Headspace Meditation App Review

Thank you tea tag. You are not helpful at all. photo via

Thank you tea tag. You are not helpful at all.
photo via Tuwa

To meditate, simply “sit and exist” or “sit and think about nothing.” Gag. I don’t know about anyone else, but I call bullshit these condescending and oversimplified euphemisms have never helped me actually meditate.

I saw the Headspace app for smart phones in a fitness magazine that described it as a free, easy way to start meditating if you’re not all zen and one with the universe you’ve never tried. Did I mention free? I could give free a try. Worst case scenario, I would delete the app after a few days and return to my normal, pathetic existence.

Who doesn't want to get some? Getsomeheadspace.com

Who doesn’t want to get some?
Getsomeheadspace.com

For the last few years I have struggled with anger, depression and anxiety. I tried everything: medication, therapy, exercise, work books, screaming at my husband. Some helped a little, but none made a huge difference, except the yelling. I’ve read that meditation also helps reduce the exact feels I struggle with, but so far the “sit and clear your mind” method of meditation has failed.

The first see: free program on Headspace consists of a series of 10-minute recordings that lead you through 10 days of meditation. They call it “Take 10.” Is that name totes adorbs or what? Before the first meditation session began, a video about how to approach mediation popped up. It talked about expectations have none, how much effort to apply none, but only a little and other mumbo jumbo helpful topics.

The amazingly British accent of Andy led me though the recordings. I felt easy and relaxed until holy crap I can’t even concentrate on this stupid recording I suck at everything even meditation and especially life my thoughts wandered slightly. Andy calmly assured me that I could expect my mind to drift. Just breathe and gently refocus. Of course. I knew that.

After day 3 the app required registration for a Headspace account (just email and password). I gained access to more videos and podcasts that gave me information about how to become instantly enlightened go deeper and enhance the experience.

After completing Take 10, I have achieved inner peace, feel one with the universe and approach all situations with understanding and nonattachment. Ha! Yeah right. I meditate first thing in the morning. Ok, second thing after dressing and brushing my teeth. Otherwise I fall asleep. Turns out sleeping and meditating are not the same thing. It gives me a little breather before the insanity of preschoolers hurtling around my classroom screaming “Twinkle, Twinkle Dinosaur” at the top of their lungs and knocking over block towers instead of cleaning up. I love my babies, and walking into school on a post-meditation relaxation buzz makes the day run much smoother.

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For me, the Take 10 program made meditation easy to understand and practice. Being led step-by-step through the process in a conversational way let me find a calm place. It took meditation from something that “those crazy yogis” practice to something that I, a 20-something preschool teacher who sometimes needs a break from her own brain, could benefit from immediately.

As of today, I have meditated 25 out of the last 30 days. On Thursday I didn’t make time to meditate before work, so I meditated in the car on my break. Maybe I am becoming one of those crazy yogis… I recommend the Headspace app for anyone who wants to try out meditation, but doesn’t know where the hell to start. It definitely kicked off my new habit and helped me understand how to get all zen and shit. As long as I don’t think about how I need to do laundry and wash dishes oh shit I suck at meditating which means I am a horrible human being who will never succeed at anything can stay focused.

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Do you meditate? If you do, how did you get started? How does meditation help you or improve your life? What do you think of meditation, whether you practice it or not? 

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Goodbye Gym!

What I usualy did at the gym anyway...

What I usualy did at the gym anyway…
photo via CrossfitPaleoDietFitnessClasses

Big news! Runs With Blisters, Kiya, her husband, her bunny and all her junk moved to Denver, Colorado 2 weeks ago! New apartment, new state, new car because the middle of an intra-state move is the best time for a car to crap out, new workout routine. When I left Kansas, I also left my traditional gym membership and my Zumba instructor license.

Since Colorado has an outdoorsy, active reputation, I decided to become a complete slacker try out some other fitness options. I’ve been a member and employee of a traditional gym for a little over 2 years, so in order to completely bum myself out psych myself up, I compiled a list of pros and cons of opting out.

Pros:

  • Complete freedom to try any location or any format! Hiking, biking, camping, aerial silks, salsa dancing, skiing, Brazilian samba, belly dancing, pole dancing. The possibilities are endless!
  • Ability to match my workout level to my energy level. A Zumba instructor has one level: insanity high. UnSurprisingly, my body is not always up to performing at that level.
  • The power to change my workout based on my personal fitness and body image goals. My “goals” change every week. This week I’m really committed to holding down the couch cushions restorative yoga.
  • I can use the bathroom whenever I want to mid-workout! It sounds like such a small thing, but when you’re the instructor, you have to hold it.
  • I already have a decent home gym. Exercise ball, pull-up bar, yoga mat, hand weights, resistance bands (both the tubes AND the wide ones!), and even an ab roller contraption. Yeah, I’m that cool.
  • I might actually use some of the DVDs I own. Over time, I’ve bought 3 yoga DVDs, 2 Jillian Michaels DVDs and “Just Dance with Julianne” (with Julianne Hough from Dancing with the Stars!). I also own all the P90X DVDs. Don’t ask me how that happened. Just know they all say “EVALUATION COPY” across the screen. I don’t have $300 to drop on workout videos!

Cons:

  • My empty wallet! Paying per class adds up. Especially when trying out cool/different fitness activities. Try $20+ per class. Ouch!
  • To save my bank account, I will have to use the small fitness facility at our apartment complex for most daily workouts. This means lots of tedious cardio machines and uninspiring and painful weight machines.
  • I might actually use the fitness DVDs I own. After the first 3 watches they are SO BORING! I actually tried doing P90X once, but only made it to day 30 because you essentially do the same 6 videos every week. Tony Horton is funny, but when you can recite each punch line with him, he  gets a little old. Plus, when you only have Jillian Michaels watching from the TV, it’s all too easy to press pause for 5 minutes or lay on the ground while she lunges around the room. You try to pull that in a live group fitness class, and you’ll get some weird looks!

What exercise method do you prefer? Traditional gym with cardio machines, group fitness classes, and weights? No memberships, but working fitness into your life through DVDs, home gyms, or the great outdoors? Totally out of the box options like aerial silks, pole dancing or something else so crazy I’ve never heard about it? Or do you laugh in the face of exercise and help me hold down the couch cushions this week?

Youtube Sensation

After reading my really boring fabulous post about Zumba, I’m sure you have been dying to actually see me in full butt-popping, gyrating action. Well, like it or not here it is. Follow this link to a super-secret playlist of my Zumba class from July of 2013!

Zumba1

You wish you had moves like this…

Zumba2

I mean, I don’t look silly at all…

Zumba5

No, I never look goofy.

Seriously though, do I not look completely crazy? Have you ever taken a Zumba class live or on video? What did you think? Does anyone else use youtube to workout? (I’m a youtube yoga junkie)

Fighting Workout Burnout with Yoga

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Too. Much. Zumba
photo via Judy Baxter

I will admit it; I was feeling Zumba burnout. I love shimmying and booty-shaking my way through a workout. I lose myself in the music and movement and forget that I’m there to burn calories, strengthen my heart, and other healthy junk. But lately my body has felt achy and tired much more than it used to.

I’m sure we’ve all heard it. Doing the same workout for too long creates a negative impact. The body thrives on constant change and new challenges, bla bla bla. After too much workout repetition, the body actually stops improving and burnout can eventually lead to injuries. Maybe 3+ Zumba classes a week for two years is too long? So I decided to take a little break. I subbed out my classes for two weeks so I could do whatever the hell I wanted cross train.

I have flirted with yoga for almost six years. I took a class here and there. I read about how wonderful it is for body and mind. I realized that yoga is “good for you.” Like vegetables, it became one of those things that is so “good for you” that I didn’t want to do it.

I finally gave yoga a serious try a month ago, because I needed a stress reliever. I battle anxiety, anger and depression. I have trouble sleeping through the night because I’m too busy worrying that the world will spontaneously explode. I’m usually looking for something to help, as long as it’s easy not too crazy. I think the universe started ganging up on me, because all of a sudden I was coming in contact with article after article about how amazing and life-changing a steady yoga practice can be. So yoga can cure all that ails my body and mind? Ok, I’ll try it out. No pressure.

I found a 20 minute youtube video by Colleen Saidman and did it before bed. I crawled between the sheets like a relaxed Jell-O person and slept through the entire night. Maybe there is something to this magical yoga thing.

I decided to use my break from Zumba to try out some live yoga classes. I tried a yin/restorative yoga class, which is as opposite from Zumba as you can get. The focus was on breathing and wondering what the hell we were doing relaxing into the easy postures. During the entire class, I wondered what the point was, but as I walked out of the studio, I realized how relaxed and chill I felt. I need some breathing and chill practice in my life. I also tried out a basic yoga class and a couple Vinyasa Flow classes. Tell you what, those flow classes kicked my ass!

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Me after two weeks of yoga
photo via Wikimedia Commons

Luckily my break from Zumba allowed me to come back refreshed and ready to dance again. My joints feel better and my legs have mostly stopped their constant aching.

Now, two weeks after going back, I have been trying to do a 20-minute yoga video before bed at least sometimes each night. In usual half-ass fashion, I actually do it three or four nights a week. So far, the biggest benefits I am seeing is an increase in flexibility. My forward bends are deeper than they have ever been in my life, even when I was dancing and stretching 5 days a week. Also, I catch myself deep breathing when I feel tense. Strangely, it’s not a conscious effort. More like something I notice my body is doing after it happens. To get really yoga and weird, my deep breaths have become deeper, which sounds really strange. Before I started practicing yoga on a sort of regular basis, my ribs and much of my body felt bound up and tight. Like there was an inflexible rope around my ribcage. Over time, that tightness has faded away and my breath flows easier.

I wouldn’t say that yoga has cured all my problems, but it helps me feel slightly less stressed and tense. Plus, I sleep through the night now, and anyone who knows me realizes how much I adore my sleep. Plus, knowing what savasana means makes me feel all zen and superior and shit.

Have you ever had workout burnout? What are your thoughts on yoga? Think I’ll ever get myself together enough  to post on a regular basis again?

 

January Monthly Mission: Protein & Carbs Are Friends

photo credit: Annarchy

photo credit: Annarchy

Since no one else is revamping their forgotten blogs this time of year, I figured it was the perfect time to do so. Wait, everyone is doing that? Damn. We’ll just pretend that after I changed jobs in August, I didn’t completely abandon this blog and not even feel guilty about it. Did I just type that out loud? Oops.

Being an ever lazy and copy-cat creative and original individual, I’m stealing borrowing the concept of Monthly Missions from the amazing Denny over at DK FitSolutions. Instead of making a New Year’s resolution that I abandon by February anyway, I will concoct a shiny, new torture mission each month! Supposedly, a half-assed Google search research shows that it takes 28 days to build a new habit, so that’s close enough to a month.

In theory, I select a goal that will improve my health, fitness, or nutrition. At the end of the month, I’ll complain about how much it sucked share my experience with you, my faithful reader, and choose a different task.

January Mission:

Each meal will consist of a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate.

I chose this mission for several reasons:

  1. The holidays destroyed my eating habits, and it’s time to return to basics. Chocolate, cookies, and breads are delicious, but my body cannot function on simple carbs alone. After two months of delicious horrible eating, my under-fueled body literally started falling apart in sickness and injuries.
  2. Simple carbs VS. complex carbs: For those who don’t know, a complex carbohydrate can be over-simplified to a fruit, vegetable, or whole wheat product. A simple carb is white bread, pasta, white rice, all things delicious and forbidden, etc. Simple carbs give you a quick spike in energy and blood sugar but fizzle out just as fast, leaving you lifeless and craving more food.
  3. Combination protein + carb = lasting energy. Look, I don’t know the science behind it, but it works. Carbs provide quick power, and protein keeps you running until the next meal.
  4. Planning, planning, planning. Grabbing whatever food was convenient and immediately ready obviously didn’t work for me. I ended up with cheesy noodles for lunch, beef jerky for dinner, a crash and burn in the middle of teaching Zumba, and fast food or Cheetos before collapsing into bed. No wonder my knees ached all the time, my wrist stopped working, and my back went out. I stopped fueling my body, and it shut down, the damn, wimpy thing. These days, I make a list of needed foods before shopping and pack my meals for the day to ensure I have enough fuel. And, because I am a culinary disaster master, I will attempt to prepare and freeze a week’s worth of dinners each weekend.

Lofty goals indeed. However, notice what is not included in my Monthly Mission. I’m not cutting out any specific foods. I still hoover down the Hubby’s Cheetos when I think he’s not around. I’m not changing when or how often I eat. I’m not even thinking about my exercise routine outside of teaching Zumba. Small, gradual changes over time creates lasting transformation. Shoot, after 12 Monthly Missions, I’ll be like a superhero and laugh in the face of New Year’s resolutions in 2014.

What is your stance on New Year’s resolutions? Make them? Hate them? Ready to join me in stealing adopting Monthly Missions instead? What are some of your hopes for 2013? Talk to me! I missed you!

The Best Laid Plans of Bananas and Blogs

Sometimes we make plans. Many times sometimes they don’t work out.

Ever-growing supply of old bananas frozen for “making banana bread later”

Sometimes we buy bananas to make smoothies. Most times sometimes they simply sit on the counter and turn brown. Sometimes we plan to write blog posts. Sometimes we make excuses life gets in the way, and awesome blogs sit lonely and postless for an entire month!

Sometimes old, brown bananas and not-quite-forgotten blogs can come together in a revival post of anticlimactic epic proportions.

Disclaimer! I do not pretend these recipes are healthy. Actually, they are full of refined flower, sugar, and deliciousness. What are these recipes doing on a blog supposedly about healthy living and eating? I was hoping the clever intro and title intertwining forgotten bananas and forgotten blogs would distract you from that question. Hey, even health masochists need to cut themselves a little slack in moderation or not. If you’re truly hooked on healthy banana bread, you freaks can check out Skinnytaste.

Ingredients bought for this post :S

Second disclaimer! I’m a lazy cook. I do not bake. I had to buy this entire counter full of ingredients before I even started this post. That’s right, we’ve lived in our apartment for 9 months without sugar. Due to my less than stellar culinary skills, these recipes have been modified to fit my own haphazard cooking style.

CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD from JoyofBaking.com

Best. Idea. Ever.

1 ¾ cup flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup chocolate chips (Ghirardelli semi-sweet. If you’re going to indulge, do it right!)

2 large eggs

½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 bananas, mashed well

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray 9”x5” loaf pan with non-stick spray.

A rainbow of sugar

2. Mix the flower, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Obsessively check that you are not mixing up the baking powder and baking soda.

3. In a different bowl, combine bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.

4. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients (banana mix) into the dry ingredients. Look up what fold means. Find out it’s just fancy stirring. Stir ingredients together until combined, but still thick and chunky.

5. Stir in chocolate chips.

6. Dump batter into prepared pan and attempt to sprinkle brown sugar on the top. Get ticked when the brown sugar refuses to sprinkle and simply falls in clumps. Give up.

7. Bake on center rack until you cannot stand the chocolatey baking smell, and a butter knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about one hour.

8. Place on wire rack and stare at the loaf until it cools enough to remove from pan.

9. Eat just one piece. Then just one more piece. Then your last piece. Then only one more.

10. Repeat step 9 until you realize half the loaf is gone.

BANANAS FOSTER BANANA BREAD by Brown Eyed Baker

I admit, this recipe is insane ambitious for a cook of my pathetic talents. But I figured if I was trying Suzy Homemaker, I might as well go the full Martha. Enter my attempt at a recipe as complicated as a contortionist yoga pose, but almost worth all the work.

For the Bread:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

For the Streusel Topping:
1½ cups chopped walnuts
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter

For the Rum Glaze:
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons water
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 small bottle of rum

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9”x5” loaf pan with non-stick spray

2. Realize you only bought 1/3 of the chopped walnuts required for the delightful streusel topping. Seriously consider making the recipe with 1/3 of the walnuts. Cuss. Drive to nearby Aldi to buy chopped walnuts. Cuss again when you realize Aldi only sells halved walnuts. Drive home and cuss continuously while chopping a cup of walnuts.

3. Take a shot of rum.

4. Dump ingredients for streusel topping into a bowl and combine with fingers until butter is evenly distributed. Take a shot of rum. Lick fingers clean.

5. In a different bowl, mix flour, baking soda and baking powder.

6. In yet another bowl, combine sugar and vegetable oil with electric mixer. Add eggs and beat. Add mashed bananas and vanilla extract and beat. Wonder why the recipe has to be complicated and require “alternatively add[ing] the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour.” Dump in half the flour and beat. Dump in milk and remaining flour. Beat.

7. Take a swig of rum.

8. Spread batter into loaf pan. Scatter streusel topping evenly over the top. Bake until a butter knife inserted in the center comes out almost clean, about one hour.

9. Take a shot of rum.

10. To make rum glaze, dump the butter, water and sugar in a pan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup rum. Cover to keep warm.

11. After one hour, wonder why a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out gooey. Shrug and assume that since the recipe calls for one hour, the bread is probably done. Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes.

12. Using the butter knife, poke holes all over the top of the loaf. Spoon half of the rum glaze over the bread. Let the loaf sit for five minutes and spoon the remaining glaze over it.

13. Take a shot of rum.

14. Wonder why the rum is gone. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

15. Marvel at the sheer amazing, sugary eminence of eating this bread still warm.

16. Days later, when you finally cut into the center of the loaf, realize that the butter knife came out gooey because the center was not fully cooked.

If you’ve made it this far in this ridiculous run-on of a post, well, wow. You have more dedication than I thought possible.

Do you have any amazing banana bread or other bread or any baking recipes to share? Turns out I now have a lot of flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder to use up… What do you think of the hugely-long come-back post? Did you miss me? Even notice I had disappeared? I knew you hadn’t…

Rest. Or Else.

Me, if I don’t rest soon. Yes, I will turn into a male runner named Rick.
photo by My Athletic Life

My body has been subtly threatening me. A twinge in my back during Zumba class, a more-than-occasional cough, a tweak in my left calf, almost-constant scull-crushing headaches. My body is quietly whispering, “take it down a notch or I’ll take away your ability to move make you.” My body has been known to stop functioning force me to rest before. Not enough sleep for too long, and illness keeps me bedbound. Too many workouts, and my back muscles literally give up.

I know the signs, I’m pushing too hard. Even the psychotically exercise addicted active people need rest to stay healthy. Rest allows the body to rebuild the muscles and systems stressed during exercise. Without recuperation, your body will give you the middle finger and shut down. At least that’s what my body does. Thanks. Appreciate it.

Ways to ensure adequate recovery:

Sleep

Some people require more sleep than others. Lucky me requires ridiculous amounts quite a bit to operate. 8 hours is not enough. Only 6 or 7 hours for two days in a row, and I’m a raving, irrational bitch grouchy. I wish I were kidding. Make sure you’re getting the sleep your body needs.

Nutrition

Turns out you can’t survive on granola bars, tortillas, and coffee. Why didn’t anyone tell me this?! A balanced diet can do wonders for fueling your body, turns out. Protein and fruits and veggies are my friends. Protein and fruits and veggies are my friends. Protein and fruits and veggies are my friends.

Rest Days

Somehow, between adding another class per week and subbing a few classes and a dangerous lapse in brain function, I was lined up to teach Zumba for 21 days in a row. Allow that to sink in. 21 days of hour-long, full-out, sweat-pouring, chest-heaving, muscle-exhausting Zumba. Let’s just say I won’t be adding that extra class. Even fitness masochists need days off.

FIT: Frequency, Intensity, Time

If you lucky people don’t teach group fitness classes, make sure you vary the frequency (how often), intensity (how hard), and time (how long) of your workouts. Not every training session needs to be 100% for two hours every single day. Turns out, too much cardio is actually bad for the body.

Periodization

Did you know that some anal retentive organized people actually follow an “exercise program?” Apparently these crazies people plan their workouts in advance to alternate between easy, medium and hard workouts. Sometimes, according to nasty rumors, they even design six-week blocks of training that manipulate exercise frequency, intensity and time for optimal recovery. I’ve even heard they cross train and try out different types of exercise to make sure they get a well-rounded workout. Sounds insane, right?

Listen to your body

When your body sends you a warning equivalent to the mafia mailing a friend’s finger to your house, please listen. Don’t make your body put a hit on you, Capiche?

Obsess Much?

Did you know I starred in the official Zumba video for National Dance Day?

Ok, you caught me. That’s not me. That’s gorgeous Zumba celebrity, dancer, mother, and woman I want to slap for being so accomplished and cute, Gina.

I tried not to post about National Dance Day. Really, I did! I figured that after blathering about my obsession with Zumba, my pole dancing failings, and the importance of busting a move internationally, maybe—if you don’t share my unhealthy fixation passion for dance—you might be sick of this dance talk. Perhaps, after National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month (say that five times fast), American Heart Month, and National Weigh-in Day, you’re a little fed up with healthy holidays in the US. Possibly you think I’m impressively clever for cramming all those links into the same paragraph. Maybe not.

What do you think? Sick of dance? Sick of healthy holidays? Did that video trick you at all, even for a second?

Vacation Masochism

The husband and I spent the entire the week of the 4th of July avoiding real life vacationing in mountainous Colorado, the state created for people addicted to exercise active individuals. Aside from the days spent dozing while David drove driving to and from, I completed some sort of physical activity every day. Because apparently I hate myself so much I don’t deserve a break. Even on vacation.

On Tuesday we hiked the “Dike Trail.” So named because it climbs to the top of a rock formation called a dike that protrudes from the surrounding ground. Not due to a large population of lesbians in the area. Political correctness people, geesh. Overall, we hiked  5 or 6 miles round trip and climbed a total of 300 feet. At the top of the trail, the rocks flattened out for a gorgeous overlook down a deep valley at the feet of the White Peaks. Some of us stupider braver individuals struck out into the surrounding forest and scaled a different part of the dike, offering the view of a more terrifying, sheer drop-off into the abyss. The sight was stunning, after I regained the ability to move.

Crazies at the tip-top of Dike Trail

Ever labor under the delusion you are in great shape? To shatter this illusion, travel to a location 7,500 feet higher than you live and run 1.2 miles. That is how I celebrated the 4th of July. By gasping oxygen-depleted air for 8 minutes and 45 seconds, followed by 10 more minutes of wheezing and wondering why running a race at 8,650 feet up sounded like a good way to start the day.

You’re all number 1!

On our third day of vacation, my mother and I rode horses for 2 hours. If you’re looking for an amazing inner thigh and glute workout that won’t allow you to sit down for days, a 2-hour trail ride is for you!

Our ultimate self-loathing fitness achievement of the vacation occurred on our last day in Colorado. A hike up West Spanish Peak totaling 7 miles roundtrip and gaining almost 2,400 feet in elevation. For the last, trail-less mile of the hike, we scrambled up loose rock piled at a 45-degree angle. From car to summit took 3 hours. We some people say we’re pretty psychotic badass for completing it.

Clockwise: All 7 of us at the summit, The Husband during the last mile before the summit, West Spanish Peak from the trailhead

So, besides bragging on my inability to just freaking chill, what’s the point of this post? (Kiya scrambles frantically, checking notes, papers flying) Ah, that’s right!

Tips for incorporating exercise on vacation:

  • Take advantage of opportunities not available at home: Turns out, Kansas City doesn’t have many mountainous hiking trails. So we hit those hard. Does your vacation location provide unique opportunities? Swimming in a fresh spring, sunset yoga on the beach, zip lining through a jungle, dancing at a local bonfire. Try out things you can’t find at home. If your home includes any of those activities, I’m your new best friend.
  • Ditch the gym: Instead of a workout, try a playout. Go walking through museums, beaches, shopping malls, city streets, anywhere you won’t get shanked and lose your wallet. If you’re set on traditional workouts, try a nontraditional setting. A jog through the forest, pushups in a grassy meadow, chin-ups on crosswalk signs.
  • Enjoy rest and relaxation: Allow your body a break from your regular routine. Take this time to refuel  and unwind. We stay fit so that we can better enjoy life, right? Wrong! Wait, what? So enjoy it! And remember, after a long day of vacation workouts or lack thereof, be sure to replenish your body’s carbohydrates with a tall, cold brewski or five.

What is your vacation exercise philosophy? Leave it out? Work it in? Think I included enough photos of me in the gorgeous Colorado countryside? Because I’m not quite sure I did.

360 view from West Spanish Peak summit

Colorific! (Running Still Sucks)

ORANGE!

The Color Run came to Kansas City! In this 5k run, volunteers hurl eatable, but bitter-tasting colored powder at the white-clad runners at the completion of each kilometer. Although their website never explicitly stated it, I had a feeling that arriving at the finish line in Technicolor would make the running part slightly more bearable. Somewhat True.

The fun started before 6 AM, when I rolled out of bed and threw on clothes picked out the night before. In my early-morning stupor, I decided to sport my pink, heart-shaped sunglasses and teal earrings. Because if you’re going to sweat your ass off and get pelted with colored powder, you might as well look good while doing it. Oh, the stupid things my brain thinks of before coffee.

So Fresh & So Clean at the starting line

We arrived at Arrowhead Stadium in our pristine white shirts before 7 AM. Along with 12,000 other people. We waited in line for the bathroom. We waited in line for the race. We got remarkably good at weaseling our way forward and sneaking through spaces in the fence waiting patiently in line.

After an eternity of waiting not-so-serenely, waves of 1,000 people were released every 5 minutes. After a short dance break, which involved my friends and I breaking it down while everyone stared at us in horror, we were off!

The heat attacked first. Followed closely by yellow-powder-wielding volunteers. Orange was accompanied by blaring oldies music. The blue people did not mess around. No little squeeze bottles for them. Powder straight from 5-gallon buckets. The pink station billowed under a bridge. There was so much powder on the ground, people literally rolled in it.

Smurfs don’t kid about color

At the end of the race, finishers gathered for the color throw. Everyone opened their individual color packets and threw them into the air simultaneously in a rainbow colorgasm of awesomeness. I almost collapsed from the shock wave of clichéd warm-fuzzy feeling emanating from the singular location.

As for color attacks distracting me from the awfulness of running, it sort of worked a little bit. Running still sucks. The sun beat down, and sweat streamed down my face and back. My knees and glutes ached. But since I am part magpie, brightly colored objects magnetize me, and events that encourage people to dress in costume always bring out the freaks provide prime people-watching opportunities.

Plus, I completed 5k in 30 minutes, 5 seconds. Not bad, considering I haven’t ran in at least 3 weeks.

Also, a huge thank you to my friend Willow, who bravely documented our Color Run experience in photographs because I was too chicken to bring my camera through the course!

Ever tried a Color Run or other gimmicky activity to distract you from the awfulness of working out? Ever wonder why races have to start so stinkin’ early in the morning?

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