Monthly Archives: January 2016

FMFW Competition Review

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Where to even start? After three long months of training the competition is finally over and I’m definitely having a “what’s next?” sort of day. This was an amazing event to be a part of and I’m both relieved and also sad that it’s over. The YMCA is an encouraging, supportive, and loving community that I am happy to be a part of as both an instructor, and more recently an athlete. 

Let’s back up a few months. I’m not even totally sure at what point I decided to do this competition, but I am positive that it had something to do with Blue Butterfield (this year’s winner) telling me how great it was, and that it was something I just had to do. I guess that was all the convincing I needed because about a week later I was signed up for the 7-week training class. The first week of class was a very humbling experience- realizing I was no where close to being able to do an unassisted dip and those 13 pull ups I used to be able to do in 8th grade turned into a big fat zero pull ups that I could do the first week of class. I was also lifting weights 5-10 lbs under the competition weights. I had some work to do.

So I got to work. During those 7 weeks of training under the incredible guidance of Mike Parks and Jesse Wall I made some serious progress. I stayed on track and made sure I didn’t miss a workout. By the end of the 7 weeks I had one unassisted dip and one unassisted pull up as well as some respectable PRs in both the bench and the deadlift. I felt good about things at this point and was ready to train on my own for the next 5 weeks before the competition.

Then come the holidays. Christmas cookies became a staple of my diet and the gym seemed to be closed on all the days I was planning to train. I made things work, switching up days, planning ahead, and navigating IDEXX’s crazy state of the art gym on days I was already there and unable to make it to the Y. Training in different places was weird to me- not having the same equipment and atmosphere can really throw you off. It actually snowballed into a couple of weeks of terrible, unfocused workouts where I ultimately ended up doing too much. I pulled back for a week or so and saw huge improvement. I finished out the last week of hard training and then began to rest up for the competition. By competition day I felt totally rested and ready to go. 

Going into the competition I had a few goals:

  • Win the uphill run
  • Complete unassisted dips and pull ups
  • Deadlift PR of 230

Most of those events happened to fall on the first night of the competition. (The 10 event competition spans over two evenings) Things were off to a great start. I won the uphill run, managed to do 4 unassisted dips, and hit a PR of 245# on the deadlift. I was psyched and in a good place. The second night was pull ups and I managed to do two of them. I you ever want to feel like a superhero, sign up for a fitness competition. Your strength in a competition setting will surprise you.

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Thursday was a different story. I knew the events were going to be harder for me. The bench press went alright, I hit my old PR of 110 but wasn’t able to do more and I think a lot of the women felt like they were in the same boat. One of the events that I thought I would do very well on (3 minute AMRAP 8 ball slams/8 box jumps) turned out to not go so well. I kept missing the catch of the ball on the bounce and my rhythm was nowhere to be found. About 5 minutes later I was rowing a very painful and not too speedy 500m row. Sit ups were the last event and I was just toast by then. 

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I gave it everything I had and I did the best that I possibly could. The women’s open division was some very close and very tough competition. These are some seriously strong women! I didn’t make it to the women’s podium and it definitely messed with my head way more than I would have thought. Don’t compare yourself to other people, and don’t let a number or a place dictate how you feel about an outcome. I crushed all of my goals and accomplished everything I set out to do, and that is enough. I am very proud of all the women who made it up there, and I know I was a big part in encouraging two of them to do this competition so that makes the personal trainer side of me very happy.

I always have the same feeling when I finish a race. Half of me never wants to be in that sort of pain ever again and half of me can not wait for more. The second feeling always wins. I haven’t quit yet. So will there be a next year? I really don’t see any other option.

Thank you to everyone who has helped, supported, and encouraged me. I’ll be back! <3

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Row and Strength Workout

Good morning! This is my first blog post with my NEW COMPUTER! Last week my computer decided to die a slow death, and then it killed my phone along with it, and then I finally decided to make a trip to the apple store to get everything fixed. I can live with a half working computer, I definitely can not live with a not working phone. Now I don’t have to live with either of those problems. Is anyone else disappointed that the new gold macbook is ridiculously small? My wallet is not disappointed, as I chose a cheaper computer once I realized that gold beauty I had my eyes on just wasn’t big enough. I took a little break from my phone/internet and slowly added back on social media apps. It was a nice little break but fear not I am back. I know you were worried.

Did everyone have a good weekend? A little bit of everything around here- skiing, going out, chilling out, walking the dog, and lots of cooking today since I won’t have too much time to cook this week. It’s finally competition week!! I’m sort of ready, sort of tired, and sort of ready for it to be over so I have more time to do other things for exercise. I change how I feel about it hourly. I’ll be sure to give a full recap of the competition once it’s over! 

Today I have a rowing/strength workout for you. It is quick and sure to get your heart rate up! Just make sure your rowing is not at a leisurely pace 🙂 Let me know how you like it!

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Carrot Cake Muffins

Good morning! Did everyone have a nice weekend? We got a (surprise) snowstorm in Portland on Saturday and had some fun playing in it! On Sunday we headed north to Sunday River to ski on sub par snow with the entire state of Massachusetts. Hard to believe conditions were December conditions in mid January!

Enough about snow and skiing. Let’s talk about muffins. Here’s a delicious recipe that I adapted from the NYT recipe for “healthy carrot cake muffins”. I just made mine a tad healthier. Here’s the deal: they’re still muffins. Muffins aren’t made to be health food so don’t get all angry when you see sugar in the recipe. They’re just a tad healthier than your traditional muffins (which I also love…). 

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Carrot Cake Muffins
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  2. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  5. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  6. ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  7. ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  8. ½ teaspoon salt
  9. 2 eggs
  10. ⅓ cup brown sugar
  11. ⅓ cup coconut oil (melted)
  12. 1 ⅓ cups almond milk (I used my homemade almond milk)
  13. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  14. ⅔ chopped walnuts
  15. 1 ½ cups grated carrots (I used a food processor to grate them)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray the muffin tin with oil.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.
  5. Fold in the carrots and walnuts.
  6. Pour batter into greased muffin tins until they are almost full.
  7. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Adapted from NYT Cooking
Adapted from NYT Cooking
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Homemade Almond Milk

Good morning! I have a delicious recipe to share with you today. It seems as though almond milk is all the rage these days but store bought varieties can have some questionable ingredients (emulsifiers/thickening agents) that some people are looking to avoid. The best way? Make your own! I have been meaning to try making almond milk for a long time now and finally got around to it. The verdict? SO GOOD! I don’t think I will stop buying almond milk in the grocery store because it’s a little more convenient (this recipe is super easy but requires a bit of planning ahead, which I am not awesome at) but I will definitely be making my own more often. You will need a nut milk bag for this recipe but I found mine at a local kitchen store very easily or you can buy one on amazon.  Play around with flavor combos and let me know what you try 🙂

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Homemade Almond Milk
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup raw almonds
  2. 4 cups water
  3. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  5. 2 TBS maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Soak 1 cup of raw almonds in 4 cups of water overnight.
  2. Pour the almonds and water into a blender and add maple syrup, and spices.
  3. Blend.
  4. Strain the blended mixture through a nut milk bag and into a container.
  5. Store in refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Play around with flavor combos or omit flavors and sweeteners (not too fun in my opinion!)
  2. Fresh almond milk only lasts a couple of days in the fridge because there are no preservatives so only make the amount you would use in a couple of days.
  3. You can buy a nut milk bag at a kitchen store or on amazon. You really do need it!
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How to Get Better at Push Ups

I think one of the things that I hear most often in classes and training is “push ups are so hard” or “I never get better at push ups”. Push ups are a basic exercise that lots of people wish they could perform better. One giant problem with push ups and never seeing any improvement? The knee push up. 

While push ups and knee push ups are known to target the chest, there is a lot that the knee push up is missing out on.

  • Huge jump in weight lifted. Legs are heavy! Think about it this way: Maybe you can do 15-20+ reps of a bench press EASILY with just the bar (45 lbs) but can you really expect the same amount of reps with the same ease if you add 50+ more pounds to the bar? Nope. It’s going to be a lot harder! Same with Push ups. Take the legs out, less weight lifted, add the legs back, huge (impossible) jump! 
  • With a knee push up you’re not properly training many of the muscles involved with normal on your feet push ups. A big one is your core. Many times the failure to complete push ups results not from lack of upper body strength- but from lack of core strength. 

So What Can You Do? 

If you want to get better at push ups the single best thing you can do is to do push ups. The real ones. On your feet. If you are not able to do a single push up on your feet here is a progression that will get you there. Start with the wall push ups, once you are able to do 3 sets of 15 wall push ups move onto the incline bench push ups. Don’t go back to wall push ups now! Work your way up to 3 sets of 15 incline bench push ups and then move on to 

Beginner: Wall Push Up

Start with wall push ups. Work your way up to being able to do 3 sets of 15 wall push ups. Once you have mastered the wall push up, move onto the incline bench push up.

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Intermediate: Incline Push Up on Bench

Work your way up to 3 sets of 15 incline bench push ups. Once you have mastered these move on to push ups on your feet! 

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Advanced: Push Up on Feet

At this point DON’T TURN BACK! Don’t do them on the wall, don’t do them on a bench, do them on your FEET. Start by seeing how many you can do while maintaining good form. This number may only be one, two, or three and that’s totally okay! Once you have done that first set and established how many you are able to do, take a long rest (around 2 minutes) and try to repeat that same number of repetitions for two more sets. If you are getting tired and your form is suffering call it quits and try again next time to reach that number of reps you started with. 

 

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This is just the beginning! Keep building on your new foundation. Add another push up when you can do three sets with ease and keep going from there. Stay tuned for another post about how you can keep improving from here!

 

FMFW Training Update

Good morning and Happy New Year! Did everyone have a good NYE? We started the evening by going ice skating followed by some bbq at salvage and then some bar hopping. No plans for New Years and doing what I feel like doing when I feel like doing it are my favorite. 🙂 

The fitness competition that I have been training for is only a few weeks away now so I thought it’s a good time to post a training update!  For the first 7 weeks I took a class lead by some great instructors and with fun, motivating, and encoraging people. I learned a lot and improved a TON in just a few weeks and it was awesome to have people to work out with who were all training for the same thing. I’ve never really considered myself a “class person” but I definitely got into it and can see the allure now!

Some of my biggest improvements from the class:

  • I can now do an unassisted pull up.
  • I can now do a bodyweight dip.
  • I went from never having benched over 75 lbs to a 110 max bench press.
  • At the beginning of the class a 150lb deadlift was difficult and now my PR is currently 210 lbs.

Since the class ended almost three weeks ago training has been a little touch and go. With the holidays the gym was closed some days I wanted to workout, sometimes I would go and what I wanted to use wouldn’t be available and I would have to change plans, and the snow day last week brought me to the gym at IDEXX instead of the Y since I had to teach classes there anyway. IDEXX gym is awesome, but again, doesn’t have quite the same things. My advice for handling these sort of situations? You do what you can when you can! Be flexible and get back on track when you are able.

Now that the holidays are over I’m hoping my schedule stays more consistent. I’ve got a couple more weeks of hard training, an easy week where I will do light weights/ fewer reps and then the competition!