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Archive for February 2012

Supposed to have been posted yesterday, but we know how Mondays go:

The title of today’s posts describes exactly how I felt yesterday at 7:00pm when I finished my longest run ever of 15 straight miles in Bloomington, IN. If you know anything about the Purdue vs. IU rivalry, then you will understand the flack I will probably catch for saying this but Bloomington is an absolutely beautiful place to run. During the course of my 15 miles I ran around a lake, in a remote upscale neighborhood, through IU’s campus, and downtown Bloomington–definitely a scenic route. Post-run I felt exhaustion in my lower body, and pride in my accomplishment everywhere else.

When I tell people the distanced I run, or that I am training for a marathon, I often hear “Man, I can only run a mile!” or “I absolutely hate running.” or possibly my favorite that  I heard just yesterday, “Why don’t you just ride a bike?” It’s a great feeling knowing that you are taking on a challenge that few choose to attempt; but today I want to empower everyone with a few tools that may make the idea of hitting the pavement slightly less daunting.

Mental tools:

  • An Ipod or smartphone: I swear I could hold 7:30 miles if I listened to “All of the Lights” by Kanye West and “Shots” on repeat. Everyone has their pump up jams, the tunes that make their adrenaline levels rise just a bit higher, the beats that make them feel like they are in the olympics going for the gold. Silent running is great for clearing the mind, sometimes, but I personally enjoy a good playlist supplementing most of my runs. Choose songs with a beat that match the pace you want to hold (google bpm running pace to find helpful hints on creating the perfect, pace-setting playlist). Oh and ladies, Runphones rock, they’re a headband with headphones built in!
  • Yogic breathing: Everyone laughs in my face when I offer this as a suggestion to relieve stress in almost any situation, but I laugh back in theirs when I am a cool cucumber and they are pulling their hair out about petty issues (certainly not always the case). In through the nose, breathe out with mouth closed like you’re creating steam in the back of your throat.

Gear:

  • Shoes! Nike Lunar Eclipse are my all-time favorite running shoe. The heel is padded on all sides so it makes your foot feel super-duper secure. If you are planning to run shorter distances a more minimalist shoe might be just fine. Check out your local running specialist store for your best fit; they usually watch you run and choose a few different shoes that meet your pavement-pounding needs. Replace your shoes every 300-400 miles.
  • Watch. I currently use the Nike+ sport watch. I am still on the fence about which watch takes the cake. Mine often takes a long time to find a signal; however when it does, it provides information on pace, time, distance, and calories burned. When you plug it into the computer, tons of cool stats from your run including a map are displayed. If you are just getting into running and want to focus on working out for a certain period of time, a normal watch may be the perfect thing for you.
  • Ipod armband: Hands-free tunes. Search this one on Amazon. There are tons of options.

Health:

  • Tiger tail or foam roller. Even if your goal is to run a total of 10 weekly miles, chances are you will experience some pain. The truth of the matter is, running is therapeutic, cardiovascularly strengthening, and empowering but nonetheless impacting on your joints and muscles. Rolling out stressed muscles is comparable to a massage; it loosens tension and prevents injury. The illiotibial (IT) band  that runs down the outside of your upper and lower leg is extremely important to massage out after stressing it with a run.
  • Elliptical. If you have bad knees, are at a point of high milage, or are trying to ease into cardio altogether, the elliptical is certainly no place for the weak. Choose a cross training or interval workout and aim for a certain distance. You will definitely elevate your heart rate, work leg muscles, and lessen the impact on your body. I often replace one short/easy run per week with an elliptical session.

Don’t fear the road, lace your shoes up, crank the tunes, and run for it!

Next post: surprise (you won’t want to miss it)

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It would be ridiculous to assume that, you, someone interested in health and fitness, an intelligent reader of my posts aren’t already aware of the useful tools found on the internet that aid in reaching health and fitness goals: bmi calculators, calorie trackers, meal planners, youtube workout videos, etc. etc. However; one of my favorite treasure troves of knowledge is my email inbox, chock full of health and fitness e-newletters that are hand delivered to me by the internet mailman himself on daily basis.

Most health-related websites offer a free newsletter for which you can sign up to receive the highlights of their web-page content. Some reasons that I absolutely love e-newseltters in general is because of the convenience of limiting a search for recipes, exercises, or diet tips to only my archived emails. Typically, if I think the content of an email will come in handy in the future, I archive it; That way when I am ready to shoot myself if I have to eat another Clif bar as a dorm room meal, I will send my mom a delicious soup recipe that I saw in a newsletter, or if I want a quick interval workout for the gym, I will type “interval” into the search bar on gmail and undoubtedly something worth looking at will result.

If you want your own, personalized, fitness and nutrition knowledge base, I highly suggest visiting some healthy webpages and subscribing away. Here are some e-newsletters that I have found to be a worthwhile subscription:

Fitsugar via popsugar.com

This all inclusive email provides general fitness news, trends, and tips as well as sport-specific articles in the same respects. Diet tips, workout fashion advice, recipes, links to other fit blogs, and fresh health news are only a few of the topics covered that make Fitsugar any fitness fiend’s true love.

Fabfitfun via fabfitfun.com

Created by Giuliana Rancic of E News, FabFitFun offers 2-cents (maybe even 3-cents) on a broad range of topics that appeal to any well-maintained women. She covers everything from nutrition, to fitness, to beauty, to shopping. Ladies check it out.

Beachbody newsletter via beachbody.com

The company that created P90X, Insanity, and Turbo Fire also puts out an extremely informative newsletter every few weeks. It not only includes the latest on Beachbody products but also motivational success stories, nutrition articles, and trainer tips.

Practice specific emails from yogajournal.com and runnersworld.com are also amongst my favorites and I would high suggest checking them out if you hit the roads or mat on a regular basis.

Tomorrow: day off (sort-of, I’m running 15 miles, wish me luck!)

Monday: Running?

 

 

It’s that time again: time for my fitness buddy of the week.

After a week of studying, stressing, and chasing my tail 18 hours a day, I absolutely love capping my week off with a good workout. Typically I sleep in on Fridays and do an afternoon workout. My regular Friday fitness regimen lately has been an easy run of 4-5 miles followed by Body Sculpt class taught by my fellow Group X instructor, sorority sister, and friend Annie Miller.

Anyone who has been to one of Annie’s Body Sculpt, or Spinning classes (or one of the bazillion for which she subs) can attest to the fact that she means BUSINESS. Her classes are no joke and usually result in a slight difficulty accomplishing daily tasks the next day due to muscle soreness (a good sore). I’ll admit, I sometimes can’t help but cheat during the seemingly endless leg sections during Body Sculpt. But the thing I love about Annie is that she totally distracts all of her participants with funny stories and motivational cues (my favorite being one she said as we were doing overhead presses with dumbbells “Aren’t you guys glad you’re not an octopus and have to do this for eight arms?”) that make the hour-long classes fly by.

Annie’s camaraderie with participants and knowledge as an instructor is inspiring to me as a new instructor. I feel that I have grown in my instructing skills simply from watching Annie interact with her classes, include fresh exercises, and keep the group guessing.

This weekend, I am going out of town and will therefore miss Annie’s Friday 4:00 Body Sculpt class–upsetting. What’s even more upsetting, though, is that I received a text from her yesterday telling me that she will be subbing 3 classes on Sunday that I will not be in town to attend! I seems so ridiculous to get this pumped up to attend Group X classes, but seriously, when she tells me she is subbing a class she doesn’t normally teach, I often rearrange my day. She inspires me to round out my fitness regimen and hearing “You’re awesome/crazy/so motivated” after I take her class keeps me coming back.

Beyond fitness, Annie is so low-maintenance, easy going, and insanely driven: the type of person you can certainly chill with. I am happy to have found a friend and fitness buddy in her and will certainly shed some tears when she leaves Purdue this May to start a career in Chicago.

Tomorrow: How the internet can help you reach your health and fitness goals.

Yeah, this is Annie: The face of Group X this semester at Purdue.

So I know I said I would think of what to post while on my run, but I was distracted for much of the 7 miles by the fact that my GPS watch wouldn’t gain signal-the worst! But I decided to take a post-run swim with my roommate and it hit me as I dove in the familiar chlorinated water: go with what you know.

I swam for 2 and a half years in high school and absolutely loved it while I was in it; I loved the feeling of being beat red after a hard practice, the tingling nerves before a race, going to class knowing that you’d probably burned 10 times more calories by 8 am than your classmates would burn in an entire day. Swimming was my first endeavor in serious sports conditioning. Another aspect of swimming that I took completely for granted while I was in it is the joint-frendly low impact nature of the sport. I am in the midst of a marathon training program and am a high-impact group exercise instructor so my joints really take a beating, so weightlessness in the water felt like heaven this morning. It was the feeling I so loved about the sport, the feeling I remember.

The memories triggered by the elation I experienced during my recovery swim inspired me to reflect on other times when returning to your foundation can be therapeutic. Take for instance: a weekend at home after a stressful week of exams, an easy read through of a magazine for pleasure when the last 100 pages of your Psychology textbook nearly killed you, or a few days of eating simple foods like fresh fruit and veggies and whole grains because your stomach isn’t terribly appreciative of the complex junk you filled it with in previous days. Sometimes, returning to the basics is necessary. It maintains sanity.

This morning I knew that the 7 weeks of marathon training was wearing on me. Although I love hearing how admirable people think it is that I am trying to complete 26.2, when I am out there running alone in the cold and only at mile 2.5 with my knees are telling me to stop, it gets really really tough. That is why I rewarded myself with a return to my fitness foundation afterword. I allowed myself to dive in the water, stretch out, rely on muscle memory from my days on the swim team to take over. When things get tough, remember your foundation. Return to it; embrace it; enjoy it.

Tomorrow: A NEW FITNESS BUDDY!

Upon beginning college, my knowledge expanded on so many topics beyond chemistry, public speaking and math; my vocabulary also broadened. As I became a regular at the TREC on Purdue’s campus, swiping in sometimes twice a day, I heard words like “swoll,” “yolked,” and “pumped” thrown around during casual gym conversation. It took me a while to keep straight all of the terms for attempting to build larger, stronger muscles. No matter what you call it, strength training will undoubtedly benefit any fitness regimen.

Yoga/Pilates:

These low impact options focus mainly on employing body weight to stretch and strengthen muscles. Yoga offers the added bonus of stress relief, potential injury prevention, and internal detoxification. During a typical yoga flow class you can expect to use a yoga mat on which you will bend, twist, and hold your way to a more lean core and centered self. A pilates class consists of various moves usually carried out using only the participant’s body; however, some moves can be intensified by using props like resistance bands or small medicine balls. For those who want to combine the flexibility training of yoga with the strengthening of pilates, I suggest looking for a fusion or Piyo class in your area. Visit yogajournal.com for some fantastic at-home options.

Muscular endurance workouts:

Classes that focus on building endurance in total-body muscle groups are becoming popular in clubs nationwide. Classes like Body Pump and Body Sculpt train your muscles to endure moderate stress for elongated periods of time and typically work every major muscle group. Similar workouts can be completed in a gym setting by doing high repetitions and low weight for various exercises. Many DVD programs like Pump by Beachbody employ the principle of building muscular endurance. Working with lower weights allows athletes and non athletes alike to experience the straightening benefits of lifting weights while preventing injury.

Pumping iron:

You know what this is: grunting, 8-12 reps, ridiculous facial expressions, old fashioned weight-lifting. I have a strong belief that only certain body types adapt well to this type of training. If you are thin and have difficulty building muscle, this is the way to go. Personally, my athletic frame eats up this type of workout and builds muscle way too rapidly for my taste. However, if you want to look good in your pocket-flap jeans, or add some definition to those toothpick arms…go heavy or go home! The feeling of lifting heavy weights is fantastic and, if you build muscle at a steady state, it can be highly rewarding to gain strength. Make sure that if you choose to go the getting “swoll” route, you look into safety tips for the different exercises you plan on doing.

The elliptical and treadmill can only do so much folks; flex a little bit, get a good muscle tremor going and supplement that cardio routine.

Tomorrow: Whatever hits me on my run in the morning!

In honor of the debut of Bethenny Frankel’s 3rd season of her own show on Bravo, I want to post a review of the her book: Naturally Thin.

Bethenny’s first book was written while  she was still on Real Housewives of New York City. She labeled herself as a “natural foods chef” at that time. Since writing the first book, she’s written two more; she began the Skinnygirl line of cocktails, starting with the margarita and her brand has expanded to include nutrition bars, cleansing vitamin packs, cosmetics, etc. I can tell you ,though, that the most enlightening, beneficial, healthy product of Bethenny’s is her first book.

Naturally Thin is not a diet. It is an outline of eating habits that allow the reader to pick and choose which rules they need to work on in their own life. Bethenny shares personal stories about her own experiences with the rules or the experiences of others she’s worked with. The first section of the book describes the rules of being “naturally thin” in detail, while the second part is an account of Bethenny’s days applying these rules and tips and how readers can do the same.

Some lines that speak to me:

“…balancing your diet like a bank account-monitor your spending and know when to stop.”

Its been a while since I’ve read this book and this line definitely jumped at me. I’m known for feasting at meals, not always on the dessert line, but just feasting in general. I’ll go to dinner after the gym –famished and ignore satiety signals. Keeping this rule in mind will make meals more satisfying and relaxing.

“Cancel your membership to the Clean Plate Club.”

We all hear it as kids, that fictitious club that teaches us that we MUST devour everything in sight- out of respect for those who can’t. I say, Bethenny’s right. Why keep eating something that tastes mediocre? Or worry about wasting an overly cheesy piece of dining court lasagna that is probably worth $0 .02? Why not listen to our bodies and allow them to tell us when to stop rather than our eyes?

“Maybe you need to think about who you are, where your strengths lie, what your food noise says, and how you like to eat.”

Even if you are naturally thin already, you can probably benefit from taking a closer look at this line. Knowing your own personal preferences and listening to them is part of remaining in equilibrium with your body. If you love to work out, know that your love of carbs is fine in moderation. If you love to watch tv, supplement that with your love of fruits and veggies. Think about what you truly care about on the road to heath and combine your loves for a smooth ride to self-confidence.

Naturally Thin is a relatable read that can benefit anyone who occasionally feels “out of sync” with their own health-related wants and needs.

Tomorrow: Strength training.

After my whirlwind of a weekend filled with family and some much needed time away from the books, I almost forgot to post about my Fitness Buddy of the week. So here I am, at 12:43 am, committed to share with you, the world, one of my heroes.

I am as guilty as the next person of obsessing over my “pooch” or whining about my thighs, or asking my Turbo Kick class who is attending to achieve that “spring break body;” our society is stuck on poor body image. So many work out only on the days they feel fat or when they ate an extra cookie, or only eat healthily to fit in a smaller size. However, my sister Lillie defies the norm…especially for 14 year old girls.

The typical high school freshman girl wears about a size 0-2, low cut shirts, stands about 5’3″ and slouches into her scrawny bod as she obnoxiously flirts in the hallways. Lillie…not so much. She walks tall and proud at 5’9″ with a bootie that probably one cheek could fit into a size 4. She attracts the boys with her skills on the volleyball court and softball field; she keeps her friends with her quick sense of humor (sometimes she’s even quicker than her big sister); she draws attention to herself with her radiant confidence. And she doesn’t take thick girl trash from anyone.

Lillie’s grip on body confidence is inspiring. She says “I like how I am, why change it?” With 7+ athletic practices a week, not counting games and tournaments, Lil is by no means a couch potato. She has a level of athleticism that I couldn’t possess in a million years; her leadership and drive on and off the court or field are unbelievable, and people notice. Her ability to make people laugh with her clever comebacks, to smile with her sympathy, to cry with her inspirationally firm stance on body confidence is beyond that of probably any kid in her high school.

When I hear about remarks she receives from snotty girls (who are probably just jealous that their butt doesn’t look as high and tight in their bedazzled jeans as hers does) and the mature ways that she responds, I can’t help but think 14- year-old Lillie is way beyond her years. She works hard to fuel her body for her endless hours of athletics, gives 100% heart in all of her endeavors, and stands true to her belief in “thick girl representation” (and by the way folks, she came up with that one all on her own, talk about empowering).

Coming from someone who has never put on a size 0 in her life, let me just say that sister or not, Lillie’s confidence is something everyone should aspire to gain. Stand tall, be proud of what you have, and represent.

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