Sometimes My Apartment is My Gym

I rarely discuss my personal fitness routine on the blog since food usually dominates the scene, but thought this post might be a nice change of pace.

The amount of rainfall in Portland is already breaking records this season. I am usually delighted by heavy dark clouds in the sky and the pitter-patter of rain on my windows. It calms me in a way that is difficult to describe. Lately though, I find myself wishing for some warmth and sunshine. Since my main mode of exercise is either riding my bike or hiking mountain trails, I have been confronted with an exercise dilemma.

This actually started back in November when winter was upon the Pacific Northwest. I was jobless, bored, and depressed. The weather wasn’t cooperating and I really wanted to find a way to exercise from home. My main goal was a good, solid, cardio workout. I don’t like gyms (expensive, smelly, too many people, etc). While my apartment isn’t huge, it does have a decent-sized living room.  My concern was disturbing the people who live below me-the hardwood floors already creak!

I tried yoga, which is quite relaxing, but boring (to me anyways). It also doesn’t boost my heart rate enough to make me feel like I’m making a difference. It did make me more limber and balanced, which is awesome for backpacking and hiking! I stopped practicing yoga, but hope to work it in once or twice a week soon. It should help with anxiety issues.

Eventually I stumbled upon Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred workout. I was having so much fun for the first several months! It was challenging and didn’t require any special equipment other than hand weights (which I already owned). Plus, the jumping around was minimal and I did the workout when I assumed my neighbors were at work (hopefully!). And then, I got bored with that routine too (maybe it’s my lack of patience?).

Last week I learned about a website called Fit Sugar. They have a bunch of fitness videos led by a wide variety of personal trainers and fitness experts. Many of the videos are only 10 minutes long. That’s awesome because it means I can combine a few of them to make a 30 minute, personalized, energizing workout. My favorites so far include:

10-Minute Fat-Blasting Circuit by Andrea Orbeck - This workout makes my heart pump like crazy (and my resting heart rate is already on par with a hummingbird). The instructor is so calming and easy to follow. I am usually exhausted after the 10 minutes are finished. The first few days I did this workout, my legs and bum were so SORE!!

Jackie Warner’s Calorie-Blasting Power Pyramid Workout – Oh my gravy! This workout is a challenge. I go past the 5 reps for each exercise and do 10 instead. I am still a bit uncoordinated in a few of the moves, but that will improve. The instructor makes me feel energized and she smiles the whole time! Plus, she wears crazy sneaker-boots when she is working out.

Tone Your Arms with Andrea Orbeck – I think arm workouts are my favorite. This particular one is pretty special because it is ALL arms. It’s only 10 minutes, but wow, is it ever effective! My arms were operating under their own control when I finished this routine. I am addicted.

10-Minute Bootcamp Workout with Jeanette Jenkins – I tried this routine once and didn’t quite make it to the end. Not because I am incapable, but because my balance is terrible. I was tipping over and couldn’t quite keep up with the group. But, I refuse to give up and will definitely attempt it again this weekend. Must stay positive!

I hope to incorporate some abdominal workouts too. Here are a few that look promising:
3 Easy Yoga Moves to Tone Your Abs
Work Your Abs Without Crunches: Quadruped

I am excited for sunshine because it means more of this:

What are some of your favorite workouts (at home, the gym, or outdoors)? It’s always so inspiring to learn about other people’s exercise routines!

Find a Penny, Pick it Up…

…And all the day you’ll have good luck. That is exactly what happened to me recently.

My weekend was equally balanced with good and bad times: Saturday was full of sunshine, a super successful vegan bake sale, bike rides, a picnic (and nap) in the park, and chats with friends. Sunday was full of gray skies, rain, a long drive to photograph cool waterfalls, a broken down car, me picking up a penny, an expensive tow, and tacos for dinner at 10:30 PM.

Let’s start with the good, shall we?

On Saturday Portland held an amazing vegan bake sale at Food Fight Grocery. The bake sale was part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sales happening in cities across the globe. I baked myself silly Friday night, dirtying every dish in the kitchen:

I made four different batches of brownies, pizza rolls, and blueberry ginger hand pies. It was exhausting!

Saturday ended up being the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far in Portland – perfect for luring lazy Portlanders to a bake sale! And lure it did, because we nearly sold out of everything and made a grand total of $3,537 for three local animal sanctuaries!!! Take a peek at some of the day’s highlights:

I volunteered at the bake sale in the morning and then Tim and I rode off on our bikes to enjoy sunshine and lunch in the park.

Sunday, on the other hand, was dreadful! Tim and I lazed around for most of the afternoon until we were so bored we had to escape the apartment. Tim had the idea that we drive into Washington state and take photographs of waterfalls along the east fork of the Lewis River. While we were only about 50 miles from Portland, much of the ride was on curvy, narrow backroads. We stopped often to take photos:

And then, we ended up on a bumpy, pot hole covered road. We drove for maybe a mile before I suggested it might be wise to turn around since the road was in bad shape. We drove back to a small parking lot near one of the area’s coolest waterfalls and the car made an awful crunching, snapping noise and simply stopped. When Tim tried to drive forward, the transmission wouldn’t cooperate. So we pushed the car into a parking space, swore a few times, and fretted over what to do next. Oh, and we noticed some random car parts on the ground under the car.

By this time is was nearly 7 PM on Easter Sunday and we were pretty much in the middle of a forest with no cell service. So, we walked up the road to an RV where the park hosts lived (we were in a state park). Luckily they were home and let us use their phone to call a tow truck. Even luckier, there was a tow company open to come save the night! We sat in our car, sheltered from pouring rain, for an hour while we waited for the tow truck. Finally, just as it was getting dark, it arrived!

While the tow driver hooked our car to the truck, we stood in the rain. I looked down at the ground, saw a penny, and picked it up. I tucked it away in my pocket hoping good luck would find me later. We finally arrived back in Portland after a long, chatty talk with our friendly tow driver (thanks, Ian!). Our bill was expensive, over $200. We had no idea what was wrong with the car or how much it would cost to repair the damage. We left our car at the auto shop with a note and walked home, cold, hungry, and tired. Dinner was chickpea tacos thrown together at 10:30 – so late for dinner!

Fast forward to today. I went to work and Tim stayed home to work. The auto shop called to let us know we had a broken CV joint and that the car would be ready later in the day. Phew! We thought our transmission was shot. That would have been expensive to fix! When I got home from work I discovered a piece of mail that indicated my previous employer had made one last deposit into my old IRA account. The amount nearly matched the cost of fixing our car. Amazing, right? I blame the penny I found!! We now have our car back and in fine working order. I even found a coupon that saved us $30! See, superstitions aren’t just silly nonsense! My day was full of good luck. Now go look for a penny, won’t you?

Just Another Rainy Day

Portland has been getting a lot of rain lately, more than I can handle (and I love the rain). I am convinced that once April arrives the rain will disappear and the sunshine will dominate the sky!

When Tim and I woke up this morning the sky showed promise. It was cloudy but the sun was trying desperately to make an appearance. We decided to take our chances and go hiking. We stopped at Food Fight to pick up some snacks and headed toward the Clackamas River. The sky darkened, wind swirled, and then it rained, steady and determined. We debated heading back home but eventually decided we would hike in the rain if we had to. Lucky for us, the rain settled enough for us to enjoy some time outdoors and the beautiful colors of spring:

And, despite trekking through several inches of mud, we had the trails all to ourselves. When we arrived back in Portland, the sun was out for a few memorable minutes! We heated up leftovers (effortless cooking!) and watched The Simpsons, all the while daydreaming about hiking in the sunshine soon: