Vacation Fitness

When you are on vacation, sometimes your fitness plans go out the window.

Saturday we travelled from our home in Central PA Sunset Beto the shores of the Carolina Coast.  We spend a relaxing family vacation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina.  Sometimes it’s hard to continue your fitness routine when your regular routine is non-existant.  Here’s some ways I try to stay focused on fitness while I am on vacation.  With a little pre-planning you can too.

While travelling:

  • Pack your own nutritious snacks rather than stopping at convenience stores and loading up on junk.
  • When you take rest breaks, make sure they include a walk around the rest stop and some stretching before you pile back into your car.

At your destination:

  • Plan some fitness activities for your family.  Hikes, kyaking, swimming, walking on the beach and bike rides all count as exercise and will burn some of those extra colories you consume while vacationing.  Have you tried a new fitness activity with the family lately? This is the perfect opportunity to try a climbing wall, whitewater rafting or some other fun yet active outing. 
  • Plan workouts you can do on the go.  That means something you can do that doesn’t require a gym or heavy equipment.  My hubby and I put together some workouts we can do in the parking area under our beach house.  All we need is some space, a stopwatch and some resistance bands.  I am planning to make some of those workouts available here on this website for you to use.
  • Eat as nutritiously as possible.  Buy local produce, whole grains and lean meats to eat at your destination.  When you eat out, remember that there are some very tasty yet nutritious dishes on most restaurant menus.  I brought my Shakeology along on my vacation to have for lunch.  That way I won’t miss out on the nutrients I need to keep me going strong all vacation long!

Physical Fitness Plans

How to Write a Physical Fitness Plan

If you want to reach your goals, you have to have a plan.  It’s the same for fitness.  Here’s how to write a plan to get where you want to go.

  • Include your fitness goals, make them specific and set a date to reach your goal.  An example might be, “By the end of 90 days, I want to be able to lift 100 lbs in the bench press (2 set of 10 reps each).
  • Use the FITT formula:  Frequency (how often you do the activity) Intensity (at what level you will be working) Time (how long you will work out each session) Type (what type of fitness activity you will be doing)
  • Always include a warm-up and a cool down.  A warm up should include a heart warm-up, five to ten minutes of an easy physical activity to get the blood pumping to your muscles.  Then stretch for the muscles you will be using.  A cool down is five to ten minutes of reduced physical activity followed by stretching the muscles you just used.  This lowers your chances of injury and reduces muscle soreness after a workout.
  • Include aerobic exercises three to five times per week.  This would be any type of exercise that would raise your heart rate into your target range.
  • Include resistance exercises.  This would be any type of exercise that would develop muscular strength or muscular endurance. Do resistance exercise two to four days a week with a day of rest in between.
  • Include flexibility training at least once a week.  This would be any type of exercises/stretches that move body parts through a full range of motion.

If this sounds like a lot of work, there are many workout programs available that have done the work for you.  Beachbody has workout programs that include all parts of a fitness plan for every level of fitness.

Fitness for Father’s Day

The author and her dad

Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads.  Being a Dad is an awesome and sometimes frightening responsibility.  You have younger human beings counting on you for food, shelter, love, support and guidance.  Being your best as a dad requires a certain level of fitness. Make a committment today to be fit and healthy for your family.

My dad was a smoker who quit after my sister cut up his cigarettes one night while she cried, “I don’t want you to die daddy, I don’t want you to die!” That was his moment to commit to a healthier lifesyle.  He’s 79 now.  He has survived open heart surgery and colon cancer.  He still goes hunting every Fall and Spring and hikes up and down the mountains of Central PA.  I have no doubt that he would have died long ago, had he not made that commitment that night with my sister crying hysterically at the kitchen table .

So dads, do whatever it takes and give yourself the gift of fitness.  Start today and keep with it daily.  Quit smoking, start walking, join a gym or get a good at-home fitness program.  Be a good role model in this age of obesity and stick around for lots of good times with the family you love!

Fitness Goal Setting: You Can Do More Than You Think

“I could never do that.”

“That would kill me!”

“I’m too (old, out of shape, fat, fill in your own adjective here) to do that anymore.”

I have heard people making these statements when they are considering fitness goal setting in a new fitness program. They take a look at it from the bottom of a very steep hill and the hill just looks too hard for them to climb. Take heart, oh you people of little strength and conditioning!  Your body was made for activity. Your body wants to be strong and healthy. Your brain just doesn’t know it yet.

When you physically challenge your body, it will respond. If you challenge it consistently, you will see gains in muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility.  Challenge means you are going to apply the overload principal.  The overload principal means you are going to make the body work harder than it is used to working.  Does that mean you start out like an Olympic athlete and kill yourself?  No.  Working out like that leads to really sore muscles, injuries and the quick quit which happens to many people who are just starting a program.

To apply the overload principal, you start out at a certain level (depending upon your individual fitness level when your start) and you gradually increase your workout intensity over time.  For example:  Let’s say you need to work on your upper body strength, so you choose to do push-ups.  Let’s say when you start, you can only do 10 modified (on your knees) push-ups with proper form.  For your first three workouts, you do 10 modified push-ups.  During your fourth workout you increase your intensity to 15 modified push-ups. You stay at that level for another 3 workouts.  Now you decide you are ready for push-ups from your toes, but you can only do 8 with good form, so you go to your knees for the remaining 7.  The next week, you increase your intensity to 10 push-ups on your toes and 5 on your knees.  You see how it works?  I’m no youngster anymore and I can do more push-ups (from my toes) than most of the high school students I teach.  I could never do a pull-up in my entire life.  Now I can do two unmodified pull-ups.  Yay me!

Your body will respond to this kind of training and you will be pleasantly surprised at how fast you make gains.  That is incredibly motivating.  The beauty of it is…you can start at any level and increase from there.

Here’s where I stop and tell you that if you have been sedentary, you need to get checked out by a Doc first and get the green light to start exercising.  Safety first!

If you are not sure how to plan this out contact me.  I will be glad to walk you through it. Beachbody also has great programs that apply this principal to each workout.  You can check those out for your fitness level on my “workouts” page.

Now get out there and climb that mountain!  Slow and steady wins the race 🙂



Be More Consistent with Short Workouts


Does this sound like a familiar scenario? You have a crazy day; work, appointments, obligations with kids, supper, clean-up, homework, bedtime. You have no idea how you will fit a workout in so you just skip it for the day. Doctors recommend at least 60 minutes of exercise each day, but studies done at Boston Sports clubs show that people who exercise for shorter periods of time remain more consistent with their workouts. If your day is jam packed you are more likely to stick to your work out if it is shorter.

The recommendation for 60 minutes of exercise can be broken into smaller pieces. You could do two thirty minute workouts or three 20 minute workouts or even six 10 minute workouts and fit them in wherever it made sense. I read about one  professional woman who would do a few minutes of ab or lower body exercises every time she took a bathroom break. She said some of the other people in the bathroom gave her some funny looks, but she was getting results and that’s what really mattered.

A short workout is better than no workout at all. If you only have time for 10 or 15 minutes, do it! It will keep you on track and make you less likely to give up all together. Of course you can always take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car farther away from the entrance when you go anywhere and play with your kids instead of just sending them outside to get your minutes in.

Another option is a workout program designed specifically for busy people. Ten Minute Trainer is a workout program that gives you cardio, total body, upper body, lower body and flexibility training all in ten minute clips. If you have time, you can do two or three, but if you don’t…well everyone can find ten minutes in their day to work out right? I like this one when I don’t have time for my usual workout. That way I can stay..consistent! See the theme? If you think you might be interested in Ten Minute Trainer, watch the video. It’s about 7 minutes long and in that time you could almost have your workout done!


Fast Food and Fitness

My daughter had an interview at a fast food restaurant. The interviewer pointed out the store manager and regional manager during the process. Both were (if I were guessing) obese. I wondered if the company attracted overweight employees, or if employees became overweight while they worked for the company. The perverbial chicken (nugget) or the egg (breakfast sandwich). It started me thinking that these fast food establishments are missing a golden opportunity. Why not offer employees and managers a wellness/fitness program through the company? There would be numerous benefits, but the one that comes to my mind first is that it would be awesome advertising. What if you walked into your local fast food place and all the people behind the counter were fit and healthy looking? Wouldn’t that make you less afraid to eat more of the product? What if they could point you to the healthiest food choices because they were making those choices themselves? Maybe the big fast food restaurants should start thinking seriously about some quality wellness programs for their workers. It would be great advertising.

Childhood Obesity

I am a teacher and it is contract time.  Lately it’s been stressful.  The federal government is not required to balance its budget and has accumulated an enourmous deficit.  State governments and local school districts are required to balance budgets. States are tightening their belts and education is on the chopping block this year.

Last week our school district voted to cut all specials from the elementary school in order to lessen an 8 million dollar budget deficit.  “Specials” include Art, Music and Physical Education.

Art and Music are bad enough, but Physical Education in an era when childhood obesity is a problem we hear about almost daily in the news?  When the percentage of overweight adults stands at 65% and the obesity rate for children stands at 25%?  When study after study shows that students who participate PE on a regular basis score higher on the standardized tests that the federal government requires for No Child Left Behind?  Really?

It’s hard enough  to beat back the media messages of junk food and sedentary entertainment.  If we don’t have the 30 minutes, twice a week to counteract those messages, how will we ever ingrain the love of a healthy lifestyle into our younger generation?

That’s why this website has become even more important to me than ever before.  This is where I will continue to get the message of exercise, fitness and nutrition to you through great information and exercise and nutrition programs that I believe in.  YOU can make a healthy lifestyle a priority for you and your family even if the government does not.

What are your thoughts on cuts to physical education in public schools around the country?

Muscular Endurance

Remember the last time you went for that very first jog when you weren’t in shape yet?  Remember how after a while your legs felt like lead and didn’t want to take another step?  Now think about that same jog about a month into your daily exercise routine.  Your legs felt stronger and less fatigued didn’t they?  You were improving muscular endurance.

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to continue to perform without fatigue.  Many repititive fitness activities will improve muscular endurance.  Riding a bike, swimming, spinning classes, running, and certain types of calesthentics will all improve muscular endurance if they are performed on a regular basis.  If you are weightlifting, using lighter weights while increasing repetitions will improve muscular endurance, while lifting heavier weights at decreased repetitions will increase muscular strength. What’s your favorite way to improve your muscular endurance?

Muscular Strength

Do you want to be able to do your favorite physical activities without tiring out right after you start?  Do you want to be leaner? (more muscle/less fat) Do you want better posture? Do you want to have less chance of injury? Sure you do!  Muscular strength is defined as the amount of force a muscle can produce in a single effort.  You can improve muscular strength by getting involved in strength training exercises.  Ladies:  Strength training will not turn you into a giant walking muscle.  It will replace those flabby places you don’t like with more muscle mass.  Guys:  Strength training will bring you quick and very visual results that I’m sure you will like.

You can strength train by using free weights (dumbbells and barbells), weight machines (check out your local gym), or your own body weight (crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, leg raises etc.)  You can also use a combination of these in your training routine.

When you start a fitness program it’s so so important to work on muscular strength as well as cardiorespiratory endurance.  Two of my favorite fitness programs that incorporate strength training into an overall fitness program are Beachbody’s P90X and ChaLean Extreme.  These programs include cardio, strength training, muscular endurance and flexibility with a progressive plan to improve your fitness level.  What are some strength training programs you think are effective?

My Five Fave Flexibility Exercises

Good flexibility will prevent injuries and keep your lower back happy and healthy.  Here’s five of my favorites.  These are the ones that make you go “ahhh…” after you have completed them.

1.  Cross Foot Hamstring stretch This one will stretch your upper back, lower back and your hamstrings.  You get three stretches in one.

Stand straight and cross your feet. Slowly roll each vertebrae down as you reach for your toes.  Let your body hang and look at your legs (or knees depending on your flexibility level).  Breathe deeply. Now slowly roll back up, one vertabae at a time.  Cross your feet the other way and repeat.

2.  Shoulder Stretch This feels great after an upper body workout.

Hold your right arm up and straight, bring your arm across your body and hug it to your body with your left arm.  Put your chin on your shoulder and hold.  Repeat with your left arm.

What are your favorite flexibility moves?

3.  Seated Leg Hamstring Stretch If I am having twinges in my lower back I do a few of these and it usually disappears.

Sit on the floor with your right leg straight and your left leg bent (your legs form a number four) With your back straight, raise arms then lower while reaching for your toes.  Think about bringing your ribcage as close to the thigh as possible.  Breathe deeply while holding the stretch. Repeat with the left leg.  Now extend both legs and repeat the stretch reaching for both feet.  If you are able to reach to your heels easily, add a yoga block.

4.  Pigeon Pose This is a Yoga Stretch that really opens up your hips.

Put your palms on the floor about shoulder width apart. Bring right leg through and sit on the floor with your knee bent.  The right side of your foot and leg should be on the floor.  Extend your left leg behind you.  Hold this position then repeat with right and left leg switched.

5.  Child’s Pose This is a great stretch after ab and core work.

Kneel on the floor and extend both arms, palms down on the floor in front of you.  Put your forehead on the floor and breath. Ahhh….