Gym Fashion

With the New Year’s Resolutioners this year came a flood of interesting gym fashion choices.   I see lots and lots of beer-related t-shirts, booty shorts, gigantic oversized converted painting clothes, spandex bike shorts, JEANS, polo shirts…pretty much everything.

Now, generally, I find there are lots and lots of people against the concept of having a dedicated gym wardrobe.  It’s the whole “why bother?  I’m WORKING OUT.”  mentality.  And, well, yes, you are working out.  I’m not going to go Stacy-and-Clinton and say “You need to be dressed perfectly all the time!  Fitted blazers and heels!”  Lord knows I go to Target in sweatpants at least once a week.  But, I will go out on a limb and offer the following observations.

  1. Wearing actual workout clothes leads to better workouts. I could not run as far as I do in a hot cotton t-shirt, or tennis shoes, or jeans.
  2. Wearing actual workout clothes is a confidence booster. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can at least fake it.  Fake it till you make it, the clothes make the man, and all that.
  3. Wearing actual workout clothes keeps you going to the gym. If you’ve got the stuff  specifically designated to working out in your drawer, and you see it every time you open it, you think about it more.  Andplusalso, I would not waste money by purchasing a workout wardrobe and wearing it once.
  4. Wearing actual workout clothes shows you progress better. For the first four or five months of my gym career, I wore old baggy pajama pants and a t-shirt.  It was totally demotivating because gyms have mirrors everywhere and, well, you can’t see your body changing under all that nonsense.  Once I got somewhat fitted clothing, I could SEE changes happening, and I felt better about myself.

Workout clothes don’t have to be expensive OR terribly revealing to get the job done.  My workout wardrobe is 85% from Target.

These sports bras are my favorite.

And I love their running tanks.

Which would work swimmingly well with some capris.

I also find a lot of great high quality workout clothes for cheap at TJ Maxx.

Anyway, the point is, I think wearing whatever you can find on hand is demotivating and not a great strategy for working out consistently.  Invest a little bit in yourself.  You’re worth it!

Do you have a workout wardrobe?  Why or why not?

I was right!

Well, last night I said that today’s goals were church, running, finish invitations, ironing, and a little bit of packing for Christmas…but that probably one of them wouldn’t get done!  I was right–we skipped church this morning.  Oops.

However, everything else on my list got accomplished without a hitch.  Hooray!

I started the morning out with a lighter breakfast and a run.  I did 3 miles around the neighborhood in 32 degree weather…not bad, but it was WINDY!  I also had assorted gear issues throughout the run, which was frustrating.

I was trying out a few new items and some old ones today.  I wore my new Target running tights, my new Zensah compression shirt (which I received from the company in exchange for a review–thanks, Zensah!), and my Spibelt, RoadID (review coming soon) and the usual shoes, socks, and gloves.

I know I posted a glowing review of SPIbelt awhile back, and I stand by that as of that time, but it’s only fair to inform you that in the last week or two I’ve really been having trouble with it riding and flipping around and generally being a pain in the butt.  I’m not sure if the elastic is stretching out, or what, but it’s been a wee bit annoying lately. I’m going to keep trying to adjust it, maybe let the elastic out a bit, and I’ll let you know.  I don’t think it helps that my inhaler is such a weird shape that won’t ever lay flat against my body.

I did very much like my new running tights.  They kept my legs nice and toasty.

I also really, really liked this new Zensah shirt.  I’ve been looking for something that would keep me nice and toasty, but still cool and well-ventilated, on colder runs.  It was odd wearing a compression shirt for the first time–it feels kind of like wearing pantyhose on your upper body? but I LOVED this shirt.  It was a weird sensation–I could feel that it was keeping some heat in to keep my upper body warm, but I simultaneously didn’t feel HOT or overheated, if that makes sense, and I was a little bit cool.  The fabric is super soft and stretchy, too, and it didn’t hold any stink in my post-run sniff.  My only beef with the shirt is that it did seem to ride up a bit and I had to pull it down a few times.  I’m already eyeing some of their other products–definitely give this one a try!

Then I went home and showered and finished. the. INVITATIONS.  I started out with the goal of making 100, but there were a few fallen soldiers along the way–pocketfolds didn’t line up correctly, I used one or two as experiments, et cetera.  So, 93 invitations are done, which means we have exactly enough to mail with not one to spare!

Our guest list currently is 206 people, but what with people living together and families and whatnot, we need 93 invites.  And they. are. done!  Time to move on to my next DIY projects: menus, programs, and lord knows what else.  I’m really a glutton for punishment, eh?  The final result:

The colors are much prettier in real life.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was pretty boring.  Ironing, bills, getting stuff together for Christmas, et cetera.  December is “Clean out the Fridge/Freezer/Pantry” month around here–we always try to eat down all our food stores so we can start fresh in the new year with new stuff, so it’s pretty bare!  I cleaned it down to the bare bones today–we’ll be eating some pretty random food on Monday and Tuesday!  I’m planning a big Costco trip when we get back from Christmas.  Fun!

Do you ever intentionally eat through your food stores?  When and why?

Manic Monday

This day has been kind of…all over the place.  I guess I’ll go chronologically.

I woke up this morning and on a whim decided to weigh myself.  In theory, three weeks ago I promise you I’d weigh in every Friday on the blog, but last Friday we were out of town so I didn’t.  Anyway, the last two times I’ve weighed myself I was 164.8 pounds.  This morning (and go figure, the Monday after Thanksgiving), I was 161.2, meaning somewhere in the last week and a half, I’ve lost 3.6 pounds.  Now, I know the scale fluctuates…but that is a pretty significant difference, so I hope it means at least a little something good.  I have been focusing on saying “no” and eating mindfully lately, so maybe that’s it.  Or, maybe my body wants more food?  Oh, who knows.

Then I got in the car.  My commute to work in the morning is half an hour, so I usually leave around 7:20 and get in the office around 7:50.  Well, a truck full of hydrochloric acid overturned on the bridge that connects me to work and suffice it to say, I didn’t get to work until 9:40 or so.  Worst.  Commute. Ever.  I had a few brief panic attacks, called T 3 times, and cried once.  (I’m a crier.  It’s a stress reaction.)

I sampled the Oikos strawberry at lunch, though, and that made me extremely happy.  I cannot think of a sophisticated way to describe this yogurt other than that it tastes like red gummi bears.  It is delicious.

Before stirring:

After stirring:


(Psst.  Don’t forget to enter my Oikos giveaway below!)

I worked all afternoon with a slight headache.  Since I couldn’t find the different Oikos flavors at my usual Super Target, I went to Hy-Vee yesterday.  Well, they have a MUCH better bar selection than my usual grocery store does.  And I went a little nuts.

Whoops.  At least bars don’t expire.

For my afternoon snack I chose a bar that combines two of my favorite things: almonds and coconut.  I am generally suspicious of bars that do not contain chocolate, but I figured I should give this one a try.  And oh my GOD am I glad I did.  This may skyrocket to the top 5 of my “favorite bars ever” list, which is a BIG DEAL.  It’s substantial and chewy and sweet but not TOO sweet.  Behold:

The only drawback is that these are pretty expensive…BUT, I think they’re sold at Starbucks, and I travel a lot on an expense account, so I know what I’ll be snacking on on the road now!

After my traffic nightmare, I needed a good workout.  I just wanted to run hard intervals for some reason, so I did.  Here’s the rundown (0% incline.  I get enough hills at home.):

  • 0-1:00: 5.5 mph
  • 1:00-2:00 6.0 mph
  • 2:00-3:00 6.5 mph
  • 3:00-4:00 7.0 mph
  • 4:00-5:00 7.5 mph
  • (Repeat above pattern 2 more times)
  • 15:00-16:00 5.0 mph
  • 16:00-17:00 6.0 mph
  • 17:00-18:00 6.2 mph
  • 18:00-19:00 6.5 mph
  • (Repeat the 6.0-6.5 pattern 2 more times)
  • 25:00-26:00 6.0 mph
  • 26:00-28:00 6.2 mph
  • 28:00-30:00 6.5 mph
  • Cool down

I don’t know why I don’t do intervals more often.  They make the time fly and I think they really do help with my speed.  It’s nice to run at an 8:00 pace and think, “hey, this isn’t so bad!”  For some reason, though, my shins were hurting a bit, which is weird because they didn’t hurt running outside this weekend.  Maybe something about the treadmill?

Anyway, by the time my workout had ended the traffic issue seemed to be resolved, although I did have to take an alternate route.  I came home to a lovely plate of roast chicken leftovers, plus cranberry sauce!

Love these little Christmas tree dishes.

What’s been your worst driving experience?

Candy and envelopes and biking (oh my!)

This post is full of random stuff that doesn’t really go together, so bear with me.  Thanks!
Yesterday after my race I went and did MORE shopping, including the envelopes for our invitations.  Yay!  They are a pearlized gold and I got them at Michael’s for 20% off.  Hooray!

They are much prettier in person–a very light, shimmery champagne color that perfectly matches the backing on our pocketfold.

Anyway, today was one of those days where I sat at my desk at 4 o’clock and thought, “Ugggh, I do not want to go to the gym.”  I have no excuse–weather is fine, I’m not sore from my race, I’m not sick, I don’t have a million things to do at home.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  And I KNEW that I SHOULD go because today is likely the only day all week I’ll make it to the gym.  Tomorrow after work I have to rush home and bake for Thanksgiving and get the mac and cheese ready to go and do laundry and pack my clothes and the dog supplies and whatnot.  (We’re leaving for the future in-laws’ house right after work on Wednesday, and it’s about a 4.5 hour drive.  Yuck.)

So, I went to the gym and started running.  And, oddly enough, my shins began to hurt right before I hit a mile?  Weird.  Mama didn’t raise no fool, so I followed a generally good rule: if it hurts, stop.  My legs hurt a lot yesterday after my race, and I don’t want to piss them off again, so I moved to the bike and biked 10 miles instead shin-pain free.  Exercise is exercise! I used to get so mad if I couldn’t run for one day and had to bike or swim because I was injured, but any kind of physical activity is great for you and one isn’t “better” than the other.

I used the super cool video spinner!  I really love this thing.  I want a REAL road bike, but this is pretty okay for now:

I also get to gaze out at a soccer field while I ride/run/whatever.  There is a pretty good view of the city lights, too, but I couldn’t really get it through the window.

My tentative workout schedule for the week is as follows:

  • Sunday: 5K (check!)
  • Today: 1 mile run, 10 mile bike
  • Tuesday: as much of a Jillian Michaels DVD as I can muster up the time for, maybe half an hour?
  • Wednesday: nada
  • Thursday: probably nothing except maybe a long dog walk
  • Friday: I may or may not try to go for a run while at the in-laws’.  I’m not familiar with their area, but they live on pretty deserted country roads so maybe I’ll give it a try.  I’m also a little self-conscious around them.  We’ll see.
  • Saturday: Oh, who knows.

In other news, today I wore my new glasses and a new cardigan to work and felt very smart and Tina Fey-like.  Behold:

Man, that’s an ugly bathroom.  Anyway, I’m not really an accessories girl, but I have to say, I really like glasses.  My initial intent was to wear contacts most days and just use the glasses as a backup, but now I think I might do a 50-50 split.  (I also got lots of compliments, which helps!)

This morning I re-filled my candy dish with seasonally appropriate candies.  I have to say, you all know I don’t get the fall flavor craze like most bloggers do, but if there is a winter flavor craze it is my favorite.  To me, winter and Christmas means pink peppermint ice cream, hot cocoa, slightly smashed Andes mints out of your stocking, sugar cookies with icing,  fondue, spaetzle, red wine, and coffee spiked with Bailey’s on Christmas morning.  (Yes, my family gets toasted while opening presents.  It’s awesome.)  And I like all those things very much.  Anyway, I bought Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses, thinking I wouldn’t like them because I don’t like white chocolate.  But I do.  Of course.  They are delicious and demonic, stupid things.  I also got cherry-flavored candy canes because they are much better than the regular ones.

Happily, today, I was able to practice moderation and only had two Kisses all day (about 50 calories!  Not bad!).  But they are GOOD, so consider yourself warned.

In totally unrelated news (again), do any of you baker folks have suggestions for my cookies?  I love the Cook’s Illustrated chocolate chip cookie recipe with browned butter, but they always flatten out super thin.  These are the only ones that survived–the rest had to be scraped down the disposal they were so thin.  What am I doing wrong?  They still taste great!  Help me out!

Don’t forget to enter my Thankful Tee Giveaway!  I’m cooking up another giveaway for a few weeks from now, this time for the athletes in the crowd…so stay tuned!

What flavors make you think of winter and the holidays?

Sucks to your ass-mar

Sucks to my ass-mar, indeed.

So, as you all know, I’ve been whining about shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing for the last six weeks or so.  It’s been worst when I’ve been in the cold, when I’ve been exercising, and early in the morning, and instead of getting better it’s been getting worse.   I has bad asthma as a child, but I haven’t had any symptoms since approximately 2000, so I was perplexed.

After waiting two weeks, I was finally able to get in to the doctor for an appointment.  Luckily, the doctor’s office was really nice and I didn’t even have time to check my Google reader on my phone before they called me in!

I explained to the doctor what had been going on, including that I had some serious fitness goals and that I’d been experiencing a severe decrease in performance ability.  She was really sweet and understanding, and listened to my lungs.  After stethoscoping me for about 30 seconds, she said, “Yup, you have uncontrolled asthma.  No doubt about it.”

Then I asked her the foremost question on my mind:  why? Why had it been gone for nine years but decide to come back?  She asked if anything had changed, and I told her we’d moved to the area in May so it was my first fall here.  (As a child, I was regularly in the ER for severe asthma attacks in the fall.)  She told me that basically, my body probably built immunities to my old climate and became less and less affected by it over time, but that the climate here is a lot different elevation-wise, allergen-wise, moisture-wise, and temperature-wise, and all those things probably explain why I’m suddenly having trouble again.

So, she wrote me two prescriptions, for Advair, a preventive medication, and Albuterol, a “rescue inhaler” that I’ll have to take with me when I exercise now.

asthma 001

She gave me a sample of the Advair to last me until my mail-order prescription comes in.

Honestly, I struggled with this a lot this afternoon.  I always thought I was “cured” or had “outgrown” my asthma.  I thought it was one of the things I’d beaten for good with my weight loss…but apparently not.  When I was a kid with asthma, I couldn’t even run one mile without wanting to die.  I avoided physical activity like the plague because it was so painful and scary to feel like I was being choked, and I knew I’d fail before I even started because of the simple fact that my lungs were weaker than everyone else’s.

And now I want to run a half marathon?  I must be crazy.  I want so badly to believe that I’m different than that wheezy chubby seven-year-old, but maybe I’m not as far removed as I thought I was.

I will do this, though.  I have something to prove, and I’m going to fight for it.   I’m going to be on top of my medications, and I’m going to go back to the doctor and be proactive if they’re not helping me enough. My mantra through this is going to be something along the lines of “let this be a challenge, not an excuse.”  I know in the long run, that when I cross that finish line, it will be even sweeter because I will have beaten one more thing working against me.

Any readers out there with asthma?  Words of advice?

Things Fitness Bloggers Like and I Don’t #3: Working Out

I have a confession.  I don’t really like working out all that much.  (ducks)

I hate confessing this, because it makes me feel like a slacker, and sometimes I accidentally do say that working out is my hobby or that I do like it.  But on the other hand, I feel like I NEED to confess this to tell all of you other gym-haters out there that hey, it’s okay, and explain to you my line of thinking.

When I was obese, I let this get the best of me.  I don’t like working out, so I didn’t.  Fine.  The consequence?  I bought larger pants and blamed everything on my boobs (nothing fits because my boobs are too big, which is awesome, right?).

When I decided I didn’t want to live my life that way anymore, I started going to the gym.  I didn’t really enjoy it so much, but I did it anyway.  And, naturally, the weight started coming off.

I don’t know when exactly I had this epiphany, but one day I realized, “Hey…I really hate scooping the cat litter.  But I do it anyway.  Why?”  And then I came to the conclusion that if I don’t clean the litter box, ever, the following will happen:

  • The cats will get angry and begin pooping wherever their tiny heart desires
  • The above will cause my dwelling to smell really bad
  • Nobody will want to come visit me anymore
  • I will be featured on one of those shows about people who are so lazy their house is condemned and saucy British women come to clean it up
In other words, negative consequences.  Because I am an adult, and I fear these things, I bear the temporary discomfort or inconvenience of scooping the cat litter.  In the long run, the tiny amount of time I invest each day in cat poop maintenance keeps my life a million times happier and healthier.

Then, my brain realized, “You know, working out is just one of those things.” And it CLICKED.  I don’t HAVE to love the gym.  I just have to realize that the consequences of not going to the gym (obesity, health problems, inability to wear bikinis) are so much worse than the half hour to an hour I spend there five days a week or so.

And while I don’t LOVE the act of working out, I do very much love wearing cute clothes from normal sized stores, and being able to do things like walk up a few flights of stairs without wanting to die, and not being afraid of being ridiculed in social situations.  Secondary effects, for me, are where it’s at.

Now, I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t like some things about working out, but again, most of them are not the workout itself.  When I ran my 8K on Sunday, I was cursing myself pretty much the whole way.  I’m not one of those people who really delights in the joy of running while it’s going on.  But afterwards, mentally, I felt great and accomplished.   I like that feeling.  I like being able to watch TV at the gym without guilt, and I like having time to listen to my favorite podcasts without interruption.  I like being able to tell people, “I’m running a half marathon in April.”  I don’t like the hard labor, necessarily, but I do it anyway, and I bask in the glow of the secondary effects.  I find fitness interesting in theory and in results, but not so much in practice.

So, for all of you out there who are like me, don’t be ashamed.  As long as you’re doing the exercise and moving to stay healthy, you don’t HAVE to love it!   It helps, but I just think that people are different and it’s okay to have different reasons for going to the gym.

What’s your position?  Love the gym, tolerate the gym, hate the gym?  Do you think it’s okay to not love working out as long as you do it anyway?

Incredible eggs

Phew.  Today FLEW by.  My boss was out yesterday (whoa, I have a boss now!) so it was kind of slow, but there was lots to do today!  But the important stuff first.  Lunch!

One of the things I was secretly mourning as my funemployment came to a close last week was the fact that I would no longer be able to eat eggs for lunch.  My standard lunch these days is a yogurt bowl (yogurt, frozen fruit, granola, peanut/almond butter) with either a turkey sandwich or an egg sandwich.  Then I remembered that my good buddy Susan at The Great Balancing Act makes egg “pillows” at work in the microwave.  I tweeted her asking for instructions, and she obliged.  The results?

eggs 001

eggs 002


It was delicious, I must say.  They didn’t taste weird or rubbery or anything!  I had the sandwich and the yogurt, ran an errand (which I’ll tell you all about in a minute) and then had some TJ’s trail mix.  I saved the apple for a mid-afternoon snack.

So, back to my errand.  In my quest to find a new workable routine with working 8-5 every day (not including the 30 minute commute each way) I realized that my new job also has the perk of being university staff.  Annnnd university staff can use the university gym.  I still have to pay, and I’m debating the switch overnight, but I think I’m going to cancel my current gym membership and pick up here.

How awesomely inspirational is this?  This is what they have above the door.  I took this as a great sign.

eggs 003

The pros of switching:

  • Convenience.  I won’t be able to work out there on weekends, because it’s so far from home, but it WILL be extraordinarily convenient 5 days a week.  (Okay, let’s not kid ourselves.  I won’t work out on Friday after work.  But at least I’ll be able to go 4 days a week, which gets a thumbs up in my book.)
  • Cost.  This set-up is $10 cheaper a month than my current gym.
  • Swimming!  I’ve missed swimming, and I would be able to use a gorgeous Olympic size pool there.
  • Sauna and steam room.  I’ve never tried them, but I bet they’ll feel awesome in the winter.
  • TVs on the cardio equipment that will sync with your iPod.  Cool!
  • Indoor/outdoor track to run on, should the treadmill bore me.
  • Nicer weight room
  • No annoyingly loud music on the speakers at all times
  • I could take a swim class!  (See the “goals” tab above.)
  • Racquetball/squash/basketball/volleyball courts, should my crippling uncoordination issues ever resolve themselves

The cons?

  • Not convenient on weekends/holidays.
  • I would have to pay extra for classes like yoga.  They’re about $50 for 7 weeks, and there isn’t a big selection at good times.
  • No personal training (not that I’ve ever done this anyway)
  • Would be working out with lots of hormonal college students

(I didn’t take pictures of the gym because I had an actual tour with tour guide.  If I join, I will.)  I think I’m going to pull the trigger and join unless T brings up any good objections tonight.

What do you think?  Am I forgetting to check anything out, gym-wise, that I should?