Friday, July 31, 2015

Fitness Friday Faves

Since I have gotten into the swing of things when it comes to fitness I figured why not spread some of the love for some of my favorite products.  When I first started running I picked up these sneaks from Under Armour.  I liked the color.  It had good reviews.  And they were on sale at Macys with a huge % back through ebates so I pulled the trigger and bought them.  This specific pair have hit the pavement for almost a year now and I've decided to give them a little break.  They're now waiting in the wings for my next mudrun/color run.

When I started to get serious about my health and fitness I jumpstarted everything with Team Beachbody and the 21 day fix (which I will post about later).  The problem is that Shakeology is EXPENSIVE!  Once I finished my month supply I was on the hunt for a more affordable protein powder.  I asked a friend who is a personal trainer what he recommended after trying two other powders that were awful and this was his suggestion.  I use the Double Rich Chocolate flavor and love it.  It is a very fine powder so it's not gritty at all.  The taste is pretty good mixed with just water which was a huge plus for me.

During the school year I took to hitting the treadmill/weightroom/pavement as soon as the bell rang so that I could pick up the little nugget by 4pm.  Unfortunately I sweat -- A LOT -- and didn't want to shower at school so I started using these cucumber wipes from Burt's Bees.  They smell great and left me feeling fresh and clean before heading to daycare for the little guy.

When I first began working out after pregnancy I was in need of a good supporting sports bra for my well endowed chest.  I went to my favorite bra store and the Anita Extreme Control was a winner.  I then went home and bought it in two more colors off of amazon.  It's not a racerback so the straps are adjustable.  This is considered an encapsulation sports bra which is excellent for high impact sports (running, aerobics, etc).  They use individual cups to surround and support each breast separately. There is no compression in these bras.  And because they are not compression sports bras, you don't get the dreaded uniboob.

And last but not least, where would I be without my Fitbit Flex?  When I first asked my husband for the Fitbit for my birthday back in 2014 I figured, as a teacher, I would have no problem hitting 10,000 steps a day.  Man was I wrong!  I figured between being in 4 different classrooms on 3 different floors and walking around the room teaching I would hit that goal no problem -- I was sadly disappointed to see that by the end of the school day I maybe broke 4,000.  Using this activity tracker has definitely helped me on my weight loss journey.  I really enjoy challenges with friends.  They're such a great motivator and many of our challenge groups cheer each other on in addition to taunting :)

If you aren't already using EBATES you are missing out on SO MUCH FREE MONEY!! I have been using ebates for the past 2 years and have earned over $300 just from shopping online.  All you have to do is sign up, get the button, and shop shop shop.  Once a quarter you get sent a check for the money that you earned.  It's free money and it is AWESOME!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mudderella Review

May 9th I participated in my first Obstacle Course Race -- the Mudderella -- at the raceway at Englishtown, NJ.

We began our journey to the Mudderella back in January when my friend and coworker asked me if I was interested in running this course.  Having never actually completed a full mile run, I was scared, but in the end it was totally worth it.  We gathered a team of 7 (though only 5 of us actually participated on race day), ordered team shirts, and paid for premium parking for our minivan carpool.  We arrived at the race site at 7:45 for our 8:45 heat.
Because we paid for premium parking we were only about 20 cars away from the entrance and didn't need to check a bag or bring anything with us.  Premium parking had its own separate check-in which was MUCH shorter than the regular check-in side.  We were also able to go back to our car after we registered to put away our drivers licenses and any other last minute things.  I would absolutely recommend spending the money for this convenience.  It was also great to be able to walk back to the car to get our stuff to change without it being a hike when we were muddy and exhausted.  
The course kicked off with a lot of running before you even reached the first obstacle....

The obstacles: 
Obstacle 1: I've got your back - here you piggy backed with a teammate -- you ran half of the way carrying them and then switched

Obstacle 2: down to the wire - crawling through mud under wires - remember to keep your head and butt down -- no need to slide on your belly either

Obstacle 3: dirty downward dog - yoga pose side stepping your way over a muddy pit - really not difficult at all

Obstacle 4: tough tatas - wall climb with a rope - by the time we got to this obstacle we had caught up to the heat that left before us.  The Mudderella team was reinforcing one of the walls and we waited for that one to be done before climbing up and over.  The wall is high up, but there's a rope to help you over and thin planks every 3 feet attached to the wall to give you a place to put your foot as you climbed (this is what was being reinforced).

Obstacle 5: balancing act - uneven balance beams 
Obstacle 6: ain't no mountain high - climbing up and over mud mountains (5-6 of them) into pits of muddy water - you NEED to do this with help from others and if you have bad knees I would suggest skipping this or wearing knee pads

Obstacle 7: skinny jeans - crawling through narrow tunnel into mud - Steph went down face first but the rest of us slid down on our butts -- I don't think there was a preference either way

Obstacle 8: squeaky clean - super sudsy car wash that you crawl through - because we went through the course earlier in the day it was no where near as gross as it became later on
Obstacle 9: break the glass ceiling - crawling under netting in the mud - this was in the back woods of the course and wasn't really low to the ground so you didn't have to shimmy on your belly - it wasn't bad

Obstacle 10: surprise party - looks like a straight up pool of mud but it's full of drops in the water - the best way to go through is holding hands in one narrow line with the first person feeling out for the drops

Obstacle 11: new heights - a wall with no ropes - only about 7 or 8 feet tall - also had thin planks every 3 feet for you to put your foot

Obstacle 12: another down to the wire

Obstacle 13: hat trick - cargo net to water slide - we wound up going down this obstacle early in the day and apparently there were multiple people getting injured because they did not follow instructions.  You HAVE TO sit up the whole time, DO NOT LAY DOWN!!  They wound up closing down the obstacle for an hour in the middle of the day to make modifications

Yes I screamed the whole way down
Obstacle 14: wheels in motion - walking across tire swings - the trick to this was that you could not step off of your tire until the person behind you had one foot on to secure it - this prevented the tires from swinging too much
And of course, what race is complete without a celebratory (free) beer?!
Overall: I think this course is something that you don't have to be crazy athletic to complete.  It's mainly women participating.  The course was created by women so there isn't anything too crazy going on.  You're not being timed so the only person you're racing is yourself.  It was all about team work and making sure everyone made it through.  There was no pressure to complete every single obstacle.  

Pros: not timed, no penalty for skipping an obstacle, teamwork is the message, plenty of water stations on the course

Cons: a lot of running up front and between the first couple of obstacles, a bit pricey (in my opinion), you have to pay for everything ($10 bag check, $20 parking, $35 premium parking, spectators had to pay too!)

We all are signing up to do it again next year.

** Photos courtesy of Mark Hulbrock **

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fabletics Review

I decided to bite the bullet and give Fabletics a try.  For those of you who don't know what it is, Fabletics is a monthly subscription for athletic wear.  It's high quality, affordable, and stylish.  Because I've decided to take my health and fitness more seriously, I figured I would give it a try.  It's a $49.95 a month membership, but you can skip months if you don't see something you like.  You have until the 5th of the month to decide what outfit you would like.  If you don't like anything, you can skip the month.  They have free returns and exchanges so you're not stuck with what you have if it doesn't fit (like some other subscriptions).
I took advantage of the offer for new VIP members, 50% off your first outfit and ordered the "Paia" outfit consisting of the Sabrina Capri, Aventura Tank, and Joliet High Impact Bra.  I did not have high hopes for the bra but the whole outfit came out to $39.95 with free shipping and the other outfit I was eyeing that didn't come with a sports bra was only $10 cheaper so I figured why not?
My order came in on a Saturday afternoon and I busted it out first thing Sunday morning for our family walk.  Everything fit straight out of the bag so I knew I would keep it all.  I ordered a Medium in the capris and tank and a Large in the sports bra (I'm a 34DD [formerly G but thank god for exercise!]).
I don't normally work out in just a sports bra but find that reviews don't help if I can't see what the people are working with, if you know what I mean.
The back was a little bit of an odd design and some reviewers complained about not being able to put it on without help because the top doesn't also have a clasp.  To me, this was silly.  If you wear a bra every day, you know how to clasp it from behind all by yourself so that was not an issue for me.

Tank Top: Lightweight tank, bigger armholes, longer in length - At the end of a 3.5 mile walk in the 90 degree heat it surprisingly wasn't drenched and clinging to me.  I would absolutely recommend this.  The only downside is that it does have bigger armholes so your bra will show.
Capris: Compression, mid-calf, two different materials and an internal pocket.  These were a little clingy by the end of our walk, mainly in the butt and behind the kneecaps.  They were very comfortable and stretched with me.  They have two different materials so they're not plain black capris which is a nice, different touch.
Sports Bra: The band around the ribcage fit nicely but it has an odd front panel below the mesh (yellow, neoprene).  This is touted as a high impact sports bra and I would not agree with that at all!  I  felt like this had the same support as a regular bra.  While it did not give the typical sports bra uniboob, I did wind up with more cleavage than I would've liked (especially walking around town).  I think this is perfect for just going for a walk or riding a bike but I would NOT wear this running or to a high intensity fitness class.  At the end of 3.5 miles my breasts hadn't moved around too much in terms of migrating to a different location within the bra (no spilling out the top or bottom) but I prefer to be fully covered and sucked in for high impact and this did neither.  If the yellow piece was fully connected to the mesh part and was compartmentalized (one spot for each boob), then I think this would be a very successful sports bra.

Overall, the quality of the items seems great and I'm satisfied with what I received and the price I paid.  I plan on continuing my subscription and look forward to reviewing the next outfit.  If you're interested in checking out Fabletics, please use my referral here.  Thanks!

Retail value: $149.85 (Tank = $34.95, Capris = $64.95, Bra = $49.95)
VIP = $79.95
50% off first outfit = $39.95

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Beginning my fitness journey

Back in the beginning of January I was asked by a coworker to sign up for the Mudderella.

The Mudderella "courses are 5-7 miles and include 12 -15 obstacles. It's a true athletic challenge, designed to test all-around fitness."  Having never even completed a full mile run, I was super apprehensive, but decided there was plenty of time to train for it (our run was May 9th).  So the end of January is when I began my new fitness journey to get me in shape for this obstacle course race.

I began hitting the treadmill to work on my endurance.  When I was in middle school, I was diagnosed with asthma.  As an adult I rarely had asthma attacks, but I also rarely exercised so I wasn't quite sure how I would be able to handle the training.  Fortunately for me I had access to a weight room at the high school I teach at, a certified fitness coach/body building competitor (one of my coworkers), and a marathon runner (another coworker/friend/the one who dragged me into this).  With their help I knew I would be able to complete this "race".

We started training during the last week of January.  It was midterms at the high school so we were working on a half day schedule.  This meant I could hit the weight room at 12pm and still be showered and ready to pick up my son from daycare long before 4pm.  I started slow on the treadmill.  Just alternating between walking and running until I was able to run the full mile without stopping.  We would work out 3-5 times a week, beginning with a cardio for 35-45 minutes and then weight training two body parts a day.  By the time the Mudderella rolled around, I was in the best shape I have ever been in.