Online Fitness Coaching: Level Up! With Slimkicker

We could all use a little motivation to stay on track when trying to eat healthy and exercise. For all you techies, a new website and iphone/ipad app is ready to help you stay on track. The folks at Slimkicker.com asked me to review their new website and app and let you know what I think.

Slimkicker is a website and app where you can keep track of your food intake and exercise calorie output.  Nothing new.  There are lots of websites and apps that do this.  The difference?  Slimkicker is designed to work like a video game. As you record what you eat and what your workout is each day, you earn points. The points move you to different “levels”.

Now I liked this idea because I have always been a health nut and always been pretty much the same weight. So the sights that emphasize weight loss just are not for me. This one intrigued me so I joined.

Features

Track Food: Record what you eat by searching for the food item and entering the food amount.  It will keep track of the  calories you have consumed and compare that to your preset calorie goal according to height, weight, exercise levels and amount of weight you want to lose or  gain.

 

Track exercise: You can record the calories you expend during exercise by entering the types and amounts of activities you take part in each day. There is a large data base of exercises you can search to record what you have done.

Challenges:  This is my favorite part.  There are a huge amount of challenges you can join that help you reach your health and fitness goals.  Get points for checking in each day the challenge progresses.  There are fitness and diet challenges as well as others.  I joined the “Beauty Sleep” challenge.  It’s a seven day challenge to help you get to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual.  So far it has helped me get in bed before 11 p.m. each nite this week. There are also some challenges you can join that offer a chance to win prizes (like $100 gift cards) to people who finish.

Social Sharing: You can friend other members within the group and comment on their status updates and check-ins.  You can really support each other during your fitness journey.  There are lots of groups you can join to connect with like minded people.  I joined a beta tester group to give suggestions to make the site even better.

Rewards:  You can select and share what reward you will give yourself when you level up.  When I reached level two I downloaded an MP3 from Florence and the Machine.  When I leveled up to #3 I treated myself to a movie night and we watched “The Help” at our house. Haven’t decided what to reward myself with for level 4.  Any suggestions??

Things I’m hoping to see at Slimkicker soon

  • A barcode scanner in the track foods area.  It makes recording your calories so much easier
  • I use DVD programs to exercise like P90X,  Zumba etc.  It would be nice if they were in the exercise area to choose from.
  • A way to connect with friends you make in Slimkicker via facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
  • An app for my Android phone please!

Take a look at Slimkicker at http://www.slimkicker.com or download the app if you have an Iphone/pad.  Then comment here on how you like it.

Online Fitness Coaching: A (Healthy) Trip to Pittsburgh

This past weekend we combined a trip to see our daughter in Pittsburgh with a trip to the Apple store in Shadyside to get an iPad 3 (yippee!) Since hubby and I are trying to keep it on the healthy side we combined (kind of) skinny dining out, exercise and walking. We didn’t leave until early Saturday morning so I got my ChaLean Extreme weightlifting in on Friday night.  I took my water bottle in the car and made sure I packed two Pure Protein bars to ward off those nasty Sheetz convenience store snacks.

We were at at my daughter Marla’s house in about three hours and from there we walked to the Apple store. It was close to her house in a funky little neighborhood filled with boutiques, shops and restaurants.  I sat in on an iPad basics workshop while hubby talked business with an Apple “genius”. If you have never shopped at an Apple store, it’s a pretty positive experience. Within about an hour we had purchased an iPad 3, had it all set up to use and knew the basics on how to operate it. (Stay tuned for reviews on health and fitness apps for you to try.)

After our big purchase, we all headed for Mercurio’s, a cute little restaurant just around the corner. They serve salads, sandwiches and pizza cooked in a wood fired oven. I ordered a “fungi”. It had mushrooms, marinara, fresh mozzarella and a tasty thin crust. We treated ourselves to some gelato, a Mercurios special. It had half the butter fat of ice cream and was delicious.

Now it was time to check in to our hotel and hit the gym for a workout. The kids decided to hang out in the room and relax. Hubby brought a circuit workout from his trainer. I decided to take advantage of the really nice gym and did 40 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes on the recumbent bike. Now we were ready for our complimentary free drink!

Next we headed for an old school restaurant in Greentree Marla found on the Internet. It was decorated in warm wood and featured Italian food. I had pasta in vodka sauce (ok not real healthy but definitely delicious). After dinner we hung out together in our room. Since I rarely sit still at work or home, this was heavenly.

Sunday was brunch at the Cheesecake Factory with my college roomie, Wanda. She and I both opted for the energy breakfast: egg whites, chicken breasts and mushrooms. Yum.  After some relaxing and lots of great conversation, it was time to head back home.  Hubby and I had a (mostly) healthy weekend, a great visit with our daughter and my roomie and a new tech toy to play with.  What could be better?

Online Fitness Coaching: Beginner’s Workout

Hey all! Just surfing around Pinterest today.  I’m home early from work prepping for a colonoscopy (yuck) and trying to take it easy.  Hey it’s all for healthier living, right?  Anyway..here’s a 30 day fitness plan for those of you who might be starting out from complete scratch.  Maybe you have not exercised for a long time and you need to start over.  It’s never a good idea to come out like a house on fire, overdo it and quit because you are too sore to walk for three days.  Print this out and put it on your fridge.  Follow it for 30 days and see how much better you feel.  While you’re at it, skip over to my “nutrition” tab and check out Shakeology.  They can both get you started on the right foot! Have a great weekend.

 

Online Fitness Coaching: My First Live Zumba Class

If you have not tried a Zumba class yet, it’s time to get your booty shakin’ to a live class near you. This is some of the most fun you can have while exercising.  I am fairly new to Zumba. I got the DVD “Exhilarate” this past Christmas and started doing a ChaLean Extreme/Zumba hybrid for my home workout.

The “Learn” DVD is like gold in my book because it teaches all the basic Latin dance steps in a very easy to follow format. After I had those mastered, I worked my way through the “Activate”, “Rush”, and “Exhilarate” DVDs. Each is a different length and intensity level. The music is great in all three and the instructors are easy to follow.

Armed with a free Zumba class I headed to Karina Nunez’s studio to “join the party”!  I pulled into the parking lot with my take-out from McDonald’s (really busy week, ok) I hoped none of the other class members saw me chowing down on snack wraps. I went in and introduced myself to Karina. I saw Steph, another mom I knew from our daughters’ preschool days. I started to feel more comfortable.  When the music started it was GREAT and loud which was super motivating for me. Karina was a really enthusiastic instructor. I am sure I never look that happy when I’m exercising even though I feel that way on the inside. I found I knew all the steps from the DVDs so I could just concentrate on having fun.

After class I got a chance to talk to Karina. She is originally from Venezuela and moved to our small PA town with her husband and daughters. At first Karina bought the “Exhilarate” DVDs and worked out with them. She loved the rhythm of the music and soon she wanted to become an instructor. She found a training about an hour from home and became certified. She started teaching classes at the YMCA and later switched to a studio that could hold more students.

“What I love best about teaching Zumba is that our class has become like a family. We come from all different ages and stages in our lives and we have formed a real bond,” Karina said. “That’s the kind of thing Zumba can do for people.”

Online Fitness Coaching: Get Your Zzzzz’s!

Happy Weekend!  On the exercise and  fitness front today, I took a three mile walk to get ready to walk a 5K.  It was another perfect day for a long walk.  Then I came home and did ChaLean Extreme.  I’m on the lean circuit now and that one is the most intense.  You get a weight and core workout at the same time.  It really has increased my metabolism. My weight is consistently 3 lbs. lighter since I increased my weights during this round. Woo hoo!

I had a whirlwind Thursday and Friday.  Our family hosted a choir member from Hofstra University Thursday night.  My daughter, Katie is in the Choir at her high school and the Hofstra choir came and workshopped with them, did a concert that evening and left the next morning. I got up extra early to take Leah (who sang beautifully by the way) to catch her bus.  I worked all day, then changed clothes and drove an hour and a half to see “Menopause the Musical” with  some gal pals.  The show was an absolute hoot!  If you are female and over forty, you owe it to yourself to see this one.

I didn’t get home until 12:30 p.m. and had to wake my daughter at 3:30 a.m. (I know get the toothpicks for the eyelids) to go on a bus trip to NYC to see “Sister Act”.  Needless to say, I am feeling a little bit sleep deprived today.  Thought this would be a good time to share an infographic from frugaldad.com on the dangers of sleep deprivation.  Studies show if you average only 5 1/2 hours of sleep per night in a year, you will also average a 12 pound weight gain? YIKES  Another good reason to get your Zzzz’s

sleep

Source: http://frugaldad.com

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Tough Love

Happy Easter weekend everybody.  I hope you are having a great one.  I spent the weekend with family and friends.  Our grown-up kids had a great time in an extreme egg hunt at my parents house.

Hubby and I took a three mile walk after church this morning.  We are getting ready for a 5k walk coming up in June. The weather was perfect for a long walk; sunny but cool.

I tried a new recipe from Skinnytaste.com for our Easter dinner.  I made Skinny stuffed mushrooms.  I opted for feta cheese instead of bacon since two other dishes at our buffet style dinner were made with bacon.  They turned out delicious and at only 35 calories each, the guilt factor was pretty low.

This is what they looked like before I baked them in the oven for 20 minutes.  There weren’t any left when we came home from my mom’s.

Last week I went to a spaghetti dinner to support my sister’s relay for life team.  They were raffling off several prizes.  You bought raffle tickets and put them in bags for different prizes you wanted to win.  I won a free Zumba class.  The reason I won?  I put my ticket in the bag and there were only two other tickets in the Zumba bag.  The other prizes were things like whoopie pies, movie treat baskets and things for your home.

 

I’ve decided it’s time for a  little fitness coach tough love.  Why were the whoopie pies the popular raffle items and the exercise classes the unpopular ones?  Beacause most of us would rather choose the easy, no work, sugar treat that won’t give you any benefit in the long run than the prize that requires a little effort from the winner, but is a lot more beneficial in the long run.

Most of us say we want to get healthy by eating right and exercising, but when it comes time to do the work to get there we have a hundred excuses.  We spend lots of time talking ourselves out of exercising and eating healthy.  We spend even more time making excuses for overeating and sitting on our butts.  If you want to be healthy, if you want to get strong, if you want to look good, if you want to lower your cholesterol, if you want to get off the meds, if you want to take the stress off your joints, you have to do the work.

There is no magic pill, there is no operation or gadget that makes it easy.  You have to take the time and make the commitment.  You have to do the work.  And guess what?  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes time.  If you decide to make the change to be healthy and see it through, you will feel so much better, both inside and out, but YOU have to do the work.  So if you are ready..what are you waiting for?  Get busy..no excuses..GO!

 

 

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Featured Blog

The featured blog for the first week in April is Carrots N Cake.  Tina writes this blog from her home in Boston, Massachussets.  She originally started it as a personal journal to keep her focused on healthy eating and exercise.  The blog caught on and has a large readership.  She also recently secured a book deal based on her blog.  What I like abou this one is the variety of fitness and food info. you can find on here.  It’s vast!

She’s got weekly meal plans, weekly workout plans, a half marathon training guide and treadmill workouts.  She has 30, count ’em, 30 different blog categories.  The cool thing about them is they are health and fitness based, but there’s more that gives you a peek into Tina’s very busy life.  You can check out “Boston” where you get a glimpse into the excitement of Boston Marathon day and what it’s like at “Local 149” a downtown eatery where Tina and her husband head for date night. Click on “Home” and you can follow along while Tina updates her home office.

This is a blog to go back to again and again, because you will always find something new to motivate you in your fitness journey.  Check out Carrots N Cake and tell me what you think.

Online Fitness Coaching: Walking My Way Through a 5K

I’ve done a lot of blogging about setting goals when making your fitness plan.  Helping people set goals is a big part of online fitness coaching.  I feel like it’s time for me to set a new goal for myself.  I’m feeling the need to have something new just over the horizon to get ready for.  If I have an event coming up, it will help me keep working out and staying in shape.

So….this summer I am going to sign myself up for two 5Ks.  One is called the Train Wreck Trek and it is run on a railroad bed (no rails anymore) in the tiny town of Reedsville.  The other one is in Southport, SC.  It will be held over the Fourth of July Weekend.  Unlike most folks who take part in 5ks, I will be walking.  I am just not a runner, but I love to walk.  I haven’t done anything of this length since I use to take part in the 12 mile walk-a-thons for hunger in the 70’s.  Yes I have just dated myself!

canine walking buddy
My daily walking buddy, Mocha.

My usual fitness routine is weightlifting 3 days per week, cardio twice a week and an ab rountine once a week.  I walk my dog almost every day for at least 20 minutes.  I spend an hour or two each week ballroom dancing.  I am in pretty good shape so I don’t think I will have any trouble walking a 5K.  I do want to start getting a long walk in once a week.  I need to get a baseline time and see if I can improve on that to be “race ready” in June.

Success!  My goal is now in writing and I have told others about it.  It’s your job to keep me accountable!  I’ll be updating with posts on my progress from time to time.  Have you ever walked a 5K?  What tips do you have for me?

Online Fitness Coaching: Fitness Challenge Ideas

In my last post I showed you how to start a private fitness group on facebook.  So now that you have a group, what the heck are you going to do with it?  Here’s some ideas for challenges.  The goal is to keep your members excited and motivated to work out and eat well.

The first thing we did as a group was to set weekly goals and post our progress.  Each member had different goals.  Just putting them in writing and declaring them to a group of people makes it more likely that we will reach them.  It’s a bonus that we get feedback as we make progress.  We also get encouragement if we fall short or get frustrated.

A challenge we did early on was a  water challenge.  We each figured out how much water we should drink each day according to our weight (the rule of thumb is half your weight in ounces).  I needed about 64 oz. Then we posted if we made the goal or not.  I tried harder to get to 64 oz. during the two weeks we did this and I know I am still drinking more water now.  It has become a habit. A good one. 🙂

Next came the points challenge.  This has been really popular!  Sharon, one of my group members had a chart that assigned a point value to different intensities of exercise. We earn points depending on what workout we do and how many minutes we spend at it.  We have done two of these so far.  The first challenge featured 2 teams of 12 people.  The second had 6 teams of 4 people.  They both lasted for 30 days.  Members posted their points for each day in our group and I added them up using a spread sheet. (Thanks to my computer hubby for setting it up for me!)  You cannot believe how competitive this got.  After the first challenge I had several members message me to thank me and tell me how much weight they had lost.  They said they would not have stuck with it had it not been for the extra motivation of the points challenge.

We are now in the middle of “The Stupendous Chase” loosely based on “The Amazing Race”.  I mapped out a route using Google maps from the Central PA to Key West.  We are taking the round-a-bout way with stops in ten major cities.  We are using the same point system to “travel”.  One point equals one mile.  This challenge is being done in partners.  Both partners need to get to each city using their points and then must do some type of challenge.  Here’s some examples:  In Washington DC, we had to go to the American Ice Company in Georgetown (via website) and order menu items that were preselected.  Each team had to send me the bill with 15% tip included.  If they sent the correct amount, they had completed the challenge.  In Virginia Beach each team had to take part in a water sport of their choice and post a picture to the site.  The best one was Nancy’s picture.  She stood in the creek behind her house pretending to water ski.  I laughed when I saw it until I almost fell out of my computer chair.

I will be travelling quite and bit this summer and will need to come up with some challenges that won’t require keeping track of points.  So far I think I will do “Fantastically Fit Friends, where are you?”  Everyone will get a little FFF poster to hold in pictures where they are doing fitness activities away from home.  They will post the picture with a little discription of the activity.  Another idea is “virtual fitness field trips”.  Any member can set up a field trip.  Let’s say my hubby Bob wants to try a spinning class at the local YMCA.  He posts it as an event on the group site.  Anyone who is local can go with him.  Anyone from out of the area can go to one where they live.  Then they can post in the site and compare notes.

Do you have some novel ideas for fitness challenges that you could use in a private Facebook group?  Post them here!  We could end up with a giant brainstorming session and ALL end up with some great new ideas.

 

Online Fitness Coaching: Featured Blog of the Week

The featured blog for the first week of March is Fit Bottomed Girls.  This is a great blog for a number of reasons.  First, it’s not just a blog by one person, it’s a blog by four people. Jennipher Walters and Erin Whitehead are the original founders.  They were later joined by Tish Merritt and Kristen Seymour.  They are all journalists with a passion for fitness.  Second, you could literally spend hours surfing this site.  There is a wealth of information from exercise DVD reviews, nutritious recipes, and words of encouragement to workout playlists and give-aways. Whether you are just getting started in the world of fitness, or you are a seasoned veteran, Fit Bottomed Girls is a great blog to put on your go-to list.