Tuesday, April 14, 2015

App review: Nike Training Club

Hi friends!

A million years ago, Julie from PBFingers posted about the Nike Training Club app, and I immediately downloaded it. Ok, so a million years is an exaggeration, but it is not an exaggeration to say that it took me at least six months before I ever actually did a workout from the app.

Now, though, I've been using it for over a month. Not super consistently -- I've done about 7 workouts on the app -- but enough to know that I should have started using it forever ago. So I wanted to share it with you all in case you're looking for something to up your workout game.

Before I started using the app, I had been out of shape for all of those six months, but I was starting to get base level fitness back on the elliptical and bicycles in my apartment complex's little gym.

(RIP gym. Just found out they're closing it for the next month. So sad.)

I wasn't challenging myself in any way -- I was just putting the time in, but no effort -- and realized pretty quickly it wasn't doing much for me.

So, I tried the Nike Training Club app.

Nike Training Club has several workout categories. When you choose a category, it then asks you to indicate your fitness level. I chose beginner.

After that, you can scroll through workouts. The titles don't really tell you a whole lot, but they do show how long the workout is.
  

Once you choose a workout, it takes you to this screen that shows the time and any equipment you need. You can also click that center icon and see a list of all the exercises. I've found that the equipment list isn't always totally accurate. One of the workouts I've been doing requires a step for tricep dips, and I don't have a step.

When you're looking at the list of exercises, you can edit some of them, not all. So in the picture below, I can choose between burpees and froggers (both are awful) but there's not an alternate for the alternating side lunges.

Each individual exercise has both photos with instructions and a video you can watch to make sure you're doing the exercise right. You can look at all of them ahead of time (I recommend it!) but if you're in the middle of the workout and you forget what the move is, you can watch the video again.

Each individual exercise has a timeframe. There is audio to prompt you from one move to the next. The audio also gives you reminders and hints on how to complete the exercise -- like to keep your weight in your heels on lunges.

It sprinkles in 30-second recovery periods and sometimes gives you 10 seconds in between to get to the next position -- so to go from squats, where you're standing, to pushups, where you need to be on the ground.


OVERALL THOUGHTS
I really enjoy using this app (using the word "enjoy" loosely). Yes, I could do all of these exercises without the app, but the app challenges me to do ones I wouldn't choose myself, it times me, and it makes me do more than I would naturally do in 30 minutes without direction. And it definitely got me to stop just putting in the time and start challenging myself again.

The one complaint I have is the lack of modifications. When I've taken fitness classes, often they'll says something like "If your legs are feeling really tight, bend at the knee a bit more" or "if your lower back is lifting off the ground, stabilize your back with your hands" or anything like that. And, as I said, there are a few where I (surprise!) didn't have the equipment. For most, I can modify on my own -- I've been working out long enough to know a few modifications, and I will sub in weights for a medicine ball, do the exercise without equipment, or sub in a different activity that works the same muscle group. So my experience with this type of workout does help.

There are a couple yoga workouts on here, but you have to have a pretty good grasp of yoga positions to do them, because if you need to watch the video while you're doing the workout, it pauses the workout -- so you can't follow along like you would with a DVD. There's also a 15-minute stretching routine I have yet to try, but might need eventually.

Finally, the biggest endoresement I can give is that these workouts make me sore every day. I think as I'm getting better, I'm able to push myself harder, so that means even though I've been using it a while, it'll keep challenging me -- do more push ups this time. Move from modified push ups to real push ups, etc.



Have any of you used this app or others to expand your workouts? I'd love more recommendations!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy birthday Dad!



To my dad

who calls me every morning to help me get out of bed and work out(even though I am a grown ass woman who ought to be able to get out of bed myself)

who is working full time at his job and then going home and working on 100% full fledged art for my future father in law's new home

who texts me countdowns to the next time I get to see Pat

who sends me selfies and pictures of our pets when I'm missing home

who still calls me by my childhood nickname

who uses emojis better than any other dad

who calls me on Sundays, just to catch up

I hope you have the happiest of birthdays!


So sad I'm always far away on your birthday, Wolf. Hope it's a good one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What they don't tell you about being long distance

Pat just visited for a week++ and it was awesome. In the five birthdays I've had since we've been dating, this was the first one we were in the same state! I decided all I wanted was to eat all the things, so that's what we did.

Anyway, his visit made me think about this whole long distance thing (again). We are in the final countdown of being long distance -- May 1 I fly to Lawrence for my friend Jac's wedding and when I come back, Pat will be with me, moving to Colorado. No mo long distance.

So. Here are some things I didn't expect going into this whole shenanigan. (Is there such a thing as a singular shenanigan? I always hear it pluralized.)



ONE. Skyping can be so much better
The single best thing Pat and I have done to survive being long distance is playing online games while we Skype. About once a week, we Skype and play Dominion with our friend Sam. If Sam can't play, we'll still play Dominion or Cribbage online. We are not very chatty people. If we were straight up skyping or talking on the phone, we would run out of things to say. Sharing an activity while we talk feels so much more normal. 10/10, highly recommend.

TWO. Every visit will seem like a vacation
Meaning you will want to shirk all responsibilities and routine. Meaning you may not work out for a whole week if he visits you over his spring break. Meaning you may gain weight every time you're together because you feel like you're on vacation and can eat all the things and drink a whole bottle of wine. Doesn't work out if you're doing this once a month or more. Not good.

THREE. You may gain weight anyway
Because long distance life is hard, you'll give yourself permission to eat your feelings. Or do whatever unhealthy habit YOU have that you use to cope. Oops.

This is actually a scientific-y thing related to self-regulation. If you're regulating your emotions a lot -- say, missing your partner, working in a job where you can't be yourself, doing a lot of something you don't like -- you use up all your willpower doing that thing you don't like doing. Leaving you no willpower to not eat Nutella straight from the jar. Self-regulation is limited in quantity. Positive psychology, yo.

FOUR. You'll never do the things you plan
Every time we visit each other, I plan a billion things I want to do. And even if it's not a billion, I plan a lot of things I want to do, and my plans usually seem reasonable for the amount of time that we have. Nope. You won't do all the things. Because all you'll want to do is be together in a way that feels normal. Because while you might miss having a partner for adventures (I do), what you'll probably miss even more is having a partner for the every day stuff -- like cooking dinner, watching that movie you've been waiting to watch together, and playing Yahtzee. Pat was just here for a week, and we did not manage to go hiking or to the Celestial Seasonings tour I want to go on. But we did cook together almost every night, watch at least seven movies, and play a million games of Yahtzee. We can adventure later.

FIVE. You will get used to sleeping alone
If you and your partner are the type that share a bed, you will eventually get used to sleeping alone. Which is, you know, good, because you can't spend all your nights alone struggling to fall asleep. However, when they visit -- sleep becomes a struggle bus again until you remember how sharing a bed with a full sized human works.

EDITED BECAUSE I FORGOT ONE -- SIX. You'll probably get each other sick.
One of us aaaalways gets the other sick when we visit. Every. Freaking. Time. It's stupid and awful. We end up being sick the whole time we're together and when the visitor leaves, all you're left with is snot and tissues and cough drops. My mom says we're just not used to each others germs anymore. Stuuupid.


Anyone out there who has been long distance -- anything that surprised you?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wedding dress shopping!

Is it weird if I don't blog consistently anymore and just pop in when I have something to talk about? Because it's looking like that's what it's going to be.

A couple weekends ago, I picked up my wedding dress. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) It's now hanging in my closet in an opaque bag so Pat won't see it when he's in Colorado. I stare at it -- even though it's all zipped up and I can't even see it -- I sit on my bed and stare at it.

Sheep's gettin real, you guys. We are getting maaaaaaaaaaarried.

So anyway. I wanted to tell you about my experience shopping for a wedding dress! Broken into thoughts. Because.

(This post turned into a much longer post than I expected. Oops! There's your warning.)

ATTEMPTING TO BE NON-TRADITIONAL
I was open to the idea of a non-traditional wedding dress -- meaning either a tea-length dress or a dress off the rack in a department store. I ran into trouble though and ended up getting a traditional Wedding Dress.

When I tried just going to stores like Macy's to look, it turned out they didn't really have white dresses in the middle of winter. Imagine that. And I did want my dress to be white or white-ish -- ivory or champagne or something. I wanted to find the dress sooner rather than later because I knew if I ended up with a traditional wedding gown, it takes time to find and order and alter and all that. So I abandoned the department-store idea pretty quickly.

For the tea-length dress idea, the trouble was that stores don't tend to actually have them on hand -- they are online or in the catalogs, but of the three places we went shopping, I think I found one or two tea-length dresses -- that was it. So since they didn't work for me, that was it for that idea. I didn't want to order a dress without trying it on, so that meant no online orders.

Moral of the story: if you have more patience than I do or more faith in ordering dresses without trying them on, this might work for you. Otherwise...

BOUTIQUE VS. DAVID'S BRIDAL
I went to three places -- two boutiques and then finally David's Bridal. My experience at each place varied, but the boutiques were definitely similar to each other. Still, I ended up getting my dress from David's Bridal. The boutiques were better experiences, but I don't know if that's just because I didn't like my salesperson at David's Bridal. Has anyone else gotten theirs at David's Bridal? My lady was VERY sales-y and kind of fake. But I didn't have that experience buying my bridesmaid dress for Simone's wedding at a different location, so maybe it was just her.

GETTING NAKED WITH A STRANGER
Even if you go with bridesmaids and/or your mom, be prepared to get VERY friendly with a stranger. At the first boutique, the girl helping me said I could have my sisters do it instead, but it was easier to work with her since she knew how the dresses worked. At the second place, I wasn't allowed to put the dresses on myself -- the girl had to be the one to get me in and out of the dress (which for most dresses I needed help anyway). And at David's Bridal, I was by myself, so I never had the option of someone else helping me.

So be prepared to be pretty nakedy with a lot of people when you go dress shopping.

STRAPLESS BRAS
All of them offered me a strapless bra to try on with the dresses, which I didn't need, but I guess it's cool they had the option? The second boutique offered me a slip so I wouldn't be quite so naked with a stranger. David's Bridal was actually pretty pushy (again, might have just been my lady) and I ended up wearing one of their bras -- I think because they're hoping I'll buy it.

GOING IT ALONE
It's maybe smart to go by yourself to at least one appointment. I went to the first boutique when my family visited me in Colorado, the second when I was home for Thanksgiving, so I had my family/friends/bridesmaids/someone with me at both the boutiques. I wanted them to be there when I found my dress. But I'm a very empathetic person, so if they got excited about a dress, I think I got more excited about it than I would have otherwise. So when I went to David's Bridal by myself, I was a little sad that I was by myself, but I knew when I loved my dress that I loved it.

BRING A SELFIE STICK IF YOU HAVE TO
For the love of Jim, have someone take pictures of every dress you like. The very first boutique we were thisclose to buying a dress, but we left without buying it so I could think about it. The more I looked at the pictures of it, the more I knew I didn't want it to be my dress. (It was like, half a size too small. I would have had to buy all kinds of spanx and hope that it smoothed me out and made it look like my size.) Without the pictures, I probably would have bought the dress -- the issues revealed by the pictures were harder to see in real life. But this is probably going to be the single most photographed moment of my life, so I want a dress that's flattering in person and in photos.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas 2014

The holidays were a bit weird round these parts.

Despite hours and hours of Christmas-music-listening logged since October (yes, October), it didn't really feel like Christmas Eve as I boarded a plane to get home for Christmas. I think partially because I didn't really have the budget to buy presents this year, and gift giving is my favorite, and because I didn't really have anyone here in Colorado to Christmas with.

Then, as we drove to my hometown from the airport, my mom filled me in on my grandma's health which, to be short, was quickly deteriorating.

My grandma ended up passing on Christmas. Our planned Christmas dinner ended up being cooked 100% by me and my little sister -- which is funny when you consider I haven't eaten meat in 10 years and was in charge of the Christmas ham -- and eaten in shifts on couches instead of as a full holiday dinner.

So the holidays were a bit different this year.

After Christmas, Emily was able to come home, too, and all of us worked on putting together a memorial service for my grandma, including a 15-minute slideshow that got applause at the end (thank youuuu).

If there's one thing I'll remember from this trip home, I think it's the hours of combing through old photos -- Grandma's and ours -- to put together a tribute to her life. We all picked the photos, Emily digitalized them using an app, I put them into a powerpoint, my mom gathered music, and Anna combined the music and made it match the timeline in the pictures.

If you're interested, here is the slideshow. It moves really slowly because we wanted all the old folks to have time to read the caption and appreciate the photo. Also, it's 15 minutes long. So, you know, don't feel obligated. I think it's really neat but, duh, it's my grandma.



So. Anyway. All this is why you haven't seen any cheery happy Christmas or New Years posts from me. As ever, I am hopeful to blog more consistently. But you know. We'll see.

Hope you got to spend some time with someone you love this holiday season.






PS - I've turned the comments off on this post. I appreciate all of you anyway. :)

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