Sunday, December 22, 2013

Avoid holiday weight gain

Is that even possible? You know, to not gain any weight over the holidays?  Well for some people it is. They are the ones who can easily say no to the sweeter things in life.  Just so you know, I'm not one of them. For some reason, holiday baked goods just taste so much better between November 1st and January 1st.  It's like comfort food for the soul.  Except the only thing getting padded around here are the hips, waist, back, legs and arms.  

But seriously, why is it that we require food to enjoy the holiday season? And it is a requirement I tell you.  I've conducted an experiment and invited friends over for coffee and the first thing they say is,"what can I bring, I can make cookies or a quiche?" Hmmmm, that sounds yummy! I have to admit that the first thing I think about is "what should I make?" you know, to serve with the coffee because it would be a sin to have JUST coffee.

Well, this is who we are and this is what we do.  We are trained to celebrate everything with food and there's no better time to "get away" with over eating like the holiday season.  The media and every medical profession in the media has been telling us that, on average, people gain five to seven pounds during the holiday season.  OUCH!  They say from November to December, more accurately it all begins on Halloween, October 31st and ends on New Year's day, January 1st.  So, even though we know this to be pretty accurate, we still manage to fall into the trap of the holiday weight gain.  We eat the tasty treats, the delicious foods, and the drinks and begin the process of putting off fitness as a new year's resolution. We simply give in to the fad.

So what do we do now?  The "weight gain season" has already begun.  Do we just stay on this slippery slope and start our healthy habits next year OR is it possible to avoid becoming a statistic? Of course it is. Anything is possible if you really want it to be.  I have tips, you have wants, so lets put it all together and see how we do.

 1.  Start moving NOW!  Why wait until after you've gained the weight to realize you need to get back in shape.  Start now!  

Exercise: Measure out an area that is safe for you to walk from your home and back.  Invite some neighbors to join you after dinner, early in the morning or middle of the day.  Do the math.  Walk two miles a day, times seven days a week-- that is just over a marathon in 2 weeks.  Challenge yourself and add a mile to your walk OR cut back on the time it takes to walk 2 miles. Make it fun for the entire family and take the kids for a bike ride, roller skates, or a hike through the park. However, if you feel inadequate about walking alone or working out alone, then by all means join a gym, hire a trainer, start taking classes.  Arm yourself with a fitness routine that does not allow you to cheat yourself out of enjoying special holiday treats.

2.  Eat well, everyday! If you haven't already started, spend a couple of days logging everything you eat before making any changes.  This will help you identify problem areas with your current nutrition plan (because we all know we have one right?)  

Nutrition: Ask yourself, am I eating enough fruits and vegetables? Five a day is what they say. Make them fresh or frozen, raw or cooked.  More is best.  To keep the fresh vegetables from going bad in the fridge, eat them within a few days or cook and refrigerate or freeze them so that they are ready to be used in soups and stews over the colder months.  

Speaking of soups and stews, stay away from creamy soups that only add on the pounds.  I know, it's the comfort food we crave when we're cold and it's OK to have them in moderation. But if you don't think you can have just one serving then stick with the less creamy soups loaded with vegetables, legumes and lean meats.  Best to choose good carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain, sweet potatoes, etc.  Low fat dairy, lean meats and fish are also important in your diet as they provide you with well needed protein your muscles will crave. Take this opportunity to teach the kids what a serving is and what's in that serving of food. Lead by example.

3. Rest, de-stress, sleep! I am so bad at doing any of these.  It seems I'm alway running somewhere (and I don't mean that literally, otherwise I would have nothing to worry about if I was really running,) cleaning, teaching, kids homework, and staying up late for no good reason, well, it's my quiet time.  

A lot of women do this in search of quiet, meditative time and that's great if #1 we can still manage to get enough sleep and #2 if we use that time wisely, i.e. meditating, stretching, etc. I'm back to putting meditative time on my schedule.  We don't need a lot all at one time, 10 - 15 minutes of being with oneself, in our thoughts, in our minds, and revisiting our souls is all.  Do it a few times a day, do it while waiting in line at the store, or upon rising, before bed.  There are opportunities, we just fail to seize them and instead go to bed with a mind full of junk we can't resolve in our sleep.  So rest your mind, sleep and the result will be = controlled stress management. Again with the family, take some time to read to your kids or with your kids; teach them how to be silent for one whole minute - make it  a game and then ask what they were thinking when they were still.  You'd be amazed at the stories you get. 

4. Drink Water.  Oh yes, this is a biggy.  I am terrible at drinking water in the winter time.  Did I mention I'm from the Caribbean?  As much as I love the beautiful fall foliage and a crispy cold winter's day, it is not my cup of tea to live in it everyday.  Definitely tropical and if I want winter I can drive to it instead.  That's ideal.  

Back to water.  Since I know that drinking anything cold is not all that attractive to me I make it a point of drinking plenty of water before, during and after my workouts.  Carry water with me wherever I go so that I'm not tempted to buy coffee or food.  I also keep my water bottle on the counter to maintain the room temperature.  I find that my kids don't drink nearly as much water as they should - I think sometimes they skip it all together, so new rule:  when they say they are bored or hungry I offer them a glass of water while I make a nutritious treat or plan an activity like going out to play in the piles leaves.  One other option if you don't like cold water is a cup of warm water with a twist of lemon in the morning is actually pretty good too.  My dad was told (prescribed by his doctor) to drink this every morning to keep his digestive system running smooth.
The Challenge:  To avoid any weight gain over the holidays.  Go ahead,challenge yourself to be different this year.  Don't bother making a resolution to get healthy, do it now.  Get in the best shape of your life starting right now.  Get the family involved in getting and staying active, even if you don't have weight to lose, living a healthier lifestyle IS the new fad.

Disclaimer: If you want to lose weight, PLEASE, keep in mind that this process takes time, it's not going to happen over night, it's not going to happen in ONLY 10 minutes a day.  However, with a little determination and motivation, it will happen as you burn 500 calories a day exercising, cleaning, even chasing the kids around.  As you eat 300 less calories a day replacing junk food with good-for-you food.  It will happen as you burn off 1-2 lbs a week and replace body fat with lean muscle mass.  It will happen if you want it bad enough!

Let's do it together!! What are you waiting for?  Tell me, how will you avoid the holiday weight gain in 2009? I want to know! 

Stay Well,


Monday, November 11, 2013

Kids running

Last spring my daughter participated in the RunFit Kidz (RFK) program at her school. I was curious about training kids, mainly because they can be a little crazy immediately after school. I mean lets be real, when they spend six hours "focusing" on school stuff the last thing on their minds is focusing on anything else and paying attention to yet another teacher. Surprisingly, after they run like crazy little chicken let out of the coop, they settle down for about a minute.

The program is geared towards kids 2nd through 8th grade, they meet once a week and each time they learn about body mechanics, nutrition tips, play some fun fitness games and most importantly they run. Starting with one mile and increasing by a 1/4 mile each week for 8 weeks until race day, when they run a 5K set up just like any other race.

Well this year I joined the team of coaches, got my own school and group of kids. It all seemed doable last year when the coach had about 10 kids and 90% of them were cooperating. 

I have 24 kids from seven to nice years old.  For some reason, they don't calm down as quickly or for as long as the older kids. Teaching anything is very challenging when they are running around, however, I took this as a challenge and soon my 24 kids and many of their parents will be running their first 5K and I am super excited.

With the help of many parent volunteers we were able to teach the kids most of what they needed to learn. They always surprised me when I reviewed the previous week and they actually recalled what they learned before because kids do learn while moving at 90 miles per hour, they are the creators of multi-tasking.
"Our commitment is for children at all fitness levels to run better, faster, and smarter.  The goal is for the students to end the program with increased running knowledge and enhanced love for being active." (RFK Founder)
It has been really fun and I am very proud of all my kids for pushing hard to run that extra quarter mile each week.  They have completed a total of 11 miles, more for some of the kids who were fast runners and wanted to run a few extra laps.  They actually asked if they could run more… ha! Of course!

Soon they will run their first 5K and receive prizes for completing the program. I hope they come back next year to run again.

Now go Run!

Stay well,


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Knee issues and training

I can't begin to tell you how annoying it is to have any type of injury because almost all of them require rest and long term treatment to help them heal and the more you do the more it hurts and the worse it becomes.

Since my last 1/2 Marathon, May 2013 Marine Corps 1/2 which I ran with some pain in my left knee, I have been in physical therapy, massage therapy, at home whatever they tell me to do therapy and now recently don't do anything therapy, ugh.  It's frustrating because the weather is perfect for early morning runs.  I want to go so bad. But I can't.

My understanding is I have Patellar Tendinitis:
Patellar tendinitis is a common overuse injury. It occurs when you place repeated stress on your patellar tendon. The stress results in tiny tears in the tendon, which your body attempts to repair. But as the tears in the tendon become more numerous, they cause pain from inflammation and a weakening of the tendon structure. When this tendon damage persists over more than a few weeks, it is called tendinopathy. (source: Mayo Clinic)
So I'm working on repairing these tiny tears and I can't seem to will my body to work harder and faster at healing.  Apparently I have to follow instructions to the letter if I want that to happen and that includes, icing, Epsom salt soak, continue physical and I choose also massage therapy, a little wine therapy doesn't hurt either. A lot of stretching, foam rolling, Pilates and now I'm going to start up on Yoga again because it's a good way to really stretch, strengthen and relieve stress without the added stress on all my joints.

Shared lessons:

1.  Work hard at both getting/staying in shape AND recovering

2.  Warm up/Cool Down and stretching are just as important as the actual work we do in between

3.  You are what you eat, your fitness will only improve if you make nutrition just as important as your physical activity

4.  Hydration, sleep, relaxation matter more than you realize

I'm not giving up on what I love to do but I am making some changes that will help me heal and will probably launch me in a new direction in my fitness world--giving yoga another chance.

Sometimes you need to be knocked down hard to listen and take action.

Stay well,


Monday, September 2, 2013

Improve your attitude and Improve your workouts

It amazes me and sometimes frustrates me to see my clients saying "I can't do it" while they're doing it.

Allow me to clarify.

On average, I teach 12 classes a week. A combination of bootcamp, Spinning(r), Tabata, senior strength and flexibility and Strength.  I EXPECT to have a few new clients in each class and I EXPECT they will feel unsure and question whether they can do these activities.  I generally help them find modification and eventually every person is able to do the exercise or a variation which will target the intended muscle group.

My frustration is when clients have been working on their fitness for a period of time, ARE doing the exercises and continue to say "I can't do this," "I'm not sure I can do that," etc.  I get it. Some things look extremely challenging but the more you say I can't the least likely you are to actually performing.

I want my clients to know and understand that a huge part of their performance depends on their attitude.  I have experienced all these negative feelings and can attest to the fact that my workouts suffer when I go into the gym thinking about my lack of sleep, my cold, how hard something is, and telling myself before I even start working, "I don't think I can."

Let's work on changing how we approach something we have already committed to doing because we know it is the best way to get and stay health and strong.

1.  Be ready.  Pack your gym bag, fill your water bottle, and have all your clothes ready to go.  Avoid the frustration trying to find your gear last minute.

2.  EAT!  Why are we skipping meals? Eat something, it doesn't have to be much, just enough to give your body fuel to work, i.e. peanut butter, toast, coffee, oatmeal, protein shake, healthy protein bar, etc.

3. Get your mind ready.  While you're eating and getting your gear on begin to self motivate with positive words or phrases.  Write some down and stick them on your microwave, fridge, bathroom mirror, steering wheel, etc... "I will work hard today" "I will do my best" "It's going to be great" "I love the way I feel after a good workout" -- your choice. But work on banishing negativity out of your head.

4.  Finally, if you are truly fatigued, did not sleep well, feeling like your body NEEDS a break, feeling sick (influenza or other serious and communicable condition) then by all means, stay in bed. Rest. Get better so that you can perform at your max once you have recovered. No one will judge you for listening to your body.

Get motivated to stay on track with your health and wellness.

Stay well,


Friday, July 26, 2013

Get Motivated!

The hardest thing about getting to the gym or exercising in any form is motivation.  We come up with every excuse in the book and every single one of them is justifiable.  I often hear myself saying, "I’m on a roll with my chores, now I need to finish."  Finish? Really?  Who am I kidding, there's no such animal.  We are never done decluttering, organizing or cleaning something in the house or the car (until recently, we had so many articles of clothing, books, water bottles and snack wrappers in the car, we could live in it for a season.)
Having kids home over the summer doesn't help or worse yet if your kids are too young to leave alone.  It's so easy to say "I think I'll just stay home so I can get him on a schedule," or "he needs his nap, he had a bad night."  HE had a bad night?!  Seriously? He wasn't alone during this period of discomfort. I was up with him from 2:00 am until...well, he's still up and it's now 8:30 am.  I think most moms would agree with me if I decide to just stay home today. 
But I digressed, that was a conversation I had with myself about 6 years ago.  I still have sleepless nights but I can't blame them on my boy. Usually a case of having one too many cups of coffee, a late evening workout, or some other unknown or unidentifiable reason.
However, I know many of you can identify with this or a similar scenario.  NOT happening! You are getting a workout in somehow. Hire the neighbor's kid to come and stay with you or go with you to the park for an hour. Go super early or late when there's someone around to watch the kids.  AND if a kid is not the issue, then there's no real excuse for which I can't find a solution.  
Think about the adrenaline rush that will help you through the next workout. I'm not saying go out and run a 1/2 marathon tomorrow but there's nothing wrong with having that or some other goal to work towards.  But you have to make your goals achievable.  If you are barely walking 1/2 mile maybe training for a 1/2 marathon next month is a bit high but how about training to run a 5K in 8-10 weeks? Why Not???
What motivates me?  Well, a few things help me stay focused regardless of how tired I am or what chores need to get done:
1.  I have an appointment set everyday at about the same time (30-60 minutes).  This is my exercise time, at the gym, on the road or at home.
2.  I will be in a better mood, have more patience, and more energy.  All of this will make me a better mommy :-)
4. I will make better food choices throughout the day, which will make me feel better about myself.
5. I will sleep better tonight.
6. I will have more energy to deal any challenge and believe me, there are plenty. Did I mention the kids? 
7. I refuse to be sick! Excising keeps my body healthy, fight off colds, clear my lungs, clear my head.
8. My goals.  I have some goals that may or may not have dates attached to them. I plan on running other races, not sure when but because I know this I have to make sure I run on a regular basis because I don't want to start from scratch with a training program. Being a role model at home and at work with my kids and my clients keeps me motivated because I have to practice what I preach.
9. Just being healthy. Physically, spiritually, mentally's better than drugs.

These are all contributing factors to my decision to stay active.  I can’t rely on others to motivate me and neither should you.  I have to motivate myself. YOU HAVE to get out there and exercise for YOU and no one else.
Tell me, what motivates you?
Get inspired to treat yourself well!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A bug bite...ouch!

I woke up the other day with what I figured must have been a spider bite.  I don't know what type of spider but since I was breathing and moving around and in no significant pain I decided it must not have been one of those deadly ones like the black widow or brown recluse.

I don't know spiders and I really don't know the damage they can cause even if they don't kill you or force you to lose an arm or a leg, but never in my life have I ever felt so much itch and pain all at the same time. All in one small area of my right arm.

Day 2 after the bites

Day 5 after the bites
I went to the doctor when I realized that my home treatments were not helping and this thing was just getting bigger... on the bright side, my bicep looks pretty darn good this big, NOT!!  I was given Prednisone, Benadry, Antibiotics, Tylenol, topical stuff, AND was asked to not drink any alcoholic beverages. THAT is just wrong.  All I want is my one glass of red one, is that so much to ask. It might help, maybe? NO? Grrrr! Fine.

This is day two of the treatment and the pain and itch are still there but the swelling has gone down quite a bit.

Now my issue was with what I do for a living...Fitness Instructor. Yeah I can't exactly NOT work, you know, kids in college, kids at home, pets, house projects... ME Time. It all costs money so I have to work. This is my absolute favorite job. I love my job. It's not even a job because I have way too much fun and the benefits are amazing.  So I went to class and each time explained to my clients/students what happened so they wouldn't be concerned about my health or theirs.  They all offered their advice, suggestions, and personal bug bite stories.  See, this is another reason why I love my job, people helping people. Anyway, I found out that teaching while taking all these meds was probably not such a great idea, I felt light headed, tired and dehydrated. Still no excuses.

So what I did was to figure out what or how I was feeling during my physical activity and then figure out how to fix it.  First, I drank more water, Gatorade, and other fluids to maintain my electrolytes; secondly I ate really healthy--more than usual, more protein, complex carbs, lots of fruits and salads; finally, I went to bed earlier and rested when I could.  Eating in between classes was particularly important this week.  I also took it easy in my classes. No one ever said I had to do EVERYTHING with the same level of intensity so I just took it down a notch or two and felt fine.

But let me tell you what I did not feel while I was exercising... pain or itchy! WHAT?!?!? how is that possible and why? Well, the truth is I don't know exactly. I supposed I can ask my friends in the medical field and then I can shed some light on this issue. I kind of know but would rather get the exact reason behind this phenomenon. Does this mean that if I get itchy or feel pain I should go for a run or SPIN or exercises in some form at home? I think not but it just goes to show how awesome physical fitness is for your body and how great you feel when you exercise.

I'm still waiting for maximum relief from the bites, but it is nice to know that during my classes I will feel no pain and I will not feel itchy and I will continue to enjoy my awesome job, training you and helping you reach your fitness goals.

Watch out for the bugs and stay hydrated during these hot summer months! Oh how I wish I had a pool :-)

Stay Well,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stay in the game and take back your life


It's no secret that my life is hectic these days as I attempt to paint my walls, finish the deck, keep up with the house and of course, the kids.  
As I get busier trying to finish all those home improvement projects I find it more and more difficult to stick to my routines and stay in the game.  Eating, exercising, drinking water, and sleep sometimes take a back seat to what I THINK needs to get done NOW. As a trainer I know it's important and I tell all of you out there who come to my classes that your health is your priority; however, I do understand what is like to let things go just a little longer or just until I finish this one thing and before you know it time goes by and you haven't eaten, drank, or exercised enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  My issues, and maybe your too:

1.  Eating at regular intervals - not because I'm not hungry but because I get so involved in a project in some other part of the house that I don't even look at the time or heed the signals my body is giving me like hunger pangs, light headed, sometimes I feel like I'm over caffeinated--shaky all over.  It may not be for everyone, but eating several meals a day is a great way to stabilize glucose and keep the metabolism from slowing down.  Eat more often, loose more weight is a great article with some tips that can help better understand this process of eating at regular intervals.

2.  Exercise and Energy - I do get to the gym, because I work there and have to teach classes.  That is a huge plus.  But I know what is like to get involved in a project at home and skip the gym or even the neighborhood walk just to finish this one project.  Unfortunately, we always manage to come up with other projects that take us away from this important part of our life.  So I go to the gym when I can and when I have to but when I find myself stuck I take a break and do one of my three 10 minute workouts.  

The Hundred Push Challenge is a really fantastic workout that attempts to get you doing 100 push ups in six weeks.  While my goal is not exactly to reach 100, although that would be really great, my goal is to get stronger and leaner and I can't do that just by cleaning my house.  Push ups work all the muscles in your upper body AND core muscles - I can handle 10 minutes.  I also like to add Yoga or Pilates to my routine and those I do on the days opposite to the Push up days.  Check out these two videos, Yoga by Meaghan and Pilates by Suzanne. What a great way to spend just 10 minutes on me. 

3.  Water - Well we all know the benefits of water.  It's no secret.  Water cleanses your body, your kidneys (filtration system), the liver (fat metabolizer), and your skin.  There's no excuse to not drink my daily minimum so I carry around a 24 ounce-bottle of water and make sure I refill it a couple of times throughout the day.  I found this article, it's long but very informative on the benefits of water.

4.  Sleep - I can't begin to count the days or nights when I either go to bed super late and/or get up super early.  I fill up on coffee and try to do it all before the kids get up to go to school and before I have to be at the gym or anywhere that day.  It might work once or twice, but after a few days of sleeping no more than 4 hours a night I become a zombie and everything goes downhill.  I can't concentrate or focus, I don't have energy to play with the kids, I have no desire to eat (healthy) or exercise for that matter.  I'm still working on improving my sleep habits and here are some great tips on the benefits of sleep.

I know it's going to take a little planning and dedication on my part but it is important that I take back my life and stay in the game.  My health is worth way more than cleaning out closets and drawers or painting yet another wall. Summer is upon us and I will need my energy so I can enjoy the kids, the pool trips, the fun adventures I have planned for the summer.  

I hope these tips help you stay in the game.  Take back your life, you only have one chance to live it right!

Stay Well,


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fatigue-Induced cravings

I'm finally getting back to a routine I can live with. It's been busy around here with our first born now a college graduate, our second born home from college, and the two young ones just following along all the events and to-dos of the family. They are such sport and so flexible...sometimes.

My daughter and I ran the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon and it was a lot of fun. It rained which made the run even better. The roads were cooled off and I personally, welcomed the occasional downpour--so cooling and refreshing.  She beat her time and I followed right behind her. So proud of my girl for finish such a demanding task. I think now she's a little more into running than before, yay for her!

My oldest graduated from college last month and of course, that was another proud moment for us parental units.  He is working, moved to NYC to chase his dreams in Vocal Performance, and is extremely happy, that is really all that matters to us.  He is also performing with the Matsukazi Opera in Charleston, SC with the Spoleto Festival.  A great city with a lot to see and do so, of course, I drove a million hours with the kids and my best friend to be able to spend time with him and to see him perform.

Our 10 year old also ran a race last month. She ran with the RunFitKidz program at her school.  This program is aimed at teaching kids about proper ways to run, techniques, and training.  The end resulted in a 5K race where they all received a medal.

Needless to say, last month was full of happy moments, proud moments, a lot of driving, and a little worrying.  However, it wasn't until this week that I finally settled back into my routine after spending three nights sleeping less than three hours and eating poorly during the day which probably was the cause of some of my sleepy time discomfort.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!

I really don't know. Ok maybe I do. When I'm really fatigued I crave carbs more than anything in the world. I happen to have Hawaiian dinner rolls and they are now gone, all of them within minutes. I cooked rice, just for me and it's all gone. I drank coffee, beer, wine...not all at the same time but my brain wasn't really thinking or caring because the coffee keeps me awake during the day, the beer cooled me off mid afternoon and the wine made me tired by early evening, just not tired enough to stay asleep AND THEN the cycle began again the next morning.

Yesterday I drank lots of water, exercised, ate one thousand times better, seriously, not exaggerating here AND last night I slept from 9:00 PM to 4:30 AM. That, my friends, is seven and a half hours of solid sleep. THAT is exactly what I needed. I broke the cycle and slept.

WE ALL have those days, weeks, months sometimes, that totally throw all we've worked for into the toilet.  The idea is to recognize when this is happening and fix it, immediately.

This month will be busy but with my work/fitness/running routine not with anything else.  I'm excited for a fun summer and the kids can't wait for school to be out...personally, I'm a little on the fence about that one.

Tell me about a time you were fatigued? What got you there and how did you get out of the cycle?

Stay Well,


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What to do when you are injured?

This is my knee.  Well, it's a picture of what my knee is going through right now.  It will heal, in time, thankfully only a couple of weeks of prescribed activities should get me back up and moving. My sprain happened because of over use, lack of stretching and warming up, and probably improper footwear.  My dog ran into me a couple of times as well, that was not a good feeling.

As soon as I felt the pain and discomfort I went to see my doctor who suggested R.I.C.E. which stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.  So rest from running...that hurt, I love to run; apply ice to reduce swelling and pain, later apply heat, that forces me to sit and stay put for long periods of time; compress with a knee brace or bandage to provide support and stability; and of course elevate, again to help reduce the swelling in the area and aid in tissue repair.  I read another variation which is HiRICE, that one includes hydration and ibuprophen.

I have been feeling better following the instructions given by my PCP and hopefully soon I'll start running short easy runs with a modified stride.  This also qualifies me for a shopping trip to pick up new shoes and maybe new compression socks too.

But the question is what to do while you're down with an injury?  Well, injuries in the legs shouldn't stop me from doing something for my core strength and upper body.  I've been trying to stay on top of things with all that because it doesn't take much for me to add a few inches around the middle just because I'm bored and sitting for long periods of time...ugh I can only watch so much TV before I start to go stir crazy.

Today I'm picking up a foam roller.  If you have sore muscles or just to get a good massage through all your muscles I would totally recommend the foam rollers.  Some even come with a CD to show you all the different things you can do or you can just go online and find a variety of exercises.  Either way, this is one piece of equipment you'll not regret buying. Just roll your sore muscles on it for 3-4 minutes at a time and you'll feel like you've been to a massage parlor.  It works wonders.

I've been working on crunches, leg lifts, Pilates exercises, and the elliptical trainer.  As long as it doesn't hurt or upset my knee, I'm good.

Moving forward after I heel completely I need to focus more on strengthening the muscles in my legs, glutes, quads, calves, as much as I do my upper body.  Runners tend to forget that running alone is not nearly enough to maintain good form and be able to run far or fast.  It is extremely important to get and stay strong through strength training exercises, plyometrics, isometrics and cross training over all.  It is just as important to eat well, rest, and pay attention to the changes in the body...if something hurts, have it checked out ASAP. Better to be safe than sorry.

What exercises do you do when you are recovering from an injury?

It has been an interesting experience for me to be injured.

Stay Well,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Boot Camp Training-Let's do it!

Get Results
Go to Bootcamp!

I realized about 8 years ago that I am not cut out for coordinated training.  I'm not very good with structure. Coordinated training like Step, any LesMills program, Aerobics, etc require someone who can really stick to the counts and the beat of the music, they require a lot of planning and memorization. I do not posses these skills. They make me nervous.  I am more of a freestyle trainer.  I know what your goal is or my goal within the class and I do whatever we need to do to achieve that goal. Sometimes the music leads or motivates me, other times the people in the class give me a boost of energy to change things in a class. In any case, people usually tell me they love my classes and love to keep coming back and that makes me very happy because I know they are meeting their fitness goals for the day and I didn't have to stress about when to start or stop an exercise or if the music breaks down, etc. It's really just me, nothing wrong with those programs if that's your thing.

I started teaching Total Body Conditioning (just another name for a boot camp class) and I was hooked.  Teaching to the military in Cuba was amazing, inspiring, and motivating.  It was great to see them all working hard to beat the other team in the class. I realized this was what I loved to do, outside of some other classes I love to teach, this boot camp class just completely filled me with energy. I think partly because I recalled my real Marine Corps boot camp days. I guess it paid to get in so much trouble because I perfected the art of mountain climbers, burpees, and running to NOT get caught by my Drill Instructors.  It's been over 20 years but trust me, I remember it like it was yesterday.

Now I get to share my discipline and knowledge in the field of health and fitness with others.  I love my job. I am currently teaching at OneLife Fitness in Burke.  ForeverStrong, a class geared towards beginners and the active older adult population. It is a strength class but moves a little slower and it is low impact so no jumping or doing the crazy stuff we do in Boot Camp   It is a great class and so far everyone seems to be happy. If they are not, I hope they'll tell me so I can change whatever isn't working.  I also teach Boot Camp -again, freestyle.  I plan my classes the day before and then just play whatever happens to be on my iPod that I know keeps everyone motivated to keep moving.  It's fun, high energy and we get a great workout early Saturday morning.

At Graves Gym on Fort Belvoir I teach the same Low Impact Strength class and SPINNING.  Another high energy class that really gets me moving.  I love SPIN, it has helped to improve my run time tremendously.  At Graves I get to work mostly with military dependents and active duty members.

Soon I will be working with another company who conducts more specialize and mostly outdoors boot camp classes to large groups, small groups and one-on-one. Custom Fitness Concepts is motivating, fun, and the energy you have to put into your workouts is amazing.  You really do perform above and beyond your expectations. I'm really looking forward to the outdoor workouts and the variety in their training sessions.

If you live in my area I hope to see you in one of my classes soon.  

Stay well,

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

No sleep = poor eating habits

When I don't sleep well my eating habits suck!! What is that about? I mean, I know what it is but it can completely destroy a perfectly excellent plan.  When I don't sleep well I am cranky, fatigues, crave carbs like nobody's business and do absolutely nothing unless I have to do something.  I hate it.

Does that ever happen to you?

Sunday we spent time without family, we had an early dinner which made me a little tired. Not that dinner was early but that I just felt tired after dinner.  I realized I needed to get the kids and myself ready for the week or at least for the first day of school after spring break so I decided having a cup of coffee at 5:00 o'clock in the evening would be a great idea, a great way to get a jump start.  HA!!! NOT!!

I'm not sure why I haven't learned this lesson yet.  #1 Coffee never kicks in right away, for me it can take a few hours, particularly if I'm already tired.  #2  I should never drink coffee after 2:00 PM.

I dragged myself home, did what I needed to do still feeling exhausted, went to bed at 8:30 PM and passed out.  Woke up at 1:00 AM and that was the end of my good night sleep.  I can usually function on 5-6 hours of sleep but not when I wake up at 1:00 AM and have already been functioning for a good five hours by the time everyone else wakes up.  I knew this day was going to be hard to handle for me.

I ate everything I shouldn't. I did not give myself the time to take a nap--no real good reason, really. I guess I kept waiting for the morning coffee to kick in and help me feel better or more energized.  Never happened. I was irritable, fatigued, and now I felt bloated from eating so much.... well, whatever, you know--stuff! UGH!!

Let's just say it's a good thing I was home alone.

I pulled myself together and stretched. Went to a fitness training and then came home and went to bed.  No coffee this time.  Energy had to come from within.  I slept great from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM! YES!!!!

Today will be a better day. I've already started with a good breakfast and feel ready to do some more fitness training and then a nice long run around the lake.  It's going to be a good and productive day.

I think I will have to write some things down to help me remember what NOT to do so that I don't ruin my day trying to fix my current status.

Here are some tips I knew all along and ignored:

When you're tired, REST: never rely on some food or drink to give you energy. If you're rested, it's likely you just need to drink or eat something to refuel.

When you're thirsty, DRINK water: sometimes we're just dehydrated.  Drink your water throughout the day because usually by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.

When you're hungry, EAT healthy: it's like putting gas in the car. There's no substitute.  Eat fruit, veggies, healthy protein bars, yogurt, granola... the list of healthy snacks goes on.

IF you are easily tempted, GET RID of IT! I realize that I have weaknesses so I make it a point of not buying anything I know I'll eat in a moment of weakness.  I also get rid of left overs or other holiday candies no one needs to continue eating.

Now time for a run. I need it!  Have a fantastic week! I'll see you in class this week :-)

Stay well,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Exercise routine going stale? Change it up a bit!

Don't be afraid to lift these!

Wondering why your workouts aren't working for you anymore?  It could be because you are in need of change.  More than we realize we become comfortable with our fitness routines. The day-to-day hum -drum, go to gym, participate in a class or jump on the treadmill and carry a conversation at the same time.  But that's not why your paying gym fees, is it?  When you find yourself looking forward to meeting Jane at the gym so you can catch up on the latest 'kidventure' then you are not working hard enough, unless of course you meet after a long, hard workout.

The #1 reason people become discouraged with their physical fitness program is due to a lack of visible results.  No longer losing weight, not seeing a change, not even breaking a sweat.  The best way to avoid getting bored at the gym is to change it up a bit.  Here are some ideas:
1.  Group Exercise:  Personally, I prefer group exercise.  It is the best way to stay motivated and it forces you to be accountable because the instructor and other participants get to know you and look forward to seeing you in class. Just keep in mind that we're not in the thong and leg warmer era--yikes!  Yeah, people still wear those.  Keep it simple, please.
2.  Try a new know where I'm going with this.  That's right!  Try Spinning or running. Start easy, don't kill yourself but do work hard each time to be better.  Be sure and let the Spin Instructor know you are new so they can help you adjust your bike and give you some pointers before class starts.  Spinning is an excellent cardiovascular class in which you can burn up to 600 calories in a one hour class. Running is great for the body and mind.
3.  Body Building: Lifting weights will not give you pects like a man.  Unless you have an excess amount of testosterone or start taking "special supplements", it is physically impossible.  What you will get is a revved up metabolism, stronger muscles, lean body.  More lean muscle=less fat. Working with the same 8 or 10 pound hand weights will not make much of a dent in your physique so go higher, yes it will be hard, yes you will be sore but you will also work your muscles hard and they will be stronger. TRUST ME!!
4. Pilates: Another favorite of mine.  Pilates focuses on your power house, your core.  The result, stronger abs and back, lean muscle mass, improved flexibility and improved posture. I didn't think I would like it until I started teaching it and realized how much stronger and leaner I became.
5.  Want to stay in the same class?:  Grab heavier weights, extra risers for the step or if you do floor aerobics, you can finish your workout with a weight training routine either in the free-weight room or with machines.
There many reasons why people exercise and many more why they should.  I exercise because I want to live a healthier, happier life, I want to be a good role model for my kids, I want to feel good about myself.   Most important, I don't want high blood pressure and diabetes in my life, it's already in my family.   
Why do you exercise?  
Do you have a question about body building, running, what to eat? Ask away.
Today is the day to change it up a bit.  Have an excellent workout, at the gym! Don't forget your water ;-)
Stay well,

Friday, March 22, 2013

To detox or not?

Image Source: LiveLighter

To Detox or Not? This is a questions we sometimes ask ourselves and we're never quite sure what the answer is until we read about detoxing and cleansing diets and the reviews, then we run the other way eating a loaf of bread.  OK maybe I eat the loaf of bread, what?!? I love bread, I wont lie.  ANYWAY, I recently had a good friend visiting from out of town and anytime I have company I already know that we are on vacation together and I don't exactly hold back on what I want to eat.  Mainly the ice cream, desserts, and breads they love to pile in front of your face at Italian restaurants.  Warm Italian bread dipped in olive oil...mmmm yum!  Because of all these treats and the fact that I try not to teach many of my classes during my staycation I feel like I put on a few pounds, mostly water of course, right? No?  After she left I realize things weren't fitting right. I felt sluggish, tired, and weak.  The gloomy Virginia weather was really no motivation for me to move either.

So I decided to join another friend who happened to be on day one of the Dr. Oz Detox Cleanse.  It's a three day program in which you drink three shakes a day, lots of water, green tea, and take your vitamins, etc... Three days? I can do three days.  Note, I'm not a huge pusher of long detox programs.  I think our bodies need all food groups, once in a while we over indulge and it doesn't hurt to get things cleaned up and get ourselves on a clean eating routine again.  

Image Source:  Dr. Oz
I bought all my goodies, many of them I already had on hand and started the next day, Tuesday.  Morning tea with lemon was great, morning breakfast shake was good and filling, almost too much.  Lunch time shake, not so great.  It was like drinking a blended salad. It might help if I had a really great blender that could pulverize the ingredients and make everything really smooth but I don't and have no intentions of buying one.  I drank my shake, again it was too much, I only drank 16 oz, barely.  The rest of the day was fine, had another breakfast shake for a mid afternoon snack and then my dinner shake wasn't bad at all.  I slept great, woke feeling energized and ready for the day.  Unfortunately I didn't have enough energy to get a good workout but that's par for the course. It's expected during any detox plan.

Day two.  I started fine but I had to teach two classes again on this day so I had a cup of coffee mid morning, there's no way I'm giving that up. It's the only cup I ever have, one a day.  Again, I felt tired and with little energy to teach my Spin class so I drank a cup of coconut water to help replenish what I lost during the first class.  Then it came time for my lunch shake... again, not appreciating drinking my salad. By mid afternoon I was craving something, not even sure what but I decided instead of blending my food I would just eat it, so I did and that felt much, much better.  By dinner I really just wanted to eat food.  I had of my dinner shake and ate 1/2 the portion of my meal which was baked chicken, spinach salad, a little pasta. I felt satisfied.  

Needless to say, day three will not be taking place.  I did have a shake but I added protein and a yogurt, left out the lemon juice and it was delicious and filling.  I will EAT my midday shake instead of drinking it and I will have a normal dinner.  I'm sure I will continue to lose those extra pounds I've been working on just because I'm staying away from the cheese, crackers, wine, and freshly baked bread.  Not that I wont have those again, but I don't need to have appetizers and wine every night before dinner, I can reserve that for special occasions or the weekend.

Final thoughts on this detox cleanse:  Aside from not appreciating the lunch shake, I feel like it did reset my habits to eating for fuel and not just for pleasure.  I have to be able to maintain a certain level of energy to teach my classes, to run my runs, and to keep up with my kids, and for that I need to eat to fuel my body with all the right foods.  I lost a total of 4 lbs this week and a few inches but let me be clear, it was all water not body fat.  Don't go thinking that you're going to lose a ton of body fat in one week just detoxing.  You will however, feel better, less bloated and less fatigued.  I may not have had the energy to teach two classes in one day, I mean who does, but I felt great otherwise.

Image source:  John Hart Fitness

Thoughts on nutrition:  Moderation is Key.  Measure your food if you must so you know what your portion should look like, eat lots of veggies, and drink lots of water.  Stop looking at the numbers and start eating to fuel your body with good clean food. 

Tiffany at he Gracious Pantry says this and I agree 

"Food is the big ticket to good health. If you eat garbage, your body will show it. If you eat whole, healthy and fresh foods, your body, skin and soul will glow with health that gives you endless energy."  

If you want to read a little more on how to start eating clean, visit the Gracious Pantry for some really great tips.  

Have you tried any detox diets? What are your thoughts and experiences?

Stay Well,

Friday, March 8, 2013

Protein foods = great recovery

WOW this has been a tough to weeks.  I am not sure I have fully recovered from my race two weeks ago. I came home and hit the ground running, no pun intended.  But seriously, I've been teaching or training just about every day, even on the winter storm day.  Is that good for me?  Well, my body says it is.  Aside from the day after the race, I have not felt too much soreness or fatigue.  In part this is because I continued to move, stretch and strengthen all the muscles worked during that long, long race.  There was no time for me to sit around eating all the calories burned that day and then some either.

Nutrition also plays a huge role, not only in your performance during the activity but also in how you recover. I am often asked about pre and post exercise nutrition and in general my response is to eat a clean, healthy, nutrition packed meal and of course water. But I'm no nutritionist and therefore can't give advise aside from my own general knowledge about this topic in five minutes following a class.  I leave that to the experts.  This article sums it up pretty well.  It confirmed and provided me with some great ideas to add to my routine.  I hope you find it useful as well.

Leave a comment with some of your favorite high-protein meals.

Stay well,
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5 High-Protein Foods for Optimal Recovery

By Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD • For

5 Tasty Protein Foods for Recovery 460
You’re done with your run, bike or swim or maybe your CrossFit WOD, and you’re so glad to chillax for the rest of the day.
But wait. Your workout isn’t really over until you address the three Rs of recovery: Rehydrate, Refuel and Rebuild.
Drinking fluids to replace what you lost during your workout in sweat (rehydrating) is as essential as eating carbs to replace muscle glycogen stores that you torched (refueling).
But while many athletes guzzle sports drinks to recover, or eat a carbohydrate-rich snack, they often forget about the protein necessary to rebuild broken down muscle fibers. Without adequate protein, your muscles will take longer to recover, and some studies suggest you’ll be more likely to suffer from burnout and symptoms of overtraining.
While strength athletes generally consume enough protein, endurance athletes, ball players and many others forget that protein is as important as carbs and fluids for recovery.

Rebuilding: How Much Protein is Enough?

A good rule of thumb for protein requirements: consume 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. In addition, experts recommend 15 to 25 grams of high-quality protein within the first few hours after working out.
To help, here are five top protein-rich foods for optimal recovery. These foods focus on the type of high-quality protein that has been linked to strength gains.
Nonfat or Lowfat Greek Yogurt (8 oz): 22 to 24 grams protein. Greek yogurt is a must-have in most athletes’ diets because it provides more protein per calorie than most other foods.
In addition, it provides a combination of casein and whey protein, and because most of the lactose in yogurt is removed, it’s still a viable option for most people who are lactose intolerant.
Flavored varieties of Greek yogurt contain more carbs per serving (from added sugars), so stick with plain or vanilla, and add berries or other fruit to get more antioxidant-rich, lower-calorie carbohydrate sources.
Low-fat Chocolate Milk (8 oz): 8 grams protein. Low-fat chocolate milk provides a 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, so it helps to replace glycogen while providing the essential amino acids your muscles need to recover.
Research suggests that chocolate milk works just as well as other sports drinks for enhancing recovery among endurance athletes. Chocolate milk provides a blend of both whey and casein proteins, which may provide advantages versus foods with a single-source of protein.
Cottage Cheese (8 oz): 28 grams protein. Non-fat cottage cheese packs in more protein per calorie than virtually any other food, making it a great option for athletes concerned about weight or trying to lean out for a competition.
Cottage cheese is one of the most naturally-rich sources of the muscle-building amino acid, leucine. For example, a cup of cottage cheese packs in 2.9 grams leucine compared to 1.4 grams in yogurt and .3 grams in an egg. The essential amino acid is considered the “limiting” factor for muscle gains and it’s why many protein supplements contain added leucine.
Eggs (1 medium): 6 grams protein. As the gold standard for protein, eggs are on the must-eat list of most amateur and professional athletes.
A medium egg has just over 6 grams of protein of the highest biological value—meaning it’s complete with all amino acids in the most digestible form.
Eggs also contain 13 other vitamins and minerals—virtually everything you need with the exception of vitamin C.
Two protein-packed ways to enjoy eggs: Baked Eggs in Canadian Bacon  and Protein Pancakes.
Pistachios (1 oz/49 pistachios): 6 grams protein. Pistachios make a nutritious and easy on-the-go-recovery choice. These flavorful green nuts provide antioxidants that may speed recovery, as well as potassium and sodium, two electrolytes lost in sweat.
A serving of roasted and salted pistachios contains a whopping 310 mg potassium and 160 mg sodium, compared to 35 mg potassium and 95 mg sodium found in popular sports drinks.   
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