Monday, April 30, 2012

Fitness Tip: Chocolate Milk

Milk... does a body good. And for some athletes, chocolate milk can do your body even better.

Studies suggest that for some athletes, after an intensive cardio workout, (cycling, swimming, running) chocolate milk can be better for your body's recovery than gatorade or the like. It has just the right mix of sugars and proteins to replenish sore muscles.

This is not for the "I just worked out for 15 minutes" crowd. But if you are dead beat after a 45 min or 60 workout, give some low fat chocolate milk a try. Say 6 oz. or 4 oz if you are trying to lose weight.

I've been doing this pretty religiously on anything 5 miles or higher. So far, I am able to run back to back days much easier, and my sore limping time has decreased.  Give it a shot.

Here's one of my sources for the article.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Long Run: Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon

So most of the times I try to share a lesson or a thought. Something I've learned over the course of this accidental adventure. Today however, I will be running the Thanksgiving Point half marathon, and I wanted to share it with you.

I'm actually writing this part of Friday night. My nerves are jumpy, and I probably won't be able to sleep. But that's half the fun right? I picked up my packet and my number is 992. Sounds like a good number to me. So I'm going to go to sleep now (maybe), and after I finish the race tomorrow, I will post how it went. It's timed. I'm sure I won't be first. I probably won't be last. But it doesn't matter, as long as I finish.

Ok, so I've finally recovered enough to sit at the computer. LOL. Here's a tip, if the race is run through a golf course, just say NO. This was a really tough race with lots of steep inclines and drops following the Thanksgiving Point golf course. That part mooey sucked.  But the first part was awesome. We ran through the gardens. There were tulips and lilacs everywhere. Fountains and waterfalls. Bridges, archways, and tunnels. I almost wanted to slow down to soak it in a little more.

I had intended this run to be basically another training run for the marathon, meaning slow and steady. Ehh. Didn't happen. Once I got next to the other runners my little competitive fuse got lit by adrenaline. I was doing my run at 8:30 min per mile pace for half mile, the recovery walk for 1 minute. There was this guy, we will call him green guy because of his attire. Green guy and I kept jockeying for position. I would run ahead of him, then my watch would beep and I would walk. During the walk cycle he would pass me for a moment until my watch beeped that it was time to run again. Then I'd leave him in the dust.

Every time I passed green guy he would groan or swear. He was so mad that I kept passing him then holding back. Then passing again. He finally said something unpleasant. I ignored him and kept on running. I made it my mission to beat him to the finish. So when we approached all the hills my legs really wanted to slow down, but I was not going to let that snot beat me.

Long story short, I beat him to the finish by 3 minutes. Even though I took walk breaks every half mile and he ran continuously. I finished at 2:02:30. in about the top third of all the registered people.

Lesson to be learned? Do your own thing and tune out the naysayers. People may have thought I was dumb for run.walking, but at the end of the race I was exhausted and I was injury free. Green guy was limping. Who had the better run?

Run, walk, skip, or jump. Do your own thing and whatever makes you happy. The only rule is that you have to finish.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Exercise for the Soul: Backpack Meditation

I don't know about you, but sometimes I carry alot of crap around with me. I'm not talking about the stuff in handbag, I'm talking about the junk in my emotional backpack. The stuff I carry around everywhere that weighs down my spirit.  So here's a little visualization technique I made up to help lighten the load.

Go into you meditative stance. Lie down, sit.. whatever works for you. Just find a place you're comfortable that you can zone out the world.

Now imagine yourself on the bank of the a river. You're carrying a big backpack, stuffed with all the things you're worried about. Set the backpack down in the tall meadowy grass. Open it up and start pulling out your burdens one by one. Examine each weight, analyze it. Is it something you really need to worry about? If not, put it in the river and let it float away. Once you've gone through and cataloged all you troubles, only put the ones absolutely necessary to function, back into your backpack. Chuck everything else into the river and watch it float away, leaving your sight and life.

Put your backpack on a gain. Feel how much lighter it is without the extra weights from worrying about dumb things, or things you can't control.

Open your eyes and go about the rest of your day. Make sure you leave the discarded worries where they belong, away from you and your emotional backpack.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Potpourri: Food like substance

So I went to a nutrition slash cooking class on Tuesday, and I'm going to the cooking part tonite.

The class was hosted by Tres Hatch, the author of The Miracle Pill. I will review this later. Great book.

Anyway, she said something that made me think. Therefore I think you should think.

How much of the food you eat comes from a box? Or a drive thru bag?

I want to take it one step further. How much of the food you eat is actually food, and how much is just a food-like-substance. Does what you eat actually resemble the way the ingredients started out?

For me the answer is a no.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dress for Success: Comfortable blues

This is a piece of advice I have just started implementing in my own life. Lately I have been busy certifying as a Sport Yoga trainer. My wardrobe has been 24/7 yoga pants and clothes. They're comfortable and loose, and I like the fit. However, I do look a bit schlubby.

When we feel a little down about our size or shape, we tend to reach for comfort things. Comfort food and comfort clothes. If I feel a little bloated, I avoid jeans like the plague. I want my nice capri yoga pants. Sure I'm comfortable, but in my scrubbies I only feel worse about myself.

So starting today, when I feel a bit frumpy, I am going to get dolled up. Even if it's just to sit in front of my computer. I'm not dressing up for anyone else, I'm doing it for me. If I feel crappy, that's probably when I need to pull out those jeans that I know make my butt look great. I may not feel like it, but I bet I will feel better when I look in the mirror and see a put together woman instead of the bed headed schlub.

Not my kid, but I saw this on the web and it was too cute not to use. So thank you anonymous kid for showing exactly how I feel some days.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Snack Smart: Whole wheat pitas and Smoky Hummus

Here's another yummy recipe. I had it on my other blog, but thought I would share it here as well. Plus a new Smoky Hummus. Both are the brain child of my husband. I take no credit other than the fact that they're yummy

Recipe for: Whole Wheat Pita Bread
To prepare: Bake in oven on pizza stone at 450° F.
3 cups whole wheat flour
1½ Tbs sugar
1½ tsp salt
2 pkg (1½ Tbs) active dry yeast
2 Tbs olive oil
1¼ cups warm water

Mix all ingredients and knead for about 10 min.
Let dough raise in an oiled bowl until doubled, 1-1½ hours.
Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450° F.
Punch down dough and divide into 8 equal pieces (divide again into 4 for mini-pitas) and roll into balls.
Roll out balls on lightly floured surface into thin, 8” rounds (2” for mini-pitas).
Place rounds on pizza stone and bake until they puff up, then about 30 seconds more (about 3½ minutes total).
Note: instead of a pizza stone, you can use a baking sheet. Just make sure to preheat it in the oven.

Recipe for: Smoky Hummus
1 can (16 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
¼ cup lemon juice
3 Tbs tahini (sesame paste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp salt

Drain and rinse chickpeas.
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender.
Puree until smooth, adding a small amount of water to thin if necessary.
Garnish with olive oil.
No picture for the hummus. I ate it too fast :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fitness Tip: R.I. C.E

Whenever you have an ache or pain in the knee, hip, back... whatever- listen because your body is trying to tell you something. It needs RICE.

Rice is not a only the foundation of good sushi. Its also the acronym for the foundation of good training. Follow the letters to help avoid injury, especially if you are working your body harder than it's used to.

Rest- muscles need a chance to heal the microtears they incur from exercise. Its the rest and healing that make it grow stronger.
Ice- Ice packs reduce the swelling. Feels good too :)
Compression- wrapping the injury or sore muscle reduces swelling and provides necessary support while its healing.
Elevation- Keep it up and keep off it for a little while. Keep the blood from pooling in it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Long Run: You can do hard things

Today's long run is 18 miles. I'm not gonna lie, it's given me heart palpitations all week. It's big and scary and really, really, hard.

So this week I have been repeating our family mantra- You can do hard things.

The mantra was given to us by my daughter's occupational therapist. When my daughter was 4 yrs old, she refused to do anything. Everything was too hard. Tying her shoes, walking, getting dressed... you name it. She stopped trying to do anything because she was afraid she wouldn't be able to do it. It was going to be too hard. That's when her therapist told her that it's ok that the big scary thing was hard. Because she was a supergirl. And she could do hard things. It took some convincing and a whole lot of practice, but now all it usually takes is that gently reminder to get her back on course.

I'm not four but I still have the same problems. I look at something and all the work it's gonna take and I say nu uh. It's too hard. I don't want to do it.

I know for sure I can run 18 miles. I've run  26.2. But even though I know I can do it doesn't mean it's not going to be tough. It's still intimidating, but I just have to tell myself over and over that I can do hard things. I grew two little human beings. It doesn't get much harder than that.

So everytime I feel that little tendril of fear creeping into my belly and want to crawl back in my shell, I look back and find something I've done that was tough, but I survived anyway. So take that 18 miles, I can do hard things.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Exercise for the Soul: Meditation Primer

Meditation is not the practice of emptying the mind. It is the practice of focusing the mind. Over the next few weeks I am going to be providing some mediation exercises. But first, you have to prepare your body, just like you would any exercise.

Find a quiet spot and sit with a straight back. Make sure the kids are at grandma's or asleep or in another room. If you need help quieting your mind, try some white noise or the sound of rolling waves. Try to clear your mind of the laundry list of things to do. Focus on your body.

Start with your toes. Connect your mind to them. Become aware of all the muscles in your foot. Flex and relax them. Continue up the rest of your body. Calves, hamstrings, glutes, back and core, hands, forearms, biceps, neck and facial muscles.

The goal is to be aware and in control of every muscle in your body. Making a connection that last long after the meditation is over. With practice you will be able to relax any muscle at will.

This is also a great bedtime exercise. Relax and drift off to sleep.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Potpourri: Dark Chocolate

Don't know if it's true. I just found this quote and footnote. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Bring on the dark chocolate.

Exercisers can improve their performance by as much as 50 percent if they eat dark chocolate regularly.At least they can if they're mice. Researchers fed mice the flavonol epicatechin, a key ingredient in dark chocolate, then put them through two weeks of treadmill tests and observed "an integrated response that includes structural and metabolic changes in skeletal and cardiac muscles resulting in greater endurance capacity."
Leonardo Nogueira et al., "Epicatechin Enhances Fatigue Resistance and Oxidative Capacity in Mouse Muscle." Journal of Physiology, 2011, doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.20992.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dress for Success: Bra Fit

Sorry boys, this post is ladies only.

An ill fitting bra can ruin any size woman's figure. We've all seen the signs. Saggy boobs. Or worse... back boobs. Then there are the falling straps, or the ones that cut off circulation. Heaven forbid, you can even fall out.

Every woman should have regular bra fittings. I like the Nordstrom ladies personally. I know its scary and a embarrassing. If you absolutely can't bring yourself to do it, then use these tips to find the right size. And remember to Try on, try on , try on. Just because you have the right size, doesn't mean every brand bra will be cut or fit right for your shape.

Step 1. Make sure the bra band is comfortable but snug. You should be able to fit 2 fingers underneath by stretching a little. A regular bra should not be trying to make you smaller. That would be a corset. An entirely different undergarment.

Step 2. Make sure the band is parallel and horizontal all the way around. The back should be part should be as low as the front. No riding up. Cuz if the back goes up, the front goes down.This makes for saggy boobs.

Step 3. Underwires are your friend. And friends don't pinch or poke. Make sure the under wire contours your body snug to the ribcage without sticking out.

Step 4. Use the Goldilocks test on the cups. Not too small, not too big, just right. There shouldn't be extra space in the cup. On the other hand there shouldn't be spillage either. If it doesn't fit in the cup, move up a cup. Play with different styles until you find the cup shape that fits your breast. Some cups are very narrow, and this causes side spillage if you have a wider breast area.

Step 5. Give it the jiggle test. Raise your arms ups and down. Are the girls safe locked and loaded? Or do they pop up or the cup wrinkles?

If at first you don't succeed, keep trying different brands. A good bra is the foundation for your frame. Crappy bra, crappy contours. Good luck and happy hunting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Snack Smart: Arctic Zero Ice Cream

Sometimes life demands ice cream. There is just no way around it. If you're anything like me, sometimes life demands the entire pint. Ben and Jerrys used to be my choice for death by calories. Now, I find it difficult to justify at least 1000 calories, no matter how great pumpkin cheesecake tastes.

This is a solution that works for me when my day has sucked bad enough that they only remedy is a spoon and a pint. It's called Arctic Zone ice cream. I had the Mint Chocolate Chip. I warn you, it's spendy around 4 bucks a pint. And it's no Ben and Jerrys. But it is 150 calories. For the whole pint.

It's gluten free, lactose free, organic and natural, and low sugar. So it probably tastes like crap right? It's actually not bad. Don't expect it to be creamy fattening ice cream, because you will be disappointed. But if you need the cold, frozen, dig your spoon into something, fix- then give it a try. Think of it more like a minty chocalatey slushy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fitness Tips: Abs Part 2

Here's the second ab video with Jessica to Mambo #5. Remember to alternate this and video number 1 every other day. And that's how you strengthen your core and get a great ab workout for under 5 minutes a day

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Long Run: Pride cometh before the fall

This week I had myself a little spark of correction. I had to rearrange my running schedule because my best friend and head of the fat pack, Sarah Michelle, is getting married today. I moved my run to Wednesday. It was a 17 miler. I figured that if I dropped my kiddos off at preschool at 9, I had 3 hours to get the run done. Shouldn't be a problem.

It was a problem. My legs did not want to cooperate. I kept checking my watch for my pace, sure that it was wrong, but no. I was going slow.

The smart thing to do would have been to go at the pace that I needed to go at to finish the miles without taxing my legs.  Did I do that? Of course not. I pushed myself faster and harder to try and make sure I could get the kids picked up on time.

I'll tell you what happened. I was still late, and now my previously injured hamstring is acting up. Why didn't I just call my mom to pick up the kids? Because of pride, that's why. Because I thought I should be able to match my personal best on any given day. I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I was not getting slower.

Stupid Betsy. It's ok to be slow. It's ok to be fast. It's ok to be whatever I am today.
It just took a little spark of correction in my hamstring to remember that.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Exercise for the Soul: Box Breathing

Here's an important part of exercise often overlooked...breathing. It's automatic, so we tend not to think about it, but breathing can be the key to weight loss and fitness success. Proper breathing reduces stress levels, and helps facilitate fat loss. It also provides oxygen to the muscles, allowing them to work harder and get stronger. Some experts claim you can even lose a size just by breathing. I don't know about that, but I know my mental and physical well being have improved dramatically, just by taking the time to breathe properly.

Here's an exercise called boxed breathing:

Step 1: Sit up straight, making sure your lungs are not constricted by poor posture.

Step  2: Close your eyes and clear your mind

Step 3 Close your mouth (unless you have hayfever) and breahte in deeply through the nose for 4 counts.

Step 4 Hold breathe inside for 4 counts, allowing it to fill your body.

Step 5 Exhale for 4 counts.

Step 6 Complete the box by holding breath again for 4 counts.

Repeat at least 5 times for a calmer more focused you :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Potpourri: Obesity by tax bracket

I recently read a study whose findings indicated that women in a lower tax brackets are more likely to be obese than their wealthier counterparts.

To this I say a big fat "duh". Unless you're starving yourself, if you got no money, you eat off the dollar menu, or ramen. Cheeseburger and fries do not exactly help the waistline.

It's very easy to say, "Well If I had money for a personal chef and trainer, I'd be skinny too." That's true, but I know I still need to be making better choices. I can't afford a trainer or a fancy gym, but I can take community classes. Or run for free.

Food is still a problem though. Why is it that Cheap food is unhealthy, and healthy food is uncheap? Buying fresh fruits and veggies can kill a budget in a week. Try a farmer's market, a co-op, or growing your own. Or do what I do, beg your neighbors for leftovers from their gardens.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dress for Success: Lose the baggy

My friend has lost around 18-20 pounds. She is still wearing the exact same sweats we worked out in a year ago. They are just baggier now. Problem is, she has trouble remembering what they looked like 20 pounds ago. So when she looks in the mirror, she can't see any change.

It's tempting to say, "But I want to lose more weight, so I don't want to buy new clothes". Money is always an issue, I know. But sometimes, your eyes will lie to you and you'll see yourself in those same XL sweats and think you are still XL. Uh uh, oh no. Be proud of your changing shape, bite the bullet, and get something that fits well. It's easier to see the improvements when they are not hiding under the same clothes you felt fat it.

A word of warning: I'm not talking about doubling up on spandex for the gym either. If it feels like sausage casing, it probably looks that way too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Snack Smart: Hummus Recipe

I don't cook. That's why my house is still standing. But my husband does like to experiment in the kitchen. This is his recipe for hummus that got me through the potato chip withdrawals. I'm sure he swiped it off

Part 1
2 cups canned garbanzo beans
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil

Part 2
1 dash of paprika to taste
1 teaspoon fresh minced parsley

Put everything from part 1in a ninja, magic bullet or food processor. Push the button until it smooths out. Then put it in a bowl, preferably one of those ziplocy containers, cuz you are not gonna want to eat all this at once. Portion control.  Then sprinkle on  part 2. You can add a teensy tiny bit of Olive oil if you like. 

 Voila, yummy hummus. Eat a small portion with a few baked pita chips or 1 pita. If you are using as a meal substitution, then go for broke with 2 pitas.

There is some good fats involved as well as some fiber. I think 1/8 a cup is 77 calories. Not including the pita. Make the flavors good and strong so you only need a little.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Fitness Tip: Abs part 1

I didn't even know I had abs before I started going to the gym. I just figured I had a donut gut. Then after one week of cardio blast, my body let me know, even under layers of fat, I indeed had abs... and they hurt! Like I said last week, you don't need 500 crunches a day. A 5 min alternating every other day routine, should be plenty. Unless you want a 6 pack abs-- if I ever manage to get one of those, I'll let you know how.

In the meantime, here is my Zumba instructors ab workout that she alternates with.  It's only one song, but it WILL kick your butt. Stick with it, and see results. I'll try and get the other song for next week

Thank you Jessica for letting me post this.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Long Run: Half Marathons

So today's run is a little less than last week's. Today I am running a half marathon. This is a fad that has really taken off in the past few years. It used to be all 5 and 10K and full marathons. The half is an excellent compromise and a great stepping stone on your way to a full marathon if you just can't help yourself.

So 13.1 miles. Definitively easier than 26.2, but still not something you should just hop off the couch the day before to do. Here's my official recommendation. If you are new to running, as in haven't run to the mailbox in over a year, then plan on training for 4 months before tackling this bad boy. Even if you think your heart is up to the exertion, your bones and joints might not be. Running is a high impact exercise. I read that it takes 6 months to fully adjust your skeletal structure to the changes required to sustain that impact.

If you've been running for a few months, or jogging- let's say even one mile per run- than I would give you a 9 week training program.

Either way, it's not a good idea to see an ad for a race, that's say next month, and sign up and think you'll be ready. I like to stay in the kind of shape where I can pick up a half marathon even a week before. But it means staying in that kind of training mode year round. At least one run a week is 9 miles.

So if a half marathon sounds like something you want to achieve, go for it. You'll probably get a really cool medal. Just make sure you plan ahead and give your body time to adjust to your own needs. For me, the sense of accomplishment was absolutely worth the training. And the knee pain.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Exercise for the Soul: Make the impossible possible

A year ago, the idea of me completing a marathon was laughable. It was an impossible goal. Through lots of little successes, training hard, and learning to finish, I made it through 26.2 grueling miles. Now I am training to do it again.

Find something in your life that you think you could never ever do. Something really hard. Don't pick something that requires alot of luck or connections, like becoming a pop star. Pick something that is tough to achieve because it takes hard work. Speaking in front of a crowd of 200. Running 5 miles. Losing 25 pounds. Finishing school. Find something, then knuckle down and do it.

Funny thing about doing the impossible, it makes everything possible.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Potpourri: Caffeine

Random fact I came across: Caffeine speeds up the metabolism but slows down the fat burning process.

I will definitely think twice about my 4th can of Diet Coke.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dress for Success: Fitted Blazers

Here's a tip for the ladies: a nice fitted blazer can class up a casual outfit as well as emphasis the smallest part of your waist.

This is on my mind because I just bought one for my speaking engagements I have coming up. In trying on a few I came across things to look for and things to avoid.

Avoid Boxy shapes. It's tempting to try and hide, but if it looks like a box on the hanger, it will look like a box on you.

Look for darting and tailoring panels along the front and back. They look like little curves and emphasize your curves.

Avoid overly tight bodices. If your girls look like they are going to bust out of the top, you either need a different cut or a larger size and have the waistline tailored in.

Look for a flattering neckline for your shape. Try on a few styles and see how they fit you. Make sure the button lines up correctly without pulling or puckering.

Watch the ties. A well placed one can make your waist look tiny, a bulky one only adds unnecessary girth to you.  When in doubt, TRY IT ON!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Snack Smart: My calorie budget

Several people have emailed me about my calorie budget, so here you go. Keep in mind, I am in a maintenance phase. I am not trying to lose any more weight, just stay balanced.

On a rest day where I have no exercise, I aim for 1750 calories. This is what I have found works the best for my body. You might need more, or less. Once you get to a healthy weight, you can tweak it and see. Here's my usual breakdown.

Breakfast- 250 calories
Morning Snack- 200 calories
Lunch - 550 calories
Afternoon Snack- 100 calories
Dinner - 650 calories

If you guys are interested, I can post a few sample meals and snacks.  On days where I run high miles I obviously need to eat a an extra 500 -700 calories depending on the exercise.  But this is my typical day if I am just doing light cleaning at home and do nothing else physically.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fitness Tip: Quality not Quantity

Have you ever seen those people that do like 200 stomach crunches a day? But their crunches are super fast and only come up part way.

Well guess what. If you did one songs worth of ab exercises, at rhythmic pace, you'd get a much better workout. First off, when you take your time, you create resistance and use strength of muscle as opposed to momentum. Secondly, if you use about 3 different ab exercises in one song, you can exercise upper, lower, and side abs.

Next week, I will post my favorite ab workout that's helped me have a really strong core. For now just remember that it doesn't matter how many repetitions you do, if your form is off. You won't be working the right muscles or getting the most out of your time and sweat.


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