I Want To Ride My Bicycle: Part 2

The other day I posted Part 1 of this little series, talking about my newfound love of cycling. Today I want to talk more about why I love it so much and how it compares to running (for me).

To start, being physically active was always part of my life. I played a lot of sports growing up and have so many great memories of childhood in the context of sports. Teammates became close friends. I learned how to compete and push myself individually but also how to work together with others as a team. Finding something I was good at and could excel in (or make progress in) was also a great feeling. And for me, that was sports (not so much academics lol…I was an okay student). The one sport in particular that made the biggest impact on me (because it was both the hardest and most rewarding) was running cross-country.

 

I started running x-c in middle school (when the course was 1.5 miles) and continued all throughout high school (3 mile courses). I stopped, however, after graduating and going to college. Kind of kicking myself now for not playing some sort of sport in college, but, alas…what’s done is done. I had different goals then. I would occasionally go for a run here and there during my 20’s and tried to “get back into it” a few times since getting married and having kids. However, I’ve been pretty unsuccessful.

Now that I’ve “gotten into” cycling, I can see a lot of similarities between the 2 but also some key differences that I think explains why I’ve had such a hard time running again. I’ll start with the similarities. While both cross-country and cycling are team sports, there is still a huge emphasis on individual performance. You have to dig deep within yourself and push yourself to see how much you can suffer. (Let’s just call it what it is. Suffering lol.) In both sports, you can cross the finish line with a huge sigh (or gasp) of relief, and think, “Holy crap..I just did that. I ran ‘x’ number of miles without stopping….up and down hills!” or “Wow, I just rode ‘x’ number of miles and ‘x’ amount of feet in elevation gain!” There’s something oddly satisfying about pushing yourself to the point of complete exhaustion. It’s amazing how much your body can do and how far it can take you. Running and cycling are both great examples of what the human body is capable of.

The difference is, with running, the suffering starts a lot sooner. And if you haven’t run in a long time, it’s like starting back at zero again. Progress is slow. (Just speaking from my own experience here, might not be the case for others). And it’s because running is more high-impact. It’s harder on your body – your feet, your knees, your digestive system, your heart and lungs, etc. So it takes a while for the shock to your body to subside and get used to it again. It’s like my body was saying to me, “Oh…ok, so you’re doing THIS again? Well….you’re older now and you’ve given birth a few times sooooo we’re gonna need some transition time here.” I would have to start by just running 1 mile because it’s all my body could handle. I was winded. My body hurt. It was discouraging that I couldn’t do what I used to do, and that made it harder for me to stick with.

I’ve found that cycling, however, is much easier to start. It’s low-impact. Easier on the body (at first). Progress comes faster and that’s super encouraging and makes me stick with it. There is still suffering to be had, I assure you. But you can ease into it. Also you can go faster and farther on a bike than you can your own 2 feet and I like that aspect of it too. But I really do love that it reminds me so much of my cross-country days. Sure, I sometimes do leisurely rides that barely get my heart-rate up, just enjoying the views out on the bike. But I’m far too competitive with myself to do that all the time. I want PRs. I want QOMs (if within reach..which is really hard in the Bay Area).  I briefly mentioned Strava in my last post, which is what I use to track my rides. You can see how you compare to other Strava athletes, but also yourself. It’s great motivation! I also mentioned Zwift, which is the virtual riding program I use, and that has similar motivational aspects. On every course there are sprint segments or KOM/QOM climbs and I cannot resist them. I just can’t. When I get to one of those segments, I go hard until I almost pass out/throw up lol. KOM/QOM is short for “King of the Mountain” and “Queen of the Mountain”. It’s the title given to the person with the fastest time on a given segment (doesn’t necessarily have to be a climb on an actual mountain). For running it’s called a CR, “Course Record.”

Anyway. I feel like I’ve reconnected with part of my childhood through cycling. The personal suffering and feeling of accomplishment when you’ve finished. The mental battle (see below).  Seeing progress and results. Man, it feels good.

Of course, other major benefits I’ve experienced (not just from cycling but regular exercise in general): more energy, better overall mood, less anxiety, less body fat, etc. etc. I’ve always known those things to be true of course, but it’s not always easy to accomplish when you’re a mom. My exercise consistency has been all over the place since having kids. That is to say, not at all consistent. But now that we’re done having babies (unless there’s divine intervention), I’m hoping this will now be part of the regular routine and lifestyle. And with little eyes watching me, I hope it rubs off on them too!

Lastly, another similarity I’ve found is the community and camaraderie of the sport. Of all the sports I participated in growing up, cross-county was the best team I was part of (meaning, we were a tight-knit group). I’ve seen the same thing in the cycling world. My husband has his group of guys that he rides with and they’ve grown to become great friends. You can also see it out on the road when passing other cyclists. You acknowledge each other with a nod or wave. Find each other on Strava and give them kudos (it’s like a facebook “like”). Sure there’s competition, but it’s usually friendly. Everyone pushes each other to be better. Of course there will always be a few bad eggs out there (I’ll talk about them in another post), but for the most part, everyone is pretty cool and they look out for each other. If Ivor sees someone stopped on the side of the road or trail, he stops and asks if he can help (he’s changed lots of flats for people). If a fellow riding buddy is struggling and is clearly in need of some fuel, you offer a gel or a clif bar or something.

It was really cool to see how many people of varying ages and abilities showed up for the Silicon Valley Gran Fondo last weekend that Ivor participated in. I believe the oldest participant was around 78 years old, and the youngest was about 14. There were former pros, amateurs, beginners.. Some finished in less than 5 hours, some in 7 hours. But they all came together and enjoyed the same sport/hobby together….one of the first major milestones in all of our lives: riding a bike.

 

I Ain’t As Good As I Once Was

Just wanted to share some thoughts/revelations I’ve had recently about being active (again).  Ya know…running, hiking, biking, etc.

We recently visited Tahoe for the 2nd time (we seriously love it there and would move there if we could I think). We filled our time with lots of outdoor, active activities, as one should when you visit there. Specifically, mountain biking, which is a favorite activity of my husband’s (he has a lot more experience than I do). But I enjoy it too, especially with him.

This time around though, I was having a really hard time with it. I kept thinking “why is this so much harder than last time??” For some reason, in my mind, I thought I’d be in better shape now and that riding the same mountain, 2 years later, would be easy peasy. HA. Also, this year…I was PMSing hardcore and my emotions were all over the place. My head was filled with a lot of discouraging thoughts “this sucks…I suck….I can’t do this..what is wrong with me? why won’t my legs GO?!”

And then it occurred to me…2 years ago, I had only given birth to 2 kids, not 3 (let me tell you, that 3rd one changes things). I was 2 years younger (also, BIG difference). And I had been working out REGULARLY for months leading up that first Tahoe trip. I was in MUCH better shape then. So, duh Krystal. Of course you’re slower now.

Between the 2 trips, we experienced some stressful/traumatic events, had another kid and pretty much stopped working-out until JUST recently (referring to myself here, not my husband). So I need to be nicer to myself. My running pace isn’t going to be what it was back in high school, at least not yet. It’s going to take some time to get back there. And my biking skills/climbing ability isn’t going to just magically appear. But thanks to my stubbornness and determination (I have no idea where my kids get that….), I will get better!

One of my favorite tools to track progress is Strava. It tracks your activities (pace, elevation gain, times, etc.) so you can try to beat previous efforts. Super motivating! You better believe I’ll be revisiting certain routes once I’m faster/stronger 🙂

And aside from the self-competitiveness, it just feels good being active, being outdoors, especially when I can do these things with my husband too (our idea of a fun date!) Even at a slow pace, it’s still faster than sitting on the couch 🙂

So, let this be an encouragement to you. If you used to be faster/stronger and you’ve been feeling discouraged…don’t! *Most likely, your body has been through a lot. Don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself. Set achievable goals. Start slow. And keep going 🙂

 

*I’m not an expert. Just guessing 😛

 

Yet It Did Not Fall

One of my favorite passages of Scripture, that I personally declared as the passage for our marriage (though of course it’s applicable to all of life really), is Matthew 7:24-27, “the wise and foolish builders.” It’s the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus explains that those who put into practice all that he has said, will be like the man who builds his house on a rock. Well, instead of paraphrasing it for you, I’ll just copy it in full here:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Yes, I realize Jesus wasn’t speaking specifically of marriage here, but the illustration still works. You face a lot of crap in a marriage and if your foundation is weak, it’s likely to come crumbling down with a great crash. But if your foundation is strong, it can withstand the beating that is sure to come.

But this isn’t meant to be a sermon on marriage or a declaration that it’s that simple, or a “hey look at us, we’ve got it all together” post. I just want to share a little deeper about what life was like during the most recent “storm” that hit our “house” and give thanks to God that it’s still standing!

Looking back on the last 5 years of marriage (and it’s only been 5!) our hardest times seemed to draw us closer together, but this time especially. I’m grateful though, because I know the opposite could’ve happened. Renovating a house together during our first year of marriage, living out of 1 room and doing dishes in the bathtub. Job and financial struggles. Moving away from our family, across the country and basically starting a new life together. Suffering miscarriage #1. Having 2 babies 14 months apart. And now, an accident and another miscarriage- losing twins. All in 5 years of marriage!

So here’s just a little glimpse of what life has been like recently…

You may have heard the overview of injuries that Ivor suffered after the accident: broken collar bone, 2 back fractures and a spinal cord contusion in his neck which caused nerve damage, but you might not realize the effect of those injuries on his daily life. In the beginning, he was in so much pain, it took a few days before he could even stand or walk for more than 10 minutes. The nerve pain was debilitating. He had a hard time feeding himself. He needed help going to the bathroom. He couldn’t bathe himself or get dressed by himself. Getting him comfortable was a constant struggle and he still has yet to get a good night’s sleep. So for the past month or so, but especially in the very beginning, he was as dependent on me as our 2 kids are. (And I can now say that I know that man more intimately than any other person on this planet. Helping your spouse go to the bathroom is something you might expect to go through in old age, not this soon.) But who can expect or predict things like this? Life is going along swimmingly and then you hear screeching brakes in the form of a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, with a sinking feeling in your stomach when the person on the other end asks, “are you Ivor’s wife?”

It could’ve been so much worse. I am thankful that my husband is still alive. And not paralyzed. But I will still rightly recognize the last month or so as being really sucky and really difficult. It’s easy to dismiss things and try to make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to others worse off than you. There’s nothing wrong with a little perspective, but you can still have perspective and valid feelings of grief for whatever it is you’re going through at the time.

Anyway. I wish I could say that I’ve handled every moment with grace and self-sacrificing love. But that would be a self-righteous lie. There have been several times over the course of the last few weeks that I’ve wanted to scream “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN I JUST GET 2 MINUTES TO MYSELF WITHOUT SOMEONE NEEDING ME????” (and all the moms of world said “amen!”) After all, I was miscarrying at the time too. I was going through my own personal struggle of grief over having life begin and end inside my body ….for the 2nd time. And dealing with the emotions of having and losing twins. But I barely had a moment to dwell on those feelings because of everything else going on. Because of Ivor’s injuries, he was unable to help me with the kids. I’m used to being on my own with them during the day while he’s at a work, but not 24/7. It’s been exhausting (to say the least). Single parents- you have my utmost respect and admiration.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14)? Fail. I’ve grumbled. I’ve argued. But God’s mercies are new every morning, and each day He has given me a renewed, supernatural strength to care for my family. And has reminded me what a privilege it is to be needed, and why I do what I do for my family. It should not be out of obligation or duty (though, it is my duty), but the motivation should be out of love. Oh, I’ve had my weak, selfish moments. But I’ve also had a full heart absolutely bursting with love for my husband and our kids- where taking care of them wasn’t even a question in my mind. It was automatic. Not a burden. Yes, I took vows and take them seriously. So of course I will care for my husband when he can’t care for himself. But I also do it because I love that man, and I want to take care of him. It’s a much better feeling, personally (and to those who are receiving it), when you’re fueled by love, and not obligation. And that is a daily prayer of mine as a wife and mommy because it doesn’t come naturally. Any good that I’ve done for my family, all the right attitudes I’ve had- – – it’s not because I’M so strong…it’s because I have a strong God holding me together. And it’s only by the grace of God that this “house” is still standing.

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, July

July 2015 proved to be one of the most eventful months of our lives. Good events, and very bad events. We started off the month with a fantastic day trip to Paso Robles for wine tasting (just my husband and I), as part of an early anniversary celebration. Then we spent a few days in Tahoe for a family vacation. Overall, our Tahoe trip was awesome. We loved it there and can’t wait to go back again (I have an entire post in my drafts folder all about it). However, bad event #1 happened there. On our 3rd day, Ivor Baby had a pretty serious allergic reaction to something and we had to take him to the ER. It was a “moderate” reaction. Eye swelling and hives all over his body. But no respiratory distress, thank God. We didn’t figure out what caused it until recently after taking him to an allergist. Food allergies tend to be the most common occurrence in babies, but we didn’t introduce anything new while we were in Tahoe. We DID, however, expose him to something for about the 3rd time ever, eggs. Little Dude is allergic to eggs (and milk as it turns out, but eggs are likely what caused the bad reaction in Tahoe). Now we know what caused it, and what to avoid in the future. We even have an epi-pen just in case. But we’re hopeful that he’ll outgrow the allergy eventually.

Moving on to later in the month….

We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Yay marriage! Yay us! Good times.

But then,

July 21, 2015- my husband was in a serious bicycle accident on his way home from work. While riding downhill at 20+mph, his front tire failed, blew out completely, sending him flying into a chain link fence, breaking his collar bone, fracturing 2 bones in his back and bruising the spinal cord in his neck (injuries that were confirmed much later at the hospital). A random stranger who stopped to help him called me with the news. Well, he called and then handed the phone to Ivor, who then told me what happened. Fortunately, my mother-in-law was visiting at the time so I left immediately to go get him. The plan was for me to take him to the hospital. But when I got there and we realized he couldn’t get in the car because of how much pain he was in, I called 911 and an ambulance showed up a few mins later. When the paramedics arrived and started poking and prodding him, cutting off his bike shirt because he was in too much pain to move his arms, I started to get sick to my stomach. Sure he was awake and talking, but he looked so pale and in so much pain. And so I started assuming the worst (serious internal bleeding that we don’t know about yet, etc. etc. etc.) I had to sit on the back bumper of the ambulance with my head between my knees to keep myself from passing out or vomiting. I kept telling myself “pull it together, Krystal…they don’t need 2 patients right now. Pull yourself together”. After what seemed like way too long, they told me to meet them in Trauma at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. So I got in  car, prepared to follow them. But then they sat there for what also seemed like FOR-EV-ER, before they finally pulled away and started driving. I was *this* close to laying on my horn, beeping at them to get their lazy as*es moving. Again, “pull yourself together woman”.

Once we arrived at the hospital, he had a ton of x-rays done and a CT scan, and was given morphine to help with the pain. We waited around for quite a bit, wondering if he’d be able to go home that night or if he’d need to stay for awhile. While waiting out in the hallway in the trauma area, I decided to finally take a bathroom break. While in the bathroom, I discovered that I was bleeding.

What I failed to mention earlier was that shortly after our Tahoe vacation, we found out we were expecting our 3rd baby.

And now we’re in the trauma center of Santa Clara Valley Medical, my husband is laying on a gurney out in the hallway in a neck brace, with broken bones, in excruciating amounts of pain, …and now in typical, “when it rains it pours” fashion, it appeared that we were losing our baby too. All on the same day. I walked back out to Ivor and told him what was happening. He held my hand, which was all he could do.

“Worst. Day. Ever.”

They kept him in the hospital overnight and I stayed with him, in the most horrible uncomfortable chair ever, not being able to sleep for obvious reasons. 1. the chair 2. I was freezing 3. I was bleeding 4. I kept checking on Ivor making sure he was breathing…watching the rise and fall of his chest, much like you do when you first bring home a baby. Because I’m paranoid like that. When the doctors made their rounds first thing in the morning they discovered that Ivor had quite a bit of neck pain, so they ordered an MRI for later in the day (the MRI is what eventually showed his spinal cord injury). While he was getting his MRI, I was on my way to the OB for an ultrasound to try to figure out what was going on with my pregnancy, expecting the worst of course.

It was in the OB’s office, sitting there by myself, while my husband was in the hospital, that I finally could NOT hold myself together anymore. The nurse asked me “So, what’s going on, when did the bleeding start?” And the floodgates opened. I was one hot mess in that office. And then came the ultrasound. We discovered 2 things. 1. There were 2 visible sacs on the screen. Twins. I was pregnant with twins. But one of them didn’t appear to be growing well, and starting to disintegrate, which was probably the cause of the bleeding. 2. The other one appeared to be in better shape, with a little baby inside. But I wasn’t far enough along for them to be able to tell for sure if everything was okay or not. So they sent me away to get a blood test (to check  hCG levels) and another ultrasound the following week. So there was a small sliver of hope. While it was pretty clear that we were losing one of the twins (one I didn’t even know we were expecting until we were losing him/her), there was still hope for the 2nd one. The hCG test showed that my levels were rising, which was a good sign, but since I was having twins my levels were “unpredictable”, according to the doctor. So ultimately, it would  be the 2nd ultrasound that would hopefully give us a clear answer one way or the other.

Fast forward to that ultrasound a week later (after we’ve been home from the hospital for a few days). Ivor was (barely) able to be there with me for this one. He was in a lot of pain, but he was there. The 2 sacs were still there but the one was significantly smaller than it was the week before, confirming again that we lost one. But then as the ultrasound tech began measuring the 2nd sac with the 2nd baby in it, I knew. I’ve been pregnant enough in the past few years and I’ve seen my fair share of ultrasounds to know what a beating heart looks like, even in the early stages, and there wasn’t one. The tech didn’t say much and asked again if I was still bleeding at the time. I wasn’t. She said to sit down and wait for the doctor to come in to talk to us about the results (again, we know what’s coming at this point). Still though, even with a week to prepare myself for it, and seeing it on the screen with my own eyes, it still hurt like hell to hear the actual words come out of my doctor’s mouth. “No heartbeat”.

That makes 2 miscarriages, and 3 total babies lost. Still as devastating as the first time, even with 2 beautiful, healthy kids at home.

I was considering passing the babies naturally at home, but decided against it given our current circumstances. I was taking care of my husband and our 2 kids and the last thing our family needed was for me to be in pain, cramping and bleeding and not being able to take care of them. So we opted for another D&C procedure.

That was yesterday. And now it’s over.

And it’s a new month.

There’s a lot more I want to write about this whole experience, with Ivor’s accident, and miscarrying for the 2nd time…and the twins. And I know Ivor wants to write about it from his perspective too. But for now, all I can say is that God is still good. And we have never before in our lives been more surrounded by the love and kindness of others. And have never experienced comfort quite like this before.

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). 

 

 

A Blessing in the Busyness

Being insanely busy is not ideal. It has a lot of downfalls. In the chaos of “work work work”, “go go go”, it can be difficult to connect. With God, and with each other. But that is the season of life we are in at this moment. We have 2 small kids. A house in Philly (still in the process of renovating). Our own business to run here in the Bay Area, which requires a lot of our time and energy to get going (and The Griffiths don’t half-ass things, we go all in). It’s not like this all the time, there are slow periods. And it’s not how we want things to go forever. That said, I’ve found a blessing in the midst of it all.

I get asked a lot by friends “how do you and your husband find time for each other being so busy (between the kids and the business)?” And it got me thinking…I wonder if things would be different if we weren’t so busy. Being busy has caused us to be very intentional about our time together. Because it doesn’t just happen naturally right now, we have to make an effort to ensure that it happens. And we make the most of it when it does.

During the “slow periods” (normal daily grind seasons of life), it can be very easy to get stuck in a rut. Sit on the couch and stare at the TV all night. That tends to be our rut. But when things are crazy and we haven’t spent much time together, sitting on the couch and staring at a screen is just not acceptable and I don’t allow it to happen 🙂

So here are the things we do (I shared something like this before …but it’s worth mentioning again).

1. First of all, this wouldn’t happen if we both didn’t agree that marriage is a priority, over everything else (save for our individual relationships with God of course). We could easily put marriage on the back-burner while we raise our kids and run our business. But that’s not the kind of commitment we made to each other on July 17, 2010. Like I said earlier, we’re all in. Putting the kids first, or work first, while our  marriage suffers, is not something we’re going to let happen. Though Satan tries his hardest, he has failed and will continue to fail in all of his efforts. That is all.

2. Date nights. We do a “babysitting exchange” with a friend once a month. I watch their kid while they go out on a date, and she watches our kids so we can go out. It saves us money by not having to pay a sitter and it’s something we actually plan and schedule. Intention. And we have a “radio silence” rule while we’re out (no checking cell phones or tablets, texting or emailing anyone etc.) We have other “date nights” at home too sometimes. After the kids are in bed, we drink wine, eat cheese, rent a movie, talk, etc. Same radio silence rule applies. This is something I’d actually like to do more of. Right now it’s kind of spontaneous and sparse. So, room for improvement here 🙂

3. Working out together.  I’m not saying all couples should do this specific thing (though it does have amazing benefits, for the overall health of your body AND your marriage) but find something fun, challenging, and different to do together that you both enjoy. This is how we got out of our “sit and watch TV” rut. Every night after the kids go to bed, we start Rushfit. It only takes an hour, and then if Ivor needs to get more work done, he does it after. We committed to it and we’re doing it together. Heckling each other (he gets called a pansy or princess on a regular basis), encouraging each other, challenging each other, etc. It doesn’t hurt that he looks pretty hot at the end of the workout.

4. Going to bed at the same time. There is something important about ending the day together I think. At least for me. It just feels wrong (and lonely) going to bed alone (as a married woman). This doesn’t mean we fall asleep at the same time by the way. I tend to be the one who passes out first. And Ivor will read or something if he’s not tired yet. But being in the same room, in the same bed, at the end of a crazy day with the kids (or a crazy day at the office) is a way of unwinding. It’s like a big sigh. No matter what happened that day, whether it was a good day or a bad day, we still have each other. We’re still husband and wife. We’re each other’s constant. We might talk about the day, or we might not talk at all. But we’re both present. Does that make sense? There are very few instances where we don’t do this (like if I’m tired at a ridiculously early time, like 8pm…which happens occasionally, I won’t ask him to come up with me. I know I’m just going to immediately pass out anyway. Or when he has a late night gig or something). But whenever possible, we make it happen.

5. Working together. I can’t help him work on Google stuff obviously (top secret confidential…and ya know, I have no idea how to do what he does). But our business (Bitwise Productions), is our business. So we work on things together whenever we can. He has his part and I have my part, but there are still plenty of things we can do together. That way we can make “work” another way to bring us together instead of keeping us apart. That is the blessing of running a business from home. And the nature of our business (event production) is actually kind of fun. And we get to see just how good of a team we make. Ivor’s the business guy. The big picture guy. He’s the entertainer. And I handle all the details behind the scenes. We need each other. His weakness is my strength and vice versa. We are a team. And that’s why I think our business will be successful.

So that’s where we are right now. We don’t do this perfectly all the time. It’s not the ideal situation we want to be in. I get frustrated and discouraged at times. But instead of letting the busyness put a strain on our marriage, we’re doing our best to make it stronger. While it would be nice to have more quantity time together, the quality time we’re getting now is pretty awesome and we’re not taking that for granted.

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Rushfit, Completed

On December 20, 2014, my husband and I started Rushfit, an 8-week high intensity training program. It’s a “functional fitness” program, meaning, it’s designed to help your body function properly by working out your whole body (as opposed to just specific muscle groups), with an emphasis on core strength and stabilization, which is crucial to everything you do. From getting in and out of the car, to bending over to pick up your kids, to walking up the stairs, etc. You use your core and stabilizers to do all those things. Functional fitness benefits every body type. Which is why my  husband and I could do this program together. Same exercises, just different weights. And our results were different. Yes, you can absolutely lose weight through this program (my husband did), but you can also maintain your weight while building lean muscle mass (which is what happened for me). And we both improved in all of the areas this program addresses (strength, endurance, balance, agility, flexibility, etc.)

Before I go any farther though, if you need to catch up, here are my previous posts about Rushfit:

1st post
2nd post
3rd post

Ok, so now that we are done. Here is my official review. I LOVE it. Partly because of what I already mentioned above. It’s beneficial to everyone no matter what your body type or ability is (you can read more about that in the “functional fitness” link above). It didn’t require a gym membership or fancy equipment. It only required about an hour of my time each day, and some dumbbells. It starts with a warm-up and ends with a cool-down. Both are very important and should not be skipped. If there is one “con” to the program, though, it’s that the same warm-up and cool-down video is used for every workout…and after a while you start to memorize the dialogue and it can just get boring. But that’s not much of a con. We had fun with it by talking along with them in Georges St. Pierre’s accent and broken English 🙂

Anyway, moving on to the results! There are aesthetic and non-aesthetic results. For my husband, the aesthetic is more obvious since he actually lost weight. For me, it’s not quite as obvious, though my arm muscles and abs are a lot more defined than they were when we first started. But the non-aesthetic results are more important (again, this is designed to help your body function properly and optimally, not just look good). Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to announce that I can now do more than 2 real push-ups!

::Pause for applause::

Part of the warm-up includes “walk out push-ups”, and I could only ever 2 do real ones before needing to go down to my knees. But by the end of the program, I could do the entire warm-up without any of the modifications. Other improvements have been mentioned in my previous posts (holding the back bend longer, being able to do most of the core strength exercises properly, without cheating, etc.) One of the greatest victories for me though was finally being able to hold the isometric squat the entire time..however long that was. Might’ve only been 30 seconds, but it felt like an eternity! If there is one exercise where you will truly “feel the burn” it is that one. It looks simple, but I assure you….it is not. I had to find a happy place and sing songs in my head to get through it, so I wouldn’t focus on the fact that my thighs were on fire and my legs were about to collapse. But I did it! Bam. And there are plenty of other improvements that I don’t need to list. But it happened.

To make this more practical and apply it to real life: picking up my almost 20lb son, or my 30+lb toddler is A LOT easier for me, and safer. Instead of bending over and putting stress on my back, I can squat and lift with my legs. Also, I have more endurance and energy throughout the day. And overall, I’m a lot  less-stressed and in a better mood…usually. Which is what working out on a regular basis can do! And now that we’re done with the 8-week program, my body is still craving a good workout every night. It’s driving me crazy not doing anything. Which is why we’re already planning our next program. We were going to jump right into the intermediate level of Rushfit, but I think we’ll come back to it later. We’re going to focus more on strength training (with dumbbells and weights). We’ll still do a Rushfit workout 1 or 2 times a week probably, to keep up our core strength and stabilization of course. But I really do love this lifestyle of regular exercise. It certainly helps having a spouse to do this with, who’s just as committed to it (even more so…..he likes to bike 50 miles round trip a few times a week…crazy person!) I’ll get my cardio in by chasing our kids 🙂

One thing I wanted to mention that I learned through this program….is that I’ve been stretching wrong my entire life! Seriously. It matters more how you feel the stretch in your leg than whether or not you can touch your toes. You can touch your toes and not feel much of a stretch at all. But if you sit up straight (posture is important) and just lean forward holding your arms out straight with your palms up, while contracting your leg muscles and pulling your toes back toward you, you will feel a CRAZY stretch. At least I did. But that is my biggest flexibility weakness. Sorry if that description is hard to picture…couldn’t find a video of it.

In conclusion, we highly recommend this program. There’s something else about it that I like though. It doesn’t seem to be a “fad”. Erik Owings and Georges St. Pierre actually seem genuine and knowledgeable and not like a crazy salesperson on speed (like Richard Simmons and some of the other trainers I’ve seen from other programs). Just sayin. I like that. I also like that it has an MMA (mixed martial arts) fight component. Georges is a world champion MMA fighter, Erik is his trainer. Not sure if I mentioned that before. The fight workout was my favorite and one of the better ones for me. Turns out I’m pretty scrappy, who knew?

Anyway, if you don’t try this specific program, at least try to exercise on a regular basis. Make it part of your lifestyle. I know I sound like a doctor or trainer. But they’re not lying to you. It is good for you in so many ways. Find something that works for you, find someone to do it with, stick with it. It gets easier as you go!

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When You’re Sick, Rest is Best

It’s been a sickly few days in the Griffiths home. I’ve been sick. I thought little Ivor had Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, then Gwen got sick and had a fever.

Recap: I have a cold. This makes once a month since October that I’ve been sick with a cold. Yeah…

Little Ivor developed a rash that didn’t look like any usual rash I’ve seen on him. Little red bumps all over his diaper area, on his wrists, on the back of his leg and on his face. He didn’t have a fever or any other symptoms. But I figured, I just put him a public nursery for the first time ever, and less than a week later (which falls within the HFM incubation period), this. Turns out, it’s just a really bad eczema flare up. He’s had mild eczema since he was just a few months old. His wrists got really bad because he scratches them. His doctor is worried about it getting infected. So we’re in full scale anti-eczema mode with him.

Then yesterday, Gwen. She started crying inconsolably right around lunch/naptime. I took her temperature because she felt extremely hot. 103. Yikes. Little Ivor was downstairs crying at the top of his lungs because it was also his naptime and needed some soothing. But I couldn’t help him because Gwen was crying at the top of her lungs (because of the 103 degree fever thing), and big Ivor had already left home to go to an appointment in Berkeley, an hour away from us. With our only vehicle. So, I kind of panicked for a few mins. Thankfully I got ahold of Ivor before he got too far away so he came home right away. Eventually I got Gwen to calm down and her fever went down. Then it spiked again 4 hours later. And again 4 hours later. Currently, she hasn’t had a fever since about 9pm last night. But she woke up several times throughout the night crying. We put her in our bedroom so she wouldn’t wake up her brother (anymore than he already does wake up on his own). Then everyone woke up for the day around 6:30am. Gwen sat up and decided to play “I-spy” with everything in our bedroom. Going through her whole vocabulary. Yup, she’s back to normal.

 

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Further proof that’s she’s herself again- running around the living room like she owns the place with her remote control.

Sigh….Welcome to parenthood during cold/flu season. (And the whole measles outbreak thing didn’t help my panic mode yesterday.)

Go away, germs!

RUSHFIT, 2 Weeks In

Two weeks ago I started an 8-week high intensity training program called Rushfit. We’ve had the program for years because Ivor has gone through it before (I mostly just sat and watched him) 🙂

But after having baby #2, I was really motivated to do it myself.  Why? Not to lose weight (though it’s certainly a great program for that). But I’m doing it to be in better overall shape, feel stronger (actually BE stronger), and have more energy and endurance throughout the day.

Fitness isn’t just about your physical appearance. Yes, there are some aesthetic results I’d like to see at the end of the 8 weeks: some muscle mass/definition on my scrawny little arms and legs, and my backside certainly hasn’t been the same since popping out kid #2! But what’s more important (obviously) is your health and overall well-being, which fitness contributes to. Nutrition is also a huge part of it, but that’s for another post on another day.

So back to this specific program, Rushfit. I love that I can do this at home, in my living room, while the kids sleep and the only equipment necessary is my body and occasionally a set of dumbbells. It doesn’t require a lot of time. Most workouts are about 30 mins long, give or take, and they include a warm-up and cool-down session each time. It really is perfect for a mom (being able to do this at home, in a short amount of time).

It’s working every…single…part…of my body. Each night a different part of my body is sore (in a good way). There are some things I’m really good at and other things I’m terrible at. There are a few things I can’t even ALMOST do, so I have to modify it just to be doing something instead of sitting around (planks or glute bridges are my go-to’s). But I’ve already seen improvement in just 2 weeks. My squats and lunges are deeper. I’m a little more flexible, and my balance is getting better.

Oddly enough, the fight conditioning workout is my favorite. Striking, kicking, level changes, sprawling, etc. I’m pretty quick with my movements and quick on my feet. Makes me want to delve more into the whole boxing/kickboxing thing after this is over (not in a real match with another person, mom, don’t worry, just with a heavy bag in our garage). Though if anyone wanted to mess with me or my family, it would be nice to be able to do some damage, just sayin.

My core strength is okay…and getting better. But those stinking pushups are killing me! My upper body needs a lot of work. I can do about two decent pushups, then I have to drop to my knees. I’d like to not be doing that by the end of this thing.

Another thing I really like about this program is that it’s difficult. It pushes you to your limits and challenges you. I like the mental toughness it builds. It’s almost comparable to childbirth (*almost* lol). You get to the point where you just want to give up and collapse. When you don’t think you’re capable of even one more push…up (see what I did there?) But powering through it when it’s the most difficult and the most painful, is when you get the best results.

This is not my New Years Resolution (though the timing might make it seem that way). And I’m sharing my experience with you all in case anyone is interested in trying it, or needs some motivation or encouragement to get into better shape.

We have “before” pictures and we plan to take “after” pictures too. I say “we” because Ivor is doing this with me (I probably wouldn’t be doing this at all without his support and participation). I don’t know if we’ll share those pictures publicly but we’ll be sure to report back on our results 🙂

I’ll check back in with another update in about 2 weeks.

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*You might notice we skipped a cardio day and switched up our “rest” day the week of Christmas. But we’re back on track now!

 

 

Drop The Beet- Coming Soon!

So because we don’t have enough going on (!) we’re going to start a food blog/vlog soon. We’ve always talked about doing it, and now people are bugging us to do it, so we shall try 🙂 While we’re waiting for it to get fully up and running, here’s a preview of things to come:

Some of these are entrees and some are just sides. We’ll post recipes for each of them soon. And hopefully in the future you’ll see videos too!

Salsa Fresca:

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The ingredients for salsa fresca are staples in our kitchen at this point. Once you’ve had it, you’ll never go back to store bought jarred salsa (ick).

 

French Toast:

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The key to great french toast is thick, crusty bread. Bacon and strawberries are added bonuses!

 

Sauteed Bell Pepper and Zucchini :

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Love sauteed fresh vegetables. We almost always have bell peppers on hand- makes a great, quick side dish for almost any entree. You can throw them in salsa fresca, or eat them raw with a good dip

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash:

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This was such a great fall/winter dish. Savory, comforting and satisfying. We used Alton Brown’s recipe as a guideline but switched up the protein.

 

Spaghetti Squash w/Tomato Sauce:

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Another great squash dish! Here the squash replaces regular pasta, with a fresh tomato sauce and shaved Parmesan.

 

A Chocolate Taco w/Bananas (my special after dinner treat the other night!):

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My husband knows that almost every night, after dinner, I want chocolate. So he looked to see what we had in the kitchen and came up with this. A tortilla, bananas, chocolate chips, and rum: a chocolate taco is born.

 

And my other favorite thing to snack on, Cheese, Crackers and Fruit (there won’t be a “recipe” for this obviously, just wanted to share a nice healthy snack after that chocolate taco):

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Ok, now the ball is in my husband’s court. I took and posted the photos (and enjoyed all the food). Now it’s his turn to get you the recipes!

What I Want to Teach My Daughter about Her Body

And in teaching my daughter, reassuring myself. Because body image issues don’t necessarily go away as you get older.

I’ve kind of been avoiding writing about this subject because I’m afraid it will be met with rolling eyes. Let me explain.

Being self-conscious about your body works both ways. Generally when it’s discussed in society, and songs are written about it, it’s about embracing your curves (specifically your booty). And let me be clear, I think that’s great and totally necessary. We claim “you’re beautiful at any size”…but not much is mentioned about the other side of the coin: lack of curves! (In fact, we’re called “skinny bitches” in a few songs. I’m looking at you, Nikki Minaj and Megan Trainor, even though you’re “just playin”). But this is where I imagine the eye rolling, “Oh you’re naturally thin and don’t have curves, what a terrible problem to have” :: eye roll ::

But this is the place I’m coming from. I was teased in school for my lack of curves (in MIDDLE school…like we’re all supposed to be full figured then? really?). And even today, in my late 20’s, I’ve been called “disgustingly skinny”. I *think* it was meant as a compliment, but here’s a tip…when you want to compliment someone, don’t ever use the word “disgusting” to preface it.

Some women feel like they need to be thinner to be beautiful and attractive, but other women feel like they need more curves and a thicker figure (bigger boobs, a booty, etc.) to be beautiful. Like there’s some magical in-between size that’s perfect, not too skinny, not too fat.

When I was called “disgustingly skinny”, I became extremely self-conscious about my body. And I even started eating CRAP so that I would gain weight and no longer be “disgusting”. At the time, I was actually very healthy. Eating right, being active, etc. But I don’t gain weight easily (except when pregnant). In fact, I was thrilled when I got pregnant again (for lots of reason of course), but that was one of them. Gaining weight.

I wish I wasn’t so affected by those words. And didn’t let someone else define what it is to be physically attractive. Especially since my husband kept telling me repeatedly how great I looked. I didn’t believe him. I believed someone else. I looked in the mirror and saw a twig. Disgustingly skinny. I wanted thicker legs, a bigger butt, bigger boobs, etc.

But I’m over that now. I have a daughter. And I would never want her to think the way I did and do the things I did to try and meet someone else’s standard of attractiveness. Instead of wishing for a new body type, or a certain size, I want to focus on being healthy and strong. No matter what size that looks like. Thick or thin. Are you healthy? That’s what’s important.

That’s where I am now. And because I want to actually live what I teach my daughter, I’m striving for an even healthier, and more active lifestyle. I’ve started running again and I’m about to start doing some weight training as well. Because I don’t like feeling weak. Pushing out 2 babies in 2 years took a lot out of me. I need to rebuild some muscle mass.

I’ve accepted my body type. I’m embracing my lack of curves. But I think it’s perfectly okay to want to be stronger. And that comes from me, no one told me “hey you look really weak, you should lift weights or something”.

But this is what I’ll tell Gwen: love the body type God gave you. Don’t worry about your size (regardless of what people might say boys like to hold at night, because I’m here to tell you they don’t ALL like a little more booty to hold, just sayin….). Eat well. Be active. Be strong. And I hope I set a good example for her to follow as she grows up so she won’t have the same struggles I did.