Category Archives: training

3 Easy Steps to Get Fit in 2014

1381532_648223808555104_266900310_nIf you have been anywhere around a TV set, a radio, or a computer, you have noticed the great abundance of “get fit now”. It is that time of the year again. The time when supplement companies and larger than though trainers are pushing their miracle cure all product on the unsuspecting consumers with low self-esteem. Do these products work? Some of them. Do they work safely and for a prolonged period of time? No.

We live in a society that is largely driven by instant gratification and impulse. No one wants to work to be fit, but everyone wants to have a fit body of a fitness model. After all, it is much easier to pop a pill and eat a pizza while watching football, than working out and eating clean. Does anyone think about the consequences of taking these drugs? Does anyone stop to ask why they work so quickly and so effectively? No. Why? Because blissful ignorance with a skinny fat body is significantly safer than a challenging and at times difficult reality in which one has to find information, process it, and work to get the results that they want. In short, half-baked approaches breed half-baked results and a lot of disappointed, misinformed consumers. So, what can you do to get lasting weight loss results? Read on.

What I have to say right now may not be what you want to hear, but I am not in the business of cuddling and propagating fitness myths. I am here to give you the hard truth and save you the time you’ll spend doing research on your own. Here’s the deal. Most “magic” weight loss pills, shakes, and powders are unsafe. If you have to order your food premade, you’ll gain all of your weight back after you stop eating “out of the box”. There is no such thing as getting “toned and fit” without changing your daily lives.

The only way to get true and lasting results is by keeping a clean and sustainable diet, maintaining a healthy attitude, and exercising daily.

Keeping a Clean and Sustainable Diet:

1238363_644675618909923_1184660794_nLet’s face it, if you drastically cut calories, completely cut out certain food groups or expect perfect rigid compliance to a dietary plan, you will eventually slip. In fact, when you slip you will binge, feel guilty, get down on yourself, and try to maintain the same diet with even more restrictions than before to make up for your pitfall. Does that sound like a healthy relationship with food? No. To me, that sounds more like an eating disorder and we all know that eating disorders are very unhealthy.

A sustainable diet should revolve around a lifestyle. When you decide to get in shape, you have to realize that you are on a journey and just like any journey, this one will have peaks and valleys. The secret to sustainable, healthy weight loss is realizing that a valley isn’t going to undo everything you worked for. So, if you make it a priority to eat healthy 90% of the time, that one piece of cake on your birthday, a plate full of delicious food on Thanksgiving, and a bowl of macaroni and cheese every other month aren’t going to send you on an express train to fat town.

A clean sustainable diet should involve all of the major food groups (unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from eating certain things) in moderation. Eating for weight loss is an art form that will take time to master fully, there is no diet that perfectly fits all, and there are no shortcuts. A clean, healthy diet with proper caloric intake (you can’t starve yourself!!!) takes time to develop and perfect.

I encourage you to do your research, look at various food plans, study strategic eating, and custom design your own eating plan. It will take time, but in the end you will be rewarded with energy, better health, and a lean, strong body.

Healthy Attitude:

quoteWe briefly touched on this subject in the previous section when we discussed a healthy relationship with food. You can’t punish yourself for slip-ups and deviations of off the plan, but you also have to hold yourself accountable for what you do in daily basis. Having a support group helps, but at the end of the day it is between you and your refrigerator, or between you and your bed.

You have to make a plan and stick to it regardless of what the world around you wants. If you know that what you are doing is right for you, then no one else has the right to keep you away from your goals and your dreams. Not even you. You have to push yourself every day. I wish I could tell you that it gets to a point where going to the gym or out on a run is automatic. No. I still have days when I question why I am up at 5 am on a cold winter morning. There are days when the last thing that I want to do is drive to the gym and lift a bunch of weights when the laundry is piled up, dinner needs to be cooked, and I still have a mound of paperwork to get through. However, I don’t make excuses. I put on my big girl pants, lace up my shoes, and I tell myself that it is better that way. I can say with full confidence,  I am yet to regret a workout that I did.

However, healthy attitude goes far beyond building a healthy relationship with food and regular, hard workouts. A healthy attitude also encompasses how you view the world. It is easy to be mad and sad about your circumstances, but when you make a decision to take control and change, you become empowered. Feeling strong and in control is what gets people in the gym initially, but most quickly get discouraged because the results didn’t come fast enough. Here’s the hard part: you have to remain positive and have faith in the fact that the results will come if you actually follow a program that you set for yourself. You have to force yourself to become an optimist on those days when you just want to quit because the pudgy feeling isn’t going away fast enough.

Again, I wish I could tell you that feeling discouraged goes away with time – it doesn’t. But if you keep at it long enough, you will learn that the voice inside your head that tells you “it’s not working”, “you don’t have the body for this”, “you are too old” etc. is a total liar. With time, you learn to ignore your own little critic and you learn that when the voice rears its ugly head, you are closer than you ever were before to achieving that one goal that you set for yourself.

Exercising Daily:

Khloe-Kardashian-Fitness-MotivationA good diet and a great attitude aren’t going to get you far without exercise. Consistent, challenging, daily exercise paired with a great diet is a sure recipe for a fabulous body. Now, let me clarify, I am not telling you to go out and do Zumba (although it is a fun way to initially lose some extra weight). The exercise that I am talking about involves 3-4 heavy weight training sessions and 3 cardio sessions a week. You can’t be a cardio queen and expect a toned body of a fitness model. You have to lift HEAVY weights. Let me say this right now: there is no way that you are going to end up looking like a she Hulk unless you are SPECIFICALLY working to attain that aesthetic. So, no, don’t tell me that lifting heavy turns women into men. It is a total myths that is propagated by men who are scared of strong women, women who are scared of hard work, and skinny fat models who would be out of a job if the rest of us woke up and realized that having the ability to pick up more than 5 lbs at a time makes you more attractive and gives you the lean, toned look you actually want. Yes, I’m talking to you ladies.

Gentlemen, I have to caution you against trying to show off. Heavy training means lifting the weight you can ACTUALLY lift with PROPER form. Allow me to elaborate: that means that you shouldn’t be squirming under a barbell during your bench press like a deranged worm because you loaded the bar too heavy. You are not a hero if you get hurt, so why set yourself up for failure? Take it easy, maintain proper tension throughout your exercises and watch your body bulge with awesome rippliness faster than the guy who has been trying to “out lift” you all alone and has been doing it wrong.

trustI don’t know about you, but for me, a fit strong body is a status symbol. You can’t buy it, you can pay someone to surgically make it. You have to invest the time, the sweat, the tears and the doubts to achieve it. There are challenges to achieving your perfect physique at any age and in any circumstance, so don’t discount the efforts of the younger crowd just because of their age or the older crowd just because of their experience. We all face different struggles, have different body types, and respond to different things better than others. Building a body you want takes time, it takes trial and error and you have to be willing to invest in your journey fully in order to rip the perfect results.

Fierce Workout: Step It Up

All of us, at one point or another, knew that we could use a little more speed, a touch more endurance, and a bit more mental strength to fight through those last miles, or even, those last few feet.

Recently, I remember crossing the finish line of a race so exhausted and drained that I honestly didn’t think that I would make it. Needless to say, I placed and PRed, but  reaching both of those goals simply means that now I have to beat them. This week I present to you a workout that is sure to help you step up your game just like it helps me to step up mine.

This one is all about endurance and mental strength. I usually do a short warmup, stretch, and begin this circuit with an easy, 1 mile run. During the workout, I do not stop. It burns, it hurts, but that just simply means that it is working! Remember, your brain will want to quit before your body. Train your mind to stay strong, fight the negative voice that says “can’t”! After the workout, I cool down with another 1 mile run and stretch.


If you are an advanced athlete and want to make this workout a bit harder, you can always raise the reps and add weight. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Lean and Strong is The New Skinny and Fragile!

streetart_amsterdam_break_the_stereotypeEarlier this week I was at the store and picked up Women’s Health Magazine. I was astonished by what was in it. First and foremost what blew my mind were advertisements of soft, none developed, skinny women. Second, headlines such as “Flat abs in 15 minutes!” and “healthy cocktails” all but had me up in arms. I bought the magazine just because I could get at least 6 blog posts out of it just on the subjects of  fitness and nutrition myths!

Ok, ok, I am better now, but let’s face it, how can we battle the obesity epidemic when women are being fed conflicting and, at times, damaging information? You will be surprised how many women out there go to Cosmo for advice on fitness and nutrition. I did have higher hopes for Women’s Health Magazine, though. After all, the word “health” is in the title. It was extremely disappointing to see hundreds of glossy pictures filled images of women that were so retouched, they looked disproportionate.  I am sure that I am not the only one that finds “skinny fat” absolutely unattractive.

When did we lose touch with a healthy look? Why are we still holding on to an almost Victorian notion of a weak, helpless, anemic woman? Why can’t a girl have muscles? Why are we, women, allowing the society to continually define us as weak? Ladies, remember, you have the capacity to bare children! That alone propels you to a category of strength and resilience. Yu don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were developed enough to hold it in case you did? Ladies, go to the gym and lift. Lean and strong is the new skinny and fragile!

Getting Back to The Gym After a Vacation

This is a reminder to myself to be patient. 🙂

It is hard to get back to your fitness routine if it has been interrupted by something like an illness or a long vacation. Although my vacation was far from long, it was just long enough to make me miss my gym, the people there, and my weights. It just isn’t the same working out at the Hilton! I am still on island time which means everything takes on average 30 minutes longer than it normally would and it drives me nuts. I am a perfectionist, so I expect a lot out of myself and I thought that I would bounce back a whole lot quicker. To help accelerate the process of getting back in the groove of a fast paced life of a fitness addict, I made sure that I concentrate on my scheduling and list making skills.

While in the airport on Sunday I made a list of everything that I needed to do this week, organized my calendar, made the necessary lists, and made sure that I had all of my planning and strategy tools available to me when I got home. On Monday I planned and organized the rest of my week by writing workouts and cooking. Yesterday  I was catching up with everything that I missed and today I am back on normal schedule. Phew! That only took a couple of days, no wonder I was stressed and anxious!

Let’s talk about training! Yesterday I trained upper body and a little bit of abs, today is my run training day, then legs on Thursday, whole body/ cardio on Friday, and run training with my wonderful coach early Saturday morning. I am very excited about that last part. I haven’t had official run training since the end of December and I missed it so much! I am almost giddy, I am that excited to run with Nicki again.

I am hoping that by the end of the week I will have some free time to garden and redecorate my office. There is so much to do!

Do What Your Coach Tells You

Seriously, there is something to be said about the famous phrase: “I told you this would happen!” Although my coaches are much too nice to say something like that, I can sense it. Hopefully, if I tell you what happened to me, you will not ignore your trainer/ coach when they tell you that stretching (much like diet) are an extremely important part of your exercise routine.

Stretching helps relax tight muscles, makes the muscle stronger (by relaxing it), prevents the  formation of “lumps” in your muscle tissue, and it melts the stress away. There are multiple ways to stretch and it mostly depends on your routine and problem areas. As an ex fencer and a current runner, most of my stress settles in my right shoulder and elbow (previous injuries) and in my legs. See, I know all of this and yet somehow, I ended up getting caught up in everything else and skipping out on stretching this past month. Yes, amateur mistake! But I am here to keep it real, to be accountable, and hopefully to inspire you guys to pay attention and learn from the mistakes of others.

As you already know I had to stop running due to severe shin splints and I am going to have to cut back on my lifting, due to a tennis elbow flare up. What will I do? Not sure. There aren’t a lot of options remaining when your upper and lower body are out of commission. I guess I’ll pick up biking, maybe concentrate on that swimming thing I have been meaning to pick up. Basically, the past two weeks have taken their toll on me mentally and physically. It is hard enough to deal with an injury that threatens to take you out of commission for a while,  but when you learn that it could have been prevented by doing a few simple, quick stretches in the shower, well….  I am still keeping my head up above water, though. I look at it as an opportunity to reevaluate my training, concentrate on activities that will eventually prep me for a triathlon, and potentially convert friends that do not normally exercise into fitness people. 

 So, the lesson here is: listen to your trainer and do your stretches as often as you can. Do them before you work out, do them in the shower, do them before you go to bed, do them at your desk during the day, just do them!

Run Therapy.

Yes, I know I missed a couple of days of posts. In the last few days I had a few family issues that will not be discussed here, and honestly, I just couldn’t bring myself to write. Today I feel much better so, here I am, back at it.

When I woke up this morning, the sky was gray and it looked like it was going to rain. I have been so stressed and angry during the last few days that I decided to go for a run regardless of the weather. I got to the local high school track, put on my minimalist shoes and went for a warm-up lap. I love my new shoes. I will post pics of them later this week.

Before my run.  I was much sweatier after. 🙂

The moment I took off at an easy pace around the football field, I felt my anxiety melt away. By the time I was done with my warm up I almost felt like a normal person. I started into my sprints, and after the first few steps, feeling the wind on my face, allowing the gravity to pull me towards my goal, I realized that I am so incredibly grateful for this thing called “running”.

There are very few times in life when one can feel more alive than during a run. Think about it, you are more tuned in to your own body during a run then during any other activity (well, yoga and meditation aside). It is hard to explain to those that do not run regularly the joy that I find in the moment when I have to fully retreat into myself in order to push through a “wall” and realize how alive and how powerful I am. The combination of sounds of my foot falls, my breathing, my heart beat, all make a beautiful symphony or life. The burn of the quads (sprints), calves and hamstrings (hill drills), produce the pain that can only be described as “good”. After all, it means that I am getting stronger, faster, more efficient.  

In the recent issue of Runner’s World, there was an article about running and pain. What stood out the most to me, was the part where the author talked about his difficulty explaining to none runners that he enjoys the pain of the run.  It is true, I noticed that in my own daily interactions. Most normal people consider  pain bad and for a good reason. Nothing good comes out of pain, but for a runner the spectrum of “pain” is expended. There is a difference between being in pain, and being painfully injured. You stop running when you are injured, but you run through the pain. Pain simply means that there is a untapped potential. That there is still room to push and grow.

I remember running my first 10k. I pushed, I fought, and I finished. To be honest, it got painful on mile three and I still had more than half of the distance to go. I accepted it, I pushed through it, and with that acceptance came a personal victory and a 10k PR.

Same happened today. The weather was perfect: 58 degrees, overcast, low humidity, it was the best time to run! When I took off in a sprint, I felt free. Five laps later (sprinting the straights and walking the curves) I had to retreat inward to find strength, to fight through the wall. Lap six and seven felt easy. I even jogged the curves instead of walking. My sprint speed increased too! I went back to walking through the curves in  lap eight, but my sprint speed continued to increase. I was blown away and absolutely happy.

I Have a Love Hate Relationship With Burpees. Seriously, I do.

I feel that a workout full off Burpees is a fitness metaphor to life. 

I did not feel like going to the gym today at all. In fact, all I wanted to do today was sleep, and maybe stay on my sofa, watch trashy TV and eat plums all day long. However, what we want and what we need do not always coincide. 
What I needed to do was to get up, take a cold shower, start working on my research for the next article I was writing, and then go to the gym, write the article(S), go pick up more research material, go to a meeting, meet with a friend for dinner and IKEA trip, come home and go to bed so I can get up, go run, plant, etc. Wow, I am tired just thinking about all of it! So, how did I get myself on board with my own day today? Simple.
 I made myself get out of bed and did 15 squats, drank and ice cold glass of water, put the tea on, and stuck myself in the cold shower. That got the ball rolling. By the time I was done and sort of dry, I had my morning green tea ready, my hard boiled eggs (that I peeled the night before) were waiting for me in the fridge and all I had to do, was grab a hand full of spring mix, one orange, and one small whole grain pita and I had my breakfast ready. I love pre planned breakfast because it is so quick and portable, I don’t even need a plate most days! 
I sat down to do my research with my breakfast in my lap, and I have to say, by my third bite and my forth sip of hot tea, I was awake and ready to put some damage on the topic I was writing about! By the time my back started to hurt from all the sitting it was already time to hit the gym (don’t you love the timing? Your body always knows when it is time to get moving) . I put on my running shoes (still with that vague “but I don’t wanna” whining in the back of my head). I told myself that those who give up and skip workouts do not get abs. So, I grabbed my bottle full of Spark and left to go get some burpees done. I hate burpees. I hate them, hate them, hate them. I hate them more than I hate Steve the kettle bell. Yes, I named the kettle bell. It makes it easier to throw my fist up at the sky when my butt is thoroughly kicked by the workout and dramatically curse the day Steve the kettle bell was forged in the deep fires of pure evil. 
My workout today consisted of the following: 
15 pushups (no knees allowed)
30 walking lunges (sing it with me Alicia Keys style: My Quads are on FIIREEE!!!)
15 Dolphin Pushups
15 Mountain Climbers
30 sec rest
So far pretty easy right? Gooood.
15 triceps dips
15 jump lunges
15 pile squats (45 lb KB)
15 burpees
30 secs rest
I HATE BURPEES!!!! (but you have to do them until you love them. That’s how that works)
15 curtsy lunges
15 bicycles
15 mountain climbers
15 spiderman plank
Repeat 4 times, for time, trying to beat the previous try each time.  
This almost made me cry. Especially after burpees. I think because I hate them, I try to push through them as fast as I possibly can which just causes me to get more tired and wanting to cry. Usually I feel really good about this workout and can take at least a few seconds off, but today, today I wasn’t with it fully. 
At first I blamed in on the fact that I didn’t have my pre-workout protein shake. Then I remembered that I did, in fact, have a protein shake 30 minutes before I left. Now, I blame it on not having my head in the game fully.  That’s ok, though. At the end of the day, calories burnt, are calories burnt and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There is always tomorrow to have a great, hard, enjoyable workout. That is exactly what I am planning on. In a few minutes I am going to leave my office and go to Big Peach Running Co. to pick up my sexy, shiny, pair of brand new minimalist shoes which I am planning to begin breaking in tomorrow.
How did your Friday workout go?

Allergies? Cold? Weight lifting? Crossfit?

Although I am not too sure if I am having a really bad case of allergies or if I am beginning to get sick. Regardless, I pushed through my cardio today just in case it is allergies. I regret nothing! Well, maybe I regret that I only had 20 minutes… Either way, it is so unfair to feel this under the weather just days before my race. If I don’t feel absolutely horrible tomorrow, I have a date with Murph and hopefully some sore back muscles afterwards. I guess when lifting doesn’t get you sore, turn to crossfit! I have high hopes for you, Murph! Don’t let me down!

All I Need is 20 Minutes to Feel Human Again.

In the last few days my workout times have been all over the road. I am a person of routine and consistency, I got my body use to having a natural boost of endorphins in the morning and having to work out at night have turned me into a grumpy, stressed, mean girl. I am making it an effort to get my workouts back on normal morning schedule. Even if it means getting to the gym at 5 am.  
That being said, I dont know what I would have done to the world today if it had been for my 20 minutes of cardio this evening. I wish I had the time for a full 45, but 20 is all I had to spare. I guess you have to get it in where you can, right?

No More Doubting!!!

Oh, I really should kick all this doubting out of my life for good. My legs are sore today! Yay! I went out to the gym and hit the treadmill for some speed work on an incline. My legs began to feel weak 15 minutes into my intervals, but I finished strong. I can’t wait to be able to run outside! All this pollen is really getting to me today.