Conquering some fears at the Jersey City Challenge 

Last Saturday, I woke up with almost no voice, not quite sure if I was going to be accomplishing what I had signed up for many months prior. I was supposed to do my first obstacle race, the Jersey City Challenge, but I was still getting over a cold and now had lost my voice. The hubby was sure I was going to say we should just chalk it up as a sunk cost, but I told him to give me til after breakfast. And so…I had my coffee and breakfast and said, Let’s do this!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel during the race. Would I start coughing and have to stop? I decided it was worth it to at least get there and see how far I could go. 

It was a chilly, rainy day as we arrived in Jersey City. We brought a backpack to check in (for $5) with a change of clothes and where we could leave our wallets and phones. That was a nice thing they offered and we didn’t mind spending a few extra dollars for it. The bib pick up was slow- surprisingly there was only one person trying to help everyone. Although they do highly suggest that people pick up their bibs ahead of time, that’s just not posible for some of us non-locals. Hopefully they realize this and make it easier for next time.

I had not intended to do this race for time. I didn’t even wear a watch. However, I knew that chances were high that I’d get stuck behind people in front of me so I made sure to sprint between obstacles to give myself the best workout I could.

The penalty for not completing an obstacle was 30 jumping squats. The obstacles included barricades, cargo nets, walls of different heights, and a pyramid that had to be climbed. There was also a reverse wall and a rope climb. Oh and we had to jump over a cop car and taxi cab. I chose going on top of the cop car- that felt pretty badass.


 Prior to running it, I was fearful that the walls were all going to be super high and that my fear of my heights would get the best of me and I’d had to skip some, but it turned out to not be the case. It must’ve been partly due to the adrenaline that I felt- I got through all just fine and was really proud of myself. I climbed the rope all the way up and rang the bell! I even got half way through the rings which were set up on monkey bars (and so I did my 15 penalty squats). Those were among my top two highlights of the race.


There were also other CrossFit-type obstacles like box jumps, kettlebell swings, sandbag carries, heavy jump ropes and bear crawls. The heavy jump ropes were super hard! There was also a balance beam and I ended up having to get help from the City Challenge Staff because it was super tricky. I think that if I took my time and didn’t rush through it, I could’ve done it a little better. 


So my lack of voice or any other doubts or discomforts didn’t hinder me. Would I do this event again? I think if a group of my friends wanted to do it, I definitely would again. A bonus was that there was no gross mud involved. After all, their motto is, “Think outside the mud!” It’s one of those things that you do for the experience. To test your strength and your fears. To have fun! It was not something I cared to do for time.  I’ll leave that to my running races. 


Xo, 

Julia 

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Stroller runs are fun!

I’ve been taking Frankie out on the stroller the past few weeks and it’s going great so far. I was nervous that he would start complaining after just a mile or 2 but we’ve done up to 4 miles so far. Success! 


It has been really fun going out and spending time outside with Frankie. Sometimes we run to the park which we are so fortunate to have so many in our vicinity in Morris County.

I remember how hard it felt to push the stroller last year when I would run with him occasionally. Umm and it’s only gotten harder now that he’s 25+ pounds! I’ve been looking on Instagram and online for bloggers who may be training for runs with a stroller but haven’t been very successful. If you are one and I missed you, please comment and let’s connect! I feel like I’m going sooo slow in the BOB, so it’s hard to gauge how I would do in a race.


Speaking of which, I’m doing my first 2017 5K this Sunday (after skipping out on one due to super cold weather last month). And I’m contemplating doing a Half next month. I know I can do a half but the competitor in me wants to test my speed first before I commit. 


Have you trained for a race while racking up miles in a stroller? I’ll take any tips! 🙂 

Xoxo,

Julia 

Easy Treadmill Speedwork

Hello friends! Happy Tuesday. I have to admit, my running has been slacking the past 2 months or so, and except for the run we did while traveling in California last month, my mileage has been pretty nonextistent. 

Trail run in Sausalito, CA in February.

So what’s the best way to get out of a running slump? Signing up for a race! The hubby and I will be doing our local St Paddy’s 5K on Saturday. Obviously not aiming for any PRs, but just looking to get our groove back a little bit. I think that with Spring being right around the corner, I’ll be more motivated to get Frankie out in the BOB too!


Here’s a nice and easy speedwork workout I created. You can increase the easy and fast running if you’re training for a longer race.

Run 1/2 mile at a comfortable/easy pace. For me that was 8:30 pace.

Then alternate with a very easy jog for .2 mile (for me that was 9:31 pace), and then a sprint for .2 mile (for me that was 6:58 pace). Repeat for 2.5 miles (for a total of 3 miles).

Today I will be doing some barbell squats and core work and get back to running tomorrow.

Follow me on Instagram to see how I do on the 5K! @thepetitefastinista 


Xo,

Julia

Raising a Bilingual Baby

I was enjoying a quiet snowy morning two days ago when I started writing this…although my day did not actually start very relaxed. Frankie was up at 4:30am the night before due to teething :/ And then took forever to go down for his morning nap. Last night was also tough. But Mama had some extra coffee today and got to finish this post today!


You may know that I was born in Paraguay and speak Spanish fluently. It was important for my husband and I to make sure Frankie grew up learning some Spanish too. However, the fact that I speak mostly English makes it very difficult for me to stick to just speaking to him in Español. I find myself reverting back to English when I can’t think of something fast enough.

The other day, I joined a virtual Facebook event on raising bilingual kids. Have you ever joined any of those before? They’re so great  for busy people because you can click “Going” and then just read the posts when you have a chance, from your couch, in your sweats. The event was hosted by the site Tinyhood and the advise came from Chontelle Bonfiglio, English teacher, mom to 2 bilingual boys, and Creator of Bilingual Kidspot, a website offering practical advice for parents raising bilingual children. She addressed some questions that most parents have and I summarize a few below:


Q- Will my child have a speech delay?

A- No, it’s been proven that bilingual kids develop their language skills the same as monolingual kids. In fact, regular experience with 2 different languages has been actually linked to social and cognitive advantages.

Q- Should each parent speak one language to the child?

A-Sure. This is called the OPOL method  (it’s what we try to follow) – One Person One Language. It’s important to be consistent with this to make sure the new language gets exposure.

Q- What if my child can’t communicate with friends and kids at the playground?

A- You can use the MLAH method – Minority Language at Home. In this case, you make the “second” language your home language, and English the Community Language. Chontelle also points out that kids, depending on their age, will usually still play with each other irregardless of what language they speak.

Q- What if I’m trying to teach my child another language and they refuse to speak it?

A- You can try to encourage them to do so, especially if you know they understand what you’re saying, by using a puppet, doll or teddy bear that “only speaks Spanish”, for example. If you make a game out of it, they may be more likely to respond.

I thought these tips were great and wanted to share them with you 🙂

If you have kids, are you teaching them another language or what language would you like for them to learn one day?

Now, here is a workout I did the other day. Very simple but it’ll get your heart pumping fast! You’ll just need a kettlebell but you can also use a dumbbell or even a plate if that’s all you have.


1 Kettlebell Swing

20 Mt Climbers

1 Tuck Jumps

2 Kettlebell Swings

20 Mt Climbers

1 Tuck Jump

3 Kettle Swings

20 Mt Climbers

1 Tuck Jump…

all the way up to 15 Kettlebell Swings (same number of Mt Climbers and Tuck Jump)

What do you think?!

Xoxo

Remembering to Put On (Real) Pants

Before I had Frankie I told myself I would never be one of those moms who loses sight of herself or wears Mom jeans or never brushes her hair. As judgy as that may sound, it really was a challenge to myself to make sure I still made time for Me! It’s hard to do, and some days impossible; I totally understand that now.

Figuring out my priorities helps. I know that exercise and reading are some of the things that make me feel good and help me improve myself. One trick I do to make sure I get some exercise in is put on exercise clothes in the morning. It makes it easier to follow through if you’re already partly prepared.

As wonderful and smart as this sounds, I also really, really need to give myself breaks. I need to realize that some days the workouts are not going to happen. Part of my self care routine needs to be putting on “real” clothes! I am good with  doing my hair and having a pampered morning and night skincare routine but I don’t need to live in yoga pants 🙂  

Unfortunately I don’t have time to read books right now. I was reading something  great on my Nook a few months ago and now I can’t even tell you what it was, and you know what? I just had to accept the fact that I had to let it go for now. Right now, reading articles or magazines is what I have time for and it’s a good compromise. 

Now let’s get to the workout! You can  substitute the run with some other form of cardio if you prefer.

Run 1 mile, then:

2 rounds of

30 kettlebell swings 

20 push press (45# barbell)

30 step ups

20 bicep curls (8# dumbbells)

30 rotating side planks 

This was a great total body burner.

I had not been on the treadmill in a while so the 1 mile was totally doable!
So that’s it for today! I will be trying to post more often and stay connected. You can always follow along on Instagram (@thepetitefastinista) as well!

Photo by @oh_tilly

Have a great Friday!

Julia

Staying Fit Through the Holidays

None of these are secrets! You have probably heard them before. But are you actually doing them? Here’s how I keep myself in check:

1) Schedule it. I know if I write down my workout, I will get it done. This also goes for anything else I need/want to get done- I write it in my agenda otherwise I forget, forget, forget. My mom brain has gotten worse as Frankie has gotten older.

2) Avoid sitting for too long. Sitting for prolonged periods of time has been proven to be hazardous to our healths. Remember this when watching Christmas movies with your family- get up and stretch occasionally.

3) Drink up! Water that is, not sugary stuff. Many people track their food intake. I say, track your water intake. I have an oversized water bottle that I refill several times a day. I drink at least 1 gallon of water a day.

4) A little bit is better than nothing when it comes to exercise. This is so true now that I’m a mom, especially one who is at home. My “me” time is pretty much non-existent, so I rely on naps to get stuff done around the house or for my R+F biz. Sometimes I do wall sits or push-ups or jump squats while playing with Frankie. Get creative!


5) Indulge a few times, but not the whole Season! We only live once, so go to the Christmas parties but just be smart. If you really want to try the desserts, snack on the lower calorie appetizers and limit your alcoholic drinking.  Tonight I’ll be going to a Cookie Exchange Party and trust me when I say I will be enjoying a few but I also made sure to have a light dinner instead of my usual filling one. 

6) Don’t make a New Year’s resolution to stay in shape- stay in shape ALL YEAR LONG! If you simply can’t get yourself to do all of the above, then it’s time to consider investing in yourself. Find a fitness coach to help you stay motivated and accountable. Find a friend who has similar goals and try to workout together if you can.


Thank you following my blog this year! I wish each and every one of you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season! May 2017 be full of blessings! 

~Julia 

Frankie’s First South America Trip

It’s been over a month since we got back from our trip to Paraguay. It was a way-too-brief visit to my family but an unforgettable trip regardless that filled us with new memories to cherish.

It was our first time taking Frankie on a plane so we were naturally super nervous. Overall, he did great on the way there and did even better on the way back. Funny though, that on our way back home he didn’t have his own seat and slept so much better. On my lap. Sigh.

This was my first time visiting since my Grandmother’s passing just over 2 years ago. I was feeling extremely emotional weeks before the trip. I vowed that I would spend every minute I could with my family. That meant we did not do much exploring and didn’t get to visit friends that lived in other cities.

During these 8 days, our only exercise was a 3 mile run at a park minutes away from my Grandmother’s house. We ate delicious homemade food and decadent desserts EVERY.DAY. We took a siesta almost every day. We had 0 regrets. 

Whenever I return from Paraguay I’m left a little depressed. I feel blue thinking about how far away I am from so many people that love me and whom I love. I feel blue thinking that I may not see some of them the next time I return. It was also great to meet some family members I’ve never met before.

I’m so happy that we were able to make a quick escape and visit this past August. I hope to be able to visit again within the next 2 years.


Do you have family in another country or even another state that you don’t see often? 

Xoxo

My Biggest Takeaways of the 2016 Rio Olympics

Seeing the perseverance, passion and sportsmanship that the Olympic Games bring out truly move me and inspire to keep doing all I do. Not just at the gym but in life too.

The event itself is so exciting, to see athletes from many different countries come together to show us their greatest gifts and strengths. There was even a refugee team of 10 people. There were so many memorable moments, but to me, it wasn’t just about the winners of medals. There were many lessons to be learned from some of the Olympians. Here are some of my favorites:

Sure, it’s amazing that Michael Phelps has 28 gold medals. But did you know that he won 0 at the 2000 Summer Olympics? What if he had given up?

Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino helping each other finish the women’s 5000 Meters after tripping over each other. What if they had just ignored each other? They wouldn’t have created a new bond and friendship.

What about when British sprinter, Derek Redmond’s hamstring snapped on him. He waved away the stretcher, and continued limping towards the finish. His father then ran onto the track, past security, and took his son’s arms to help him finish. Sometimes we have one goal and then something devastating happens so we readjust our goals. Giving up isn’t an option. Those who love will be there to help you through.

Allyson Felix was expected to win the 400 Meters. Instead she had to settle for silver, as Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas literally dove for gold. In this case, Miller showed she wanted so badly to achieve this goal and went above and beyond to reach it.

Sarah Robles won the US’s first weightlifting medal since 2000. She’s happy to shed more light on the sport especially to inspire other women of size. She’s also Mexican-American and looking to inspire other Latinos. 

I love the Final Five, especially Simone Biles. That girl is tiny but fierce! But what about the older gymnasts, like 41-year-old Oksana Chusovitina? She could’ve retired. Instead she chose to stand alongside gymnasts half her age. “I’m alive. I’m well. Then it means everything is ok,” she said.

What were some of your favorite, inspiring  moments? 

Frankie’s First Beach Trip

Yesterday we got back from a 4-day trip to Cape May down at Exit 0 of the New Jersey Turnkpike. It was Frankie’s first road trip and his first time at the beach. Although it took him a couple of days to really “get it,”by the last day, he was bouncing and splashing in the water with his Dad holding him up. 

First toe dips in the ocean.


Unfortunately he had a terrible diaper rash and tummy issues so I was a nervous wreck the whole time.  The first night was the worst- he was up way past his bedtime which led him to being cranky and overtired and waking up multiple times that night. Being out of his element and his routine was rough on all of us but overall we still a very nice time. Frank’s family was also spending time down there so we were able to sketch in some fun memories with Frankie for all.

We stayed at this lovely B&B that I found on Airbnb. Coopers Guest House was a very charming white colonial with teal trim. Located just a block and a half from the beach and a few blocks from downtown, its location was excellent. We were also only about 1 mile away from my sister in law’s house so meeting up with them didn’t take a long time.

Cooper’s Guest House.
Cute Colonials across the street.
Some more Colonial charm.

Friday night, Frank and I put Frankie to bed and snuck off to have a dinner date night at our favorite restaurant, 410 Bank Street. Their cuisine has a French-New Orleans medley with Caribbean flair. We both had our favorite dish there, the voodoo shrimp. I swear, this stuff must really do voodoo because it’s soo delicious you’ll take your bread and soak up the scrumptious sauce until your plate is practically clean and not even care.


At night, Frank and I would make a drink and bring Frankie’s monitor down to the front porch with us. One of my recent best ideas 👌🏻

Frankie loved the seagulls and all the small airplanes flying around. He was also fascinated by all the bicycles everywhere! It was a nice trip and even though I could’ve done without the diapey issues, our boy was a champ. We shared good laughs and Frankie got to spend some time with his Hickman family. 

Hickman cousins.

What road trips or beach trips have you taken this summer? 
Catch you later!

Xoxo

Staying Fit On The Go

Being away from the gym is no excuse to slack on your exercise routine. There are plenty of movements you can do while you’re traveling this summer to keep up with your goals. If you’re staying in a hotel it will most likely have a gym so you’ll have more options. If not, bring a jump rope and/or exercise band so you can workout in your room or outside.

I love body weight exercises because you can really strengthen your whole body  and work on cardio at the same time. We recently did a tabata at the gym and it got me thinking- this is something that can be modified to be done on the road. Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tanata and his team. It consists of 4 minutes of high intensity. You workout hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat this 8 times. 

So take 4 or 5 body weight movements (say, double unders, air squats, sit ups, mountain climbers and push-ups) and do 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off, 8 times. You’ll get yourself a heart-pounding workout in about 16-20 minutes.


You can also do circuit training. Take 5 or 6 movements and do each one for 45 seconds before moving to the next one. Complete 4-5 rounds. If you search this blog, you’ll see that I tend to do a lot of these so feel free to find more inspiration here.

It might be difficult to work on your deadlifts, but don’t despair. Remember that any physical activity is better than nothing! Try to focus on heavier lifting right before you go away and get right back to the gym once your trip is over.

Keep it simple and fun. So if you’re at the beach, go for a jog, play volleyball, do planks and burpees (on a beach towel), walk to the furthest restaurant, or ride a bike.

My advice is to try to get your workout done in the morning. Even if it’s just a quick 10 minute workout in your room; you’ll feel so much better afterwards and you won’t feel as guilty for the multiple margaritas you might indulge in later 😁

So enjoy your vacation but do what you can to stay active while having fun!