Learn how to Relax

relax

 

 

Sometimes I’m so intent on staying healthy by working out and eating right that I end up stressing myself out.  Late evening at school running a club?  Still have to get that workout in.  Running from work to one or two activities after work?  9 p.m workout session right before bed.  Missed a workout through the week?  Schedule a workout for Saturday AND Sunday.

While it’s noble to keep a consistent workout schedule, it can also cause fatigue and injuries.  That’s not a good thing.  Lately I’ve focused on making sure I am getting some relaxation in as well as my workouts.  Here’s some ideas for you to add some relax to your life.

  1. Get some sofa time:  You don’t have to be doing something every single minute of your day.  Five or ten minutes on the sofa won’t kill you.
  2. Escape into a good book: Find one that takes you out of everyday life and into another world.  One of my favorites- The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.
  3. Breathe: Practice deep breathing.  Inhale so your belly rises and falls rather than your chest.  Inhale slowly, hold it for just a second, then exhale slowly.  You can do this anywhere.  Instant relaxation
  4. Watch a good movie/show: With DVR you don’t even have to carve out a huge block of time, you can watch it in small bits and bites.  Combine it with #1. Make it a treat in place of a junk food snack.
  5. Meditate: Find a quiet place, use your deep breathing from #3.  Try to slow your thoughts. Even 10 minutes a day has been shown to improve your mood and decrease anxiety.
  6. Soak in a hot tub: I saved the best for last! This is my new favorite thing to do after a workout.  Get yourself a $5 carton of epsom salts (my massage therapist says it loosens up those sore muscles). Run a hot bath, light some candles, put some yoga music on your smart phone.  I use Songza.  Set a timer and enjoy. Twenty minutes is perfect.

Now here’s the hardest part.  Give yourself permission to relax.  My flawed thought process tells me I’m not worth much it I am not being productive.  In reality, you need to recharge from time to time to improve your productivity.

Want more tips on how to relax?  Read this.

Fitness

The Shorter More Intense Workout Trend

In the last year or so , there has been a switch in the fitness world to shorter, more intense workouts.  Many of the people who joined the P90X and other extreme fitness movements got great results.  They also found that they couldn’t fit hour long workouts into their schedule six days a week for the long term. People still wanted the good results, but they wanted them in a shorter period of time.

 

Enter High Intensity Interval Training and Tabatas type workouts. After all, who doesn’t want good results in a fraction of the time, right?  The at home fitness industry has answered with workouts like T25, Turbofire and P90X3. These are great, but what if you are just starting out? You have to be careful that a more intense workout doesn’t leave you injured.

The key is starting at a lower intensity level and working your way up. If the workout calls for a burpee, for example, there are several different levels you can start at and work your way up.  Most DVD type workouts have one person demonstrating the modified version.  Stick with that until you are fit enough.  Want to put your own workout together or modify a more intense one you already have? Here are several videos I made that demonstrate body weight exercises at several different levels.  Use them to pick the intensity that’s right for you.  Then get more intense as you get more fit!

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Weight Loss; Slow is the Way to Go

 

Who hasn’t settled in to watch at least one episode of “The Biggest Loser”? We are impressed at weigh-in by the huge weight loss numbers earned by the leading contestants. We feel sorry for the poor guy or girl who only lost a pound or two and stands crying on the scales.

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As much as the networks would like us to believe it, this is far from reality.  In real life, slow and steady weight loss will bring you health and success in the end.  Here’s why.

  1. Extreme weight loss actually lowers your metabolism.  Severely restricting your calories makes your body think it is starving and it slows all your metabolic processes down.  When you increase your calories (and you have to eventually), you gain the weight back.  Sometimes you even gain MORE than what you lost originally.
  2. Extreme weight loss tends to burn muscle instead of fat.  Muscle is what burns calories, so refer to number one for what will happen.
  3. Severely restricting your calories can leave you dehydrated, and fatigued. It’s hard to get all the nutrients you need when you cut calories to the bone so you may be left malnourished as well.
  4. EWL can be detrimental to a host of your organs.  It puts stress on your heart, can cause gallstones and affect your brain processes.  The lack of nutrients can mess with your neurotransmitters, which can lead to depression.
  5. If you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs (like calcium) it will take them where it can get them (like from your bones) leaving you at risk for things like bone density problems.

So what is healthy weight loss? The American Council on Exercise recommends one to two pounds per week. No one should restrict their calories to less than 1200 per day. In order to lose those one or two pounds per week, you need to combine calorie reduction and burning extra calories through exercise to make a 500 to 1000 calorie deficit per day.  3500 calories equals one pound.  If you lose weight slowly, you will be doing it by changing your lifestyle (doing something you can sustain over time). You will be much more likely to be able to keep it off.  Here’s a calorie calculator to help you figure out how  many calories you should eat to lose weight the healthy way. Here’s a link  to some videos to give you ideas to easily eliminate a few hundred calories per day.

Have you ever lost a lot of weight only to gain it back?  Have you lost weight and been able to keep it off?  Leave a comment and tell your story!

Exercise, Fitness, Nutrition, Weight Loss , ,

Weight Loss Without the Weirdness

Counting calories annoys me.  It’s time consuming. It’s a lot of guesswork. It’s tedious. If  I stop for any length of time the weight starts creeping, creeping up. Who’s with me? I’m not into deprivation diets. I’m not going to eat cabbage soup for a month. South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers…. they are all hard to stick to for any length of time.  So what’ s the answer?

The more I research and read, the more I am convinced that portion control is the way to go. You can eat the healthiest food on the planet, but if you eat too much of it, you are STILL going to gain weight, slowly but surely. We eat about 100 to 300 calories more or less than we need everyday. If on most days we are going over, we can gain 10 to 30 pounds each year. That’s a lot. Our obesity rate in the US tells us we are usually overeating. We do this without realizing it.

What if we could change some of our habits so that we could usually eat 100 to 300 calories less than we need on most days? By year’s end we would have lost 10 to 30 pounds! The really good news is..you can do this and not really notice that you are eating less.  It just takes some practice. Click here to get four free videos I made that will teach you how to “trick yourself thin” using some pretty common sense behavior changes. Don’t worry, they’re short, easy to understand and easy to put into practice.

mindless eating

To really dive into the subject, the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, PH.D. is a great resource. I found it on amazon.com.

 

 

Nutrition, personal training , ,

Spartan Up! Extreme Racing

If you read anything about fitness trends, you have probably heard of extreme racing.  You cover distances and overcome obstacles.  These obstacles can include large objects to push, pull, climb over or duck under.  There is also usually, mud, water and occasionally even fire involved.  If this sounds like a challenge you would like to accept, take a look at the Spartan Race

Spartan Races are held all over the country. The unique feature of a Spartan Race is the different levels of Spartanism you can achieve. Complete beginner? Join a Spartan workout in your area to prepare.  Then try a Spartan Sprint, a 3+ mile race with 15+ obstacles. Hitting your stride? Try a Spartan Super, which is 8+ miles and 20+ obstacles. A true extreme junkie? Go for the Spartan Beast a 13+ mile race with 25+ obstacles. If you do all three in one calendar year, you can earn your spot in the Trifecta Tribe.

A great Spartan Race opportunity is coming up on October 4, 2014 in Ohio.  A Sprint, Super and Beast event will all be held over one weekend. To help kick the racing season off, the folks at Spartan Race have given me one code, good for FREE entry into any open heat Spartan Race in the continental US. If you would like to enter for a chance to win the code, comment on this post and let me know why you would like to Spartan Up! A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, August 13 (one month from today).

Oh and just in case you aren’t the lucky winner, here’s a code to get a 10% discount when you register for a Spartan Race:  SPARTANBLOGGER

Good Luck and AROO!!

PS A special shout out to my friend Lenny who just finished 7th in his age group at the Pocono, PA Spartan Race.

 

 

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How do I Keep Fitness Fun? Try “1000 Steps”

This past weekend, hubby Bob and I decided to try something we’ve never done before and climb the “1000 steps” on Jack’s Mountain.  This lies between the towns of Huntingdon and Lewistown, PA.  Our motivation was a cooler summer day and the fact that it was on my Summer Bucket List for Mifflin County School District’s Wellness Project.

Hubby Bob starting out.

Hubby Bob starting out.

1000 Steps was quite the workout!  This is not something you want to try if you are a complete couch potato. The steps were originally constructed in 1936 as a “shortcut” commute for sand miners who worked near the top of the mountain. The sand was mined to make silica bricks.  The miners would climb the steps to go to work in the morning and climb down at day’s end.  In between they worked a very physically demanding job.  After completing these steps I have a whole new appreciation for what good shape these workers must have been in. This is approximately an 800+ foot climb up Jack’s Mountain.  The steps are uneven and cut back and forth. This was a nice day.  Imagine commuting in the rain, sleet or snow. Yikessteps2It took about 45 minutes to get to the top.  It was a good cardio workout and the glutes and hip flexers worked hard on the way up. On the way down, it was the quads and hamstrings. It was worth it when we reached the top and saw the great views.   view3   view6   After our climb, we treated ourselves to lunch at Boxer’s Cafe.  This is a local eatery in the town of Huntingdon.  The cafe specializes in homemade food with local organic ingredients. We had sandwiches (a Reuben for Bob and a grilled veggie sandwich for me) and garden salads.  Mine had homemade ginger balsamic dressing.  Everything was delicious.  Boxsers

So to wrap up, we a had a really good workout that was a lot more fun on a Saturday than the usual circuit workout.  We learned some local history, took in some beautiful views and had a delicious locally grown lunch. That’s how to keep fitness fun. How do you inject a little fun into your fitness routine? Let me know below.

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Staying Fit on Vacation-Kayaking

I sure am glad I got started on this blog thanks to #TravelFit2014 and Jennifer Whitehead at the Aria Las Vegas hotel. Otherwise I may not have been as motivated to get this trip arranged. Today we took kayaking trip at Assateague Island. If you are not familiar, this is one of the islands in Maryland and Virginia that are inhabited with wild horses.

We booked our ecotour with Coastal Kayak. Chris and Steffan were our guides. My family and another family on a day trip from Philly were in the group. We had a 45 minute van drive to the island. Steffan is the”lucky guide” and always spots horses when he leads a tour. Luck was with us as soon as we crossed the bridge to the island. There were several horses on the road including the only baby born on the island this year.


We unloaded the kayaks and got underway. The water and the weather were both beautiful. We spotted several native birds to the island and a few crabs in the water. Not long after that we saw a “band” of horses which consists of a male and several females. They were feeding on sea grasses. This is their main diet, along with lots of water since the grass is very salty. Our kayaks were only about ten feet away from the horses. They seem very used to people and watched us about as much as we watched them.


Our kayak trip was about 90 minutes of paddling. This was a good workout for the day. I think we made a convert to kayaking out of hubby Bob. He had never gone before and he was really into spotting all the wild horses.


Before we got back in the van, we had a visit from a lone male horse. He acted like he wanted a food handout. You aren’t allowed to feed the horses so they don’t get dependent on humans for food. The guides told us they get enough food from the campers (they steal it from the campsites just like bears or raccoons). When we didn’t give him treats he lumbered away to see what else he could find.

What a fun day! I would recommend a kayak tour for anyone looking for an active adventure on the water.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Staying Fit on Vacation-Bike Ride to Fenwick Island

Sunday in South Bethany Beach and today is my rest day. Instead of a workout under the beach house, hubby Bob and I wanted to explore on our bikes. We headed to Fenwick Island to see the lighthouse. It was about a four and a half mile ride from our beach house. The guy we rented our bikes from told us bikes are the way to go in this area and he is right. It’s so much fun to take off and ride around finding new places and things. Highway 1 has a bike path for miles.

We rode into the town of Fenwick Island. It is a quaint little seaside town. We decided we would like to come back in September and stay there for a weekend. The lighthouse was neat to see and a pretty cool photo op.
That’s me with the bikes in front of the lighthouse.

 With the help of the “around me” app and google maps, we found Lizzie’s Bistro. It was a very sweet little place to eat. We each had an omelette with some homemade rye toast. The owner even came out and talked to us about his place. That’s hubby Bob posing in the dining room.


On the ride back, we stopped to get some info on the eco-tours at Coastal Kayak. That’s a new fitness adventure for us on Tuesday. Stay tuned! #TravelFit2014

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Stay Fit on Vacation-Fit Star Workout

The fun continues as we start our second week at South Bethany Beach Delaware. Today hubby Bob and I started our day with a Fit Star workout. If you haven’t heard of Fit Star it is a Fitness app you can use on your phone, iPad, computer or other devices. It gives you access to so many workouts. It is hosted by former NFL player Tony Gonzalez. We did a 20 minute body weight workout. I had never done it before and I really liked it.

We hung out and waited for our daughter Marla and her fiance Tony to arrive. After we got them settled in, we headed for the beach. Now we have a house full of younger generation and they are not all into working out in the traditional sense, but they do like to be active on the beach.

Today it was paddle ball…


…and for some reason Dan and Nate like to dig big holes in the sand!

Here’s the video..

Stay tuned for more adventures, brought to you by #TravelFit2014

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Exercise, Fitness , ,

Stay Fit on Vacation-Ride a Bike!

This is my third blog post brought to you by the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas who are sponsoring #TravelFit2014. The folks there have inspired me to blog about how we are staying fit while on our vacation to South Bethany Beach, Delaware.

On Wednesday afternoon, hubby Bob drove down and joined us here on South Bethany Beach. He brought a bunch more exercise equipment (kettlebells, a yoga mat, and his TRX) so now we can do a few more moves in our circuits and we rented bikes to use for next week. There is a bike path all the way up and down Highway 1. We want to ride to shops and restaurants. The bike rental place brought us brand new bikes and they are nice!


This morning we did a twenty minute full body circuit and then headed out on our bikes for Bethany Beach. When we got there we ate at the Penguin Diner for breakfast. I had the “Trainer”, which was egg whites, spinach, mushrooms, a whole wheat pancake and a little dish of yogurt. Yummy and healthy but so much food! I went light for lunch.


We came back and went to the beach. We have had the most beautiful weather so far. I hope it continues for our next week. I didn’t actually take part in this activity, but it looked like a workout. Dan planned out an octopus to make in the sand and spent about an hour shoveling sand to make it. I would have never thought of shoveling the sand away to make the legs. It must be his engineer’s mind that came up with it.


Tomorrow we plan to ride to Fenwick Island. I’ll take lots of pictures!

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