Day 35 – Beat from boot camp

4 02 2010

Aaaarrrgh – so tired from boot camp tonight after a long day. It’s good for me, it’s good for me…I repeated with every push up. The two best parts of my day were getting my new running shoes from the UPS man and wearing work pants! My shoes are so clean and springy – gotta love that new shoe smell! I will need to rally to break them in for my 5-mile run tomorrow.

And the good pants news… As a freelance writer, I only have face-to-face meetings 6 or 7 times a year. So I’m usually working at home in PJs, yoga pants or jeans with holes. I had a lunch meeting today – the first meeting this year – so I had to pull out a pair of black, presentable pants. I have owned most pants in my wardrobe for many many years (too many to admit), and they have seen me through many phases of fitness — pre- and post-babies included.

I was thrilled to find that instead of sucking in my breath to close the button, there was a droop at my waist! The reward for a month of exercise, when I don’t think I’ve shed many pounds, but I’ve clearly changed my post-holiday shape.

The Classical Stretch goddess Miranda talks about this a lot – slimming muscles and re-shaping even if you’re not trying to lose weight. I’m not quite jumping into a bikini, but it feels like progress — enough to get me to boot camp anyway. And maybe inspiration to finally spring for some new black pants!


Day 14 – In search of serotonin

14 01 2010

Sometimes there are days when bad things happen around you and you have little control, yet you are affected. Today was one of those days. A day I would typically feel sorry for myself and skip exercising in the name of giving myself a break.

As I stared at my computer screen – totally distracted from work – I thought about what the kids’ PE teacher talked about last night. (See yesterday’s Fitter than a 5th grader blog.) About exercise increasing levels of serotonin to improve your mood in addition to your fitness. I know at a gut level (where 75% of your serotonin happens to be located) that I feel better when I run, but I searched for more on the topic. Here’s an excerpt from the Live Strong website (which has some fantastic info. on several topics):

“Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps move messages throughout the nervous system. This neurotransmitter performs many functions, including regulating mood, appetite and the sleep/wake cycle. Consuming certain foods helps stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain—and so does exercise.” (Full article at

I learned from another site that bananas and chocolate also have serotonin, so I had those in addition to Boot Camp. Suffice to say, I was not the star camper today. I modified almost every station and wasn’t giving 100% — feeling mentally exhausted. At the end of the day now, I’m glad I got SOME serotonin pumping or I would likely feel even worse.

Live Strong said that sunlight is one of the external factors that can increase serotonin, so now my whole life is making sense. I need sunshine and I need to run and continue my triathlon attempts!

It says: “Yoga, Pilates, weight training and stretching are fantastic exercises for strength, flexibility and stress management. However, aerobic exercise, including walking, running, biking, swimming (among others) seem to be the most effective at increasing serotonin synthesis in the brain.”

So it’s all chemical – and one that your body produces naturally provided you give it sunshine, chocolate and at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity.

Day 7 – Boot camp is not a vacation

7 01 2010

Patti is the mom of one of Zach’s best little friends. And she is the most fit person I know. She is my age, does Olmpic triathlons, has four kids and is a personal trainer in our neighborhood. I hadn’t been to one of her boot camps in about a year, so it seemed like a good indoor activity for a 5 degree evening. (Thanks Jo-Anna for being a good sport and coming along on the camping trip after already swimming today!)

I know I need strength training. Really I do. I have never been able to lift weights or do push ups. All of my favorite running blogs talk about the importance of strength for long term wellness and injury prevention. The good (?) thing about Patti Camp is that it forces me to do some weights, sit-ups, squats and other terrible things. The worst part is I immediately flash back to the Greenmont Elementary School gymnasium, where I was usually picked last for kickball teams, froze at the chin-up bar and played hookie on field day.

Patti has stations set up that you do for one minute each involving exercise balls, aerobic steps, and some very heavy things. The last 10 seconds of lifting a 12 lb. bar I just have to stop. Like that rope they made us climb in school. I just COULD NOT go more than a few feet and had to stop — much to my humiliation as the whole class watched from below. In reality I bet they weren’t even looking, but I think the embarrassment led to my destiny of individual sports. No pressure to face but my own.

So I did the best I could with Patti’s stations and will feel the pain in my arms and thighs in the a.m. for sure. Just in time to try my new Pilates class. I have no idea what to expect, but I know it includes breathing and stretching and that just HAS to be more relaxing than Boot Camp!