Four of My Favorite Free Fitness Apps

picstitch (3)

Nike Training Club

This app has an incredible amount of free content – thank you, Nike! It features interval-style workouts for different fitness levels and goals. Each workout includes exercise instructions and how-to videos (extremely helpful), built-in interval timers, narration, and the option to play your own music. If you have this app it’s easy to perform high-intensity,challenging workouts at home with minimal equipment and little fitness experience.

MapMyRun

The free version of this app performs the basic functions I’m looking for in a running app – it keeps track of my pace, route, and total distance run, as well as calories burnt. As much as I’d eventually like to buy a FitBit or GPS running watch, this does the trick in the meantime.

IntervalTimers

This app is a super simple timer perfect for interval/tabata workouts. What I like most about it is how loud the alarms are – easy to hear even over blasting music.

TwoGrand 

I really love this photo food journal app. As opposed to counting calories or macros, this app allows you to simply snap photos of what you eat, creating a visual sense of how much food you’re consuming. You can follow other users with similar goals/lifestyles and participate in challenges (“Drink x oz. of water per day”, “Workout abs everyday for a month”, etc.). You can follow me under username margeauxvittoria (as long as you promise not to judge me for my Christmas indulgences).

Postpartum Diet Week 2

Here’s my first post in this series:

Also, I have been using the app TwoGrand to track my meals and workouts so I won’t be posting my workouts here anymore. You can follow me on TwoGrand under username margeauxvittoria.

And here’s what I’ve been eating this past week! Saturday and Wednesday were cheat days (in a big way). I also went off plan Tuesday night by stress-ordering a pizza (you’ve been there). But I’m pressing on. My photos are screenshots from the app mentioned above.

Breakfasts:

IMG_2296
1/4 cup steel-cut oats, cooked, with 2 tsp. maple syrup and a splash of 2%
2 scrambled eggs (cooked in coconut oil)
Coffee with 2 Tbsp. 1/2 n 1/2

Lunches (this was a little all over the place):

IMG_2297
-Lentil soup (1/6 of this recipe)
-100 calories carbs (I had pretzels, rice crackers, or quinoa)
-1/4 cup shredded cheese or a piece of fruit
-1/2 cup Edy’s Slow-Churned ice cream

Snacks:
Same as last week’s options

Dinners:

IMG_2298
-Pot roast with potatoes + green salad
-Stuffed butternut squash
-Taco salad
-Roast chicken and carrots with white rice
-The aforementioned pizza

Since I started doing this my weight has been consistently about three lbs. lower than where I was hanging out beforehand. My main goal over the holidays is to not gain any weight but I’m waiting to weigh myself until Wednesday so I don’t discourage myself unintentionally.

Workout Journal (Week of 12.7.14)

Sunday – NTC Ab Routine (15 min.)

I’m really liking the Nike Training Club app. Zach and I did a 15 minute ab routine on the living room floor while discussing how we wanted Ben and Jerry’s and it was surprisingly hard. We didn’t get ice cream afterwards either.

Monday – 1 Hour Zumba Class

Same class as last week but with a substitute teacher. It’s amazing how different Zumba teachers can be – the regular is definitely much more fun. Zumba can really easily become step aerobics which I HATE. The usual teacher turns it into actual dancing, though.

Tuesday – 20 Min. PiYo Video

Zach did this BeachBody program while I was pregnant and I’m just now getting into it. I like it – however, after my recent hour-long yoga classes, this workout felt kind of like a cop-out.

Wednesday – 1.7 Mile Walk

I went walking with the same friend at the same park again this week. We go around 4:30 just when the sun is setting and, oddly enough, I enjoy the cold and dark. It’s nice to get in touch with nature even when nature isn’t particularly inviting. We saw a bunch of geese, two muskrats, and a few rabbits.

Thursday – 20 Min. PiYo Video

This was an upper body workout with a lot of pushups…I needed it. I can barely do full-body pushups anymore and I miss having that ability – one of my short-term goals is to regain that!

Friday – Tone It Up Video + 30 Min. “Run”

As much as I dislike the style of Tone It Up (the pastel colors, trashy outfits, use of the word “tone” – which is pretty much irrelevant in fitness culture now – and general sorority vibe) their workouts are decent and work for my current fitness level and lack of gym membership. The arm workout I did was challenging with my 10 lb. weights. This week’s attempt at running was about as sorry as last week’s. My phone died halfway through so I don’t know what my exact pace was, but let’s just say it wasn’t great.

Saturday – Rest Day

I’m feeling slightly discouraged fitness-wise this week. As a person, I have a hard time being patient while working towards a goal that is still really far away. I’ve been in much better shape in the past than I am currently and that’s hard for me mentally. But I’m sticking with it! Exercising every day has helped me keep my emotions in check postpartum and upped my confidence too.

Workout Journal (Week of 12.1.14)

As some of you may know, I had a baby in November! Sweet little Miles was born 11/11 and he has upended our whole world (in a good way). Just this week I am beginning to feel as if I can manage my life again – the fact that I’m actually getting more than five hours of sleep a night now may have something to do with that.

I told myself during the last month of pregnancy that I would be slow and careful about returning to exercise/normal routines postpartum and really give myself a chance to recover and relax. This was definitely needed (for me) during the first two weeks with Miles, which were cuh-razy. Lots of crying, excessive laundry piling up around our apartment, and Oreo-eating. And general “what is life now” philosophical despair.

However, it gets better! I feel pretty great this week, I’m within four pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight (I’d like to lose 14 lbs. total though, but that’s a different post), and I’ve actually felt like exercising again. I can’t get over how much easier EVERYTHING is without a giant belly. A sun salutation is a revelation. Pushups, walking, squats – even Christmas tree decorating – feel so much more do-able. Which makes me want to do them.

Hence this post, and (hopefully) weekly exercise posts, since I want to stay accountable to myself to be active everyday. Plus the nosy stalker in me loves to read about other people’s workouts, and perhaps you’re the same (I got this idea from paleomg.com and katheats.com). Many of my workouts are done at home/using free resources, so maybe they’ll provide inspiration for your exercise routine. If you have any suggestions for me, let me know!

Monday – 1 Hour Zumba Class

Zumba

My brother-in-law’s college offers a great free Zumba class and he has intermittently snuck me in since I moved to WI. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. College is so expensive that we justify little things like this to ourselves.

I was wondering if Zumba would be too intense so soon after giving birth but (as I’ve heard from other women concerning postpartum exercise) I was impressed by my cardiovascular capacity and actually felt semi-coordinated.

Tuesday – NTC Leah Kim’s Advanced Yoga Workout (45 min.)

Nike Training Club is an amazing free app with HIIT-style workouts that are easy-to-follow, challenging, and really high quality. Most of their workouts are more strength/calisthenics-oriented, so I was curious to see what this yoga workout would be like. It was okay – a basic gym-style flow with some nice transitions and balancing routines. I felt weak and kind of missed my restorative (AKA easy)  pregnancy yoga.

Wednesday – 1.7 Mile Walk

Walk

Miles and I met a friend at a local park for a walk – I used my Baby Bjorn to carry him and wore my father-in-law’s giant coat over both of us. It worked quite well! He stayed really warm and I got a little bit of an added workout.

Thursday – 1 Hour Yoga Class

I’ve been going to a local community yoga class on Thursdays for most of the summer – it only costs $3 and I’ve learned a lot from the teacher. She’s very knowledgable but still chill and fun and brings her sweet dog Shala to most classes. This was my first time back after Baby and it felt great to see everyone again and be able to participate in the whole practice, unimpeded by my belly.

Friday – NTC Better Butt Workout (15 min.) + 1.7 Mile “Run”

workout 125

This was my first attempt at running postpartum and it was really just a sad run/walk. I’m proud of myself for getting out there but I definitely have a ways to go to get back to my pre-pregnancy running ability. It didn’t help that I did the NTC routine first – it gives me jello legs! I did this routine last week as well and definitely saw major improvements between the two attempts, although it’s definitely a tougher workout for me at this point.

Saturday – 1 Hour Yoga Class

Another $3 Community Class. This one was tough! The class focused on standing balances and twists – so lots of Chair and Warrior Series with deep closed twists. My thighs were killing me after yesterday’s workout. It’s a 9:05 AM class though so it was a good way to start the day.

Simple 30 Min. Prenatal Workout

simple prenatal workout

I know. You don’t feel like exercising. Neither do I. Just promise yourself you’ll start…this is a simple thirty minute routine that will help maintain your muscles and prepare you for labor. It might also improve your mood 🙂 Results are inconclusive as to whether it will actually induce labor though…my due date was Thursday and I’m still waiting!

Book Review: Run Like A Mother

IMG_1592

A friend lent me this book a couple weeks ago and I just finished it. It was a different sort of book and I’d never heard of it before – but I did like it and it was a quick read.

It’s different because it isn’t really a how-to book or a traditional fitness book; it doesn’t have any training plans, exercise illustrations, or nutritional guidelines. Instead, it reads more like a blog written by a couple of running moms. Running moms who write for publications like Runner’s World and Self, but moms none-the-less.

This attribute is the book’s greatest strength and weakness, I think. I personally benefitted from reading the confessions and stories of two moms who have made running a part of their daily lives. It’s inspiring and confidence-building to see exactly how other people make their exercise habit work in the nitty-gritty of everyday life.

I’m hoping to run either a half-marathon or marathon in September of 2015 at The North Face Endurance Challenge, an event where Zach volunteered as the on-site chiropractor this fall. So far the only races I have under my belt are two 5Ks and a 7-miler. This book helped reassure me that my goal is not totally unreasonable. It features a lot of quotes and input from running moms of all types as well as a chapter on the reality of running postpartum, both of which were particularly helpful to me.

Other chapters cover running clothes, music suggestions, trail running, cross-training, body image, and injuries, among other things. The authors offer their perspectives and backgrounds in these topics in a conversational and informal tone. I appreciated this and felt like I’d made new “runner friends” after reading this book.

However, for readers looking for fewer anecdotes and clever turns-of-phrase and more practical advice, this book could be a little frustrating (and sometimes the authors’ wordiness and awkward point-of-view switches frustrated me too). It’s not really written for beginning runners – more for runners who are looking for encouragement as they try to balance their parenting responsibilities with their running or get back into running after a break.

If that sounds like you, or if you’re a mom who’s just getting into running who has other resources for training plans and guidelines, I recommend this book as a quick, fun, and encouraging read. It’s written much like a magazine so it’s easy to skim and pick-and-choose if you don’t want to commit to reading all of it.