The Morning Routine

Over the past few years, I’ve become a big supporter of the early morning workout.

You get it out of the way early. It’s a great way to kick-start your energy (or at least until you get your grubby paws on some coffee). The crazies tend to visit the gym later on. And most importantly, you don’t have to wait, throw ‘bows, or pull hair in order to secure a machine.

Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

However, I suppose there is one drawback. Since I’m not willing to get up any early than I currently do (hello 4:30am alarm), I have a limited amount of time to get the best workout in that I possibly can before I have to jump in the shower and make a mad dash to catch my  train into the city.

Challenge accepted.

This is my typical gym-going experience these days:

Get to gym. Walk to lockers. Throw stuff in lockers. Look in mirror. Immediately look away from what was seen in mirror because no one should look at themselves before sunrise. Walk out to the main area.

Find treadmill in the furthest-most corner of the cardio area. I like this spot for a number of reasons, which include getting to look out of the window (much like a hamster on a wheel in a cage) and avoiding the pre-shower odor most of us expel in the wee morning hours (be honest with yourself- you know you have this, too). Additionally, the one person I’m ok with being around likes to jump on the machine next to mine and go about the same pace/length of time I do. We don’t really talk, but we run together with a silent mutual agreement to push each other along. A slight nod and smiles are passed along after we’re finished. Teamwork.

I’ve pretty much gotten over my respiratory ailments, so I generally aim for 35-40ish minutes of good cardio fun. This leaves me without about 10-15 minutes (sometimes 20 if I’m feeling wreckless to my train schedule) to my disposal. I used to never venture over to the strength training areas, but since I’m making meager attempts to become more well-rounded, this is my compromise.

Baby steps, guys.

Core work is my favorite, or at least the lesser of the evils. Specifically, planks. Sometimes squats/lunges when I’m feeling sassy.

early morning planking

Oh haaaaiiiiiiii!

Again, I KNOW I do not have the most efficient workout routine. I KNOW I’d see better results faster if I did it differently. More focus on one area/more reps/heavier weights/blah blah blah.

But I like my workouts. And I still like getting up in the morning to do them. It’s not a drag myself to my doom sort of situation, so we’re not going to chance it by messing up a good thing.

Besides. The weekend is a different ballgame since there’s more time. Plus there’s still the occasional Jillian Michaels video I do when no one else is home and I still have Kim to tell me how to do it properly once every couple of months.

So it’s allllll gooooooddddd.

They’re Chasing You

Last week I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when my cube neighbor peeks over the divider and says “um, our boss wants to see you and me in her office right now”.

But I just had a meeting with her… is something wrong? I haven’t caused a disturbance in cube land for at least two days (perhaps a record- I’m very chatty)… what did we do?!?

Turns out she knows me and my other coworker were super into running and she just HAD to show us the app a consultant was discussing in a strategy meeting the day before.zombies, run app

Zombies, Run.

It’s essentially you running around trying to save a township from being taken over by zombies.

It’s weird.

But why not? Ideally, it’s something to be used outside, but according to the app, it can also be used on a treadmill. You just have to be a little more imaginative.

The first day, I ran 3 miles and collected medical supplies while alluding zombies waiting for me in the abandoned hospital’s parking lot. So, you know, a pretty productive Sunday afternoon.

zombies, run app

If you’ll notice, they have you pick up all the essentials of surving the zombie attacks. Like underwear. This must really be important, because I think I’ve picked up no less than 10 packs of underwear since I started. Perhaps they take into account that it’s normal for people to defecate themselves when encountering the living dead? I dunno.

And you’ll never really do the same thing once.  There are multiple “Seasons” and each season has over 20 “missions” to choose from. Plus there are additional missions you can complete on the side. It’s like you’re training for the apocalypse. So this is pretty important stuff, guys.

It coordinates with your playlist, too. My only wish is it would also sync up with Pandora/Songza. Maybe it does, but technology is hard for me, so I’ll figure it out… in 6 months or so…

Anyway, if you’re feeling feisty and don’t mind the $3.99 price tag of the app, try it (I totally did not get compensated to use it- I just really love finding new ways to mix up workouts when the treadmill is my main mode of fitness during the winter)!

If anything, you’re proactively preparing for the apocalypse when zombies try to take over the world. Doomsday prepping. It’s a big deal.

Now excuse me guys, I have to lure more zombies out of the township. They need me.

Weekend Lessons

1. Lemonade is a serious weakness of mine. Luckily, Trader Joe offers a low-calorie version with less sugar.

Luckily, indeed.

2. Something that doesn’t have less sugar is the custard shop in a nearby neighborhood…

My friend sent a belated birthday card this last week. It didn’t fit in my mailbox and can stand by itself. If I go missing for a few days, it will be because it came to life and killed me in my sleep. You heard it here first.

Justin’s been playing nice so far, though. So we shared a small cookie dough concrete.

Seems kind of silly to spend $5 on it. However, if I spend $3.50 on a quart of it at the grocery store, I’ll eat the whole quart. Maybe not all in one night. But over the period of 2-3 days. Portion control. Sometimes, this is how it happens.

3. Turns out I’m still pretty awesome at coloring in the lines.

And it can totally be an adult activity to enjoy with the roommate if wine is added to the mix.

4. I needed sleep. Badly. Logged about 9 hours each night over the weekend. For a girl who hits maybe 6.5 on average, it was a pleasant experience. I should really work on this.

5. Spontaneous can be good.

I’m a planner. Always. But when Jaime texted to let me know she was at a street fest 5 minutes from my house? I was there in 20 minutes (good thing I was showered).

I’ve been friends with Jaime since we started working together 4 years ago, and this is the longest I’ve gone without seeing her since we’ve met. Crazy, right? Sure, we’ve texted and emailed. But it’s not the same. :(

The peeps in my new office are great, but old friendships never die. Thank goodness for spontaneity.

6. I’m still human! I know- you may not have been nervous. But I was.

A couple of my bestest lady friends have gone through breakups over the last month. I know they will all be ok and will have the happiness they deserve, but my heart still aches for them.

The process of having your heart crushed is miserable.  The process of picking up the pieces is often worse. Pretty sure my last dude still has a few fragments on the bottom of his shoe from when he grinded them into the ground. But that’s ok. How else do we become new and improved?

We’re always a work in process. Whether we like it or not.

7. Back to the topic of lack of sleep…

On my early morning trip to the gym, I witnessed an altercation between a cab driver and a man who had way too much fun on Sunday Funday. Both were being stupid because the driver should have just driven away instead of instigating. And the angry fellow was just being… well… a douche.

But anyway, sometimes I wonder if I’m just wasting time getting up early and having my low-key weekends from time to time. Because hey- I’m young! I should be living it up! All the time! But this man’s night before was just ending as my day was starting. On a week day.

One of us was going to feel pretty good after a sweat session on the elliptical. And later this morning, one of us surely won’t feel like an idiot about what we were up to at 5:00 in the morning.

It made me feel better. Because I’m not 21 anymore. And it would be embarrassing if I still acted like it.

See? Always a work in progress.

Now excuse me. I need to go hang my latest coloring masterpiece on the refrigerator.

But before I go, let us have a moment in silence for the end of the Olympics. I’ll be sad to not have something to watch automatically every night for hours on end. It was a good two weeks. Full  of inspiration, accomplishment and men’s abdominals.

How am I going to survive without it?!?!

Oh wait… it’s SHARK WEEK!

A Week of Nothing Special

4:15am- Wake up. What time is it? 4:15? Are you serious? Get back to sleep, woman.
 
4:30am- Really? REALLY? Sleep! Now!

4:40am- Alarm goes off. Alarm gets a beat down.
Remind myself that I wanna be cut like an olympic athlete. Get up a little less upset.

4:50am- Arrive at gym.
See and avoid the “mayor” You know- the dude that is literally at the gym any and every time you are. Who walks around with his beverage of choice (coffee). Pretending to work out, but never actually does. Instead, he just wastes space in the already small gym.
Jump on treadmill and sweat it up for 20 minutes.
Wonder if I’m having a Groundhog’s Day moment when “Whip My Hair Back and Forth” comes on for the second day in a row.
Climb up stairmill and do another 20 minutes and feel totally awkward as the sweat pours onto the machine. Air conditioning. Has anyone heard of it?
Literally run the entire way home because I need to be in the shower by 5:45.

Seriously- there is no room for dawdling in my current morning schedule. It’s easily the most intense and exhausting hour of my day. 
 
6:25am- Take break from getting ready to sit down and eat breakfast.
Turn on tv and half-listen to the headlines while checking email for 15 minutes. If the news is on, I’m surely soaking in some of the information, right?
 
7:15am- Race walk my way to the el. If I catch the earlier train, my chances of getting to sit in a seat vs stand the entire way increase greatly. It’s all about the small wins.
 
7:18am- Get seat.
Realize the new book I pull out to read on my trip is one I’ve already read. Clearly it wasn’t memorable.
Hit up the email chain between random friends the rest of the way. Even though I’m only one coffee in and don’t have much of intelligence to say.
 
8:00am- Second cup of coffee. Things are less fuzzy. My mood is perking up. Yay work!
 
11:00am- MOOOOOORRREEE COFFEEEEE!   YAAAAAYYYY WORK!
 
12:30pm- Lunch. Thank goodness because I’m a little fatigued.
Get up and walk around outside. Get energy back. YAAAAAAYYYY WORK!
 
3:30pm- Officially crashing.
Luckily, another team member in my department and I had a coffee run to celebrate our success on a project from the day before. Caffeine! YAAAAAYYYY WORK!!!!!!
 
5:01pm- After a long week of staying late and getting in early, I’m outtie! Freedom!!! RUN to the el stop!
 
5:15pm- Ok… who smells?
 
5:25pm- No really. Who is it? I know we’re all trying to be frugal in this economy, but a second application of deodorant would never hurt anyone if needed on that level.
 
5:45pm- Walk into apartment.
Change into “everyday clothes” as my mother used to call them. (Did anyone else call them that? My brother and I swore we were the only ones that had them- basically regular or workout clothes that were worn after school because they’re not worthy for public viewing anymore and kept our other clothes “nice” longer.)
 
Yes, I look like a slob in the evenings. But if you let me know you’re coming to visit, I’ll totally put my bra back on for you. You’re welcome. Speaking of which… I need to do laundry…
 
6:15pm- Start opening pantry and refrigerator doors. I’m sooooooo hunnnnnggggrrrryyyy…. What to eattttt….
 
6:30pm- End up eating the same thing I’ve eaten every night this week.

BBQ Turkey and Cheese. Dinner of champions.

It’s obvious I’m in a food rut.

Alright, fine. I’m clearly in a routine rut. Whatever.

8:30pm- Remember laundry was started. Whoops. Blame the Olympics for the distraction from household chores. Unfortunately a random peek at CNN.com earlier in the day totally ruined any surprise. I pretend to be enthusiastic/shocked anyway.
 
9:35pm- Remember I was going to clean the mess that is my bedroom. Blame Phelps and Lochte again.
 
9:45pm- Peel myself off my yoga mat on the floor. Yes, I did get the weird and random urge to do sit ups while viewing the Olympics.
Start the face washing and moisturizing and so on. My old lady “get ready for bed” routine has started already. Don’t laugh. You’re never too young to start worrying about healthy skin.
 
9:58pm- Success! I made it in bed before 10:00!
 
10:01pm- Like a rock.
 
4:15am- Really?!?! Again? WTF?!?!?!
 
Clearly the week has been pretty average. Which is a nice way of saying “I’ve been super boring”. But that’s fine. Last weekend was nuts and it was about time I hit that reset button. No regrets. Because boring can be good. Or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
 
Now excuse me… what time is it again? Ah yes. According to schedule I should be running out the door any minute now.
 
Happy Friday, folks. Let’s get it done.

Every Little Bit

I’m glad you all enjoyed “deep thoughts” from the depths of my eclectic brain.

It’s nice to know I am capable of true human emotion when called upon, instead of the awkward joke or two usually busted out, ending in an even more awkward situation for everyone.

Anyhoo.

How are we this morning?

I’m coming off of my fourth morning workout of the week, along with two cups of coffee. Excuse the crazed perkiness. It wears off after the first hour or two.

Somehow, the momentum has continued through the week, and getting up at 5:15 each time has not been an issue. Except once, but I heard my roommate stirring and knew she’d never workout with or even talk to me again if I stood her up at such an early hour. 

Sleep is serious business around here.

This motivation is also possibly because I’m not quite sure how much longer the morning routine will happen. Next week is the start of my new job. New hours, new commute, new everything. My entire life may feel flipped for a little while (insert freaking out here). 

And I just don’t see myself getting all pumped up over a 4:30 wakeup call.

No wait- it’s a certainty that will not happen. It was established long ago that 5:00 is the absolute cut off when it comes to how early Amy will get up to work out.

After working a few kinks out of the system with a sluggish 4.1-mile run on Tuesday morning (stupid Tuesdays…), I was hoping for an improvement on how Wednesday and Thursday would go.

Wednesday included 22 minutes on the stairs and 17 on the elliptical before retiring to the weight room to pretend like I know what I’m doing for a bit. Yes, if I plan to be seen at some point on the beach of Lake Michigan, those 2 odd minutes on each machine do make a difference. Every little bit counts, yes?

And when I say every little bit, I mean it. This morning I didn’t do a neighborhood run or hit the gym. I worked out in front of the television with Jillian Michael’s No More Trouble Zones. To balance out all the cardio I’ve been doing.

My muscles will surely hate me tomorrow.

But, like I said, every little bit counts.

Finally- I broke down and purchased new pans. One of which is an 8-inch and is perfect for omelets! Too bad I still suck at them always ending up overdone…

Just like a little extra protein in the mornings…

Usually, a loaded bowl of oatmeal or something super carbalicious is paired with my morning headlines. But I have the extra 10 minutes- why not do an omelet a few times a week?

Plus my bagel thins were on their last leg. I’m still on a super budget. Waste not, want not.

Same goes for the zuchinni.

I believe I could corporate those bagel thins into every single meal of my day. At 110 calories, I guess there could be worse addictions.

Clearly my meal planning was lacking this week. Because it was also on its last leg. What’s the deal, yo?

So I saved myself from wasting food. And kept myself from spending more $$.

Every little bit counts. My wallet just smiled and winked at me. Weird.

I need more sleep. Maybe just more coffee. My feelings on this are contradicting themselves.

Excuse me before my train of thought derails completely. It’s time to start the last day at my current job.

I expect happy/sad tears.

Oh look! Another contradiction of sorts! I belong in a skittles commercial.

Anyway, it’s most likely going to be a long day. But there’s a promise of lots of food. And very little work left for me to do. So it’ll be a sad day, but things could be worse.

Geez- what is with all this human emotion stuff? UGH. So lame…

More Randomness For The Files

1. I hate packing peanuts. They’re awful. Why not bubble wrap? It doesn’t make a mess and is fun to pop. It’s the obvious way to go. But packing peanuts? They make a mess of my work area. And when they’re not all over the place, they’re clinging to my pants, my top, or whatever else on my person. Much like my last boyfriend. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. STOP WITH THE PACKING PEANUTS!

2. My college friend is coming tonight to stay with me through the weekend. He doesn’t care if my place is dirty (trust me- I’ve seen his and that would be highly hypocritical), but yet things needed to be done before his arrival. Laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. Which means the entirety of this week has been meticulously planned out.

Something I didn’t plan for? Cubs/Sox/Bulls/Blackhawks traffic. An extra 30-45 minutes spent on the interstate each night is really screwing this up.

It’s also screwing with my sanity, but at this point, that’s a non-issue.

3. My obsessively planned out week has left me with no time to watch the newest episodes of New Girl and Modern Family, along with a few others I don’t care to admit I tape on a weekly basis. This saddens me. #FirstWorldProblems

4. Another thing that saddens me? A zit on my cheek. Seriously. My cheek? GET OFF OF MY FACE.

Excuse me while I go drown it in zapzit.

5. Baking happened last night. We’ll discuss that later. But the sugar high may or may not have been the reasoning for nonsleep and the lackluster workout this morning. It was less than stellar, but I guess it’s better than hitting snooze and turning over. Which was an option I weighed heavily. 20 minutes on the stairmill and a 1-mile run before saying screw it and going home to finish out with a few circuits of No More Trouble Zones by Jillian.

So at least it was something (with weights!).

That means I can eat more baked goods, yes?

6. Last night also marked a momentous occasion. Remember how I talk about my parents supplying me with food from the garden back home? One of the things they hauled up was a big box of sweet potatoes. Each one being the size of my arm. Last night marked the end of those sweet potatoes.

Asparagus grilled cheese and sweet potatoes. I used a slice of Munster and some crumbled feta for the sandwich. Not sure if cheese experts would approve or not, but it's what I had on hand. And I liked it. So whatev.

It’s amazing I haven’t turned orange.Which is unfortunate. Because Pauly D is cute and I need to attract his attention somehow…

7. I have had the worst time trying to track down a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. Or at least a free copy (I’m looking at you, Chicago Public Library.) Apparently we all have dirty minds and need to read this book. Like now.

8. The phrase “This is my Friday!” really rubs me the wrong way. It was really only amusing the first 50 times I saw it as an update on facebook.

Ok, actually, it never really was.

However, if I were to consider using it, today would be a good day.

I think you know where I’m going with this.

Extended weekend. Holla’.

The Aftermath

You guys tired of posts about my half marathon yet?

Yeah, me too.

I promise this is the last one.

It has been hard adjusting to being “unstructured” again now that I’m no longer in training.

Granted, that could partially be due to the fact that my appetite after Sunday’s race didn’t subside until ohhhh… about… 5 minutes ago. I really just wanted to EAT ALL THE THINGS. Not good considering I have a new Easter dress to fit myself into in a few days.

The first day (Monday), I just let my appetite fly.

And so things like this happened:At 10:00 AM.

And then again in the afternoon. I’m not proud. Because this is a time my resting body should be fueled and all, but last time I checked, Diet Coke and fritos don’t do much for muscle repair.

Ah well. It was pretty delicious…

Ironically, that picture is the exact representation of what I used to eat as dinner on my way to softball games in high school. And as breakfast in college.

Judging from what I know of these past experiences, this is not a good thing for my waistline.

So I gave myself Sunday to celebrate. And Monday to relax.

Tuesday? Well. We got serious again.

But not in a bad way.Grilled buffalo chicken is a great, and dare I say healthy, way to get that protein fix.

And instead of the deep friend mushrooms and fries from Sunday’s list of eats, I’ve been opting for roasted or raw:What? It was “Candy Wednesday” in the office. Gotta keep the balance…

Oh… and water. Lots and lots of water.

I feel like myself again!

Especially since the workouts have slowly started back up. I took two days (Monday and Tuesday) completely off. Then, Wednesday morning started with my early alarm and a trip to the gym.

Business as usual. An early morning romp at the gym. No running, but a little elliptical action for 20 minutes along with the stairmill for another 20. Still cardio, just easier on my old woman joints. ;)

Thursday was the first running day back. Nothing crazy because I’ve decided the treadmill and I truly hate each other and should not spend more than 2 miles at a time together. So 2.3 is all I did after a 15-minute elliptical warmup and the session ended with a 1-mile walk as a cool down.

Combined with a few nights of the deepest sleep I’ve had in months?

I’m feeling quite chipper. Annoyingly so.

Don’t expect it to last.

I Missed You

It was over 5 months ago since we said good-bye.

5 months.

I’ve often thought about you. About how wonderful our time together was. About how much I missed you.

It was special- me and you. Doing our thing. Keeping each other happy. Keeping each other healthy. Through the best of times. Through the worst of times. You were always there for me. Encouraging me to be the best person I could possibly be. Thank you.

You always knew what I needed and how I needed it. Knew how to get me all in a tizzy. How to make me smile. How to make me fall in a heap of exhaustion every day…

Then, because of circumstances out of my control, we had to part.

At first, I thought about you every day. How I missed you. How I wanted you back. 

But slowly, I forgot about you. About how strongly I once felt. Until you completely faded into the background.

But…

Just as circumstances changed the first time, they did once again. And all of a sudden you crept back onto my radar.

Funny how those feelings come back so strongly and so quickly after all this time.

When we reunited, it was like you never left me. I realized once again how much I needed you and all that you do for me.

But a few things need to be cleared up before we start this relationship over. A few ground rules…

1. Just because I’m a morning person, that does not mean you’re allowed to wake me up before 5:00 in the morning. Don’t go filling your head with ideas because I know how energetic you can be. I like my sleep. Don’t bug me before then.

2. I’m not always going to be beautiful when I wake up. My face isn’t going to be washed every day and my hair is gross. This I cannot do anything about. Take me as I am.

3. My eating habits are going to once again be completely rearranged because of you. After the sweat we work up? No skipping breakfast. Like… ever.

4. We need to learn to be considerate of my roommate. She can hear us when we’re the floor above her. So the activity will have to be taken elsewhere or we’ll have to wait until later in the day when it comes to some things

5. We need an open relationship. Due to my career, we won’t always have time for each other. I may stray and have a late night fling every once it a while. I may not call at all one day. But remember, this doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. Please don’t be mad.

So there you have it. Things are different now. But I believe in us. We can do this together.

Morning workouts.

They rock.

And I’ve missed them. Getting to work early and leaving early all the time was nice, but sitting in traffic trying to hype myself up for the gym after a long day of work and commuting is a daunting task. So now that my hours are shifting around again? I can actually get an hour or so of exercise in at my gym with little to no crowds.

It’s fabulous.

Oh morning workouts… I’m glad you’re back in my life.

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