Tag Archives: Working out

My Newest Obsession: Refine Method

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or even let me talk to you about working out in person, you’ve likely noticed that in the last two months I’ve mentioned Refine Method… a lot. My first instinct was to apologize, but then I realized it’s a good thing – I have a (non-running) workout I’m in love with and I want to tell everyone about it!

I’ve known about Refine for a while. Ever since hearing about it through Dori, Ashley, Abby, and others, I was confident it was a workout I’d enjoy. Unfortunately I didn’t really have the opportunity to try it until I moved to Jersey City; I couldn’t justify an hour long NJ Transit trip (and then a subway ride) just for a workout! Even when I first moved it was on the back-burner since I was marathon training, but we all know how that ended. So when I found myself injured in late October, the series of unfortunate events came together to create a perfect time for me to not only explore new workouts, but to finally give this class that everyone raves about a try.

RefineSign

I took my first class at the end of October with unofficial Refine ambassadors Dori and Ellen. We travelled to their Upper West Side location where I was immediately introduced to the instructor, Laura. She explained their pulley system, asked me what kind of workouts I did regularly, and asked if I had any injuries. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that at the very least Laura (and my friends!) would make sure everything went smoothly. We started with a brief dynamic warm-up and quickly went to work. Three strength exercises followed by a power-set of heart pumping cardio, three times through. I like to consider myself to be a generally fit person and was able to do the “intermediate” weight suggestions (everything is scalable and modifications are made for injuries) for most of the exercises, but boy was it hard! The great thing about the workout, though, is that you’re constantly moving and not doing any one exercise for more than a minute. So right as I felt like I couldn’t do one more bottoms-up push-up or jump-back, the prescribed exercise would change. It went on like this for an hour. An hour! If you told me I would have been doing a non-running workout for that long and at that intensity level I would have told you I couldn’t… despite being relatively in shape. Thankfully I proved myself wrong. I had constant encouragement and form corrections from Laura, and everyone in the class was so fierce and strong which inspired me to keep pushing. By the time my first class was over I knew I’d be insanely sore the next day. And I was.

The day after my first Refine class, I felt like I had run a marathon and did push-ups along the way. It was rough, but I loved it – I loved feeling sore from working hard! Being a glutton for punishment I couldn’t wait to sign up for my next class… which was encouraged by the awesome new student deal they offer – buy one get one class free! After attending my second class a week later and loving it just as much as the first time, I knew what the next logical step was – their new client 1-month of unlimited classes option. Conveniently after buying the package, they opened a third location in the West Village which meant a short (2-stop) PATH ride and no need for the subway. Talk about extra incentive to get to a workout!

West Village studio - so gorgeous!

West Village studio – so gorgeous!

The new studio is gorgeous and the convenient location meant I had no reason not to go as much as possible during the month… which wound up being three (sometimes four) times a week! So with my unlimited month having ended last week, I feel like I’m at a good place to evaluate this new obsession of mine. While I’m hardly a fitness class expert, there are a lot of things that Refine does right, which is why they have such a loyal and enthusiastic following. So what are those things they do right, you ask? Because this post isn’t long enough already, I thought I’d let you know what I think makes Refine one of the very best workouts in NYC – bullet point style.

  • Every class is different in terms of the exercises that are done, but they follow the same format. So after going to only two classes I knew what to expect and when. Even though I was by no means a “regular” I didn’t feel lost. Every exercise is demonstrated, and the set-up of the room allows you to watch other students in case you do feel lost.
  • The workout props are in great condition and add a little fun to your workout. They have a proprietary pulley system at all three locations and an MIT engineer updated version at the West Village location, along with kettle bells of all different weights, medicine balls, TRX straps, slide boards, boxes, and mini-bands. So in addition to body weight exercises you have a bunch of fun props to keep your muscles guessing!
  • The locations provide changing and shower facilities. They’re small, but that’s expected in NYC. They have a rain shower in the new West Village location with awesome smelling Aesop products, and it makes that post-workout shower all the more enjoyable!
  • The workout itself is amazing. They call it “NYC’s Smartest Workout” for a reason! Living in the Northeast and especially the New York City metro area, we’re used to (and have come to expect) a fast paced way of life. Everyone is almost always rushing to or from somewhere. So to be able to get a full-body strength and cardio workout (that’s fun!) in 50 minutes is amazing. I’ve tried hour and a half long yoga classes and I just can’t stay interested – I always count down to the end of class! But not in Refine. Even when I feel like I’m about to keel over and drown in my own pool of sweat (I have dramatic thoughts when I workout), I don’t want the class to end.
  • And maybe the most important reason is that the hand-picked instructors are top notch. Everyone I’ve met has been so warm and inviting, and they somehow remembered my name after meeting me once! There’s something about being welcomed by name and encouraged by name throughout class. That’s another thing that makes the instructors great – they pay attention to everyone’s form throughout class and aren’t shy about correcting you. I look forward to getting corrections – I want to make sure I’m doing things right and getting the most out of my workout. In fact, there was a class when I first started where we did kettle bell swings (which I thought seemed easy enough) and the instructor, Lonnie, had me stop, reposition myself, and try again during the first set. Then he watched me and gave more corrections during the second, so by the third I felt like I was owning the swings. And now every time I do them I think of what Lonnie told me that day to make sure I’m doing them correctly.

I don’t think I would have stayed sane during this ITBS injury if I hadn’t started Refine. Aside from keeping me active, I know that it’s given me strength I didn’t have before, along with helping to correct some weaknesses and imbalances I have. I’m confident that I can get back to running and — with continued Refine Method classes — stay injury-free and continue to get stronger.

Reppin' Refine in Disney... with a fountain side plank

Reppin’ Refine in Disney… with a fountain side plank

So if you’re in the NYC metro area (living or even just visiting!) do yourself a favor and take a class. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Filed under Life, Running

Oh Hello!

Hey friends, remember me?!

I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but that’s because I’ve been busy trying to enjoy the last days of summer (while refusing to believe it’s almost over), and more importantly, because I really haven’t had much to say.

I’ve been in the kitchen cooking up some really great dishes. There have been a few that I’ve come up with on my own and hope to re-create for blog post purposes, but the majority of them have been based on recipes I found online. I’m not one for “photo dump” posts, but I want to share these recipes with you guys, since they were big hits in my house.

Dessert theme, clearly.

Dessert theme, clearly.

Clockwise from the top left:
1. Vegan Oreo Pancakes: Reminded me more of an Almond Joy (it uses shredded coconut) and is awesome. Definitely a “dessert for breakfast” type pancake.
2. Flourless Chickpea Chocolate Chip Blondies: I know, chickpeas in your dessert? It sounds weird, but is absolutely delicious. It’s vegan so you can eat the entire thing raw if you want (and it’s gluten free)! I need to make these again ASAP.
3. Peach & Blueberry Spiced Muffins: I’ve had a surplus of blueberries and peaches from my CSA box, and this was the perfect way to use some. The spices added a nice hint of almost-Fall, with fresh summer fruits.
4. Agave Lime Tofu with Asian Slaw and Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash: First time using The Conscious Cook cookbook I’ve had forever – SO awesome and easy to make.

Aside from cooking and eating, I wish I could say that I’ve been running and crushing marathon training with my ankle issue far behind me. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. I took a full week off per my doctor’s suggestion, and seemed okay when I started back up for that first week. I was a little achy and sore in places, but it wasn’t unbearable. I assumed that I would just have to run through the discomfort, and eventually things would start to feel better. I started the second week after seeing the doctor with a decent 6 mile run, and followed it up the next day with a 4 miler that just didn’t feel good. I woke up the following morning barely able to walk, and extremely frustrated. I saw my podiatrist that afternoon, and he really didn’t have any suggestions for me. He told me to come back in a month, and if the pain was still there, I’d be sent for an MRI. Nothing like a non-answer to make you feel better! I haven’t run since then (it’s been a week), and to be honest, I’m kind of lost. Do I wait until the pain is completely gone from walking (it is now), and try to run again? Do I wait longer before trying to run? I need to find someone with answers, or at least suggestions! I’ve had a few suggestions to go to a chiropractor and get some ART done, so I think that is next on my to-do list. I’m still planning to run (or walk, if I have to) the 10k and half marathon for the Disneyland Dumbo Dare at the end of the month, but I’m undecided if I’ll still run the Richmond Marathon. I may drop down to the half, or defer to next year. I’m so thankful that this particular race at least provides those options!

At least I have this sweet all-sport Picky Bars water bottle to keep me company!

At least I have this sweet all-sport Picky Bars water bottle to keep me company!

Even though I haven’t been running, I’ve been trying to stay in shape. I also figured if I couldn’t run, it would be the perfect opportunity to try and get myself a 6-pack, and increase my overall strength (LOL on the 6-pack). I’ve been participating in Kat’s August Core Focus, and adding in my own variations (hello Pinterest). I’ve also come up with some decent arm workouts that use only your body weight and 5-10lb. dumbbells. Maybe I’ll share it in a fun little graphic one of these days. I’ve done a few biking sessions at the gym, have done yoga almost every single day, and have a swim planned for tomorrow — first time back in the pool in at least a year… wonder how many yards I can do!

The biggest thing I’ve been doing during this whole “situation” is trying to stay positive, which I think I’ve actually been pretty successful at. In the past, as soon as I felt a twinge of discomfort or had a bad run I would immediately freak out and become a ball of misery. Recently I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may not run a fall marathon, but there are marathons all over the country every single weekend, and my health is more important.

Have you ever dealt with a non-injury, injury (or as I’m calling it, a “situation”)?
Any great non-running cross training things I should try?

7 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Under Armour: Review and Giveaway!

The giveaway is closed! The winner is…

Congrats Jill!! Glad to know you’re in need of a new running bra! Shoot me an e-mail {foodosaurusrex [at] gmail [dot] com} with your size and address and I’ll have it on it’s way!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

—————

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Under Armour and asked if I would be interested in doing a review and giveaway on the blog. Being a big UA fan and knowing my readers would love to win a piece of gear, I jumped at the offer. I was really excited when I learned I’d be getting a sports bra to review.

Seriously, I was pumped at the thought of finally having a decent sports bra in my arsenal of cheap and way too old sports bras. I guess you could say I’m lucky in that department. By lucky I mean that I don’t need much support, so I’ve never had to scrutinize over the type of sports bra I got. Obviously that means I’m not so lucky when trying not to look like a little boy up top, but I digress. If we’re going to be completely honest (and why not – we’re talking about chests), my two favorite sports bras are about 7-8 years old. Go ahead, judge me!

I actually purchased the first bra from Walmart in college my freshman year and I loved it so much I got a second my sophomore year. Obviously I have no idea what brand they are (writing starts to rub off after a solid 3 years), but they’ve been my go-to for quite some time. Even though I’m smaller up top, I still like decent compression, and I don’t need anything fancy, but obviously I don’t want it to chafe. Unfortunately my two favorite bras have done some serious chaffing during my marathons (yet I continue to wear them).

The Under Armour bra I was sent is their Armour Bra, which boasts UA compression for high-impact sports. Not only is it a compression bra, but it comes with removable cups. For awhile I was skeptical of cups in sports bras, and didn’t understand their purpose (I assumed it was just to give you a little more umph). But after wearing it, I understood – it keeps everything modest, and adds an extra level of comfort. There is also mesh paneling on the back of the bra which provides easy breath-ability; something that’s important to a sweat monster like myself.

I decided to take the bra out for a 6 mile run; I wanted to put it to the test, but also leave myself the ability to quickly stop home and change if it wasn’t comfortable. First thing I noticed when putting it on: compression! Like I said, I love a good compression bra, but if you don’t like things tight this may not be the bra for you. This was obviously a highlight for me, so out the door I went. Within just a few minutes of running, I forgot I was wearing a new bra. Sometimes when you have on a new piece of clothing, it has that “new” feeling that takes time to go away. I’m happy to report that wasn’t the case with this bra. There was no chafing, it wicked away the sweat, and kept me in place and comfortable on my run.

So you must be thinking, this bra sounds awesome – I want one! Well, you’re in luck! One FoodosaurusRex reader can score their very own Armour Bra! All you have to do is leave me a comment below telling me about a piece of clothing you have that’s really old, and should probably be replaced. If you don’t have one, then tell me what you’re thankful for, since it is Thanksgiving week! And for your reference, the bra is available in band sizes 32 thru 38, and cup sizes A-C. You have until Monday, 11/26 at 8pm to win!

Disclaimer: Under Armour sent me the Armour Bra to review at no cost to me, and is providing the winner a bra as well. 

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Filed under Giveaway, Running

ShowerPill: The Shower Supplement!

It’s no secret that we all sweat when we’re working out. As a former swimmer, I was lucky in the sense that I rarely ever felt my sweat; there wasn’t that awkward half wet, half dry feeling – I was either all in or all out (even though that meant I always smelled like chlorine). So you can imagine my initial disdain for sweating when I started working out outside of the pool. And of course adding insult to injury, I sweat a lot. But it usually isn’t a problem; I either run near home and hop right in the shower afterwards, or I run/workout at the gym and immediately head home for a shower. Obviously those are ideal situations, and it isn’t always practical to take a shower as soon as you’ve finished a workout. A great example of this is post-race… sometimes there are errands you need to do, post-run brunches that need to be devoured… you get my drift. So what’s a girl (or guy) to do when they’re in that awkward sweaty cool-down state, and you can’t hop right in the shower? Enter: ShowerPill!

The folks over at ShowerPill sent me some samples of their product to test out. No, it isn’t a pill, but rather a “hygene supplement designed to keep you fresh and clean on the go.” So you can think of it more like a recovery drink – it’s something meant to be used after your workout. I’ve never used a full-body wipe after a workout, so I was excited to give these a try. I decided to go for a run during lunch on Thursday, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to shower right after and wanted to stay fresh.

The first thing I did was smell the wipe – I was curious to see if it had any fragrance, or if it smelled a little more like medicine. The smell reminded me of a baby wipe, but not nearly as potent. This was the first sign that it wasn’t going to just try and mask the sweat-smell, but rather actually clean my skin. The next thing I noticed was it’s size and texture; this wipe is thick! I’m so used to baby wipes or makeup remover wipes that are small and thin, but it’s clear this wipe is really meant for your entire body. After my mini inspection, I gave it a try.

Directions on the package suggest that you use a different side for each body part, and clean each area for about 30 seconds, then air-dry… simple enough. The wipe is on the cooler-side (as are all wipes I’ve encountered), so I definitely recommend using this sooner rather than later – it’s definitely no fun when you’re already cooled off to wipe yourself with something cold! I was left feeling clean, without any sticky residue or awkward masking smell. And since the temperatures outside have been dropping, I was happy to note that my skin didn’t feel tight or dry after using it either. I even gave one to my husband to try and he was equally impressed.

I already have plans to use another ShowerPill after my Turkey Trot next Saturday… these are great and I highly recommend them! So you may be wondering – how can I get myself some of these? Well, you’re in luck! You can order these badboys on Amazon.com, and I’ve got a Black Friday coupon code for you! From Friday 11/23 to Sunday 11/25, if you buy 2 packages, you’ll get 3rd for free! You have to add all three to your shopping cart, but once you enter the coupon the discount will be applied. Be sure to enter SPFRIDAY at checkout!

Have you ever used an athletic wipe post-workout? Would you try this?
Do you have any good stay-fresh tips for after a workout when you don’t have time to shower right away? 

Disclaimer: I was sent samples of ShowerPill to review at no cost to me as a FitFluential Ambassador. All opinions are my own. 

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Filed under Running

Mom… the protein!

There was quite a surprise waiting for me when I got home from work on Wednesday evening – protein powder! The awesome folks at GNC sent me a bunch of protein powders to try out, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m just getting into trying out supplements to aid in my healthy eating and working out, and now that I’m on a mission to get ripped arms, I have just the right tools to do it!

Whey, Casein, Egg, Soy, and Plant protein powders!

As a swimmer I dabbled (I use the term lightly) with protein powders in high school. I remember going to Trader Joe’s with my parents one summer afternoon after long course practice and staring at the options in the supplement asile. After some label analysis we left with vanilla whey, and I drank it here and there, but never really committed to anything. By the time college rolled around I didn’t have the funds to really buy anything, so I only drank the watered down Gatorade supplied by the school at practice. Don’t get me wrong – the Gatorade was great for during the workout, but I wasn’t doing anything to help myself pre or post practice. But, now that I’m determined to have more defined arms, I’ve been on the hunt for new protein powder(s), so this is perfect timing!

I’ve set myself up with a pretty good routine in terms of the different powders, and I’m really loving it so far. Of course, it’s going to take some time to really see any results, so I will absolutely share my progress! I’ll also share my routine of what I drink when, after I perfect it (there’s always room for improvement!). But, here’s what I’m starting with, in terms of my arms goal. These shoulders have seen some serious work over the years (hello, swimming), and I’m looking forward to getting them more toned than ever. I guess you could say it’s my summer goal.

Welcome to the guns show… maybe?

Of course I’m not content just mixing the powder into water or milk, so I decided to get a little creative. Enter the Chocolate Cherry Protein Bites! I’ve had some dates and dried tart cherries hanging around in my pantry, so I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to use them. I decided to use the soy protein as it’s best used twice a day, and I figured this would be an easy way to enjoy a mid-morning and afternoon snack. Of course, you can use any (preferably chocolate) protein powder you see fit.

Here’s a little info about the Pro-Performance Soy Protein 95 powder: soy is the only completely plant-based protein; it contains all of the essential amino acids including BCAA – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Soy protein 95 is cholesterol-free. Pro Performance Soy Protein 95 features Supro brand soy protein, made from certified non-genetically modified (non-GMO) soybeans that are produced while being tightly monitored and controlled from planting through processing.

So stay tuned for more protein fun! But in the meantime, I want to know: do you guys have any tips or recipes for me to enjoy my protein other ways? AND, what flavor do you prefer – chocolate or vanilla? (I think I like them both equally!)

Cherry Chocolate Protein Bites
– makes 18 teaspoon sized balls –

Ingredients:
10 pitted dates, chopped in half
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup mixed nuts (or your favorite kind)
1 Tbsp dark cocoa powder
1 Tbsp protein powder of choice
1 Tbsp+ chocolate chips (however much you like, really)

Directions:
1. Place everything into a food processor, and process for about 2-3 minutes. Everything should be combined, without any chunks.
2. Using a tsp, form the balls and place them staggered about a 1/2 inch apart on parchment paper. You can then roll them in the parchment paper, and put them in a container for easy storage in the fridge.
*They are best kept in the fridge so they maintain their form and don’t “sweat”.

DISCLAIMER: These products were sent to me for review purposes, and all opinions are my own.

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Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Feeling Free

For the first time in I’d say probably about a year (since I started grad school), I didn’t have any solid plans on Saturday aside from yoga in the morning. The thought of being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted sounded absolutely glorious; I felt like a 17 year old that had just gotten her license and was free to cruise around town with her friends (well, one non-family member these days).

Don’t get me wrong, I like having things to do and structure in my life is important. However, it was great to not have homework and assignments plaguing me in the back of my mind. Taking the summer and fall semesters off so I can train for the Philly marathon and even more importantly finish up planning my wedding will hopefully leave me with a few more ounces of sanity. And it lets me start my weekends with things like this…

Beginning the day with yoga is great – it’s a relaxing way to get your body warmed up and ready for the day, while getting in physical activity. By the end of our hour and fifteen minute session, I could feel the weakness in my arms. In addition to logging miles, I’m hoping to incorporate more fitness-y activities as well; yoga, strength training, some different classes at the gym here and there, and of course reconnecting with the pool, etc. I’m hoping that by upping my overall fitness level, I’ll also help my running and even more importantly, prevent more injuries.

So, after yoga I got to work in the kitchen. I’ve had a few things I wanted to make backed up for awhile, so I figured it was time to actually make something. Since I hadn’t gone to the grocery store and needed important ingredients like flour, I opted for a recipe that only called for one cup of flour, and saved the other recipes for Sunday. I stumbled on this recipe from Andrea’s Recipes, and aside from using regular flour instead of whole wheat, chunky peanut butter instead of smooth, and less chocolate chips, I stuck to the recipe, and it ruled.

The only problem is that now I have it sitting my fridge, screaming my name. In order to ignore the cries, I went out for a solid 3.15 mile run, just to make sure I could enjoy more of the goodies later. And oh, they were (and still are being) enjoyed!

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Filed under Baking, Running, Wedding

The Making of a Yogi

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to seriously try to practice yoga. Being that I’m rather shy (only at first though, ask my fiancé about what happens when I get comfortable!), the thought of going to take a class by myself and do something I’ve never done before is extremely intimidating. I give myself a workout simply by thinking about that type of situation – elevated heart rate and all! That being said, I’ve put off taking an actual yoga class for years.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve done yoga quite a few times through FitnessTV, and also with my iPhone/iPad/Macbook (hello Apple nerd). But, I’ve never ventured to have that actual yoga class experience. Turns out, though, one of my co-workers and friends is actually in the process of becoming a certified yoga teacher, and in the process he has to do practical hours. Think of it as student teaching for yoga. When I mentioned to him how I’ve been interested in yoga for quite some time, he offered to do some classes with me to help complete his hours. Of course, I jumped at the offer.

So, after a late night on Friday at a local bar in support of a friend’s fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, we had our first yoga session Saturday morning. I don’t know how I managed to get up at 7am, but it was likely a combination of excitement and knowing there were people that would be waiting for me. In addition to my co-worker, two other friends (one a veteran yogi and the other a newbie such as myself) joined me in my living room for an excellent 1-hour session. Of course, I had to dress the part too, with some newly acquired Lululemon attire.

Lululemon Wunder Under Crops & Ballerina Tank

I realized a few things during this session; 1. I am NOT flexible (I knew that already, but man, it’s serious), 2. My balance isn’t as bad as I thought it was, and 3. yoga is pretty awesome. I really can’t wait to practice again. Maybe after I get a little more comfortable with these small group sessions, I’ll venture out to an actual yoga studio for a class. Any suggestions for the greater Central New Jersey area would be greatly appreciated!

After yoga, I went for a 10 mile run on a local trail with my fiancé. I was a little wary as to how my legs and body in general would react based on being out late the night before, getting up early, and already having done some physical activity. It wound up working out pretty well, though, and aside from a side-stitch at one point, it was a decent run!

If I keep up this yoga and running regimen, I’ll be one svelte bride come September 10th!

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Filed under Running, Wedding