Softball Season Has Begun!

It’s softball season, and Kara and I are off to a pretty awesome start.  I shouldn’t jinx it, I guess.  Both Kara and I play for two different co-ed softball leagues.  One is at work, with a bunch of scientists, engineers, and occasionally military people in the league.  The season for this league hasn’t started yet, but the league is very, very casual.  Our team usually makes a point of bringing lots of beer and often BBQing during the game.  All players are welcome — we’ve been known to introduce international friends to America’s Favorite Pastime. We have a great time, and it’s a group of really close friends.

But the other league we play on is much more competitive.  Frankly, I like it a bit more for a couple of reasons (haha, this post could be controversial, depending on who reads it):

  1. We have a great captain, who is also an excellent coach.  He is direct, but kind in his suggestions, and I consider him a good friend.  There are a few things he’s said to me that I repeat as mantras in my head throughout the game. He has really helped me improve, especially as a fielder.
  2. The team is consistent.  The same people usually show up every week.  We know each other, and we know our strengths (and weaknesses).
  3. Uh, we win a lot, but not all the time.  Last year, we were the league champions!  That was awesome.  This year, we’re also doing well, so far.  Our current record is 2 wins, 0 losses, 1 tie.  It can’t be denied — playing for a winning team is more fun.
2011 League Champions!

In our first game of the season, Kara kicked some serious ass.  Not only was she fielding really well, but she hit an amazing triple in the 3rd inning.   I was so impressed.  I wish I could hit as well as Kara!  I’m working on it!

Our game last week was awesome for me.  I was at second, and had three (THREE!!) double plays.  That was my first game with ANY double plays, and somehow I got three of them.  And I also got on base with two of my hits, one of which was an RBI.  I can’t complain.  I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the highlight of my season.

And speaking of softball/baseball, we (the Beau and I, with some friends) got to go see the Giants beat the Padres this weekend at AT&T park.  We had a great time, although it was just about the shortest game I’ve ever been to.  Lincecum pitched well, and had the hit of the game, in my opinion (breaking 6 innings with no hits, whew), and left-fielder Melky Cabrera made 3 (more?) solid outs.  Nice!  I enjoy MLB so much more now than I did before, just from having some experience on the field.

Go Giants.  Kara’s not going to like this — she’s a Tigers fan.  And really, I’m supposed to be a Red Sox fan.  Hm.

Anyway, I’ll be working in a few new softball-related exercises into some upcoming workouts.  Keep an eye out for those!  Happy Monday!



Easy (?) Leg Day, 4/27/2012

WOW.  That was a long hiatus.  Last week, I was in Atlanta for a conference all week.  I gained 5 lbs, then promptly lost 4 about two days after returning.  Conference food and snacks are EVIL.  But I’m glad it came off so fast.  I’ve been giving all of the credit to my existing muscles for metabolizing things quickly, because lord knows I haven’t been exercising.  Catching up at work has been a time-sink, plus I still feel like the new home needs lots of work all the time, so I have not kept the gym at the top of my priorities. SHAME!!  Shame, Amanda!  SHAME!

Anyway, since it’s been over two weeks since I did any weight-lifting, I’m going to opt for a lighter leg day than usual.  I don’t want to be sore for too long.  Just want to wake my muscles up, burn some calories, and start the getting back on track.  =)   Actually, this is pretty normal for me — the swinging back and forth.  Check out the awesome graphic I made, to describe my annual behaviors for you.  I crack myself up.  =PNote that I’m usually a lot better about keeping a stable diet (as long as you don’t count after 11pm, haha!), than I am about exercising.  Anyway, without further ado, here is the workout that begins the up-slope of that little dip around mid-April.

Circuit 1 (four times)

  • goblet squats, 30-lb dumbbell (x10)
  • side-to-side bench hops with 4 levels (x30)
  • windshield wiper abs, on floor (x5 each side)

Circuit 2 (four times)

  • wide-leg deadlifts, two 20-lb dumbbells (x15)
  • side shuffles to the right (about 20 ft), 2 burpees, side shuffles to the left, 2 burpees (x2)
  • abs: legs up (perpendicular to floor), touch toes, legs down, sit up and touch toes (x10)

Circuit 3 (four times)

  • calf raises, two 12-lb dumbbells (x20)
  • walking lunges, no additional weight, (x20)
  • side-V abs (x10 each side)

It doesn’t look that easy.  Oops?  Oh well, we’ll see how it goes!


Upper Body Day 4/17/12

Hi Everyone,

I definitely fell out of the blogosphere there for a week or two with the move and work.  Thankfully I have Amanda to keep me motivated and working out 🙂  She’s at a conference on the wast coast for the week, so I will do my best to work up a sweat without her.  This work out is slightly different from the ones we’ve doing lately – I have lower weight and higher reps.  I wanted to focus more on powering through this, keeping good form and finish in a short time period (45min). Here we go:

Ciruit One
20 Lat pull downs
20 chest flies on ball
20 over head press

Circuit two
15 Pull ups
15 cable wood chop from the bottom

20 Chest presses with 45 bar only.

Circuit Three
15 push ups
20 Tri Press with small bar + 5lb?

15 Plank with toes taps
I got this one from Body Rock, but couldn’t find the video link. You are in plank with your feet up on a step or chair. You lower one foot down and touch the floor then return it to the step. Repeat on the other side and that’s one rep.

Did you feel the burn?


My Favorite Workout Toys, Part 1: Heart Rate Monitor

I have a Polar F4 heart rate monitor that I love to use when I’m working out, or doing something active.  This one was given to me a few years ago by my sister — she rocks.   It comes with a chest strap, which is a great consistent monitor of my heart rate.  I’ve heard that the watches with sensors on the wrist are kind of in-and-out, and don’t sense your pulse as reliably.

If you’re not working out, you can use the watch as a…. well, a watch.  And it will continue to monitor your heart rate and calorie burn all day, as long as you’re wearing the chest strap.  It’s easy to press the button on the right to toggle back and forth, seeing where you are for the day (or for your workout) in terms of calorie burn, and then back to the clock mode.  I typically only wear it when I’m working out.  I try to keep my heart rate above 130 or 140 bpm, and below 200.  I tend to have a really high heart rate, though, so those numbers are going to be a bit ridiculous for most people.  When I’m running or busting my ass pretty hard, my HR is around 170 bpm.  When I’m really maxing out, like during a short interval cardio blast, it’s not uncommon for me to top out around 200 bpm.  Usually, if I see my monitor at 200, though, I try to take it easy for 30 seconds or so.  I feel a bit nervous seeing my HR that high!  I’ve had my heart checked out pretty thoroughly, so don’t worry about me.  I’m cleared for hard work.  😉

Sometimes, if I have a longer-term goal for some serious weight loss (e.g. lose lots of weight slowly, or lose a little bit fast), I’ll wear it for a few days (all day) to remind me to take stairs, and maybe walk a bit faster around hallways at work.  I have been caught a few times doing air squats in the lab while waiting for an experiment to finish. The best thing is that number at the top right of the display…  it shows you how many calories (1 kcal = 1 kilocalorie = 1 nutritional calorie) you’ve burnt since you started the watch for the day.  Seriously, it’s like a video game to me.  I feel like Mario, trying to reach extra gold coins all day.  For some reason, I find it pretty fun.

cha-ching! If I really jumped high to collect magic coins all day, I'd probably burn a ton of calories. I don't know how Mario and Luigi stay so round! Must be the pasta!

For a 1-1.5 hour workout (like our Leg/Upper Body Days), I try to aim for burning at least 500 calories.  This means I’m not taking a lot of breaks to catch my breath.  Just go go go.  Typically the set-up time between circuits gives me plenty of (sometimes too much) time to let my heart slow down.  If I keep the pace up and the intensity high, my heartrate stays elevated (100-120 bpm) for another two hours or so after exercise.

If I wear the monitor all day, I definitely want to burn at least 2000 calories.  Typically, if I’ve been diligent enough to wear the monitor during the day, I’m shooting for weight loss, which also means I’m shooting for a calorie deficit.  Those days, I aim to consume between 1500-1800 calories, depending on my ambition and the random temptations I encounter at work.  😉

What about you?  Do you have any cool fitness toys that keep you motivated?  There are lots of websites/apps (e.g. Fitocracy comes up a lot) that friends have recommended to me, but I haven’t gotten into them, really.  I guess I’m lazy about inputting my reps and weights, when I’ve already taken the time to just write it all down to design the workout.  I don’t want to fill out additional forms.  Maybe I’m a baby.  Convince me.


Leg Day, 4/10/2012

Feeling queasy today, but working out anyway.  Going to try not to be a wuss.   I won’t lie though, I’m definitely dreading it.  It’ll be better once I’m there with my three awesome workout buddies (Kara, Ella, and Doha).   Woop!  woooo-wooo…..  wehhh.   😉

Circuit 1 (four times)

  • reverse lunges off of step+3 levels, with two 15-lb kettlebells (x8 each leg, alternating optional)
  • side V-crunches (x10 each side)

  • sumo squats with 25-lb plate (x15)

Circuit 2 (four times)

  • walking side-squats with resistance bands (x10 each direction)

Demonstrated by a very cheesey instructor!

  • hip adduction (inner thigh) machine (x10, then hold for 10 seconds)
  • Star sit-ups (x10)

Circuit 3 (4 times)

  • saddlebag busters, like this post but just the part with the small leg circles (x10 small circles, in each direction, on each leg)
  • front squats (replace with back squats unless you’re familiar/comfortable with the form), 45-55lbs (x10)
  • scissor kicks on the end of a bench.  (x10 each leg) switch your legs quickly, and then hold them for a moment in each scissor position.


Upper Body Day, 4/6/2012

My hamstrings are still KILLING ME from Tuesday’s workout, so this Upper Body Day has a little less cardio/legs than it normally would.  Normally, I would keep a lot of leg stuff in there, just to keep my heartrate at a good clip, but my legs are dying.  I will definitely be working in a good long stretch at the end of today’s workout!

You might notice I’ve kept it a bit basic.  Two reasons.  First, I didn’t have as much time as usual to get all creative today.  That’s ok though — it’s good to know I can come up with a pretty decent set of circuits on the fly. And second, it’s Friday!  I want to kill this workout, go home to shower and eat, then out for an awesome show at our local comedy club!

Circuit 1 (four times)

  • bench press, 65lbs (x10)
  • wide-grip lat pulls, 60 lbs? (x15)
Squeeze your shoulder blades together, biotch!
  • inclined sit-ups with arms above your head (x15)

Circuit 2 (four times)

  • squat + shoulder press, two 10-lb dumbbells (x10)
  • body ball pikes (x10)
  • hold a superman pose — lower back (30s)
  • plank (30 s)

Circuit 3 (four times)

  • jumping pull-ups (x6)
  • tricep dips (x15)
Keep your legs straight for added intensity, like this awesome chick!
  • lateral raises (shoulders), two 8-lb dumbbells (x10)


P.S. Everyone wish Kara good luck!  She’s moving tomorrow — with a little help from some friends.  😉

Full Body Day, 4/3/2012

YAY! I’m excited to work out today.  It will just be Kara and I tonight, so I’m sure we’ll blast through everything quickly, as usual.  I talked to my sister on the phone this morning, and she told me about a tough new exercise she’s done a few times with her awesome trainer, Lisa.  I found a good video online, so we’ll try it today! It’s called a cable push-pull, and here’s how it goes (skip to 0:44):

It looks like the key is keeping your abs engaged the whole time, and controlling the movement so you’re not letting the cables jerk you around.  Stay strong and stable.  We’ll see how it goes!

And with that, here’s the plan for our Full Body Tuesday!

Circuit 1 (four times)

  • Good mornings, 45 lbs (x15)
  • Hamstring falls with partner (x10)  (edit: we had three people — odd number, so we did deadlifts instead)
  • Cable push-pull, not sure of weight yet (x10 each side) (edit: we did 20 lbs.  Could do 30 lbs next time, I think.)

Circuit 2 (four times)

  • goblet squats, one 30-lb dumbbell (x10)

  • back extension + reverse flye with two 10-lb dumbells (x10)
  • 400-m run outside (woo! outside!)  edit: this was hard, and killed me for the last circuit

Circuit 3 (four times)

  • isolated bicep curls, seated, 10 lbs (x10, both arms at once)
  • alternating jump lunges (mother-effer) (x30) (edit: ended up doing a variation on Russian lunges, to cut the cardio down a bit)
  • upright rows, 35 lbs (x15)

Ready to kill it today — I think I’m a bit inspired by my morning weigh-in.  Since my scale has been packed away for the move, I haven’t been keeping up with my weight numbers.  I thought I could see that I was trimming down a bit, but I wasn’t sure.  Turns out I lost ~4 pounds since a week and a half ago!  I guess it’s all the extra cardio at night from carrying boxes.  I’ve been eating pretty well too (except for pizza and beer on moving day), so I want to keep it up!

Post-workout update:  This was a really tough workout, at least for me.  Running always kills me.  Also, I probably didn’t have a lot to eat beforehand, so that might have affected my energy level.  So you’ll see that we cut back on the cardio in the third circuit to compensate for how wiped out we (or just I?) got in the second circuit.