Archive | Fitness RSS feed for this section

I RUN for Boston

16 Apr

There aren’t the right words to sum up my feelings about yesterday.  Regardless of whether or not you’re a runner, I imagine the tragic events at the Boston Marathon yesterday have affected you in a multitude of ways. As a fellow runner, I feel as if someone just attacked my friends (thanks Twitter for summing up my thoughts).  I was shocked and dismayed that something like this could have happened– at a place where elites, soccer moms, and senior citizens can come together to celebrate the sport of running together.  When I was little, I lived in the Boston area and my mom would always take me and my sisters to Heartbreak Hill to watch the runners, I was inspired by these runners and could never imagine running that far myself.  The Boston Marathon was always on my bucket list of races I’d like to do, but now I know that this is one I must complete because we must show whoever did this that we are not afraid of them.

As the running community grapples, alongside the rest of the world, with the ripple effect that this will have on the sport of running and beyond, a group of students at Boston College have found a way to honor those impacted.  They will walk the final 5 miles of the Boston Marathon route from their campus on Commonwealth Ave to the finish line area at Copley Square to finish the marathon for all those who were unable to finish yesterday. I think the symbolism is a beautiful sign of resilience.

One of the main reasons I love running: the community #handsoverhearts

One of the main reasons I love running: the community #handsoverhearts

I wish that I could join them in person, but being here in the DC area, that will not be possible.  Instead, in a show of solidarity, I’ve decided to take my own 5-mile run on Friday to “finish” the marathon for those who were unable to finish and to honor those who lost their lives or were injured celebrating one of the greatest human feats.  So who will join me on a run to finish the Boston Marathon on Friday?  Regardless of where you live, come walk or run those five miles with me and share your stories with the world. There’s no stronger statement we can send than to band together (even if it is virtually) and heal together.  As the BC student’s Facebook page says: “we decide when the marathon ends”.  Any runner knows that a marathon is the ultimate testament to human willpower: it takes blood, sweat, tears, and determination. I have full confidence that the running community (and our great country) will grow stronger from this experience and we will not cower in fear.

Running has always been therapeutic and healing for me.  I hope you will join me as we mourn and honor those impacted.  Stay strong my friends and to quote my fellow blogger Anne of fANNEtastic Food, “Let’s show the world how strong runners are. Boston – this one’s for you.

Is your job killing you?

19 Feb

I know it’s been far too long since I last posted anything, but the holidays ate me up and spat me back out and then work has just been nonstop. So apologies! Speaking of work, I want to focus today on the thing most Americans find themselves doing for prolonged periods of time everyday…SITTING!!!

Our body was designed for movement!

Our body was designed for movement!

I, like many Americans, work a “standard” 8-hour/day desk job that involves sitting for hours on end at your desk with little to no movement.  This is especially bad because linkages have been drawn between prolonged periods of sitting and an increased risk for many health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol etc.

The human body was designed to move…a lot.  So while it’s great that you may be exercising for 30 minutes to an hour every day, if you then proceed to plop down on your couch or chair post-workout for majority of the other 12 hours you’re awake, you could be counteracting all that good you just did.  So how do you continue to move while at work or home?  Read on for what I do to keep moving on the job!

Don't let your day start like this!!!

Don’t let your day start like this!!!

If you live within a safe walking or biking distance of your office, job, kids’ school, etc., instead of wasting  gas (did you know that Americans waste 1.9 billion gallons of gas per year in traffic?), leave a little earlier and hoof it to your destination.  It’s a great way to keep moving and you don’t have to waste hours of your life stuck in traffic!  In 2007, commuters in urban areas spent an average of 47 hours a year stuck in commute traffic, imagine what else you could do with those hours!!

Walking or biking is also a great option for those who take public transit, especially if you’re cash-strapped (like yours truly), it saves a heck of a lot in metro fares and helps you avoid the sweaty crush of rush hour on public transit.

Bonus– if you are able to walk/bike your kids to school, you will be instilling positive lifelong habits in them.  Now I get that in this modern age, having the ability to walk or bike everywhere is probably not practical or safe for everyone, but if you can, isn’t it worth the extra time?  I sure think it is!

18fitness.600

Wouldn’t you just love if you were able to walk all day? I know I would!

Now, let’s say you’re at work and you’re not lucky enough to have a super health-conscious organization which would provide you with a treadmill desk, then how do you stay moving?  I use several tricks to get moving throughout the day.  Firstly, I ditched my desk chair and bought a cheap 75cm stability ball from Amazon and use that to sit on throughout the day.  The minor movement helps me from feeling like a bump on a log, but doesn’t’ interfere with my work productivity.

I spend a lot of my day reading health reports and studies, so when I’m doing that, I like to jerry-rig a standing desk by stacking some large books under my monitor and stand while reading.  I will also stand or pace while on phone calls.

Take your meetings outside!

Take your meetings outside!

Another way I get moving is instead of calling or emailing a colleague who is just down the hall, I take a walk to see them, not only is it nice to have some face to face interaction, it’s a good opportunity to stretch the legs.  When the gang just needs to get out of the office, we try to do walking breaks instead of coffee runs.  When we just to need to vent or gab outside of the office, we much prefer to take a nice stroll around the White House (weather permitting of course) instead of spending 5 bucks for a calorie-laden Starbucks.  It’s a great opportunity for bonding, fresh air, and getting the blood circulating again!

When the drama ends, your movement begins!

When the drama ends, your movement begins!

The movement doesn’t end once you get home!  Next time you’re watching your favorite TV shows, get up and move during the commercials. Do whatever you feel like, but some good ones are push-ups, sit ups, marching in place, jumping jacks, or squats.

These are just some easy changes that I use in my life every day to stay active all day, long after I’ve finished my workout.  How about you? What things do you do to keep moving all day?

Surviving “T-DAY”

21 Nov

Enjoy time with friends and family

Well tomorrow is Thanksgiving and while many Americans are planning on gorging themselves on turkey and stuffing, I wanted to take a moment to tell you how to best survive “t-day”!  Thanksgiving at its core was never about seeing how many pieces of pie you could stuff down, but rather it was supposed to be about enjoying time with friends and family and joining together to give thanks for the many blessings in your life.  Somehow, it’s become all about food, football, and the Macy’s Parade.  Here are some tips to keep your health on track during this holiday weekend.

Exercise

Get out and move with your family!

Now you don’t have to spend 5 hours in the gym, but make sure you continue to move throughout the day.  Maybe go for a family walk before or after dinner. Many local running clubs around the country have “Turkey Trots”, which typically range in many distances from a 1 mile fun run/walks all the way to half marathons.  Many Turkey Trots raise money/food for local food banks to help feed hungry families.  Get a group of family and friends together to enjoy the crisp autumn air, get some heart pumping exercise, and help the needy!

If a Turkey Trot isn’t your thing, gather the gang and head outside for some touch football or any sport of your choosing.  You’ll bond a lot more over good-natured competition, than watching the competition on the tube.

If watching the parade is a family tradition, then create a new tradition as well this Thanksgiving.  Select an activity as a family and then during every commercial break execute that activity.  Some examples could be: do 10 jumping jacks, run/walk 5 flights of stairs, or, if you’re of the competitive spirit, race around the outside of the house and first one back in gets some sort of prize.

The key here is to get up and move throughout the day!

Food

Now here’s where things get tougher, socially-accepted convention is that Thanksgiving is the day of no judgment, where you can stuff yourself to the point where you enter a massive food coma that lasts until the midnight snack of turkey legs and stuffing.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I will be enjoying the feast as much as the next, but with a twist.

First, fill half your plate with veggies! The first thing I do is reach for the veggies and load up half my plate, the fiber will fill you up faster and since they are the lowest in caloric value at the dinner table (but drop that creamed spinach please!).  Now I love mashed potatoes as much as the next, but when made with whole milk and globs of butter, they take a nutrient-rich food and turn it into a fatty mess.  Try using fat free milk and less butter, or if you’re feeling particularly healthy, halve the amount of potatoes and swap in steamed cauliflower, which will reduce the caloric density while increasing the micronutrients!  Also don’t drown your potatoes in gravy; a little goes a long way!

Mouth-watering turkey and stuffing!

Stuffing is delicious, but incredibly fattening.  Use less breadcrumbs (and switch to whole wheat!) and swap in a higher ratio of chopped veggies (I especially like butternut squash, YUM!).  Reduce the amount of butter you use (typically half will do the trick) and use a smaller ratio of meats to cut down on saturated fats.  I promise that making these small changes to your stuffing will reward you on the scale the next morning and you won’t see a huge difference in flavor.

When you’re selecting your turkey, dark or white is fine, however, you should only have a few bites of dark meat and have the rest of your turkey as the white variety.  Regardless of dark vs. white, you should NEVER eat the skin, it’s not good for you and frankly I don’t think it adds much in terms of flavor.

Cranberry sauce is another staple of the holiday table, but steer clear of the canned variety and try to make it yourself or buy cranberry sauce that actually has cranberries in it! The store-bought variety typically is full of needless sugar and artificial flavors. Here’s a great homemade recipe!

Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum; enjoy a good glass of wine with your meal, but after that stick to tea, coffee, and flat or sparkling water.  You really don’t need to heap on extra empty calories do you?

Finally, pass on the bread; you’re getting enough carbs already.  The only exception I’d make is if they’re your grandmother’s rolls that she makes from scratch only for Thanksgiving, then take just one and really enjoy it.

I almost forgot dessert!  If it’s store bought, I say skip it, but if it’s homemade, I say savor it!  Use the three bite rule on dessert and if you want to try more than one, make those bites really small.  You just want to get the flavor and enjoy it, rather than wolfing it down and concluding with a good plate lickin’!

Make sure to fill half your plate with veggies!

Now all of the above information is irrelevant if you’re going back for third and fourth servings.  First, fill half your plate with a variety of the veggie dishes. Then try little portions of all the other available dishes.  Remember the first three bites taste the best, so focus in on those first three bites of each dish. Chew slowly and savor the wonderful flavors that are bursting in your mouth.  Make sure you’re evaluating it and if you decide that “eh, the stuffing isn’t really that good this year (for whatever reason)”, then don’t feel compelled to finish all the stuffing on your plate, there’s no point in consuming empty calories just because it’s there.  If and when you’re finished your first round (ignoring whatever is left on your plate, because you weren’t feeling it), sit back and wait a while.

Sip water, use the restroom, and most importantly, enjoy the conversation and company.  It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to yell up to your brain “hey I’m full!”  After a while, if you’re still feeling the need to eat some more, go ahead and repeat the food selection process, starting with veggies and only selecting the food that you enjoyed the most (2-3 items).  This time, put smaller quantities on your plate than in your first round.  Repeat this process over again, each time with smaller quantities, until your brain signals you’re full.  Frankly, you should be full after your first or second helping.

Now some people hold to the rule of not eating anything all day, so that they “have room” or are “saving calories” for the main event. I would strongly advise against that method of thinking.  Starving all day slows your metabolism, and your body is more likely to store the “main event” as fat as opposed to energy.  Make sure you eat a small, but protein rich breakfast and a small lunch if you don’t eat Thanksgiving till later in the day.  If you eat around 3, then it may be okay to skip lunch, but go by what your stomach is saying.

Moderation is key here, just like every other day. Enjoy your time with friends and family and don’t just make the day all about the food.  Get your metabolism going with a little exercise and breakfast in the morning and enjoy in moderation and you should be able to avoid the dreaded food coma.  Also, make sure you go back to your usual exercise and eating routine on Black Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Reestablishing the Fitness Routine

8 Jun

Sometimes the couch sings its siren song…

So today I want to focus on exercise ruts or trying to get back into one.

The two months I took off after quitting my first one and starting my current one in DC was a period were I was in the best shape of my life I think (outside my high school years and 2 varsity sports).  I got up every day and was able to work out for 90-120 minutes. I ate great and felt well-relaxed and most importantly strong and healthy.  Then life came back to bite me in the ass and my carefully crafted routine went out the window, along with my athleticism.

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my new job, but when I started the process of moving, I didn’t have time to work out (or so I told myself).  Then came the transition from CA to DC and the stress of that move threw me into a tailspin.  I left everything I know and love to move to a city that I knew (I went to college here in DC) and still had people who I’m still close with, but still…it has been a tough and at times lonely transition.  So with the stress (cortisol), unhealthy eating (comfort food is NOT good for the waistline), and lack of exercise I felt my clothes suddenly getting a bit tighter.

I started to feel like this! (less the beer)

So I got “fat and lazy”, not good for anyone, but for someone like me I saw myself turning into the very people I’m trying to motivate to get back out there.  I knew I had to get myself back!  But it’s been harder than I anticipated.  It’s hard to get up at 5am to get a workout in, have a full day of work and then go home and make dinner and try to decompress from my day.  But you know what’s even harder? Working out after work when the TV sings its siren song and is so much more inviting than a hard workout.  It’s tough, but I know it will be worth it in the end.

I’ve decided that AM workouts work best for me, they leave me full of energy all day and then I don’t feel guilty when I get home and don’t head to the gym.  But waking up is still killer.  I am my only obstacle, it may be constant fight every morning between my “i want to sleep” side and the “you’ll feel so much better” side. But I know that slowly the “I want to sleep” side will fight less and

Keep at it!

less and it will get easier to get up instead of hitting the snooze.  So as I begin my uphill battle to reestablish my fitness routine, I thought I’d give some tips and pointers that I’m applying to help get my fitness back on track.

Don’t Break the Habit

I know for some it may be too little, too late.  But for those already in a habit, don’t drop it!  That was my number one mistake, I let myself fall out the routine and as a result it’s so much easier to hit snooze instead of getting up to get that am workout in.  How long of a road are you looking at if you’re trying to reestablish a fitness habit? About 66 days.  That’s a lot of mornings to debate with yourself!

Make it Fun

If you hate being in a gym then get outside! Hate solo activities?  Take up a new team sport!  Find ways that make it fun for you!  Don’t force yourself to lift weight if you’d rather gorge your eyes out, there a plenty of other ways to get “weight training” in!

Reward Yourself

And I don’t mean with a pint of Ben and another pint of Jerry’s.  Pick a goal (workout 5 days a week for 4 weeks) and a reward (like getting a massage).  If you set a goal that’s tough but achievable and a reward that you really want (like that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing).

A buddy is a great way to pass the time

It’s so much harder to bail on a workout when you know your friend is waiting for you!

X is for Success

Find someway to track your workouts on a calendar.  This will give you quick representation of how diligent you are working out!  It is also is a gentle reminder when you’ve been a little lax.

Measure Fitness

Pick any measurement, it can be weight, inches, how your clothes fit, etc.  Use that to motivate you to continue to workout.  I can’t tell you how sad, yet motivating it was when I stepped back on that scale after nearly a two month hiatus from exercise.  I was so disappointed to see what I’d work so hard for had slipped away from me. I knew how hard I’d worked and just how much effort it was going to take to lose that weight again.  But it was the kick in the pants I needed.  I had no one to blame but myself, and I knew it.

Figure Out Your Issues

What causes you to stop being motivated to exercise? Find that and find a way to fix it and your weakness shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

Baby Steps

Don’t expect to run 10 miles your first day back after a long break.  You need to start small.  Every time you take a break from exercise, you reset your fitness and you have to start at zero…again.  This is why it’s so important to not break a fitness routine. As I sorely learned.

The scale can be your best friend…or worst enemy!

Don’t go for Superficial Reasons

If you go to look hot in a bikini what happens when you reach that goal? Or swimsuit season ends?  You need to work out for reasons beyond the short-term, although those are good too, as long as you have a solid long-term goal too.  How about, I want to feel strong or I feel healthiest when I’m working out consistently.

I hope this helps kiddos.  Feel free to add your own tips and tricks below!

Keep on (or start) Sweating!

Watch HBO’s “Weight of the Nation”

15 May

HBO’s Weight of the Nation aired the first two parts last night (watch here).  The final 2 in the series air tonight on HBO and you can watch them tomorrow. I haven’t watched them yet, I plan to tonight after work, and I’m seriously looking forward to it.   Let me know what you think of them!

 

Keep on Sweating!

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

voxifit

The Voice of Fitness Blog

Sorta Ginger

Ramblings of a Quasi-Redhead

The Better Man Project ™

a journey into the depths

L-Jay Health

Nutrition and Fitness

Lavender Parking

Enjoying Life One Post-Race Pint at a Time

Medal Slut

Ticking off local races one medal at a time.

The Weight Loss Counter Revolution

Dedicated to giving you the truth about weight loss.

Eat.Live.Blog

Bringing New England to the table!

Tyler and Lisa Brown's Flow

Flow: an authentically happy state of engaged activity that supremely interests you, challenges you, and occasionally makes time melt away

%d bloggers like this: