11-07-2014

Random Fitness Tips

Happy Friday! Today I just wanted to share 2 fitness tips that have popped into my head in the past few days. Perhaps it will help you out as well.

Tip Number 1:

running in the winter
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know I ran 10 miles on Wednesday and already read this tip. Well, my mom and I needed to run 10 miles, but knew it would be dark out by the time we even started. So we headed to a local college campus (Rutgers) and ran around there. Luckily, Rutgers is big enough that we could run through all the campuses and complete 10 miles. But if you live near a college campus, utilize it! We had no issues with lighting and didn’t have to use our headlamps at all. There should be plenty of well-lit paths, and with students all around you will feel safer than running through unlit streets. Rutgers is about a 30 minute drive for me, but worth it, in my opinion, to be able to run comfortably at night.

Tip Number 2:

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Snapchat. (Add me on Snapchat! I’m under pattyrivas13) Now that winter is coming, your motivation may be lacking. Even though my mom and I run together most days, there are some days where we don’t. It’s harder for me to WANT to go run when I’m alone, but in order to check in with each other and motivate the other we send each other “snaps.” Yesterday, she told me she really didn’t want to run our recovery run. So I made sure to snap her while I was running with a funny video, and then she snapped me back later on when she was done running at the gym. Make a deal with a friend to snap each other when you do workout, and that way it will motivate the other. Plus, who doesn’t like getting funny snapchat videos/pictures from friends? :)

How do you stay motivated to continue to run or workout in the winter? Because last winter I did not run at all, and I don’t want to lose fitness this winter!

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10-22-2014

Add Pull Exercises To Your Routine

Chances are, if you’re like me, you sit at a desk for the majority of your day. This can wreak havoc on your posture and muscles. I wrote once about posture tips in the office, but today I want to talk about what you can do at the gym to help your posture.

Something I learned when I first starting personal training in 2010 was in regards to exercises we do that can either help or end up making our posture worst. Pull exercises are the #1 that can help you maintain better posture (I feel like I already typed posture 10 times and I’m only 2 paragraphs in).

Add These Back Workouts To Your Routine

Most people do push exercises when they’re at the gym, or do a combo of push and pull exercises.

Push exercises include: push-ups, bench press/any type of press

Pull exercises include: pull-ups, rows, pull-downs

I know that banging out a few bench press reps makes you feel awesome and hardcore, but it may not be the best thing for your posture. When you sit at a desk all day, chances are you’re probably hunched over, at least a little bit. That means your shoulders are rounded forward, and as time goes on, they stay like that. Your pectoral muscles get tight, and doing more bench press reps just ends up making it worse…meaning then your shoulders are hunched over, and the vicious cycle continues.

That’s why I suggest doing more pull exercises than push exercises. I rarely even do push exercises to be honest. I’d rather work on my back anyway, which is one of your largest muscle groups. I also have horrible posture so I know going for a bench press PR won’t help me (though I did try this winter haha).

Doing anything that involves pulling will work your back muscles, which is good for a few reasons.

  1. Working a large muscle group like your back means you’re burning more calories, before and after the workout.
  2. Your back muscles are what keeps your posture up and also pulls your shoulders back. A strong back will help correct posture imbalances.

When you start doing more back workouts, just make sure you mix up horizontal pulls (seated row) and vertical pulls (lat pulldown).

MY FAVORITE PULL EXERCISES

Here are a few of my go-tos, and I wrote about more in a previous post as well:

Negative pull-ups

Can’t do a pull-up? No problem. Start with these. These are really tough but will make you stronger really quickly. This exercises focuses on your lats and biceps. Yeah you’re not actually PULLING yourself up but you’re working towards being able to do unassisted pull-ups (if that’s your goal)

Start with lowering in 5 seconds, and work your way up to 10 seconds (aka it takes you 10 seconds before your arms are straight again)

Seated row

I love seated row. It’s probably my favorite exercise and has really helped me build a stronger back. Make sure you sit with your chest up and shoulders back. Shoulders back always!! Pull in with force, then take 3 seconds to let the weight go again. Don’t rush through any of these exercises. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades as you pull in.

Cable row (Runners, add this to your routine!)

I just started doing this as I’ve been half marathon training and I believe it has really helped me running. Go to a cable machine, pull the cable out a bit and stand in a split stance. Leg that goes back matches with the arm holding the cable. As always, chest up, shoulders back and when you pull make sure to maintain that posture and don’t let your body turn in any way. Your torso should stay facing forward. Pull in with force, then slowly let it out.

She’s not standing in a split stance but her form cues are exactly what you need to be doing.

Why is this great for runners? Because it’s working on your arm strength specific to running. When you need power, what do you do? You pump your arms. You need that arm force. This exercises goes through that exact movement pattern, and as you get stronger you’ll have more power when you need that finishing kick.

To make it more challenging and add in a leg workout too, you can grab the cable, do a reverse lunge, and as you come up do the cable row.

So my main tip? Stop doing as much pushing and start pulling!

Do you do chest AND back exercises or tend to focus more on one?

What’s your favorite pull exercise?

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10-21-2014

How To Wash Your Workout Clothes

I have way more workout clothes than normal clothes. My laundry days consist of probably 90% workout clothes. I love that I work in an athletic office and as a coach so I can wear fitness apparel to work too. Though now it sucks because when I put on jeans I feel so constricted, blah.

Anyway, it’s important to take care of your workout gear if you want them to last. I used to just throw them all in the wash with my normal clothes and call it a day. Now I’m careful to wash them how they’re supposed to be washed, and hang dry them.

I learned key things once I started working with Raw Athletics, a company that puts out a natural sports detergent and a sports spray (for your funky smelling shoes). I actually also wrote up a post on their products, so if you’re interested in trying it out, read it here!

I mean, did you know you shouldn’t wash your workout clothes with things like jeans and towels? I definitely didn’t. 

How To Wash Your Workout Clothes

So now I’m going to share a few tips I learned from Raw Athletics on how to wash your workout clothes :)

Like I mentioned above, you probably already know to wash your athletic wear in a cold wash and air dry. For some reason I used to wash in hot because I figured a scalding hot wash would kill all the bacteria and odor. Most performance apparel laundry instructions state to use a cold wash.

Don’t wash with abrasive fabrics. This includes jeans, towels, and anything with zippers. I made the mistake of doing this with a lululemon top and something got caught and pulled out a thread. Very annoying when you pay $$$ for lululemon stuff! Besides that, washing with other clothes can cause pilling and fraying.

Use powdered detergent. Raw Athletics does a good job of explaining this so I’m just going to quote them here:

Most brands, especially Nike Dri-Fit, recommend using a powdered detergent because powdered surfactants gently yet very effectively remove soils and debris from the fabric much better than liquid surfactants, without leaving behind any residue.

Don’t use detergents with fragrances. Like Tide Sport or Febreze. The smell clogs up the pores of your clothes, which leads to even smellier clothes as time goes on (from your sweat being stuck on the fabric). You’d think using fragrances would HELP the whole smelly clothes issue, but that’s not the case! Brands like Nike and lululemon even put on their instructions to avoid using fabric softeners.

Turn clothes inside out. According to a few brands’ washing instructions, you should turn your clothes inside out before washing. I actually did not know that until I started writing this post! Good to know. Doing so reduces fading of colors and also reduces pilling. 

Random side note (speaking of pilling) – I just bought a pair of lululemon Wunder Unders last weekend, and the inside groin/crotch area is already starting to pill. WTF?? When something costs upwards of $90, shouldn’t this not happen? Or is this normal? Anyone else have this issue?

Anyway…those are just a few tips to help you out on your next laundry day. I’ve noticed that once I started taking better care of my garments, they lasted longer and stayed in decent condition. Also, once I started using Raw Athletics, it really helped take that awful sweaty smell out. Or you know how sometimes you wash your clothes, but then as soon as you sweat in them they stink? That would always happen to me. 

If you want to read other reviews of their products, you can find one here from MCM Mama Runs, and one from The Active Guy. Feel free to leave any questions below!

Oh also, here are washing guides specific to each popular fitness brand, brought to you by Raw Athletics:

Do you take care of your workout clothes? Do you follow the washing instructions or just throw everything in together?

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09-22-2014

What’s In My Gym Bag?

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by HerCampus and Affinitas. All opinions are my own.

Now that I work two shifts, one in the office and one as a cross country coach, I need to get all my gym stuff ready in the morning and bring it with me. I go directly to the gym or for a run after work.

Here’s a peek into what I have in my gym bag at the moment:

gym bag

 

Side note: I love my hair brush that says “Is it Friday yet?” No really….is it? :-P

Anyway, here are the items that are always in my bag starting from top left:

  • Sports bra
  • Small towel 
  • Workout top
  • Workout shorts
  • FlipBelt for my runs
  • Hair brush
  • Deodorant
  • Change of clothes for after my shower

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve meant to shower at the gym and forget something, like my towel or underwear…ugh the worst.

Well, that’s where Cupcake Panties come in handy!

What? Cupcake Panties? Yes you heard me right. Now, if you’re like me, you may have immediately thought these were some sort of edible underwear or something. They’re not. They’re underwear that come in a little cupcake packaging, which makes it the perfect on-the-go item to carry in your gym bag or purses!

It’s discreet and you’ll never have that embarrassing moment of grabbing something out of your bag and accidentally pulling your underwear out as well.

cupcake panties

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I really do love the packaging, and the underwear is super cute too! Cupcake Panties come in lacy hipster and lacy thongs, so you can keep them in your bag and always be prepared.

cupcake panties

cupcake panties

I personally love these because, as I mentioned above, I have pulled stuff out of my bag before and had my underwear come out too. This also happens probably because sometimes I pack my gym clothes in my normal bag, but still. The cupcake packaging is cute and very useful! I plan on keeping these in my gym bag so I’m prepared next time I need to shower at the gym.

Hey College Students!! Win a $1,000 scholarship. Find the full instructions here. It’s super easy to enter:

Cupcake Panty $1000 Scholarship and “Super Bakers Dozen”

Prize is $1000, plus a “Super Bakers Dozen” (16) Cupcake Panty

Only three steps to enter:

1) Follow Affinitas on social media: FB, Twitter, Instagram

  • FB: facebook.com/AffinitasIntimates
  • Twitter: @AffinitasIntima
  • Instagram: @Affinitas

2) Post a pic of your acceptance letter next to your congratulatory cupcake

3) Tag Affinitas and hashtag #wearacupcake

Good luck if you decide to enter!

Have you ever had any embarrassing gym moments or forgotten things in your gym bag? I seem to always forget my towel!

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09-17-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

Feeling so tired today. Ever have those weeks where you just need like 1 day to sleep in and catch up? That’s how I’m feeling this week. Oh well…gotta keep trucking along! At least it’s already Wednesday :)

I have some great info for you all today, so when you have some downtime, take a look!

Featured: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Balls (Nutritious Eats)

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These look so good! I have made similar “protein balls” in the past, and I can attest to the fact that they taste like a cookie or sweet treat, when in reality they are much healthier. Doesn’t take long to make at all!

  • Ultra Fluffy Vanilla Pumpkin Chickpea Pancakes (Strength & Sunshine) – I’m currently all about pumpkin so I need to make these. I’ve never actually had pumpkin in anything other than coffee :-P
  • 18 Spiralized Recipes (Side of Sneakers) – I have been loving spiralized zucchini lately. I use my Veggetti which works well and is small so it’s easy to store. Except yesterday I accidentally sliced my finger in it =(
  • Killer Legs & Glutes (Fighting For Wellness) – This looks like a great lower body workout. I love swiss ball leg curls.
  • Better Than Takeout Chicken Fried Rice (Eat Pray Run DC) – I actually haven’t had takeout in forever, which now has me craving takeout. Perhaps I’ll have to make this for dinner this week!

Have you used a spiralizer? What are your favorite veggies to use?

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07-30-2014

How To: Medicine Ball Slams + Workout

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then you may have seen my picture tutorial on how to do medicine ball slams:

Medicine Ball Slams

 Medicine ball slams are a great exercise because it’s a full body workout. You’re working your legs and upperbody, and getting in some cardio too. You may feel silly at first doing this in a gym (I did), but it will make you feel bad@$$ ;) I have seen a lot of people doing it at the gym too, so don’t think you’re the only one. Below are the steps + a video tutorial, but keep reading for a full medicine ball workout as well!

Here are the steps:

  1. Semi squat down as if you’re preparing to jump. Keep your core tight and flat back…same form as if you were doing regular squats.
  2. Bring the ball up over your head and prepare to slam it down. As you can see in my picture, I’m on my toes as I prepare to slam it down. You don’t want to just bring it over your head – have some power to it! Be careful not to hyper-extend your back.
  3. Slam the ball down as hard as you can, and again you will end in that semi-squat position. Catch the ball on the rebound and repeat.

For those of you who like video tutorials:

Here’s a workout to try next time you’re at the gym. All you need is the medicine ball!

Medicine Ball Workout

For the tricep extensions, it’s the same thing as if you were holding a dumbbell. See below (minus the lunge):

Med-Ball-Lunge-with-Tricep

 

And medicine ball twists are your standard seated ab exercise. Make sure you keep your chest up and shoulders back the hold time. Twist solely with your arms, not your spine.

Do the routine for 3-5 sets through, or do as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes…let me know which one you do!

Have you incorporated medicine ball slams into your routine? 

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07-23-2014

8 Ways To Reward Yourself For Working Hard

Sometimes, we all need a little extra motivation to push us towards our goals. For me, in a time where I’m not really training for anything, this is especially true! Or even if you are working towards something, a little treat always feels good.

I like to reward myself when I complete a goal, like finishing a marathon, or setting a PR. My favorite way to do so is adding in an extra rest day so I can truly relax ;) But here are 8 other ways you can reward yourself for working hard in the gym & out:

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Photo Credit: kaneda99 via Compfight cc

1. Buy new workout clothes, sneakers, etc. Who doesn’t love going to the gym in new gear? I love splurging on some items (hello lululemon), but also find great things regularly at T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, Target and Old Navy. I think buying clothes is great for when you hit mini-goals…or basically, at any time ;)

2. Pamper yourself. If you’re like me, you don’t pamper yourself enough. I get manis and pedis occasionally but not that often. Whenever I do this, or get a new haircut, I always leave the salon feeling confident and well-manicured. Don’t get massages often? Save it for after your longest run ever, or after a tough race…what a great way to relax and work out those knots.

3. Save up. Pampering yourself costs money. A great idea I saw on Pinterest a while ago was to put $1 in a jar every time you hit the gym. If you go 5 days a week for a month, you’ll have about $20 at the end (thank you captain obvious, I know). $20 = two manicures! Or save up for a big workout clothes shopping spree…or a massage…or a blowout…or new running shoes (that’s what I splurge most on).

savings-jarSource

4. Eat dinner somewhere new. We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t reward yourself with food, you’re not a dog.” That’s not what I mean. Find somewhere with a great, healthy selection and go out on a dinner date. Nothing better than a delicious salad or a good chicken dish after a hard workout.

5. Be a tourist in your own town. Visit a new museum, park, etc. in your town. I can name probably 10 places in my area that I haven’t been to in all the time I’ve been here. Hey, I’m 45 min outside of the city and I, myself, haven’t been to the Statue of Liberty yet. Also, check out your library for special coupons or deals. I just found out my library gives away passes/tickets to the Guggenheim Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I need to do this before the summer ends!

6. Take a new fitness class. After training for a race for months, I need a break from running. Same with lifting. Taking a new fitness can help reignite your passion for fitness, and you may also find your new favorite way to exercise. If you’re in a plateau, either physically or mentally, find a new class or club (like a running club), to try out.

7. Get someone else to reward you. Hey, massages are expensive…so why not get someone else to buy one for you ;) This is a good incentive for couples. Perhaps you and your significant other (or you could also do it with your best friend) make bets based on your goals…winner gets the reward! Who else is competitive? ;)

8. Buy something you’ve wanted for a while. Recently, I splurged on a pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers. I’ve wanted them for so long but never bought them because I rarely spend a lot on myself. I always tell myself that money is put to better use. Well, this time I got the sunglasses I’ve been wanting for years. I bought them to reward myself to getting new clients for my business, and you can do the same for any big goal you set and achieve.

What’s the last thing you splurged on for yourself?

Do you like to splurge or are you like me?

What would you add to this list? Leave a comment below!

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06-25-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day (Travel Edition)

One more day and I’m outta here! I’m excited to be traveling to South America…though I’ll admit I will miss my cats ;) But at least my uncle will be home to take care of them. We were nervous we wouldn’t be able to find someone to watch over them. Yes, I have multiple cats…I swear I’m not a crazy cat lady! :)

Today’s links will be travel related for all of you who will be going on a vacation this summer. Found a lot of helpful information! A new thing I want to add to these health & fitness posts is a featured post:

Featured Post

15 Minute Hotel Workout

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Definitely doing this workout by Healthy Happier Bear while I’m away. I love timed workouts because it’s easy enough to do and all you need is a timer. Plus, 15 minutes? Perfect for when you don’t have time to dedicate to a longer workout – whether you’re on vacation or not!

Healthy Eating While Traveling

Fitness

What are some of your tips on how to stay healthy while on vacation? I’d love to hear them!

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06-23-2014

Benefits Of Not Training For A Big Race

I’ve been loving not having any races to train for. It has given me the freedom to run when I want, and skip a run when I want. The days I’m not feeling a run, I’m okay with doing something else. In fact, I’ve been wanting to do other workouts since when I AM training for something, it’s hard to get other types of workouts in.

So what have I been doing?

Well, last week I went to play tennis with my sister and I remembered how much I really like it. My parents used to send me to tennis lessons as a kid and I hated it. Now, I wish I had kept up with it…who knows maybe I actually would have been good at tennis :)

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Side note: I always wonder, what if there is something I’m really good at but will never know. Like what if I could go to the Olympics for snowboarding or swimming or something? The world will never know…

Anyway, I’ve also gotten back into spinning. I have taken a few classes with a friend, but also make up my own workouts at the gym.

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The above picture was from a combo spin + yoga class at Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ. 45 minutes of spin, 45 minutes of yoga. Loved it!

Here’s my spin playlist I used for my own spin workout that I did yesterday, if you’re interested:

I used to hate spin but actually really like it now. I am on the hunt for an inexpensive bike so I can start riding outside. I’ve written about how I want to do a sprint triathlon later this summer (possibly), so I need a bike for that! I have a mountain bike, but not sure if I can use that?

I’ve also enjoyed going to the gym and getting back into lifting. I’m not following any set plan right now, but have liked doing more interval type workouts using weights. My sister and I did a tough one yesterday, which I will actually share on my YouTube channel later this week – so stay tuned!

Here we are after the workout:

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 But I can’t forget about running. I do miss it sometimes, and the other day I just felt the urge to go for a run, even after an hour of lifting. I decided not to wear a watch or anything, and just go with the flow. I ran 2.6 miles and felt amazing despite the heat.

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I love those runs where you just feel like you can run forever. I could have kept going but dinner was waiting and it was already 8 pm and I was hungry :)

I think my mom and I will be doing a half marathon in September or October, and we’d also like to do the Philly Half. We are considering doing a spring full marathon but I don’t know how I feel about training in the winter time! I have only done it once for a May half marathon, and it wasn’t bad…but I do prefer training in the summer. We’ll see!

What types of workouts do you do when you’re not running?

Have you done a spring full marathon? Which one? How’d you adjust to running in the winter?

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06-20-2014

Running Tour Of My Town

Recently, I saw a blogger give readers a photo tour of her runs in Charleston, SC (jealous much?). I’ve actually meant to do this for a while, and have had these pictures on my computer…I just never posted it. Seeing the snow in the pictures made me grateful it’s summer!

So I live in a tiny little town in New Jersey. The population is a little over 2,500. I’ve lived here me whole life and although sometimes it’s boring living in a town that is 15-30 minutes away from everything (grocery stores, movie theaters, mall), it’s scenic and peaceful.

Okay let’s start! I usually run down Main Street, which runs along the entire length of the town (a little over 2 miles).

These photos are in the “center of town.” There is a coffee shop, a little boutique, and the post office. Also a luxury car dealer…well, “dealer.” They have like 3 Porsche’s out front.

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cocoluxe

Cocoluxe is the coffee shop and they have the best pastries! A bit pricey but so worth it.

If you keep running past here, you’ll make it to our town pond. Every Miles For Matheny 5K that I’ve done starts here, and many town events are held here as well. I remember going to movie nights in the park when I was a kid. They also have these 2 swans that are actually kind of mean!

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Around the corner from here is our town pizza shop. I swear it’s the best pizza ever, but Dan doesn’t agree. But those who live in town would definitely agree it’s the best pizza ever ;)

pizza

On my run back towards home, I sometimes do some hill sprints on this pretty steep road. It’s perfect for hill sprints – you can either do 30 seconds, or if you run up the full hill it’s about 1 minute.

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Lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture of the sunset at one of the highest points in town. I like to go up there to take in the views and think about life :)

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From my house to the edge of town is about 2 miles, so I can do a 4 miler right in town. Sometimes I get pretty sick of it, but I am grateful I live in a safe area where I rarely have to worry about my safety while on a run (knock on wood).

Give us a tour of your runs in town! I’d love to see your pictures.

How long is your running loop in your town?

Do you mainly run in town or drive to other locations to run?

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