Archive for March, 2012

March 31st, 2012

Fit Fridays: You need luck for mega millions not to fit into your jeans!

Fit Fridays Tip:  Okay, okay; genetics has something to do with it, but the rest is up to YOU.  You don’t have to run/swim/bike miles on end to get fit!  In fact, a shorter 30-45 minute cardio + strength training workout will generally get you further than merely logging boring miles on the treadmill.

yes, we bought lottery tix!

You may have noticed from my prior reviews (e.g., title boxing and fusion fitness) that I wear a heart rate monitor to track calories burned in group exercise classes.  It’s not that I rely on that number in rating classes; I merely note it to provide guidance/comparison on the cardio-intensity of the class.  I then consider whether the class incorporates resistance training.  Why?  After a strength training session, your body is working hard to help your muscles recover and, in that process, “you’ll fry an additional 25 percent of the calories you just scorched during your strength session.”  (see womenshealthmag.com).  But that doesn’t mean strength training is better than cardio.  High intensity cardio torches calories, boosts endorphins, and “just 15 minutes of aerobic activity two to three times a week can reduce anxiety significantly.”  (Id.)  In sum, the best way to lose weight – and keep it off – is to combine strength training and cardio (for more, check out articles on livestrong.com; washingtonpost.com and womenshealthmag.com).

I may be logging 75-150 miles a week in the pool and on the road while training, but I’m not always burning more calories than what I torch in my off-season 6-10 hour/week workouts (ok, I probably do on those 150 mile weeks).  Why is that?  I choose high intensity exercises that combine cardio and strength training in one hour.  So, if running, cycling, swimming, etc., isn’t you thing or you just don’t have the time to put in the miles necessary to burn enough calories to reach your goal weight, don’t despair!  You can stay fit/reach your goal so long as you use your training time wisely.

Sample 30 Minute Cardio + Strength Training:  you can run 30 minutes then go for the free weights.  But why not save time and combine both?  Here’s an example:

  • Repeat 3x:  Sprint 1 min; regular push-ups 1 min; sprint 1 min; triceps dips 1 min; sprint 1 min; triceps pushups 1 min
  • Repeat 4x: 1 min mountain climbers; 1 min abs; 1 min lunges.

Don’t like running?  Get on a bike or elliptical and push hard (i.e., sprint or increase the resistance); speed walk up a hill and jog down; you can jump rope instead, whatever works for YOU … Get creative!

Stay fit!

March 29th, 2012

New season, new kicks! Just another reason to add a pair to your closet …

Saucony Kinvara 2

I like having multiple pairs of running shoes to provide a little variety during my training.  Maybe I’ll take it one step further someday and add a special “racing” pair.  Why own more than one pair?  Is it necessary?  No.  But here are a few reasons to add a pair to your closet:

  • (1) Just like the perfect pair of shoes can help develop proper form, an ill-fitting pair can lead to poor form and potential injuries.  Switching up running shoes prevents you from settling into a poor running style; that said, it will only delay the inevitable unless you pay attention to your form and how you feel when using the different shoes.  Personally, aside from weight, heel height, snugness, etc., I can’t ever tell exactly how a shoe is going to feel on the road by merely prancing around back and forth in a shoe store.  While many stores allow returns after you try the shoes on a treadmill, this is still not enough for me to get a real feel for running shoes.   That’s why I started buying multiple pairs – to truly compare running shoes and find the style that works best for me.
  • (2) Good to have a back-up/alternate pair if you run in water/snow and need drying time.
  • (3) Different shoes for different distances and terrain.  Some runners like a little extra cushion for longer distances or road running, which can be more difficult on the joints, and opt for a lighter, more minimalist shoe for the treadmill and shorter distances.
  • (4) Designated race-day pair.  Some runners like keeping their lighter shoes for race day use.
  • (5) Change up your style!

These neon kicks are sure to add a little pep in my step on my long runs!  The website describes the Saucony Kinvara 2 as follows:  “the Kinvara 2’s super light and flexible midsole is made from durable foam, and the 4mm heel-to-toe offset guarantees a close-to-the road feel. Light and breathable, the upper is made from mono-filament mesh that provides a comfortable, sock-like fit and feel.”

After a short 4 miler on varied terrain (road, sidewalk and track), I agree with the reviews thus far.  These shoes are light-weight, comfortable and I love the bright color options!  I’ve been running in minimalist shoes for over one year now, so I expect to use my Kinvaras for all distances.

For a discussion among runners on the issue of owning multiple pairs of running shoes, click here.

Happy running!

March 28th, 2012

Green Power Protein Shake = Perfect On-the-Go Breakfast or Snack

I used to think protein shakes were for muscle builders and tasted like chunky, bland baby solution.  It all changed when I started adding them to my diet while training for last September’s Branson 70.3 ironman to speed up my recovery.  Since I don’t have much time between my morning workouts and getting to the office, easy protein shakes are the perfect nutritional option!  Based on preliminary research, “whey protein seems to diminish appetite and help to manage blood sugar” (see livestrong.com); so, adding whey protein to your diet is beneficial regardless of whether you’re in training or working out.

I like to mix it up, but my current favorite includes:

  • 1 serving Whey Protein (140 cal; 27 g protein)
  • 1 serving Green Superfood (25 cal; 2g protein; and packed with green goodness)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup ff milk (40 cal; 4g protein)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (53 cal; little under 2g protein)
  • Handful of ice

 

Throw it all in the blender and voila!   If you need extra calories, add more milk instead of water, more chia, yogurt and/or 1/2-1 banana.  You can also use spinach instead of the Green Superfood.

Don’t be alarmed if your shake looks like one of Papa Smurf’s potions:

 

Coming up:  Whey v. Soy v. Hemp.  Isolate v. Concentrate.  There are so many protein varieties to choose from; I know I’m still trying to figure out the differences!  I’ll be posting about what you should opt for to fit your goals – whether it’s weight loss, weight management, training, recovery, etc.  In the meantime, enjoy your green power shake!

Eat Smart!

March 27th, 2012

The Perfect Masseuse: Strong Hands, No Funky Scents, Silent and Only $2.19

The Perfect Masseuse

I’ve been using my foam roller on a weekly basis in hopes of working out knots from my training.  Although helpful, the roller just can’t target some of those pesky knots/trigger areas.  I know people also use balls – tennis, baseball and lacrosse balls – to target knots.  So, I decided to give this a try.

The tennis ball is a little soft and the baseball and lacrosse balls are rather hard and big.  The perfect in-between?  A bouncy-ball!  That’s right.  I found this one at CVS for $2.19 and it is great.  It provides the right amount of give, its smooth texture won’t give you a weird rash when using it on bare skin, and it’s small enough to target specific trigger areas.

You can use this the same way you’d use a foam roller – check out this Running Times article for tips on using a foam roller.

March 25th, 2012

Finally, a solution for my lack of self-control w/ PB!

I love peanut (and almond) butter – I’m talking finish a tub with a spoon kind of love.  If only my love didn’t come in 200 calories a 2 tbsp serving, I might actually be able to keep it around the house.  You can forget self-control; I gave up on that a long time ago!

I recently took a stroll in the organic peanut butter section of a local grocery store and it wasn’t long before I started battling my inner 300-lb. woman that was begging me for the good stuff. Then, I came across this organic powdered peanut butter – “85% LESS FAT.”  Intrigued, I read on.  Hmmm; only 45 calories a serving with 4g protein, 5g cargs and 1.5g fat.  Yes, please!

I went straight home to try it out.  Mix 2 tbsp with 1 tbsp water; easy enough.  The verdict: not as good as the real stuff – how could it be at 1/4 the calories?; a little grainy if you don’t add more than the recommended water; tastes like a less oily peanut butter; it will definitely satisfy my cravings!  I will be buying this again.

March 24th, 2012

31 days to 70.3; 73 days to 26.2; 177 days to 140.6

My 2012 race calendar is filling up quickly, maybe a little too quickly …

New Orleans relay 70.3 (swim and bike):  Time sure flies … I’ll be tapering before I start training if I don’t buckle down soon!!  I don’t know if I’m more excited about the hurricanes or the relay 70.3!  Okay, sugary alcoholic drinks aren’t really my thing (IPAs and red wines are an another story) and I enjoy torturing myself with physical challenges, so the answer is the 70.3 relay .  I am super excited to try that New Orleans cuisine, especially since I’ll need to eat twice as much after the race.

there will be little of this in the coming months!

  • Concerns: (1) I probably won’t swim in open water before the event and (2) I haven’t biked outdoors over 20 miles since last September … good weather is coming our way and I foresee a long bike ride to follow!
  • Goal:  include 2 swims per week (2,200-3,800 yards) and 2 bike rides (one spin class and one 2-3 hour ride outside).

San Diego the 26.2: I am more or less on track for the 26.2 – though I know the 16 miler I have scheduled this weekend is going to hurt – and I’m psyched to get some relaxing pre and post race beach time in San Diego!

  • Concern:  Adding the above swim and bike while continuing Hal Higdon’s training plan.
  • Goal:  Suck it up.

Sept. 15 Grand Columbian Ironman:  As crazy it might sound, I’m using these races to get in shape to start training for the ironman (my first full).

  • Concerns:  Not enough post-marathon recovery time.  Oh, and having enough time to train and surviving the event.

I am considering hiring a coach for the ironman training and recently e-mailed with someone from markallenonline.com.  During our conversation, the rep (or coach?) asked if the ironman was my main goal this season.  I replied yes, and revealed my plans to participate in a relay half ironman in April and a marathon on June 3rd.  His response: we usually don’t recommend scheduling a marathon in your training as it takes about three weeks to recover.  Me: *Expletive*

I did some quick research … a New York Times running article notes that, although not well-researched, the general consensus is recovery time = same number of days as mileage you ran – i.e., 26 days.  Hal Higdon agrees, recommending 2-3 weeks off.  Double *Expletive*

stretching, check! ice bath ... not so much

Dropping out is not an option.  This means I need to be extremely cautious in my training:

  • Ice bath.  [Initial reaction: gross and misery.]
  • Foam roller.  [Initial reaction: lucky if I do it once a week.]
  • Stretch.  [Initial reaction: does 30 sec/leg suffice?]
  • Rest.  [Initial reaction: I get really antsy.]
  • Recovery protein shakes.  [Initial reaction: yes please.]

Here goes nothing!

March 23rd, 2012

TitleBoxing ~ Good Workout, Boring Routine w/ Smelly Gloves

In my never-ending quest to find the ultimate workout, I purchased two-weeks of unlimited classes at KC’s TitleBoxing Club.  I had been looking forward to trying a true kickboxing class (i.e., with a punching bag and gloves) and, overall, I give it a B-.

Overview:

  • The kickboxing class involves a mix of high intensity cardio with quick-paced kick/punch/jump combos and Tabata-type exercises, and muscle building resistance work with push-ups, triceps dips and abdominal exercises.
  • Calories burned/hour class = 450 calories for kickboxing.
  • Class options = boxing & kickboxing (the latter provides more cardio work by adding kicks).

Pro:

  • Kickboxing classes provide a full-body workout.
  • End class with challenging abdominal exercises.
  • Convenient class times.
  • Punching bag relieves stress.
  • Cardio equipment for members (treadmills, ellipticals, etc.)

Main Gripes:

  • Workout intensity varies depending on the instructor.  I am rather sadistic and like to have the option of getting my butt kicked during my workouts.  It’s the instructor’s job to teach a hard class and provide modifications (unless, of course, the class is geared/advertised as a lower-intensity class); maybe that’s just my preference and, in the end, it is not a huge gripe as you can pick what instructor’s classes to attend.
  • The room was too hot. This isn’t hot yoga and I sweat enough as is.  I can’t even imagine what the room will be like during the summer!
  • Difficulty hearing the instructors. In most group exercise classes, you can figure it out relatively easily by watching the instructor demonstrate.  Two problems in this setting, (1) the punching bags hide the instructor as she/he does a couple of demonstrations and (2) the instructor then starts moving around the class to assist participants with their form – this is great and all, but I need to know what I’m doing before you can correct my form.  Now, I’m sure I would get more familiar with the exercises if I started going more frequently, but a microphone might be necessary in a setting where the punching bags don’t allow the instructor’s voice to “fill the room.”  Just a thought.
  • Smelly gloves. The Club offers gloves that participants can borrow during class.  Great, right?  No.  I am not a clean freak and I do not get grossed out by other peoples’ sweat (feet, yes, but that’s another story), but this is just plain disgusting.  My hands smelled so bad after using their gloves I had to run to the bathroom to wash them before continuing with the class.  If you offer gloves to borrow, please figure out how to wash them properly!
  • The classes do not provide enough variety to get me hooked.  I’d probably go once a week, but because they only offer monthly memberships (as opposed to drop-in classes), I will have to pass.
March 22nd, 2012

30-Day Weekday Vegetarian Challenge

Veggies = Good.  Too much red meat = Bad.  Processed junk & fried food = Terrible.

Nothing too surprising, right?  With this 30-day weekday vegetarian challenge, we get to carry out these principles while exploring our inner hippie.  This challenge includes NO FISH.  I anticipate a new-found respect for those healthy vegetarians – that is, those that don’t rely on eating solely carbs, fried things and the like.  A key to success is to find satisfying ways to include protein in our diet and keep vegetable-centered meals interesting.  Here are some ideas:

Colorful veggie and fruit filled cart

  • Proteins: veggie burgers, well-seasoned tofu, lentil burgers, black bean burgers, hummus, eggs, nuts, peanut butter (in moderation, always a challenge for me!), edamame, yogurt, milk, whey protein.
  • Veggie-Centered Dishes: ratatouille, portobello mushroom burgers, portobello fajitas (my friend Jaclyn introduced me to this idea), stir-fry veggies with tofu, spaghetti squash.
  • Good Carbs: sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread/flatbread, fruit.

Where would we be without the internet?!?!?!  A quick google search pulled up thousands of healthy and savory vegetarian recipes.  For example, USA Triathlon just posted two creative salad recipes; this portobello BBQ quesadilla looks pretty tasty; and I will be looking to CookingLight’s ideas and prep suggestions on how to cook tofu – whether I’m cooking it or ordering it in restaurants, I rarely really like tofu; it has to be perfectly seasoned and blend perfectly with the dish.  I’ll be sure to share good recipes!

We start on Monday March 26th!

March 21st, 2012

5-Star At-Home Omelette: You’ll Never Want to Order Another Fatty & Overpriced Restaurant Omelette Again!

Simple, satisfying and savory … The breakfast omelette.  Oh, and did I mention low carb, low calorie and all natural?  That’s right, you can have your cake and eat it too.  My favorite combo includes 1/2 cup eggbeaters, onions, bell peppers, spinach, one light laughing cow cheese wedge, and smoked salmon (all for under 150 calories – believe it!).  Some folks, including my husband K, are reluctant to use eggbeaters as a substitute for eggs.  BUT, even K admits that using eggbeaters in an omelette filled with goodies is an entirely acceptable option.  With that being said, you can still use real eggs.

  • Fully cook chopped onion (about 1/4 onion/person) and bell peppers (fresh or frozen) with cooking spray.
  • Add (fresh or frozen) spinach.  I like adding salt and pepper at this time.  Other great herbs for this recipe include Tarragon or Herbs de Provence.  [TIP: you might need to add more cooking spray to prevent the spinach from sticking.]
  • Once cooked, add 1/2 cup egg beaters.  [TIP:  Cook on low heat to prevent the spinach from sticking to the pan.  Once the edges and underneath layer of eggbeaters starts to harden, gently lift omelette with spatula to allow liquid mixture to flow underneath the omelette - this speeds up coking time.]
  • When the omelette is almost cooked – i.e., the surface is no longer liquid, but still needs about 1-2 minutes – cut the laughing cow wedges in small slices and distribute evenly across half the omelette.  [TIP: Add the cheese in time to let it melt].
  • Finish by adding the smoked salmon to half of the omelette, fold the omelette in half, and let it sit for about 1 more minute.  Voila!

Add Cheese and Salmon to Half

Fold Over and Let Sit for 1 Min

The smoked salmon isn’t something I generally keep on hand (though I’d love to!); you can modify the recipe easily by omitting the salmon or subbing with turkey/chicken sausage, turkey/chicken breast, tofu, or beans for a Mexican-style breakfast option (I also add a little salsa and chili powder for my Mexican-style omelette).

Enjoy :o) !

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March 20th, 2012

San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

I am excited to announce that K and I just registered for a full marathon – the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll 26.2!!!  I’ve been trying to convince him to give one of these endurance challenges a shot and I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed with little persuading required on my part.  In fact, I even gave him a few outs: there is a 13.1 option and I offered to register for another race.  We’re registered and there is no going back now :0) !!

Course: As with most Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon events, there will be live music at every mile.  The course appears relatively flat and with average June weather in the 60s, this might just be the perfect marathon.

Training Program:  I have used Hal Hidgon’s training program for half and full marathons in the past – he provides free programs for various levels.  I’m going with the advanced, which adds interval and tempo runs.  If you are looking to drop speed and switch things up, I highly recommend including these in your training (or running routine, generally).

KC Training Runs: K and I have been doing our long runs around the plaza and trolley trail.  The hills are predictable and manageable, there are bathrooms and water fountains along the way, and we can end the run with a drink and meal at one of the many plaza restaurants.  For interval training, I’m leading a group run at liberty memorial on Monday evenings – you can find a good mix of hills, stairs, and flat surface resembling a track to vary the intervals from week to week.

Goal:  My primary goal is to complete the marathon without experiencing any pain; in particular, shin pain.  I’m taking the time to stretch and use my foam roller during my training – I sure hope it helps!  Time-wise, I’d like to finish in 3:45, but I’ll be happy with anything under 4 hrs.

With spring around the corner, there are so many great runs, triathlons, bike rides, etc. – what fun events do you have planned?!?