this one up a few years ago. Just need a mat and a weight, full body workout that takes a little over a half hour to do twice.
  • Whittle my Middle – I love this. Not a huge time commitment, but definitely makes a difference in the core!
  • I also like the 30Days App. I use it for the plank and push-up challenges but there is also bridges, burpees, calf raises, and more. It gradually increases what you do and you can have it send you a reminder every day. Great free app!
  • Yoga, at home or in a class
  • There are tons of short workouts on Pinterest, total body or to target specific areas

Do you have any short workouts you swear by?

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Canon PIXMA PRO City Senses Gallery

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Canon PIXMA PRO City Senses Interactive Gallery at Epicenter: Artists for Humanity, hosted by Donnie Wahlberg. I was excited to go to the exhibit in the first place, and Donnie being there made it even more exciting.

IMG_1141The exhibit was set up so that we were looking at photos taken around Boston while touching, smelling, hearing and tasting things that inspired the photographers. Such a fun idea!

There were also photographs set up outside the interactive booths, and the photographers were mingling about as well. The space was spacious and comfortable at the same time.

IMG_1142And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how fun it was to meet Donnie himself… especially when he took my phone out of my hand to take selfies with us.

IMG_1155Canon did a great job with this event, and has hosted it in Austin and will have it in Seattle as well. I’d recommend going if City Senses comes to your town!

 

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My night at Boston Wine School

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending a French wine class at Boston Wine School. I’d been looking for a chance to take such a class so I was very excited! I brought along my cousin Charlotte as a sidekick for the night. The school is located next to a liquor store in Allston and we had no trouble finding it. Founder/Executive Director Jonathon was warm and gracious when we got there and the space is very nice and inviting. WineSchool WineBoard And imagine how happy I was to sit down in front of a nice variety of cheeses… WinePlate I read that the class was offered in French which I was excited about since I do understand conversational French and love opportunities to learn more. I didn’t know how Charlotte would do since she has never taken French. It ended up being great for both of us. The instructor, Renee, had a presentation in French (excuse me, en Francais) on the board and would speak in French and then follow up with an English translation.

The class was a tasting class and though I’ve been drinking wine for awhile and been to many tastings, I learned a lot. There were around a dozen of us in total and I got the impression that everyone was learning, and we all seemed to be at different levels of wine knowledge. The conversation was flowing and we had some great discussion about the wines we were drinking, wine in general, travel… it was such a comfortable atmosphere and participation came easy.

WineGlass

Charlotte was a good gauge of how this class was for wine beginners and people who don’t speak the language the class is offered in and when I asked her if she was enjoying it she said “YES. Thoroughly. This is great, I’m learning so much!” My sentiments exactly.

After class we hopped next door where they carry the wines used at the school and I bought two that we tried during class. I loved that I could get them right there while they were fresh in my head.

The school has classes in other languages (Spanish, Italian, Chinese) and different levels and pairings (cheeses, burgers, chocolate, ribs!) and more. There’s such a variety, check out the calendar here. I really enjoyed this class and am looking forward to going back for another!

We were invited to take this class compliments of Boston Wine School, but all opinions are my own.

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That time I got chased by a dog

This is a cautionary tale.

A couple weeks ago I was running along a new route on Long Run Sunday. I was at a great pace, I felt good, and I was just a mile from shedding one of my long sleeve shirts at my friend’s house. I came around the corner and saw this:

cujo

Just kidding… a little.

It was really a dog that looked part mastiff and he crossed the road and sat on my side of it about 30 feet in front of me. It was pretty clear that he had no intention of letting me continue down that road. After assessing the situation, I decided to cut my losses and go back the way I had come. First I backed away from him, then I turned and started walking, and when I did that, he started chasing me… snarling and growling. So I started running, which was not my brightest moment. When he started running faster to keep up with me I turned and yelled at him. Loudly. “NO! GO HOME!”, a couple times until he turned around. And luckily that was all it took. While I was yelling I was frantically looking around for someone outside doing yardwork, a kid playing in a driveway, someone who this dog belonged to who would call him off. And there was nobody. I waited until he was far enough away and backed away again until he was out of my line of sight.

While I love dogs and this story had a happy ending, I know this is a big fear for some people, and I have to say in the moment, it was very scary. Scary for me, and also scary because my first thought immediately after was what could have happened if I was out jogging with Priscilla and I ran into a dog like that. I’m not an expert, but I’ve read a few posts on dog encounters while running and looked back at the situation.

What I did wrong:

  • Everything I’ve read says you should not turn your back on an aggressive dog, and I got a little too confident that he was calmed down and turned away.
  • When he started chasing me I should NOT have started running. I wasn’t sprinting, I went back to my pokey pace, because I think I felt like if I went back to what I was doing when I first saw the dog, he/she would go back to just sitting on the side of the road? It sounds stupid but it made sense at the time. But whether playing or chasing, a dog will usually chase you if you are running from it.

What I did right:

  • Backing away… while looking directly into a dog’s eyes can be seen as aggression from you and rile them up, backing away in a non-threatening way usually tells them that you’ve gotten the message and are leaving them alone. This was working for me until I decided to turn around, and I should have just backed all the way down the street.
  • Turning and yelling, which is hard to do when all you want to do is run. But I had read about these encounters before, and most of the time the dog is actually trying to play with you, or is not as aggressive as you think, and you scare it when you turn and yell. At that point I figured it was better than being chased down and bit and luckily it worked.

Other things you can do:

  • Look for sticks. BIG sticks. I didn’t even think to do this, but putting a stick in between you and a dog is not a bad idea.
  • If you’re really scared of this happening, you can carry a small can of pepper spray or mace. That’s not my style, but I’ve been told that you can get those things. I would be more inclined to carry one of those small air horns, if anything.
  • As always, be aware of your surroundings. I’m paranoid about a lot of things while I’m running (dog attacks, uneven sidewalks, stranger danger) so I’m constantly looking around, but I also know how easy it is to zone out and just cruise. I’m glad I saw the dog as early as I did and not when I was in petting distance.

As mad as I was that this ruined a great run I was having and now I don’t feel that I can run down that road again, I’m also happy that I was by myself and didn’t get hurt. You can never be too careful or too prepared!

Have you ever been chased by a dog? Other animal? How about those vicious Canada Geese?

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My first matcha from Kiss Me Organics

I know we are hoping for warmer weather here but I’m just going to discuss tea for a second. I’ve been a tea lover for years but I’ve never jumped on the green tea train… there’s just something about it that doesn’t excite me. On another hand, I’ve always been curious about matcha green tea… I never knew what the deal was. Its a powder? Its green tea? And what’s with the bamboo whisk they always sell with it?

I was excited to try Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea.

slider-image-mocha-01My curiosity was a big factor but once I learned more about it, I was even more interested. Matcha is the whole tea leaf, ground up. That means you get all the goodness! It helps with energy levels, metabolism, focus and is good for your skin. Kiss Me Organics Matcha is 100% organic, tested for purity, and contains more than 137x the antioxidants found in a cup of brewed tea.

In addition to getting the whole leaf, the powder aspect makes is easy to drink (or eat) the matcha in a variety of ways. You can even bake with it… which I’m sorry that I haven’t done yet. I made a latte with it, which is always fun.

IMG_9354My favorite way of drinking it, though, is to make it hot, add some honey, and then have it over ice. Making one of these for a car ride is easy and makes me *gasp* forget how much I love having iced coffee in the car!

In addition to loving the taste, I do notice that it gives me more energy and does not upset my stomach, as coffee sometimes does. Even if I drink it in the afternoon I don’t find it keeping me up too late (am I 80?) And it just tastes clean to me. I miss it on the days I don’t make it!

Kiss Me Organics Matcha is sold exclusively on Amazon.com and you click on the link to purchase your matcha green tea. I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking to give matcha a try!

I was provided a free sample by Kiss Me Organics in return for my review, however I was not additionally compensated and opinions are all my own

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Free Uber rides for everyone!

Have you ever heard of Uber? Its a car service that you access from an app on your phone. I know its hip with the college kids (as well as adults) these days and after learning more about it, I get it. You put in your credit card info so you don’t have to worry about dealing with cash or tipping. Then when you want a driver to pick you up, you open the app and request one and they are there within a few minutes. Kind of like a cab, but you can choose from various “levels” of cars and drivers.

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This Saturday, April 19, Uber is rolling out a new category of cars/drivers. In the spirit of the Marathon, they are showcasing the heroes of Boston and giving users the opportunity to request a ride from one of the many Boston firefighters, police officers, soldiers, teachers, etc. who partner with Uber as drivers in their spare time. On Saturday only, from 9am-5pm, you can choose “BostonX” when choosing a car to request a ride with one of these heroes. Simply open the app, swipe all the way to the right to the “BostonX” view and request a car… all BostonX rides are at uberX rates.

Anyone new to Uber will receive their first ride for free, up to $25, with the code HITTHEBRICKS or by clicking here. Redeemable any time! (For reference, $25 could get you from the city to Waltham.) Going to a Bruins, Red Sox, or Celtics game and want to grab dinner but its not walking distance? Free ride for you. Going to a show and then want to go to Fanueil Hall for drinks? Free ride for you. Just don’t feel like walking? Free ride for you! I can’t wait to use it next time I’m in town!

Download the app and grab your free ride for this weekend or any time you want to use it. :)

Uber is compensating me for this promotion.
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The List Changer

How’s everyone holding up with the winter that won’t end? I have to say, I love winter more than the average person but… c’mon. This is nuts. Its spring and that means not having to check the weather apps for how to dress when I walk or run outside… starting the garden… and spring cleaning.

I made my spring cleaning list today. Before you get excited, I make lists for everything. I actually make up reasons to make lists. So a spring cleaning list isn’t revolutionary. What has changed is how I make my lists. Before becoming a mom, when I was stressed about something or just had that feeling of general out-of-control-ness, I would make a list and get to work on it and all would be right with the world.

Guess who couldn’t give two poopy diapers about my lists.

EvilPI had to adapt.

Now all my lists are broken up into sections of what I can do with Priscilla hanging out with me, what I can do with her napping, and what I need someone else to be with her for. I wish I was high tech and had some new fangled list apps to tell you about but they are either in my head or on good ol’ paper and notebooks. (Damn you, Target) She is now crawling (fast), pulling herself up to stand, and taking pretty consistent naps, which is a far cry from just a couple months ago when her sleeping was as unpredictable as the weather. Her increased stability and mobility are great because I can get things done between hiding the cat dishes from her and making sure she isn’t taking a digger somewhere. As an added bonus, she finds yoga poses, pushups and squats hilarious. That’s a win-win :)

Mommyhood has been quite the adjustment, but I’m finally figuring out how to balance it with being me… which means its all going to change soon, from what I’ve heard!

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Claddagh Pub 4 Miler and Hynes Tavern 5 Miler – Wild Rover Race Series

After my great Frozen Shamrock 3 miler, I had the other two races in the Wild Rover Series. First up was the Claddagh 4 miler. I was sick for just about the whole week before the race, so I only ran once on the treadmill to prepare. I did make sure to do a big treadmill hill because this course has a very big hill right at the end of the second mile… everyone was talking about it before the race. In the bathroom, at number pickup, on the walk to the start line… “remember the hill?” “so when you turn the corner and you see that hill” “I’m really nervous about the hill” thehillthehillthehillTHEHILL! I was discussing this hill with a runner friend and she encouraged me to look at it as a “booty buster” and you know what… it worked. When I turned the corner with that hill staring me in the face, I just dug in and put my head down and motored up. If I were thinking of it as the Hill of Death (like I have in past years) I probably would have walked the whole thing. The downhill on this one is a little rough and sucks the energy out of you. My time was the second fastest for this race although not as fast as I wanted… But I finished and got my medal and felt good.

photo(59)For the Hynes 5 miler this past weekend I decided to take it easy, not have a goal, and just treat it as a long/training run. Scratch that, I gave myself a goal of 55:00. I really didn’t feel ready for the distance and was nervous about pushing myself too much and straining my hip and IT band and I felt cautiously optimistic about that goal. I didn’t put my usual running music on that gets me amped up, I just put on music I enjoy listening to and cruised along. Once I took the pressure off, it was one of the most relaxed starts I’ve ever had.

photo(62)This course has some rolling hills and is pretty straight out and back and runs through a cemetery … which is actually pretty picturesque. It was sunny and cool but not windy, and the roads weren’t really wet. I remember thinking several times how delightful a run I was having. Even when my Garmin stopped with no reason, I just shrugged it off and got it started again and kept going. I’ve been really working on negative splits, so after the third mile I had some extra energy and was able to finish strong… Imagine my surprise when I found out that my time was 50:50. My fastest time for this race before was 52:43 so that’s a PR by almost two minutes!

And to top it all off… I got my third medal… The first time I’ve had all three.

photo(60)Lesson learned from this series… it really is a mental game. Putting my mind to getting ready for the first race, thinking of the hill differently in the second race, and taking the pressure off of myself for the third all really helped me have a great series. My head is now in a great frame of mind for race season!

Any mind tricks to share for racing or running?

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Frozen Shamrock 3 miler

Sunday was a big day! I ran my first race in about a year and a half. The Frozen Shamrock 3 miler, first in the Wild Rover Series. This is such a fun series! The finishers medals all fit together to form one big medal, there’s fun music and people really get into the Irish vibe. This race was sold out and I believe the other two are almost if not already sold out, too.

FrozenShamrock1This was the third time I’ve run this race, I believe. I’ve worked really hard over the past couple months to get into race shape. I did a moderated Couch to 5k and really worked on my negative splits. Combine that with lots of rolling, stretching and strengthening and I ran my fastest time yet for this race and my second fastest race pace ever!

FrozenShamrock2It felt so good to be racing again. I had a tough time taking it slow getting back into running, but with all my hip and IT band issues, I was determined not to hurt myself again. I highly recommend Couch to 5K if you’re coming off of a long break from running.I think I have a good foundation to really get into it and start training for some longer distances.

And now race season is upon us! Which means spring is right around the corner!

(Maybe?)

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Checking in

Remember when this blog was about running? A loooooong time ago.

Well this mama has been back at it for a few weeks! I joined a gym near us and have been going when time permits. Now, I did not run throughout my pregnancy nor in the first 6 months after I had Priscilla so my concern (as always) has been how to run and not hurt myself. Enter the Couch to 5K program. I am really starting over and want to do it right. I can go on spur of the moment runs, but I have no time for physical therapy if I hurt myself again.

I just registered for a race series coming up and I’m super excited about it. Part of my 2014 goals are to make more time to do the things I enjoy and running (more like racing…) is one of those. And another goal is organizing myself better so training plans are the perfect marriage of those two.

Just from the short amount of time I’ve been back at it, I’m realizing how good it is for me. I come home excited to plan our meals for the week if its a Sunday run. And I always come back with a clearer head and calmer soul. It makes me a better person, wife and mommy.

Hopefully I can find time to pop in for updates and bring this blog back to what it was originally intended for!

-Michelle

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