Monthly Archives: October 2011

Hey Guys!

I’m excited to launch a new home for the blog:

melruns.com

This  redesign has been a long time coming since leaving Brooklyn, and now NYC entirely. Be sure to update your Google Readers and bookmarks to the new site. See you there! 🙂

Soon I’ll be redirecting all visitors from sherunsbrooklyn.com to the new blog automatically.  So if you forget about the new location, no worries, you’ll get there anyway.

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Happy Hour at No Idea Bar in NYC

no idea bar happy hour

Last night my office organized a happy hour at No Idea bar in Gramercy, New York City, and we spent the night buying rounds of drinks, reminiscing, and catching up. I really needed all those laughs to store away for when I head back to Texas. There’s great opportunity in far away adventures, but there’s nothing like being home, surrounded by people you love!

Back In New York For a Week

I’m very excited to be waking up in New York this morning! After taking my test in Austin last night, I hopped a cab to the airport, and landed in JFK at around 8:30. When I got to my parents house I found my dad making beef stew, and my mom shuffling me around to show me all the little things that have changed around the house. Pretty standard :).

the rents

The parents stocked up on peanut butter, eggs, and greek yogurt in my honor, #winning. In about an hour I’m going to take the train into the city to my office for the day, and then tonight I’m meeting up with my best friend for some long-needed catch up time. I’m so pumped to see everyone I wish I could just blink myself over there like I dream of genie.

I brought my jump rope with me with very good intentions of waking up early and heading outside for a quick workout… but it’s only forty-seven degrees out and that is putting me in shock compared to Austin’s mid-eighties! Instead, I’m about to head into the kitchen for some coffee and mom chat.

Hope everyone has a great day 🙂

Setting Resistance Training Goals

Today I took my first of five personal trainer exams at the Personal Fitness Trainer Association school in Austin. After two weeks of learning the Green section, which is all about program design for clients, I sat down for an hour and fifteen minute test that consisted of over 60 multiple choice questions, 25 matching questions, and identification of all the main muscles in the lower body and abdomen.

PFTA of Austin Notes

A lot of what we learned I would consider basic fitness knowledge that anyone who reads health magazines already knows, things like aiming for 3-5 days of cardio a week, and resting muscle groups for 48 hours before working them out again. Then there is a whole chunk of new information I learned that I never quite knew the details of before: from what types of exercises to avoid when working with a pregnant woman, to types of plyometric training and stretching techniques.

Of everything I learned, I think one practice that escapes many people is how to do resistance training for a certain goal. When most of us head to the gym, our goals are fairly general: lose weight, tone up, or get big (I’m clearly doing it to get big). How we choose to get there is also fairly general: run on the treadmill, do some crunches, do some bicep curls and call it a day. “That was good right? A little of everything, feeling tired, my arms hurt. Let’s get a smoothie,” –and this is where we go wrong. Because we’re just wingin’ it, there is no structure to stick to or results to look for besides movement in the scale (do I weigh more/less this morning? The same AGAIN? WTF). What happens next is, you lose motivation, seethe at your gym bag, and buy a chocolate chip cookie for comfort because nothing seems to make a difference anyway. I was totally guilty of this in the past.

Now I realize that one of the most important things to do before ever walking into a gym is to make a plan. I learned this mostly from my own experience with bodyrock (high intensity interval training). Writing down my reps day in and day out gave me something to fight for the next time I worked out–one more push-up to beat last week’s count. But what if I wasn’t doing a bodyrock workout? I wouldn’t know how many reps to do to achieve my goals, or more importantly, how to structure a plan for a future client of mine who wants to “get big.”

There are four main types of resistance training to plan for:

  1. Endurance. This is typically used for weight loss efforts and involves 15-20 reps of an exercise with only 30 seconds rest in between sets. This is where most people who want to lose weight should start, and with weights that make the last two reps burn.
  2. Hypertrophy. This is when a person wants to get larger muscles (get ripped, get huge, become a bouncer). Here you want 8-12 reps, with 30-90 second seconds rest in between, with heavier weights that in the endurance category.
  3. Strength.This is… when someone wants to get stronger (seriously, that’s my best definition). Think power lifters, strong man competitors, or loggers like Paul Bunyan. This means exercises consist of only 3-6 reps with 3-5 minutes of rest in between, and very heavy weights.

    paul bunyan

    Nice to see you again, Paul

  4. Then there’s also Power. This is the need to generate force quickly to meet a certain demand. Think athletes like football players–they need to react with quick, powerful movements at all times. There are many different ways to train for power, but generally it’s 3-5 reps of exercises that prevent deceleration (like squat jumps–no slowing down on the way up) with about 2-4 sets. *Thanks for this, Dave G.

By textbook definition, this would make bodyrock a mix of endurance training and strength training. I’m completing circuits of exercises with between 8-15 reps each depending, with 10 seconds in between each new exercise set, but maybe a minute and thirty seconds before I go back to repeat the first exercise (if that confused you, don’t worry–I got confused just writing it). The point is, if someone is trying to get a “toned” look, it’s a mix of endurance and hypertrophy resistance training that will accomplish that. I’m not there yet though, my six pack is still Bud Light-like at the end of the day, but let’s not focus on that.

Now if someone were to ever approach me and say “Mel, I want to get toned! What’s the deal?!” I have the answer: less cookies. I kid–it’s starting with endurance training and mixing in some strength over time (a good diet and weekly cardio will help drop the pounds hiding your muscles, too–that’s key). Also, writing down the reps and weights you’re using will ensure you’re staying on track to achieve a specific goal. No more jumble of crunches that will hopefully do something if you just can get 100 more reps in. You’re gettin’ real, baby.

Do you follow a training plan when you workout?

Michael Ian Black on Texas

A few weeks ago we saw Michael Ian Black at a small venue in Austin, and I grabbed a video of his thoughts on the state. “I don’t get to come to Texas a lot, you know, ’cause there’s no reason to…”

For your viewing pleasure:

Gypsy Picinc in Downtown Austin

Two of our friends were in town this weekend for a wedding, and being that this was the first time we ever had friends “in town”, Dave and I took full advantage of their company for the day. We picked them up from their hotel, and headed over to the Gyspy Picnic, a food truck festival that was taking place in downtown Austin. It was perfect, end of summer weather, and we strolled in ready to eat.

gypsy picinc in austin

The event really epitomized the vibe of the city. Known for it’s food truck movement, the Austin festival corralled thirty-five local vendors into a park next to Lady Bird Lake for a day of finger food, craft beers, live music, lots of dogs, and free entry. That’s an equation for some serious chill-time. Now that I think of it, why didn’t we bring a frisbee? 

Our first truck stop was East Side King, with a menu inspired by Southest Asian street food. They had three options on the menu, and we jumped in for all of them: chicken kaarage (sounds like chicken garage, I know… and I have no idea what was in it), a pork bun, and fried brussel sprout salad. I see brussel sprouts on a menu and I just can’t say no. I know Dave felt the same ;).

East Side King food in Austin

The bun on the left was so white it blended into the paper tray in this photo, but it was really good. The chicken was our favorite–it had that sweet, fried, dry chewy Chinese food consistency that you would get from an order of sesame chicken. That description sounds weird, but I promise it was yum. And the brussell sprouts were also good, topped with a balsamic dressing and some large french fry like croutons. I dominated the sprouts, and Dave handled the chicken–teamwork. While we ate we watched the hipster marching band go by, naturally.

Hipster Marching Band in Austin

Next we stopped at Blenders and Bowls for a refreshing dessert type treat. To me it was really more like breakfast: an acai smoothie (pronounced ah-sigh-eeeeee!), topped with granola, strawberries, blueberries, goji berries, chia seeds, and a drizzle of honey. Mix two plastic spoons with two hungry people, and some silent food domination battles are bound to break out. It was like low-impact passive aggressive fencing as we both oggled the smoothie bowl out of the corner of our eyes while pretending to nonchalantly walk. Oh, I was aware.

Blenders and Bowls

We wandered around the park for probably another hour or so while our friends tried some other food trucks, and Dave tried pizza at Spartan Pizza. He’s on a quest to find pizza worthy of his New York pizza-obsessed palette–but I’m pretty sure that day will never come in Texas. I forgot to snap photos of the pizza, but I would compare it to Domino’s and Ellio’s coming to together to make upscale thin crust. Can you picture the undercooked white bread like crust? Someone commented on the blog the other week asking me not to compare Austin food to New York City food, and to that I say: fair enough.

Besides the pizza, everything was delicious, and we left there looking like sun-burnt, swollen blueberries. The day with our friends was a lot of fun, and Austin’s unique culture was definitely the catalyst.

The Awesomeness of Oat Bran

Today’s morning was a little flipped from my normal routine. Instead of starting out with my usual peanut butter and jelly on half a piece of bread to get me going before my workout (also known lovingly as pbj-bread), I had an 8:30am conference call to partake in. So I started out with straight up breakfast, instead. And there was no peanut butter involved. I don’t even know me anymore.

I’ve been eating a lot of oat bran lately. Have you ever heard of it? It’s basically like a really healthy version of cream of wheat. You can find it in the cereal aisle, tucked all the way on the end of the hot oatmeal products. I’ve had the Quaker brand, and the Hodgson Mills brand. I like them both: Quaker is creamier and the calorie count is lower somehow, while Hodgson Mills is a little chewy, which makes it fun to eat. Right now I’ve got Hodgson Mills Either way you go, it’s very filling and has really awesome stats:

This is a huge picture, isn't it?

I made mine with 1/3c oat bran, 2/3c water, 1 splenda, a dash of salt (all in the microwave for 2 minutes–watch it, it will overflow!), and topped it with raisins and a little coconut butter for some healthy fat.

cooked oat bran

Get in my belly

The coconut butter is a fancy shmancy topping, I know. I was feelin’ like a fancy shmance one day in Whole Foods, what can I say. If you’re all out of fancy shmance things when you try it, just make it with half water, half low-fat milk (fat + extra protein), and add honey and a little salt and you’ll be all set.

After breakfast and a conference call, my workout today was the Sexy Supremacy bodyrock routine (awwww yeah).  It was a tough workout, and I was grunting in the very small gym, thanking God that all the guys in there were wearing headphones. My grunts are not manly sounding. I probably sound like a kitten coughing.

I found the reverse push-ups to be seriously killer. For anyone who follows bodyrock, here are my reps. The workout consisted of 4 rounds of each exercise in a full loop circuit–40 seconds on, 10 seconds rest:

  • 10 mountain climbers and 1 push up: 4.5, 4, 4, 3.5
  • one arm row, alternating arms: 15, 14, 12, 12
  • forward and backward lunges (left): 11, 8, 7, 7
  • forward and backward lunges (right): 9, 7.5, 7, 7
  • reverse push-ups (halfway down): 24, 20, 22, 19
  • bicycle crunches: 55, 42, 50, 52

Now I’m ready for lunch, and it looks like my pbj-bread will never happen today. I’m going to miss that lil’ guy. He’s my fave morning friend.