Wellness

Living the Gray Life’s Strong and Confident Workout Program | #DoYouEvenLiftRo

It has been a while since I’ve shared a Do You Even Lift, Ro and I am so excited to share with you my experience testing out Abigail from Living the Gray Life’s Strong and Confident Workout Program! Do You Even Lift, Ro is a series in which I review different workouts, and you can find my previous reviews here!

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Towards the end of the fall, I totally fell out of my workout routine so I stopped going to the gym and as soon as it was too cold to run outside I became a library bound couch potato, eating delivery, sleeping less than 6 hours, and not even scheduling time to get to the gym. I’m a strong believer in there being periods of your life in which priorities will adjust and school or work has to come first, but this period went from a month to a season.

This spring, I made a commitment to make my health a priority again and I needed a way to get from 0 to confident enough to register for a marathon. That’s when I saw that Abigail from Living the Gray Life was getting ready to release her Strong and Confident workout program.

The Program

I needed a workout program that was sustainable and forced me to actually get to the gym. It also needed to be adaptable to my life, and fit around a cardio program as well.

Strong and Confident gives 4 weeks of workouts, two upper body days and two lower body days per week. The goal of the program is to introduce you to the weight room and to provide structure to a workout routine.

You can check out her full guide here.

Strong & Confident | Workout Program Cover

How I Implemented It

I started the program the first day of spring quarter along with the Couch to Half Marathon program I used to train for my half this time last year. Since Strong and Confident is only a month long, I figured pairing it with the first month of the Couch to Half Marathon Program, combining walking and running to build an aerobic base and lifting to build strength. I kept my diet the same, cooking most of my meals, all vegan.

I had some familiarity lifting from training for the marathon and Yoga Sculpt, but I quickly learned that Strong and Confident required a lot more equipment than was available in the gym in my apartment building so I had to workout at school.

Although the first week, I could manage to combine the two programs easily and get to campus in the mornings before class, I found myself going to class smelly more often than ideal so for the third week I changed up the schedule.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays after my 8 AM class, I would go straight to the gym and do both the upper and lower body workouts back to back. I followed the half-marathon plan on the other days by the lake so I could get more fresh air, be closer to home, shower, and get to class faster.

So Am I Strong and Confident?

The first couple week was rough, as can be expected from any transition from couch. The workouts took more than an hour to complete and I was constantly sore.

I found it frustrating because the low level of cardio combined with the weight lifting resulted in my actually gaining weight. I could tell I was getting stronger because I could increase the weight. At the end of the program, I started to see more definition, especially as the cardio was ramping up.

Although I wouldn’t have described myself as being shy in the weight room, by the end of the four weeks I didn’t think twice about which weights to pick up or machines to use. I felt stronger physically, and a friend actually noticed that I was picking up heavier weights.

At the end of the four weeks, I measured myself and found I lost 3% body fat.

What’s Next

What really makes this program a success in my eyes is that about a week after I finished the program, I registered for the San Francisco marathon this summer. Although I was still running around four miles, I felt solid enough to talk my friend Marianne into registering with me.

I’m training using the Nike Running Club, so look out for that review after the race!

What else should I try? Comment below or tweet me @xoxorosana_blog!

 

Wellness

4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Ran a Marathon

This week last year, I registered for my first half marathon and decided that I would keep training to run a marathon! It was a six month journey that changed my life. Here is what I wish I knew before signing up!

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When I started toying with the idea of running a marathon, I had no idea what that would mean for me. Like most dreams I have, at first it was really nebulous. I figured I was already running a bit, and had tentatively agreed to running a half marathon with Katie, but didn’t take the idea of the marathon seriously. I didn’t do a lot of research, but just piggybacked on to Katie’s training plan and figured it would be fine.

Most First Time Marathon Runners Get Hurt

First time marathon runners tend to make one of two mistakes that result in their getting injured: they push themselves too hard when training or they don’t push themselves hard enough and get hurt on race day.

When you shift from running 5 or 6 miles every day to trying to run much longer distances, the shift to 13 and 15 miles is often done too quickly. Jumping from 5 to 8 miles isn’t that big and first time marathon runners can get over excited and jump to 10 or 12 the next week (and then pull something). This especially true for those (like me) who didn’t really follow a training plan.

The alternative happens when you pick a marathon on a date that doesn’t allow you sufficient time to train. You get hurt on race day because deciding you’re going to add an extra 6-8 miles day of guarantees you’ll either be miserable and slow or broken. You can only push your body so far without giving it time to adapt.

Pick the Right Marathon

I talked a lot about this after I ran mine back in June because this was by far the biggest mistake I made. Instead of considering the terrain and climate for race day, I decided I was just going to run the one that was on a convenient day. There is a reason that most marathons are in the spring and the fall. The summer doesn’t often offer optimal conditions to run 26 miles.

Also, think about the conditions you’ll be training in. If you’re going to run a marathon that is all hills, the footbridges over Lake Shore Drive are not sufficient. You need to be running up and down flights of stairs. Or, like normal people trying to run their first marathons, just sign up for a flat one near you. Even if it means its in the middle of midterms.

You Actually Need to (Have Time to) Stick to a Training Plan

About halfway through my training, I decided that for the sake of my schedule and school work that instead of following the weekly plans that required workout out every day and running 8 miles before class three times a week, I would just make it up as I went. I added a mile or two to my long runs every weekend and then ran or lifted weights for less than an hour on weekday mornings. This was enough to help me finish the marathon, but it wasn’t enough to do it without walking large parts of it.

Long runs on weekend mornings, especially given the temperature in May and June, required waking up at 5 or 6 am and running until 10:30 or 11 am. I would then have to stretch, shower, cook, hydrate, and nap before making it out the door around 1 pm and be a functioning human. It made it so that I couldn’t go out the night before or make it to any Sunday brunches. The nap was the only way to make sure I could be any degree of productive later in the day.

You Might Not Lose Weight

The idea that you’re running a marathon brings pictures of super skinny runners. I was always hungry when I was training and would eat accordingly. I had to put better things in my body because I could feel the fat and carbs from the night before so I was healthier, but I ate multiple meals a day some weeks during my training. I also gained a lot of muscle, so although the numbers on the scale weren’t changing, I started getting definition I wasn’t before.

If you want to lose weight while training for a marathon, you need a regimented diet plan along with your training plan because otherwise you’ll eat everything in sight.

 

 

Running a marathon is a huge accomplishment, but in order to actually make it through training and the race, you really need to be thoughtful about the way you’re going about it.

While I was writing this post, I realized there are a ton more things I wish I knew, so if you’d like to see a part 2 of this post, comment below or tweet me @xoxorosana_blog!

Xoxo, Rosana

Wellness

4 Steps to Actually Making it to the Gym in this Godforesaken Tundra | Ro&Co

In this week’s installment of Ro&Co, my friend Claire, ex-college athlete and pre-med student, shares her tips for keeping to a workout plan in the winter so you can keep to your New Year’s resolutions!

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Running during the Winter can be a massive hassle, especially in Chicago. It’s really cold outside and it gets dark before 5 pm so if you want to run, you’re going to end up on a treadmill more often than not. Because treadmill running can get pretty redundant, here are a few of my tips for sticking out the winter months without too much misery or too many skipped workouts.

1. Bring Workout Clothes to Campus

Bringing my gym clothes to campus is one of the easiest steps I take to make sure I actually hit the gym. Before I started doing this, I’d have to go back to my apartment to change into running clothes. Way too often, once I got home, I stayed home and skipped the run all together.

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Bringing running clothes to campus helps reduce the temptation to bail on the run. Also, I feel really dumb coming home with all my workout clothes without actually exercising (so that’s an important motivation too).

2. Procrastinate All At Once:

You know this feeling: you’ve been working in the library for a few hours and productivity starts to slide. First, you check your email a bunch, then facebook, then all of a sudden you’ve spent 20 minutes researching the JonBenet Ramsey case and you have a serious theory about who did it. Basically, you’re not getting work done.

When this happens to me (inevitably), I lean in to the disengagement from school and I head over to the gym. My theory is that you can’t make yourself study forever so you might as well take a break that feels somewhat productive. This allows me to clear my head for an hour or so and actually get sh*t done at the same time.

cheers to our first half marathon

A post shared by @ clairedrigs on

3. Distract Yourself During Cardio

One of the hardest things about treadmill running is the monotony. It can be really discouraging to spend 30 minutes watching the clock and on the monitor in front of you. Because of this, during my runs, I have to make sure I’m distracted to the fact that I’m tired. To do this, I watch TV. Downloading Netflix onto your phone is an easy way to give yourself access to tons of distracting content that prevents you from fully acknowledging your pain.

I like to pick high drama shows with a quick pace that keep me on my toes. Grey’s Anatomy is my current choice because crazy stuff goes down every episode and Shonda Rhimes lives for shock value. When I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy, I’m way more focused on who each unrealistically hot doctor is sleeping with than I am on my sweating and that’s a good thing!

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Additionally, I try to only watch my ‘treadmill’ show at the gym; that way I have motivation to go when I need my fix!

4. Listen to Your Body

One way I make sure that I keep going back to the gym every day is by staying in touch with my body. If I’m really tired or feel miserable during a run, I’m not afraid to slow down the pace. That way, I can better ensure that I cover the distance I want without bailing on the run completely.

the macaques told me I was their spirit animal

A post shared by @ clairedrigs on

I make sure not to get discouraged about the pace I’m running at and I listen to my body as much as I can. It’s really important for me to remember that I’m not going to feel my absolute best every day and that helps me prevent a bad run from becoming a skipped run.

 

You can follow Claire on Instagram @clairedrigs!

What steps do you take to make it to the gym in the winter? Let me know on Twitter @xoxorosana_blog!

Xoxo, Rosana

Wellness

What I Eat in a Week as a Vegan

In an attempt to forever answer the question “Where do you get your protein from?” I recorded every meal I ate in a week. Now about to hit 6 months as a vegan, I’ve finally figured out a way to spend minimally, eat healthy food, and even cook (my how far we’ve come)!

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Sunday

I start the morning off with a cup of green machine or smoothie before heading to my favorite yoga class. I go straight from class to Whole Foods to do all my grocery shopping for the week.

My grocery list for this week:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • Quinoa
  • Spinach
  • Red Onion
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Tofu
  • Almond Milk
  • Broccoli
  • Green Pepper
  • Riced Cauliflower
  • Coconut milk yogurt
  • Avocado

I try to meal prep one or two high protein dinners, along with a huge batch of quinoa so I don’t starve during the week.

A cup of quinoa typically feeds me for at least 6 meals, so I add it in to almost everything I cook. I also find I can roast a can of chickpeas in the oven with broccoli while I make about 3 servings of stir-fry with tofu. Meal prep took me an hour.

For lunch on Sunday, I had a bowl of the stir-fry with a cup of coffee, since by this time I started to get tired and the coffee keeps me from crashing when I start working.

When I get back from campus, I’ll heat up some of the chickpeas, broccoli and quinoa before heading to bed.

Total: $45.72

IMG_0916Monday

I had a glass of green juice before my run. When I got back from my run, I made a smoothie with a scoop of protein powder, and of course my cup of coffee, before I shower. I took the smoothie with me on my way to campus.

For lunch, I stopped by Pret A Manger on campus to have one of their small servings of lentil soup. I was still hungry, so I splurged for a bag of popcorn.

For dinner, I had too much work to get back early, so I picked up a bowl of tofu and vegetable pho at one of the stores on campus.

Total: $13.24

Tuesday

As usual, my green juice before the run kept me going. I was running late so I threw my coffee in a to-go cup and grabbed a banana on my way out the door.

When I got out of class I was hungry so I bought a bag of granola around 11, and then grabbed a falafel wrap for lunch at 3:30.

Since I ate lunch later, I ended up eating a bowl of chickpeas, quinoa, spinach, and avocado when I got home from the library around 11:30.

Total: $8.27

Wednesday

My pre-run green juice held me over until I made some coffee. I had a couple of minutes, so I made a bowl of berries and coconut yogurt.

For lunch, I went to Pret again for one of their vegan grain bowls, which are so filling and healthy. I always grab one on cold days because they keep me going into the afternoon.

I was lucky to finish my work at little early so around 9, I went home and threw some of the tofu stir-fry in the microwave with a cup of green tea.

Total: $7.23

Thursday

You guessed it! I had a glass of green juice. I lifted weights so I made a smoothie with protein powder to take to class.

Lunch was lentil soup again, this time without the popcorn because it was on the early side. I talked one of my friends into grabbing a banana from the dining hall for me so I could have a snack for later.

For dinner, I ate the last of the chickpeas, onions, and quinoa with the rest of the spinach.

Total: $4.47

Friday

Breakfast was a glass of green juice, a banana, and a cup of coffee.

I ate lunch with a friend so I bought a grain bowl from my favorite coffee shop with a cup of lemongrass tea.

Every Friday, I order sushi with one of my friends who lives on campus. Avocado sushi with bubble tea is my comfort food.

Total: $ 25.53

Saturday

Green juice, coffee, and a bowl of berries were breakfast.

Lunch was the last bowl of tofu stir-fry and another cup of coffee.

For dinner, I had a friend over and we made some curried chickpea and rice cauliflower stir fry with some naan she brought.

Total: $0

 

After your first few weeks of being vegan, you start to settle into recipes and meals. Although it can be challenging at times, I find it has made cooking and meal planning easier.

You can follow my vegan cooking journey on my Instagram story! I share new recipes that I love, and how I make my staple meals!

Have you considered going vegan? What are your favorite vegan foods?

Let me know on Twitter @xoxorosana_blog!

Xoxo, Rosana

Life

For the Health Nut | Festive Favorites

The holidays are upon us and I could not be more excited. From now until Christmas, there will be a bonus post every Monday! I know with my busy schedule I barely have time to go to the mall, so these are my online shopping Gift Guides. This week we’re kicking it off with goodies for the Health Nut.

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Here we go! Christmas is fast approaching and finding just the right gift is fun, but can also be incredibly time consuming so these are the 8 best gifts out there for the health nut in your life.

Several links in this post are affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission if you click or purchase an item.

1. Foam Roller

The one thing every active person needs is a foam roller. Whether they’re heading to the gym or on their way back from yoga, having a foam roller at home is key to staying loose so you can keep moving! During marathon training, I actually kept mine next to my bed for those middle-of-the-night cramps.

2. Yoga Mat Towel

They probably already have a yoga mat, but getting a yoga mat towel revolutionized my practice. It makes hot yoga easier because it absorbs the sweat (so you don’t slip) and cleaning is a breeze since you throw it in with the rest of your yoga clothes.

3. Water Bottle

Studies have been released on the dangers of plastic water bottles, so if you’re health nut hasn’t switched over yet, this is the time.

4. Gym Bag

 That drawstring bag they’ve been using since freshman year might have worked to take a water bottle and a towel to and from the dorm, but it probably doesn’t hold the change of clothes they need to get them through the day when they can’t go back to their apartment. I use one just like this one almost every morning.

5. Blender

Health nuts just love their protein shakes, and I know I use my blender every day. For someone who has scientifically shown to be unable to cook, this blender (which is actually on sale right now!) is by far the most important item in my kitchen.

6. Smoothie Recipe Book

Cookbooks are awesome gifts for the health nut in your life, and I’ve been reaching for Julie Morris’s book every few weeks when I’m looking to mix it up!

7. Gift Card to Healthy Food

It can be hard to find healthy food when you’re on the go so getting gift cards to health food store or delivery services like Eat Purely can be the perfect gift. Eat Purely is one of my favorite ways to order fast healthy food, since you have a bunch of fresh, locally sourced meals to choose from and it is delivered in about 20 minutes! Use my code ROSANAR1 for $20 (almost two meals!) credited to your account.

8. Post-Workout Kit


Especially for the workout fiend on the go, putting together a mini-post workout kit with dry conditioner, perfume, and a couple of their favorite goodies is really thoughtful and something they’ll definitely put to good use. If you don’t have time to make one from scratch, this one is a good start!

There are so many amazing gifts out there for the health nut in your life, but these are just a few of my favorite ideas!

What would you get the Health Nut in your life? Who should I create gift guide for next?

Let me know on Instagram @xoxorosana.blog and Twitter @xoxorosana_blog!

Check out my post next Monday for 9 super affordable gift ideas for your college friends before break!

Xoxo, Rosana

Wellness

Vegan’s Guide to Eating Your Way Through the Holidays

I’ve been vegan for almost three months now, so this will be my first set of holidays as a vegan. With Thanksgiving next week and before we know it Christmas will have arrived. Here is how I’m planning to take on the holidays at home as a vegan.

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Everyone in my life know just how much I love the holidays. From the apple pie at Thanksgiving to all those cookies for Christmas, I have 21 years of experience fully embracing the season. I only have three months of veganism under my belt.

Although my family has been pretty supportive, I’ve spent most of the last three months at school in Chicago so we haven’t had extended periods of sharing meals. Thanksgiving and then the three whole weeks of winter break could be a bit of a challenge.

Armed with the knowledge of the last three months of vegan eating and wielding the power of the internet, this how I’m planning to get through the holiday season, and you can too!

Be Clear With the Host About What You Can’t Eat

My family has been really supportive of my decision to go vegan. It was well timed with my mom’s decision that her college-age children could feed themselves rather than her trying to corral us for family dinners. My dad decided to go (mostly) vegan with me back in September, so I’m fortunate to not be the only vegan at the dinner table.

Since my dad has been paving the way at home, my immediate family is pretty familiar with the constraints of the vegan diet. We already have a fridge fully stocked with substitutes from vegan butter spread to almond milk.

As long as your host is aware of what you can and can’t eat, they can more easily accommodate you. If you’re not cooking (and lord knows I can’t), then offer to bring substitutes for the chef or recommend recipes. Sam from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken has a bunch of adapted recipes for common sides.

Bring Your Own Food

The best thing you can do is to bring a dish that everyone can share, so that you have plenty of food that you can eat. It puts less stress on the host, and limits the number of questions you’ll get because people will be too busy enjoying it.

There are tons of awesome vegan dishes. This Lentil Loaf looks delicious and festive. I’m planning on making this pumpkin pie. Many supermarkets have a couple vegan options you can pre-order. My family is ordering a couple things from Whole Foods this year.

Know What to Look Out For

If you don’t let your host know ahead of time, make sure you do your research to know which sides probably have non-vegan items.

Common culprits include:

  • Mashed potatoes- butter, milk, or cream can be substituted with non-dairy milk and butter spread
  • Gravy- instead of the juices from the turkey, you can make this mushroom version
  • Cranberry sauce-the canned version and many recipes include gelatin, but this one doesn’t
  • Green bean casserole-the milk and cheese can be substituted out
  • Homemade biscuits-the butter can be swapped for non-dairy butter spread
  • Pumpkin pie-eggs, cream and butter can be substituted.
  • Stuffing-can be made outside of the turkey

Be Prepared for Lots of Questions

Social meals as a vegan can often raise a lot of questions for your friends, and my experience is that the best thing you can do is emphasize how it makes your body feel rather than the moral or environmental reasons. Especially at large family gatherings like the holidays, diverting conversation away from it is your best move. If people keep asking, offer to speak to them after dinner. Thanksgiving dinner is not the time to talk about slaughterhouse practices.

After your first month of being vegan, you probably have all the answers down for the most common questions about nutrition. Keeping the focus on your health rather than the societal and environmental repercussions of your decision makes it difficult for them to argue with you.

Have Fun

The holidays can be a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your family and get some much needed rest. By planning ahead, you can make sure that your dietary preferences don’t take away from it.

There are so many recipes for delicious vegan meals that you can share with your family. Who knows, you might even surprise someone?

Comment of the day: "I have been making pumpkin pie for years and just this year have chosen to be vegan. This pumpkin pie is 10000 times better than any pumpkin pie I’ve made or have had in the past, AND it’s vegan! You nailed the spices, texture, and the creaminess. Not only is this recipe perfect but I’ve tried many other recipes of yours this week and all of them are stunning my husband and I!!!! Thank you!" ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Find the recipe for my easy vegan pumpkin pie on itdoesnttastelikechicken.com . . . #itdoesnttastelikechicken #fussfreevegan #anythingyoucaneaticaneatvegan #whatveganseat #veganfoodshare #veganshare #veganaf #veganfoodporn #veganfoodlovers #veganblogger #vegansofig #vegansofinstagram #veganrecipe #plantbased #dairyfree #foodporn #findingvegan #bestofvegan #friendsnotfood #foodstagram #instavegan #govegan #hongryvegan #crueltyfree #animalrights #plantpower #instavegan #vegancommunity #vegancomfortfood #vegan #veganpumpkinpie

A post shared by Sam Turnbull • Vegan (@itdoesnttastelikechicken) on

 

What should I know going into my first holiday season as a vegan? What did I miss?

Let me know on Instagram @xoxorosana.blog or Twitter @xoxorosana_blog

Good Luck!

Xoxo, Rosana

Wellness

I Tried Only Cooking Pinterest Meals

In this week’s installation of will Rosana ever be able to feed herself, I try to make only meals I found on Pinterest. I may never be a Pinterest mom (shocking, I know), but did I at least learn a new recipe? Maybe.

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This was not my first attempt at meal planning. I have a long history of not being able to put together a meal plan and execute it, but this summer I finally hit my groove. Multiple weeks of creating and following these plans, I was feeling confident enough to take on the big leagues of pinterest.

After months of browsing endless pins to find just the right combination of new recipes, I put together my plan. Every day needed a new recipe for every meal, and all of them had to be healthy. Even though I had been making meal plans and cooking, I was eating the same meals week after week. I wanted to learn a bunch of new recipes.

I conducted this experiment before going vegan in September.

The Plan

In trying to follow my rules, I created an ambitious plan.

21 new meals in 7 days meant I needed a lot of new ingredients. I spent over $200 in the grocery store, and offset this cost by feeding my friends. In the endless piles of pins, there were barely any recipes portioned for one so feeding friends made it much easier.

Turns out that when you only know how to make 5 meals, you don’t have most of the spices and grains needed to make most recipes. I’d been borrowing these (read: cinnamon) from friends in the building.

Cooking

My old meal plans consisted primarily of “recipes” that involved blending yogurt and berries to make smoothies or scooping hummus and carrots into tupperware.

It was a harsh wake up call to actually have to budget time to make the meals. On Monday, I spent three hours cooking just trying to get through the meals.

Even this smoothie bowl took me half an hour before work (and it wasn’t as sweet as my normal smoothie). That night, I made sheet pan steak fajitas, which were incredible. They were so easy to make, and I made them 3 more times over the following weeks.

On Wednesday, I had a bunch of friends over to cook. We made chicken thighs with butternut squash.

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It was odd to have real breakfast rather than the protein shakes and granola bars I had grown accustomed to bringing. I didn’t have the appetite for it after my workout, so I would end up eating it for lunch later in the day.

I Never Wanted Food Again

By Wednesday night, I was eating so much more than I was accustomed to that the idea of making some of the recipes was upsetting. I only had a bite of most of the salads because I couldn’t bring myself to eat them.

On Thursday, I made a banana protein shake and that was the last meal I “cooked” that week.

Mistakes Were Made

The greatest flaw in my plan was trying a new recipe for every meal rather than eating leftovers. If I had eaten the meals for lunch the next day, it would have been easier to stick to it.

I also should’ve done a better job of matching meal sizes to my current caloric intake. Endless hours with food are made infinitely worse if you don’t want to eat the food you’re making.

 

When I failed to make it through the week, my mom said that I’m never going to be the kind of person that loves cooking, and I think she’s right. The lack of cooking involved with most vegan meals is part of the reason that I think the lifestyle works for me now.

Have you tried Pinterest meals before? Do you want to learn more about my current vegan lifestyle?

Let me know on Instagram @xoxorosana.blog! Follow my Pinterest adventures here!

Good Luck!

Xoxo, Rosana

Wellness

Indoor Rock Climbing | #DoYouEvenLiftRo

A few weeks ago, I tried SoulCycle (and hated it) and as I was looking for my next workout, you guys challenged me to try Rock Climbing. This post is part of my ongoing series Do You Even Lift, Ro, where I try different workouts and review them here. I went to Brooklyn Boulders in West Loop, where two members of my college’s Rock Climbing Team taught me how it works.

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The Challenge

My friend Danielle challenged me to try Indoor Rock Climbing. She ran Cross Country and Track every season in high school, so when I wanted to give my legs a break from all the running post-marathon, she thought rock climbing would be the perfect next workout.

Danielle chose rock climbing because she didn’t want to keep running, but couldn’t commit to a scheduled workout class. “Right away the community I found through climbing was so welcoming and so enthusiastic about their sport” she remembered when she first started the summer after her senior year.

The Gym

The gym the team goes to is Brooklyn Boulders in West Loop, which although far from campus, was conveniently close to my summer job. Danielle started climbing her third year on campus, “and my grades actually improved so I didn’t find it taking time away from productive studying.” It is a 3-4 hour commitment away from campus.

I used Danielle’s free pass to get access to the gym and by the end of it I was able to even get belay certified. During the year, the student membership is about $89 per month and you can go as often as you’d like.

Upon arrival I was fitted for climbing shoes and a harness before being given a tour of the space. The gym has wifi and co-working spaces so you can do homework. There are also a bunch of great restaurants in the area, which makes it easy to make a trip out of it while you’re downtown.

Turns Out I’m Scared of Heights

When I started lifting in the spring, I could never do pull ups so you can imagine I was expecting to have my butt handed to me by these incredible women. What I didn’t expect was the raw strength required to lift myself up a wall.

The first challenge was bouldering, which is when you try to climb up a section of wall without the use of Belays.

Turns out that rock climbing isn’t just a physical challenge, it’s also a mental challenge. Hand holds are color coded and marked by difficulty. You’re meant to start at the lower numbers and work your way up each puzzle.

This was incredibly hard, since it turns out trying to get up even the easiest walls requires looking down to find the next foothold. Halfway up the easiest wall is a non-ideal way to be reminded that you’re paralyzingly afraid of heights.

Yeah, Let’s Try the Big One

Naturally, this was the ideal time to try out the taller walls. I figured having the auto-belay or trusting the experienced hands of the Rock Climbing Team.

Auto-belays are mechanized rigs that allow you to climb without relying on someone else. Even though the wall was much higher, being attached with the harness actually made me less nervous.

Rock climbing forces you to use all kinds of muscles you didn’t know you had. Only 20 minutes into the session and my forearms were incredibly sore. Then all kind of ab pain kicked in and my calves were really tight.

But You Only Went Once

It was a really hard workout, but also really expensive so I wasn’t able to try it out for an extended period of time. Part of me wishes I had because I was so sore, but the rest of me is really thankful that I can keep working out on the ground.

Danielle also brought her friend Jackson for his first time rock climbing. As a member of the cross-country team, Jackson runs “a ton, like 50-60 miles a week… it was a different workout (running never makes your forearms sore) but I really enjoyed it and definitely will do it again.”

She has a long record of evangelizing rock climbers. She also convinced her friend Sam, now the President of the Rock Climbing Team, to try it. Sam goes three times a week, which at 3-4 hours a piece sounds like a huge time commitment to me, but she describes it as “just one of the things i do on campus.” Danielle’s boyfriend has also started climbing so it is now as much a social event as an opportunity to work out.

 

Like anything else, if you love it, you find the space for it in your schedule. Danielle takes the time every week to make it fit. Even if I weren’t scared of heights, I think the time and cost would be huge barriers for me.

Check out other posts from the Do You Even Lift, Ro series! I’ve tried Yoga, SoulCycle, and my friends just tried working out like body builders for three months.

What workout should I try next?

Let me know in the comments or on Instagram @xoxorosana.blog

Xoxo, Rosana

Life

You Can Sleep When You’re Dead: How To Hack Your Sleep Cycle

Sure, the recommended amount of sleep for college students is 8 hours per night, but if we’re honest with ourselves that’s a fantasy. Now that summer (and the beautiful sleep schedule that it brought with it) is coming to a close, this is your guide to surviving on less than 6 hours of sleep a night.

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I was lucky to have a summer job that ended early enough that I could go home for a couple weeks. In theory, I should be spending this time hanging out with my family and friends from home, but the truth is I spend most of my time home sleeping.

I thought I would keep reading a book a week, but every time I sit down on the couch to read I miraculously wake up 3 hours later, the couch cushion imprinted on my cheek and a puddle of drool on it in turn. I’ve been going to bed around 10 and waking up after 8 some days, which in combination with my power naps, have been the purest form what vacation should be.

This sleeping problem has been exacerbated by my decision that this was the time to kick that coffee addiction (it has not been going well). If I don’t get this sleeping under control before school starts, it will be a rude awakening-literally.

Work Your Sleep Cycles

Adult sleep cycles take about 90 minutes to complete, and planning around this schedule can make waking up in the morning a little easier. Rather than your alarm pulling you from the depths of sleep, at the end of a sleep cycle, you feel less groggy when you wake up.

Scheduling your sleeping blocks not only puts a limit on homework time (so Parkinson’s Law doesn’t take over your world), but can increase the amount of time you actually sleep. I plan for 7.5 hours a night (3 sleep cycles), but if work gets a little out of hand (or Gossip Girl dominates my life), then I’m better off with 6 hours than with 6.5 or 7.

Know Your Limits

Last year, I tried to test the limits of my sleepless functioning.

All nighters don’t work for me. I tend to get a little delusional and eat a lot of junk food, so needless to say, any essay written under those conditions was rough.

One study has shown that sleepy people are actually about as bad at judging how their sleep has affected their performance as drunk people. Subjects that had 5-hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight were convinced they were totally fine and had trained themselves to sleep less, but their scores kept getting worse.

With those 90 minute sleep cycles, I learned that the minimum sleep I can take a test on is 4.5 hours. I’m also not a ray of sunshine after a nap that is any shorter than 1.5 hours.

Be Consistent

Research says that by training your body to wake up at the same time every day, it makes it easier to wake up at that time, regardless of how much sleep you’ve had. Your body actually uses the sleep time more efficiently.

If you had an extra fun weekend, it’s better to make up the sleep in a nap later in the day rather than sleeping until 12. Most adults are better off taking naps in the afternoon for between 30 and 60 minutes, any longer and research suggests that people will enter a deeper sleep that leaves them groggy. Although that isn’t the way it works for me personally, it has been shown that people who take these short naps are more alert during the day and sleep less at night.

By waking up at the same time every day (even on the weekends), you’ll be better off for those days you really do need to make it to your 9 AM.

 

Although you can’t live without sleep (no matter how hard I try), you can use these tricks to make waking up a little easier and to keep you more alert for longer. I haven’t quite kicked my coffee addiction, but I hope this will help me keep it down to a cup a day.

How do you deal with the unpredictable sleep schedule that school brings?

Let me know in the comments or on Instagram @xoxorosana.blog

Wellness

We Tried Bombshell Fitness’s Transformation Workout Plan | #DoYouEvenLiftRo

While I was busy running a marathon, trying SoulCycle, and falling in love with Yoga Sculpt, my friends Arushi and Hannah decided to take on Bombshell Fitness’s Transformation Workout Plan for 12 whole weeks this summer. Optimized to help women get ready for bodybuilding competitions, the Transformation Workout Plan has been featured on Muscle and Fitness and a number of other fitness outlets. I loved hearing about their experience this summer.

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My name is Arushi, and I am incredibly excited to write for Rosana’s blog! This summer, my friend, Hannah and I tried The Transformation Workout Plan. This is a workout plan lasting 5 days a week for 12 weeks. It has a carefully designed lifting schedule for each week, as well as two cardio workouts (biking and running). It also comes with an optional Transformation Meal Plan that assigns set meals for everyday.

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A post shared by Arushi Saksena (@inarushi) on

Hannah and I decided to use our summer to follow these intense workout and meal plans, especially because we would have significantly more free time for the three-hour-long daily workouts, and significantly less stress to tempt us to break the diet.

Week 1:

Beginning this crazily regimented meal plan was harder than we could have imagined. Every meal was dull and excessively filling. Breakfast, my favorite meal of the day, had been reduced to four egg whites, fruit, and oatmeal without any fun toppings. As the week went on, we realized that none of the meals were exceptionally exciting to eat for either of us, because we had to eat the same meals every single day with just one cheat meal each week. Nonetheless, this was only the first week, and we were determined to stick to this meal plan.

Before starting this week’s workouts, we discussed what changes we wanted to see in ourselves by the end of the 12 weeks. Both of us wanted to become stronger, of course, but we were specifically interested in toning our arms, core, and legs.

Hannah and I started off week 1 with soreness and pain. Lifting on Monday (leg day) and Thursday (plyometrics) was brutal, and we were new to almost every machine at the gym.

Cardio was even worse. The 50-minute workouts were already more than what we were used to doing on a daily basis, and this was before accounting for the 90 minutes of crazy lifting that preceded our daily cardio.

We were sore everyday, and only dragged ourselves to the gym because we didn’t want to let each other down. My arms hurt when I woke up to brush my teeth, they hurt when I tried to tie my hair up, and my legs hurt when I climbed even the shortest flight of stairs. I was almost convinced this 12 week plan would not be sustainable, and I went into week 2 with much uncertainty.

Weeks 2-4:

Somehow, the workouts became easier.

We were increasing the weights we used, but we felt significantly less sore than we did in week 1. We didn’t have to forcefully drag our sore butts to the gym anymore or feel as tempted to stop halfway. We didn’t feel like dying after doing cardio anymore either. Leg day still sucked, but it hurt a lot less.

We made it fun for ourselves too- we treated ourselves to music while lifting, used our mid-workout 1 minute intervals to update each other on our lives, and started listening to audiobooks or watching Netflix during cardio. Sometimes, when the treadmill would bring us down, we’d run to Lake Michigan instead and enjoy the beautiful view. Bottom line is that each passing week made the workouts easier.

The meal plan went the other way, though. Mid-cardio, we started to text each other things like “Want to go eat out after? FOR SALAD, I PROMISE!”. The thought of eating the meal plan’s white fish and asparagus spears after working our butts off at the gym was just upsetting.

I could blame Fourth of July weekend for making us indulge in cheat meals more, but in reality, we were tired of eating the same, unforgiving meals everyday. We realized by the end of week 4 that following the meal plan only made us cheat more because we hated it so much. So, we decided to let go of this optional component of The Transformation Plan, and decided to eat healthy in our own way.

Weeks 5-8

After our realization in week 4, we successfully modified the meal plan to make it suit our personal needs. As a result, we were happier and were also eating better. Cheat meals were still a thing, but they were a lot less frequent now.

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We tracked the weights we used for each exercise from our first day up to this point, and noticed that we were lifting by several more pounds now. We also didn’t have to look up “narrow stance hack squat” or “dumbbell kickbacks” on our phones anymore. Our bodies looked and felt better, and anything less than our current workout wouldn’t feel like a workout at all.

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We realized, however, that the workout plan did not include ab exercises, probably because the cardio is rigorous in itself. However, one of our initial goals was to work our cores, so we added our own little component to our routine. Our college gym holds 15-minute ab workout classes every other day, and these aligned perfectly with our workout times. Some days, we just did our own quick ab workouts at home.IMG_1762

Home stretch- Week 9 onwards:

This was the hardest part of our workout plan. This week marked the end of my internship, which meant that Hannah and I would be in different cities for the rest of the summer. We made it so far because we supported each other when one of us felt too tired or lazy to go on. This would be the final test.

Turns out, The Transformation Workout Plan transformed more than just our bodies- it transformed our outlook on health and fitness. Working out by ourselves was a lot easier than we expected because we were now physically and mentally strong enough to independently continue this routine. In fact, we intend to continue on as far as possible even after the 12 weeks are up.

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Whether or not you intend to follow this plan, the takeaway is that continuing a workout and meal plan that is good for you, no matter how challenging, will help you achieve that better lifestyle you intend to eventually start living. You just need to be headstrong, and it will become an important part of your routine before you know it.

Don't trust Sloane ❌

A post shared by Arushi Saksena (@inarushi) on

 

Huge thanks to Arushi and Hannah for taking on this incredible project this summer. Often women think that purposefully building muscle will make them look bulky, but Arushi and Hannah were able to get the tone they were looking for without those effects. You can follow Arushi on Instagram @inarushi.

Have you tried the Transformation Workout? Do you lift?

This post is part of my series I’m now calling Do You Even Lift, Ro?, where I try different exercise programs and review them on the blog! What workout should I try next? Let me know on Instagram @xoxorosana.blog

Xoxo, Rosana