Marathon Holiday Prep

Back in my college days I was never one to pull an all nighter when preparing for an exam. It’s not that I was always ready I couldn’t focus or study well in the latter hours of the day let alone the night.  What I would do for last minute prep is go to bed at my regular time and get up at 3 or 4 am and study prior to the exam.  Worked beautifully; I was alert and able to absorb the details.  This also helps periodically when I am inundated with tasks.

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Well, after travelling for five days the second week of December I was far behind in my holiday prep.  Only one weekend stood between now and Christmas; my suitcases had yet to be unpacked, laundry was nigh on 2 weeks behind, my husband had wrapping paper scattered all over the nicely decorated dining room table as well as a few things out of place in my absence , my Christmas shopping was only one third done, nothing was baked and to top it all off I had to work every day the return week and Saturday morning which meant I could not hit the mall until midday. Aaaacckk!!

Hit the mall at 11:30 am, it wasn’t that bad but by 1:00 pm it was chaos and I have a very low level of patience for that kind of stuff plus I had a 2:00 massage 30 minutes away.  I went for my beating uh massage and decided to get some shopping in after.  Well at 4:45 pm the Saturday before Christmas the crowd at Bed Bath & Beyond was enough to have me contemplating bodily harm with all the people in my way. Time to go home and regroup for Sunday.

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That was a wise idea, it was time for me to get some sleep and rethink everything.  I had all day Sunday.  Well, I woke up at feeling like I had slept for 8 hours and was raring to go.  Imagine the surprise when I looked at the clock and it said 1:00 am.  I usually sleep quite well but after laying there for an hour and a half I realized I wasn’t getting back to sleep.  I could not stop thinking of all I had to do, I got up at 2:45 am.  Yep, back in the 80’s I was just going to bed some nights at that time.  Let’s not digress.

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I had my coffee and formulated a plan.  Everything that could be done at home — laundry, baking, wrapping I went at before the stores opened.  A couple opened at 9 so I hit them first and was the first one in when the mall doors opened arriving promptly at 9:58 am.  The early bird gets the worm and then some; at the first store I went in they offered a $10 coupon to the first 250 people through the doors.  Great marketing tool; I bought both shirts I was trying to decide between rather than just 1.

I was home way before noon with 97% of all holiday shopping done.  The rest of the day was spent finishing the wrapping, the baking and tidying up the house.  Whew. It was 6:20 pm when I finally finished and sat down to the bowl of stew I had the foresight to plan into the day.  It cooked while I did other things and we had a warm and hearty meal on a chilly day.  It actually got down to 50 degrees.  Yes, I broke out my sweats.

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I was literally exhausted and felt like I had ran a marathon.  Mind you I would never; I’m a sprinter at heart.  It took me a couple of hours to decompress and I fell asleep around 8:45 pm and slept through my morning ocean wave alarm for 15 minutes before waking up.  Wow. #SolidSleep.

While I do not recommend short circuiting one’s sleep there are times when the implementation is beneficial overall. I approached that Monday fully caught up and better able and prepared to enjoy the rest of the holiday season.  As long a running is not involved a marathon like pace is sometimes desirable to sprinting.  Cheers!

Holiday Gainz

The Holidays.  A very busy and often stressful time of year for many people.  The worst thing you can do is cut your workouts.  You will double your stress and ultimately compromise efficient use of the time you do have.  You’ve got extra tasks on top of your normal agenda; parties to attend, decorations to put up, gifts to buy, you’re not eating as well as you normally do, may be drinking more and you’re likely getting less sleep.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and being a Type A I have failed to enjoy them in the past. But not anymore, here’s my best tips. . .

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  • Skip the excuses.  I don’t buy them the other 11 months of the year I’m surely not going to buy them now.  We are all given the same 24 hours in a day.  We all have some combination of children, career, family and multiple obligations; it’s how you structure and use that time that makes the difference.
  • This is NOT the time to set PR’s although it’s not unheard of.  You’ve less time and energy; don’t stop working out, modify or cut back a day.  I typically train 4 days a week and get at least 1 recovery workout in a week. Around turkey time when the demands start escalating I get 3-4 workouts in per week.  My ‘recovery’ day is generally about 8+ hours of chores and non stop holiday prep on the weekends.

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  • Change it up.  One of the best times to lighten up your typical heavy training.  No, I’m not suggesting you give up weights but take the reps up to the 8-15 neighborhood and do a little hypertrophy cycle.  After all you’re eating more cals you just might add a little muscle in spite of yourself.
  • Change the time of your training.  If you usually train at night but are too busy with parties and shopping switch it up to the am, that way nothing will get in your way and it sets the stage for a productive day. Generally train in the am but find you’re needing the extra sleep?  Try a midday workout, might be just the boost you need to power through the afternoon

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  • Just not enough time? That’s kind of the theme of this post and ties in with changing it up.  Shorten your workout; if strength is your primary focus can the met con or keep it very short.  If conditioning is your focus (and I wouldn’t recommend that unless you have a solid foundation of strength) lighten up on the strength and stick to more conditioning; for some that is a great stress reliever.  You can pick the pace back up in January.
  • Take a rest day.  Yes, even tho you are not getting in as many workouts or as long of workouts the mind must have a day or at least an afternoon where you break from everything.  Personally I generally take Sunday afternoon; I turn off ALL social media channels and chill.  Spend some time in nature, watch an old movie, whatever relaxes and refreshes you.
  • Begin the goal process.  Take some time during the month to reflect on the past year of training; what went right, what didn’t, what are your training goals for the upcoming year.  This is a great time for reviewing, revamping and rewiring your mindset for the upcoming year.

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  • Last but not least –have some fun.  Yes, it’s the holidays — connect with friends and family for sport or games, isn’t that one of the reasons we train?

Take these tips to the box, gym or playing field to make this holiday season your fittest yet and don’t be surprised if you find Santa leaves some gainz under your tree!

Tyler

You don’t spend over 2 decades in the fitness industry without learning quite a bit, meeting awesome people and having great experiences.  Clients and members have come and gone over the time span but today one young man stands out in memory.

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For over 2 years – 2009-2011 I had the pleasure of working one on one with a mother and her son.  They trained separately of each other since they had different goals.  Tyler was around 11 or 12 at the start of our training and just getting into sports in school.  Football was his favorite and he was doing okay; according to the coach he needed to be stronger, more powerful and faster.

Our training revolved around those three aspects of fitness:  strength, power and speed, the cornerstone of any anaerobic sport.  My experience with working with kids was limited at the time being an only child, having cats and not playing sports in my youth had made it so. Tyler made it easy; he trained 2-3 times a week always excited to learn and work hard.  He asked lots of questions and would make changes in practice and study habits along with sleep and nutrition.

In other words I got lucky; most kids that age don’t have that mindset.  Over the course of the seasons I would get great progress reports from his mom via his coaches.  Tyler was growing, learning and improving.  It was joy to work with him and watch him evolve.

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Sigh and alas this wonderful family moved north in 2011 and our training came to an end. But not on their end as Tyler continued in their new home.  I would get occasional reports on his progress from his mom and the beauty of social media allowed me to keep up.

More than a few years have passed since we trained but that didn’t contain my excitement as I saw a post from his mother last week that Tyler was gearing up for the Tennessee State Championships.  Well, all his training, hard work, consistency and dedication of the past several years paid off . . .

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. . . with a win and Tyler ending his high school football career  taking home the Tennessee High School State Championship by knocking off the #16 team in the COUNTRY!  How sweet it is!

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That just brought back a lot of fond memories for me and while that game had nothing to do with me knowing that I might have instilled or influenced the beginnings of the knowledge and passion that drove him was a reflection of just how proud I am of him and to have a played a part in his training.

And while this might be the end of his high school career I think it’s only the beginning of even bigger and better things.  Mama isn’t the only one beaming with pride — congratulations Tyler!

Spinach Blues

I don’t know about you but I had one too many pieces of pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving and I’ve got to tighten it up until the Christmas baking begins.  Lest my belt won’t fasten.  With the cooler weather (everywhere but here in Florida) cravings were high for a heartier green and fresh spinach came to mind.  One of our favorites this salad is a meal complete when served with your favorite flesh — beef, pork, fowl or seafood it’s sure to please and perfect for rest day meals.

Oh, and the blue cheese dressing. . . yum

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Recipe & Ingredients

The Salad
fresh organic spinach
red or yellow bell peppers, diced
purple onion, sliced
carrots, chopped
cucumbers, peeled and sliced
hard boiled eggs
pastured bacon, crumbled

The Dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup raw blue cheese
1/4 cup homemade mayo
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Mix all ingredients together well.  And yes, that’s all there is to homemade blue cheese dressing.  No need for chemicals and unhealthy preservatives.  And it will last around a week in the fridge — in theory (ours disappears way before then).  It can also sub out as a veggie dip your children will love.

Family Traditions

Every family has them and the good ones must be carried on as a tradition year after year for decades on.  I first met my husband’s family back in 1985 at Thanksgiving and they welcomed me with open arms.  Here we are 30 years later and what a wonderful ride that has been.   I am very grateful to call this wonderful group of people family. Being an only child I feel so blessed to have been given both “sisters and brothers” not to mention beautiful nieces and nephews.

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The Thanksgiving weekend is rife with traditions and one thing this gang knows how to do is have a good time.  We gathered for a blessed meal on Thursday, shopped till we dropped on Friday

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and come Saturday aka ‘game day’ we continued to celebrate in style.  I made my Game Day Pot Pie (in bulk) for the family

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We gobbled that up, pun intended and then began decorating the garage for the party to follow. . .

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Garnet and gold are the colors that reign here.  ALL family members wear them dressing in their finest although we do have two or three friends that will show up wearing blue and orange.  They are not treated with disdain, at least not much beyond friendly jesting.  Win or lose we celebrate every year never failing in our support.

This year it was a quite a game and of course you know the score Florida State 27 Florida 2!

And now the traditions move to those of Christmas with a whole months worth of parties, preparations and celebrations.  Don’t let the season stress you out; take the time to appreciate and enjoy your family and friends.  There’s nothing wrong with saying no when your plate threatens to topple over.  Prioritize and enjoy the moments — that’s what this season is all about.