70 Day Pull-up Challenge: Day 1

So close, yet so far.

So close, yet so far.

This past week, I challenged myself to do at least one pull-up at the end of seventy days. Today was the first day of the challenge and here’s what the first training day looked like:

Morning Workout

50 assisted pull-ups (used a stool for assistance)

  • 10 reverse grip chin-ups (palms facing me)
  • 10 wide front pull-ups (palms face away)
  • 10 close-grip overhand pull-ups
  • 10 wide front pull-ups
  • 10 close grip overhand pull-ups

Evening Workout

5 sets of 3 negative pull-ups

I start by jumping up to the bar and s-l-o-w-l-y  control my body down the bar until my arms are fully extended.

6 sets of 3 reps  of Lat Pull Down

I started with seventy pounds for the first 3 and did 80 pounds for the last 3

I’m feeling very sore and the path to a single pull-up seems further away than the 70 days I’ve allotted. “I think I can. I think I can.”

Chin-ups are less demanding.

Chin-ups are less demanding.

Pull-up Challenge for Females

The Marine Corps recently delayed the required three pull-up minimum for Female Marines because more than half the females were unable to perform at least one pull-up. Prior to the change, Female Marines were expected to hang with their chin above the bar (flex arm-hang) for a maximum of sixty seconds. I served in the Marine Corps between 1998 and 2002 and I can definitely say I am unable to do a single pull-up. Thus, I would have been part of the statistics of non pull-up performance.

As someone with a lot of pride, and as an individual who wants to uphold the honor of the Marine Corps, I’m taking the 70 day pull-up challenge. My goal is to perform at least one-pull up within the next seventy days. I know that if I can perform one, I will be able to perform three.

It’s not a secret that women have a much more difficult time with pull-ups because of our body compositions, but like all other challenges in life, it requires a plan and discipline to follow through with the plan to surpass the challenge.

My plan is to strengthen my upper body and practice, practice, practice! I will perform 50 pull-ups daily, five days a week, beginning with a resistance band until I’m able to do an unassisted pull-up. I’m hoping this will help me perform at least one pull-up by April 5th.

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Do you find pull-ups challenging? How many unassisted pull-ups can you do?

Running Against The Wind

Moving to a new city not only brings the social challenge of knowing where you fit in, but adapting to the changes in weather. Where constant rain and gray skies were my Achilles heel in Portland, Oregon, snow and wind are my crutch in Eastern Oregon. Nonetheless, I managed to muster enough courage to face the wind twice this week.

On Friday, I took advantage of the few hours left of sunshine and did a tempo run (Sub-2 Half-Marathon pace)

Few minutes left of sun before the end of my run.

Few minutes left of sun before the end of my run.

Tempo paces:

Mile 1: Warm-up

Mile 2: 9:02

Mile 3: 9:07

Mile 4: 9:07

Mile 5: Cool Down

On Saturday morning, I woke up to a low of 23 degrees and 25 mile per hour wind. I knew I wanted to run, especially run for Meg Menzies, who was killed by a drunk driver while out jogging January 13, 2014. My weather app read a high of 43 around 2 pm and decided to wait until it was warmer than my fridge outside. Despite the fact it was considerably warmer, the 43 degrees dropped down to 33 due to the high winds. Since I was honoring Meg’s life, I wanted to enjoy my run and take in the beauty that surrounded me.

My view as soon as I set foot outside my door.

My view as soon as I set foot outside my door.

I felt the cold air hit my face as soon as started running, but since I was running to pay tribute to the life of a woman I’m sure was loved and miss by many, I figured cold wind was trivial compared to the pain her family was experiencing. Since the wind was facing me, I’d enjoy it’s breeze hitting my back on my way home.

Me and my shadow. Can you see the sheep?

Me and my shadow. Can you see the sheep?

I’ve never lived in a small town, much less a city where people had farm animals in their yard. I absolutely love the fact I get to enjoy the great outdoors and greet amazing farm animals along the way!

A horse enjoying some sun and food.

A horse enjoying some sun and food.

The horse and I got a good scare from a Chihuahua that came barking behind us. I immediately put the camera away and the horse took off running. It was quite a sight.

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As humans, unfortunate events sometimes make us realize how blessed our lives are. As I thought about Meg’s life cut short, it made me conscientious of how ungrateful I can be with my own life sometimes. I saw this field and I was thankful for my health and the health of my family. I prayed for Meg and all the loved ones who were left with her memory. I hope in some way, her family finds comfort in knowing her life impacted millions.

 

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A beautiful sunset brought an end to my six mile run. Did you run for Meg this weekend? Did your run help you reflect on all the things you are grateful for?

Financial Fitness is as Important as Physical Fitness

I am a sucker for deals. You know, the kind of deals you get from Groupon, Zulily, Living Social, and any other kind of deal flashed in front of your eyes that lures you with the idea that you will be saving so much money by buying one of their once-in-a-life-time-get-it-now-or-you’ll-regret-it deals.

keep calm

Upon looking at my banking activity at the end of the year, I noticed that I spent a considerable amount of money on “deals” that not only were unnecessary, but the premise of saving money only got me to spend money I did not plan on spending to begin with.

For example, a retail store was offering 50% off their wardrobe during the month of December. My wheels spun and I excitedly took advantage of the nice scarf I had been eyeballing prior to the sale, and I saved myself $17!!! Except, I also spent $17 dollars that were quietly and obediently sitting in my bank account. And to be honest, I have not even used the scarf yet.

Then there was the buy one get one 50% internet only deal on boots. Two for the price of one? Jumped on that sale and spent $150, which meant I got two pairs of boots for a whooping $75 each! Except, I rarely wear boots, and had it not been for the amazing sale, also know as “lack of will-power” I would have had an extra $150 dollars in my account.

My favorite deal of all time had to have been the purchase I made from one of those internet coupon giants that sends you an e-mail everyday enticing you with their array of deals letting you know just how much money you will save. I spent $50 on gourmet cupcakes that I never used because it expired before I could find the right occasion to use four dozens worth of cupcakes.

want-vs-need2

After tallying up the chunk of money I used on things that I did not need to begin with, I was aghast.  I decided to tackle my spending habits starting this year in order to have a healthy amount of savings by the end of the year (at least 15% of our overall yearly income). Here is what I did:

  • First of all, I made sure to unsubscribe from every single internet website in order to stop receiving offers.
  • My husband and I agreed to discuss every single item prior to purchasing in order to hold each other accountable.
  • I took inventory of all the items I bought and then on a sheet of paper, I wrote two columns: Need and Want. I wrote down each item I purchased under the specified column and it was very evident that more than 85% of the items I purchased, were a want versus an actual need. I then placed said sheet over my refrigerator door to remind me that financial fitness is just as important as eating right and exercising.
  • I set up a budget on my spreadsheet that details every single expense and only allows %10 wiggle room of the remaining bi-monthly budget after bills have been paid on leisure items. For example, if I have $200 remaining after all expenses have been paid, $20 is for leisure items.
  • I set up a list of questions to specifically ask myself when I am feeling tempted to deviate from the 10% wiggle room:
  1. Do I own something remotely similar to this item? If yes – you don’t need it?
  2. Is your life dependent on the item (will you be deprived of food, shelter, and water if you don’t have it?) If no, you don’t need it.
  3. Are you purchasing the item because you want to show it off or have someone in mind you’d like to impress? If yes, you don’t need it.
  4. Is the deal so good that if you were to experience a natural disaster or a tragedy you’d regret not buying it? If no, you don’t need it.
  5. Are you using your credit card and will it take more than one month to pay it off? If yes, you can’t afford it.
  6. Is this an item you have been living with out and can continue to live without? If yes, you don’t need it.
  7. Will the item or experience you want to purchase bring you meaning and joy and will the meaning and joy last longer than the actual moment it’s used or experienced? If no, you don’t need it.

While the above questions seem a bit extreme, I’ve recognized that my financial fitness is sub-par in comparison to my physical fitness. I have had very little discipline when it comes to spending my money in a healthy way. Just how physical fitness requires discipline and a strategy to achieve your goal, my spending habits require the same attention. I know there will be times I will be tempted. I understand it will put me in a position where I may not have the nicest items to wear or will place me behind the Joneses (not that I could ever keep up with them), but in  the in the long run, a healthy account will help me further my goal of a healthy lifestyle for me and my family. I can have  more money in my account to buy healthy edible items, to participate in more races (and perhaps to even participate in out-of-state races), and to hopefully achieve a life where I can find satisfaction from within as opposed to material possessions.

fiancial fitness

 

Do you have a strategy for dealing with purchases that are not in your budget? How do you tackle the offers and sales you receive via e-mail or regular mail? Would you say you are as financially fit as you are physically fit?

Tomorrow is Another Day

It has been almost 15 days since the New Year and I have logged a total of 9.18 miles since January 1st. I began the year with so much gusto and planned to run at least three days out of the week in order to prepare for the one and only half-marathon I am registered for. However, it seems like I’ve got more excuses than total mileage run.

Here are the reasons why I’ve not run:

  • It’s too cold outside. Cold is relative, but for me, if it’s below 50, it’s too cold.
  • It’s too windy out.
  • It’s too dark in the morning.
  • It’s too dark in the evening.
  • I just ate and need to wait three hours before I can run.
  • It’s been three hours since I ate and now I’m too hungry to go for a run.

I know those are all lame excuses, but the truth of the matter is, I don’t have an iota of desire to run. Despite the fact I really, really want to run a sub-2 hour half-marathon, I’m feeling the way I felt back in college when teachers assigned a major research paper. I’d tell myself I’d start working on it right away, but despite my efforts to “git-r-done,” I always  found myself starting the paper the night before it was due.

While I understand training for a half-marathon and writing a thesis paper have two very different approaches, I’m  just not feeling very motivated to run at the moment. I’m hoping it will click and that my enthusiasm to hit the road sends a tingle up my leg returns sometime before the end of the new year. Today though, I mourned my running apathy with a cinnamon bun and four chocolate chip cookies.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

Have you been keeping up with your running? Do you have a hard time running during Winter? Have you ever seen the Movie Gone With the Wind?

Scarlett O'Hara: "Tara. Home. I'll go home, and I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day."

Scarlett O’Hara: “Tara. Home. I’ll go home, and I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”