Typically I am not one to regularly look back over the past and reassess things for the future. It always sounds good in theory, but in my world the reality is that I usually just plow ahead, hoping for change in areas that need it… and just as typically doing the same things with the same results. However, I think this year calls for something different. So I will try to view the last year, especially in terms of health and fitness, a little more analytically, to see if I can improve on things in 2013. My post today will look back…and tomorrow I will look ahead. I updated my workouts this morning and took the time to really inspect last year’s fitness regimen. There were a few things I noticed….some good, some not so good. I’ll start with the good…
1. The first thing I saw was that I cut back on running last year. I didn’t do a marathon in the fall and so my training wasn’t geared towards long distance or speed. I chalk this up as good thing since I still struggle with hamstring and hip issues, which are exacerbated with speedwork and distances longer than 10 miles. Although a break from distance training didn’t cause my hip and hamstring frustrations to end , it did allow me to maintain running without further injury and hopefully for some healing to occur.
2. I focused on my core and on creating strength by using my own “power”. Prior to 2012 I did P90X and my own version of a weight routine on a fairly regular basis. While I gained strength that way…I also felt like I was neglecting my core…and because I didn’t follow the P90X workout the way it is designed, I got a little lazy and did only the DVD’s that I liked (Shoulders and Arms!). Last year I did a lot more barre classes which are core-oriented but which also build strength from the inside-out, emphasizing small, isolated movements. In addition I became more creative with my own quick and dirty workouts from home. We took a small room which had previously been used for a kids bonus room and devoted it to fitness, moving the treadmill and exercise bike in there along with some free weights. I like the set up better (I was doing it in my closet before) and I find that I take my home workouts more seriously.
3. I started to pay more attention to my abs. After nine children and an obviously weakened pelvic floor, I had banned many ab exercises like sit-ups because it was compromising to the pelvic floor muscles. Unfortunately though I wasn’t making up for that with enough other exercises to strengthen my abdominal muscles and so I was becoming softer and softer in my middle. Last year I refocused my energy on building up my abs again. I found that by pulling up on the pelvic floor muscle (imagine doing a kegel) first, I could do some partial crunches that didn’t compromise those muscles. I also added some small twists to the sides so that I could build my obliques as well. Sticking with the tried and true plank and push-ups that I love ( I rarely leave those out of a workout), I think I am slowly getting stronger in my stomach area and so far my “ab focus” seems to be helping. One important note, however… I am proud to say I will never have six pack abs! I have happily decided that the soft and pliable skin, which I am sure will always remain on my belly, is my trophy for having nine kids and so I wear it with pride!
Now for some of the not so good things…
1. Without a marathon to train for last year, I felt a little unfocused. While in some ways it was a good thing, I would like to find an event for 2013 to strive for. I am thinking of something different than a marathon. While I would definately like to try my hand at a triathalon again, and will sign up for one or two this spring, I’m really up for a unique experience. Maybe it’ll be a Great American Mud Run ! Anyone ever tried one of those? I am up for suggestions and would love to hear about some crazy running/adventure races you have done.
2. I have a hamstring and hip soreness that has become increasingly more painful and rest doesn’t necessarily make a difference (in fact sitting for long periods actually exacerbates it). I had been working with a P.T. on a fairly regular basis since the Marine Corps Marathon in 2011, but last year stopped doing it because I just got busy and frankly insurance only pays to a point! However, I know that my plagued hamstring and hip aren’t going to get much better on their own. So I will have to renew my efforts with the foam roller. Much cheaper than a sports massage, the foam roller really does help. Here’s what USA Triathalon says about foam rollers:
“Getting a regular massage is something a lot of us know we should do, but don’t. Foam rolling is an inexpensive way to provide self massage. It’s not as good as a “hands-on” massage from a licensed massage therapist, but proper utilization of a foam roller to break up adhesions in the muscle tissue and/or fascia can help you recover faster and keep your muscles ready to train. In layman’s terms, breaking up the adhesions in the soft tissue aids in decreasing trigger points from forming and brings blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow will bring nutrients and assist in repairing damaged muscle that your last workout may have caused.”
3. Nutrition wasn’t nearly the focus it should have been. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in the early part of last year (February). After dealing with the initial shock of hearing that James had stage IV throat cancer, we found out all we could about diet and how it can help with treatments and eventually with prevention of cancer. We loaded up on nutrition books and bought a very expensive VitaMix to make smoothies. At health food stores we were stereotypical “rookies”, spending tons of money on supplements and lots of “green stuff”. While very well-intentioned, our efforts became somewhat futile for James, who wasn’t able to drink the smoothies after about the second week of treatment (the burns in his throat prevented him from having any fruit which is acidic in nature). We continued with the smoothies for the rest of the family, but the cancer treatment diet had to be side-lined while we just focused on getting any food (mostly crepe-like pancakes) into James’ system. He did take a number of supplements during treatment until he was unable to swallow them.
James was placed in the “remission” category a few months ago and we are extremely grateful. I hope that 2013 will bring him renewed strength and that as a family we can redouble our efforts to become healthier eaters (more on this in tomorrow’s post).
That is a quick look back over fitness and health in 2012…for a look ahead at 2013…check back at 9 Kid Fitness tomorrow. In the meantime have a happy, safe and healthy New Year’s Eve!