Year of the Shark- February Recap

Ok, so before we get any further into March, I thought I had better hurry up and write my recap for February. This month flew by, as not only is it the shortest month of the year, but also one of the busiest in South Louisiana. While the rest of the country is tucked into their warm houses or busy shoveling snow from their driveways, we are wearing wigs, sequins, feathers, and glitter and taking to the streets to have a city wide party- it’s Mardi Gras, y’all.

So here is what the ginger hounds and I got up to while we were busy Sharking in February:

  1. Ruby went to her first parade. Two weekends before Mardi Gras there is a HUGE dog parade through the French Quarter. The parade is put on by the Mystic Krewe of Barkus, and even has a doggy King and Queen each year. This parade always draws huge crowds of dog lovers, and although we didn’t march in the parade this year, I thought it might be a good time to try Ruby out in the French Quarter (Pepper has been to the Quarter tons of times). Long story short, Ruby loved it. My former country-hound took to the big city life like a pig to mud, strutting down Canal Street like it was named after her, and singing “the song of her people” to an entire ferry-load of people on the way across the river. Pepper was also well-behaved- a good time was had by all!

2. Mardi Gras Day is always one of my favorite days of the year. This year the Mardi Gras gods shined down on the city and gave us great weather for Tuesday this year, as the days building up to Fat Tuesday itself were rainy and cold. My costume didn’t come together as I hoped this year, so it ended up being a last minute hodge-podge of other costume items that I threw together. My friend Katie and I were unicorns, and I ended up being the ‘dark’ unicorn to her light and cheery version. But don’t worry, there was still a ton of glitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Introducing Bruce! Yes, I bought a new car, it was time. So, Bruce is now the official Shark Mobile for the girls and I (hence the name). He’s a 2018 Volkswagon Tiguen and we love him already. Can’t wait for him to take us on some good adventures!

20180219_180454106487207.jpg

4. We celebrated the one year anniversary of bringing Ruby home. She’s come a long way from the starving, forgotten hound dog she was a year ago.

 

 

 img_20180222_081100_1811699852601.jpg

5. I got into Nurse Practioner School! No big deal… Actually it’s a huge deal, and I’m very excited about it. I definitely feel like all of my hard work in January paid off. I start courses in April, so I suppose I better sneak in a vacation or two before then!  I probably should have put this at the beginning of the post, but hey- I saved the best for last.  Here’s looking forward to March!

 

Adventures in Exercise Class- Megaformer

Wow, this has been a busy week! Thanks to Class Pass I have been trying out different exercise classes around town which has been fun, but also surprisingly challenging (read my review of Barre Class here). This week, my friend Natalie suggested that we try a Megaformer class at a swanky fitness studio in the posh part of town. Admittedly, I should have done a little more research into what I was getting into with this one. I knew it was a strength/ toning class, but I thought it was a floor class, with lots of squats and push-ups and stuff. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

The Megaformer class basically a reformer pilates class on steroids. Not knowing what a reformer class was, I was at a disadvantage from the start. For anyone else who doesn’t know, the reformer pilates is the pilates that is done on a machine, with parts of it that slide back and forth and resistance that can be adjusted depending on the exercise being performed. It is the kind of machine I imagine Gwyneth Paltrow using, while she sips green juice and thinks about topics for her next GOOP article, not something I ever imagined I would be using.

I arrived at the studio the recommended 15 minutes prior to the start of class and met up with Natalie. A very trendy-looking man checked me in and told me my class was on the second floor. “Your classroom is the one with the black machines,” he explained, “there is a class still in there now, but you are welcome to head in once they finish up.” The mention of machines didn’t really register to me as he was giving instructions, so without any further questions I thanked him and trotted off to find the restroom before class began. I realized as I entered the restroom that I was certainly not in my usually mid-level gym anymore, as this restroom was fancier than pretty much any spa I’d ever been to. Monogrammed towels, bowls of breath mints, free samples of body products that I definitely couldn’t afford normally, complimentary hair ties, etc. I immediately felt slightly self conscious in my Wal-mart off-brand leggings and my “No Pain, No Champagne” tank top. I should have at least thrown on some Lululemon to blend in.

Natalie and I made our way upstairs to wait for our class. We chit-chatted with a couple other ladies outside the room, explaining we were new, and making small talk. Soon enough, it was time to start, and I eagerly entered the room, excited to take on this new, fun class. When I walked into the room, however, I was taken aback when I saw rows of black, flat machines that looking eerily like the medieval torture machines used to stretch people. It basically consisted of a large flat surface, with four posts at each end with a little bench between each pair of posts (not dissimilar to a bed frame). Then there were pulleys with handles, which I assumed would be used for arm movements and knobs that were used to control various aspects of resistance.

I warily put my water bottle down at the machine next to Natalie’s and listened to the instructor giving directions. It seemed we were supposed to begin of all fours (ok, I can do that), get a good grip onto the handles (ok, done), and then do some cat-cow movements as a warm up (ok, easy enough, here I go- HOLY SHIT IT’S MOVING!). I would very rapidly come to discover that the “moving” carriage aspect of this table-like surface was what every exercise was based around, and, in summary, it sucked!

Within two minutes I determined that this contraption was indeed a descendant from the medieval torture devices it resembled, and I was cursing its very existence. I persevered, however. I dug deep, I gritted my teeth, and even though my legs were shaking and my thighs were on fire, I kept going. I glanced at my watch, thinking surely this class must be almost over, but alas, I was only 7 minutes in; 43 long, painful minutes left.

I can’t really tell you what happened for the rest of class, as I’m fairly sure I blacked out (ok, not really, but it was so horrible I don’t want to remember). I know at one point I couldn’t hold a move any longer and just starting sliding backwards on the moveable carriage, to the point where Natalie had to grab my arm to stop me rolling all the way wrong end of the machine. There were a few occasions where my legs just stopped moving and I’d be stuck in some twisty position I couldn’t get out of, and there were multiple times when the carriage got away from me and I ended up splayed out, hands and feet in four different directions like those cartoons of newborn giraffes.

By the end of class I was beaten. As we departed the torture chamber classroom one of the ladies said to us, “Wasn’t it great!? The first time is always really hard, but then you get addicted to it.” False, I thought to myself as I filled my water bottle with complimentary lemon-mint-infused-alkaline-Antarctic dessert-oasis water from the dispenser, I’ll never be back! Well… maybe next week. But only because this free water is so damn tasty!

To Recap:

Good: One hell of a workout! Hits so many muscles that I don’t hit in my normal routines, and I felt it for days afterwards. A very well-balanced workout, easy to perform (once you get the hang of it), and able to be modified if need be.

Bad: I was sore for days!! This would be an expensive class to do regularly, but a good one to add in to a class pass rotation.

Bottom Line: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I would go back. The workout was too good to not try it at least one more time. I probably would skip it during the height of triathlon training, though.

Pedal Clip Woes

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. I finally managed to fall off my bike trying to unclip my pedals. I had literally almost stopped, but for some reason decided to try and stand up with the foot that was still clipped in. And down I went, just toppled right to the side. I can’t imagine how graceful that must have appeared to all of the traffic passing by. Alas, my knee is skinned and my ego bruised but other than that, I lived to tell the tale. I’m sure it won’t be the last time….

Whole30… holy hell!

Last weekend in a moment of brilliance stupidity and curiosity, I decided it would be a good idea to try out the Whole30 program.  For those not familiar with the Whole30 program, it is a form of elimination diet in which the participant cuts all refined sugars, grains, wheats, legumes, alcohol (eeekk!) and dairy (what??) out of their diet.  The premise of the diet is to cut foods that increase inflammation in the body for 30 days, and then to slowly introduce foods back into your diet rotation once the 30 days are up to see how your body reacts.  Sounds interesting enough.

I read some reviews of the program and there were overwhelmingly positive reivews of the plan.  Most people state that the plan is difficult, both physically and emotionally (supposedly sugar detox is rough), for the first couple of weeks, but after that participants experience “boundless energy”, “the best sleep they have ever had”, “relief of chronic inflammation symptoms”, and “feel like they have Tiger Blood running through their veins.”  Tiger Blood, eh?  I’m intrigued.

The diet plan didn’t look too disimilar to what I was already eating (or trying to eat), as I generally try to steer clear of grains and sugary foods.  Admittedly, I’d been a lot more lax with my diet choices recently, which was part of the motivation to try a more extreme program to get back on  track.  Whole 30 focuses on meats, veggies, and fruits and is not considered low carbs, as they encourage plenty of carbs in the form of sweet potatoes, squash, and root vegetables.  Sounds easy enough.  Cutting dairy would be a new step for me, but it can’t be that hard, right?  30 days without cheese…. I can do that!

So I decided to go for it.  No time like the present!  I started earlier this week and am now on day 5.  Here is my experience so far:

Day 1:  Smooth sailing.  I had a ham and veggie omelete for breakfast; tuna ,avacado and smoked salmon for lunch; and braised short ribs with veggies for dinner.  I was eating like a queen!  I felt great, I drank tons of water (with lemon), and I was having fun prepping more Whole meals for the week.  I went for a jog with Pepper and did some yoga (so I can be hot AND bendy when this is all over).  I was OWNING this diet!

Day 2: Woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a restful night’s sleep.  I had mashed sweet potato, eggs, and avocado for breakfast; left over short ribs for lunch, and seaweed salad with salmon for dinner.  However, mid-morning I started to feel kind of “blah”.  I had a headache, my brain was foggy, and all I wanted to do was sleep.  I chaulked this up to being residually tired from the weekend and a full day of work.

Day 3:  Back at work for 12 hours and I’m dying.  I’ve feel like I’ve been run over by a large vehicle and the only thing that will made things better is cheese.  Cheddar cheese, brie, string cheese, blue cheese, cream cheese, velveta, I don’t care but I NEED cheese.  It’s all I can think about, all I can focus on.  I don’t even know what I ate that day, all I know is it was cheese-less and I was sad.  I had a headache, fatigue, and I had body aches all over.  I had read reports of “sugar withdrawl” but I assumed that was only for very unhealthy people, not someone like me who ate pretty well.  I was wrong.  It really made me realize how much refined sugar is hidden in seemingly healthy foods (read your labels, people, you’ll be shocked!).  I really felt terrible.  Finally, around 5 pm, I felt so bad that I drank my first cup of black coffee ever, and it helped a little bit.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I did go for a quick jog with Pepper after work and all in all felt better by the end of the day.

Day 4:  Yesterday I flew to Houston to make an Ikea run and drove back to New Orleans from there with Mr. Big.  I knew this would be a challenging day because finding foods that adhere to the Whole30 on the road isn’t easy.  However, I managed with breakfast at home, a coconut milk latte at Starbucks,  sauce-less meatballs and veggies at Ikea, and a salad from Subway.  I determined that the girl at the Subway was a direct agent of the Devil as she tempted me with cheese on my salad no less than three times during the ordering process, but I suffered though.   Mr. Big also opted for a Subway sandwich instead of walking over to Wendy’s, which I think was his way of showing solidarity (as he enjoyed his bread, cheese, and delicious mayo).  I still had a headache and felt tired, and now I was coming out with some congestion (dairy withdrawl maybe?) and swollen lymph nodes.  My body hates me.

So far, day 5 is much of the same.  Headache, fatigue, and body ache.  There is a slight chance that I might actually be fighting off some kind of sickness, but the timing of everything and the symptoms involved really make me think this is some kind of sugar detox.  I’m sticking with everything, though, and hopefully I’ll turn the corner in a few days.  Although I feel pretty crappy, I am finding this process very interesting.  I am always interested to see how my body reacts to different situations (like training for an Ironman, for example), and this is definitely a new experience in that regard.

I will keep posting updates so you can follow me in my misery… and until then, I’ll continue to dream of cheese!

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Run

Pepper and I went for a nice, quick run this morning at the end of a our normal work.  I’m still trying to take it easy with the exercise, but an easy two miles can’t hurt, right? 

I’m now off to work for 12 hours in the ER, and Pepper has settled back into bed for the day.  What a life of luxury that dog leads…