Catching my breath.

When you wake up not sure what day it is, I think that’s a sure sign you’re about to recover from a drunken stupor.  However, in my case it’s a sure sign that I’ve definitely overdone the piling of my plate.

Call me a glutton for punishment.  At the end of the day I actually think I love what I’m doing.  I don’t know how much I will love doing it once October 5 rolls around, at which time one more thing will be added to my plate, which may tip it over completely because it pertains directly to grad school.  However, right now I’m surviving.

So I decided to take a job as a tutor at a nearby college.  This is where I had completed all my science prerequisites for grad school.  This is where I also, somewhat on a whim, decided to enroll into the culinary program because I figured it would give me something challenging yet not too science-y to do as I complete the last few quarters of grad school.  And it’s related to the whole nutrition/wellness/healthy interventions thing I’m hoping to focus on when I’m set free from academia.

My former Anatomy and Physiology professor caught wind of my presence on campus and the next thing I knew, I was hired as a peer tutor to lead guided study groups for her classes.  The first few weeks have been a bear, as I’m trying to get used to office dynamics (politics) while reacquainting myself with the human body.  I am a little surprised that it has all come back with relative ease.

However, I’m still trying to figure out the office dynamics part, which will likely never happen because unlike the “me” of my 20s when I cared about what people think, the “me” of my 40s doesn’t really care.  Or really, I probably just don’t have time.  Along with A&P, I also do math drop ins, and I have a handful of appointments related to everything from Biomedical Terminology to Developmental Psychology.  Granted, I do think the drop ins and appointments have more to do with showing students study techniques and ways they can organize the giant heap of information they have to learn.  At least I hope so because I don’t have that much brain capacity.

In addition to all of this, I was unexpectedly hired to teach Bodypump at a nearby gym, an opportunity I jumped at immediately because in all my 9+ years of teaching group fitness classes, I have never taught any Les Mills program within such close proximity to my house.  The only problem is, the times they need me conflict with the tutoring gig, except for every other Saturday.  I’ll take it.

So in a nutshell, this is my current laundry list.  And I am only writing this all out to remind myself to not do this ever again:

  1. Grad school (online/independent study)- Advanced research study with children and weight perception/diabetes prevention.  With a group, thankfully.
  2. Tutoring – A&P guided study groups, math drop ins, appointments.
  3. Culinary Arts – Intro to Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management (online).
  4. Group Fitness – Bodypump and Bodyjam.  Nothing more.  Nope.  Just say NO.  Seriously.  Even though it’s fun and the participants are awesome.
  5. Marathon training – Chicago Marathon, 10/8.
  6. Grad school – Research Methods in Nutrition, begins 10/5.
  7. Parenting – which I am trying not to suck at.
  8. Oh yeah, ACSM personal training certification, which is totally on the back burner even though I’ve been “attending” (sleeping through) the weekly webinar.

Somewhere in the mix is my husband, injured so he hasn’t been running with me.  But he gladly does the laundry, makes me coffee, and carries all 200 pounds of textbooks, gym gear, and/or culinary tools out to the car for me, depending on where I’m heading off to.  Next semester that list will be reduced by more than 150%.  Seriously.

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“Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?”

That’s the song that comes to mind, every Monday evening around 7 p.m., half way through teaching PoundFit when I start to get really, really hangry hungry.  I see stars, not to be mistaken for the disco lights from the party-in-the-box.  And then there are visions of food, most often peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

My summer teaching schedule, coupled with my summer marathon training schedule, has often left me deprivation mode, especially on Monday nights when I’m still recovering from the weekend miles and I’m faced with what I call “the trifecta”:  Bodypump, PoundFit, CXWorx.  I’ve tried subbing out my Sunday classes, tweaking the diet, drinking more water, consuming a protein shake (or two) in between classes, during classes, after classes.  Nothing seemed to work quite right.  The worst end result from all of this tweaking has been insatiable hunger on my rest days and an overly snug sports bra, two of the worst things that can happen at the same time, short of an injury, in my opinion.

A fellow instructor introduced me to Beachbody’s Performance products, and I immediately had to give it a try.  Just several months ago, I learned a valuable lesson about Shakeology.  Despite the fact that most of my fitness friends were devout followers of this product, I refused to believe the hype.  For years I let it go in one ear and out the other, until one day I decided to just give it a try because I could not deny the fact that the people who preached the benefits of this product were also in excellent shape, with abs to prove it.  Sure enough, I was instantly hooked.  Whenever my monthly supply runs out before the new shipment arrives, I literally go into a depression.  I’m sure most of it is that I’m a creature of habit and when one daily occurring event doesn’t happen (for example, my daily dose of Shakeology), my whole entire week is thrown completely off.

But getting back to the Performance line, I had to order the complete package:  pre-workout, hydrate, post-workout recovery, creatine, and overnight recovery.  Starting Saturday I’ve had the opportunity to test the full package since very day has involved quite a bit of exercise:

Saturday:  BodyCombat

Sunday:  10 mile training run, BodyPump

Monday:  Bodypump, PoundFit, CXWorx

Needless to say, Tuesdays I’m about as useful as anybody would be in the supine position.  Any attempt at being productive is curtailed by muscle soreness and frequent foraging into the fridge for food.  My mantra at the beginning of the week:  Just get through Tuesday.  Tuesdays are supposed to be easy because I just teach one Bodypump class in the evening, which gives me plenty of time to recover.  But Tuesdays are such a bear.

I have been telling  myself that my fatigue has more to do with lack of sleep and nutrition.  And okay, I’ll admit that teaching as much Bodypump as I do is not recommended, especially when there is marathon training involved.  However, I am often so wired Monday night that I toss and turn, often waking at 3 a.m. with little more than 4-5 hours of sleep under my belt.  Usually I’m still in recovery mode from Sunday, so the giant coffee I consume before my Monday classes is likely the culprit, but I didn’t know of any other way to get my game face on, and I refuse to teach a class in a tired, monotone voice.

Since I am new to all these workout supplements, I can say right off the bat that I’m mostly happy about a few things:  Sunday felt easy.  I thought we still had 5 miles to go until my husband informed me we were already at 7.84 miles.  Bodypump was uneventful that afternoon, and I didn’t notice any overwhelming soreness in my legs Monday morning.  Monday evening, the pre-workout gave me a ton of energy and focus from 5:30 p.m. until I said my final gym goodnights at 8:15 p.m.  I did not once get hungry or see stars last night even though I ate my usual food earlier in the day, except for the slice of whole wheat bread and peanut butter before class.  Admittedly, I was so busy trying to get all the supplements ready that I forgot about it.  The post workout shake kept me from gnawing on someone’s arm on the way home, which I’m sure my kids were thankful for because every time I pick them up from their dad’s house after dinner, they carry with them the aroma of whatever they ate, and it always smells so delicious.  I have yet to determine if the overnight recovery shake has worked its magic, since soreness often creeps up on me later on in the day.  However, nothing gave me an upset stomach AND I was able to fall asleep, and stay asleep.  That in itself is the best part of it.

I will continue to use these products since I’m curious to see how they help in the long term.  But for now I’m going to relish my Tuesday and be acutely aware of tiredness or soreness later on today.  Even though I love everything I have tried from Beachbody, the science student in me is always the skeptic.  I have to see how it goes before I can sing its praises to everyone I meet.  But I’m hopeful for this one, for the sake of my hangriness.

When it hurts to sneeze.

This kickboxing circuit class.  It’s going to kick ass.  I know this every time I sneeze, cough, or burp because all those muscles that are apparently used to do these simple bodily functions scream in pain every.single.time.

It’s been two days since my test run, with my only intention to see if the combinations flowed smoothly and, most importantly, to make sure the intervals app I downloaded on my iPhone worked without crashing.  I’ve realized through the years of teaching that anything related to technology can go wrong at any time, so the latter will require some crossing of fingers and a back up in the form of my old school iPod Classic, which has it’s own story of death and resurrection that I will save for another blog entry.

At least now I know what sorts of pain the participants might be feeling a week from today, and hopefully it’s the type of pain that will keep them coming back for more.  Not that I have a no-pain-no-gain mantra by any means, but at this particular gym I know the members have been seeking a class that isn’t Zumba or anything related to music and choreography.  It’s bare bones, simple, but intense, which will add some nice variety to the evening schedule.  Followed by CXWorx, a 30-minute core conditioning class, we will all have awesome core muscles in a few weeks’ time.  Honestly, can it get any better?

Well, I can answer that more honestly in a couple more days after I get a much needed massage from the hubby and the soreness subsides.  Until then, all those muscles.  They seriously hate me right now.

Circus, I mean, Circuits

Next week I’ll be adding a kickboxing circuit class to my schedule.  It would be nice to say that I’ll be a participant this time around, but let’s face it, I never seem to have the time (or the motivation) to head to the gym to do my own thing, unless it’s squeezing in a few miles on the dreadmill for marathon training.  And even then I feel like I’m sometimes doing it under duress, like if I don’t adhere to the training schedule then I will be doomed in 15 weeks so it has to be done, no matter how miserable it feels.

I have to blame the mind tricks.  The first couple of miles are awkward and slow, and I ask myself why I can’t just skip today and do this tomorrow.  Then in the last one-tenth of a mile I’m in a euphoric state because it’s another few miles in the books and my runner’s high suddenly outshines my old, lazy, unmotivated self.  Yes, I must do this again and it will feel awesome, it really will!

Which leads me to the question, once again:  How did I get myself into this?

Oh that’s right.  It was winter.  Training through the summer in preparation for a fall race sounded like a great idea at the time.  Most days it still sounds like a great idea because it does the body good to do something different every so often.  But some days I am so tired.  The knees hurt more this year than last year and the previous years.  I’m getting old.

Or maybe I just need to stop teaching so many classes.

Which leads me to another question:  How did I end up teaching a kickboxing circuit class?

Simply because I really wanted to teach CXWorx, a core conditioning class, right after it.  Currently I only teach it during the summer and it was my chance to teach it on a regular basis.  It’s only 30 minutes long, but does a phenomenal job with functional core strength, which is needed for every day things such as picking up children, gardening, lugging groceries up two flights of stairs, and of course, teaching one too many group fitness classes and marathon training.

But before I start to convince myself that I’m not a kickboxing anything, I must be reminded that it was my first group fitness class many, many years ago, when I was too scared to join a gym and a girlfriend decided during her bachelorette party that she would like all of us to attend a class as part of the festivities.  It became part of my workout even after I started teaching classes, though I never personally taught it.  I know the technical basics, which is all I need to see how this class fares the first time around.

If there is anything I learned as an instructor, it’s to teach in the essence of the program.  I know that’s totally Les Mills thing, which is engrained in all of us when we go to the initial training for any of their phenomenal programs.  It simply means do not show up to an RPM (spin) class wearing leotards and a tutu.  Needless to say, the gloves have been broken in, and the outfit is in the works.  The rest will come in the form of an attitude.  If it’s an opportunity to hit stuff, then it will definitely be worth it.

Mileage.

In the last seven years of teaching group fitness classes, I’ve amassed a few certifications and licenses:  Bodypump, Bodyflow, Bodyattack, CXWorx, Zumba, Insanity, and PoundFit.  The only three I don’t teach regularly are Bodyattack, Zumba, and Insanity.  I’m not a huge fan of cardio; PoundFit is about as cardio as I get.  So even though I’ve had many opportunities to teach these classes, I often hesitate long enough so that someone else who absolutely loves teaching those formats can have a go at it.  I don’t want to be a class hog, after all.

Obviously marathon training involves a great deal of cardio, however, I’ve come to the realization that the temporary bout of insanity brought on by cabin fever around the frigid months of January to February is the reason why I tend to find myself at the start line of a marathon the following fall.   It sounds like such a great idea at the time:  the warm wind in my hair, the sound of pavement beneath my feet, the chance to be one with nature.  But then there is the training schedule, and so many miles.  So many miles.

Yet, as the first week of marathon training was underway, where was I?  Sitting in this very spot starting a new blog because I couldn’t do much else.  I’ve had injuries before that involved broken toes, sprained ankles, a random ache and pain that is easily foam rolled away.  However, this thing going on with my back was maddening because I could not pinpoint what it was.  I immediately looked up the anatomy of the back to try and find what muscle was affected, perhaps so I could attempt to fix it somehow.  But the following day I was rendered immobile, literally.  The only remedy was to sit and wait.  And wait some more.  As much as I welcome the idea of sitting and doing nothing, being forced to do so was starting to gnaw at me.

Tomorrow I’m back teaching Bodypump, which will be the true test to see how the back holds up.  With my husband there, I won’t be tempted to go over the top, even though I am so incredibly antsy at this point.  If anything, I suppose I should give myself some credit for following doctor’s orders, and also for showing restraint every time a friend mentioned another race.  I could have easily signed us up for half a dozen races between now and December.

But lesson learned:  Let the body heal itself.  Rest.  Recover.  Because being sidelined, even for a few days, really stinks.

The trial run.

This morning will be my first time back in the gym teaching a class.  My mental schedule is so out of whack, when I wake up each morning I have to really think about what day it is.  It’s Sunday.  That means it’s the 5th day of being down for the count.  I’ll blame my lack of routine and the pain meds.

Since June I’ve taken on 9 classes a week.  It’s likely the reason why I injured my back, though I will gladly blame anything else but that.  The night before I didn’t sleep very well, therefore, I didn’t allow myself to recover.  That morning I cleaned all three bathrooms in the house, like really got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed every corner.  Cleaning has not been my top priority since starting school, so I’m fairly certain that contributed.  And ultimately, the first day of marathon training with the inaugural 3 mile run could have done it also.  But I refuse to blame my teaching schedule.  Bodypump six days a week?  Nah, that can’t possibly be it.  Right.

Today the test run will be Bodyflow, a fusion of tai chi, yoga, and pilates.  It can be more difficult that lifting weights.  Or it can be relaxing and restorative.  I have a feeling today will be difficult, but more mental than physical.  A lot of talking, which I don’t like to do normally.  This will be an interesting challenge.