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WTF Wednesday: The Super-Secret VIP Gym

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Way back in the day, I used to hate the new year’s resolvers who crowd gyms after January 1. During law school (when I started working out) the gym would fill with tiny girls who didn’t have two fat cells to rub together from January 1 until spring break. At the Oak Park Athletic Club, they used to have a complimentary valet because the small parking lot would fill up with cars until as late as February. That was nuts.

I’ve mellowed with age. I don’t hate the resolvers any more. Although I’m no health or fitness professional, I think it’s super awesome when anybody starts working out and I appreciate the effort. Seriously. This is totally dorky and will make me sound like a freak, but I like people I see at the gym (as long as they’re not totally annoying, which is a subject for another day and doesn’t happen very often — protip: don’t blow your nose in gym towels). Even though we never speak, if I see you running on the treadmill every time I’m running on the treadmill, I think you’re pretty cool.

So yay rah let’s all sing gym kumbaya and get that shit out of our systems so I can admit that I do sometimes get a tiny bit annoyed when the gym gets super crowded for a while in January. I suppose that’s bitchy but maybe somewhat understandable, too. I get a little tense if there’s any chance of someone coming between me and an open treadmill or if someone is hogging the leg extension machine. (I know machines are lame and don’t use many of them but I’ve found that if I don’t do the leg extension machine I’m more likely to have knee pain and then if I do the leg extension machine I also have to do the seated leg curl machine for balance. Also I’d rather cheer for Tim Tebow than do squats. I hate squats.)

A few years ago, I came up with the idea of The Super-Secret VIP Gym. (Clearly, it was such a great idea many gyms have implemented the concept since then.) The Super-Secret VIP Gym is a gym within a regular gym. The trick is that you can access it only after you’ve established yourself as a regular of the regular gym. Now that Foursquare exists, this would be easy. You might have to check in (No cheating!) at the gym at least X times a week for at least X weeks to unlock The Super-Secret VIP Gym Badge. The badge would, as you might guess, allow you to access The Super-Secret VIP Gym. Only other regulars would be in there with you, so it would be like old times or, well, December.

This wouldn’t be too hard to do, space allowing, of course. Maybe there’s a vacant storefront or former restaurant near your gym, or maybe The Super-Secret VIP Gym could take over the stupid yoga studio for two months or so. (Just kidding about the yoga studio, although is this the right time to tell you I’ve never done yoga in my life? My theory is that you either like weightlifting or you like yoga, and I love weightlifting.)

Anyway, I hope your workouts, if you do them, are going well and you’re having an awesome time and kicking ass and all that good stuff. I won’t really be annoyed to see you at the gym. Seriously.

Written by Tracy

January 4th, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Posted in and life,Working out

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WTF Wednesday: I like the treadmill.

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I like the treadmill.Here are some options for running:

a) run on a treadmill
b) run outside when the weather is nice
c) run outside when the weather is okay
d) run outside when the weather is bad

Without question, I would choose option a almost every time, and maybe option b once in a while.

Apparently it’s popular to refer to the treadmill as the “dreadmill,” but whatever. Haters gonna hate. I prefer running on a treadmill. I like running where it’s always a comfortable temperature. I can control my speed. I have somewhere to put my water and iPhone so I don’t have to carry them. I can listen to music and watch television (my gym has tvs on almost all the cardio equipment).

This might be weird for someone with ADHD, but I need as much sensory input as possible while running. I like to listen to awesome music (All Day is the best) and if possible watch something on tv that involves people engaging in athletic pursuits. Parks and trees and wildlife are swell and everything, but running outside, even in a gorgeous place in a beautiful city, bores the hell out of me.

I’m not the hardy “My people are from the North!” cold lover I used to be and I hate running outside if it’s even a little chilly (which now to me is anything south of 60 — wuss!). I hate the feeling of sharply inhaling cold air. And the wardrobe malfunctions are the worst. If I have to wear a jacket while running because I’m such a delicate flower I can’t handle the cold, my shirt will ride up until it’s all wedged right under my boobs. This is supremely annoying. I need reverse suspenders or something. Or a bodysuit. That’s horrifying. And due to having no ass, I have a hard time with pants because they try to fall off the whole time I’m running.

When I’m inside on the treadmill, I can wear my running skirt (they’re the best) and a shirt and be happy and entertained and comfortable. I don’t love running, but this makes it almost pleasant.

Speaking of running, I’ve improved quite a bit since I last mentioned it. My “long” (always in quotes because my long runs are laughable next to people who run marathons and stuff) runs are up to 60 minutes, which is how long I work out at a time so I’m happy with that. I’ve gone as far as 6.3 miles in that time, but usually come in somewhere between 6.2 and 6.25. In an ideal world, I do that twice a week. I also do a shorter (sometimes faster) run followed by the elliptical once a week and lift weights for 60 minutes twice a week. So those are my usual 5 weekly workouts.

Also, and not to get all product pimp-y, (and I haven’t been compensated in any way for saying this), the following things have greatly improved my running happiness recently:

  • Reebok RealFlex running shoes
  • Enell Sports Bra
  • eating lunch for breakfast (especially if it’s at all fatty, like leftover pizza) and breakfast for lunch (cereal) (for early evening runs)
  • Tums (I like the Ultra 1000 Assorted Berries variety) (taken shortly before running).

I still get runner’s tummy sometimes, but it’s less common when I’m careful about what I eat and don’t, say, load up on cookies for lunch if I’m going to run that evening. Cookies are for after running.

I don’t think I’ll ever love running or be an awesome, super-fast runner, but I’m pretty happy with where I am right now. It’s definitely the best workout I’ve ever done, so I plan to stick with it, on the treadmill of course.

Written by Tracy

December 14th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Posted in and life,Working out

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Fitting in Workouts

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I saw a comment on the internet the other day from someone looking for blogs written by moms of young kids who work full time (not as bloggers or in fitness) and work out and try to eat healthy food. Nobody knew of any and I thought, hey, I don’t really blog about those things, but that’s me!

I’m not going to blog about my workouts all the time because I don’t find it a very interesting subject and I’m sure you wouldn’t either. That said, I do log everything on dailymile, and you can spy on my workouts by clicking the widget (at right on the sidebar) or here. (Please feel free to add me as a friend over there! I’m kind of lonely!)

Here's a bad picture of

Clearly, I don't waste time trying to look good while working out.

Anyway, I figured I’d share my general tips for fitting workouts into the busy schedule you have when you’re a working mom. Here are my top 4:

1. Make workouts a priority.

I’m probably a little obsessive about this. I work out 5 days a week and each workout takes an hour. Right now, I have a pretty good routine going. I know which days I’m going to work out and what I’m doing for each workout. On days I’m in the office, I go directly to the gym after work. (I even bring my gym bag to my office and change there. I got into the habit of changing in my office when I was pregnant and felt weird changing in the locker room, and the habit stuck. It’s also good because I read somewhere (I don’t know whether this is true but it stuck with me) that it’s bad to leave running shoes in your car because temperature extremes can damage them.) On days I work from home and go to the gym, I’m ready to run out the door the second Ben gets home. Sunday mornings, I go about an hour after waking up (I love my Sunday morning workouts and never have a hard time getting to the gym for those).

I almost never skip workouts for any reason, including illness (I have to feel really, really awful or be like coughing all over the place) or social engagements. That’s weird, isn’t it? The thing is, I’ve been working out for so long and it’s so automatic for me I feel terrible (in an “I’m missing something really important” way, not a guilty way) if I miss a workout unless I can make it up later in the week. My guess is that the automatic thing will happen for most people who stick with a workout routine. It might take a few years, but eventually you’ll get to the point where you’re someone who works out. At that point, you don’t have to drag yourself to the gym — going to the gym is just what you do.

2. Have a partner who does half the childcare and household work.

This is a good idea in general, at least if you’re someone like me who thinks that, assuming an equal outside-the-home workload, household duties should be equally shared by partners.

The benefit to being broke-ass hippies who don’t make any money is that neither Ben nor I work long hours. He gets off work pretty early and picks up Soren from daycare or comes home to take over baby duty so I can go to the gym. More often than not, he makes a delicious homemade dinner while I’m at the gym (it helps that he likes to cook). It’s pretty sweet. He knows how important my workouts are to me so he does what he can to make them happen.

3. Eliminate or limit as many obstacles between you and your workouts as possible.

I mentioned routine above. To tell you the truth, I don’t love routines. I get bored with them. That said, the good thing about having an established workout routine is that it becomes automatic (apparently “automatic” is my theme today). The less you have to think about your workouts, the better. For example, I don’t waste much time psyching myself up to run on one of my cardio days. I know that if it’s Monday, it’s “long run” day and I’ll go to the gym; get on a treadmill; tune the tv to ESPN; start some music; and run my “long” distance, which currently is 5.7 miles.

Of course, if you’re feeling stifled by your routine, don’t be afraid to break out of it once in a while. When I’m sick of the gym (it does happen), I’ll skip a Friday and go for a Saturday morning run outside with Ben, Soren, and Peaches instead.

One of the biggest obstacles to getting to your workout is your home. When I lived in Chicago and went home before going to the gym, sometimes I never got to the gym. I’d be all oh I’m going to have a snack oh I can’t work out now I just ate oh I better take a nap. Next thing it was “too late” and I never went to the gym. Lame! Going straight from the office to the gym eliminates the obstacle of home and its seductive food and naps. If you’re starting off at home, it’s good to have a set time at which you’ll work out so you don’t have to think about it. Now, I make sure I’m ready to go to the gym when Ben gets home. That way I know that, well, when Ben gets home, I’m going to the gym. You don’t want to sit around all day thinking about when you’re going to the gym (or when you’re working out at home or whatever). Just pick a time and do it. (I hate to get all Nike commercial, but they were onto something.) Eliminate how much thinking you have to do before it happens.

Also, if you go to a gym, make sure it’s one you really like and convenient. Your gym should never be an excuse for not going to the gym.

4. Always remember that working out is one of the best and most important things you can do.

Fortunately for me, I was born without the guilt gene and the concept of mommy guilt is lost on me. I’ve never felt guilty or bad about the time I spend working out. Yes, it’s time away from my kid. Yes, it probably could qualify as selfish. You know what? I don’t give a shit. My workouts keep me relatively happy, sane, and in decent shape. Hell, I’m at that age where terrible radio commercials tell you that it’s almost impossible to lose weight and I’m at what I refer to as my “yay rah happy weight,” which is 20-25 pounds less than I weighed when I got pregnant. I’m running longer and faster than ever and I feel fantastic most of the time with limited aches and/or pains once in a while. Being healthy is very important — not just for me but also for my kid, who I hope will be stuck with having me around for a long, long time even though I was all “advanced maternal age” when he was born.

I hope this is helpful and I don’t sound like a humorless workout freak! Have a great workout!

Written by Tracy

August 23rd, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Posted in and life,Working out

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Photo Friday (sort of)

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This made me LOLThis is not even funny but it made me do one of those things where I’m walking by myself and I start laughing. How often does that happen to you? It usually hits me when I’m at or around the gym. Tonight, I was leaving the gym after running a speedy (for me) 5.7 miles (57:01, which I know is slow for actual running-type people, who I suppose are referred to as “runners,” but hey, I’m a terrible runner and that right there is groundbreaking speed at that distance).

I misread Ben’s message as saying “Did u get us dessert ;) ” and I was all, what, why would I get dessert? I was at work and now I’m just finishing my run at the gym. Where’s dessert supposed to happen?

Then I thought he was specifically asking not only whether I got dessert but also whether I somehow procured a “Mexican cookie like thing and donut looking something or other.” At that point, I decided he must be high because WTF, dude, that’s just weird. Then I wondered if somebody delivered a Mexican cookie like thing and donut looking something or other to our house and whether that would be good (mmmm dessert?) or bad (sabotage?). Then when he was getting all boisterous about Mexican desserts :) and yum pastries!!!! I realized that I misread his first message and he was saying he got dessert, not asking whether I got dessert. Then it all made sense and I realized how dumb I was but shit, I just ran a bunch and I had that endorphin buzz going on, where you’re all, “Duuuuuude,” and you want to just roll over and go to bed but you have to wash your hands, get your stuff from your locker, leave the gym, walk through the building, start laughing while you’re by yourself and hope nobody notices you, get in your car, drive home, ignore the peeps blowin’ up your phone because you’re totally not going to txt n drive, arrive at home where your child is in a good mood even though it’s toddler witching hour, manage to squeeze in a shower before dinner, stuff yourself with the world’s most incredible fake-meat tacos in the entire world (Ben’s inspiration for these is El Burrito Loco in Joliet, IL) complete with garden tomato and awesome homemade salsa, have a little nibble of the Mexican cookie like thing (delicately sweet with a subtle cinnamon flavor), clean up, hang out with your child and wrestling German dogs, put your child to bed, put some diapers in the wash, sit your ass on the couch and slap up a “Photo Friday” like you usually do on Fridays when you’re way too lazy to write even something this stupid, maybe watch some baseball, and eventually enjoy the Mexican cookie like thing and donut looking something or other. Only after all that can you just roll over and go to bed.

Obviously, right now I’m sitting my ass on the couch and slapping up a “Photo Friday (sort of),” maybe watching some baseball, and looking forward to enjoying the Mexican cookie like thing and donut looking something or other. Mmmmmm donut looking something or others.


*Note: Those smiley faces in my post freak me the hell out, but not enough for me to figure out how to make them go away.

Update: The donut looking something or other was insane mad deliciousness.

Written by Tracy

August 12th, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Posted in and life,Working out

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tulipsI am totally that asshole who is super-excited about summer this year. It’s weird. I’m not even dreading the heat, which is remarkable (especially when you consider that the air conditioning in my car, like the heat, works at best 45% of the time). I’ll take face-melting car heat when it also gives me the chance to be barefoot or in sandals every second I’m not working out. Naked feet! Woohoo!

Speaking of working out, I’m going on a run with everybody in our family who goes on runs tomorrow morning, which will be, groundbreakingly, my third run and second outdoor (non-treadmill) run of the week (if all goes well, I’ll log 12.84 miles this week, which is a super lame distance to be kind of proud of logging in a week but I’m a supa dupa lame wussy runner so I’ll take it). In addition to weirdly digging summer, I’m really digging running right now. It’s fan-freaking-tastic, to tell you the truth.

Written by Tracy

June 3rd, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Increasing the Awesome in 2011

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Song: UFO (Van She Tech Remix) by Sneaky Sound System (This is on my Ultimate 2011 Workout Mix — get it now!)
In an effort to make 2011 even more awesome, I’m going to commit to two things I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

1. I’m going to (really) start doing volunteer work on a regular basis.

Over the years, my attempts at volunteer work have not gone well.

First, I volunteered with a large animal shelter in Chicago. This was at a time in life when I thought I might want to become a veterinarian one day. (I know, right? Had I met myself?) I’ve told you about this before, but It was a bad sign when I was completely traumatized by the training program. (I’ve never denied being a special, delicate flower.) In my defense, the training program involved watching a video of animals being euthanized. I’m not even kidding. It also included really stupid people, like a guy who said he had his dog impregnated so his kids could witness the miracle of birth (and I guess later the miracle of death when the puppies didn’t find homes) or the woman who didn’t want her cat because he didn’t match her new couch. I only made it through the video by not actually looking at the screen. I went home and cried for hours.

I soldiered on, though, and returned to fulfill my volunteer duties in their veterinary clinic. The first day, I had to take a cat to the euthanasia room. I never went back.

Not learning my lesson, several years later I volunteered at an animal shelter in Oak Park. This time, I didn’t have to stare into the abyss of animal death, which was good. Eventually, though, I fell in love with a cat, as I am wont to do. She was older than most of the cats and painfully shy. I figured it was unlikely anybody would want the old, shy cat who hides all the time, so I would adopt her. Unfortunately, due to Oak Park’s draconian laws, I was prohibited from having more than two cats in a condominium unit and I already had two cats; therefore, I could not adopt the old, shy cat. So, I did what any crazy cat lady in training would do. I devised an elaborate kitty-laundering scheme, whereby a friend adopted the cat, employing a vast network of strip clubs and waste-removal businesses, and gave her to me. I then realized that the longer I volunteered with cats, the more cats I would have and, therefore, I should stop volunteering with cats. (I later discovered that the cats find you, anyway, but that’s not relevant to this story.)

I also attempted sorority volunteer work (tragic) and feeding and caring for a feral cat colony (involves cats) (duh). I looked into becoming a court-appointed special advocate for children (required a very large time commitment). I thought about inventing my own charitable organization/radical plan for world improvement (started strong but fizzled out) (ADHD).

Here in 2011, I have a dream about putting these failures behind me and finally becoming a productive, volunteering member of our society so I can make the world a better place (gosh darn it) and be a good example for my son when he’s old enough to know what a good example is (which, based on my track record, requires starting now so by the time he’s old enough to know what a good example is I’ve maybe found something I’ll stick with for more than a minute). I have a plan that doesn’t involve cats, potential tragedy, a very large time commitment, or an unusually strong work ethic. I’ll provide an update within the next month (I’m afraid too many details now would doom me to failure).

A little better

Evidence: I am a terrible runner.

2. I’m going to run a half marathon (probably this one).

I’m a terrible runner. I’m embarrassingly slow. Sometimes after running, I feel sick (it’s usually not the runner’s trots — it feels like food poisoning but just disappears after, at most, a few hours). Still, I can’t give it up, so I figure I might as well make it a real challenge.

I’m going to do a modified version of this training program, which I’ll post here as soon as I put it together. It will be longer than 12 weeks and will take into account my workout preferences (for example, I don’t do cardio/running on the same day as weights). I also plan to do most of my training on the treadmill, because I really like running on the treadmill better than running outside (I’m weird). My “long” runs now are 5 miles, so I have a lot of distance to conquer, but it’ll be fun (or at least good for me). My only goals are to run the whole time and finish.

I think Ben’s going to do it, too. It’s just too bad we can’t find a half marathon we can run with a stroller, so Soren won’t be able to come with us. (One race said babies can ride in backpacks for free. Oh yeah! I want to carry 30 pounds of child while running 13.1 miles! Yeah! Maybe if this were the Amazing Race!)
Why am I telling you this? Not because it’s remotely interesting, obviously. I’m telling you this because, by putting it out there, I’m going to look like (more of) an asshole (than usual) if I flake. You’re keeping me accountable, internet.

What are you doing to increase the awesome in 2011?

Written by Tracy

January 17th, 2011 at 9:41 pm

HBP Ultimate 2011 Workout Mix

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Here is my latest workout playlist. It’s 40 songs and 2.3 hours, which is way longer than I work out in a day, but this means you get two playlists for the price of one or can skip songs you’re not feeling (not that you won’t be feeling any of these songs).

Here is a pdf of the playlist (the songs are in the right order). For the next few days, I’ll have all the songs available here, but I don’t really know what I’m doing with this stuff so it might not work. The songs are not in the right order there and I think you’ll have to sign up for a Dropbox account, but it’s free and Dropbox is awesome.

Sorry I’m so janky! I have a migraine and aspirin tummy.

Written by Tracy

January 2nd, 2011 at 6:12 pm