Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sweat Your Ass Off

"How much ya bench?"

It's a phrase that hearkens way back to my senior year in high school. 1994 - Emilio Estevez, Chris Farley (RIP), Adam Sandler and the rest of the SNL gang talk pop culture and unleash a can of 'roid rage.

How much ya bench? by Shakey74

I've been thinking of how much I bench lately during my workouts at the YMCA's Central Parkway branch.

I previously mentioned that I've integrated some resistance training into my revived running program. The trainer and I both agreed a strengthening program would work best with the muscle I already have thanks to my year of on-and-off running.

The goal of this effort is to work on building my muscle mass, especially where my upper body and core are concerned. My legs and glutes are getting a regular workout because of my Couch to 5K running, but the rest of me could stand some attention.

People have long debated whether women should use light weights or heavy weights. "But I don't wanna look like a bodybuilder!" some girls exclaim as they grab a set of two pound weights for their arm curls.

The thing is, women don't have nearly as much testosterone as men, and that's what is responsible for creating those massive pecs and delts in the How Much Ya Bench parody. Testosterone synthesizes with proteins to rebuild the muscle fibers damaged by weight training.

Worry not, ladies. We will never look like Ahnold (well, at least not unless you start taking steroids, but that's a different story).

Some of us are focused on building our muscles, and that means repeatedly destroying our fibers through repetitive movement. I've learned that heavy weights can be a good thing if it means you're doing reps to the point of being unable to perform them. Shape Magazine says people should work out until the point of fatigue/exhaustion, ensuring your muscles will recover bigger and stronger.

Experts recommend that you lift a weight that will cause you to reach exhaustion in 12 to 15 reps. Something to keep in mind next time you pump iron.

Get it, ladies!

Disclosure: The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is one of my clients and has provided me with a limited membership to experience their facilities. All opinions are my own. 

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why Not?

Some people don't know what they don't know.

But some of us are quite familiar with the boundaries of our knowledge. I know what I know, and I have a pretty good understanding of what I don't know.

And when it comes to exercise and good health, even if I know something, it doesn't mean I'm going to follow through.

It's simple math: you have to burn more calories than your intake to lose weight. And that's where my revived, new-and-improved exercise regime comes in.

I've now completed two workouts with the ActiveTrax program at the Central Parkway YMCA. The Y's personal trainer, Mona, worked with me to determine my boundaries through a strength test, and then we talked about my workout needs.

While I've gained some weight in the past few months, my lower body is still really muscular from my race training and the three half-marathons I ran this year. Mona and I both agreed I should begin a "strengthening" program to enhance the muscle mass I've already built. Other ActiveTrax users can try "weight loss & tone" or other programs to help them achieve their personal goals.

ActiveTrax provides you with a unique log in and password so you can privately access your specially designed workouts, your weight loss stats and other information that highlights your progress with the program.

Upon logging in, participants receive a printout that details which exercises you should perform on a given day, including assigned weight, reps and sets, targeting different areas of your body (back, arms, legs, whole body, etc.). There are explainer videos and descriptions if you're not familiar with the exercises assigned to you in a given workout.

The program typically calls for 10 minutes of cardio warm up (the elliptical is my preferred machine), and then you circuit through eight or 10 machines or free weight exercises. The entire workout is followed by some core strengthening mat work.

I know that I am a novice when it comes to weights. Running - I've got it down pat. But weights intimidate me and make me concerned about technique and potential injuries.

I like ActiveTrax because it creates a plan that is designed with my body in mind, ensuring I can complete the assigned exercises without fear of injury.

This morning, I embarked on my second week of Couch to 5K, and I know this time around, my body will be in better shape because I'm pairing the running with resistance training.

Strong muscles, stronger running plan, stronger body.

Why not?

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is a client of mine and has provided me with a three-month trial membership to experience its facilities. Several Cincinnati-area bloggers are blogging and tweeting about the Y; you can follow along with the hashtag #WhytheY.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Serena Williams doesn't just play tennis.

Serena Williams at the 2012 Western & Southern Open

It's her job.

Day in, and day out, she is committed to practicing serves, forehands and backhands. She likely puts in some sprints and other legwork, too.

And that doesn't even include her time in the gym.

Wimbledon, the US Open, the Olympics. The focused effort pays off. Serena's dedication to her craft continues to yield amazing rewards.

The same is true for the rest of us schmos.

At the office, in other commitments, in our personal lives - nothing happens without a greater dedication to any and every task that leads to success.

What win do you want to celebrate, and what will it take to get there?

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shape Shifter

This is the story of a girl who lost 35 pounds - and gained it all back - in one year.

I've been wanting to blog about this for a while, but I haven't had the courage or the words, and I've also struggled with being honest with myself.

But today is a new day, and with it, opportunity for new changes.

Let's go back to just over a year ago. Last summer I was inspired to start running after a trip to India. I started slowly, using the popular Couch to 5K (C25K) program (aside: the Chubby Jones podcasts are my favorite music/audio program aid), which coached me to run a constant 30 minutes (or about three miles, depending on pace) by the end of nine weeks.

I loved the running. I loved the natural high, I loved the opportunity to hit the pavement and see Downtown Cincinnati's beauty early in the morning. I loved the energy it gave me.

And so, when my best gal pal Bluegrass Brit asked me to run a half marathon with her, I couldn't say no.

I pushed through the training, and by December (Christmas Eve, to be exact), I found myself running nine miles straight - no walking, no breaks.

My body was thinner, my legs were toned. Everywhere I went, people gushed with compliments about how great I looked.

And as someone who has always battled her weight, those compliments were much appreciated, and helped fuel my commitment to running.

January 2012 arrived, and with it, my trip to San Diego for my first ever half marathon. I ran the whole Carlsbad Half Marathon with no walking (okay, maybe a quarter to half mile, but that was it), and I even shot and uploaded videos along the way.

I was a running beast.

After Carlsbad, I got complacent and arrogant. I think there was even a time where I thought to myself, "Hell, I don't get out of bed to run anything less than four miles."

And so sometimes, I didn't get out of bed.

Bluegrass Brit and I went on to run the Run the Bluegrass half marathon in March. I'd already stopped my intense training, and so the course and its 36 hills proved difficult for my stride.

I walked a bit and tacked on 15 minutes to my time.

And when I ran the Flying Pig half marathon in May, I walked even more, but I finished. 13 miles is never easy, regardless of whether you're running or walking.

About the same time, I met a wonderful man, and we started dating. I got comfortable. I was swept up in the romance and excitement of a new relationship.

I got fat and happy.

So here I am, on September 14, almost a year later and about 20 pounds heavier than this girl in the red dress.

And I'm deciding to turn this bus around.

I've returned to C25K and the Chubby Jones podcast. I know the running will help me shed the pounds quickly. But I also have a new partner in this quest: the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati.

Some of my blogger lady-friends and I are heading to the Y to get healthy, take advantage of some of their wellness programs, and reclaim our fitter selves. My partners are:

Over the next few months, we'll be sharing our experiences with getting healthy, discoveries about the Y's amenities and other details regarding wellness. You can check out our blogs for our progress, or follow along on Twitter (hashtag: #WhytheY).

Today I had my first meeting with Mona, the personal trainer at the Central Parkway branch, and I'm really excited about the potential for a more comprehensive health program.

This time around, it's not just about running. It's about resistance training and healthy eating, too.

And this time I'm gonna lose 50 pounds. 

Disclosure: The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is a client of mine, and they've provided me (and the other listed bloggers) with an opportunity to experience the Y for an extended period of time.  

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tomorrow Isn't Guaranteed

The hiss of morning had just begun to give off steam.

Eleven years ago today, husbands kissed their wives and children goodbye, hot coffee in hand and newspapers under their arm as they shuffled off to work. Mothers chastised children to brush their teeth and braided neat rows of hair for their little girls. Young lovers stole early morning embraces before departing for the day's business.

Nearly three thousand people unknowingly said their final goodbyes that Tuesday morning. Hugging loved ones as they set off for a grim destiny.

Tragedy is not a word to toss around lightly, and yet the anguish our country experienced that morning can barely be defined by words.

September 11th is but one monstrous heartbreak. It is a reminder of our greatest fears, our greatest courage. It is on that day we not only pay our respects to those who lost their lives, but those who heroically served to save so many.

Ensuring many mothers and fathers saw another morning to kiss their children, that lovers saw another night to tightly hold each other while drifting off to sleep.

Moments of grief and sadness remind me that life is, indeed, fleeting. We're not guaranteed another day to tell loved ones how much they mean to us.

You can't always bank on "later" to live out your hopes and dreams.

As much as we plan for tomorrow - or next month, next year, the next decade - our future is never certain.

Make today count.

Don't live with regret.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Bonds That Break

What sparks your interest in someone?

For some, it's a set of sparkling eyes. Some women are attracted to the tenor in a man's voice. And still others adore a warm and friendly grin.

I like all those qualities, sure, but I'm really intrigued by something you can't see, but rather something you smell.


There's something primal and powerful about breathing deeply while enjoying a warm embrace and letting an entire feeling wash over you, all inspired by the sense of smell.

I can think back to my dating past and recall the different fragrances worn by ex-boyfriends. A breezy pass through the men's cologne section in a department store and I will be instantly whisked back to 2003 and a romance of long ago - all because of a Ralph Lauren cologne.

But I digress.

The BF and I have been experimenting with different Bond No. 9 fragrance samples lately (I picked up their summery Coney Island scent in January and have been hooked on the line ever since) and decided to head to Saks to pick up a couple bottles for each of us.

Many of the Bond scents are unisex, each with tones that can cross over between male and female quite nicely. The BF went with Washington Square, a commanding scent with notes of purple rose, tarragon, Indian vetiver and leather. (50 ml - $180 or 100 ml - $240)

Initially, I'd planned on holding off on buying a fragrance, wanting to wait until the weather cooled a bit before I bought the autumnal Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue. It's spicy - with peony, patchouli, sandalwood, cardamom, almonds, and notes of creme brulee. (50 ml - $160 or 100 ml - $230)

But Edward at the Bond counter told me the fragrance brand has lost its licensing agreement with the Andy Warhol estate, and that all of the Warhol fragrances were being discontinued. The Downtown Cincinnati Saks was out of the smaller Lexington Ave. so I decided to bite the bullet and go with the bigger version.

It's a fragrance I can see wearing well into next spring, so that softened the sting of the price tag.

Fashionistas - rush to the nearest Saks to get your favorite Bond No. 9/Warhol fragrances. And if you're not familiar with the collection, feel free to stop by the counter, sniff and spray away, and ask for a sample or two. The Bond folks are very generous with samples and want to make sure you really like something before you plunk down for one of their starry-shaped bottles.


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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.