09-27-2012

Need a workout? Here you go.

Are you new to lifting and don’t know where to start at the gym? Well, I wanted to write a post just for you! I know it can be intimidating to walk in a gym when you have no idea what machines do what, or when it’s packed with people. Knowing what to do will help build your confidence, and soon enough you’ll strut into the gym like you own the place ;)

This is a total-body workout, and a good starting point if you don’t know how to structure your workouts. Each exercise has a letter (A1, A2) which means that they are supersetted. You will do an A1 exercise, then move to A2, take a break, then repeat 2 more times before moving on to letter B exercises. Pick a weight that is challenging. You should be struggling a little to get those last few reps in. If you finish and don’t feel challenged, then grab heavier weights. Do not be afraid to lift heavy!! Each exercise is linked to YouTube video to show you proper form.

To start, do 3 sets of 10 reps of each exercise. The following week work up to 12 reps.

A1- Dumbbell split squats Works quads and glutes.

A2- Lat pulldown Works back, specifically lat muscles located along the sides of your back. (This video perfectly highlights the right and wrong way of doing it. Pull the bar down to the upper part of your chest, almost by your neck)

B1- Hip raises Works hamstrings and glutes. (Squeeze glutes and hamstrings at the top, pause, then lower)

B2- Dumbbell overhead press Mainly shoulders but a bit of upper pecs as well. Good intro to learning a flat dumbbell press later on.

C1- Dumbbell bicep curls

C2- Dumbbell single arm tricep extension I suggest keeping your arm on your elbow (of the arm that is working) throughout the whole time so you can really feel your triceps engaging

ABS

D1- Plank on your elbows (keep your elbows underneath your shoulders, and your back all the way down to your toes should be a straight line. If you can only hold it for 15 seconds to start, that’s okay! You will work up to longer periods of time

As you can see, this hits every major muscle group. I tried to use mainly dumbbells which are sometimes easier to get to than machines (and I like dumbbells more than machines in general when it comes to lifting weights). Let me know if you try this workout! I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Good luck and get sweaty!

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09-26-2012

Health/Fitness Links to Get You Through the Day

Here’s my second weekly “links to get you through the day.” I know at some point you will take a break from work and want to peruse some interesting information ;) Here’s some great information I found this week:

  • How to Prevent Working Out From Becoming a Chore – Nia Shanks: Nia is a certified trainer and co-founder of Girls Gone Strong. She tells it to you like it is. In this post, she discusses what to do if you feel like your routine is becoming a chore. Hey, it’s okay, we’ve all been there! I’ve taken a full week off of the gym and running before just to reboot. Sometimes it’s necessary. She gives lots of other good tips as well.
  • Protein Powder Peanut Butter Balls: 1) this looks delicious 2)no-bake! Perfect.
  • Work Out While You Watch Modern Family: Love this! I love Modern Family, and I love that Fitbie.com has a workout for various TV shows. Instead of sitting on the couch for an hour, do some quick exercises while you watch, or even during commercial breaks.
  • Greatist Workout of the Day: One of the personal trainers I consistently follow is Tony Gentilcore. His blog posts always crack me up, and he is extremely knowledgeable. Therefore, I’m excited he is doing a workout series on Greatist. You pick how many days you want to work out, and he updates daily with new workout routines. Awesome! This will help when I have run out of ideas and need some inspiration. If you don’t know where to start, this is a great way to learn some exercises to do at the gym.

Let me know what you think of these links and which you end up trying out. Personally, I need to make those protein balls!

09-25-2012

Race Recap: 5th Avenue Mile

The 5th Avenue Mile was amazing!!! Seriously, I still am feeling runner’s high from that race. It was my first time running it and I had a great time.

This was the first race where my mom and I were running separately. Since it’s a large field, they split runners up into age groups. My race was at 8:55 am and hers was at 10:10 am.

As some of you may know, I am NOT a morning person. But my running coach, Marc, sent me a race-day game plan earlier in the week where he urged me to get there with enough time to get my bib, warm-up, etc. Usually I’m running late and get there with just enough time to pick up my bib, run a few strides and line up. Miraculously, I made it there before registration even opened! I had enough time to register, do some pre-race stuff, and then do a 1 mile warm-up in central park. I was so early that, even once I finished my warm-up, the starting area was still empty :)

About five minutes later they called my age group in. I lined up closer to the front because once the gun went off, I just wanted to bolt!

Nervous before starting!

They counted down letting us know we had 5 minutes…2 minutes…1 minute…30 seconds…10 seconds, ah! I had so many butterflies because I had no idea what to expect. I had never run a mile on the roads before and had no idea how fast to go out. Once the gun went off I just ran as fast as I could!

My sister got one picture of me running and I’m in the corner, so I decided to be artsy and highlight myself:

I felt like I was going too fast, but again, I had no clue. At the quarter-mile point there was a slight upgrade apparently, but I didn’t really feel it. Those are the perks of living in a rural town with lots of hills…lots of hill training on daily runs! After the 1/2 mile point it was all downhill but I didn’t know if I should speed up. I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe my time so I figured I was going way too fast for my own good. At 3/4 of a mile I kicked it up until the finish. I finished in 7:07! My fastest mile time since high school! If only I could keep that pace for a 5K race…

Runner’s High

I feel like it may have been possible to run closer to 7 flat, but I am super happy with my time! The good thing about this race starting and ending at different points is that I was forced to do my mile cooldown. I jogged back up to the start to tell my mom about the race and course, and wish her luck. She ended up also running a fast time of 7:20 which she was very happy with.

Post-race with my mom

After her race, we stuck around to wait for Kara Goucher…my running idol! Since we were already in the area she’d be signing we ended up being first in line to see her. She was giving a special gift to the first 25 in line, which ended up being her book (which I already have…and she already signed). I told her about that when I went up and she laughed and said “I love it! This is old news to you then” so she signed my bib. I asked her why Shalane (her training partner) wasn’t there and she said she was supposed to be but her parents came into down. Dang! I would have loved to meet Shalane Flanagan. Anyway, we then chatted about her strength training and she told me she lifts 3 times a week on her easy running days and does a lot of core work. Good to know!

So excited to chat with Kara!

Afterwards, we headed back to 5th Ave. to watch the professional races. I was excited to see Jenny Simpson…especially after she replied to my tweet earlier in the week asking if she was running the race!

Sadly, I didn’t catch her during the women’s race – they’re so fast!

BUT, I did run into her after the race!! This seriously made my day. I met a World Champion!

Me with Jenny Simpson

On our walk back up 5th Avenue to our car, we caught some of the pro men’s action as well.

Overall, it was an awesome day. I had so much fun. The streets were lined with people cheering on runners. The race was short and sweet. I will definitely be running this again next year. Only 8 more races to go until we complete the NYRR 9+1 program and are heading to the ING New York City Marathon in 2013!

I’m going to end this on an inspirational note.

See that man up there? I believe he ran in the 60-69 age group. Just look at his finish time! Talk about inspiration. That makes me believe that no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to achieve great things.

Next NYRR race? The Poland Spring Kickoff on Oct. 28.

Are any of you running a race soon? What’s your favorite race distance?

09-24-2012

Motivational Monday!

It’s a new week! I definitely need it. While exercise-wise it was a successful weekend (I’ll post my 5th Avenue Mile race recap soon), I didn’t do so well nutrition-wise. I indulged a bit too much and am feeling it! I plan on hitting the gym later for a tough strength training session and can’t wait. I am feeling a little motivated after meeting a few of my running idols this weekend at the race :)

I think this is a good quote to start off the week. We need to remember that while we may have off days, it doesn’t make or break us. In the long run, all of our small efforts, and things we do to live a healthy lifestyle will pay off. One day of eating a ton of junk food won’t derail you…but in the same token, one day of a killer workout followed by unhealthy habits will mean nothing as well. This week, remember to make small efforts every day, whether it’s going for a walk during your lunch break, or passing up candy and treats at the office.

My goal this week is to get back on track with my eating, and hit three strength training sessions by Friday. Also, I need to ice my shin splints multiple times this week. I make this a goal because although I know I need to do it, I end up skipping it.

What is your goal for this week? Tell me in the comments!

09-20-2012

Sweet tooth? No worries.

Do you have a crazy sweet tooth? Don’t worry, so do I.

Can I have these…like now?

Part of eating healthy is giving up those sweet treats you love so much. Now, you don’t have to completely give them up, or give them up forever, but we’ll get to that.

Snacks to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

I have several go-to snacks for when I get a craving for those Oreos or ice cream. My best recommendation would be to get some healthy yogurt. On nights I’m craving ice cream, I’ll whip out some vanilla yogurt and that will do the trick. My favorite recently has been Stonyfield Organic French Vanilla and it’s only 70 calories! There are so many flavors to chose from, so you will be able to find one you like. Just make sure you look at the ingredients and make sure it has very few (signs a product doesn’t have many added preservatives or chemicals). Also make sure you look at how many grams of sugar it has. I prefer yogurts without fruit because the fruit adds in a ton of sugar and preservatives. I say buy plain yogurt and add in your own fruit! That’s way more natural.

Other options for a sweet tooth are fruit. Find your favorite fruit and when you get a craving, eat that! I LOVE cutting up a banana and then drizzling a tiny bit of honey on it. Delicious! I also love cantaloupe and watermelon. Those two fruits have high water content, meaning they are more filling, and also have less sugar and carbs to worry about!

Okay, so maybe your just not going to be satisfied with yogurt or some fruit. FINE, here are two other options that are still on the healthier side, but you should indulge in moderation ;)

I love Honey Nut Cheerios. When I really want cookies, I usually eat a small bowl of that instead. If you’re going to eat cereal, at least make it a healthy kind, not Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Go for cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios, Cheerios, Kashi, Honey Bunches of Oats, etc.

Lastly, I like buying chocolate bars. BUT, not your ordinary chocolate bars. I buy 90% cacao bars, aka 90% dark chocolate. This definitely is an acquired taste, but once you get used to it, it is awesome. This satisfies my sweet tooth in a second. It’s a little bitter, so you can’t really overindulge like you can with milk chocolate. Plus, we all know dark chocolate may help keep your heart healthy. What’s not to like?

(By the way, if you’re not going to click the above link to read about the benefits of dark chocolate, the main take away you should know is: “Eating a small, 1.6-ounce bar of dark chocolate every day is good for you.” So yeah…dark chocolate > cookies)

It’s Okay to Indulge

You can have those sweet treats…every once in a while. If you really are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, then try to make these swaps, but it’s okay to indulge anywhere from 1-3 times a week. At the same time, if you’re wondering why you’re not losing weight or getting leaner, take a look at your diet. Could you be eating cleaner? I try to eat clean 80% of the time, and let myself have a “cheat” or two on the weekends. I know weekends are hard to stay good, so I really try to make weekdays count.

If you really want to change your lifestyle, I highly suggest using a food log. Track every single thing you put in your mouth…you may be surprised by the results. My suggestion is aim for a 80%/20% ratio (80% clean, 20% “cheats), and if you’re really trying to get leaner, make it 90%/10%.

Speaking of food logs, stay tuned for my next post about my favorite calorie tracking app!

09-19-2012

Health/Fitness Links to Get You Through the Day

Throughout the week, I usually stumble across some pretty good links going through my Google reader, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Once a week, I’m going to share my favorite ones with you.

  • The Best Podcasts for Men – Men’s Health Some days, I’m sick of listening to my music while running, so these podcasts are a definite must-try! It says “for men” but I think anyone can listen to them (obviously). The top ones I want to listen to are NPR: Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me and Radiolab.
  • Top 10 Mistakes You Make on the Elliptical Trainer I love the elliptical for cross-training. But these are all good points. While any workout is a good, make sure you get the most bang for your buck when you hit the gym!
  • Finance & Fitness: Are You Being Real With Yourself? This is a post by fellow fitness blogger Cassey of Blogilates. She makes some great points in this post about why you may not be losing weight, despite working your butt off. The question she asks, which I always ask my clients is: are you eating clean?

Let me know which ones you like, don’t like, or what you would like to see more of!

09-17-2012

Motivational Monday!

Sigh…Mondays

I think this someecard sums it up best:

Therefore, I want to have a motivational post every Monday for you all! To me, Mondays are a fresh start. A clean slate. Maybe you ate a little too many wings while watching football over the weekend…but it’s okay because you have a whole new week ahead of you! Make a mini goal for the next coming week. Last week, mine was to eat healthy all week and eat only the foods and snacks I packed for yourself. Maybe yours will be to not skip a workout, or to simply find time to exercise on a given day. Make a goal and DO IT.

So, going along with that theme of “getting it done,” here is my motivational & inspirational picture to get you pumped for the week:

What are your goals? Tell me in the comments…and then DO IT!

09-17-2012

Grocery List Essentials

If you have no clue where to start when you go to the grocery store, then at least make sure you get these 6 things.

I made sure to think of foods that can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

1. Eggs are obviously great for breakfast, and you can eat them hard boiled or make an omelet (in which you can then add in broccoli and mixed greens). Eggs are also great as a snack. You can make a bunch hard-boiled, and then grab-n-go.

2. Canned tuna is a MUST-HAVE. You may think it’s gross and plain, but I rarely have it alone. Lately, I’ve been mixing tuna with freshly steamed broccoli as a snack. I also like to make salads using canned tuna.

3. Bananas are the perfect pre-workout snack. You can dip them in peanut butter, or just eat ‘em plain on your way to the gym. Very portable and full of nutrition. I love bananas as a quick source of carbs before or after a workout.

4. Chicken. Also a must-have. Cook it in bulk on a Sunday and you’re set for lunches all week. I like to make mixed-green salads with grilled chicken. For dressings I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I like to add almonds too, for a little extra crunch.

5. Mixed Greens can be used for anything. Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner. You can make delicious salads with mixed greens as the base, and then add in any veggies you want. I have mixed greens at least once a day with a lunch. I like the bagged kind because it’s easy. I don’t have to worry about waking up and having to wash, cut and dry lettuce leaves. Although it is a little more expensive than if you bought lettuce heads. I think it’s worth it, but I’m also lazy in the mornings!

6. Broccoli. This vegetable is PACKED with nutrients. Healthy carbs, calcium, and so much more. It is also very filling. When I have broccoli with my tuna as a snack, I’m full for at least the next 3 hours. In the mornings, I put some broccoli heads in a bowl with a bit of water, then microwave for 2 minutes. I drain the water out, and voila, it’s ready to be packed in my lunch bag.

You can find my full grocery shopping list here. Eating clean doesn’t have to break the bank.

What are your grocery list must-haves?

09-16-2012

What I’ve been up to this weekend

It’s been a busy weekend! I had a few things planned, but still got in some good workouts.

Since Friday was my off day, my mom and I ran 4 miles on Thursday, and then hit the gym for an awesome lifting session. After the run we were so close to not going to the gym because we were already tired…but I convinced her to go!

My legs were STILL sore from lifting on Monday, which I guess is expected when you don’t lift for a few weeks.

On Saturday, we went to a bridal shower. I meant to wake up and run but I am definitely not a morning person, so that just did not happen. We got back around 7 pm so I decided to go for a short, 3.5 mile run. I did not regret that at all! The weather was perfect, and I felt really good. I ran it in an average pace of 9:50 minute per mile, which rarely happens for me in training runs.

I gotta say…my town is a really good “running town.” Very scenic :)

Today was just a day to relax, nap, and get homework done. I’ll be back in action tomorrow with some lifting on the schedule. Tuesday is my second running class that I am an assistant coach for! I believe we are doing 3-5 miles. I love that I can help motivate others to run, and it forces me to get a run in regardless of how I’m feeling that day ;)

How were your weekend workouts? Do you find it easier to get workouts in on the weekends, or harder?

09-13-2012

Take It Easy!

Some days, you just need to take it easy, even if it’s not in the schedule.

Yesterday, I was supposed to take off from running, but go to the gym for a lifting session.

Yeah…that wasn’t happening…

I could barely walk because my quads were so sore from Monday’s lifting session! I did barbell squats for the first time in maybe 2 months, and I paid for it. I decided today needed to be a rest day all-around.

Now, I could have laid in bed all evening and watched re-runs of The Hills on Netflix (ok I did watch a few episodes), but then my mom asked if I wanted to go for a walk with her and my dad, so I did.

Not a bad view eh?

We went to my local park and just walked for literally 1 mile. Nothing crazy. Nothing sweat inducing. For many, this doesn’t even count as exercise. But guess what, I do. If you are getting off your couch and moving, then you are doing a good thing.

Many people think that in order to be healthy you need to be working out 1-2 hours a day. Not necessarily! Just get up and move. Go for a walk with a friend or your dog. Go for a leisurely bike ride around town. If the only time you have to move is your lunch break, use 15 minutes of that time to get outside. Sure,  you want to work in some time with cardiovascular and strength work, but some days, a nice walk ain’t so bad :)

Random: I started reading this book at night before bed. Only on page 30 but it’s good so far! Has anyone read it? What good books have you read recently?