30-Day Squat Challenge

Yesterday, a couple of completely unrelated conversations came around to the same question: do I squat enough?

I’m not talking about the repetitive exercise of squatting, with or without weight. I’m referring to a resting squat: feet flat on the floor, knees tracking over but not beyond the toes, and buttocks against the calves (or, as some would say, “ass to grass”). In many cultures, this is a natural resting position that is even more common than sitting. I see it in the smooth, natural way my young nephews squat down to play with toys on the ground–while we, the adults, collapse down to sit on our butts, unable to hold the same position.

Think on that. Think about how much you sit and stand, and how hard it can be to fully squat and get yourself back up again. When you squat, do your heels touch the ground? I do squats as a regular exercise in my lifting routine (my favorite is goblet squat), but the idea of just hanging out in a low squat for a long time isn’t appealing to me — because I do things that cause a system of muscular imbalances, like sitting (contributes to weak abs, tight hips, weak glutes and a less flexible spine) and wearing high heels (shortens the Achilles tendon). I stopped wearing high heels almost two years ago, but other than doing a few stretches suggested by my chiropractor and generally trying to strengthen my core and improve overall flexibility, I haven’t really focused on my Achilles and tight hip flexors and psoas.

Enter: Ido Portal’s 30-day squat challenge.

We’ve all seen those challenges where you pick an exercise — push-ups, planks, burpees, whatever — and gradually increase the number you do every day, for 30 days, right? In most challenges, the goal is to do 100 repetitions of the exercise in a single day by the end of the challenge period.

This is not that.

Reminding us that a static, low squat is a natural resting position for our body, Ido challenges us to spend 30 minutes per day in a resting squat, every day for 30 days. He suggests setting a timer to 30 minutes and starting it every time you go down into the squat throughout your day. Pause it when you are coming up. Keep doing it throughout the day until you can stay in the squat position longer each time.

This is a heels-on-the-ground full squat. I can’t get my heels to the ground without putting my feet really, really wide. It’s uncomfortable.

I wonder how it will feel 30 days from now?

For more on the 30-day squat challenge:

  • The post on Ido Portal’s Facebook page, here.
  • A suggested squat and mobility/stretching routine posted by Ido to Youtube, here.
  • A dedicated FB group for all participating in the challenge, here.



All the Things I Should Have Been Blogging: Part 1

After a short run with friends tonight, the conversation meandered over to one friend’s blog (Keep Smiling, Keep Moving) — particularly, why she writes about both the good and the bad workouts — and I lamented, “Man, I let my blog fall apart. This summer was the time I should have been blogging about my rides and my events, and I didn’t write a word.”

At some point, after repeatedly getting sick and backing out of races, it started to feel like being sick was all I had to talk about. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about the cycles of illness, antibiotics and specialists. I didn’t want to entertain guesses about my illness or go into great detail (and I still don’t), but I felt like there was nothing else going on. My last post was almost a year ago — October 23, 2012 — and I had some new ideas for fitness, training and nutrition that I hoped would help reduce the amount of time I was sick. I set myself a few loose goals for what I wanted to do over the winter and spring. I met some of those goals, half-assed others, and wildly surpassed at least one.

You may have noticed a reference to rides in that first paragraph, rather than runs. I did succeed at my goal to spend more time on the bike, though I initially planned to use it for cross-training. However, after riding on the indoor trainer a couple times a week over the winter, by the time spring rolled around I was ready to get out and actually see movement as my wheels turned. I was done spinning in place.

I have ridden in the past with a great local cycling club, Suburban Cyclists Unlimited, so I re-joined the club, paid my first annual dues in a couple years, and started riding with them in April, the “official start” of their ride season. (There are club members who lead rides year round. I’m not that crazy … yet.) I initially started riding with the group every Monday after work, and eventually added the Thursday night club ride as well. On the weekends, I would do longer solo rides, mainly utilizing the Perkiomen and Schuylkill River trail networks. Eventually, I also joined another cycling club — the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia, and started joining them for some of their weekend rides from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

All this was great fun, but I like having goals. They help me focus, help me reach beyond what I did yesterday and push myself to do more tomorrow. They help me BEAT THE BLERCH or, as my friends have often said, “beat the couch”.

All of which is to say that, after putting myself on a running restriction … I signed up for my first-ever century ride.

(To be continued.)

The Whole Deal

There’s a new image you’ll be seeing in my sidebar, and it’s this one:


We all know that nutrition is an important part of any training plan, but it’s often easier to know that on an intellectual level than it is to implement a good, solid nutrition plan. I seem to do great one week, then catch myself mindlessly eating junk the following week. I recently started reading It Starts With Food, which is a really interesting look at how our bodies respond to the food we’re eating. I have a feeling I’m going to be re-reading it a few times before I really grasp the science behind our hormonal responses to food. (Don’t take that to mean that it’s written in a hard-to-understand way; I just feel like I’m not absorbing it well. Biology was not my strongest subject, and I suddenly feel like I’m playing catch-up on every day that I day-dreamed in the ninth grade.)

I recently had a long conversation with an important person in my life, and we discussed some of our similar struggles with food, some of our shared health issues, and current frustration with the cycle of diet-and-cheat that we both seem to fall into all too easily, even while knowing that it’s an unhealthy way to view food. So we’ve agreed to be each other’s support system and start the Whole30 challenge. We’re starting immediately, making as much of a change as we can with what we have on hand (which is actually pretty good — we have a few solid meal options based on what we already have on hand) and then we’re going to come up with some specific meal ideas, and go grocery shopping and do some meal prep together on Sunday, so that we each go into the week with meals made in advance and things we can have on hand for those busy weekdays when we don’t have time to cook and might find it easier to slip or cheat.

I’m not planning on becoming one of those people who posts pictures of every meals, or menus of each day. But a training plan is so much more than just miles run — it needs to incorporate rest days, cross-training, recovery AND nutrition, so I’m sure this will be finding its way into future posts as well.