Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

So... it's always at least 105 at this time of the year. More often than not it's closer to 110. By default, Arizonians are thirsty people.

Add to that running three days a week, and the Bikram yoga trial I have been doing 2-3 times per week.... I'm thirsty, very thirsty! They say that when you are running and you feel thirst, you are already past the point of being dehydrated.  You have to hydrate in advance.

Considering I already had a concern about my potassium levels, I was highly encouraged to make sure that I am watching my vitamins and supplements, and making sure to be drinking a LOT of electrolytes.  I always shrugged off electrolytes because it used to be that you would have to drink Gatorade to get them, and I can't drink the stuff. Too much sugar!

On the days that I have been doing Bikram and running on the same day (which I'm not sure how much longer I will do that honestly, it's pretty draining), I have had to get creative about hydrating and fueling the next course. When I get out of Bikram at 6pm, I have been drinking a protein shake to fuel me for my 7:45pm run, and then I can have a snack or light dinner when I get home.  I have been experimenting with some pre-run and post-run standards and have noticed how much better I feel!

  • Coconut Water - VitaCoco w/pineapple - I have tried several brands of coconut water and have decided that I just don't like the taste of plain coconut water. It's bland and has a weird taste to me.  However, I really love the one with a bit of pineapple juice in it.  It's only 80 calories and doesn't have too much sugar, and a great source of potassium. *Must drink it cold*
  • Coconut Milk - So Delicious Chocolate Coconut Milk - Um, yum!! Delicious. I have been doing 1 cup of coconut milk, 1 scoop of Gold Standard Vanilla Whey protein, and then top it off with cold water. A delicious recovery drink, a nice way to kill a sweet tooth, and again, lots of potassium (and protein). I have also experimented with adding maca powder to this, and will add spirulina as soon as the bulk source has more stock. 
  • Emergen-C - Lemon lime - I have been drinking a small glass with one of these packets in it every morning. When I feel like my coffee isn't kicking in, the Emergen-C gives me an immediate boost of energy. I can literally feel the vitamins hit my system and just feel overall better! I've noticed that I am less achy aferwards as well.
  • Nuun Energy Tab - Lemon lime - Gatorade without the sugar! And great to travel with. Just throw a tab into water and dissolve.
I am going to make a concentrated effort to buy hydrating foods, like in the picture above. Nature is amazing - these foods just naturally hydrate you.. who needs supplements when you have good food??

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bikram Yoga

Words I never thought I would utter: "I'm going to a bikram yoga class."

1. I hate sweating. Especially, when it's on my face.
2. Up until this point, I have always said I hate yoga.
3. It's 108 outside, do I really need to pay money to stretch in a room that is heated to 108?

The truth is, I took my first two classes this week... and I kind of loved it.

Angie and Miranda have always been large proponents of bikram yoga, and I promised Angie that the next time a groupon came along for an unlimited yoga class, I would try it.  And it did: $30 for 30 days of unlimited yoga, at a highly recommended studio.  Why not?

Let me preface this by saying that I have never liked yoga until this point.  When I was in college, I thought it would be "fun" to take a 1 unit yoga class on Friday mornings.  It wasn't fun, it was hard, and my teacher, sometimes known as the "Yoga Nazi," lived up to her name.  She would actually scold you and get frustrated with you if you couldn't do the pose right. Um, I'm sorry, I'm not that limber and this is a really difficult pose! Needless to say, this did not start my yoga experience off on the right foot.

Fast forward to tribal bellydance workshops - yoga and tribal bellydance became very intertwined as dancers with strong core muscles also tend to be amazing dancers.  So, as a result, a lot of workshops began with yoga.  The meditation exercises I found relaxing, but often the workshops were so yoga-centric (and advanced yoga, for that matter) that it would just frustrate me.  Not fun!

With all my headaches and neck aches, I was often told that yoga would be beneficial for me. In fact, it would probably make my mother happy to know I am finally doing yoga.  It wasn't that I didn't believe these statements, but my previous efforts at the practice hindered me from branching out and trying it again. And let's face it, massage can only do so much.

Now that I've been running, I've been doing a lot of research on training and practicing in the summertime.  There are a lot of articles that mention that yoga can be a runner's best friend.  Again, good, strong core muscles mean for a good, strong runner that is less likely to suffer injury.  It was starting to appear that I just couldn't hide from it - yoga was going to find me one way or another.  So, here I am...

Last Monday, I tried bikram for the first time. I've heard that you either love bikram, or you hate it. For those that have never taken it, the class has a set series of postures and breathing exercises in a very hot room. They heat the room to 108 and it is HOT!  The main goal for the first class is to stay in the room. I see now why they say that.  I was laying on my mat 5 minutes before class started, to "acclimate." (Note: I think running in the heat has helped me acclimate to this, if you can ever truly acclimate to heat like that).  As I was laying there, staring up at the running ceiling fans, I thought, "this isn't too bad." Then, the instructor entered the room, turned the fans off, and began class.  Oh no. Different story.

I did better at the yoga than I thought. I have never been incredibly flexible, but by the end of class my muscles were so warmed up that I had a lot more range. I did pretty well at the balancing poses as well (I was shocked,  I'm clumsy!). There were only two poses that I couldn't do at all, even in a clumsy, awkward version of the actual pose.  This was promising!  The heat was a different story.  You are just soaked. Good thing I had a hand towel, I put it to good use. I just made sure to drink lots of water during, and wipe myself down at any opportune moment.  Looking around, other people didn't seem to mind it. Maybe you get used to it? I tried not to be horrified at the man in front of me, literally dripping like a faucet.  I looked the other way...

I ran Monday after class, which was rough, but doable.
Class again on Tuesday, which took me awhile to get focused, but class flowed faster because I knew what was coming next.

I always wondered why people willingly did such an activity. It is gruesome! There is no preparing yourself for that. But I love how I felt afterwards! (Well, at least I did after my shower).

We shall see how I feel at the end of the month. :)

**Interested in trying? Check out Bikram Yoga Tempe: