Friday, July 10, 2020

10 Years Later

The other night, after the lights were out but midnight thoughts were keeping me awake, I found myself reflecting on marriage.

When Matt and I got married, I knew about the "honeymoon stage", and that the love I had for him would evolve. I thought, having been together five years before we got married, maybe that wouldn't happen to us.
Matt and Ali dancing on our wedding day.
I was wrong. Things have changed; they've gotten better. Over the last decade, Matt and I have dealt with typical ups and downs, and we've truly learned how to communicate, how to support each other, and how to truly be partners. We were pretty young when we got married, by today's standards. When I look back on who we were when our marriage began, I can't believe we were ever those people. I am grateful that as we've changed, we've always grown in the same direction.

Whether it was taking up sports (neither of us were athletes when we got married) or getting more educated on and involved in politics, our values have always aligned. We are on the same side.

Above all, I didn't know, back then, to look forward to how comfortable things would become. Not in a "settling" kind of way; in a I-really-can-just-be-myself-and-you-might-laugh-but-I-know-you'll-support-me way. 

In a grateful-to-have-you-in-my-corner-and-never-doubt-it way.

In a home-actually-is-wherever-you-are way. 
10 years later, Matt and Ali dancing at a friend's wedding. They gaze lovingly into each other's eyes.
I feel wholly content every day I'm with him, and that feeling of total satisfaction is just...everything.

I'm looking forward to where our life together takes us next, and to a time when we can actually get out of the house to celebrate 10 years how we've always wanted to...maybe before year 11 comes around.

ABK

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Chloe Ting 2 Week Challenge - Week 2 (Results)

I started week two feeling a little discouraged. Despite feeling stronger and generally in better health since starting, I guess I was secretly hoping to see some ab lines by Day 8. Instead I looked the same and my left wrist is killing me.
Screenshot of videos for days 8 and 9 of the challenge
Day 8: I had to adjust some of the planks so I could do them on my elbows to save my wrist, which was really hurting when I had to twist it or adjust balance (like during Corkscrews). Still, I got through all three videos today without stopping, sweat a ton, and felt wobbly afterward, so I know I still got a quality workout in.

Day 9: This was the last active rest day of the program, and I needed it! My wrist was glad for a break. Matt and I went for a short run that ended up not exactly being restful. The humidity was super high and there was no breeze. Of course, the minute we finished it started to rain.
Ali and Matt standing in a parking lot, smiling after a hard run
Day 10: My wrist felt marginally better but I was feeling pretty exhausted from the previous night's run. I almost flip-flopped this day with Day 11 to make it easier, but ended up finding the energy to get all four videos done. I changed some of the exercises to take it easy on my wrist. All those Army Planks, though!

Day 11: I was relieved to only have two videos today. We've had workers on the roof, which means my sleep has been badly interrupted and I've been waking up with headaches. These two videos felt easy to pound out after Day 10's four. Results-wise, I feel stronger and tighter everyday, but visually there's not much change.

Screenshot of workout videos for days 10 and 11
Day 12: This was the first day I didn't want to do the videos. I overslept and wanted to eat right away, so then I had to wait until I digested to workout. I did them around 4pm and felt...bored. The workouts were getting redundant. I turned on Dexter to watch while I worked out, and that helped a bit! 

Day 13: Watching TV really provided the perfect distraction for finishing this challenge, which I was beginning to find dull. I was still working up a major sweat during the workouts, but was not really feeling the same kind of muscular impact (read: soreness) I was during the first week. At this point, I was looking forward to being done so I could change things up.
Photo of text reading: "flat stomachs really need to stop being a thing people expect from others like...what the fuck do you mean I need a flat stomach when I have 7 meters of intestine in me"
This came across my Instagram feed this week and kind of reset my thinking, too. My hope in undertaking this challenge was to have fun and get motivated, not physical results. By Day 13, I was over it, and perspective is important. I will always come back to working out for mental and physical health, not looks.
Day 14: After taking my "after" pics, I just couldn't be bothered to do this workout. I was so burned out from this challenge! But today wasn't a failure, nor is it quitting. This routine has given me a sense of accomplishment, but I am ready to return to running as my primary workout.

It's funny to me that I can run the exact same route dozens of times in a row and not get sick of it, but 14 days of these videos - in various orders, all of which incorporate 19+ different exercises - just got boring for me! This is why running has always been my preferred workout and the only one I stick with longterm: it's the only thing that doesn't lose its edge.

As for physical results, I don't see much difference. I didn't lose any weight or notice a change in my muscle definition. When I flex really hard I can maybe see a few more lines in my abs. I intend to do the lower body workout once or twice a week to continue building strength for running.

Anyway, here are my before/after pics. I think the change is most noticeable in the side-view, both in my stomach and my thighs.
Face-forward side-by-side photos of Ali Flexing, showing minimal changes in her ab definition
Back-view of side-by-side photos of Ali
Side-view side-by-side photos of Ali
So, not bad for 14-days' worth of work, but like I expected all along - no miracles here. I will say I definitely feel stronger and my posture feels a bit taller these days. I'll incorporate some of these videos into my weekly routine, but at this point...I'm really ready to run again. It may not give me abs of steel, but it makes my heart and head happy, and that's worth more to me.

ABK

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Chloe Ting 2 Week Challenge - Week One

Summer weather and Covid spikes in Florida have kept me inside for a week straight. I decided it was time to commit to some at-home workouts. I found Chloe Ting's 2 Week Challenge via a Try Guy's video where they tried a few different YouTube workouts and decided to give it a...try.
Screenshot of the 5 YouTube videos for Chloe Ting's 2 Week Challenge Workout
I started on a Wednesday rather than wait for a new week to start. I had Matt take some "before" photos, but I won't be posting those until after the full 14 days, if at all. At this point I'm halfway through. I wish I had remembered to take my measurements before I started.

My issue with programs like this is that they can create a false hope for getting a perfectly sculpted body in a really short time, which is unrealistic. Chloe talks about that in other videos and on her website, and she's super encouraging to everyone, no matter their results at the end. Because I lost weight last summer and kept it off, I think my body could potentially reflect some change in a short time, but I don't expect miracles.

I haven't been purposefully changing my diet while doing this challenge, but as always happens when I'm consistently working out, my appetite has changed naturally, so I'm snacking less, eating more fruit, and drinking more water. I am still doing intermittent fasting, so I complete the daily workout before I eat, first thing after I wake up.
Screenshot of videos for days 1 and 2 of the challenge
I did not do the optional video on Day 2.
Day 1: My body didn't know what hit it. Not only have I not been running much, but I'm also barely moving, seeing as it's officially summer break. My heart-rate skyrocketed during these first two videos and I really had to take a lot of breaks. It was discouraging. I am always kind of amazed that I can go for a two-mile run in 80% humidity and my heart-rate stays pretty tame, but five minutes of planks has me shaking.

Day 2: Despite being a little sore, Day 2 was much easier. I think my mind and body were just already in a better place with more realistic expectations about the workout. I enjoyed the workout.
Screenshot of videos for days 3 and 4 of the challenge
Day 3: OW. My hip flexors were super sore upon waking, and they stayed sore and weak through most of the day's four videos. Exercises like In-and-Outs and leg raises seem to work my groin more than my abs, and I'm just not very strong there. I felt super accomplished for completing all four videos.

Day 4: I nearly skipped a video today, but since tomorrow is a rest day, I dug deep and got it done. I noticed upon waking that my stomach already seemed tighter than it has been. Not super muscular/defined, but just a little flatter. My wrists hurt pretty badly from all the plank work, which is unusual for me. Perhaps it's because I'm doing these workouts on carpet. I'll try setting my yoga mat up on tile for Day 6!
Ali standing on the sidewalk with her hands on her hips, smiling. There is grass and trees behind her. She is wearing a black long-line sports bra and black spandex shorts.
I actually felt physically very strong on this run! I don't have any visible muscle definition yet but I definitely feel stronger.
Day 5: Active rest day. Matt and I found a nearby neighborhood that's still in the process of being built. It's much quieter and less populated than our current place, so I felt much more comfortable running there. I ran two very slow miles; I was surprised by how good I felt on the run despite being so sore! My hips and hip flexors felt great, but I'm definitely not acclimated to summer weather and humidity right now.
Day 6: Despite running in the evening and working out the following morning, I still felt really fresh and capable for Day 6. I moved my yoga mat to a tiled part of the condo and it did make a difference on my wrists and ankles. The workouts seem easier (I know what to anticipate, I'm taking shorter breaks, and completing more sets in the time limit), but I'm still working up a major sweat and struggling in certain areas.

Day 7: I felt more tired at the start today, but was able to complete all the videos with minimal rest. I feel like a noodle! While I haven't seen any obvious improvements aesthetically yet, I definitely feel stronger and generally just "better" than I have in awhile!

At this point, I am thinking a lot about how I wish the program used the lower body and core/arm workouts more frequently, but I like that there are only a few videos that you cycle through. It's just predictable enough without getting boring.
A selfie of Ali sitting on a blue yoga mat, smiling
I'm ready to tackle the second week!

ABK