Tabata, you’re a crazy SOB

This morning I woke up at 5:09 am, also known as too-goddam-early, to get to the gym by 6 am.

Actually, let me digress here to tell you how I manage this, because it’s no easy feat to actually be ready to workout in the gym BY 6 am.

  1. I prepare all my food for the next day the night before sometimes including breakfast and put it in tupperware in the fridge and have a bag set out to put it in in the morning, no hassle.
  2. If I don’t have a pre-made breakfast I opt for something super simple, this morning was a protein shake consisting of: 1 c. almond milk (unsweetened), 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/2 c. frozen raspberries and 1/2 tbsp. organic pure cocoa blended in my Magic Bullet – therefore I eliminate some mess.
  3. I shower at night and then after the gym, no morning showering.
  4. I choose my work clothes and put them in my bag (including work shoes) the night before.
  5. I get into my gym clothes as soon as I get up so I don’t have to change at the gym and sometimes have this as well as my running shoes laid out the night before.

Knowing that all I have to do if get up, get dressed, put the pre-made food in a bag, eat and go makes it a little more bearable to go. Plus, I trained with a trainer this morning, so I was accountable to someone and couldn’t just not show up. This is also key, if you can get a friend to meet you for morning workouts or have someone hold you accountable, you will be way more likely to go.

Ok, so I left my house at 5:37 (that’s right, less than 30 minutes from bed to out the door, boo-ya) and was actually at the gym in time to get in a 10 minute warm-up before hand. This was partially because the gym was freezing and walking on an incline slightly relieved the horrible cold. The trainer I am working with loves high intensity workout and training “like an athlete” which is awesome, but kind of hard to muster at too-goddam-ealy o’clock. Still, it’s makes you feel like a champion when you are done. This morning’s workout consisted of 4 rounds of Tabata training (crazy guy that he was) and 1 quick crossfit inspired WOD called Fran. FYI Tabata training consists of high intensity (all out) movements for 20 seconds, then 10 seconds rest repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes, which is one Tabata round. It went like this:

The too-goddam-early workout

Round one Tabata: Rowing… at level 9, I managed to get 870 meters in my 4 minutes

3 minutes walking to rest

Round two Tabata: Rowing… at level 9 again, I only managed to get 830 meters in my 4 minutes this time because my legs were on fire!

3 minutes walking to rest

Round three Tabata: Hill running… 6.0 mph at a 10% incline, I probably could have gone faster, but this was about the incline not the speed

2 minutes just standing on the treadmill while it’s still running

Round four Tabata: Hill running… 6.0 mph at a 11% incline for the first 4 sets, then 12% incline for the last 4. There is apparently a HUGE difference in the effort between 11% and 12%, because I was toast on 12%

3 minutes walking before giving a run down of what Fran is and demonstrating the form and such which probably took an additional 2 minutes

Fran WOD

21 “thusters” with 55 lbs, 21 chin-ups with a little jump – I still had to break in the middle of the chins even with the jump because it was damned hard

Repeat with 15 reps – broke the chins in 2, did 8, pause, 7

Repeat with 9 reps – did everything continuously

* Thrusters are kind of a half squat combined with a push press using an olympic bar, so you start holding the bar against your chest, elbows up, do a half squat and on the way up push the bar above your head, bringing it back to your shoulders as you squat again.

New lunch creations and results from a 2 workout day

Yesterday as I said I would, I did 2 workouts, ok more like 1.5 workouts. The morning workout was great. I did a 25 minute interval run and 4 rounds of a 3 workout ab workout. My abs were sore all day and I felt great about the whole thing. BUT I was then in training all day which normally means getting out if work early but instead we stayed until 5:30 and I had not packed enough food. My Afternoon workout in which I had planned shoulders and 30 mins of cardio was definitely impacted, I instead did 15 minutes of cardio and the full shoulder workout which left me with an awesome pump. The workout(s) went like this:

Morning fasted cardio and abs

Interval run at 1 minute speed changes as follows

Minute Speed in MPH
1 3.0
2 3.5
3 4.0
4 5.0
5 6.0
6 7.0
7 4.0
8 5.0
9 6.0
10 7.5
11 4.0
12 5.0
13 6.5
14 7.5
15 4.0
16 5.0
17 6.5
18 8.0
19 4.0
20 5.5
21 7.0
22 8.5
23 4.0
24 3.5
25 3.0

Then I did 4 rounds of:

  • Regular crunches x 20
  • Side plank with hip ups x 12 each side
  • Bicycle x 30 nice and slow

Afternoon shoulder workout

  • 5 minute warm up on treadmill
  • Superset 1 (4 rounds) – A) Seated dumbbell military press x 15        B) Upright rows x 15
  • Superset 2 (4 rounds) – A) Lateral dumbbell raises x 15        B) Bent over rear deltoid raises x 12
  • 1 set of 200 pulses with arms at shoulder level and moving in and out from in front to beside the body (easy at first, gets may harder by the end and gives a lot of blood flow to the area)
  • 1 more set of dumbbell lateral raises x 30 reps
  • 15 minutes on the stairmaster

I was exhausted when I got home and made a dismally depressing dinner of some turkey meatloaf muffins and raw veggies, but I did decide to boiled some eggs and that is what the basis for my awesome lunch today is!

Egg/avo/bacon in lettuce wraps


Ingredients (for 1 serving):

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 3 lettuce “wraps” or leaves
  • 2-3 slices cooked bacon
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Mash the avocado in a bowl and season with salt and pepper (I made a double batch so used half an avocado and 4 eggs)
  2. Grate the hard-boiled eggs with a cheese grater (or chop them up) and mix this in with the avocado
  3. distribute the mixture onto your lettuce wraps and top with the bacon.

Nutritional Info: Cals – 295      Carbs – 4 g     Fat – 23 g (ya I know that’s crazy)    Protein – 17 g

This was absolutely delicious, very high fat, but low-ish calories and very low carb so this is not for the fat-phobic people out there OR people who think sodium is bad (which it isn’t as I explain here). You could also decrease the fat and increase the protein by using 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites (for this just slice the hard-boiled eggs in half and remove the yolk before grating) and decrease the amount of avocado used, or just replace the bacon with some turkey or something, but bacon is delicious, so really think hard before doing that! 😉 Also, fat is not bad for you anyways, well processed bacon fat is, but pasture raised bacon isn’t, avocado fat is amazing for your skin, and egg yolks are where all the vitamins are stored. So just keep the portion size reasonable and enjoy the satiety and deliciousness of the 3 different sources of fat in this meal.

Just in case you are wondering, my brain seems to be functioning a little better today. I managed to wake up at 5:30 am and get in a 50 minute stairmaster session with a nice long stretch before work and will be doing a leg workout after work. I am not dragging the same way I was yesterday and I think we are ending sooner so hopefully the afternoon workout will go better than yesterday’s.

As an aside, I have been reading Mark’s Daily Apple recently and am really liking his approach to paleo living. I might give it a try after my competition. Any thoughts?

Barefoot running

I couldn’t get the picture I took to upload, but I bought this exact style.

Yesterday I did a leg workout in my brand new Vibram five finger shoes. For those of you who don’t know, they look like this:

They are these funky glove-like shoes that allow full mobility of your foot and simulate barefoot running with a little extra protection on the sole and some added warmth. My dad made fun of me saying this was just the next yuppy fad… which it is, but it also makes sense. After all, running shoes have only been around for about 40 years in their current cushy incarnation. Humans have been running barefoot forever.

I did some research and found that barefoot running has some really positive effects on your body such as, improved balance and stability, decreased back and foot pain, decreased injury from sports and running, and improved foot posture.

One of the main differences between running shoes and barefoot runners is that a typical running shoe has a 12mm difference from heel to toe vs. 2 mm in the Vibrams. Having your foot on an incline surrounded by cushion allows you to “heel strike” (land with your heel running heel to toe) each stride. This is hard on your knees and Achilles tendon and will eventually wear down your heel. When you run barefoot (or close to) you can’t do this (it will hurt) and you instead land on the ball of your foot. This landing allows all the ligaments, tendons and bones in the arch and toes to cushion the impact and spring back instead of having the full impact carried through your knees and into your hips.

Alright, well in theory this sounds fabulous. A little more reading told me that trying them out would cause pain the first few times and I should work up to running in them slowly… that sounds familiar. That’s the same approach to working out I recommend, so that makes sense to me. So I decided to take the plunge.

I did a 5 min run on the treadmill to warm up (after fighting with my feet to get all the toes in the right holes) and OMG it was so much fun! I wasn’t heel striking and because of that it kind of felt like I was bouncing each stride. I could definitely see how that would be easier on your body. I can also tell you that my calves are the most sore they have been in a while because of that action.

Next up was my leg workout. A major reason I wanted to try these is because during leg workouts I like to do exercises that involve balance and if you are barefoot you can engage different muscles/more muscles than you can in shoes, however going barefoot in a gym is frowned upon and potentially dangerous. I did some variations on deadlifts which I noticed I was more stable during; my weight was definitely more in the centre of my foot. Then I did some one-legged exercises. This is where I noticed the most difference. I was able to grip and adjust to keep my balance, I spread my toes to improve my stability, and muscles were firing left right and centre that I normally don’t feel at all! Success – this is what I was after!

On to cardio, I opted for the elliptical as it is low impact and might help me get used to the Vibrams. I noticed almost no difference on this as you don’t really move your feet much. I have always liked the elliptical because it was easy on my joint so one of the main benefits of the Vibrams is already happening on this machine.

This morning I ran to the gym in my normal shoes because my calves and feet were kind of sore and I thought I’d let them recover before I tried the Vibrams again. The whole run I was so aware of how much cushion was around my feet and when I was heel striking and when I wasn’t. Yesterday’s short experience really showed me a different way to use my feet and I loved it.

I will be trying them again soon with different types of cardio and I will let you know how it goes.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post; yes, I did go to the gym this morning. I woke up groggily at 5:39 (after one snooze), ate some breakfast and ran to the gym. I did shoulders and abs, which is my favourite split to work and was back at my house by 7:15. Goal achieved!

Morning Workouts FTW!

So that last post was supposed to be posted last night, here is the one that is actually meant for today… enjoy!

I am now a little less than 7 weeks from my competition and starting to freak out because my weight is not dropping as fast as I had hoped… that and it’s my birthday this weekend and I want to be able to enjoy it. So the next 5 days have to be perfect. In my humble opinion, the key to perfection is planning. This week I will be in the gym every day either doing cardio or weights and I will be eating within my calorie range every day with at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.

These are variations of Jamie Eason’s Protein Bars using spelt and gluten free flours.

So how does one manage this when your company throws you on a job out in Mississauga last minute with no gym in sight? One might stay up until midnight on a Sunday after being at the cottage and cook 12 mini turkey meatloaf muffins along with 18 protein muffins with a plan to make pre baked breakfast frittata’s in muffin tins and a whack load of chicken breasts for salads tonight. My kitchen was a mess and will be again! But I now have a week’s worth of healthy meals that will save me time in the mornings so I can get to the gym.

That is step 2 of the plan. Go to the gym in the mornings! I failed this morning due to the midnight baking marathon, and will therefore have to go tonight after braving the traffic in Mississauga. I did this all last winter, so I know I have it in me. A key ingredient in this is having made coffee the night before and refrigerating it so that you can chug it on the way to the gym without burning your mouth.  Mmmm iced coffee.

There is something terribly rewarding about morning workouts. You can all call me crazy if you want to, but knowing that I have already done more most people will do all day before they have even woken up makes me feel like a champ. Sometimes a grumpy champ as my boyfriend can attest to, but that solves itself about 30 minutes into the workout when I am feeling like superwoman. Seriously… give it a try. Better yet, convince your friend to meet you at the gym, that way you can’t bail! Knowing you will be letting someone else down if you don’t get up will make sure those comfy covers don’t get the best of you.

If you can’t force a friend into waking up at the crack of dawn with you, here are some tips to make sure that you follow through with your plan:

  1. Tell people – This may be the point of this post, if I put this out in the ether I will feel mighty silly if I don’t get up and go tomorrow morning. Same thing applies for you, tell someone you know you will talk to the next day that you planned an early morning sweat session, and when they ask how it when make sure you can honestly say… awesome!
  2. Pre-prep – Prepare your workout clothes, work outfit, breakfast, lunch, work bag, whatever you need, the night before. If you only have to brush your teeth, out on the cloths that you have already laid out and scarf some breakfast (please eat btw), it will seem much less difficult to achieve.
  3. Write it down – this can be as little as writing in your calendar that you will go to the gym at 7am, or as much as writing out a specific timeline from alarm going off to leaving the house. Writing things down has a way of making them more real and more permanent.
  4. Be positive – instead of thinking about how awful leaving your warm blankets will be, think instead about how amazing you will feel after you actually achieve your first morning workout, or for in my case, I like to think about those little endorphins that will be crashing through my system making me feel oh so happy.

Whatever it takes to get you out of bed, it can be done! Trust me though, if you are a bus person, morning workouts are the way to go. If you leave your workouts for after work so much can get in the way: you might have to stay late, friends might want to catch a movie, you realize you have no food and need to go grocery shopping (this happens to me frequently). What is going to happen in the morning? NOTHING! Work isn’t going to unexpectedly call you in early, mornings are routine and routine is exactly what you need in order to stick to a workout plan.

Morning workouts for the win!