Flat Stomach to Go Please

I’ve spent a lot of the last year flying up and down the West Coast for work. One of the hardest things about being on the road is maintaining an exercise routine.

For starters, I don’t really like traditional exercise. Dance, yes, especially out with cocktails. Running? Only when chased.

For me, getting into a routine is vital to making exercise happen. Throw me out of my routine and I would rather sleep in, go out with friends or read a book.

Travel poses a risky proposition. If I don’t do some form of exercise on the road I rarely slide back into a routine when I return home.

When ambitious –and delusional – I pack tennis shoes and workout clothes when I travel so I can hit the hotel gym in the mornings. But, I rarely wake up early enough and if it’s the difference between bringing running shoes and carrying on my bag – the shoes stay home.

So for years, I’ve toggled between regular exercise during months of travel hiatus and no exercise when my travel schedule kicks in. My body, as a result fluctuated. STRONG. weak. STRONG. weak. . .   Until I discovered I could take a flat abs weapon on the road.

After taking private pilates lessons for two years and watching the price go up and up and up, I discovered The Mari Winsor Pilates for Pink Core Challenge. Four 10 minute workouts you can do all at once or not.  The stomach series on the DVD is the same as the one I was guided through at the pilates studio. So, the DVD started to supplement my pilates studio sessions and then replaced them altogether.

When I needed flat abs fast for the Nudie Foodies photo shoot, that DVD became my morning ritual.  Finally, the lightbulb went off and I realized I could take it on the road.

Now, I load the DVD into my laptop before departing on a trip and start my days on the road with a core strengthening routine that flattens my abs, blasts my lower body and strengthens my upper body, all in the privacy of my hotel room. No shoes required.

What’s your tip for staying fit on the road?

Yoga Discoveries

In May I was a yoga fanatic and then . . . life interrupted. Most of my summer was spent traveling back and forth from Orange County to Seattle and back to Orange County for work. I flew nearly 18,000 miles in three months repeating a sub-2000 mile roundtrip.

I missed yoga. That said, I found myself spending my limited exercise time on less-fun and less-body-friendly activities – hello dreadmill – thinking I was maximizing my calorie burn. You see, even though I felt I was getting more toned and I was losing weight practicing yoga (and in fairness, playing tennis 2+ times per week), Sparkpeople.com and similar websites told me I was burning a lowly 200 calories per hour. Less than 1/2 a Starbucks scone. So I kept skipping yoga in favor of known, but less enjoyable, calorie burners.

Finally, Monday I got it together and headed to a 10 am yoga class. I thought it would be a good toning supplement to tennis and the dreadmill. I also decided to attempt to discover the real burn of hot hatha. With my big ol Polar watch strapped to my wrist and chest strap tucked under my sports bra I headed off. I recorded the calorie burn from both my walk to/from the yoga studio (about 1 mile) and the 1-hour class. The result? . . . .wait for it . . .

A Hell yeah! inspiring 739 calories. 587 calories from the class and 152 from the one-mile speed walk to/from my office and class. This beats tennis class by more than 200 calories for the exact same amount of time.

So guess where I’m headed today?

Staying Fit On The Road

I don’t know about you, but when traveling my exercise routine used to pretty much go out the window.  Combine that with a love – ok, obsession – with good (read decadent and calorie laden) food and a devil may care attitude toward calorie content when dining out and you have the potential for waistline disaster on the road. 

As the 1-2 pounds put on during a work trip or vacation don’t come off as easily anymore, I know I have to get more serious about exercising on the road.  To that end I’ve had two mainstays: hotel gyms and 24Hour Fitness. 

I bought my 24Hour Fitness membership back in the day when you could get the “any club” membership reasonably, and I generally only use it when traveling.  There’s a 24Hour by my office in Orange County and my office in Santa Rosa, making exercise on office visits possible, though not always probable.

When 24 Hour isn’t available (like in Indianapolis) – and sometimes even when it is – the hotel gym is my default.  Every one has a treadmill and that’s enough for me.

Yesterday, I slept in a bit too late and so headed to the hotel gym instead of 24Hour.  Every piece of cardio equipment was taken.  What?!  This is pretty much unheard of and given my time constraints put me in a serious jam.  I headed back to my room, figuring I would try to fit in a workout after dinner (yeah, right) and then I remembered the Shape Magazine Travelista iPhone app.

I read about the app in the magazine a month or so ago, paid the $2 fee, and downloaded it.  It then proceeded to remain on my phone unused.  The app contains 8 workouts including a “No-Machine Calorie Burner,” “Tube Toners” (for those smart enough to carry an exercise tube in their suitcase) and 3 “Hotel-Room Shape Up” routines. 

I chose “Hotel-Room Shape Up 1” expecting a mild routine of chair dips and lunges – the usual exercises one resorts to in a hotel room.  It kicked my butt.

The workout consisted of 3 circuits of 10-15 reps of 8 moves that together, target every main muscle group.  The standard chair dips, lunges, crunches and pushups are present, but there’s also some creative moves like triceps extensions with water bottles for weights and a one-leg plank that keeps you in position so long your arms start to wobble.  By the end of the second circuit my heart was pumping and I was starting to “glisten” (women never sweat).  By the end of the third and final circuit my arms were shaking.  This morning?  Sore, in all the right ways.

When I ended the workout, I tapped the “complete” button and discovered a nice little bonus feature.  The app tracks your time (30 mins 7 secs for my workout) and saves it for you with the workout name, time and date, so you can have an on-the-road exercise log. 

The Shape Travelista app is now a solid addition to my road warrior workout routine, adding in strength training in the convenience of any hotel room. 

What do you do to stay fit on the road?

It’s All About the Fundamentals

Sage words of advice for our Mariners, that.  But this is not about the Mariners and how they’ve lost 7 of the 8 games I’ve seen played at Safeco Field this year.  This is about how brushing up on the basics, or learning them in the first place can help take your yoga practice up, oh about 10 or 12 notches.

The yoga studio I go to just started offering a Power Vinyasa Fundamentals class once a week.  Having been to one, count it one, power vinyasa class and falling miserably behind pretty much the entire time, I knew that if I want to mix vinyasa into my yoga routine, I needed to get up on the basics.

While hatha, which I love, focuses on flexibility, vinyasa is driven by strength.  In hatha you hold a series of poses for a really long time, in vinyasa you power through the poses in a rushing river type flow.  If I wanted to keep up with the river I needed a guide.

So off to the fundamentals class I went.  The class was a mix of yoga newbies and frequent practitioners who wanted to work on their form.  For an hour and fifteen minutes the instructor – who bears a striking resemblance to Ewan McGregor, yum – demonstrated, explained and individually corrected every student in  every pose of sun salutation. 

The class was conducted in a manner similar to dance choreography, we would learn a step and then another and then add them together. 

About 75% of the way through class – and remember the heat is on at about 103 the entire time – I was chosen to demonstrate putting all the steps together while he coached me through and corrected my form, very slowly (I’m pretty sure I was picked because I happened to be in the middle of the room).  

What this means is I got to hold high plank for like, forever and then attempt to move into low plank (I went for the modification and put my knees down) and stay there.  It also means that I was a mass of cascading sweat while being adjusted.  And let me tell you, it is disconcerting to have a hot guy put his hands on you – in a purely professional manner of course – when you’re dripping with sweat. 

It was worth it though.  I walked out of class with a corrected warrior 1, 2 and chair position and full knowledge of the poses in sun salutation.  I also got to stare at eye candy for an over an hour – not a bad way to spend part of a Sunday morning.

The morning after class I woke up and soon discovered that those planks had taken their toll – my chest and arms were sore, as in having lifted weights sore even though no weights were involved.  But that’s ok, I worked it out at hot hatha that night.

Oatmeal Before Yoga Is Not A Good Idea

While still a yoga novice, I’ve practiced pilates for over a year, so I know the standard admonition not to eat anything 2 hours before class. 

Friday night I made plans to meet a friend at the 9 am Hot Hatha class Saturday morning.  Since I usually don’t get around to eating breakfast until 10 or 11 am – I would just eat after class, no need to wake early to eat something.  Saturday morning I woke at the unbelievable hour of 6:45 am even though I hadn’t fallen asleep until well after 2 am (I was reading a really good book and couldn’t put it down).  I awoke, ravenous.

Dilemma: To eat or not to eat?  (And yes, “that is the question” is running through my head right now.)  If I didn’t eat, I might not make it through the 1 1/2 hour class.  Plus, I was going to the Mariners’ game after yoga so I would be rushed after class showering and getting to the game making food impossible until 1:30-2:00 pm.  I decided to eat.

I had some oatmeal in the fridge that just needed to be microwaved.  Add some fruit, nuts, eat – no time at all, right?  I could be finished almost 2 hours before class, no worries.

Naturally, it didn’t work out that way. By the time I finished eating it was 8 am – 1 hour til class.  Still, I thought I was probably ok.

I was wrong I started class fine, moving through the opening forward folds, inhalations and eventually the more demanding standing poses.  By the time we reached dancer’s pose, however, my food was lodged in my chest.  It stayed there, making me queasy and uncomfortable throughout the remaining hour of class.  I shudder to think what might have happened if I hadn’t had at least that 1 hour to partially digest . . .

So today I’m eating my oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts 2+ hours before class.  I learn from my mistakes.  Well, some of them anyway 😉

Bookmark and Share

Further Adventures In Yoga

Over the past month hot hatha yoga has become a pretty regular part of my exercise routine as has the .80 mile walk to and from the yoga studio.  2-3 days a week, I meet Lucia at the corner between our offices and we hike through the urban landscape of downtown Seattle – past the Sheraton, Specialty’s, City Kitchen, the monorail, Westlake Center, til we arrive at our hour of hot, stretchy nirvana.   

The studio that the hot hatha class is in can fit 20 people comfortably, more at a push.  Yesterday there were easily 26 with the front row mostly populated by newbies.  Having been a rookie once myself, I commend anyone for trying out yoga.  I was a bit dismayed, however, when the 4 high school girls who wedged themselves in front of Lucia and me arranged themselves so they were directly blocking our line of vision to the mirror.  Ok, so they probably didn’t know any better right?  Maybe.   But when the instructor told the entire front row to shift so that the back row could see and even made room for them to do so and they didn’t move, not one bit, I became a bit annoyed.  Still, it’s yoga right?  Best time to calmly make the best of it. 

Not being able to see myself in the mirror, I also couldn’t avoid noticing the girl in front of me.  With the enthusiasm of youth and no less than 8 clanging bracelets, she flung herself into the poses, overextending on many and pretty much repeatedly falling out of the balancing poses 90% of the time.  I have to admit, it was pretty entertaining in a train wreck kind of way – you want to look away, but somehow you just can’t.  I’m sorry to say it didn’t help my personal practice, however, oh well.

After class and the so-needed shower, Lucia and I walked back toward our offices.  The lights pretty much dictate our route and last night they took us straight down 4th Ave through the Westlake “Park” area, a haven of high school kids who would otherwise be hanging out at the 7-11, skaters, street entertainers and the homeless.  While walking by a group of rowdy young men, one turned to me and said “Hey beautiful, wanna f**k?”  Seriously.  While we walked on and ignored such an oh so tempting offer, there was a part of me that wanted to say “How did you guess?  Absolutely.  Right here, unzip and show me what you’re working with.” Just to see what his reaction would be.  I’m guessing he would be pretty flummoxed, because I have serious doubts that such a lame come-on ever works.  

Lucia and I are heading to hot hatha again tonight and in June there’s a challenge to do 20-30 classes in the month of June.  It will be interesting to see what further adventures will come our way both in and on our way to/from class.  But, that’s what makes life interesting, right?

Discovering Waterfalls Just Outside of Portland

Silverton Falls

Silverton Falls

 Last Sunday, when I was in Portland visiting Jules, we opted for a little outdoor adventure.  A drive to Silverton (about 40 miles Southeast of Portland) to check out the antique stores, grab a bite to eat and hike Silverton Falls.  Yes, I said hike.

As I huff and puff at the slightest elevation change, Jules assured me that she heard the hike was really more of an “urban-style hike” aka flat and that lunching attire with tennies was appropriate.  She was wrong.Jim decided to join us and we headed off on our Silverton adventure.  First stop, the Falls.  There are 10, count them 10, waterfalls you can see if you do the entire 6.9 mile loop (which the trail map says takes 5 hours – what?!  That’s almost a 45 minute per mile pace).  We opted for the shorter 2.1 mile loop that included the North Falls, the Twin Falls and the Winter Falls.

Me and Jules at Waterfall No. 1 - North Falls

Me and Jules at Waterfall No. 1 - North Falls

The trail took us down into a canyon and right into view of waterfall No. 1 – North Falls.  We then proceeded around the back of North Falls via a half-cave that had bats, yes, bats.  As Jim and Jules nonchalantly strolled through bat-land, I hustled through the muddy path as fast as respectability demanded and tried to ignore the screech, screech, screech, of flying rodents.  Can you tell which of the 3 of us is not the nature girl?  Unless of course nature = cocktails on the beach. We then traversed down some more and stumbled upon Twin Falls. 

Twin Falls

Twin Falls

Then the upward climb began.  As it was hot, it was at this point that I really regretted my clothing choices.  Winter Falls (first photo) made me forget that momentarily.  But only momentarily 😉 

We hiked back to the car and got back on the road to the little main street of Silverton.  Once there, we made our mandatory first stop at the statue and mural devoted to Bobbie, the collie that in 1924 found its way home to Silverton from Indiana.

Me and Bobbie the Homing Pigeon, er Dog

Me and Bobbie the Homing Pigeon, er Dog

 After honoring Bobbie, we headed to the Creekside Grill for a well-deserved beer and some lunch on a patio over the creek.  I opted for a Baja Fish Taco – a deep-fried cod fillet tucked into a flour tortilla bulging with cabbage and tomatoes.  Yum.  Sometimes, there is just nothing like deep-fried goodness.  Jim opted for beer and the chips that came with my taco.  Jules went healthy, veggie burger style. 

After lunch, we took a stroll through town and checked out some of the antique stores (lots of pressed glass) and then it was time to hit the road back to Portland and then Seattle.

Why is it that weekends are always too, too short?
Bookmark and Share