Tag Archives: Zumba

Catching up and falling behind

21 Feb

Okay. Break over. I can’t believe I’ve neglected the blog for so long. I was doing so well! Between life and keeping on the 100 Days Challenge, I guess I just haven’t found the time to write anything.

The good news is that I’ve been continuing the 100 Days Challenge (log below) and getting out with the dogs lots. The bad news is that I had my latest IHP session today. It’s been a month since the previous session and my weight hasn’t changed at all. Neither has my body composition. So all this exercise and I’m not getting any leaner! I’ve been trying to eat well, but seem to crave more food even after eating dinner. I suspect that and lack of sleep are hindering my progress toward my weight loss goals. Sigh. At least I hope that’s what going on. More to work on…

In the meantime, here’s the long recap of what I’ve been doing for the 100 Days Challenge:

  • Day 23: Two parts of the “Total Body Balanceball Workout” (upper body sculpting, abs and stretch; approximately 46 minutes)
  • Day 24: Just barely warmed up enough so we ran dogs. Stupid ptarmigan tried to convince my leaders to take a wrong turn, which was totally funny.
  • Day 25: Back on the treadmill for a 30-minute workout
  • Day 26: Another 30-minute treadmill workout
  • Day 27: Yet another 30-minute treadmill workout
  • Day 28: Shook things up a little with three parts of the “Balanceball Express Workout” (upper body express, lower body express, and abs express)
  • Day 29: Really wanted to go to Zumba, but it was -54°F and I didn’t want to risk starting the car and leaving the house, so back onto the treadmill for a 30-minute workout I went.
  • Day 30: Full “Balanceball Express Workout” (approximately 38 minutes)
  • Day 31: It was too cold to run dogs today and I was jonesing for a Zumba fix, so I went to the evening class.
  • Day 32: forced out 30 minutes on the treadmill
  • Day 33: Amazing! We were able to run dogs today!
  • Day 34: A rough 30-minute treadmill workout. Learned that coming to a stop at the 20-minute mark of a hard stretch is a bad idea.
  • Day 35: An AWESOME Zumba class
  • Day 36: Raced dogs today, then came home and did a little snow moving.
  • Day 37: Do-over of the 30-minute treadmill workout from Day 34—this time without stopping.
  • Day 38: Ran dogs. Two teams for me today and lots of hooking up dogs without my training partner, which makes for more of a workout for me.
  • Day 39: A 30-minute treadmill workout.
  • Day 40: Ran dogs. Two teams again. Whew!
  • Day 41: Another 30-minute treadmill workout.
  • Day 42: Zumba!
  • Day 43: Ran dogs at the Mushers Hall. First time taking a team on a new trail. It was awesome! Second team was super fun too.
  • Day 44: Did the “Balanceball Express” workout but skipped the stretching segment at the end.
  • Day 45: 30-minute treadmill workout
  • Day 46: Trained dogs again.
  • Day 47: 30-minute treadmill workout
  • Day 48: 15 minutes doing outdoor chores and 15 minutes on the treadmill
  • Day 49: Raced dogs. First day of the Gold Run Championships. Also handled for other mushers.
  • Day 50: Day two of the Gold Run Championships. More racing and handling.
  • Day 51: Yet another 30-minute treadmill workout.
  • Day 52: Got my Zumba fix!

Wow. More than halfway there. Sweet.

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Finally a dog race

22 Jan

The really cold temperatures eased enough for us to have our first sprint mushing race of the season today. The Alaska Dog Mushers Association schedules five early races as their Challenge Series, which is sponsored by Annamaet Petfoods, a.k.a the good stuff I feed my dogs and cats 🙂 These are basically preliminary races for folks to test out their dogs and gear. The race series was supposed to start in December, but we didn’t have enough snow for a race trail, so they’ve been postponed multiple times. Once we finally got enough snow, it was either too cold or there were issues at the Mushers Hall. The Challenge Series races are canceled if the temperature that morning is -25°F or colder. Championship races have no cold temperature cutoff. This morning it was only about -5°F so the race was a go. However the warm temperatures brought pretty good winds with them, so instead of straight-up being cold, we had wind chills between -20°F and -30°F. Not only was wind chill an issue, but the winds were blowing in parts of the trail.

Most folks opted not to race today, but my training partner really wanted to run the dogs so we “raced.” My team won the 6-dog class and her team won the 10-dog class. It’s easy to win when everybody else stays home 🙂 Only two other adult teams (both in the open class) and six junior musher teams raced. The wind was brutal in open areas but much of the trail was in the trees, so we had a pretty nice training run. The temperatures are supposed to drop again this week, so this might be the last run we get for a while.

Here’s what’s happened with the 100 Days Challenge:

  • Day 20: a late 30 minute treadmill workout as I predicted.
  • Day 21: Zumba with Phoebe. I really love going to these Zumba classes. Wish I had time to go to more. I heard a rumor that she’s going to add some earlier evening classes soon. That would be awesome!
  • Day 22: raced dogs then did some outdoor chores.

Yes, those are minus signs

16 Jan

It’s been a cold, busy week that’s kept me from posting. But I have lots to catch up on 🙂

First a brief rundown of my 100 Days Challenge workouts:

  • Day 10: Ran dogs. Got to run two teams even!
  • Day 11: 30 easy minutes on the treadmill. So much going on that day that I didn’t get onto the treadmill until 7 PM (which is WAY late for me). But I got that 30 minutes in.
  • Day 12: Ran dogs. Good thing we ran today too—the temperatures dropped again that evening and have been too cold to run ever since.
  • Day 13: 30 minute treadmill workout.
  • Day 14: Sled dog race canceled because it was too cold (officially -44°F at the airport). Used the “free” time as an opportunity to finally try the full balance ball workout that came on a DVD with my stability ball. The “Total Body Balance Ball Workout” has 3, 20-minute segments (upper body, abs and core, and lower body)  that could probably be done separately if time crunched, but that’s supposedly what the express workout is for.
  • Day 15: back to Zumba with Phoebe. Almost didn’t go because it was -49°F at my house and vehicles would prefer not to run at those temperatures, but I really wanted some Zumba. It was a great class and I’m glad I went. Plus it was a little warmer in town.

It’s nice to hunker down at home when it’s really cold like it’s been. We’ve made a couple more recipes from our new Mark Bittman book. The White Bean Stew was awesome and super-easy. Crisp Tofu and Asian Greens in Peanut Sauce was okay, but seemed to me like it needed another flavor. Chris thought it was too peanut butter-y.

I’ve been experimenting with my smoothie recipe too. Here’s my current recipe:

  • 7 oz. package Fage Total 2% or 0% greek yogurt
  • 3/4 c. Silk Light Plain Soymilk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 c. frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 c. frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 c. frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 c. baby spinach leaves
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • generous sprinkle of cinnamon

I picked up some unsweetened vanilla almond milk to try instead of soymilk and we found a new frozen fruit mix, so those will be in my next iterations.

Now to get on the treadmill so I can report on day 16 in my next post 🙂

Running dogs is exercise for me too

8 Jan

Oops. I missed a couple of days of posting. Did you miss me? 😉

I have not, however, missed my daily 30 minutes for the 100 Days Challenge 🙂

  • Day 6: It finally warmed up enough to run dogs, so that was my exercise for the day.
  • Day 7: More Zumba with Phoebe! Wish I could fit in more of these classes. They’re fun and a great workout.
  • Day 8: Ran dogs again. We were supposed to race, but the race got cancelled.

I’m not sure if everyone would, but I’m counting running dogs as exercise for me as well as the dogs. Yes, the dogs are the true athletes, and amazing athletes at that. But anyone who has ever driven a dogsled knows that you’re not just standing on the runners; you’re driving that sled. Driving means steering around corners, twists and turns, obstacles, and dips in the trail. It means controlling (or attempting to control) the speed of the team. It also sometimes means stopping the team and jumping off the sled if a dog gets tangled on a line or needs to be moved around in the team. I will admit that us sprint mushers have easier sled driving than distance mushers, but that’s for another time 🙂

Piper in the cab of the truck at the Tok races.

Not all dogs get to ride in the cab. Those are the dog boxes behind the cab. Note the sled on top of the dog boxes.

When I say I’m running dogs on a day, it’s more than just jumping on the back of a sled and taking off. It’s loading dogs into their boxes on my truck, driving to where we’ll train or race, then letting the dogs out of their boxes. Some days they go back into their boxes to wait until it’s their turn to run. Some days I have to load and unload the sled on the top of the truck too. Often we’ll work up a sweat just harnessing and walking dogs up to get hooked into the team. After the run the dogs get unhooked from the team and returned to the truck (or their houses) for their post-run hydration. Finally all gets loaded back up onto or into the truck and we go home.

Calorie-counting apps and the like will calculate how many calories you burn doing a particular exercise. For an hour of Zumba, it’s pretty straightforward. But how do you estimate how many calories you burn running dogs? I haven’t figured that out yet, but I am convinced it is physical exercise and I burn calories doing it.

Currently craving: Zumba and smoothies

2 Jan

A friend and coworker has been going to Zumba® classes for quite a while now. Before the holiday break she sent an email to the office offering to treat anyone who wanted to join her for a Zumba class. I finally couldn’t resist and had the time free, so I joined her for Zumba with Phoebe last Tuesday evening. Zumba is advertised as a way to “party yourself into shape” with Latin-inspired dance-fitness moves and high-energy music. It’s supposed to be fun and burn a ton of calories.

I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up or follow the moves, or worse: look stupid doing them. I worried that I would travel in the wrong direction and run into someone. I was worried I’d be the fattest, most unfit person in the room. Turned out I had none of those things to worry about. Well, I might have looked stupid, but everybody else in the room was focused on following the moves themselves to notice if I looked stupid or not. I didn’t knock anybody over by going the wrong way or flailing my arms too wildly. There were easy ways to modify the moves if I got a little tired, but mostly I kept up just fine. And the couple of moves I couldn’t follow? Neither could a lot of other people. Phoebe, the instructor, was awesome and so welcoming. Her instruction when we were introduced was, “if you get lost, just keep moving and smile.” I can do that 🙂 I had such fun at that class, I went back for more on Saturday morning!

Unfortunately the holiday break from work is nearly over and things will be getting busier again. Many of the Zumba classes are offered at challenging times for me to go. If they’re during the lunch hour, how do I get cleaned up and go back to work? I sweat … a lot. We at least try to go to bed on the early side (9-9:30 PM) so if I go to a class that starts at 7 PM or later, I won’t get home until close to bedtime. When do you eat dinner? And what about a shower? The Tuesday 6 PM class I went to was a decent time, but normally we train dogs Tuesday afternoons, so I wouldn’t have time to get home, feed dogs, change clothes, and get back into town for a class. That just leaves weekend classes, which might be doable on non-race days if we can get our errands done at other times. So that’s what I’ll try to do: a Saturday or Sunday Zumba class and Tuesdays when possible. At least I’ll get a little Zumba fix.

I wasn’t sure how or what to eat before Tuesday evening’s Zumba class. We normally eat dinner between 6-7 PM, which was the time of the class. I knew I needed some energy to get through the workout.

I got an immersion blender about a year ago with the intention of using it for making creamy soups and smoothies. That didn’t happen. I had the excuses: what a hassle to prepare the fruit; I don’t know what I should put in them and in what proportions. So I never made smoothies; soups either for that matter. Chris recently decided he wanted to try making smoothies and I convinced him the immersion blender was the tool to use. He eats lots of yogurt, so we had that around, and one of his colleagues told him where we could find frozen fruit. I know, every grocery store has frozen fruit, but it’s amazing hard it is to find frozen fruit that is just fruit and doesn’t have other stuff added, and even harder to find organic frozen fruit. So far we’ve found strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mango, a mix of pineapple+peach+strawberries+mango, a berry mix, and cranberries. I love bananas, and don’t mind fresh for smoothies, but I can only eat organic bananas (non-organic ones make my tongue and throat itch) and finding ones that aren’t bright green is a big challenge. Chris is MUCH less picky than me, so he’s been making smoothies with whatever we find. They’re okay, but not something I would crave. I’ve made a few of my own with low-fat yogurt (regular or Greek), a banana, a bit of light soymilk, and frozen strawberries, peaches, and blueberries. I’m guessing on proportions, so they’re kind of soup-like, but they seem to work and I enjoy drinking them. Now I’m looking at what else I could add to smoothies to make them even healthier. I will try switching to fat-free Greek yogurt and keep experimenting with different fruits. I’ve seen some recipes with cocoa powder, peanut butter, and orange juice (not all at the same time) that seem promising. Maybe I should try Chia seeds? Add veggies like carrots or spinach? Possibly.

Here are a few smoothie recipes I’ve found that look promising but I haven’t tried yet:

And I’ll keep looking for other smoothie recipes and ideas for tasty things to put in them. I’m also looking for suggestions on how to take smoothies to work with me for later in the day. Maybe a small thermos? Chris uses a jelly jar. Please leave me a comment if you have suggestions.

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