Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Core Values: Lows, lessons and loves

It's been five days since the end of my personal (and our) Core Values challenge, and it has been four days since I've done a single ab move.

It's not quite the outcome I was hoping for but a combination of burn out, stomach bug and extreme fatigue made the end of January a welcome one as I no longer felt compelled to guilt myself into 5 minutes of planks just before bed.

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The passing days have given me time to reflect on the good, bad and ugly. Here are my 10 takeaways:

1. Five minutes isn't that much of a commitment. Kristen commented that she would often do more than 5 minutes once she got started, and I feel the same. It's easy for 10 minutes to pass, especially as you segue between moves, rest between planks and try to hit all four sides (central abs, right oblique, left oblique, low back).

2. Training the abs without the low back is like training biceps and not triceps - dumb. By training the low back, I noticed two things: there aren't a ton of moves for the low back and mobility in the thoracic spine is essential. I found myself foam rolling my back and stretching to improve my range and ease tension.

3. My overall strength and endurance did improve even though I'm not doing 5-minute hovers. I did an older ab track in Bodypump that has always been a killer for me, with its twisting mountain climbers, but I had not issues with it this time around.

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4. Also on the upswing is my confidence. Though I consider myself a fit person, I would see ab exercises in a magazine or online and assume that they were too difficult. Sticking with the challenge, trying new moves and seeing gains helped me feel more sure of myself when doing CXWORX at the Les Mills launch.

5. Doing crazy moves is fantastic but the most basic exercises are the standard because they work. The most recent Bodypump ab track is crunches, crunch pulses and leg extensions. Easy, right? WRONG! My abs burn by the time the second set hits. It's easy to shoot for the Jillian Michaels spider abs but master the basics, let them burn and then try the spider.

6. More often than not, we're training abs without external resistance, making it OK to do them every day - especially in an effort to make it a habit. I think that it's more reasonable and beneficial, though, to aim for five days a week.

7. Some people take smoke breaks; I take ab breaks. I had some down time at work last week, and I hid in the conference room to do planks. I don't think anyone noticed - not that I would have cared. My only concern was making sure I didn't pay attention to the carpet. You never know about industrial flooring.

8. I like big, long-term challenges rather than smaller goals. While this seems to go against conventional healthy living wisdom about setting short-term, time bound goals, I much prefer having a 12-week training plan for a race than a 30-day goal of 5-minute abs.

9. Dogs are hazardous to such challenges. Plank + lick in the face = NO GOOD.

10. Plyometric workouts ... not as often as I liked. If I want this to be a goal, I need to find a group fitness class to work into my schedule. Burpees in the basement are just not fun. Or comfortable.

Core Values participants: How did you do? This post will be the last chance to comment for a prize entry. On Monday, Feb. 10, I will take comments from all Core Values posts and enter them into a random drawing for the prize. Among the goodies: NAAWK skin and lip care, no-slip head bands, a variety of bars such as Clif, strawberry lemonade Nuun, a pair of awesome running socks, some snacks and a Starbucks gift card.


  1. Laughing at the "dogs are hazardous" note! Cats are not so helpful either. They don't lick, but they walk right underneath you and settle in. And then stick a tail in your face.

  2. I did 5 of the 7 days last week. Your dog comment made me laugh...I have a corgi that will bring me toys whenever I lay in the floor and will lay the toy on me if I don't respond right away.

  3. cats are also harzardous to yoga! I am doing a February ab challenge right now and loving that it's just 4 minutes each day because that's small enough to help me create a habit of it.

  4. My dogs fight to lay on my mat the second I leave it. And try to lay under my plank. Oy. I'm sticking with the core thing. Even on my rest days.

  5. I actually did pretty darn good with core values. I think March should be ass values.

    23 out of 31 days!! Proud of meself.

  6. I skipped a lot of days because well I don't have a good excuse. When I did my workout my cat a.k.a my workout buddy would lay on my face, my stomach, or any other body part she could get to. Even with planks she would crawl under my body. But I loved every minute of it!

  7. That is a lot of things!! I am glad that your abs are better than ever! I just can't do a 5 minute plank! Boring!!! I am doing pretty good with working my core 4-5 days a week and I can feel the difference on an everyday basis!! :)