searching for a good gym bag

Back in the day, I was in love with lululemon gym bags. They were wonderfully designed, super sturdy, and though pricey, worth every penny. Sadly, those days are gone. I dunno what happened but I’m just not into their bags anymore. My current, classic lululemon gym bag is this one:

lulu.bag

It’s perfect in every way. I’ve had this for at least seven years. I bought it on sale for $39 and it’s wonderful. Sadly, the faux leather parts in plum are currently fraying. It looks unattractive. Granted, it still functions. However, I worry about the faux leather shedding and the leaving weird things around the gym. I want to use it to the death, but my life has different demands for a gym bag.

These past two weeks, I have forgotten my yoga mat three times! I prefer a bag that allows me to attach the mat to it. However, a good one like that is really hard to find. After consulting with the interwebs, I found this gem:

yogatote

Say hello to the Hotdog Yogatote in amethyst. This is going on my Christmas wish list.

This is the Hotdog Yogatote in Amethyst and retails for $119.95. Sigh. It’s way out of my price range. However, I’m hoping Santa will be nice this year and send this my way. It’s made by a small company (Hotdog Yoga Gear) that values good quality. I’m all about that. This bag reminds me of Timbuk2 bags, which I adore. In fact, there’s a Timbuk2 bag that I love, but they don’t make it anymore. If they still made the Timbuk2 Flow tote, I’d be all over that!

yogatote2

I haven’t seen the Yogatote in person. However, the photos and descriptions look great. And it’s in purple! Plus, it seems sturdy enough to handle my 7-lb. Manduka Pro yoga mat. Btw, I’ve had this mat for seven years! I love it because it’s as wonderful today as it was when I first bought it. There’s barely any wear and tear on it. There are few yoga bags that can handle such a big mat. Therefore, I love that the Yogatote will make it easier for me to avoid forgetting my mat. While I’m not in a hurry for a new bag, when I’m at my breaking point, I’m hoping the yoga gods send this baby my way (unless Timbuk2 has enough sense to re-issue the Flow tote).

If any of you have suggestions on a similar bag, please lmk. I’d love to see what’s out there!

Celebrating EVERY body,

the fierce fathlete

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fierce products: hydro flask bottles

I’ve been living in the desert for just under two years now and in truth, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. The heat makes me want to poke someone else’s eyeballs very slowly with dull toothpicks dipped in spicy salt.

Seriously.

hulkWhen I first moved to Phoenix, the Manpanion and I drove twelve hours from San Francisco (never again!) and arrived at about 2am. The temperatures read about 110 degrees. We were tired, cranky, and from that moment on, we fought…. ALL THE TIME. People that know us know that we’re not the type of couple that fights much. He and I are very diplomatic and we always talk through our rough patches. But that first week in Phoenix, I swear I wanted to rip his eyes sockets out! After a few days of this, we realized that we were both combative because the heat just brought out the Hulk in each of us.

Living in Phoenix, you learn some survival rituals such as strategic grocery shopping (only one place at a time because you can’t leave stuff in your car), avoiding wearing thin flip flops at night (the heat that has been absorbed in the cement rises at night), and having to carry a water bottle everywhere you go. Seriously. EVERYWHERE.

Hydroflask1

This is where Hydro Flask bottles come in. If you practice some form of hot yoga, then you likely know what a Hydro Flask is. It is an insulated water bottle that keeps your liquids cold (or hot depending on their original state) for hours on end. I find my Hydro Flask useful because I’d hate to drink lukewarm water during Bikram yoga. Cold water provides my one moment of bliss as I move through various postures while in Dante’s inferno.There are times I want to make love to my Hydro Flask because it’s that freakin’ awesome!

Much like Kleen Kanteen (my other favorite; there’s an insulated version!), Hydro Flasks are really durable, BPA free, and are easy to clean and use. Personally, I like that Hydro Flasks have a matte textured finish. They come in all sorts of colors and sizes, which is important for hot yoga folks.

Hydro Flask 2

Personally, I own the 21 ounce size in purple (of course!) But if I could do it all over again, I’d opt for the 40 ounce (or a second 21 ounce size) for class because the one bottle isn’t enough for me. Typically, I carry a second water bottle in the locker room so I can re-hydrate after class. Unfortunately, I’ve been in situations where I drank all my water with 15 minutes left of class. This is no bueno!

The final bonus (for me because I’m a kick-ass kind of gal) about these bottles is they can double for a weapon in the event someone tries to mug you for your yoga mat. (Not that this has happened… but if some renegade thug yogini to tries to do this, I’m prepared!)

Celebrating EVERY body,
the fierce fathlete

Note Bene: I am in no way paid or compensated for sharing my opinion about the Hydro Flask or any of the products I feature in “fierce products.” These are just things that I personally like. However, if you create an awesome product and want to shoot a gal some stuff to try out, leave your contact info in comments. I would love to try out your product and share an honest opinion about it. 

project: non-slip headbands

Per Gladys’s request, here’s a photo of me
sporting one of her awesome headbands!

Last November, my gals Lori, Lyn and I ran the Mermaid 10K. After the race, Lori and I purchased the Mermaid Series Sweaty Band, a headband that is partially lined with velvet to stay in place during rigorous workouts. I’ve read about them for a while and when I saw that they were selling at the race, I figured I’d treat myself to one as a victory gift.

Believe the hype. They are a GREAT product! They’re cute and available in every design and color known to human kind. More importantly, they definitely stay in place during high intensity workouts. So what’s the catch?

Unfortunately, I have a HUGE head (to house my insanely large, magnificent brain). While I love the headband I bought, it does slip and is a bit tight (even after it’s been stretched out). Though they’re worth the money, I still think $15-$18 is a bit steep for ribbon, velvet, and elastic. With that, I did a search for DIY Sweaty Bands and found this site. I then emailed my dear friend Gladys, who has been taking up sewing and asked her if she would be able to sew these bands for me. When she agreed, I started inspecting my band, trying to figure out what measurements and materials I needed. (Standard Sweaty Bands come in about 20″ and I need something that’s about 21″ or so.) I then looked online for some ribbon and velvet and found the EXACT same ribbon as what’s sold through Sweaty Bands! In case you want to make your own headbands, I suggest buying ribbon here and here.

Anyway… as stolen from Gladys’s post, here is the finished product! I just received the bands today and I’m wearing one right now as we speak. They fit perfectly and I can’t wait for the elastic to settle in. Also, I suggest you visit Gladys’s post to get a solid sense of how to make the headbands yourself.

BUT WAIT! For those of you who aren’t the crafty types but don’t want to pay the high price for Sweaty Bands, then please check out BIC Bands and Chick Bands. If you email the makers directly, they can custom size your bands for you (wa-hoo!). BIC Bands are based in LA and her products run about $10 or so. The great thing is, a portion of the sales go to a different charity every month. Yea! Chick Bands, which operates out of Maryland and available through etsy, runs a little cheaper at about $8 or so. Shipping is inexpensive on both sites.

Happy shopping!

battle of the coconut water

A while back, I dedicated a post to my love of coconut. Later on, I shared my paleo find when I discovered that Trader Joe’s carries zico coconut water. Well, after actually tasting the zico product (and finding out that instead of it being actual coconut water as the old label read, it’s actually coconut water concentrate; I’ve only tasted the natural and NOT the other schmancy flavors), I have to say that it’s not one of my favorite things. Granted, zico can be found everywhere and it’s probably better than gatorade (but don’t take my word for it). However, it just doesn’t taste that great. But in a pinch, I guess it’s okay. I can see how folks are all about the different flavors and stuff. But if you look at the label, it reads: “100% natural coconut water from concentrate, natural flavors.” The chocolate flavored reads: “100% natural coconut water from concentrate, cane sugar, coconut cream, cocoa, vanilla, carrageenan.” From concentrate? Plus there’s other stuff in there too? Sorry. It’s not my thing.

Zico coconut water found at my local Trader Joe’s. Not my
thing and not that tasty. But if you like flavors and need a
quick fix, I guess this will do it.

Yesterday, while shopping at Trader Joe’s I noticed that they started selling their own coconut water – NOT from concentrate. This piqued my interest, so I forked up the $3 for the bottle. The final verdict? Well, it’s slightly better than zico and it isn’t from concentrate and doesn’t have other ingredients except the coconut water itself. Yes. In a pinch, it’ll work. However, I’m not forking up $3 anytime soon for the stuff. And I’ll tell you why…

Trader Joe’s now has their own brand of coconut water.
Again, not my thing, but cleaner tasting than Zico.

In my book, nothing can replace the goodness of an actual, fresh young coconut. As mentioned before, when I lived in the Philippines, my mom drank 1-2 coconuts per day. It was easy, since local street vendors sold these (the water and the meat) cracked and peeled, ready to drink/eat in a plastic bag for less than fifty cents. My mistake was not joining her in doing this. Over the three months, my mom’s feet and legs didn’t swell as much. Now that we’re in the US, she’s back to the swelling. However, she takes virgin coconut oil in her food and rubs it on her feet, which again, helps with the swelling.

After some serious thought and research about the coconut, I decided to start buying them from the local Asian grocery store, crack it open myself, and eat them. In fact, I include coconut water/meat in my latest concoction of my daily green smoothie. Also, if I have any to spare (this depends on how much room I have in the fridge), I have a coconut after a tough WOD or run. It really is yummy and refreshing. Plus, the meat is to die for! AND for the environmentally conscious, the coconut is completely compost-able (no more bottle/can waste).

If you’ve had your coconut this way, you can never go to the bottled stuff. I swear! If you’re wondering how to get these suckers open, check out this video. Fresh, young coconut can cost as low as 99 cents to almost $4 (depending on the store and season). Personally, I buy mine from Seafood City in Union City. I find that they’re the cheapest there. Note: should the prices of the coconut suddenly shoot up and the availability go down, I’m blaming ALL OF YOU! Okay. Enjoy:D

Young coconut from the local Asian grocery store.
In my book, this is the only way to go.

Today’s Small Victories
I did yoga and I ran back to back. Yay!

Warm-up
1 hour of yoga

Today’s Workout
Run 5K

Notes (to myself) about this workout: Late afternoon yoga is hard. Period. It’s challenging and refreshing, but it kicks my butt. I had about an hour break before doing the run with Miss Lori. We did the interval 4:1 run. It was good. Slower than usual, but it was good. Yay.

barefoot and running

As you all know, I’m running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in October and right now, I’m trying to iron out some training issues before I go into training mode later next month. Currently, I’m re-visiting the whole barefoot running debate. I’m not interested in not wearing shoes – especially after reading this. Rather, I’m interested in the running technique. Simply put, pose running or barefoot running focus on  landing on the balls of your feet as opposed to striking with the heel. Unfortunately, when reading through the info online, the discussions focus on the shoe debate. It’s a little frustrating because I’m not one for extremes. Rather, I want the best of different worlds. I want to wear shoes, but I also want to run more efficiently.

For more information, check out these links:

After sifting through some sites, I finally found these two videos. The first one is a news clip from BBC that showcases the pose running method. What I like is the testing and that they’re wearing shoes, but showing how efficient the technique is.

Here is the second video. I like that it focuses on the method of running, which emphasizes the foot strike. In traditional running, you strike with the heel, which apparently is not good for your feet or your body. In pose running and barefoot running, you strike with the balls of your feet, take short strides, and try to hit your butt with your heels. Also, this video shows a great transition from heel striking, to barefoot running, to using minimalist shoes like Vibrams, and then running in shoes.

With that, I’ve decided to do my short runs with my Nike Free shoes. I’m using short runs to focus on technique and get used to this style of running. For longer runs, I’m using my traditional motion control shoes (which are old enough and are flexible) while maintaining the new form. I’ll do this for a month before deciding what shoes to invest in. (Yeah. My running shoes are about three years old, so I need new ones. The Nike Free are less than a year old, but pretty beaten up.)

In terms of shoes, I’m eyeing the New Balance Minimus Road. I tried them on recently and I need a Men’s size 8 in the black/red. I loved the toe box, but the women’s model was too narrow (the “padding” kept hitting the arch of my feet). Hence, I need the men’s model. Admittedly, I was inspired by this video:

Also, I’m a big fan of New Balance shoes. I currently use and love these motion control shoes. While I’m willing to get another pair, I’ll need to wait to see how running in minimalist shoes treats me. If I like it, I’ll need to change up my longer mileage shoe.

For now, technique now, shoes later.

fierce products: armpocket

Now that I’m slowly, but surely getting back into the swing of running, I’m also trying to figure out the whole gear thing. fathlete confession: Now that I’m training, I’m realizing why three years ago, I declared no more long distance races for me. It’s a bathroom issue. I’m not big on using port-o-potties and when I trained for Maui, I mastered the art of “holding it til the run ends.” Seeing that I’m older and my bladder is weaker, that strategy doesn’t work very well. Gah! But this post has nothing to do with sorting out bathroom issues. Moving on…

I’m trying to decide what gear works for me. Things have changed since my last two major races and the gear available is amazing! I used to run with my ipod shuffle. These days, I’m running with my iphone because 1) Nike+GPS iphone app is awesome. 2) It’s safer to have your phone on you when running. Thing is, it’s a bit bulky. After shopping around, I found a great product called armpocket. I really like the sport i-20 with the clear window (pictured above).

Before I begin telling you how awesome this product is, it’s only right that I let you know that I actually had to return my armpocket. This has nothing to do with it being a bad product. I now know that I’m just not someone who likes to run with something strapped to my arm. I find that my hands tend to swell when I run with it. This might have something to do with the arm band needing to be snug and my arm needing some circulation. Again, it’s a me issue and not a product issue. Moving on…

For those of you looking for an armband to hold your iphone (or other device during runs), I highly recommend the armpocket. First off, it’s secure. There is light bounce, which is normal. But overall, it stayed in place and didn’t twist around or cause any chafing (which is a testament to good design, including good placement of the velcro). Second, it comes in a variety of colors (including purple, which is now in stock… but wasn’t when I bought mine… just sayin’). Third, it carries what I think are the essentials: an iphone with a case, keys, id, cash. Finally, because it has a clear plastic window, it protects your iphone (no need to worry about it being drenched in sweat). Overall, if you’re someone who likes to wear their gear on the arm, this is a great product.

Today’s Small Victories
I made it to SF for a hike.

Today’s Workout
6 mile hike in SF

Notes (to myself) about this workout: In total, the SO and I were out for over two hours. It wasn’t particularly hard, but it was a long hike/walk. Big kudos to the SO who really stuck it out. He’s recovering from an injured achilles and I know this hike wasn’t easy. However, we finished and he’s recovering nicely. As for me, I’m okay. I’m a little sore and slightly disappointed that I’m not running more. However, I need to cut myself a break. The Nike Half isn’t until October, so official training doesn’t start til July. With that, I just need to ease into the running. One step at a time…

**FYI I am in no way paid or compensated for sharing my opinion about the armpocket or any of the products I feature in “fierce products.” These are just things that I personally like. However, if you are from armpocket and you want to shoot a gal some stuff to try out, I’d have absolutely no objections to that. I promise to share an honest opinion about it!

feed your mind


In the spirit of holiday giving fathlete style, I have decided to dedicate today’s post to reading material you can share with you and yours. First up is Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet. I downloaded the kindle edition and have been reading through it slowly. So far, so good. Wolf is a great writer and he makes the science stuff easy to understand. fathlete confession: I ordered four copies of this to give as gifts. I’m wondering if I should have ordered more. Gah!

As you already know, I’m a huge fan of Mark Sisson and his blog Mark’s Daily Apple (MDA). If you don’t have a copy, I recommend picking up (and gifting) The Primal Blueprint. If you’re extra generous or want to give something to your favorite wannabe chefs, then definitely pick up a copy of The Primal Blueprint Cookbook. I own both and am looking forward to putting them to good use! fathlete confession: I’m thinking that my next health challenge will have something to do with a primal/paleo cooking challenge.

These last two gift ideas come from Balanced Bites, a website run by Diane Sanfilippo. Personally, I downloaded The 21 Day Sugar Detox when we were doing the LBN Challenge. I like how user friendly it is and the lists are really helpful! Sanfilippo just released a new book, Practical Paleo Nutrition Guide Book, which I just downloaded!

Wednesday, December 8th
One hour of yoga. And then…

CrossFit One World WOD
Complete five rounds for time of:
5 hang squat cleans 63#
10 hip extensions
15 box jumps (12″)

Joanne’s Final Time – 13:20

Notes (to myself) about this workout:
Yoga was awesome. It was harder than usual, but I really loved it! For the WOD, I was really thankful to get some help from Angela. I’m not good at the clean, so to have her watch my form was helpful. (Yeah. I need to do a better job at “bumping” the bar.) I kept it light because my shoulders are kinda wrecked.

Thursday, December 9th
One hour of spin. And then…

CrossFit One World WOD: Blame Brad
Complete the following for time:
10 ring dips (band assisted)
20 pull-ups (band assisted)
30 kettlebell swings 25#
40 barbell push press press 33#
50 med ball cleans 10#
150 jump rope skips
50 med ball cleans
40 barbell push press
30 kettlebell swings
20 pull-ups (band assisted)
10 ring dips (band assisted)

Joanne’s Final Time – 24:01

Notes (to myself) about this workout: Spin was really rough this morning. I’ve never done that many isolations in one class. OMG! There was a lot of buzz about the One World WOD because it was the longest of the week. fathlete confession: It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Then again, my shoulder is quite tweaky and I had to go lighter on some things. The good thing is that I maintained full range of motion in all my movements. The pull-up is still tricky for me, but I am s-l-o-w-l-y getting there. Yea.

Finally, this WOD was workout #30 for me. Yes, I finished my challenge. Thirty workouts, thirty days, hello to the big 3-5!