Exercise and Fitness: Mountain Hike Workout 3

I am really loving these mountain hike intervals and now I have my hubby hooked on them too. Last week, we did one on the battlefield in Gettysburg.  We were staying close to Culp’s Hill in a B&B called the Farnsworth House. We walked out the door, across the street and in a few minutes we were on the battlefield. The hilly terrain made it a great workout.  When we were done, we took in a little history of the three day Gettysburg battle.

The Gettysburg battlefield at the end of our hike.

This morning we hiked on Stone Creek Road.  It was all uphill during the 30 minute interval. I was breathing as hard as I used to when I ran in the mornings.  It was a much more beautiful walk than the 2 miles around my neighborhood.  We had a crisp, cool early fall morning. I can’t wait to try in again when the leaves start to turn colors.

Here’s some of the exercises we used during the 30 second “work” phases:

Burpees with a vertical jump, skips, basketball lunges, push-ups, defensive slides, speed squats, inchworm,  and walking lunges.

Hopefully I’ll be able to upload a video soon with the exercise we use during the work phases so you can make up your own mountain hike interval!

Color Me Rad 5K in Pittsburgh

This past Saturday, my sister and I decided to have one last hurrah before the summer ended.  We signed up to walk in the Color Me Rad 5K in Pittsburgh.  For all you 5k lovers, here’s a rundown of what it was like.

This 5k is not really for serious runners. A quote from the promoters info. packet said “we don’t even own a clock”. It is for anyone who wants to come out and have a healthy, fitness oriented party  without the alcohol.  We arrived at 7:30 a.m. The music was already pumping and the promoters were whipping the crowd into a frenzy.  At the start line, there was more music while color packets and t-shirts were being shot from a gun.

We started in waves every 10 minutes (at least 100 people to a wave) and this went on most of the day. There had to have been at least 10,000 people at this event. We were a sea of white when we started, but at each of the color stations, volunteers dubbed the “color bomb squad” blasted you with colored cornstarch powder or a water/powder mixture.  On this warm day, the water stations were welcome relief. The course was very hilly (another drawback for serious runners, no PRs here). It  was crowded so sometimes you had to stop and wait your turn to go through a color station. This didn’t bother me at all since all the Pittsburgh hills were giving us a good workout. I even saw a former student in the race.  I don’t know how in the world she recognized me with a rainbow of colors all over me, but anyway here’s a shout-out to Amy Mack!

At the conclusion of the race, you got your own color packets to bomb people who were still finishing the course.  Our “after” pictures are quite colorful. If you ever do a CMR run, make sure to bring old sheets or towels to cover your car seats.  You will not be a happy camper if you don’t! They remind you to bring some in your pre-race packets.

It was touch and go getting out of the parking lot. There were not nearly as many folks directing traffic on the way out as there were on the way in.  This is a problem the promoters say they will work on for next year’s run. Back at the hotel it was scrub-a-dub-dub to get all the powder off before heading home to Central PA. On Sunday we soaked our tie dyed clothes in vinegar and ironed them to set the colors.

This was a fun way to end our summer for sure.  In the fall Pittsburgh is hosting a Zombie run.  Hmmm… Have you participated in any out-of-the-ordinary 5ks/runs? Fill me in!

Fitness: Over 40? You Should Be Weight Training

Male or female, if you are over 40, you should be weight training.  Working with heavier weights to build muscle is preferable to light weights and many reps.  Here’s ten reasons why you should pick up the weights and start building some muscle.

  1. Resistance training with heavy weights builds muscle mass.
  2. Muscle mass increases your metabolic rate.  That means you will burn calories at a higher rate, not just while you are exercising, but all day long.  Even while you are sleeping you will burn more calories. (definitely cool)
  3. Weight training makes your bones stronger and wards off osteoporosis. Increased strength can keep you from having a painful fall that could break brittle bones.
  4. Strength training reduces your risk of injury.
  5. Resistance training increases your stamina.
  6. The aches and pains associated with aging will be reduced.
  7. Strength training can save you money in the long run. Staying strong keeps chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis and chronic back pain at bay. This will keep the need for medical attention and costly medications to a minimun.
  8. Resistance training makes you look younger.  Strong muscles make arms, legs and abdomen look sleeker, slimmer and younger. Five pounds of muscle take up a lot less space than five pounds of fat.

(sorry guys, the last two are for the ladies only, but you got eight so that’s pretty good)

  1. Weightlifting will not make women look bulky or “like a man”. Women have way less testosterone than men.  What ladies will see when they weight train is a toned, tight, lean looking body.
  2. Strength training for women can help minimize the symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause (hot flashes, irratability, anxiety and depression).

Weather you are over 40 or not, male or female, weight training is a great addition to your workout routine.

 

Exercise and Fitness: Mountain Hike Workout 2

Last week I took my fitness routine on the road and hiked a mountain road.  This week I went back to explore the “Pigpile Trail” I found while on that hike.  I had a better handle on my HIIT interval trainer app.  It was programmed to perfection this time.  After a short warm-up and stretch I started on the trail.  I had no idea what it would be like.  It turned out to be mostly uphill for my workout phase.

This was my gym today!

I did three minute walk intervals followed by 30 second work intervals.  When the trail was uphill, I chose exercises such as reverse lunges, side lunges and squats that kept me on the ground. That also applied when I was on uneven or rocky parts of the trail.  When it was flat and smooth, I chose jump rope, ski jumps, jumping jacks and such.  This kept my heart rate elevated for the 35 minutes of my interval workout. I also had to keep an eye out for snakes, bears and other varmints that might cross my path!

When I finished, I turned around and hiked back out.  This was cool down, so I slowed down and enjoyed the view and the absolute quiet of the woods.  Although I was moving, this was pure relaxation for me!  I did take some time to stop and take some pictures of the interesting things I found on the trail.  Like this mushroom..

…and this mystery feather.  Anyone know what kind of bird this is from?

On the way home I stopped to enjoy this beautiful view.

Have you combined nature and your exercise routine?  Tell me about it! I welcome all new ideas to keep me (and others) motivated to work out.

Exercise and Fitness: How To Make a Gym at Home

If you’re sick of paying that monthly gym membership and then passing by everyday with a new excuse not to stop and exercise, maybe it’s time to make your own home gym. I used to be a “Y” member and also joined Curves for a few years.  I liked both of them, but when I changed jobs and Curves relocated it was a giant pain in the butt to get there.  One place I was always sure to go was home.  Why not work out there?  Here are some tips for you to make a home gym work for you.

  • If you are not self motivated, you will want some accountability by enlisting the help of a workout buddy, or by joining a fitness group.
  • Start small and build up. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on equipment you will end up using to hang your laundry from! Invest in more expensive fitness gear once you have developed a routine you are sticking with consistently.
  • Clear a space for your home gym that is not in a high traffic area.
  • You don’t need huge machines in your home to get in shape.  Effective cardio and strength training workouts can be put together with little or no equipment.  Your own body weight is one of the most effective methods of resistance training.
My home gym in my basement

The equipment I have:

Dumbbells: I have 1,3,5,10,15 and 20 lb weights.  I didn’t buy all these at once. I started out with 1,3, and 5 lbs. As I gained strength I bought more. Typically the lighter weights are sold at a set price.  The heavier weights are priced per pound.  Some of these were gifts I asked for at birthday and Christmas time.

Select-tech dumbbells: After I knew I was committed to a strength training program, I invested in these dumbbells by Bowflex. You can dial in the  wieght you want to lift from 5 lbs. to over 50 lbs.  The really nice thing is they go up in 2.5 lb. increments.  I’m not always ready to jump up 5 lbs.. These are more expensive, so I asked for them for Christmas.  I know a friend that saved up her Angel bucks through the  Amazon.com program and got them for $6.00.  Huge savings.

Resistance Bands:  These are portable resistance that weigh next to nothing (think suitcase) and take up very little space. If you are just getting started with resistance training and don’t want to spend a lot, my $ is on this product.  You do have to modify how you do an exercise with bands, so it would be good to look up some demo videos on Youtube.

Fitness Ball:  Great for core training and balance.  I picked up one at Kmart for about $25.00.  They take up a lot of space, but you can deflate it when not in use.

Foam Roller: I love it for flexibility training and working the kinks out of sore muscles and facia. There’s something about it that just makes me feel right with the world when I am done. Stress relief for about $24.00!

Fitness Block: It increases the intensity of certain stretches.  You can also use it for extra stability if you are struggling with yoga poses and other balance exercises. Picked this up at Target for less than $20.00

Yoga Mat:  Great for travel and very non-skid. I bought it for about $25.00

Fitness programs I use:

I have several cardio and stregth training DVD’s.  The ones I use the most are ChaLean Extreme (weigthlifting) and Zumba.  All you need is a TV and a remote and you have your own trainer helping you through the routines.  Both these programs include several workouts and cover cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility training.

You can also find a lot of workouts for $0.00 by searching Youtube, Pinterest and fitness blogs (like mine). I love finding new tabatas workouts I can use.  If you know the basic components of fitness and know what you like, feel free to make up your own workouts as well.  Happy fitness!  Have you set up your own home gym?  Tell your story here 🙂

 

Fitness Challenge Ideas: Flat Stanley Gets a Makeover

Here’s something we have been doing in my private facebook fitness group (Fantastically Fit Friends) for the summer. Many of us (including me) have been traveling a lot. It wasn’t practical to run a challenge where I would have to keep track of members’ points. One summer idea I came up with was a “where in the world are the Fantastically Fit Friends?” I made a logo and added it to the documents on the facebook group. Members could print it out, take it along when they were doing something active, pose for a picture and post it in our group. It was a way for us to share the fitness activities we were doing while we were all going in different directions.

The problem with the logo I made was it didn’t show up very well in the pictures. A group of about 8 FFF’s participated in the Warrior Dash in the Poconos. Cyndi’s sons, Alex and Ian took an idea they grew up with in school (Flat Stanley) and modified it for the Warrior Dash. Alex and Ian made Flat Warrior. He went along and participated in the Warrior Dash. He had his picture taken with all the participants. FFF members took turns carrying Flat Warrior during the race. The word was he sustained a few injuries and lost some limbs, but he still looked pretty good in the pictures.

Flat Warrior was so cool that I made Fantastically Fit Franklin to take along to the beach. Franklin had his picture taken at the spin class we took, at the Southport 5k run and in our makeshift gym under the beach house. It was easy to make Franklin. Here’s what I did:


I googled Flat Stanley and printed out a picture of him. I cut him out and traced him onto card stock. I modified his hair a little bit. Then I drew a workout outfit on him instead of a shirt and tie. I also gave him a set of dumbbells. I outlined him with a sharpie marker and colored him in with crayola markers.


If you think Flat Franklin will motivate your group to work out, or just make your workouts more fun, feel free to steal our ideas. Leave a message and let me know how it goes.


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Freedom Run 5K Southport, NC

My second 5K walk, the Freedom Run 5K  in Southport NC. I started doing 5Ks to give myself goals for my exercise and fitness  efforts. We vacation every year at Sunset Beach, NC. Over the years members of my family have participated in the 5K, but I had only done the one mile fun run a few times. This was the year I wanted to walk the entire 3.1 mile course. When my sister (Nancy) and niece (Lindsey) found out we were walking, they decided they would enter and run/walk the course together. My nephew, Ben also decided he would run.

The race stepped off at 8 so we had to leave the beach house at 6:30 a.m. (toothpicks for eyes please) to get to Southport. Nancy and Lindsey rode with us and I enjoyed listening to Lindsey’s excited chatter all the way there. This was her first 5K too. It was a super hot day and humidity was at 90% so we prepared by hydrating on the way.

When we got there it was off to warm up. We were excited to take pictures before the event. Ben was hardcore so he wouldn’t pose for any pictures (sorry young ladies, he’s a cutey) because he was really into his warm-up.


We lined up for our pre-race instructions and then the starting gun, no, make that a CANNON went off. We were part of a record number of over 400 participants. Our times were recorded by a high techno strip on the backs of our numbers. Bob walked with me for the first mile and then he decided to jog it for the next two miles. I walk too fast for his pace, but he runs too fast for mine so it worked out best this way.


I got into my power walking pace and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the people I interacted with. It was nice to walk near the mouth of the Cape Fear River and feel the ocean breeze cooling me off as I went. I crossed the finish line at 45:02, almost the same time I posted for the Train Wreck Trek. Pretty good considering the extreme heat. Here’s how everyone else did:


Ben: 16th overall and third for his age group with a time of 19:33. He won a pottery bowl crafted by a local artist.

Lindsey: 34:45 Nancy: 35:00 Bob: 37:08

If you are ever in the Southport, NC area over the 4th of July and want to run/walk in a fun 5K, give the Freedom Run a try. Were you there on June 30? Tell me your story!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

 

Exercise and Fitness: Try Tabatas!

Tabatas seems to be the new buzzword in fitness circles these days. Put in the simplest of terms, Tabatas is 20 seconds of exercise at 100% intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated for a duration of four minutes. You should start your session with a 5 minute warm-up and follow your session with a 5 minute cool down.

What are the benefits of Tabatas?

Tabatas improves both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Pure cardio only improves aerobic capacity. When your anaerobic capacity is improved you can train at higher intensity levels for a longer period of time. This increases your calorie burn during AND after your workout. You create an oxygen deficit while you do Tabatas that HAS to be replenished after you’re done. The harder you work out, the harder you breathe and the higher your heart rate goes. As a result, it takes more time (and calories) to get things back to normal. Cool science eh?

The really nice thing about Tabatas is you can get a great workout in a very short period of time. You wouldn’t want to do this type of workout every day. It’s recommended that you take part in Tabatas once or twice a week tops. When planning your workout, use exercises that involve large muscle groups.

Time for the disclaimer: You should always check with your doctor before starting a work out program like Tabatas to make sure you are healthy enough for intense exercise. Ok, that’s out of the way…

When I tried Tabatas for the first time, I decided to do “Tabatas light”. I did 15 seconds at 100% intensity and rested for 15 seconds. I did six minutes at this intensity level. My plan is to work up to the real deal.

A traditional tabatas is 20 seconds as hard as you can go with 10 seconds of rest.

Here’s the workout:

Squats: 15 seconds Rest: 15 seconds
Push-ups: 15 seconds Rest: 15 seconds
Crunches: 15 seconds Rest: 15 seconds
(these were “criss cross” Elbow to opposite knee)
Mountain Climbers: 15 seconds Rest: 15 seconds

I did three sets of the above. The total time for the workout was 16 minutes, including my warm-up and cool down.

Here’s the cool tech tools that enhanced my workout:

i-Pad 3 with the following apps

Bit-timer: You can set your work time, your rest time and how many times you want it to repeat. An audible beep counts down to start each exercise round.

Songza: I used the “Drop-a-beat” workout playlist.

Give it a try! (see disclaimer) Then let me know how it goes by sending me a comment.

If you like this post and would like more fitness challenges, tip and tricks, follow this link:



 

 

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Exercise and Fitness: My first 5K

My niece, Mackenzie, sister Nancy, friend Brian, me, hubby Bob

I did my first 5K over the weekend. I decided to do 5Ks to give me extra motivation to exercise. Since I don’t like to run, I planned on brisk walking. The day dawned sunny and cool, a great day for a distance race. Hubby and I got to the starting line early. Good thing because our registration I sent weeks ago must have gotten lost. They didn’t know anything about us! We had to quickly re-register before race time.

The mood at the starting line was excited. Everyone was buzzing. After some brief pre-race instructions the gun went off and we were underway.

We started out at a good pace and moved up to the front of the walkers. We were keeping the last of the runners in our sights. The first two miles went smoothly. By this time the runners had made the turn and were coming back so we had to walk single file. During our final mile, hubby asked if I was ready to turn it up a notch. I said sure and started race-walking. He couldn’t keep up unless he jogged slowly. I didn’t know I could walk that fast. We passed a few slow runners. In the end I almost came in 3rd place for my age group (it was a small race). The woman who finished in front of me was RIGHT in front of me.

I had a great time and I will enjoy walking again in the Freedom Run/Walk in Southport, NC.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Online Fitness Coaching: Sugar is the New Fat

There has been a lot of buzz lately about added sugar. It seems to be replacing fat as the bad guy in your food. Why should you be concerned about this? Do you know what happens to your car when you put sugar water in your gas tank? It doesn’t work correctly. The same thing happens when you put too much added sugar into your body.

Your body needs specific nutrients to perform at peak levels. When you eat too much added sugar, it causes a spike in blood sugar levels. This is followed by a crash. When you have a crash your body is telling you, “I’m hungry!” You didn’t feed me the nutrients you need. The sugar is not cutting it!” Your body wants nutrients. If you continue to feed it junk it can’t use, it will signal you to feed it something else. The more junk you eat, the more food your body will want, trying to get the nutrients it craves. See the problem?

How much sugar is too much?

According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day. That’s 100 calories or about 6 teaspoons. Men should have no more than 36 grams. That’s 150 calories or about 9 teaspoons. The good news is that the sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables are good for you and part of a healthy diet. No need to limit those.

Since most Americans eat WAY to much added sugar, here are some tips for reducing the amount you consume:

  • Limit sugary drinks such as soda, tea and juice. Water is the best drink choice.
  • Cut back on sugary breakfast foods. Check the nutrition facts label and remember, if your cereal is changing the color of your milk, it’s probably loaded with sugar.
  • Check ingredients. If sugar or or sugar type ingredients (high fructose corn syrup, honey, etc.) are in the first five, avoid it or at least eat sparingly.

I just finished a 7 day “no added sugar” challenge I am doing with Slimkicker It’s almost impossible to limit your added sugar intake to 0. Sugar is added to everything in our society. I have been able to keep it to about 12/15 grams per day. I did not feel deprived and I loved the added benefit of not feeling hungry all the time. I did have to consciously make different food choices and it does take some effort. Happy to report that a nice flat stomach has made the effort worthwhile!

Here’s a sample of what I ate for one day to give you an idea of how YOU can cut back on the amount of added sugar YOU eat. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Breakfast: Shakeology 7 grams added sugar OR Whole grain sandwich thin with one teaspoon peanut butter 3 grams added sugar

Snack: Snack bag of grapes 0 grams added sugar

Lunch: Grilled pork loin, orange, 10 Tostitos corn chips 0 grams added sugar

Snack: 1/2 Pure Protein Bar 2 grams added sugar

Supper: Spinach dinner salad with grilled chicken strips, walnuts, feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. 2 grams of added sugar.

Water to drink for each meal and snack.

Total added sugar for the day: 11 to 15 grams

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad