Do a Spartan Race in 2015!

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A new year is a chance to try something new, to challenge yourself, to step up your game. If you are into extreme racing, my friends at Spartan Racing are offering tons of things to make this your best extreme racing year ever.

  • They are introducing the Annual Race Pass.  For one fee you can enter any race, any time and race any heat at no extra charge. Plus you’ll get extra perks when you travel to a race like free bag check, discounts on hotels, rental cars and more.
  • The spectacular Spartan World Championship is slated for October in Lake Tahoe . This year, over $500,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded.
  • The Spartans will be taking A CRUISE March 6-9.  It leaves Miami and heads to the Bahamas for a tropical Spartan Sprint.  There will be $50,000 in prizes. You will get the chance to meet the founder and CEO of Spartan Racing, Joe Desana on the ship and listen to expert speakers as you make your way to the race site. Once there, make new friends at the Spartan Party on the Beach. Then get ready! Your kids can compete in the free kids course and you can test your grit on Spartan Racing’s exclusive island course.
  • 2015 introduces the Spartan podcast. Founder Joe Desana travels the globe to interview leaders in the worlds of publishing, academics, business, athletics and high adventure to uncover the secrets to success in life. Biggest news?  It’s free! All you have to do is sign up to get advice from some pretty heavy hitters.

To get even more information, or to sign up for races, the cruise, podcast or annual pass. go to spartanracemedia.com. Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I have another race code to give away so you can compete in a Spartan Race for FREE! Leave a comment on this post telling us what Spartan Race activity you are going to challenge yourself with during 2015. One lucky winner will be chosen on January 31.

Plus, here’s a discount code to get you 10% off when you register for your next Spartan Race.  The code is SPARTANBLOGGER.  Have an extreme 2015!

How to Lose the Christmas Weight

The hard core holiday party circuit has begun.  I don’t know about you, but I gain more weight that needs to come off between Thanksgiving and New Years than I do any other time of the year. Holidays mean sticky gooey sugar laden simple carbs, special holiday drinks and high calorie casseroles.  You know the drill. I cringe at the trip to the scales.

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So what to do when the parties stop and you want to get back to normal?  My answer to fastest excess weight loss (at least for me) is to cut way back on the simple carbs.

Here are two recipes that you can try for  dinner that could help.  The key is lean protein and vegetables.  Ax the bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, at least for the short term.  Serve meat with vegetables and a salad for dinner.  You will feel satisfied and you will be happier the next time you step on the scales.

Bar-g-q chip baked chicken (this one is my own creation)

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You will need:

1 package of chicken parts

1 bag Cape Cod Chips (the 40% less fat version)

2 Tbsp bar-b-q powdered seasoning (I used Hartley’s bar-b-q seaoning)

One cup fat free milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Skin the chicken parts, set aside
  3. Crush the potato chips. I used a food processor, then finished with my wooden meat tenderizer. Put the chips in a shallow bowl
  4. Add the bar-b-q seasoning to the crushed chips
  5. Coat each chicken part with milk
  6. Roll in the chip mixture and place in a baking dish
  7. Bake the chicken for one hour

Serve the chicken with a romaine lettuce salad and a fresh or frozen vegetable of your choice.

Grilled Marinated Steak (get more great recipes like this at eDiets.com)

You will need: (per person)steak

3 oz of sirloin beef

3 tsp of balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic

2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 1/2 tsp of olive oil

  1. Mince garlic
  2. Combine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, onion powder, black pepper and garlic in a shallow pie plate or dish
  3. Add steak and marinate, refridgerated, for about 30 minutes, turning meat once
  4. Preheat grill or broiler and cook steak on highest oven rack for 4-6 minutes
  5. Turn, brush with remaining marinade an grill 3 to 4 minutes
  6. Serve with your favorite fresh salad with a clear dressing

Do you have any suggestions for dropping the Christmas weight?  Please share!
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How Can I Work Out When I’m So Busy?

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Whew!  The weeks between Christmas and New Years are killer on my workout routine.  It’s tough to squeeze in workouts between shopping and making gifts, family get-togethers, parties with friends, work obligations, travelling, concerts, plays and volunteering. (That exhausted me just rereading all that stuff!)  It would be so easy to just scrap it till after the New Year.

BUT this is when I need my workouts most.  All this extra activity means added stress, not to mention extra calorie intake. So.. here’s the plan.  I’ll need to chunk my workouts. I may need to squeeze it in at 15 minute increments throughout the day. I may need to do a mini workout during my plan period at school.

Here’s just one example:  I usually do a strength workout 2 times per week.  It lasts about 40 minutes.  I do a 5-10 minute warm-up.  That’s followed by three sets of 2 strength moves, then 3 sets of two new moves, then 3 sets of a third pair of moves. I finish up with 8 minutes on the stationary bike and about a 5-10 minute cool down.

On these busy days that same workout may look more like this:  A 2 minute warm-up first thing in the morning, 3 sets of 2 strength moves, a quick stretch and I’m off to work.  During plan period at school, I squeeze in another quick warm-up and 3 more sets of two new moves, cool down, then get ready for my next class.  Then after work, I get the third set in, take the dog for a quick walk around the block and cool down with some stretches before we head out to a Christmas party.

If you need some ideas on squeezing your workouts in during these busy times, check out these 15 minute workouts.  Pick the one(s) that suit you best.  Want to work out around the commercials during all those Hallmark Channel Christmas movies?  Try these 30 second commercial length workouts.

Thanks Tony Horton!

Have some good ideas for working out during busy times?  Please share!

How To Vary Your Workout

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Are you getting everything into your workout that you need? Did you know that to be healthy you need to do cardio, strength training and flexibility?  You have to mix it up. it keeps your heart, lungs and muscles strong and flexible.  You need it all.

I recently finished a round of PiYo.  It’s a program I really like, but I do need to change it up after 8 weeks.  Here’s a sample of my weekly schedule.  I try to cover, cardio, strength,  and flexibility.  I have incorporated one day where I can put any workout in that I would like.  Trying something new each week keeps me motivated to keep working out.

Monday:  PiYo workout (strength, flexibility, cardio)

Tuesday:  Strength workout, concentrating on back  (there are a lot of push-ups in PiYo) and legs.

Wednesday:  Elliptical and stationary bike (cardio)

Thursday: Strength workout (a different one from Tuesday focusing on the same muscles)

Friday:  PiYo workout (strength, flexibility, cardio)

Saturday:  This is the day reserved for any new or interesting workout I would like to try.  So far, I’ve tried Turbo Fire Low HIIT 20 and an ACE stability ball workout.  They were both fun and I looked forward to them once I picked them.

Sunday:  Rest day. If I have to skip a different day during the week, I use Sunday as a make-up day.

So within 30 to 45 minutes per day, I can keep my entire body healthy and have a different workout every time I step into my home gym.

How do you vary your workouts?

PiYo Review

 

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About 10 weeks ago, I started a new home workout program called PiYo. I told myself I would do a review here when I had completed the program so here it is!

The Pros

  1. It starts you out slowly– The first three weeks get you started with lower intensity workouts.  These workouts are the building blocks, strengthening your muscles for the higher intensity workouts that begin to be included in week four. By week five the workouts are more intense, but your body is ready for it.  This cuts down on the muscle soreness which causes you to walk strangely, especially up and down steps!
  2. There are built in modifications– I have been working out consistently for a long time.  If this was my very first workout experience, even the low intensity workouts could have been a challenge.  Chalene Johnson planned for this and has a class member demonstrate modifications for every exercise.  You can follow the modifications until you’re ready for a little more intensity.
  3. No equipment needed-None, zero, nada. Every exercise is done with your own body weight.  This is good news for your bank account.
  4. No/low impact-If you don’t want all the joint jarring jumping in your workout, but still want the intensity, PiYo is it.
  5. Keeps you flexible and well balanced–  If you are getting older (and who isn’t?) these yoga inspired workouts will keep Father Time from robbing you of these two important body qualities.
  6. Fun-I get bored with the same old, same old.  This is something different and challenging.

The Cons

  1. Lack of upper body pulling movements– The upper body exercises have to rely on pushing movements only, mainly because there is no equipment (see pro #3). This can leave you with tight pecs and rounded shoulders.  See my post next week to see how I compensated for this.
  2. A lot of sweating when you are upside down- (downward dog position).  Highly uncomfortable.  Keep a towel handy that you can grab quickly.
  3. Hard to see the instructor when you are upside down-  Make sure you WATCH the Allign video first and then try the exercises. Watching each of the videos before you actually try them would be helpful too.

The really good thing about PiYo is there are live classes all over the country.  If you are not sure you would like this program, go to a local fitness center that offers PiYo classes and try a few.  If you like the live classes, the PiYo basic workout is a great buy.  I got mine for under $50.  I get a discount because I’m a coach, but the regular price is beween $50 and $60.  Once you have it, you can use it forever…or at least until your DVD player breaks down!

Let me know what YOU think of PiYo after you try it.

Why do YOU Exercise?

When most people start an exercise program, the reason they give is “to lose weight”.  It’s no wonder. Our culture is obsessed with thinness and equates being thin with being happy.

If you ask someone who has made exercise and fitness a part of their lifestyle, you will get a very different answer.  Did you know that money, looks and status contribute to only 10% of our happiness?  (Idea Fitness Journal, “The Skinny on Happiness”)

A long-term exerciser will have other reasons as to why they continue to work out. They feel healthier, more relaxed or less stressed.  They have more energy, more focus, are more productive at work. They can keep up with their kids or grandchildren.  They experience a reduction in chronic pain. They are training for a future fitness event. They have made a new set of friends they enjoy.  And the list can go on.

Here’s just one example of the  reasons I exercise almost every day.  On October 18th, my oldest daughter got married.  We have been planning and preparing for this day for almost a year.  The weekend involved a trip to Pittsburgh for my side of the family.  On Saturday morning, I woke up with an overabundance of energy.  I’m not one to show my excitement on the outside.  It all builds up on the inside.  By 7 a.m. I felt like I was about to jump out of my skin.

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Thank goodness the hotel had a nice size gym.  A half hour on the elliptical and the stationary bike and I was much calmer.  Good thing..as later in the day we were stuck in a traffic jam getting back from hair and make-up and it was touch and go on the decision about an outdoor service.  Thanks to my workout, I was able to stay much calmer and really enjoy such an important day.

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So what are YOUR reasons for working out regularly?  If you  haven’t started yet, why do you want to get started? #notjustweightloss

6 Ways to Relax

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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.

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!

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!
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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.