Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cycle for Survival Recap: 10 Reasons You Need to be There in 2016

“Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul.” – Jim Valvano

Sunday, March 8th was the final Cycle for Survival ride for 2015 and it was a huge success!  Team MPower for the Cure was led by the beautiful and empowering Marie Jasmine, who not only captained our team, but also did an amazing job as one of the four instructors at 5th Avenue this Sunday afternoon.  April 1st marks the end of fundraising for this year.  Team MPower for the Cure raised a total of $6, 866.  The grand total for Cycle for Survival 2015 was $25,048,687- all going to research and clinical trials for rare cancer.  To those of you that donated on my behalf I can't begin to tell you how meaningful your donations are- I was ecstatic to surpass my $500 fundraising goal.
The amazing women of MPower for the Cure
For those of you who don't know, Cycle for Survival is a 4 hour cycling event held at Equinox clubs throughout the nation to raise money for rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center right here in New York City.  The event was started by Jennifer Goodman while she was undergoing to treatment for a sarcoma at Sloan Kettering.  Jennifer loved cycling and continued to go to spin classes while undergoing chemotherapy.  She has said that she felt like every hill she faced in the cycling studio was representative of her battle with cancer and she would leave feeling emotionally refreshed.  This event combines the rejuvenating benefits of fitness with the supportive team necessary for beating cancer all while raising money and awareness about rare cancers.  And now...
10 Reasons You Need to Be at Cycle for Survival in 2016

1. 50% of cancers are rare cancers: The NIH defines a rare cancer as one with a prevalence of fewer than 200,000 cases per year, but when you put all the rare cancers together it accounts for half the cancer diagnoses per year.  However, there is significantly less foundering for these cancers than for other more prevalent forms of cancer.  There is still a lot more work to be done.

2. It's a great workout!  Sure you are only on the bike for 30-60 minutes depending on how big your team is, but the rest of the 4 hours you are on your feet cheering and supporting your other teammates and the other teams.  Believe me when I say I woke up more sore than I have been in ages Monday morning!

3. Teams! You get to fundraise and ride together as a team, and part of the fun is coming up with an awesome team name.  My favorites for this year were "These Cells Ain't Loyal" and "You can't Spin with Us."

4. Photo Booth Fun: Throughout the event they had a photo booth where you could not only take fun pictures, but write signs to honor and thank loved ones.

5. Swag: Bring it back to the college days where you would do anything for a free t-shirt and some sunglasses (I'm assuming it wasn't just a Miami thing that all the orgs on campus gave out sunglasses...).  Everyone gets a Cycle for Survival t-shirt and sunglasses.  Each team designs and wears their own t-shirt and everyone brings fun wigs, hats, and tattoos to wear.  One of the survivors was there with her husband, an adorable old man wearing an orange top hat and green bow tie.  

6. The Speeches: At the end of each hour they take a break to switch riders and give the instructors a break.  During this time they invite survivors, caregivers, and researchers up to speak about their experiences so you can hear firsthand what your money is going towards.  Throughout this month I have thought back to their words and continue to be inspired.

7. Spend time with your friends: CeCe and I met as trainers at Equinox and at the time were lucky enough to be able to workout together almost every day.  Now we are both busy working multiple jobs and rarely get to spend time together let alone workout together.  Fundraising together was a great opportunity to spend time together doing one of our favorite things!

8. Make new friends: There were also 6 people on my team that I had never met, but by the end of months of fundraising and of course a 4 hour event of nonstop moving they were no longer strangers, but good friends.  We've all been touched by cancer in one way or another and are united in the fight against it.

9. Your Person: In addition to the photo booth there are several other boards for you to honor the one you are fighting for.  Throughout the event the instructors will remind you to think about the person or people that brought you to Cycle for Survival and use that motivation to pull through when you might be feeling tired and want to take a break.  

10. $25+ million: That's the number we need to beat in 2016 so we need you!
See you in 2016!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fitting It In

"My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength."
-Michael Jordan

It's been another busy few weeks.  Lately I've been working full time, babysitting on the side when I can, and taking an online course to fulfill some requirements for nursing school.  And it's been winter which is draining in and of itself.  Oftentimes I have to be at work by 7 am so on the days I don't need to be there at 7 I'm much less motivated when my alarm still goes off at 5 am and it's pitch black outside to hit the gym.  In the past few weeks I've been embracing the lunchtime workout.

Workouts during lunch have their pros and cons.  If done right, they're a great way to get your daily workout in without having to get up early or miss post-work plans, they help break up your day and give you a much needed break in the work day, and they can help energize you for the afternoon.  However, lunch workouts can also be rushed making them not as effect, make you feel stressed as you try to rush back to work, and leave you feeling frazzled if you don't plan them well.  

I'm lucky in that I have a gym right by my work with great group fitness classes so I don't even have to plan my own workout and can get back quickly.  I also usually see my patients in the morning so I often skip reapplying my makeup and doing my hair again so I can keep my post workout routine short and spend more time working out.  I've included a few tips for getting the most out of lunchtime workouts as well as a sample high intensity workout below.  Again, everyone's job is different and those that don't have the luxury of a longer or set lunch break may not be able to squeeze in a workout.

I'd also like to thank everyone that donated to Cycle for Survival!!  My team, MPower for the Cure, has raised almost $6,000!!!  So far for the 2015 Cycle for Survival season over $23 million towards research and clinical trials for rare cancers.  I am just $30 short of my $500 fundraising goal- if you'd like to be the lucky one to push me over the edge click here to donate NOW!  I'll be riding this Sunday in New York City, however, rides are continuing until April 1st so you can donate anytime between now and then.

Tips for Fitting Your Workout in Your Lunch Break

  1. Interval Training: When you're pressed for time interval training is the best way to maximize your calorie burn for those quick workouts.  I've included a tabata workout below.  Tabata is a type of interval training where you alternate between 20 seconds of all out high intensity work (your goal is to go breathless) and then 10 second of rest for a total of 4 minutes of work (8 times through).
  2. Find a group fitness class near your work: Again this isn't possible for everyone, but you'd be surprised how many local gyms have 30-45 minute group fitness classes at lunchtime so you can get your full workout in for the day and be back at your desk in time for afternoon meetings.
  3. Pack a nutritious snack and lunch the day before: One of the hardest parts of working out during lunch is you are hungry.  Packing a snack helps you get through your workout, and having the lunch on hand will make sure you don't miss out on eating because you had to rush back to work.  My favorite pre-workout snack to pack is apple and peanut butter.  A yogurt and banana or granola bar are also great alternatives pre-workout.
  4. Plan out your gym schedule at the beginning of the week: I usually look at my calendar Sunday and pick out two days that are best for a lunch time workout.  I try to make it days where I'm planning to do homework or babysit after work so I'm not too worried about getting ready after working out.  Looking at my calendar ahead of time allows me to plan those days around days where I have afternoon meetings or patients.
  5. Dress appropriately: On days where I'm planning to workout during lunch I dress in outfits that are easy to get in and out of quickly- no tights, boots, or complicated dresses/skirts.  I'll also try to wear loose fitting clothing that I can get away wearing my sports bra underneath to save myself some time once I get to the gym.  I also keep my sneakers under my desk so I can slip them on quickly and get out of the office quickly.
  6. Head straight to the shower after group fitness classes: Since everyone is rushing back to work the showers can fill up quickly.  If there is a line you can stretch and help yourself cool down a little more.
  7. Go into work a little early and leave a little late: Coming in 15 minutes early and leaving 15 minutes late can give you an extra 30 minutes at lunch to either allow you to workout a little longer or give you more time to shower and get back.
  8. Make sure you pack your gym bag ahead of time: This will ensure that you don't forget any of your essentials like deodorant, a change of undies, or a hairbrush.
  9. Recruit a coworker: Bringing a coworker will not only eliminate some of the guilt of cutting out of the office in the middle of the day, it will also keep you accountable and make sure you don't skip your workout.

Once again tabata is a high intensity workout consisting of 8 cycles of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off.  If you do 6 tabatas with 1 minute rest between that is the perfect 30 minute workout.  Best way to know if you're doing your tabata correctly?  At the end of those 20 seconds you are struggling to breath, you need every bit of those 10 seconds recovery, and you're a little nervous to start the next 20 seconds on.  If you feel like you are going to puke at the end- you've got it down!

I like to alternate between two exercises during my tabata so you do a total of 4 sets of each exercise. Here is a sample workout:

Tabata 1:

Lateral Shuffle // Forward Shuffle

Tabata 2:

10 high knees, jump to left, reverse lunge // 180 degree squat jumps (squat facing the front, jump up and switch the direction your facing)

Tabata 3:

Walk out plank, burpee (repeat) // Plank

Tabata 4:

10 high knees, jump to right, reverse lunge // 180 degree squat jumps (squat facing the front, jump up and switch the direction your facing)

Tabata 5:

Tabata 6:

10 jumping jacks, burpee (repeat) // Russian twist