monthly challenges recap: march edition

Welcome to the third installment of the 2014 Monthly Challenges Recap!


Challenge 1: A Return to Running

After a long, long break from running (November – February), something compelled me to go back.

Maybe it was the lack of a concrete challenge on the horizon. Maybe it was the need to have a portable exercise I could do from anywhere, now that I’m back to work and the associated business travel. Maybe it was a deep-seated masochism.

Whatever the motivation, I did two notable things in the month of March:

  1. I mustered up the courage to run outdoors in an urban setting, where people could see [and mock] me. What urban setting did I choose? Why, only the biggest one in North America, of course: New York City! When I ran the streets of Manhattan a few weeks ago I can honestly say that for those 40’ish minutes I did not absolutely hate running. Now that is a miracle.
  2. I made the decision to run a 10k. Downloading a 10k training app on my iPhone was a good first step, but it did not mean I would actually sign up for an participate in a 10k. Writing a blog post about it and declaring to the world that I intend to do that… that constitutes a challenge maker. I am absolutely terrified. My longest run to date was 7.5 kms yesterday. 10k seems a looooong way off at this point. I’m committed. I will do this.

Challenge 2: Oil Pulling

Is this ancient Ayurvedic tradition the miracle cure it’s purported to be? The jury is still out for me, but I’ve made the commitment to try this odd [and pretty nasty] practice for at least 10 – 14 consecutive days.

The good news is that 7 days in, I’m gagging far less, and my eyes no longer water incessantly.

The bad news is, I’ve been fighting a bit of a head-cold for 3 days and – if the amount of mucus in my head is any indication – the oil-pulling doesn’t seem to be doing much to remove the germs and toxins from my body, as “they” say it should.

Not sure this is a habit I’ll be holding onto, but I’ll see it through for a few more days to complete my “scientific experiment”.

Challenge 3: 100 Push-ups

No, I haven’t done 100 push-ups. That’s just crazy talk.

Instead, I’m using an app that is training me to, some day, be able to do 100 push-ups without a break. That day seems a long way away at this point.

The app is pretty ingenious, in that it attempts to avoid cheats by requiring you to get low enough with each push-up to touch the phone screen with your nose. Each time the tip of your nose meets the screen, the counter advances. I say it attempts to avoid cheats, although I suppose you could have really bad form (ass way up in air, lower your face, touch screen) and the app would still think you had done a proper push-up.

I’m not cheating. And this is really, really hard. I’m doing the push-up program 3x/week.

Challenge 4: Personal Record – Rowing Machine

If there was only one piece of exercise equipment I could have in my home gym, without a doubt I would have a quality rowing machine. In fact, I’d trade my gym-grade Precor Elliptical for one in a heartbeat. I’ve scoured Craig’s List and Kijiji but it seems there are none to be had.

Rowing is such a phenomenal workout, truly combining cardio with strength training, making it a great bang for your buck, time-wise. When I had previously used the rower at the gym, I had done one of two programs: 5,000 meters or 30 minutes. I could generally complete 5,000 meters in approx. 27 minutes; and a 30-minute straight row would yield a distance around 5,500m.

When I got back from Vegas and hit the gym last month I decided to see what 10,000 meters might feel like. What it feels like is FLIPPIN’ HARD! I hit my longest distance, 10,000m in 58 minutes that first attempt. One week later I did it in 56 minutes – a personal record for distance and time/speed. My hands were calloused messes by the time I was done – so now I’m holding off on anymore play-dates with the rower until after I invest in some gloves to protect my tender paws.


And now for my favourite part of the Monthly Challenges recap post: 

Bad-Ass Round-up – March!


  • Angelle at She Drives a Vegetable Car who fought through the lure of a comfy couch and Netflix [a killer combo] to get herself to a Yoga class. She has since attended 4 more times. No more lazy goo for you, Angelle. #BeastMode
  • Sam at Midsummer 365 Project for overcoming serious mental blockers and fighting self-confidence issues when she decided to make her dream of becoming a Personal Trainer a reality by signing up for a certification course. In addition to all the physical challenges Sam takes on week in, week out in her 365 days of sweat journey, she also found time to get one step closer to her goal of personal training. Did I mention she’s also training for a 10k? Warrior!
  • Joanne at My Life Lived Full for hiking all 892 kms of the Bruce Trail. I realize that she didn’t do this in March, but I found out about it in March – and since it’s such a HUGE, bad-ass accomplishment, I just had to call it out here! Oh, did I mention that Joanne is presently training for a Half Marathon in June? Yup. What an inspiration!
  • Laurel at Eat Less Sugar who decided to go raw for Lent! She has given up alcohol, grains and dairy. Laurel just updated us all that although she caved to the call of bread and cheese a couple of times, she is holding strong on the no booze thing. Can I get a WOOT WOOT for Laurel??! No booze for 5 weeks? You go, bad-ass!
  • Kathy over at Hiking to Healthy who didn’t let winter in Colorado slow her down from her commitment to hike, hike, hike her way to healthy. Nope, instead she bought some snowshoes and made her way up the mountain using those bad boys. Way to get it done Kathy!
  • Kate at Did That Just Happen for staring her nemesis, the 1-minute Wall Sit, straight in the eye and showing it who’s boss. Kate also just started training for a 5k, and she officially ran for the first time: Wk 1, Day 1, a few days ago. Kate, you have got this!

And last, but most certainly not least, the bad-ass to end all bad-asses:

  • Andra, the Accidental Cootchie Mama, for making it through every one of the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace on her own two [very sore, very blistered] feet. Andra’s 444 mile journey began on March 1st and ended on April 2nd. She walked 15 miles each day, 6 days per week. She makes me feel like a couch potato. –> Have you bought her book yet? It’s amazing! Buy it!

I am so sorry if I have forgotten anyone. If I have, PLEASE leave me a comment with a link to the bad-ass I inadvertently left out.

Angelle, Sam, Joanne, Laurel, Kathy, Kate and Andra – you are too bad-ass for words. Carry on, warriors!

Keep moving!

xoxo nancy

66 thoughts on “monthly challenges recap: march edition

  1. Great month! 100 push-ups!!!!! What are you up to so far? I think I did one. Once. One push up in my entire life [shakes head]. I’d be a rubbish man.

    • The app trains you in sets with rests of 1 or 2 mins between each. My last round was: 14, 10, 14, 8, 10 – I think. So the max in one nonstop go so far is 14 then a short rest and so on and so forth. Can’t imagine getting much over 20 because 14 was a killer. 🙂

  2. That push-up app sounds like a form of torture. Can you tell I don’t like push-ups? And yet I do them anyway. Isn’t there an age we reach when we’re allowed to say, ‘No more push-ups?’…

    • The push-up app at least breaks it down into manageable reps in the beginning stages. Now I’m at 14, 10, 14, 8, 10 which nearly killed me. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s looks like. Said no one ever.

  3. Nice work Nancy!!
    The push-up app sounds interesting, I am going to check that one out. I have a bad-ass plan for April and it is shaping up well so far. I’m not writing much about it until the end of April so I don’t sound all gung-ho then tinker out.
    Have you ever taken bee pollen granules? I started taking bee pollen about a year ago and while I can’t identify specifically where it is helping, I can say I feel good and my immunity is boosted since taking. There are many benefits to this supplement, maybe throw that into your mix while oil pulling. haha, I still get a laugh about that one but I am sure it will do something amazing for you, can’t wait to hear more about it.

    • I’ve never used bee pollen – thanks for the recommendation! Where do you get yours from Kerry? I’ll definitely investigate.

      I’m fighting a bad head-cold for several days now, and neither oil pulling nor the garlic-feet experiment (will blog about this for sure!) helped one bit. 😦

      Funny you should mention working on a bad-ass plan but not sharing until after April is done. I am actually changing my approach on the monthly challenges thing from what it’s been the first 3 months: i.e. do stuff and then report on the success of that stuff AFTER I’ve finished – to a new approach (I’ll write about it shortly) wherein I’ll be declaring my intended challenges at the beginning of the month. I’ll still have the recap at the end to confirm what was accomplished (and address what wasn’t) but I like the idea of throwing down the gauntlet as a means to hold myself accountable. Post to follow on the weekend or Monday at the latest.

  4. Thanks Nancy!! … No one has ever called me a badass before! I feel so born-to-be-wild 🙂
    The push up challenge sounds very interesting. I have a love-hate relationship with push ups. My first workout with a personal trainer many years ago, I was asked to do pushups so he could see how many I could do. I went down and didn’t come back up. He rolled his eyes and said I had a lot of work to do. After all these years, I still do 🙂

    • I’ve had a bum shoulder for a few years now, and push-ups were off-limits for a long while there. I’m slowly building up the strength in that right shoulder — and now it’s a balance to keep pushing/strengthening it without aggravating/injuring it. The app is good in that it gradually increases the reps in each interval. I honestly don’t see myself getting to 100 straight through — and I’m not sure I care, really — but I do like that I’m now up to 56 in one session (of interval reps) without any shoulder pain.

      The original app was called 100 Push-ups, but the one I’m using now is just called Push-ups by Runtastic. I like that it has that added element where you have to actually hit the screen with your nose, making sure you get down low enough on each rep. 🙂

      • 🙂 Yeah, tear in the rotator cuff/supraspinadis and another tear (worse) in the bicep sheath. Ortho surgeon told me that surgery was the only real fix but that the road to recovery would be long and painful. So I nixed that idea. 🙂

  5. I applaud both you and your fellow badasses (from a pretty comfortable office chair).
    I really need to drag my ass out there, otherwise my paddleboarding, surfing and climbing will be done in only ten minute chunks when I get out there….

  6. I hate push-ups!!! Do them weekly in Barre class, but usually cheat or don’t complete the set :(. You Go Nancy!

  7. Yay! I’m a bad ass!! 🙂 And, I’m up to 90 sec on the wall sit! Which is a huge accomplishment for me!
    Mr. T is doing the 100 push up app – and he’s enjoying it. For Cheer he has to do 2 set of 25, so the app is helping him strengthen and condition. I love when he comes in and tells me that he finally was able to complete a day that had him stuck for a couple of days! He’s getting so much better and I’m loving it for him!
    Love that you’ve started it!

  8. Another fantastic bad ass month Nancy! The thought of oil pulling still makes me shudder but I’ve been wanting a rowing machine and after reading your take I’m making a note to start looking for a great home one again. 🙂

  9. Wow! Thanks Again Nancy! Although for the record your way more bad-ass than me everyday! The pushup app sounds tough and the oil-pulling thing, well lets just say I am super wimpy compared to you!! Thank you for the inspiration you give me every week! Keep being Bad ass!

  10. Yesterday’s class kicked my butt so hard and I really loved the teacher 🙂 I’m feeling less like goo everyday! Thank you for the shout out, lady!

    • You were never goo, let’s get that straight — but I do get the feeling of just being ‘soft’ from lazing around. Totally. So happy you got a big challenge at yesterday’s class! Change happens when things don’t feel good. Comfort is highly overrated. 😉

  11. Okay so many thoughts.
    First off– what is this oil pulling thing I keep hearing of? It’s supposed to take toxins out of you? How is that even possible? I have a whole jar of coconut oil in my bathroom (from slathering it on my hair) and I’ll go pour some in my mouth if you tell me to. I am just that impressionable.
    Also: The row machine intrigues me. The Boyfran does that at the gym (while I look down upon him from the stairmaster) but you would really recommend that as the ultimate???? So I should try it?

    Sitting at your feet, awaiting instruction.

    • Okay so here’s the scoop on oil pulling:

      So far, it’s nasty and hasn’t proven to pull out shit. I got a cold 4 days ago, kept oil pulling, nada. Then I tried Garlic Feet (will write about this soon), nada. Turns out Tylenol Cold & Flu is just what the doctor ordered.

      And re: rowing machine, it’s the only cardio workout I’ve found which also gives you a strength training component. Arguable your arms work just as hard (or harder) than your legs when you use the rower.

      The Stairmaster is definitely one of my faves because it is awesome for cardio and also good for legs and butt. I switch things up and do everything when I’m at the gym- but if I had to have one piece if equipment for home, it would be. Good rowing machine.

  12. I think I’m going to wait on the oil pulling until you’ve completed the picture. Let’s see what you think at the end. I am a little intrigued, I admit. Your badass awards seem very well placed, with Andra being the Queen, as far as I’m concerned. 🙂 I am really interested in the pushup app. I have a few yoga positions that approximate a pushup and I struggle with form and sort of collapse as I get lower. I hadn’t thought of really practicing good old-fashioned pushups. I might be able to do one? I need that app! Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Give it a whirl! It’s never a bad thing to build up those pecs and arms – plus it works your core as an added bonus!

      And yes, Andra was the undisputed queen of March. Total bad ass!

  13. Damn, sistah! You must sweat chutzpah! I went running yesterday for the first time in a while. Have a Men’s Health on the table here at Starbucks. Figure if I look at photos of healthy, muscly people, maybe I’ll get back to my old form. But you have to keep inspiring me!

    • I’m a little low on inspiration today, John. Had a great run Wednesday (7.5kms and a faster pace than the previous 5 runs) despite a light head-cold. Well, I’m guessing running in low 40’s temps kicked my head-cold up a notch and I’ve been sick as a dog ever since. 😦 The congestion has, as of this morning, morphed into a rattling bronchial cough thing. Most unattractive, and definitely not conducive to running anytime soon. And that damned 10k is just a few weeks away. 😦 ARRRGGGHHHH

  14. Oh where to start??? First, you and your friends are total badasses! I am bowing to you all…I am doing the daily planks in order to be able to do ONE push-up, LOL.

    I was really hoping the oil pulling would be the end-all-be-all, but it doesn’t sound like it. I wish you a weekend of rest and feeling better!

  15. Woohoo! What a big month, Nance! You are rocking it as per usual. I slowed down on my running (not deliberately) so need to build up my stamina again. I’m off tomorrow morning for another bang at it. I’m up to about 8kms. We’ll do it!!

    • Me too Rach. Have been sick as a dog all week. I pushed it with a 7.5k on Wednesday and have been paying for it since then. Doubtful I’ll be running again before Monday or Tuesday at this rate. 😦

      Good luck in your training. Hope everything else going well for you. I’ve missed you!!

      • Yeah I still pop my head in from time to time as I miss you guys too! I sat down to write something last week and it felt like a jumbled mess so I didn’t post. Don’t know what’s going on with that at the moment but figure I’ll just let it flow and see where I land.

  16. Pingback: April Power May Bloom | Winding Road

    • Why thank you ma’am. In yesterday’s post I called myself a coward for handling the challenges this way. 🙂

      Looking forward to your thoughts on April approach!

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