Tag Archives: Hydration

Back To Basics: Working Out For The FUN Of It

Hi loves!

First of all, congratulations to Germany for winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup!

germany

What a beautiful goal it was!

Also, I apologize for disappearing on you for the second half of last week. The truth is, I’ve been having somewhat of a workout mental block that started right after the Spartan Sprint. Not that I didn’t want or feel like working out, I was too exhausted to do anything. To make things worse, my knee felt weird. I couldn’t help but feel discouraged: the Spartan Beast is only 2 weeks away and I pretty much haven’t run over the past 2 weeks.

you don't workout

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It is easy to get overwhelmed by a demanding training schedule. Oftentimes, routine becomes too routine, and the novelty of it goes away. At some point I even got scared that I was losing my love for running… And believe me, I don’t want this to happen… EVER! So  I dug deeper to find the real root of the problem. Over the past week, instead of centering my mind on the upcoming race and being harsh on myself, I decided to focus on the following basics:

1. Getting enough sleep: In my opinion, this was the biggest issue. It seems like 6-7 hours is not enough for me. I feel best when I get closer to 8 hours of sleep. So I made a conscious effort to get to bed earlier. After all, it’s all about prioritizing, and my top priority is TO FEEL GOOD. *Read more on how to sleep better here.*

getting enough sleep

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2. Eating clean: Nobody likes to feel heavy. I’m no exception. This being said, I couldn’t help myself but feel bloated all the time. The fix was quite simple: I cut down on the amount of meat and alcohol, increased the intake of fruits and vegetables, and started controlling my portions more. The result was almost instantaneous: I FEEL AWESOME!

Here is a picture of some cherries and gooseberries from my parents backyard. They’ve got pretty much everything in there: white, red and black gooseberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, grapes, not to mention a wide variety vegetables and plants! *Can’t wait to have my own little garden too!*

berries

In addition, I recently discovered Freekeh. This grain is packed with fiber, vitamins and nutrients. And it tastes delicious. I added it to my salad instead of quinoa, and it was a nice change!

Freekeh

3. Staying hydrated: This one is pretty much self explanatory. I make it a point to drink more water throughout the day by having a water bottle next to me at all times. *Read more here to learn about dangers of dehydration, and here – to find 4 delicious favored water recipes.*

4. Relaxing: I needed it  more than I realized. So I treated myself to a nice bubble bath with candles…

bath time

Learning more about running…

reading

And, of course, treating myself to a dessert!

cupcake

5. Doing exercises that make me feel good: Yoga has been one of those things that made me feel exceptionally energized and alive recently. I won’t lie, I am sore after my yoga workouts. They make me feel strong and determined. It is an energy and confidence boost I needed.

I took it even a step further and registered myself for the EMPOWER challenge from Yoga With Adriene. *If you are interested in subscribing, you’ll have to hurry and reserve your spot by July 15, watch the video below for more information.* Can you tell I’m hooked?! *Haha!*

6. Thinking of workouts as ME-time not Jeez-I’ve-Got-To-Do-This-Again: This point is the MOST important. At least to me. Somehow we get so caught up in training for a race, competition, achieving a new PR, that we forget the initial reason why we started this fitness journey all together. Go ahead, and I ask yourself this question, ‘WHY?!’

Unfortunately, I can’t answer for you, but I can for myself. I love how being active makes me feel strong, unstoppable and healthy. It makes me feel alive. So why not go back to these basics and focus on them? It helped me!

So forget about timing yourself, tracking the distance, and just run… FOR THE FUN OF IT!

change the way you look at things

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What do you do to bring excitement back into your workouts?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Motivation

Accomplishments, Support & Lessons Learnt Last Week

Today, I’d like to start off by saying how much you guys mean to me. You’ve inspired me, supported me and made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. I am so grateful for this online community and that one day when I finally got enough courage to start my own blog!

you are the best

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I’ve grown so much over the past 6 months! Take for example last week. It may sound like nothing to some seasoned runners out there, but I am proud nevertheless: Don’t forget that this time last year I could barely last 15 minutes on a treadmill. *Yup… I HATED everything about running!*

one day

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Last Wednesday I ran my first 13 km outside *I don’t count the Super Spartan Race last month*. I took it slowly in order not to overdo it, and it took me 1:31:51 to finish*deduct maybe 2-3 minutes for red lights* .

your only limit is you

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But… DRUMM ROLL… I didn’t stop there and went for my first ever 15 km run on Sunday! It felt amazing, nothing I thought it would feel like. I was tired, but I felt ALIVE! My time was 1:44:58. I feel like I could have done better, but considering that I had under 6 hours of sleep and ran on pretty much an empty stomach, I am super proud of my accomplishment!!! And I thank YOU for playing a big role in this fascinating adventure!

It’s crazy how you can LEARN to love something you disliked so much before! If you had told me this a year ago, I’d probably laugh in your face. *True story!* I still remember my first 5 km I ran on a treadmill last July, I felt light-headed… Who would have known?!

I am capable

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Last week also taught me that I have to keep learning about running; for instance, how to stay hydrated and how to fuel my longer runs among many other things. As you may remember, my Spartan Sprint (5+ km) is 2 weeks away, and the Spartan Beast (20+ km) is in 6 weeks already!!! *Time flies!*

First of all, on Sunday, I tried running with a Camelbak I got my hubby for his birthday last year *Oops!*. The strap in the middle really kept it from bouncing, which made me very happy. The only annoyance was the noise the water kept on making, but, as I can imagine, it’s a part of a deal regardless of a solution. Actually, it was sort of funny. Every single time I approached someone from behind, they would turn to see what the heck it was. *I promise, I didn’t breathe heavily!!!* That being said, I’ll rather take that than drink water from a river during my two upcoming races. *I think I forgot to mention about this tiny little detail that occurred during my Super Spartan race… YAH!.. But then, at that moment, I could care less, all I wanted was to drink. Haha!*

 

Also, last time I tried fueling with Gu Roctane (Srawberry-Kiwi & Pineapple), and it went well. I didn’t have any cramps or whatsoever. So the biggest task right now is to experiment with the timing, and maybe see if there is anything out there that works better for me. *Any suggestions are very welcome!*

Finally, I decided to try out a new kind of a protein bar *meaning, I’ve never tried it before*, I came across at Costco yesterday. I looked at the nutritional info and was quite impressed. The price also seemed to be reasonable as well. Normally, I have a peanut butter toast with a banana prior to my run, but I am curious to see see how it goes.

MLO Bio Protein Bars

What have you learnt about yourself recently?

xoxo
Olena

 

 

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Filed under Cardio, Fitness, Health, Motivation, Running

Fitness & Massage: Your Body Deserves It

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already! And you can call me a spoiled brat, but that’s what I am going to be doing tonight…

relaxation massage

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Okay, let the truth be told… I don’t look that glamorous when I’m getting a massage… Most of the time I’m on the verge of falling asleep… It’s important to highlight… On the verge… Why? Because most of the times I come back to reality from realization that I am about to drool… Yah… You got it right… But hey, no judgement here! *Haha!*

Also most of the times I feel like this.

Is_this_too_much_pressure

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I’m exaggerating here, of course. I actually like when a masseuse has strong hands. But you know that moment when they are trying to work your shoulder blades? Well, every single time, I think that something is about to crack. And yet, when they ask me if everything is okay, I say.

i__m_fine_by_destinyblue-d4e1b9e

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Am I normal? *Haha!*

In all seriousness though, I love Swedish massage. It appears that this kind of massage not only helps relaxation, but is also “exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension”, according to Massage Envy Spa.

However, to reap all benefits of a massage, you have to do a bit of ‘homework’ too. Remember to:

  • Drink lots of water, especially for the next 24-48 hours: This will help toxins to leave your body. *Check out these tips to stay hydrated.*
  • Take a warm shower or a nice bath with salts. Doing this will improve your blood circulation and bring relaxation to a whole new level.
  • Do some static stretching: hold your favorite yoga pose for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.Stretches will reducce post-massage soreness.I actually came across a cool image on one of my favorite blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers, today. You can use it for inspiration if you’d like.

Yoga-Poses-Hold-each-pose-for-30-seconds_thumb

  • Have a small snack to boost electrolytes in your body. Oh, I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention you about my favorite post-massage treat!

chocolate_covered_strawberries_recipe_plate_of_chocolate_covered_strawberries

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At the spa I go to, they serve chocolate covered strawberries in their relaxation area. Let me tell you, after I have 2 of them, I’m in heaven. *True story!*

Back to planet Earth… *Hehe!*

This is how my cross-train workout yesterday looked like.

Repeat 5 times:

10 push-ups
10 burpees
5 pull-ups
30-second sprint
1 minute rest

Then, with something heavy, repeat 4 times:

15 squats
Lunge walk 50 meters
10 chest-passes
10 underhand toss
1 minute rest

Strength: Ab 500 *This surely covers the 30 sit ups for 30 days challenge! See previous post.*

fitness-inspiration

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What is your favorite type of massage? How often do you treat yourself to one?

xoxo
Olena

 

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7 Post Race Recovery Tips & Recollections From My Rhythmic Gymnastics Days

I’ve been sore… VERY SORE!!! The Spartan Race seems to have taken my ability to walk away. I am NOT kidding you!

walking down stairs after a long run

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It’s funny and somewhat random, but as I was looking for the above picture, I came across this one:

walk-down-stairs-backwards

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It seems like such a GREAT idea. I don’t know how I haven’t thought of this on my own. I’ll definitely give it a try! *Haha!*

You know what? Since my blog is based on a scientific research *wink, wink* and my continuous curiosity, I decided to actually leave my laptop and try walking down stairs backwards… It is indeed easier and much less painful! *Happy dance!* Nevertheless, I think I’ll refrain from doing it in public… just in case!

I’m still a newbie when it comes to running . Therefore, it’s not surprising that I knew very little about what I could do in order to recover from a long run or race faster.

road to recovery

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In fact, proper race recovery is essential. There are a few things we can do in order to speed it up.

  1. According to Activekeep moving right after the race, even if you are dead tired. Do these stretches while your muscles are still warm.
  2. Runner’s World suggests to take a few easy days. The general rule of thumb is one day of rest for each mile. However, please note that “rest” does NOT mean no running or exercise, but rather a break from intense training like speed work. Rest days can include short, easy paced runs or cross training, like swimming or spinning, at an easy intensity level. Exercise promotes circulation, which brings nutrients and oxygen to soft tissue; therefore, enhanced circulation replenishes and repairs the body, which means that exercise can assist with recovery, provided it is done at a low intensity level so as not to stress the body further.” 
  3. Even though it may be extremely painful, roll it out. Make sure not to be harsh on your body. Read here more on various foam rolling techniques.
  4. Hydrate. Read my previous blog post on hydration to find ways to remember to drink enough water throughout the day.
  5. Eat well.
  6. Stretch it out. Check out the following deep stretching and ultimate stretch yoga routines, and Pilates flexibility workout routine.
  7. Treat yourself to a well-deserved massage.

ready set go

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Since I touch-based the subject of stretching today, I thought it would be a great opportunity to answer a couple of questions about rhythmic gymnastics that one of my readers asked me a while ago. I kept on delaying this post because I wanted to get a few pictures from back in the days during my trip to Ukraine last month. However, due to family circumstances, I completely forgot about them. SORRY!

How old were you when you started with rhythmic gymnastics and how many years did you continue it for?

As some of you may already know, I did rhythmic gymnastics for quite a few years. I think, I started doing it when I was about 7-8 years old (rather late since the average age of beginners is around 5 years old), and stopped around 16. I achieved a rank of a Candidate in Masters of Sport, which I am very proud of.

What were your coaches like? Are they as strict as people think?

No, unfortunately, coaches in Ukraine are not as strict as people in other countries think, they are much stricter! Haha!

I won’t lie, I hated it at times. However, in retrospective, my coaches taught me a lot and I really miss the discipline that came with it. We had 5-6 practices a week, at least 3-4 hours each. It wasn’t a strange thing to see girls crying at the gym. Mostly, it happened when we were stretching. We were required to do splits from 1 or 2 chairs and someone would push us down to the floor.

rhythmic gymnastics splitsSource

I remember this one day, when my dad was trying to explain me a concept of yoga when I was little. I couldn’t understand how could you simply let your body adjust to pain and stretch without anyone yelling or pushing you down. *Sounds crazy, right? Haha!*   

Speaking of yelling… It is considered normal. Hearing names coming your way was definitely unpleasant, especially in front of parents, but not frowned upon.

Oh… and pinching!.. especially during choreography lessons! Our coach was used to pinch us with a twist of skin, so that it would really really hurt but wouldn’t leave a mark. *Now I use this method on my hubby when he ‘disobeys’. True story! Haha!*

I know, I know… It sounds absolutely horrific. But please, believe me, it wasn’t any sort of abuse, and I really miss those times! And the above memories actually made me giggle as I was writing them down.

Last story for today… We were training for the Championship of Ukraine. I don’t really remember the details, but the coach got really mad at one of my teammates. She wanted to come up to her and smack her or something, but the girl started running away! This was a surprise to us all, including the coach. We were somewhat stunned by what was happening but intrigued at the same time. Guess what?! Our coach wasn’t going to let it slip, so she took off her shoe and threw it at my friend. Thankfully, she missed her, but this forever stayed in my memory. I laugh every single time I tell someone this story! Good old times!!!

memories

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Please, do let me know if you would like to know more about my rhythmic gymnastics days. Ask away!

Now it’s your turn. How do you recover after a serious race? What are some of your childhood memories that make you laugh, even though it may make others frown?

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Rhythmic Gymnastics

Spring Cleaning Your Home And Body 101: 3 Eco-Friendly DIY Household Cleaner Recipes & 6 Great Short-Term Challenges For Your Health

Call me crazy, but for me all seasons start on the first of the month. *I guess it’s an Eastern European thing!*

let's celebrate spring

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I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day when we were asked a question about when seasons start in my French class shortly after my family’s arrival to Canada. Always an eager student, I could not wait to answer the question to show off my newly acquired French skills only to find myself completely dumb struck. *In retrospect, I still find the entire situation totally hilarious! I was soooo EMBARRASSED!* But then, who could blame me?! Why on the earth seasons would start on the 21st of the month and not on the first?! It’s beyond me! 

Anyhow, back to the subject… MY spring began on Saturday, you CAN be jealous if you wish! Haha!

You still don’t believe me? Well, how about this? On Saturday night, my hubby was coming down with a flu, so he took some medicine and fell asleep. While he was peacefully snoring with Bella in his feet, I managed to rearrange all of his drawers… YAH! It was March 1!

true story

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You know it’s a spring the moment your entire being wants to get rid of clutter and start things fresh. Right?! To me spring cleaning is letting go of winter, getting rid of clutter, reevaluating my short- and long-term goals.

In my opinion living healthy also implies living in harmony with nature and the world. Reducing our foot print on nature is indeed important to living a long healthy and happy life. This is why I was super excited when I found the following infographic.

Eco-Friendly Household Cleaner Recipes- nfographic

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Indeed, white vinegar is a life saver! I use it when I have to clean a fridge and a shower all the time. On the other hand, I saw a few worrisome reports that some vinegar may be made of petroleum. So please, be sure to check your vinegar labels and make sure that it’s made of grains.

I also found a wonderful article on Greatist, 27 Non-Toxic Products for DIY Cleaning, make sure to check it out.

slow down and reflect on what matters the most

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Apart from cleaning my home, I like to take some time to refocus and get organized. For instance:

spring cleaning

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How about you? What does spring cleaning mean to you? What are your favorite ways to let go of winter?

xoxo
Olena

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TGIF: 10 Strange Ways To Stay Healthy (& Smiling)

It’s Friday! I honestly don’t know how I’ve made it so far. It’s been a super busy week for me at work and I am super excited to have a nice and relaxing weekend.

its-friday-thank-goodness

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Frankly, my brain is fried, so I wanted to keep today’s post short and sweet… and FUNNY! Because as you may remember, laughter is great for you!

I came across the following infographic. To be honest with you, it seems like it’s gonna be a very healthy Friday for me! Haha! Well, take a look at it for yourself.

10 strange ways to stay healthy

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Here is the plan:

1. Wake up & have a nice cup of coffee. Actually, I’ll make it a nice Caramel Nespresso Latte! *I know, I know, it’s sugary and stuff, but honestly, guys, I deserved it!*

2. Take a nice shower & make sure to sing extra loud to wake up my hubby! *I’m pretty sure, our beautiful Bella will join me in making noise! After all it’s our 6-monthaversary today!!!*

3. Listen to music on my way to work. *I really hope they will play Lorde’s song. I’M OBSESSED!*

4. People watching on a bus is very often better than comedy! *CHECK!*

5. I’ll make sure to drink enough water at work. *Baby, please, put 2 bottles of water in my lunch bag! Haha!*

6. Make friends? New clients ARE friends… Right?!?! Okay, I’ll just be very friendly with them. *Note to my boss: friendly & PROFESSIONAL!!!*

7. Hmmmm… Dark grape juice…I guess, I’ll just opt for a nice glass of wine after work. *Winner!*

8. I’ll floss! Pinky swear!

9. Well… I’d say it’s TMI! *You really didn’t think I would go into this, did you?! Haha!*

So as you can see, it sounds like a very promising and healthy day for me!!!

always-stay-positive-funny-homer-simpson-picture

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It’s all about staying positive, right?!?! Haha!

Are you aware of any other strange ways to stay healthy? Any fun plans for the weekend? Do you sing in a shower?

xoxo
Olena

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From Getting Hair Pulled Out At Elementary School To A Cardio Kickboxing Workout To Burn Fat At Home

When I was about 8 years old, there was this boy in my class who kind of liked me. You might think it’s cute. But let me tell you! It was not. He had a very strange way of showing his attraction to me by constantly hurting me.

boys

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Yup… Not cute at all…

Anyhow, I remember how upset I was all the time. And then it happened… You can call it a father-daughter bonding moment. I kid you not, my dad taught me a few kickboxing tricks for self-defense. I SWEAR!!!! I even remember how my dad showed me how to throw someone over the shoulder. Now, mind you, I never did it, but being thrown over my dad’s shoulder was scary and fun at the same time. *How else do you think my dad could teach me? Of course, by example! Haha!*

One of my most favorite things, though, was kicking the glove. It was INTENSE!

kickboxing target

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*I totally imagined that boy’s face! Could you blame me?*

what doesn't kill you makes you stronger

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*Timing is everything! Haha!*

Back to the subject, somehow this got me thinking and I realized that I haven’t done any martial art workout since then, which is kinda silly. Why? Because there are so many benefits of kickboxing! Here are some of them:

  • Burn calories
  • Re-energize
  • Take out stress
  • Tone your body
  • Self-defense
  • Boost confidence
  • Improve coordination

You need to know the basic moves.

kickboxing basic moves

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*Fine, you don’t have to look THAT serious! Oh, and you can smile! In fact you SHOULD smile!*

Here is a pretty amazing kickboxing workout from Fitness Blender that I am planning on including in my routine tonight.

Please, remember to stay hydrated throughout the workout and to fuel properly before and after.

Are you a fan of martial workouts? What are your favorite moves?

xoxo
Olena

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