Thursday, October 28, 2010

Home Exercise Videos

Today’s Workout

60 minutes BodyCombat Class

I LOVE that BodyCombat class. It always make me sweat and today’s new release was no exception. I love how strong it makes me feel with all that punching and kicking.

Today’s class made me think a bit about those old “Tae Bo” videos that used to be really popular with good ol’ Billy Blanks


(Picture found here)

I remember back in college I watched an infomercial about some sort of Tae Bo workout that promised AMAZING results (don’t all infomercial products promise the same thing…that’s what makes them so appealing to us all.) I was convinced that this product would make be totally ripped so I grabbed the phone and placed my order. It was a few minutes later when I realized that my meager student income wasn’t going to allow me to pay for these videos without having to go hungry for few weeks. I then called back and canceled my order when the sense of clarity finally revealed itself.

I have to say though, that there are three workout video sets that I have had my eyes of for a while that really intrigue me.

#1: Turbo Fire


(Found here)

#2: P90X


(Found here)

#3: Insanity


(Found here)

All of these programs promise AMAZING results (surprise, surprise) but I don’t know anybody in real life who has experienced the great changes in their physique that these programs claim will come. Have any of you tried these videos? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BodyPump Time

Today’s Workout:

60 minutes BodyPump class
25 minutes HIIT on the stationary bike (I was a sweaty BEAST when I was done today!)

Have you ever tried a BodyPump class? Here’s the description from the Les Mills site:

“BODYPUMP™ is the original barbell class that strengthens your entire body. This 60-minute workout challenges all your major muscle groups by using the best weight-room exercises like squats, presses, lifts and curls. Great music, awesome instructors and your choice of weight inspire you to get the results you came for – and fast! Like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new BODYPUMP™ class is released every three months with new music and choreography.”

My gym just showed off the newest release this morning and I am a FAN. The chest and lunge track were challenging (like always) but the shoulder track was really INTENSE. I really, really like the new release.

After my marathon last year, I REALLY got into BodyPump, doing it about 3 times every week. I had a bit of burnout from doing it so often and went on to other things. In the last few weeks, I have ventured back into doing it twice a week and feel it gives me a great total body weight workout. If you belong to a gym that offers this class, you should definitely check it out. It will make your muscles BURN like crazy!!

(Pictures found here)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aging and fat potential

Today’s workout:

60 min BodyFlow class (love getting my stretch on!) followed by a Bridal Bootcamp Workout found here (I’ve already been a bride, but this workout was a great mix of cardio and weights and quite challenging with all those supersets)

As many of you know, I am currently studying to become a certified personal trainer. While studying last night, I came across a few statistics that I found interesting and though I would share…

“Adults who are not involved in exercising regimens will lose approximately 5 pounds of muscle per decade, while simultaneously adding 15 pounds of fat per decade.”

(Source: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 3rd Edition)

Can you believe that? I was really sad (and a bit scared) to read that statistic. No wonder we are a nation where 33% of all adults are obese and 2/3 of the adults population is overweight. Obviously a lot of that has to do with the typical American diet of high-fat, highly processed foods eaten in enormous portions. But the inactivity rate of Americans in general is quite astounding, only furthering the obesity epidemic of our nation.

Everyone I know (especially those older than 40) have always told me how much their body starts to fall apart as they age, particularly their metabolism and muscle vs. fat ratios. I found this statement pretty interesting though…

“When the concept of age-related fat gain was investigated, it was determined that body fat was not an age-related issue, but rather was attributed to the number of hours individuals spent exercising per week. It has also been shown in sedentary individuals that the daily-activity level accounts for more than 75% of the variability of body-fat storage in men.”

(Source: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 3rd Edition)

So I guess the best way to overcome the lean muscle mass loss and fat gain as we age is to get out there and move more (and follow a bit more Michael Pollan’s advice… “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Running for the fun of it

Today's workout looked like this...

60 min kickboxing class (this class always kicks my booty!!)
20 min core work/stretching
(I'm really trying to work on stretching properly in order to improve and eliminate injury risk)

I read this article the other day that really resonated with me. It was from a blog called “Marathon Mommies" and was about a woman who finally understood the joys of just being able to run without worrying about setting PRs and setting a new pace standard. After lots of hard work, she had finally qualified to run the Boston Marathon. During her training however, she started to develop some severe abdominal pain and eventually had to have emergency surgery to remove a large mass from her abdomen just weeks before the race. In her own words she says this…

“After surgery and staying in-and-out of the hospital with complications, I was left unable to run for about four months, let alone even walk comfortably. It turns out I have something called Crohn's Disease, not a glamorous thing to have, but at least it was not what they thought it was, cancer.

There is one thing I can say (many people may think I am nuts.) I feel truly blessed to have gone through that. It is in those frightening, dark moments, that I learned the most about myself, what I am made of, and the way I think about moments in my life is completely different than in the spring.

My running used to be all about how fast I could run and that is really all I cared about. Forget about the fun along the way, going for a run just for the fun of it without worrying about my pace - the pureness of running had been wiped away and I was obsessed with splits, the newest gadget and not being satisfied with a race unless I placed in the top three.

Now things are different. The first week I started back it took me 20 minutes to walk a half mile. I am not kidding, I was that sore and stiff…But, even in that moment, 20 minutes felt like winning a marathon. I could move and that was all I needed.

I am now back to running. I have run a 15k and a half marathon this past month. I am not setting records or caring about my speed. I am just out there enjoying the moment and my ability to be doing something I love so dearly. Someday, maybe, I will again try a shot at Boston. But, for now, I am just enjoying the roads and taking it all in.

Now, I would never wish what I went through on any of you. However, the one thing I can say is sometimes we all can use a little reminder to sit back and enjoy the moment. Enjoy the movement. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy your health and the ability to go out and run.

Every now and then, take off the watches, forget about your splits, feel the sun on your face, take a look around you and just enjoy the road you are traveling.”

This was exactly what I needed to hear this week. Sometimes I get so focused on time/pace/distance covered etc. that I miss out on the true joys of getting out and moving my body. I don’t give my body credit for all of the many wonderful things that it allows me to do. Sometimes I focus too much on how LARGE my thighs are rather than revel in how far those LARGE thighs have taken me, how many lunges, squats and miles they have endured and conquered!

I can’t even tell you when I last went out on a run without my Garmin, but I want that to change. I really do like knowing what my pace, time and mileage is at any given moment, but sometimes it does tend to take the joy out of running. I need to enjoy the experience of running a bit more and revel in the fact that my body can do a lot of wonderful things, even if it isn’t perfect. I love you Mr. Garmin, but I think a little break from you now and then may help me to focus more on what I CAN do rather than on what I CAN”T!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5k Race

Sorry for the little hiatus (AGAIN!!) Hopefully I'm back on track now!

After putting together my Race Results Tab, I realized something...I have not run a 5K race in over 10 years!! I ran a few in high school and several in college, but after switching over to longer distances, I left the 5K distance completely. Probably because I'm not a particularly fast runner and 5Ks are supposed to be FAST!

On a whim last week, I decided to sign up for a 5K on Saturday. It was just a small local race and I really wasn't expecting too much for these reasons...

1. I haven't been running more than 1-2 times per week since the half-marathon in an attempt to both heal my piriformis injury and break in my new minimalist running shoes.
2. I have done no speed training at all in recent months.
3. I am so NOT a 5K runner!!

I really do prefer longer distances because I feel like I can run in my more comfortable pace and not go "all out." ("All out" for each person is VERY relative. Kara Goucher, a world-class marathoner, was running a "slow" pace for her when she was 8 months pregnant of 6:30-7:00 min/mile. Ummmm, yeah, that's basically an all out sprint for me!!)

But I was also interested to see how well I could run a 5K on a whim. I actually finished in a pretty respectable time (24:56, average 8:03 min/mile) but the coolest part was that because it was a small race, I actually ended up taking first place in my age group (30-39) and won my very first running prize....a nifty medal!!

I took 6th place overall out of about 90 runners. Not too shabby for a run I wasn't even planning on a week ago. I have to admit, I kind of like these smaller races where you actually have a chance to win a prize every now and then, even if you're not Kara Goucher!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Shoes

Today's run went a little something like this...

I'm easing myself back into running while trying to recover from my hamstring/piriformis issues. I was actually pleasantly surprised with today's average pace of 8:18 per mile. I was actually planning to take it a bit easier today but I felt good and perhaps these are to thank for that...

My new pair of Newton running shoes!!
Last week we headed down to Sheperdstown, West Virginia to check out a new "natural" running store. It's called "Two River Treads" and is owned by a physician and elite marathoner who preaches the benefits of running in shoes that mimic barefoot running and encourage midfoot to forefoot striking rather than heel to toe running (their motto is "the first running store to abandon the modern running shoe.") After reading the book "Chi Running" and doing some research about barefoot/minimalist running, I was a bit intrigued and decided to check it out for myself. I know a few people who run in the Vibram 5 Fingers (I find these to be a bit too extreme for my taste) and rave about them. After doing a trial run around the store's neighborhood, I decided to give these Newton Running shoes a go. They are minimalist shoes that have less cushioning and more forefoot propulsion to force people away from heel striking (the theory is that most running shoes these days are so cushioned and controlled that they force people into an unnatural gait pattern, a cause for a lot of injuries to the hip, knee and foot.)
I have struggled with some frustrating running injuries over the last few years and the idea that these shoes might help to alleviate these issues was very appealing to me. They were a bit more expensive than my normal running shoes (Asics Nimbus) but they are supposed to last twice as long (these shoes should last at least 1000 miles where most other running shoes start to break down after 300-500 miles.)
Because these shoes will force you into a more natural running pattern, they also require a "breaking-in" period. You start with running in them for just one mile the first time out, then you can add a mile each time you go out in them until you reach your normal running mileage. This breaking in period can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. I just finished running my first 3-miler in them and I have to say I quite like them. I do notice I feel more tenderness in my calves and feet than in my other running shoes, which makes sense since they aren't as cushioned and I'm striking with my midfoot rather than my heel.
I'll be sure to give another review in a few months when I've had a chance to really break them in.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chia Chia

Today's workout consisted of the following...
60 minutes BodyFlow class (Yoga/Pilates/Tai Chi)
2 mile run on the treadmill (easing back into running with some piriformis/hamstring issues...and some new shoes too. More on those later!!)
30 minutes upper body weight training (pull/press combo, 3-exercise-superset for the shoulders and tabatas for the biceps and triceps....lots of fire felt in the arms today!!)
This lovely snack followed my workout today...

A lovely green monster, made with kale instead of spinach today (kale, vanilla protein powder, banana and lots of water and was extra icy today, hence the funky look!!)

The bonus ingredient today was this...

One of my running partners is running a marathon this weekend and he started using these for his long runs about four months ago. After researching some of the benefits of incorporating chia seeds into your diet, I have started adding them to my daily smoothies too.
Here's a little info about chia seeds...(source)

"Chia, is familiar to most of us as a seed used for the novelty of the Chia Pet™, clay animals with sprouted Chia seeds covering their bodies. Little is known, however, of the seeds tremendous nutritional value and medicinal properties. For centuries this tiny little seed was used as a staple food by the Indians of the south west and Mexico. Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. It was said the Aztec warriors subsisted on the Chia seed during the conquests. The Indians of the south west would eat as little as a teaspoon full when going on a 24hr. forced march. Indians running form the Colorado River to the California coast to trade turquoise for seashells would only bring the Chia seed for their nourishment.

If you try missing a spoonful of Chia in a glass of water and leaving it for approximately 30 minutes or so, when you return the glass will appear to contain not seeds or water, but an almost solid gelatin. This gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia. Research believe this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when food containing these gummy fibers, known as mucilages, are eaten. The gel that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.

In addition to the obvious benefits for diabetics, this slowing in the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar offers the ability for creating endurance. Carbohydrates are the fuel for energy in our bodies. Prolonging their conversion into sugar stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration in their fueling effects.

One of the exceptional qualities of the Chia seed is its hydrophilic properties, having the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weigh in water. Its ability to hold on to water offers the ability to prolong hydration. Fluids and electrolytes provide the environment that supports the life of all the body’s cells. Their concentration and composition are regulated to remain as constant as possible. With Chia seeds, you retain moisture, regulate, more efficiently, the bodies absorption of nutrients and body fluids. Because there is a greater efficiency in the utilization of body fluids, the
electrolyte balance is maintained."

Pretty interesting stuff, huh?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Homemade Protein Bars

Sorry about kind of dropping out of the blogworld for a while. I've been super busy and this blog kept getting pushed to the back burner. I really don't know how many people are still reading this, but I really do enjoy writing about health and fitness so I decided to give it another go. Besides, even if one person gets a good idea or motivation from something here, then it makes it all worth it in the end!
My morning started off with the following workout:
60 minutes kickboxing class
15 minutes stationary bike
15 minutes leg workout
(This included wall sits with a weighted ball overhead, stability ball lift and curls and one-legged machine leg was short but pretty intense and my legs were on FIRE by the end!)
A while ago I ran across the following recipe for making your own protein bars. (This is not my own recipe, but I don't remember where I got it so I can't give proper credit!!) I do my best to eat whole foods when possible, but sometimes you just need something quick and easy to toss into your purse as you run out the door. My kids like these too and they only require 5 simple ingredients...
Oats (A healthy whole grain)

Peanut Butter (A healthy fat and a bit of protein too)

Ground flaxseed (Another healthy fat)

Protein powder (Giving these bars a nice protein boost!)

Homemade Protein Bars
2 cups oats
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
4 scoops protein powder (I use chocolate)
2 T. ground flaxseed
1/2 cup water
Mix all ingredients together (I usually use my hands to really mix it in good.) Place mixture in container and freeze for 30 minutes. Take them out, cut into bars and BAM you have some nice clean protein bars with very few ingredients and very little time involved. I usually cut these into 8 bars (then I will sometimes take four of these bars and cut them into halves for the kids to eat too.) This is a great alternative to granola bars (usually laden with unrecognizable ingredients and high fructose corn syrup) or the other 100-ingredient protein bars out there. And because you made 'em, you know exactly what's in 'em too!! You can even make them your own by adding some sliced almonds, raisins, etc.
Hope you enjoy!!