08-18-2015

What To Pack For College – Fitness Edition

Can you believe it’s almost September?? My cross country team has their first meet in 2 weeks! I’m so ready for fall weather, and especially fall running. My ranking of seasons goes: fall, spring, summer and winter. I just hate how much I sweat in the summer, blegh.

Anyway, end of August means back to school time! If you or someone you know is heading off to college, then you’ve seen the packing checklists. But I wanted to make a fitness edition one! With the help of my sister, who is a college student, here are a few ideas as to what you can pack for college to be prepared to be fit and healthy (scroll down for full checklist & pin it!):

Big Water Bottle

I love having a big, reusable water bottle. You can easily track your water intake and the bigger the bottle the better (obviously). You can find fun water bottles at places like T.J. Maxx or HomeGoods, WalMart, or Target. This is the one I have been using a lot lately, which is from WalMart, and I like that it’s like a normal water bottle:

Aladdin Water BottlePhoto Source

You can order it online or find it in the store for like, $3-$4. If you like infused water, you should check out fellow fitness blogger Diatta’s infused water bottle…perfect to add in fruits or lemon to flavor your water!

Fun Workout Apparel

I’ve done numerous posts on finding cute workout clothes on a budget..check them out here, here and here. You can shop on a budget at places like Old Navy, Forever 21, T.J. Maxx, and Marshall’s! I would definitely recommend Forever 21. You can find great pieces ranging anywhere from $8-$20, and a lot of their pieces are very similar in feel and look to lululemon! Here’s another post I wrote specifically about Forever 21 and a picture of my workout gear:

Forever 21 Activewear

FlipBelt

If you plan on running a lot, a FlipBelt will be key. You can find my review on it here. It has multiple pockets and does not move around at all. You’ll be able to fit your phone, gels, keys, ID, etc. It could also come in handy for football tailgates so you don’t have to worry about carrying around a purse or have anything in your hands :)

Protein Powder

Protein powders are perfect for making smoothies and quick post-workout recovery shakes. It’s good to have it handy for when you’re on the go and running to class. Here are some of my favorite smoothie combinations

My favorite protein powder would have to be PlantFusion. It’s a plantbased protein powder and tastes great. I have found others to taste chalky and not that good unless you add in things like bananas or almond milk. PlantFusion is great on it’s own, and they actually just came out with single serving sample packets and bottles!

And here is my full checklist!

Want to be fit and healthy in college? Here's your college packing list!

What would you add to this list?

Are you or do you know someone heading to college? Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to relive those college days! :)

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07-14-2015

Strength Training Workout For Mud Runs

As I mentioned yesterday, I ran a mud run/obstacle course race this past weekend…and it was awesome! It was the Rugged Maniac in New Jersey, but they have locations all over the country and in Canada as well. If you find one near you, definitely try it out. I’m going to go into a detailed recap later this week and add in reasons why you should do it. I noticed yesterday a lot of you said you’re nervous about injuries…so was I! But still…you should do one ;)

The day after my race I was actually surprised at how sore I was. I consider myself in decent shape, though I know I’ve lost muscle and strength in the past few months. My arms were really sore after the race and my quads. Weird! So today I wanted to share a strength training workout specifically for those who might be training for a mud run.

These races are a lot of pulling yourself up and over things, squatting, crawling, etc. So those are the types of moves I focused on.

Try this workout if you're training for a mud run or obstacle course race!

As always, do A1, A2 first, then move on. Perform each exercise for 3 sets of 15 reps. So do A1 15 times, then A2 15 times, then repeat 2 more times before moving on to the B exercises. Okay here we go:

  • A1: Lat pull downs (Reason? Strength for pulling yourself up on obstacles like wall climbs)
  • A2: Push ups (Reason? Chest and shoulder strenght for those barbed wire crawls)
  • B1: Squat hold (Hold for 60 sec. Reason? Some obstacles require you to go through it in a crouched or squatting position…talk about quad burn!)
  • B2: Negative pulls ups (Reason? Monkey bar or rings – where you need to use upper body strength to cross. Negative pull ups help build up strength so you can do unassisted pull ups. Start at the top of the bar, and take 3-5 seconds to lower yourself down SLOWLY. Use a box to boost yourself up to the top of the bar, repeat)
  • C1: Walking lunges (Reason? You need quad and glute strength for all that hill running you’ll be doing!)
  • C2: Inverted row (Reason? More upper body/pull strength)
  • CORE: Planks, walking planks, any type of moving planks. (Reason? A lot of crawling is involved in mud runs, so planks/moving planks are good practice)

I was so tired during the barbed wire crawls because I know my core strength is lacking. I ended up rolling myself under them instead of crawling LOL.

What exercises would you add? 

If injury wasn’t an issue, would you try a mud run? 

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02-26-2015

Does The Fat Burning Zone Still Exist?

Last week I was at a spin class, and the instructor had us do a steady ride for a song or two, and said we’d be burning more calories in this aerobic pace because we were in the fat burning zone. Then she said we should come to her endurance ride because it would be 90 minutes in the fat burning zone. I was thinking to myself, “Wait what? Is the fat burning zone still a thing?” I haven’t heard that terminology in forever, so I started doing some research…aka Googling :-P

Does the fat burning zone still exist? Or is HIIT better?

From what I remembered, the fat burning zone was maintain your heart rate at a certain rate in order to burn the most fat/calories. So why is this the case, supposedly? Here’s a great explanation from Active:

The fat-burning zone is a concept that the body burns a greater amount of fat at lower-intensity aerobic exercise than it does at higher intensities. Actually, the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities. At lower intensities the body may burn 50 percent of the calories from fat, while at higher intensities it may only burn 35 percent. But at higher intensities you burn way more total calories—and more fat calories overall—than you do at lower intensities.

Very interesting. And that’s what I was thinking in the class. We did a lot of hill rides and sprints and in my mind, that probably burns more calories overall than a steady pace. Furthermore, us runners know that the more you do something at a certain pace/rate, the more your body adapts. If you’re in the aerobic zone for every workout for months, eventually you will plateau. Speaking of plateau, I wrote about a few ways to beat that pesky plateau a while ago.

Let’s also talk about the afterburn effect. You may have read in plenty of fitness magazines that the reason HIIT (high intensity interval training) is so beneficial is because of the afterburn. For hours after you’re done exercising, your body continues to burn calories, whereas after aerobic exercises, there isn’t much of an afterburn. In a study done by the University of Maine, “A low intensity exercise group cycled at a steady rate of 3.5 minutes. The higher intensity exercise group required three 15 second sprints as fast as the subjects could run.”

What were the results?

The cycling group burned 29 calories vs. 4 calories for the sprinting group during the exercise. But when you take into account the calories burned after exercise, or the afterburn effect, the numbers look much different – 39 calories burned for the cycling group vs. 65 calories burned for the sprinting group. A surprising 95% of the total calorie burn occurred after the sprinting exercise!2 Keep in mind the cycling group exercised for almost 5x longer than the sprint group (3.5 minutes vs. 45 seconds).

I’ll admit, sometimes when I do a quick hill sprint session on the treadmill and I’m done in 15-20 minutes, I feel like I should keep exercising. But it’s clear that HIIT training really does have more “bang for your buck.” Why slog along on a treadmill for hours (okay maybe that’s an exaggeration) when you could do circuit training or HIIT and be done in 20-30 minutes (and reap the same benefits if not better)?

Obviously, this all doesn’t relate to those of us who are training for a long distance race. That is always the conundrum I have. I want to burn more fat and get leaner, but I’m be training for a half marathon or a marathon, so long, steady state cardio is my life at the moment, other than track workout or tempo days. Though I have started doing circuit training for strength workouts that are high intensity and last 30 minutes. I’ve loved it so far, and it’s a good change of pace from my usual lifting routine. Here’s an example of a workout I do.

Have you heard the term “fat burning zone” used recently?

What do you think of it vs. HIIT?

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04-18-2014

5 Things Your Personal Trainer Wants You To Know

How many of you have a personal trainer? I’m actually a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. I got certified in 2010 and re-certified last year with a focus on fitness assessment. Fitness and health are my passion, clearly…hence my blog!

I wanted to share with you all a few things we personal trainers want you to know when you’re in sessions with us. Some of them you may do already or know about already, and some you may not. I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are!

Things Your Personal Trainer Wants You To Know

We hate the word “tone.” “Toning up” doesn’t exist. What people mean when they say they want to be tone is that they want to lose body fat so you can see more muscle. Muscle tone actually refers to whether a muscle is at rest or contracted. From my experience, it seems women use this phrase more, and don’t want to refer to it as building muscle, but that’s what it is! Ladies, don’t be afraid of admitting you want to add muscle and get lean…nothing wrong with that! You won’t “look like a man” I promise.

You need to do the work outside of sessions with us. Just coming to 1 or 2 sessions per week with us won’t make much of a difference. You also need to be doing something those other 5-6 days a week. If you’re not sure how to plan a weekly workout schedule, just ask us! Which leads me to my next point…

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, we love answering them! If you’re not sure what a certain exercise is for or how it will benefit you, don’t be afraid to us. We love to answer questions and start talking about muscles and science-y stuff :-P If we don’t know the answer to a question, we also love doing the research. We are here to help and will gladly find out as much as we can for you.

If something hurts, even a tiny twinge, speak up. If you’re doing a bench press and your shoulder hurts a little, tell us! Don’t wait. We know modifications for every exercise and can modify things depending on what hurts or bothers you. Don’t feel annoying by asking us to do this.

Confidence is key. Be confident when you’re lifting! I can’t tell you how many times I give a client a weight and they say “I can’t do that!” and they end up going through 3 sets no problem. Be confident and you can do it. A lot of it is mental. Which is what we are here for as well, to give you coaching cues and make you confident as you’re lifting. So when you’re lifting alone, remember those cues. When I lift, mentally I am telling myself things like, “Drive it up!” “Chest up shoulders back” “Explode!” Try it – it really helps.

Do you have a personal trainer or work out alone? Do you use mental phrases to help you?

What’s one question you’d like to ask a personal trainer? (hint: might have a Twitter chat on this soon!)

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04-17-2014

5 Tips For Exercising Outside

I recently wrote a post about a couple of ways to be active outdoors now that it’s starting to get warmer. Well, I wanted to follow up that post with a few tips on easing back into your warm weather routine. If you’re someone who loves to exercise outside, you’re probably eager to get back out there…I certainly am! But here are a few things to keep in mind as the weather starts to get warmer:

Tips For Exercising Outside
Photo Credit: -Reji via Compfight cc

Start slow. I know you just want to put on your sneakers and run for hours, but don’t! You risk injuring yourself and then being out of commission and missing out on all the awesome weather. If you didn’t run much this winter (cough Me cough), start slow. Perhaps start by running for time instead of miles, and work on building your base again. This way, you’ll gradually build up to where you used to be, and you avoid annoying injuries like shin splints.

Remember to wear sunscreen. I really need to be better about this as well. We all need to remember to put on sunscreen when we head outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s only 50-60 degrees, the sun is still beating on your face! Get one of those sprays that’s specifically for sports and keep it by the door so you remember it on your way out. I know Saucony makes some SPF protecting clothing…but I wonder if they actually work?

Get new sneakers. Check your sneakers and see if they are worn. Spring time is the perfect time to invest in a new pair of sneakers, because you will start using them a lot more! General rule of thumb on sneakers is 300-500 miles or around 3 months. If your treads are pretty worn, it’s time for a new pair.

Keep going to the gym. “What? I thought you want us to go outside!” Yes, I want to exercise outdoors as much as you do, but don’t forget about strength training! I know you’ve been cooped up at the gym all winter, but keep that in your routine. Make sure to incorporate strength training at least two times a week in order to keep your body strong and avoid injuries.

Hydrate and choose ideal times. Here are some of my tips for running in warmer weather, but in general, remember to stay hydrated! As it gets warmer out, you will sweat more. Choose good times to run, like early morning or evening as opposed to noon (probably more applicable in the summer). Sometimes you just can’t, and will need to run at noon (I have before), so make sure to hydrate AND wear that SPF! If you know you are running tomorrow and it will be hot, drink a ton of water the day before.

What would you add to this list?

Do you run/exercise outside throughout the winter? Good for you!

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04-02-2014

Should You Run Or Lift First?

I have a few random topics I will write about today…so bear with me :)

If you follow me on YouTube (and if you don’t, you should!), you may have seen my first Vlog I posted on Monday. I want to do short 1-2 minute vlogs, which will be different than my workout videos I upload. I’ll share about me and my running partners, and each video will end with a quick workout/running tip or fact.

Which is what the title of this blog refers to. On Monday, I went for a run with my brother before going to the gym to lift chest and back. Check out my video and see what my thoughts are on if you should run or lift first:

And in this one I talk about how to motivate yourself to run or workout when you really don’t want to!

Aannndddd last announcement…I’m going to be coaching Cross Country at the community college I work at! I am really excited. We had a meeting with prospective students yesterday and had a good turnout. We’ll see how it goes! I guess I need to start reading some coaching books huh? ;)

Any big news for you this week? What are you all working on?

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