Post Holiday Weekend Workout

May 31st, 2011

I remained active over the long Memorial Day weekend, but man did I falter from my “pure” lifestyle with food and alcohol.  To help get me back on track I focused today on drinking TONS of water and I am back to small balanced meals.

So far today I have had:

- Breakfast – 2 eggs, spinach, organic low fat cheese and whole wheat bread

- Lunch – salmon salad (spinach, romaine, orange peppers, mushrooms, pine nuts) with salsa

- Plans for Snack and Dinner - low sodium fruit and nut mix for a snack and most likely chicken and veggies for dinner.

I am already feeling better and more energetic then I felt this weekend.  It is amazing how changing up your diet really affects your overall well being.

Next step for today?  A killer workout.  I ran over the weekend, a total of about 6 miles and did Yoga but I really need a weights session.  Here’s an awesome plan I found online from a Jackie Warner interview for FitnessRx

- Warm Up – Probably hop on the elliptical, otherwise some plyometrics

- Chest Press – 15-20 reps

- Renegade Push-Ups – Push-up on dumbbells with a row – 15-20 reps

- Sissy Squats with Weights – You place your heals on a dumbbell and squat – I am going to try with free weights today as well

- Front Dumbbell Lunges

- Wide Dumbbell Pulls

- Dumbbell Pullover

- Front Squats

- Hindu Squats – this is a new one for me.  Basically you hold the free weights behind your legs when you squat…makes you focus your weight on your butt for sure

- Side Plank – Raise and Lower for 15-20 reps

- Twisting Sit Up

- Single Leg Dead Lift

- Reverse Plank

One important aspect that Jackie points out is the focus on all the large key muscle groups (Chest, Back, Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes) – This is really helping think through how to create my own full body routines so that I can continue to mix things up.

 

Great Books on Nutrition and Weight Loss

May 11th, 2011

My obsession with nutrition and exercise is slowly becoming a change of lifestyle.  Like I have said before I have always been conscious about what I put into my body and I work out; but as of late I have been getting a lot of motivation from some outside sources and I am focusing on making bigger changes to my life.  Changing the way I think about food and maximizing my time in the gym has helped me transform the way I feel about myself and my life.

Two big motivations as of late?   “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels and “This is Why Your’re Fat” by Jackie Warner.  They have given me the boost I needed to get out of the slump I was in.  They have amazing insights into food and nutrition as well as sample menu’s and intense workouts.

Happy Reading.

Skinny Fat- How Hormones Affect our Weight Loss Goals

May 11th, 2011

No joke.  I have been doing a ton of research on how the chemicals in our food today affect the hormones in our bodies, and thus make us fat (or skinny fat) and affect all aspects of our well being.  I have always been pretty athletic and I am not by definition overweight.  But, I have always had belly fat and am not as toned as I would like to be no matter how much I workout.  I am what Jillian Michales refers to as “skinny fat” in her book “Master Your Metabolism”.  You eat right and workout hard but you have 1 night of too much wine, or pizza and BOOM you gain 5 lbs.  I can’t tell you how many times I have woken up 7lbs heavier then the day before, it’s very frustrating.  I have also been feeling super drained and cranky and I am sick of always feeling like crap.

The point?  Every little thing you put in your body affects your hormones.  And from the research I have done, the chemical garbage that is added into our food may be one of the issues.  (More specific details on that later).  Certain hormones may be depleted and others way too hi.  And this is reeking havoc on our bodies.

First thing I have done to try and combat this and see what may be affecting my body is completely wiping out chemically ridden processed food from my diet.  For the last 2-2 1/2 weeks I have been eating minimal amounts of processed food, if it is processed it is 100% whole wheat and organic.  Everything else?  Brown rice, organic yogurt, a ton of veggies and fruit, balanced with organic leans meats and fish.  And with a stepped up exercise schedule…I have already lost 8 lbs…more to come!

Intense 30 minute treadmill workout

December 23rd, 2010

Only have 30 minutes but want an intense cardio workout?  Here’s one that will make you sweat!  (You can also do it in 15 minutes if you are really in a pinch)

All you need is a treadmill and free weights.  Free weight sizes will depend on your fitness level; I always go by the rules of thumb that if you can lift it (dumbell curl or overhead press) for 15-18 reps and the last 5 reps are challenging then you are in the right weight class.  It shouldn’t be too easy or too hard.

2 minutes:  Warm Up

- Walk at a brisk pace on the treadmill.  I am 5’4″ and about 130 lbs so a 4.0-4.5 is typically a good place to start.

2 minutes:  Lunges

- Slow the pace of the treadmill to ~2.0 and lunge forward.  If you are having trouble keeping up with the treadmill and you feel your form slipping slow it down; visa versa if you feel as though you are going too slow.

2 minutes:  Overhead Press

- Increase the incline to 6.0 and the speed to 3.5 (should be a brisk walk up hill)

- Take free weights and press above your head for the entire 2 minutes.

- It is important here to keep your back strong.  You don’t want to too far back or forward.  Stay straight and only lower weights until they are about 3 inches off your shoulders.  Do not lower all the way down.

2 minutes:  Side Shuffle

- Lower incline back to normal increase speed to a place where you can side shuffle at a good pace.  Typically about a 5.0 for me.

- As you shuffle you should be in a little higher than a squat position (knees should not go over your toes) and your back should be straight (don’t hunch!)

- Shuffle facing left 1 minutes and then right for 1 minute

2 minutes:  Tricep Extension

- Place the treadmill in the same position you had for your bicep curls and do tricep extensions for two minutes

- Arms should start at a 45 degree angle and extend behind you.  Again remember to keep your back straight.

After you have completed this exercise repeat the series two-three times.  I usually like to use the last 10 minutes of my workouts for abs (you can use the treadmill as your mat) or you can finish out the circuit.

There are just a few of the exercises you can do using a treadmill.  It definitely helps keep things interesting!

Exercises to Strengthen Your Lower Back

December 23rd, 2010

I have suffered with a weak lower back for what seems like forever.  This has always been a trouble area for me that I have had to work extra hard to improve.  Here are a few exercises that can help increase the strength in your lower back and have you feeling much stronger all around.

1. Back Extensions on Ball

- Lie belly down on an exercise ball with your feet stabilized on a wall.  Place hands behind your ears and slowly lift your upper body off the ball until you feel it in your lower back (your stomach will be about half way lifted off the ball) and lower.  Repeat 20 times.

- I like to do this exercise at the end of my workout

2.  Planks

- A strong core will lead to a strong back.  I like to do side and front planks to strengthen my core.

- Front:  Lie face down on the floor supporting yourself with your forearms.  Lift your body so that you are on your forearms and toes.  Your body should be parallel to the ground.  Remember to keep your butt down!  Hold for 30 seconds

* Once you are feeling stable in this exercise, you can add in a little challenge.  Walk your feet out (right then left) in and out through the 30 seconds.  Keep your core solid through out.

- Sides:  Lie on your side supporting yourself with your forearm.  Lift your body so that your being supported by your forearm and the outside of your foot.  Body should be straight, don’t let your hip dip down and don’t push it high in the air.  Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

* Once you are feeling strong incorporate dips into the side planks.  Lower and raise your hip through out the 30 seconds.

3.  Barbell pull-overs

- This is a little more advanced for strengthening your back.  Check it out at about.com

Those are some great ones to get you started.  More to come!

Fitness Applications for Your Smart Phone

December 23rd, 2010

One of my favorite fitness applications right now that you can download to your iPhone, Blackberry or Android is Map My Fitness (http://www.mapmyfitness.com/imapmy/).  It allows you to track your activity no matter where you are.  I can plan out my runs or track my activity through out the day.

This is a must have for those that want to track their mileage!  You can even talk with members of the MMF community.

Conditioning for young athletes

December 23rd, 2010

Conditioning is important at any age, and although some parents are apprehensive about starting training with their younger athletes it is important to understand how it can benefit their child no matter what age they are.  What most parents don’t understand is that it is the type of conditioning that will make a difference in younger athletes vs. high school or college level.  Conditioning can also be broken up into different areas and each is important to customize depending on the athlete and/or age group.

Strength Training:

The term “strength training” often makes parents nervous when it comes to their smaller athletes, but strength training doesn’t always have to mean weight lifting.  For younger athletes push-ups, sit-ups and lunges are a great intro into building strength as well as teaching good form.  Even early knowledge of proper form, strengthening key muscles and working on flexibility will help prevent injury.

Cardio:

A great way to strengthen any younger athletes endurance is through competitive and fun running drills and plyometrics.   Plyometrics not only helps kids warm up their muscles but really helps improve power as well as bone strength.  Any group I have ever coached loved doing plyometrics because of the butt kicks, karaoke’s and high knees.  They love turning this into a race, but be careful that they don’t go 100% out of the gate, because this could lead to injury.  Once the group is warmed up then you can do different races, whether it is running down and back on the basketball court or it’s racing to pick up a ball and make the first basket.  With younger athletes it’s easy to build in cardio because there are so many fun ways to achieve the workout.

Final Tip:

With all young athletes it is VERY important to stop frequently for water breaks.  Hydration is not only key for all athletes is especially important for young athletes as they tend to over heat easier.  So encourage your athletes to bring their own water bottles and don’t forget to take breaks.

Circuit Training

February 11th, 2010

I was recently chatting with my cousin who is a athletic trainer for a local high school about the injuries she typically sees in her athletes.  Not surprising, a lot of her injuries are from athletes who do not practice circuit training and solely focus on weight training and not much else.

A good cardiovascular workout is important for anyone but if you are interested in building not only strength but endurance, Circuit Training is the perfect place to start.  I am no doctor but I have also seen it help prevent injuries in most cases.  Circuit training mixes weight lifting and cardio in a quick series of different exercises.  I have done workouts that have lasted 45min-1hour but if you are just starting out or tight on time you can get a great workout in 20min or less.

The goal is to go through a series of exercises that target different parts of the body, and the pace in which you go through each series will keep your heart rate up for a great cardiovascular workout.

Another great benefit of circuit training besides injury prevention and an all around full body workout is that you can do many circuits anywhere and they can be totally personalized for your fitness level/interest.

Here are some of my favorite exercises to do that target your whole body:

Warm Up:

- Jogging on a treadmill or outside

- Jump rope

- Ride a bike

- Lunges

- Butt kicks

- High knees

Workout:

- Leg press (15 reps)

- Lat pull down (15 reps)

- Leg Curl (15 reps)

- Treadmill sprint (2 minutes)

- Push Ups (15 reps)

- Weighted jumps or Wall jumps (15 reps)

- Bicep Curls (15 reps)

- Crunches (30 reps)

- Leg Extension(15 reps)

- Tricep Extension (15 reps)

- Calf Raises (1 minute)

- Stationary Bike Sprint (2 min)

You can add or subtract from the work out as you see fit.  Just try and aim for exercises that target different muscle groups.  Also, I like to finish my workout with some intense cardio and more abs.

Here is one of my favorite cardio workouts that you can do on a treadmill as an end to a great Circuit Training workout:

- Start at a slow jog ( I usually start at 5.0)

- Amp up the speed by .5 every two minutes.

- Continue for 12 minutes

- If you really want a challenge increase the incline to 1.0 or 2.0

Cool down with a walk on the treadmill or a jog.  Again, you can personalize your workout to your fitness level and what exercises you feel give you the best workout.  Just remember, if it is too easy…amp it up!!!!

Cold Weather Running Gear

February 11th, 2010

So since marathon training for a May race had to start in the middle of winter and running on treadmills is very boring I definitely needed to amp up on my warm weather running gear.

Here are a few cold weather running go to’s that I have found:

- Gloves:  I like the gloves that are dry fit, they tend to breathe a lot easier and don’t get uncomfortable once you warm up after a long run.

- Head band:  I don’t like covering my entire head to I got a great headband that is dry fit and has breathable fleece on the inside.

- Tights:  There are many brand that make cold weather running tights.  Mine are by Underarmour and include a tight band at the ankle so that no air gets on my legs when I am running.  I love them.

- Vest/Running Jacket:  During the cold winter months keeping your core warm is a must.  Layering is also great so that you don’t get overheated.  I would invest in a great vest or a dry fit pullover that way you can layer on a breathable jacket on top without getting too hot/cold on longer runs.

- Socks:  I never wear cotton socks when running whether it is in hot or cold weather.  Cotton will definitely give you blisters so look for special “wicking” socks that will wick away the moisture from your feet and leave you blister free.

- Shoes:  I typically run with the same runnning shoes I would use during the summer months but often try and look for shoes with as little mesh as possible.  This way if you do run into moisture your feet aren’t soaked!

Runnersworld
has a great article that can help you find the best gear for cold weather running.

Happy Running.

Nutrition for runners

February 11th, 2010

I have recently begun training for my first half marathon!  As I began my training I stopped and asked myself the same question that I think all new distance runners ask themselves; do I need to change my diet?  I think that watching your diet especially when you are in training is very important but I think you will find that many of the tips are ones you should be utilizing no matter what your fitness routine.

Here are a few that I have found helpful:

- Water, water and more water!  Most of us do not drink enough water, so something I learned from my track coach in high school is carry a water bottle with you and fill it up throughout the day.  This will help you not forget to stay hydrated!  Especially if you are doing intense exercise or amplifying your current workout routine hydration is very important.

- Protein:  I have definitely found myself craving more protein the more I work out.  I always try and stick with lean proteins like chicken, turkey and fish.  If you aren’t a meat eater you can find a lot of substitutes that pack protein as well.  If you are not a fan of tofu and the fake meats try eating mixed nuts and lots of veggies.  Almonds are probably the highest in protein and I always try to get them unsalted but if you are drinking enough water you should be okay.    As for veggies, anything leafy and green is typically full of protein, like spinach.  Beans and lentil are also a great substitute.  Protein is very important to help repair muscles and tissue as your body and muscles begin to grow and change.

- Carbohydrates:  Carbohydrates are very important for runners and all athletes.  This provides you with the energy you need to keep going.  Go for whole grain pastas, brown rice, potatoes, whole grain breads and starchy vegetables.

Learn more about electrolytes, vitamins and other important nutritional information for runner here: http://tinyurl.com/qylcsb

Not sure if you are getting enough of something?  I have started writing a food journal to map my progress!   Calorieking is a great resource to track your daily intake!