Challenging yourself.

Most people seem to like a little bit of a challenge to encourage them to accomplish their goals.  I like challenges when it comes to all sorts of aspects in my life like: Coming up with enough money for my adventures, scraping off every bit of hot fudge leftover in an ice cream sundae, finishing my college education, small fitness goals, and for some odd reason, loving the challenges that come with finding the right guy.

When fellow blogger, Bella on the Beach, brought up how she was doing a “Plank-a-Day Challenge” three days ago, I decided I wanted to pick up that challenge as well.  I was doing planks pretty often back in my Pilates classes this past Spring, I even did a few planks in Europe, but I know it’s been probably around six weeks since I tried again.   The month starts at holding a plank for 20 seconds which should be easy for me since at the end of May, I had gotten myself up to 2 minutes and 45 seconds.   Sadly much of the strength has left me because I could only do one minute and fifteen seconds for the first day.  On my second day I held myself for a minute and thirty seconds as I sang along in my mind to the lyrics to that catchy “Blurred Lines” song.  Today, my third day, I only managed a minute because my body was screaming out in agony because of the half an hour of tennis I played (for my first time since May!). 20130904_234808

Because I like multiple challenges, I decided to do a “Wall Sit Challenge” as well. At the end of the past semester, I could hold myself against a wall for four minutes.  Day one and two I managed two minutes and thirty seconds.  Today I only did two minutes.

Both challenges end with a pretty high number and I’m quite skeptical that I’ll be able to achieve them as I remember very few girls in my Pilates class able to achieve these numbers.  By Day 30 the suggested amount of time for both the planks and wall-sits are five minutes.  Feeling strong in my legs,  I made my wall-sit for six and a half minutes instead.  But a five minute plank?!?!   I guess it is possible but it seems quite difficult for me at this point.

Could you do a five minute plank?   Do you do planks or wall sits as part of a common work-out?  What kind of challenges do you like to set for yourself?

Let us know if you decide to do a challenge of your own!

Happy Thursday,

AprilSignatur

A bedazzled work-out opportunity!

Happy Wednesday, faithful readers!

It’s been an exciting past few weeks as Alyssa has been accomplishing her goals of receiving her Masters degree in Communications and I’ve been making the moves to pursue my own higher education as well. It’s getting to the point where many students will be closing their text books and shoving their school supplies into their closet to remain untouched until August.  I’ve been dealt the typical college story where all the teachers of my school have all met up and conspired together  to decide what day would be best for EVERYONE to have a major assignment due.  I’ve got a yoga practice to write along with two essays and four tests to accomplish in the next two weeks and am trying my best to get as much writing done as I can now.   One of the more exciting assignments I have to do as my Pilates final is to arrange a ten-minute work out that I’ll teach to the class on May 15th.

We’re allowed to have music…

We’re allowed to wear the cool exercise microphone head set…

Plus we’re allowed to dress up in our spiffiest work-out outfit and we’re encouraged  to bring as much energy as we can to our giant classroom.

I took this as an opportunity to teach my class like one of my work-out heroes, the one and only Richard Simmons.

April's hand full of Richard Simmon's derriere

April’s hand full of Richard Simmon’s derriere

Alyssa introduced me to the wonder of his exercise class at his Slimmon’s Studio in Beverly Hills about two years ago and I had a BLAST sweating my ass off with her and another blogging friend named Alexa to a musical journey through Motown.  That man has got the energy of a child who stole his Mom’s Redbull!  He was bouncing all around his studio screaming motivational yet raunchy lines about how we should be used to our thighs being sore from lifting our legs!  He was hilarious and made working out so much fun!

I’d love to capture that essence of Richard for my work-out to my Pilates class!

So far I’m plotting a 10 minute series of music from that French turntablist group C2C I mentioned a few weeks ago.  They’ve got this awesome high-energy song called “Happy”  that I have a vision of getting my classmates to “dance” along to while doing jumping jacks and bouncing upon our work-out balls. C2C also has songs that have slower parts that increase into a faster pace that I think could be perfect for when I make the class do wall-sits using one leg.

One legged wall sit

Alyssa is getting some DOUBLE CHIN DIARY t-shirts made up for us so I’ll definitely rock that but will have to jazz up my outfit with some glitter.  Maybe I should invest in a bedazzler and make myself some crazy leggings complete with sparkles all over them!

We’re encouraged to use as many Pilates exercises as we can but in my five months, it seems nearly every exercise can be included in a Pilates work-out.

In other news, I successfully made it back down to my “pre-birthday bloating” weight and am a mere pound away from reaching down into my next chunk of ten pounds.  I’ve got less than five weeks until I leave for my Europe vacation and am hoping to get rid of the tiny bit of back fat that remains stuck to my sides.  As much as I want some hot European man to handle my body with loving desire while I’m there, I have to make sure he’s not actually grabbing at my “love handles” in the process.  I’m trying to stay dedicated to my hula hoop because I know that’s one of the best tools I’ve got in whittling the fat that hovers around my waist away.  I might even post a picture to show you guys the before and after of my progress, we’ll see if I’m brave enough.

Do you have any awesome moves that you think I should include in my work-out instruction?

What are your favorite songs to work-out to?

And finally, what do you guys think of us making some work-out videos?   I am going to try to record my routine as a practice for the class but also because I think it could be cool if the Double Chin Diary started a collection of Youtube work-out videos!  Would any of you give our work-outs a try?

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

The Double Chin Sisters working out with Richard!

The Double Chin Sisters working out with Richard!

 

 

 

Pilate’s Fitness Test #3

The month of April has been spent appropriately by celebrating my birthday and the coming of the Spring season in California.  I say “in California”, because I know my family and friends around the rest of the United States have not seen much of Spring.  Don’t worry, we will share our sunshine and warm weather with you all soon!  I’ve spent this month busy with the usual school/work during the week but on weekends, I’ve been celebrating my birthday in some way.  With every special occasion I had, an additional amount of calories were welcomed by my body that has been longing for sugar and fat.  As one could expect with this kind of gluttonous behavior, I ended up gaining eight pounds.

Like Alyssa and the number on her scale, I initially was feeling incredibly upset at myself.  I have been working out more than ever in my life and have been feeling my strongest yet.  I knew I ate probably too many pieces of cake and drank too many beers, but I wasn’t being THAT out of control!  Plus all that exercise surely had to count for something!

After talking it out with my sister, we both felt better as we realized that a number is truly only a number and we need to learn to measure our success in other ways.

On Monday I got  the opportunity once again to measure my success in a different way by taking my third Pilates fitness test.

I was SO proud of myself when I was able to improve my flexibility and strength in so many different ways.  Check out my log for how well I did!

pilatestest3

I knew that I would be able to do a four minute wall sit because I’ve been practicing often.  I didn’t expect to add on an additional minute to my plank and I definitely didn’t think I would be able to 13 more push-ups in a minute than I did a month ago.  I credit taking tennis for that extra arm strength!

If you would like to see pictures of each of the moves we did, check out my last blog about my second fitness test by clicking this sentence!

If you would like your own blank chart, just send us a comment or message and I will email you one!

Pilates sadly ends in less than a month and I am nervous whether or not I’ll be able to continue to improve without my amazing teacher, Kim Becker.  She does teach at the Yoga One studio here in Petaluma, so hopefully I can check her out there sometime.

I know some of you were doing a wall sit challenge, how did that go?   Do any of you do planks on a regular basis?  I hate them, but I feel they are one of the best strength creating exercises out there.

 

Enjoy your Wednesday,

AprilSignatur

 

What has a month of doing Pilates and Yoga twice a week done?

It’s been a little over a month now since school began and I can honestly say that my excitement for school to END is not because of the work load, it’s because I’m so excited to see how my body turns out.

I was super smart and decided to take Pilates and Yoga back to back through my college, knowing that I would be forced to stick with the classes because if I dropped them,  I would lose my financial aide.

So every Monday and Wednesday from noon to two, as I practice feeling my pelvic floor and sun salutations, I think to myself how proud I am for choosing to take these classes.  I started taking yoga a few years ago but would only go at random times so didn’t feel the full benefits from regular practice.  Now that’s it been a month of regular routine, I feel stronger, leaner, and more grounded than ever before.  I notice that my waist, though still fluffified with fat, is getting these cool lines going down the sides of it, as if I have DEFINED ABS. Haha!  I also noticed that my back rolls of fat are basically gone, which I find to be a HUGE accomplishment considering it hasn’t even been that long of classes.  I’m sure doing my hula hoop has helped with that too!

One of the amazing Pilates moves I learned - Click on the photo for more from ultimatepilatesworkouts.com

One of the amazing Pilates moves I learned – Click on the photo for more from ultimatepilatesworkouts.com

Pilates has been making me discover muscles I  never knew I had before.  For example, in class last Wednesday we did these crazy leg moves where we were on our hands and knees and along with the standard up and down leg lifts, we also had to move our legs from side to side.  When we were done with those, we laid upon our mats on the cold and polished floor, eager to rest.  BUT NO!  Instead, our teacher had us bend our knees up and practice lifting our pelvis and thighs off the ground, while still keeping our knees and stomachs on our mats.  Pilates introduces many moves that seem so hard the first time that I try them, but now that we’ve been repeating them, they keep getting easier and easier.

Like Pilates, I have progressed very nicely in my yoga class as well.  I have a goal set to be able to reach my “nose to my toes” and this previous class, for the first time in my adult life, I was able to reach my forehead to the tops of my toes.  I didn’t expect this type of achievement to come so soon so you can imagine how happy I felt after class when I gave it a shot.

Yoga has given me so much confidence in what my body can do.  I feel so proud of myself when I am able to do the harder poses my teacher labels as “level two and level three”.  I love yoga because it has yet to make me feel once that I was simply too fat to achieve the poses.  Plus, between doing the Pilates and yoga, my posture has improved and has made me take note of when I’m slouching more.  My Dad’s days of pulling my shoulders back to teach me to stand-up straight might be coming to an end!

April doing “Half Moon”

I am also very proud to report that since I began again on my weight-loss adventure on January 2nd, I have lost eight pounds.  This week alone provided me with a four pound loss because of the detox I have been doing.  As I write this, it’s the night of Day Four, and I have been going strong!  Every day is easier than the one before and while I still hear the faint voices of the caffeine Gods calling out to me, my determination to complete the week puts ear muffs over me and refuses to respond to their calls.

I look forward to reporting back in another month what TWO months of regular yoga and Pilates has done for my body.  This is probably the best positive change I have ever been able to make for my body and I have a solid belief that my practice of both won’t end when the semester does.

What kind of positive change have you made in your life that has had a great effect on your health?

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

Stretching my way to health – By April

Salutations!

This past week has brought forth many positive changes in my life, most revolving around my education and health.  I’ve been slowly building my college credits towards a degree but the one subject area I have avoided at all costs was math.  Over the summer I went blindly (without studying) into a math placement test to finally face my fear and ended up being defeated with a recommendation for the “General Arthritic” class.  When I got my book, I was extremely discouraged to find that I would be spending four months brushing up on my basic addition and fraction skills.

I reacted to this set back as I do in most of my challenges of life, I just didn’t accept the results.  I decided to retake the test this past Monday after taking the time to actually attempt to study.  Honestly, I didn’t spend THAT long relearning algebra but apparently my exciting weekend of watching hours of Canadian math teacher explain 9th grade math on Youtube was enough to help!  I didn’t end up placing in the class I was hoping for, I scored even higher!  Only one class level stands between myself and my required math goal and it is an incredible relief to know that not all hope has been subtracted for me in math land.

Using the inspiration I received from conquering my math fears, I’ve decided to conquer another fear of mine:  fully devoting myself to exercise.

My gym membership has been hold nearly a year now because of my trip to Europe and “saving money”.  Every month I tell myself I am going to begin it again but somehow time and my lack of actual membership continues on.  Since I am fortunate enough to have my educational fees waived (Thank you BOG fee waiver!), I enrolled myself in two PE classes:  Pilates and yoga twice a week!  I’ve always wanted to take Pilates and my little experience with yoga has been enough to make me love it.  I am pondering about taking one more exercise class, perhaps a circuit training or body conditioning course just so I can work some cardio into my “forced” exercise plan.

I have to stick to a full time school schedule so I’m still eligible for funding so by signing up for these PE classes, it’s literally forcing me to stick to my goals.  Plus, I am excited to see the results of devoting four hours a week to core strengthening classes like Pilates and yoga.  Maybe I will finally be able to achieve one of my major life goals of being able to touch my nose to my toes!

April’s Goal

 

Have you had experiences with either yoga or pilates?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Thank you everyone for reading!

Peace and monkeys,

 

Torture Machines

One of my pseudo-new year’s resolutions this year was to try more new things. I’ve always been stubborn and comfortable in the routine, so I decided it would be good for my well being to shake things up a little bit. A couple of months ago I bought a groupon for Pilates Plus in Encino. It was expiring this week, so I made an appointment for my first class and headed to the studio on Wednesday evening.

Woman On Pilates Torture Machine. Photo credited to and owned by Info Barrel.

When I showed up, I was shocked to see a small room filled with about 10 large, gigantic machines called “reformers”. I have heard of these Pilates machines, but have never gotten on one and I definitely haven’t ever wanted to get on one. I admit, as soon as I saw the machines, I had the fight or flight instinct and turned on my heel to flee, thinking “Bitches be crazy! I’m not getting up on one of these things!”. Alas, as soon as my head ducked around, the perky instructor said, “Are you Alyssa?”

And so it began. First of all, I knew within one minute that I was WAY out of my league. The machines consist of different handle bars, levers, pulleys and sliding platforms, and I was brand new and nervous about how the machinery worked. The teacher was super sweet and patient however, and had no problem coming over to assist me in all my sweating, rattled glory.

About half way through, I was in physical pain and actually got off the machine and told her I was thinking about ducking out. I clearly wasn’t ready for such a workout yet. “No! Please don’t go,” she said. “Just stay and take breaks whenever you need to. People throw up and faint in my class all the time.” Way to be motivating, right?! However, she did encourage me to stay, so I did.  Unfortunately, in the last ten minutes of class, I started getting the dizzy shakes and tunnel vision and had to ask her where the bathroom was. I had officially overdone it and was dangerously close to passing out among the lithe, lean-bodied pilates goddesses of Encino.

I went home that night humbled and frustrated, fed up with myself that I had let myself get to a weight where I couldn’t do everything I wanted to. As usual, Matt, who is always the calm voice of reason, talked me down and made me realize I wasn’t upset about the weight, I was upset about not being able to do something well the first time around. As I age, I notice I’m becoming more and more grumpy about not being able to do things well right away. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist in other areas of my life, so if I try something new and really, really struggle, I get into a defeatist attitude. It was a good lesson for me – not just about pilates and scary torture machines called proformers, but that sometimes, you can totally SUCK at something, and it doesn’t matter. What matter is that you tried, you put in the effort, and you made an honest attempt at trying something new. I may not be a pilates pro, but I got out of my comfort zone and did the best I could – and that’s way better than sitting at home and doing nothing.

When you try something new and don’t succeed, do you feel frustrated, or do you just chalk it up to being a newbie?