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I’m struggling to get up to 2x per week at CrossFit. I love it once I’m there, and always am glad I went, but GETTING THERE continues to be an issue. I was supposed to go yesterday but when the alarm went off at 4am after a restless night of dreaming about getting a C on my final paper for this class (I haven’t even turned it in yet… oh, dreams), there was no way I was getting up.

I did make it there today, however, and am planning on going tomorrow.  So even though it’s at the end of the week, at least I’m going to get it in twice. I have a lot more motivation to go if I’m going with Bob (like this morning) because I consider it a little bit of time spent with him.

I have been working out on my own over lunch, however, at work. Believe it or not, I’m actually exercising as much as I did before I started class. This week I’ll have hit 5 out of 7 days.  Don’t be too impressed, though, because one of those days was our Barbells for Boobs event at our gym (which was AWESOME).

Photo taken by Barbells for Boobs. And yes, this is my first "real" CrossFit picture. I'm psyched.

Photo taken by Barbells for Boobs. And yes, this is my first “real” CrossFit picture. I’m psyched.

See this picture above? I was clean & jerking 75 pounds. Last year, I clean & jerked 45 pounds. (Let’s ignore the fact that my overhead squats were the same weight at 45 pounds…).  That progress (however slight) is what I don’t want to lose while I’m only making it 2x a week during the next 15 (a month down!!) months.

Which is why I’ve started “New Rules of Lifting for Women” — a book my parents gave me for Christmas and I didn’t need then because I was going to CF so often at the time.

NROLFW

It’s split into 7 stages and is a 6ish month long progression at 3x per week. I’m planning on doing twice a week, so the program will be a few months longer for me. It incorporates heavy lifting and interval training, both things I love about CrossFit. Not going to lie, when I saw that deadlifts, back squats, and thrusters were part of the routine, I knew this would work well. 🙂

The first stage has high reps (2 sets of 15) and works down to heavier weights at lower reps (8) over the course of 16 workouts. I did the first two workouts at 15 reps but am skipping 2 workouts and going down to 12 reps at slightly heavier weights. The first stage is FOREVER (16 workouts vs every other stage which is 8) and I am sure it’s to get people unfamiliar with lifting, familiar with it. I’m going to follow the rest of it as prescribed, however, and just make sure the weights are challenging enough.

The first stage doesn’t have any interval training, but I’m throwing my own in there using CrossFit Endurance workouts posted every week in our CF group. My original plan was to do these CFEs on the opposite days that I lift but this week has been a bit crazy so I’ve just tacked them on at the end of the weight lifting. My lunch gets a little long because of that (ran close to an hour and a half yesterday), but I also spend weekends tweeting and Facebooking and Instagramming for work, so I’m not worried.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m settling into a routine, I’m making exercising a priority, and I’m just taking it one day at  a time as promised.

Furthermore, Bob has been INCREDIBLE as I’ve figured out all of this. He’s doing most of our grocery shopping, he’s been cleaning the kitchen while I’m in class, he’s taking care of other things like installing a hot water heater while I slave away over homework, and he has just been all around wonderful. So I know it’s a little bit of a husband brag, but it needs to be said that he is amazing.

Have you ever followed a weightlifting program? What has worked for you?

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Last night when Bob was at floor hockey (don’t get me started about how he should have been resting instead!) I was desperate for a new TV show to watch since I had caught up on Glee and Smash and Downton Abbey on Monday.  So I found “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” and proceeded to watch the first episode.

In this episode, Tony and his fiance Leslie break up because she wasn’t on board with his journey to lose weight and get healthy.

And it made me SO very thankful that Bob was supportive of me when I joined Weight Watchers.

I can’t imagine what I would have done if he continued to bring junk food into the house while I was trying to lose weight. I wouldn’t have been successful if he had a slice of pizza while I ate my low-in-calorie dinners. And our marriage would have fallen apart if he whined about missing out on time with me when I took off for a long run or a zumba class.

Bob with me at the starting line for the half marathon. Bob ran a 6 mile relay leg for the full marathon that day.

Bob with me at the starting line for the half marathon. Bob ran a 6 mile relay leg for the full marathon that day.

I never would have tried bootcamp at CrossFit if he hadn’t said he’d sign up with me.  I probably wouldn’t have trained for a  half marathon if he wasn’t encouraging me to put my sneakers on and go.

You can be successful at getting healthy without a support system, but I imagine it would be very difficult.

If you’re trying to lose weight, get healthy, or accomplish a specific goal — find support around you. Tell others. Let people encourage you, cheer for you, dream for you. And if you can’t find support in your immediate family, go to your friends. Your co-workers. Find someone in your life who is willing to tell you to drop the ice cream and pick up the broccoli. Find someone who is going to ask you if it’s worth it to eat that second (or third) piece of birthday cake. He or she is out there, waiting, wanting to be your support.

Do you have a support system? Who helps keep you strong?

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So, I was going to write up a beautiful post with so many wonderful pictures of our trip to Jamaica, and I will do that soon, I promise. Except our computer is being repaired, probably (hopefully) as I write this, so I don’t have any pictures to share with you yet since they’re still on my camera. Along with pictures from New Year’s, and Bob’s CrossFit competition, and our Super Bowl party. Hopefully I can write up this post over the weekend and share with you on Saturday.

In the meantime, I’m going to tell you about why Valentine’s Day is significant to Bob and I. For the record, I have always loved Valentine’s Day. Even when I didn’t have a boyfriend I just loved the thought of telling those closest to you that you love them. I love the hearts, and the pink and red and white, and the candy, and everything about love. “I love love. I love being in love.” (Name that song!) My junior year of college I wore all pink to celebrate the day. But once I met Bob, Valentine’s Day became even more symbolic.

Our first Valentine’s Day together in 2007, Bob had to work late. We were supposed to go to a nice restaurant called Delmonico’s for dinner, but we ended up with Wendy’s and cheap champagne. And we got in a fight. It was actually pretty sucky.

But he redeemed himself a few days later when he told me, for the first time, that he loved me. We were standing in Clinton Square in Syracuse and it was snowing, “stand in Times Square and make out” snow, the big, thick, gently falling, romantic snow that you see in the movies. (Our dear friend Jon Kipfer coined that phrase and every time it snows like that I think of him). I told him I loved him too, of course.

snowing

Our second Valentine’s Day in 2008, Bob took me to Delmonico’s. The food was great but mostly I remember waiting around forever despite our reservations. We haven’t gone out to eat since on Valentine’s Day. Not worth it. Everything is overpriced and we can make pretty good food at home.

The day after, though, he proposed. 🙂 Amidst snow, albeit gross snow, in Clinton Square, in the exact same spot (he claims) he told me he first loved me. Swoon. Of course, I said yes (after crying and asking him if he was serious and letting him hang out on one knee in the snow).

ring

And last year, we spent our Valentine’s Day together at CrossFit bootcamp.  Which was a big deal, because we were being active TOGETHER, which is something we had just started doing through bootcamp.

So you could say that Valentine’s Day means a lot to us. Although we don’t do a lot of celebration around it or exchange gifts, we make a point to spend time together and eat something good (tonight I’m trying bacon & spinach stuffed chicken).  And of course, to tell each other we love each other (although we probably tell each other that half a dozen times every day, anyways).

What are you doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your loved ones?

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Oh, what a wonderful weekend! Friday night we went out to a new(er) sushi/American restaurant in the city called nikko. We had a gift certificate so we decided to finally redeem it. The sushi was good, but no better than other sushi places in Rochester. And it was expensive. It was one of those places where you pay as much for the atmosphere (low lighting, modern decorations, beautiful big windows, etc.) as you do for the food. So — while it was nice to go out and try a new place — I don’t think we’ll be back.

Then Saturday we had a full day! CrossFit in the morning (a wicked hard partner WOD including burpee box jumps… somehow I had managed to avoid them until Saturday in my 7 months of CrossFitting, but unfortunately wasn’t able to avoid them any longer. They suck.), a staff/faculty brunch at the college where I work (it was so nice to see a full dining hall of co-workers and their families!), and then, our 3rd annual Progressive Dinner!

Our progressive dinner last year!

Our progressive dinner last year!

What is a progressive dinner, you ask? It’s a dinner where you have parts of a meal at different houses. The first part of the meal was appetizers, which we hosted at our house. Then we were off to another couple’s house for soup & salad (turkey/mushroom soup and buttercup squash/mixed greens salad), then another’s for the main entree (shrimp with linguini!), then another’s for dessert (mini creme brulee samplers: chocolate, tangerine, and vanilla bean). So fun, and we all get a chance to experience different kinds of food we might not make for ourselves. For a self-proclaimed foodie like myself, it’s the best! And everyone is an incredible cook, so by the end of the night we’re bound to have full stomachs and happy hearts from fun conversation.

bacon chicken

Photo taken by Ariana D’Angelo!

Our menu for our appetizers? Bacon! We made:

  • BLT bites (grape tomato, bacon slice, and lettuce on a toothpick) with ranch dressing for dipping
  • Bacon chicken bites (OMG SO GOOD)
  • Baked potato skins with cheddar & crumbled bacon (with chives & sour cream on the side)
  • Bacon crusted goat cheese balls
  • Veggie tray and bacon strips with bacon/onion dip (yes… bacon dipped in bacon dip..)
blt bites

Photo taken by Ariana D’Angelo

I think they were a pretty big hit! BLT bites went over really well, as well as the bacon wrapped chicken. I highly recommend both if you’re looking for appetizer ideas!

We also exchanged gifts! We have drawn individuals in the past to buy for but this year we did couples. We were able to give away a “date” night to our friends who have a 19 month old — I’ll babysit and Bob will chauffeur them to a new Belgian bar/restaurant in Rochester.  The couple that had us gave us a new game, which we are so excited about because we LOVE playing games. We’re already planning to bring it this upcoming weekend to my parents’ house so we can coerce some people to play with us.

tt_photo1

We slept in yesterday (oops.. meant to get to church!!), enjoyed mimosas with breakfast (leftover champagne from last night), and watched the Steelers lose (booooo) and the Vikings win (yay for Bob) at Applebees (thanks to gift cards from my Mom as part of our advent calendar!).  A weekend full of time with Bob and close friends was just what I needed. And now, two more weeks until Christmas!

What did you do this past weekend?

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So I mentioned that I would tell you about my “Favorite Things” party I held this past weekend! I am a very bad blogger (or inexperienced!) and didn’t take ANY pictures, which is too bad because we had quite the spread of favorite things AND food!

Here’s how a “Favorite Things” party works:

Everyone brings multiple items of their favorite thing. For our party, we brought 3 of our favorite thing, worth $10 each. Last year when we did this, we brought 5 of our favorite thing at a $5 price limit. The $10 limit made for much better favorite things — so I recommend you set a higher price and a lower amount of things to bring.

Then, everyone explains their favorite thing, and you draw names to see who picks first & the drawing of the names sets the order.

The favorite things we had at our party were awesome. They included:

  • Bottle of champagne in a cute wine bottle holder
  • Peppermint Mocha Godiva coffee (this was mine)
  • French Press
  • Organix travel size shampoo/conditioner (smelled so yummy)
  • Massage bar from Lush
  • Necklace that says “Love” made by Gina Zetts (a dear friend)
  • Travel mugs with coffee gift cards!
  • K-Cups
  • Orchid

I ended up with the necklace, the orchid, and the massage bar from Lush. I also ended up with so many great gift ideas!

The party was so fun, and it was nice just to chat and spend time with good friends. My mom also came up to help me prep and clean for the party, and it was great to spend time with her and for her to catch up with a few of my friends she knows from high school.

Which leads me to a random thought: I am really so blessed with a great support system.  My mcom is amazing. I’ve had the same best friend since high school (at LEAST 10 years, if not 11 or 12, of friendship). I have other dear close friends from high school, from college, and from after college. Sitting in that room with my mom and favorite girlfriends made me so grateful that I nearly teared up with joy.  Do you ever have those moments where you’re so overwhelmed with love and laughter? I do. I am blessed because I have them a lot.

So you should have a Favorite Things party, if only to remind yourself how lucky you are to have great friends in your life.

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I just wanted to write one last post on the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge I recently participated in. For all of you who are sick of hearing about paleo and CrossFit – don’t worry – this post isn’t going to focus on either of those things!

Just a quick review of the challenge in case you’re not familiar with it. I wrote a post explaining it here, and another post with my results here. In a nutshell: it was a nine week challenge where we were supposed to follow a strict paleo diet. We earned points based on our adherence to the diet, our performance in workouts, and our improvement from the start of the challenge to the end of the challenge (in body measurements and workout performance).

It turns out that out of 172 eligible gyms (to be eligible you had to have more than 20 members participate, in total there were well over 500 gyms and over 7,000 participants) our gym came in first place for the Northeast and third overall for the entire country! Flower City CrossFit has an amazing write up of all of our success stories here. Seriously – go check out that link and look at the pictures of all 22 of us – I’m incredibly proud of the entire team. One of our team members lost 29 pounds and 5.5 inches off his waist!

Personally I lost 19 pounds and 3.5 inches off my waist. Sorry for the shirtless photos, I am no body builder, but I liked this before and after picture so you could see my waist. (And no, I am not sucking it in, but I had Meg take a few pictures when she was doing the after photos because they all looked like it!) I still have some inches to lose, and some loose skin that I hope will tighten up eventually, but here’s an idea of the results:

Not bad for 9 weeks!

Not bad for 9 weeks!

One of the keys to our success and winning our region and coming in third overall, in my opinion, was our encouragement and support of each other. It is really hard to go 9 weeks without cheating at all – and 8 of our members did just that – stayed clean the entire 9 weeks without a single cheat meal/food. We had a Facebook group set up that people posted in daily when they were craving cheat foods, had low energy, needed ideas on what to eat or make, needed encouragement on a workout they did badly in, reminders to log our food, found a new recipe they loved, etc.

I know it’s been said before, but I think it needs to be repeated: it is extremely important to have other people’s support when you’re doing something that is very hard. The community that we found during this challenge was essential to our completing the challenge successfully and ranking so high. Being able to communicate with each other for support, encouragement, troubleshooting, ideas, and inspiration was unbelievably valuable, and ultimately I think it was what led us to take the #1 spot in the Northeast.

It just made me think a little bit about how important community has been in my entire weight loss/fitness journey. For starters – I would never have started any of this without Meg. She was what motivated me from the beginning, and she continues to motivate me and helps me try to better myself in all areas of my life – not just fitness.

My family has been very important too. My mom and aunt just started Weight Watchers a few months ago, and I know my story has helped them, and the support they give me has definitely helped me get to where I am. My friends have been supportive and helpful – from putting up with my weird dietary choices to encouraging me as they’ve seen the pounds drop and the inches melt away. The other members at Flower City CrossFit have been a great community and support system for me to keep pushing and improving, and finding new personal records and goals.

What I’m trying to say is, humans are social beings. I am an introvert, and I don’t like depending on other people or feeling like I need others. But I have to admit that if I want to accomplish something that takes a lot of work, a lot of energy, and commitment – then I need a support system to help me accomplish this. I need the accountability, the motivation, and the inspiration you get from working toward a common goal in a larger group. If it was easy then I wouldn’t need it. But it’s not easy, and therefore I need others around me to build me up when I can’t do it alone.

My challenge to you is this: if you’ve found yourself falling short on a goal – whether it be weight loss, fitness, career, or something else – do you have a good support system in place? Do you know other people who are working toward the same goal? Can you join a community of others with the same goals so you can benefit from their support? If not – can you create a community or support system?  

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A few months ago Meg and I were at a CrossFit class together, and part of the warm up included overhead squats with a PVC pipe. The trainer for that class, Randy, came by as Meg and I were both doing our squats and said “The couple that squats together stays together!” It was pretty funny, and then we just went on with the workout.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that comment lately, and I think it has more truth to it than I originally thought. As I mentioned last week, Meg and I have started a weekly tradition of going to the 5am WOD together every Monday morning, and then coming back to the house to have breakfast together before we leave for work.Today was great – we worked out right next to each other, and during the first round Randy yelled out “the Hartmans are tied!” Meg might try to say that she’s not very competitive, but that is a lie – I found her sneaking looks over at me during the entire workout to see how I was doing so she could try to beat me. And how did I know she was doing that? Because I was doing the same thing! (But we all know that I am overly competitive.) After the workout we both admitted that we were trying to beat the other person, and we both commented on how fun it was!

Meg double fisting green protein smoothies after our workout this morning!

Unfortunately, over the last several months we’ve done a few workouts together, but we’ve done many, many more apart from each other. A lot of that is intentional – we both like to go at 6am and then shower at work so we don’t have to drive all the way home. The problem is we have a crazy dog at home and it is unfair to him for us to both leave the house at 5:30am to get to the gym and then not get home until 5:30pm or later. So if we both go to the same workout in the morning, one of us has to drive home during lunch to let him out. Therefore, we’ve intentionally planned our schedules so that we are rarely at the gym at the same time so that we can minimize the amount of times we have to make an extra trip home for Stanley.

Due to a few different things, we’ve done three together in the past week, and I forgot how much I enjoy working out with Meg! I’m no marriage expert (if you want that – go to Marriage Adventures), but I am starting to see that the more we workout together the stronger our relationship is.

Meg and I after a great workout – hiking a mountain!

I have an idea on why this might be. The workouts we do are hard, often grueling, and they take everything out of you. When you share that experience with someone else, I think there is a small bond that forms through the mutual experience of pushing your limits past where you thought you could go, and then coming back out on top. We also encourage each other while we are working out, and we cheer each other on to try to motivate each other. I think that verbal and emotional support during these tough workouts, combined with the shared experience, goes a long way in our relationship.

Another thought I have on it is that I admire Meg, and am proud of her, when I’m working out with her. It just reminds me how strong she is, both physically and mentally, because I can witness first hand how she is determined to better herself. It reminds me how I married such a wonderful, strong, and beautiful woman.

Meg doing overhead squats at Barbells For Boobs last month

All my sappy sentiments aside, I think Randy wasn’t completely joking when he told us that “the couple that squats together stays together.” Logistically we probably will continue to stagger our workouts so that we don’t have to run home on lunch as often. But, when our schedules allow it, I plan on attending the same class as Meg whenever possible. If we’re going to work on improving our physical health, why not allow it to improve our relationship health at the same time?

Meg and I running in a 5K in September

Here’s my challenge to you: if you’re not doing this already, try to do something physically active with your significant other on a quasi-regular basis. It can be every week, several times a week, or maybe bi-weekly. Go for a run together, or find a nearby nature trail and take a long walk. Consider signing up for a 5K together, or be each other’s spotters while lifting weights. You don’t have to do a CrossFit class together (but you can!) to share these benefits – find something that you both will enjoy doing (spinning, dancing class, bicycle ride, water aerobics, swimming, ice skating, skiing, basketball, squash, tennis, etc.) and then do it with each other. Make sure to sweat, and make an effort to watch your significant other, cheer him/her on, and enjoy the pride when both of you finish.

Or simply just do some squats!

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