Monday, December 20, 2010

Set a Goal: Find a Race!!

Has a month really passed since my last entry? I suppose the holidays claimed my priorities once again- argh balance!! Did someone say "balance"? Hmmm, I'll put that on my list of things to achieve...
What a great lead-in to my topic! I keep trying to motivate clients and friends to broaden their goals to include fitness achievements rather than focus on that stupid scale. My short-lived brainstorming led me straight to participating in a race. It didn't take an all-nighter for me to find that registering for a race or group fitness activity inspires a fresh outlook on your current fitness regime. Heck- that's what I do when I'm feeling mopey (yep, the act of moping. urban dictionary says so).
Here's some brief tips for finding a race perfect for YOU.

Type of Race
Road race vs. Trail Run: One question- where are you training now? On a road or a trail? Train for where you plan to run, meaning, if you're not trail running now then do not register for a trail run. If you would like to begin trail running, purchase trail running shoes and test them out on a safe, popular running trail. There are a lot of considerations necessary for trail running: narrowed paths, tree roots, rocks, puddles, etc. I'm all about challenging yourself but chose a race you plan on training for. Twisted ankles= not fun.
Running Race vs Biathalon vs Triathalon, etc: Do you like mixing up your workouts with a fun bike adventure? Were you raised in a lake and love to swim? If running is not your obsession then consider signing up for a multi-faceted race: a bi- or triathlon. Training involves conditioning in all areas (besides just running) and can keep things interesting. If running flat out bores you half to death, training for a triathalon could keep you in the saddle. Considerations: $$ for bike, suit, shoes, etc, time to feel comfortable competing in several areas.
Single Entry vs Relay vs Team style: Did you know that most half marathons and full marathons offer a team or relay aspect? I figured this out after running the Windermere Half Marathon last spring. Who are these people standing on the side of the road in running gear and why didn't I know this option? If you prefer the team/group aspect of training, this works for you. Get a group at work or some family members with a fitness goal together. A team or relay team also fuels accountability- bonus!
Themed Races: Highly recommended- especially if you're just starting out. St. Paddy's Day Dash, Jingle Bell Run, Rock 'n Roll, all aid in keeping you distracted in your quest for the finish line. You may also want to look into races benefiting a local non-profit or charity. Check out your local Susan B Komen Race for the Cure 5k.  Makes you feel good!
Race for the Cure Spokane 2010
Race Distance
It's time to get real with yourself. How far do you run now? How many days can you train? How long do you have to train for this race?
For example, when I train for a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) I usually try working up to 3 training runs of 10 miles each. This is 75% of the total distance of the race- 10 is 75% of 13.1. No matter if you train for a 5k or 50k, apply the 75% rule to your training.
Back to "How far are you running now?". If you run 5 miles a day, 3x a week skip the 5k and register for a 10k or even a 1/2 marathon. The key remains in challenging yourself and setting goals to achieve higher levels of fitness!

Location
Local vs. Out-of-state: The main task to consider here is cost. Setting a goal to finish the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon sounds great when you register but what about flights, hotel stays, etc? However, is doing your local fun run just not interesting enough for you? Sometimes setting a dramatic goal tickles your feet to the street.
Hilly vs Flat Terrain: This topic relates closely to the topic on distance. What can you train for? If you've done your fair share of flat races, challenge yourself with hills. Yes, your time may reflect this obstacle but your legs will thank you for it. Do you live near hills or frequent a favorite running trail yet avoid hills there? Attempt a flat course before a hilly one- this way you focus on one thing at a time (distance then terrain).
Time of Day, Time of Year, Season, etc.: A piece of advice: Don't register for a December marathon in North Dakota if you live in LA unless your lungs are made of steel. Try training runs in the environment that most mimics that of the race you train for. Make sense? Race at 7am? Get your booty out of bed and get your body and diet acclimated. Otherwise, you could face intestinal issues due to your lack of familiarity with running at varying times of day. Same goes for winter vs summer races. A 9am race in Phoenix in July looks very different from a 9am race in New York in February. Check average temps here.

Helpful links in finding a race near YOU:
http://www.trailrunner.com/
http://www.active.com/

Friday, November 19, 2010

Treadmill Workout (without the "yawn")

I would LOVE to meet someone who smiles at the thought of spending 30-45 minutes on a treadmill. Whenever I suggest a cardiovascular/strength training program to a client, their smiles soon fade at the mention of blasting calories on a treadmill. My bet lies on the idea that you or someone you know struggles with "Treadmill Burnout". (gasp!!)

Treadmill Burnout Victim, Type 1: You've recently realized that climbing 1 flight of stairs leaves you winded. Not okay. Especially when, last week, you divided your closet into "feeling skinny" clothes and the more frequently visited "relaxed fit" clothes. Time to join the local fitness facility!! Day 1: Treadmill for 30 minutes, feeling perky, healthy, and stoked to begin this new step in your life. Day 2: Treadmill for 30 minutes, thank heavens Oprah retained your attention today, otherwise I may have died of boredom. Day 3: Treadmill for 21 minutes. You just couldn't do it anymore. Your mind raced with to-do's and angst over frustration at the thought of subjecting more of your schedule to this hamster wheel! Done!!

Treadmill Burnout Victim, Type 2: You, like Victim 2, notice the ever-present "relaxed fit" clothing creeping into your daily wardrobe. However, gym memberships require commitment as well as a schedule that fits with gym hours. You bought a treadmill. Now it sits in your basement rec room. After operating it three times, your treadmill's job description transformed into "clothes hanger". 'Nuff said.
Let me save you from this vicious cycle!

Here's my trick: I devise several treadmill programs which, based on the theme of the program, vary in speed and incline. This way, your stamina and strength are constantly challenged.
Enjoy!
Fat Blaster- Beginner Edition
0-3 min.          2.5mph         1incline
3-5 min.          2.8mph         1incline
5-8 min.          2.8mph         4incline
8-12min          2.5mph         2incline
12-15min        2.8mph         4incline
15-18min        2.5mph         4incline
18-21min        2.8mph         4incline
21-24min        2.5mph         2incline
24-27min        2.8mph         4incline
27-30min        2.5mph         1incline

Fat Blaster- Intermediate Edition
0-3 min.          3.3mph         3incline
3-5 min.          4.0mph         3incline
5-8 min.          3.8mph         7incline
8-12min          4.0mph         4incline
12-15min        3.8mph         7incline
15-18min        4.0mph         7incline
18-21min        3.8mph         4incline
21-24min        4.0mph         7incline
24-27min        3.5mph         4incline
27-30min        3.3mph         3incline

Fat Blaster- Advanced Edition
0-3 min.          6.0mph        2incline
3-5 min.          7.0mph        4incline
5-8 min.          6.5mph        6incline
8-12min          7.0mph        4incline
12-15min        6.5mph        6incline
15-18min        7.0mph        6incline
18-21min        7.0mph        4incline
21-24min        6.8mph        6incline
24-27min        6.5mph        6incline
27-30min        6.5mph        2incline

*My personal advice: Load up the ipod with your favorite tunes and tape a program to the front of your treadmill. This way you eliminate the possibility of a program flying off the treadmill, you losing your balance, face/body part slam(s) on running belt, embarrassment and injury ensues.... not good. Boy scouts said it best, "Always be prepared."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gluten Free, the Way to Be.....???

Gluten- free pasta. Gluten-free muffins. Gluten-free pudding. Yes, seriously, pudding!
Did you know what gluten was 3 years ago? 1 year ago? Overnight, health and nutrition stores along with most larger grocery chains began carrying food options marketed towards individuals with "celiac disease" (aka allergy to gluten). Individuals with celiac disease account for 1% of the world's population. Wait, wait, wait... then why do gluten-free options keep popping up on more grocery shelves and restaurant menus?
Health conscious individuals and fitness professionals continue delivering positive results after trying a nutrition program "sans gluten". There's SO MUCH information surrounding this topic, not to mention how many opinions and studies for and against this nutrition regimen.
Therefore, I took a new spin on researching the topic. I chose to spotlight an established, respected, and well researched blog by my fellow expert, Erin Elberson.

A few reasons why she receives my stamp of approval:
  • Her topics are current
  • Her thorough discussions regarding athletes and the specific gluten- free nutritional benefits  
  • Erin has up to date information regarding the basics of a gluten-free lifestyle
  • She got married 6 days before me. Wedding bliss for all!!!
Explore, educate yourself, experiment. I took the gluten-free challenge 13 months ago and it improved my life in so many ways. A few of them include: decreased belly fat, increased energy, improved appearance of skin, hair, and nails, increased awareness, etc. The list goes on and on.
I challenge YOU to open your mind (and your mouth) to the benefits of this nutrition program.

*All references and information utilized from http://www.glutenfreefitness.com/ has been pre-approved by owner and proprietor, Erin Elberson.

Friday, October 15, 2010

BIG Day

One Day prior to my wedding day, up far too early in the morning, what better way to communicate some advice to future brides than reflect on the past year. From the day I got engaged, it was "go time" for creating an exercise regime to achieve that toned, strong bridal look (without looking "ripped", "bulky", etc)
Here's a slice of how I sought balance between attempting a well-rounded workout schedule while also spending adequate time with wedding planning, fiance' time, and family.

Obviously, running would be the first thought when wanting to stay slim yet tone up. Most bridal gowns leave shoulders, decolage', and back nearly bare, requiring a little tweek in my weight training program since my prior regime focused on lower-body weight training. Yoga/Pilates provides a challenging, multi-faceted environment where you're toning muscle groups while elongating them with balancing and stretching poses. The main theme here is to create a program that keeps your muscles guessing, thus avoiding "burn out". You have no room in your busy schedule to brainstorm up a new program. Mix it up and your new, toned muscles will thank you.

SAMPLE WEEK
 3 days cardio, 45 minutes per session. 2 days weight training (yes, this can be on the same days as cardio), target muscle groups that are most exposed by your gown, 3 different exercises per muscle group until "failure". 1 yoga/pilates or zumba class per week. Or get more creative- rock climbing kicks your ass too!
The most important advice to keep in mind: Although balance is key to managing a busy, emotionally challenging schedule, not every week will be "gym friendly". And that's ok. Quit stressing, prioritize your "to-do" list. You'll look fantastic!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fall Fashion

Falling leaves, misting rain, blustery Sundays... all reasons to cozy up by the fire with a hot cup of tea. Right? Wrong!! You couldn't stand it for a minute! Knowing there's a puddle or five to run through is incentive enough to get your toned little booty outside. But what to wear, you ask?

Athleta "Windwarrior" Tight
A unique blend of polyester, spandex, and polyurethane make this high-tech pant ready for your next rainy day run or even snowshoeing adventure. Side zip ankle vents, windproof front panels, reflective strips make the "windwarrior" exactly that, warrior-ready!!






1. It's green; 2. It's waterproof; 3. It's also a vest (removeable sleeves); need I say more?
Offering a balance between weather protection and breathability, the Sugoi Versa Jacket is the best of both worlds in one super cute, lightweight, versatile jacket. The hemline sinches at the waist with an adjustable cord and the sleeves attach with sewn in magnets (yes, magnets!). Definately a must!




Want to know the one amazing feature to this jacket? It has a hood. But wait there's more: There's a hole in the hood for your pony-tail!! Those experts at Lululemon seriously think about everything. Hand warming cuffs, reflective strips, and a slim fitting waistline keep this fashionable jacket at the top of the charts. Yet another lulu success!



I'll have to admit, I'm a big fan of Mizuno brand running shoes. For several years, I've worn out pair after pair of my Mizuno WAVE Rider running shoes. Why not feature a trail running shoe by the same great company to combat the trying weather conditions during what others refer to as the "off" season. (Pffff!! right...)   The WAVE Cabrakan offers a fiesty styling with reinforced toe protection, tread outfitted for the rainiest, muddiest run possible, and water-resistant mesh to keep your tootsies as dry as possible. Knowing Mizuno's no-fail approach to shoe manufacturing and performance testing, you will not be disappointed.






Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shin Splints, What are They Anyway?

Anyone who runs, anyone who even exercises knows the pain called "Shin Splints". The discomfort may start at the front of the ankle joint, travel up the shin bone, and prevent foot flexion either during or after activity. You may notice tenderness, soreness, or pain along the inner part of your lower leg. But what is it and can this excruciating pain be prevented?
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, commonly referred to as "shin splints", is caused by "an overload on the shin bone and the connective tissues that attach the muscle to the bone." - {Mayo Clinic}

Symptoms:
- Pain over the inside lower half of the shin
- Pain at the start of exercise yet eases as exercise increases
- Pain returns after exercise and persists oftentimes for the next 24-48 hours
- Swelling and/or sometimes redness
- Bumps might be felt along the inside of the shin bone
- Pain when the toes or foot are flexed upward - {Sports Injury Clinic}

Causes:
An increase in physical activity, running/jogging, and overall exercise can lead to inflammation in the lower leg musculature. Some runners tend to pronate, roll excessively inward onto the arch, which can aggravate the tension as well. Weak ankles and a tight Achiles Tendon cause irritation in the lower leg as well.

Help, Fix It!!
RICE Method: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. A common therapy for most sports injuries, this simple method proves effective when connective tissues, muscles, tendons, and ligaments get inflammed.
Relative Rest Method: 
- Choose cardiovascular activities that lessen impact compared to running. i.e. bicycling and pool running
- Apply ice packs post exercise
- Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Stretches isolating the calf muscle and muscles at the anterior location of the lower leg. This can be done by flexing and relaxing the ankle joint.
- Select a running shoe made for your foot shape and running style. Check out Road Runner Sports for their expert opinion and great selection.
- Be smart about where and how you run: Level, soft terrain; decrease running distance; decrease running intensity. Once pain decreases, work back up to a comfortable distance and pace.
The Tennis Ball Method: (my personal favorite!!) Simple simple simple. Sit so your leg is relaxed, releasing tension in your foot. Take a tennis ball or golf ball and begin rolling it lightly from the base of the knee down the anterior area of the lower leg, ending at the ankle joint. Continue in the reverse direction. Although this action creates discomfort, wincing, perhaps even a tear or two, the ball forces the muscles and connective tissue to relax under the pressure. By relaxing, blood flow increases along with oxygen and fluid circulation. Try this for 5-10 minutes before and after physcial activity. Follow up with ice and rest.

Remember!! If pain persists or increases, go see a professional. Most of the time shin splint pain will subside if the above suggestions are implemented. If pain shoots down into the foot or to the posterior area of the lower leg, seek medical attention!
Happy Pain- Free Running! 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

6 Reasons to Start Running | Women's Health Magazine

For all you runners, wannabe-runners, pseudo-runners out there, read below and prepare to be AMAZED! (ok maybe not amazed, but definately stoked to see some true support for our craft!)



6 Reasons to Start Running Women's Health Magazine

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fight the Pain, Final!

DLPA (DL-Phenylalanine), a dietary supplement sold in most health food stores, claims to aid in chronic pain management. Most commonly precribed for patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, I began taking DLPA in hopes of relieving some of my own aches and pains. Need to play catch up? Click here.
Over 1 month ago, I started taking two 500mg pills of DLPA daily because I suffered from muscle and joint pain in various areas of my body. Prior to my little science project, I would take numerous OTC pain relievers: Aleve, Excedrin, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Bayer, etc. Four days into taking DLPA (and not taking the OTC pills), I became plagued with migraines. Was this my body's way of telling me that the OTC pain relievers cause more harm than good? The chronic headaches are symptoms of detoxification in the body. Hmmm, interesting... and kind of scary!
Throughout this study, my overall pain ratings lacked luster. My hopes and expectations lied more along the lines of, "OMG! My pain is gone! I'm a healed woman- a believer!!!" Instead, I found little improvement.
Lower back ache, R & L sides (2)

Upper central glute pain, L side (2 when resting, 6 when running)
Central trap/ rhomboid pain, R side (2)
Improvement? Yes! Overwhelming joy and excitement? Not so much...
Overall, I'm pleased that my pain has subsided. It's nice to be able to move my R shoulder again without having to employ other muscles to assist. I'm can't say that the improvement is 100% from DLPA, but I believe that it helped.
Here's my challenge question: Should we keep searching for the all mighty, magical pain reliever? Or instead adjust our focus to the culprit (the source of pain to begin with)?

Study complete, case closed. On to the next topic!! Stay tuned for more pain management techniques!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fight the Pain, Part 3

And here we are again... on to week 3 of my 4 week do-it-yourself science project. Still, I must reinforce the advice that at-home drug experimentation is an an-your-own-risk activity. In no way am I endorsing or promoting such behavior. Come on, people, we're grown-ups. Let's act like it, hmm?
Need to get caught up? Click here
So I'm starting to get into this whole "pain management" study. Not so much on the "which method for pain relief is best" but more on the "why don't we focus on the 'why do I hurt" school of thought and less on the "fix it and forget it" idea. Follow? As I've gone through this little case study, studiously taking my 2 pills every morning with breakfast, taking mental note of what hurts where and how badly, I pivoted my interests more towards why Americans are so obsessed with the quick fix. At some point in our delicate, early learning years, we learn that we must take a supplement or OTC medication to fight that bothersome ache. It's only until after 4 weeks of self-medicating do we then, maybe, go see a trained professional to find out what ails us. True, drugs are cheaper than doctors and they do help some of the time. But let's define "help". Simply absolving us of pain should only be one of the several steps towards self-awareness. We need to look more towards the "why" and the root of the problem rather than a cheap, low grade band-aid.
I digress....
Yes, I still take the DLPA. Thank God the headaches are gone. When migraines hit, I unfortunately make others' lives not so much fun. Otherwise, let's inventory:

Lower back ache, R & L sides (4) 
could it be the extra yardwork that causes this to jump from 3 to 4?

Upper central glute pain, L side (1 when resting, N/A when running)
day 10 of the sneakers shoved in the closet. Yep, I'm taking 2 weeks off from the running schedule. I know!! Crazy!! Don't you fret- Oktoberfest 1/2 marathon will be at my mercy in no time!
Central trap/ rhomboid pain, R side (1) woohoo!! I bring good news!! Yessssss!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fight the Pain, Part 2

DLPA Case Study: Week 1
I began my personal science project one week ago. I'm taking 2 pills (500mg each) of DLPA each morning and have not skipped a dose. Actually, my diet is very similar from day to day so we don't even need to consider daily diet changes as a possible outlier.
Not informed on what I've been up to? Click here to get caught up.

The big update:
Lower back ache, R & L sides (2.5)

Upper central glute pain, L side (2 when resting, 5 when running)
Central trap/ rhomboid pain, R side (2)

According to my findings after 1 week, my back pain and upper-back pain have subsided slightly. Is this a result of the DLPA or something else? Perhaps another week will help us find out.
On a side note, days 1-4 of my DLPA challenge were ridden with headaches. They were right behind my eyes and my temples, on both sides of my head, lasting 4-8 hours (big ugh!!!). In my uneducated opinion, I'm thinking that the noggin' pain came from detoxing or stress/tension (wedding, job, new home, etc). Because the headaches have subsided since Sunday, we'll say it was a detox thing. You've been warned!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fight the Pain

I'm not a wuss. Sometimes I just hurt. Running on hard pavement, weight lifting, yoga practicing, yard-tending, etc. etc. etc... causes aches and pains all over. "Then stop!" says my insightful mother. My vigor for life and adventure laughs in the faces of such Debby Doubters!
Knee surgeries, meniscus tears, ankle sprains, wrist hairline fracture, pulled/ knotty muscles, plantar fasciites, toe blisters, and lower back pain. Yep, that's a pretty good start to what I've dealt with in the past 10 years and chances are, your list looks like mine (or longer!) So what do YOU do about it? Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, hydrocodone, percoset, naproxen, aspirin? Or are you among the small yet growing group of individuals purging the pills for more natural forms of pain/inflammation relief? I've recently been informed of one particular nutritional supplement "prescribed" to athletes as well as average Joe's like us. Read on...
DLPA "nonessential micro nutrient" aka DL- phenylalanine
According to the website for Supplement Data, DLPA "appears to help increase and prolong the body's natural ability to kill pain because it produces and activates hormones called endorphins, which have almost "morphine-like" effect." That makes sense, right? DLPA is recommended for long term use (unlike most OTC pain-relievers) because it does not affect our body's main functioning mechanisms. In fact, it can become more effective over time. Yep, that's what several sources claimed. So instead of having to up your dose of ibuprofen in order to feel better, keep taking the same amount of DLPA and you're good to go. Want some other good news? DLPA elevates your mood due to the types of amino acids delivered to the nervous system. Amino acids, L-Tyrosine and L-Phenylalanine are involved in conversions to positive mood, libido, and stress relief. Imagine: Less pain, happier thoughts. Score.
According the the sources I found, no real drug interactions exist. However, please consult your physician before beginning any fitness or health regimen. Supplementation data gets updated by the minute, so keep him informed so that he may do the same for you.
THE BIG CHALLENGE: Here's what I'm thinking: Beginning July 1, I'm going to kick the OTC pain relievers and begin my DLPA experiment. I'll report back weekly of my findings. In order to keep you readers abreast of my current aches, I'll provide info below with a pain rating (1-10). Stay tuned!
Lower back ache, R & L sides (3)
Upper central glute pain, L side (2 when resting, 5 when running)
Central trap/ rhomboid pain, R side (3)

http://www.supplementdata.com/
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/
http://www.wholehealthmd.com/
http://www.mothersnutrition.com/

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Armpit Flab

Yep, I said it. And we're going to talk about it. (Well, actually, I'm going to talk and you're going to listen... or read. My idea of a perfect relationship!)
Got that uber-cute strapless summer dress in mind? That one hanging in your closet, mocking you? No more cardigans and cover ups, ladies, I have the perfect moves to get rid of that unsightly chub.

1. Prone Pec Fly
- Begin by lying on your back (prone) on a flat bench w/ a barbell in each hand. Start out with lighter dumbbells so you can get the form down.
- Extend arms out to each side, bend elbows slightly in order to take pressure off the wrists. (see photo)
- Bring arms up and together to meet above your chest. Go slowly in order to control movement and stability. Try 10 reps, rest, and continue with 3 sets.
- Want to kick it up a notch? Try this flab- blaster on a stability ball rather than a bench. Instant core- action!

2. Single Arm Dumbbell Row
- Start with a fitness bench and a dumbbell. Place left hand on bench and dumbbell in your right. Hinge at your hips and face your body down looking toward the bench below you. Keep a slight arch in your back by drawing your core in tightly.
- Begin with the dumbbell extended straight down, right arm straight. Bring it up by bending your elbow straight up towards the ceiling. Make sure to keep it tracking at your side rather than out like a chicken wing.
- Do 10 reps, then switch to the other side for 10 reps. Alternate for a total of 3 sets.
- Reps should keep a tempo of 2 seconds up, hold for 2 seconds, then 2 seconds down. (2-2-2)

3. Narrow Push Up (aka Triceps or Military Push up)
- Let's get back to the basics, shall we?
- Remember to keep your hips at the same height as your shoulders. No slopping lower back, ouch!
- Instead of placing your hands out from your shoulders, place them just under your shoulders. When you lower yourself down, keep your elbows in tight by your sides.
- Try 10 reps. If you're having trouble keeping your hips up, drop from your toes down to your knees. I'd rather have you complete more reps on your knees with proper form than less reps on your toes with crappy form. Agree? (just nod your head, yes)



* One small note: While doing repetitive exercise in order to combat "strapless dress armpit flab" please consider the fit of this specific dress. Are the "girls" a bit too snug? Did you wear this dress a few years ago, before putting on a few lbs or changing up a workout routine? We all carry weight and muscle differently, so keep in mind the option of shopping for a new dress or getting in touch with a good seamstress.





Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chicken? Again??

Chicken remains by far the most versatile and available protein sources around. That being said, why do we keep complaining about how boring it is? We've probably been stuck inside our comfy little squares, with little inspiration or motivation to dream up something new.
Well here ya go- motivation, inspiration, and creativity. Oh yea, and they're healthy too. Pretty amazing, I know.

Chicken and Mushroom Tacos
Cooking spray

1 3/4 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 cups presliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1/4 cup Madeira wine or dry sherry
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add jalapeño; sauté 2 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over onion mixture; sauté 1 minute. Remove onion mixture from pan.Yield: 4 servings
2. Return pan to heat; recoat with cooking spray. Add mushrooms and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add Madeira to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Uncover; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in onion mixture and chicken; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
3. Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture onto each tortilla.

CALORIES 310 (10% from fat); FAT 5g (sat 5.6g,mono 2.8g,poly 1.3g); IRON 1.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 40mg; CALCIUM 200mg; CARBOHYDRATE 36.3g; SODIUM 389mg; PROTEIN 25g; FIBER 4g
 
Balsamic Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold running water. Pat it dry with paper towels.
In a small bowl, mince together the rosemary and garlic. Loosen the chicken skin from the flesh, and rub the flesh with olive oil and then the herb mixture. Sprinkle with black pepper. Put 2 rosemary sprigs into the cavity of the chicken. Truss the chicken.
Place the chicken into a roasting pan and roast for 20 to 25 minutes per pound, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Whole chicken should cook to an internal temperature of 180 F. Baste frequently with pan juices. When browned and juices run clear, transfer the chicken to a serving platter.
In a small saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Heat until warmed but don't boil.
Carve the chicken and remove the skin. Top the pieces with the vinegar mixture. Garnish with the remaining rosemary sprigs and serve immediately.
Yields 4 servings
CALORIES 290; PROTEIN 44g; CARBOHYDRATE 4g; FAT 11g (3g saturated); SODIUM 108mg; CHOLESTEROL 127mg

Mom's Spicy Chicken Soup
Water, enough to cover chicken & provide quantity of liquid you want.

(seasoning qty listed for appx 2 qts water; adj spices to your quantity)
1-1/2 pound chicken breast, skin removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup chicken broth (brand with 430 sodium per serving)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed in bite size pieces
3 medium carrots, sliced (don’t peel)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1/4” or larger)
2 fresh whole hot peppers (your favorite – mine is Serrano), cut lengthwise thinly and then finely chopped. BEWARE – 2 peppers will make this dish VERY HOT, just the way I like it – adjust as you wish.

In a large pot over high heat combine water, chicken, onion, garlic, garlic salt, black pepper, basil, oregano, chicken broth, and hot peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.
Add celery and carrots to the pot.
Add sweet potato to the pot 5 minutes after.
Cook over medium heat until meat is tender & vegetables are done.
Let cool. Enjoy!
*Note: I advise to add the sweet potatoes after the celery and carrots because it cooks a little faster. Many people think sweet potatoes and yams are the same, but they are not. If you use yams (the darker version) they take longer to cook so switch steps 2 and 3.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Nutritional Information:


A serving is 1 cup. Makes 10 Servings.
Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories: 149; Total Fat: 6.16g; Cholesterol: 54mg; Carbohydrates: 8.9g; Protein: 14.6g; Sodium 236mg

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Form!

After completing my 3rd race this Spring, I feel compelled to write about an observation noted throughout each race. There is some seriously ugly runners out there! Now wait wait wait, I'm not that rude- most runners are svelt, toned, and have faces fine enough to grace websites and newspapers. We're talking running form, people. It ain't pretty.
At this point in my life, my racing experience could probably go from "novice" to "intermediate". This experience gives my opinion a bit more weight than before, right? Well let me tell ya, in all my people watching experiences, I'm not sure if I have worn a more "ouch, how can that not give you horrible foot and back pain" look on my face than I have during my most recent jaunts.
So here it is, misguided people. Pay attention to your running form! It may be the simplest fix to chronic pain, lack of speed, and an overall goofy look. You can thank me later for this free advice.
1. Inventory your body parts
Sounds silly, huh? Did you think running was all about lower body? Think again, my friend.
- Shoulders & Arms: Keep them comfy and relaxed. They move according to your stride. Let them. They aid in balance and assist your body from over-rotating. Make sure your shoulders are over your hips in order to maxmize your center of gravity. No hunching or over-arching allowed.
- Hands: No tight fists here. My strategy is to keep the tip of my thumb and my index finger touching. This way, I ensure that my circulation isn't constricted and that there is no stress held in my hands.
- Head: Just as I explained in the shoulders and hips, keep the head directly over this imaginary line in your spine.
- Feet: Where your toes are pointing is where your body will follow. Keep them straight. No pigeon toes or duck feet, it'll throw off your alignment and land you at the chiropractor or worse.
- Ankle: Work on ankle flexibility by flexing and extending the joint while stretching out. This way, the heel won't feel stress when striking the ground during a run.
- Knee: Now here's the trick. If you're running a sprint, work on running with "high knees". If you're running long distances, work on running with lower knees in order to divert motion forward.
- Hips: Believe it or not, this is where all the action's at. The hips hold the major muscle group in the lower body together. Your pelvis is what decides your stride, knee height, joint flexibility, etc. So make sure to keep your hips straight forward and level while running. No awkward thrusting forward or tucking under becuase this could cause painful tightening of the TFL (hip flexor muscles). Not good.
2. Stride
Your stride includes the length at which your feet extend from your body and the frequency of your step. By paying close attention to how your foot is striking and leaving the ground, you'll gain a better understanding of how to utilize what you have.
- Stride length: If your stride length is short, your energy is diverted to more of a bouncing action rather than a forward motion. Push forward more and you'll find it doesn't take much more energy to do so.
- Frequency: Normally, around 92 footsteps per minute is what most runners aim for. Go for a run and start counting. Adjust accordingly and you'll find a much happier balance of foot strike and stride length. You may even improve your time!
3. Loosen Up!! (geez!)
Ever watched professional marathon runners? Do they appear to be completing calculous in their heads without a calculator? No!! And neither should you! Acheiving the right amount of looseness in your form will leave you with less soreness in your muscles as well as those nasty frown lines on your forehead.
Think of your body like a spring. Springs work because they have just the right amount of tension to keep a mechanism from collapsing but just enough flexibility to get the job done. By keeping your head, shoulders, and hips in a straight line, you're maximizing the efficiency of this spring to propel you forward. (Technically, springs transform "potential" energy into "kinetic" energy. If you'd like the full meal deal on this, click here.)

So there you have it. Keep your head held high (eyes forward), feet in line, and form good and loose. But not too loose! This way I won't feel sympathy pain for your horrible form when I pass you in my next race.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Let's Talk about "It"

It starts as a little tingle. You try to ignore it, convince yourself that it's no big deal. Whether you're two minutes from the starting gun or already on your way and in "the zone", cramps, bloating, potty urges, need I say more?
Yep, I'm giving "It" a voice. Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Lactose Intolerance hits about 50% of runners at the most inopportune times. Active.com sheds some light on the issue, cited below:
 "If you have intestinal problems when you run you're not alone; 30- 50% of distance runners experience exercise related intestinal problems..... The vast majority (83%) of 471 marathoners who completed a survey reported they suffered GI problems occasionally or frequently during or after running: 53% experienced the urge to have a bowel movement and 38% reported diarrhea. Women were more likely than men to experience these problems."
Little did I know, the more seasoned runners have a name for it: "Runner's Trots" (Seriously people, I'm totally not joking on this one!)
Causes: I'll keep this short. There is no theory that's completely hands-down on the money. However, the research I reviewed for this article pretty much suggested the same thing. And it even makes sense!
When participating in rigorous, tiresome activity, the body diverts blood flow to your skin (cooling) and muscles involved in running. The reduced blood flow to the intestines can cause dehydration and, thus, and "irritable bowel."
Solutions:
- Warm up with a jog before your next big race. Perhaps this will "move things along" prior to the run.
- In the days leading up to the run, try to limit "sugar free" foods or foods containing aspartame, xylitol, etc. These can irritate the intestine and cause cramping.
- Reduce high fiber foods. This can be counter-inuitive to the carb loading but just think about the fiber content in the carbohydrate dense food choices.
- Consume LOTS of water, specifically 7 days prior to your run. Water works miracles, 'nuff said.
- Other food culprits that have been known to overstimulate your intestine are listed below.
Juice, coffee, fresh fruit, dried fruit, beans, lentils, dairy, high-fiber breads or cereals.
- Consult your doctor if you ever have painful cramps, diarrhea lasting more than 12 hours, or additional concerns outside of those listed above.

The nice thing about "It" is that you're not alone. There's a ton of research available online pertaining to this topic. And you don't have to just live with it, there's even prescriptions approved by the FDA that may help fix this terribly annoying problem.
"Causes and Solutions for Runners' Intestinal Concerns" Nancy Clark, MS, RD
"Runners' Digest" Kristin Bjornsen

 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pump up the Jam

Aaahhhh, the memories that arise when I recall singing along to the radio as that catchy tune infiltrated waves in the early '90's.... 
Nowadays, our iPods, iTouch's, Zune's, and MP3's help us set the pace for a highly productive workout. No matter if you need a fast, up-tempo or a more melodic tune to sweat to, finding a good mix that won't distract can be pretty difficult.
I'm a distance runner (or try to act like one). I need a mix that keeps me going, boosts my energy, and snaps me out of focusing on pain, boredom, or exhaustion. My musical preferences lie all across the board from 80's dance, 90's rock, alternative, punk, and mainstream hits. For me, variety is the spice of life.
Feel free to peruse a sampling of my "Workin' It" mix.
"Wait a Minute" Pussycat Dolls/ Timbaland
"Holla Back Girl"  Gwen Stefani
"Sexy Back"  Justin Timberlake
"Love Will Never Do Without You"  Janet Jackson
"Go Girl"  Pitbull
"You Can Do It"  Ice Cube
"Spaz"  N.E.R.D
"Feel Good Drag"  Anberlin
"Dead and Gone"  Justin Timberlake and T.I.
"Black Heart Inertia"  Incubus
"Green Light" John Legend (featuring Andre 3000)
"One more Time"  Daft Punk
"Let the Music Play"  Shannon
"Skinny Little Bitch"  Hole

Need some help finding a fitness mix? Want to spice up a current playlist? 
If you have access to iTunes and the iStore, follow these instructions:
- Click on iTunes Store
- Click on "Music" tab in upper left/center
- Scroll to bottom of page to "Nike Sport Mix" under "More to Explore" tab
- Feel free to look around here or go to "View or Create Sport iMixes"

Have some awesome power songs on your iPOD? Share them with us! Post them to "comments" and help your fellow fitness enthusiasts on the quest to the perfect playlist!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Race for the Cure 2010

Who doesn't love participating in a good cause. Better yet, who doesn't love participating in a good cause while also getting in shape? Score.
The Susan B Komen Race for the Cure is nothing short of an awesome event. With over 8,500 partipants in last weekend's event, how could you not smile at the thought of human-kind uniting towards a common, positive goal? My first event benefiting breast cancer research won't be my last.
Want more information on this awesome movement? Click here.
The Finish Line

A small portion of Team "Run for Joy"

I couldn't resist documenting the hilarious team T-shirts. Props to the teams who got uber-creative with their team name and outfits. Way to break the mold and put a positive spin on this event!

"Save the Milk Makers"

Where else could you get away with wearing a cape AND a tutu?

My personal favorite, "Saving 2nd Base". Cheers to you, ladies.

Team "Run for Joy" raised about $4000 in support of breast cancer research. Way to go! Let's try and double it for next year!!!
If you'd like to support the Susan B Komen Race for the Cure in your city, click here to find an event near you.
One last bit. This is a great way to get the women in your life (family, friends, coworkers) together. What a great looking Mother-Daughter team!


Icing on the cake: I qualified for "Second Seeding" placement for Bloomsday on May 2nd. This means that I got a race time that will get me perks come race day! Special starting location, less crowds, more freebies!!
5k race time: 20:52

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Take It Outside!

It's official. You may no longer use the weather as an excuse to get out of a good, healthy, outdoor workout. By now you've either had your fill of people watching at your local fitness club or added another 10lbs on top of your winter weight due to a lack of membership to said fitness club. No more get-out-of-fitness-free card!! Get outside!!
Here are some of my no-fail, no-fuss recommendations.
1. Plank Pose

Yep, I realize that I've mentioned this move before. But come on people. How much simpler can I get?
Start in the prone position (on your tummy). Pick up your hips, shift onto your toes and forearms. Keep your forearms parallel- no clasping hands together. Don't allow a sway in your lower back- hips up, abs tight!
Hold this position for 20-30sec at a time.

2. Walking Lunges
With so many variations to this move, I decided to go with the old-faithful walking lunge. This move tones your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Kick it up a notch by holding a 10lb weight out in front of you (like a steering wheel). This simple upgrade brings in your deltoids, biceps, and triceps. I love multi-tasking. Repeat 20 full steps forward, then turn around for 20 steps back.

Start with good posture: Shoulders back, core tight, feet together.
Extend hands out in front of you for balance. Step forward with your R foot, bend R knee and L knee simultaneously. Keep your shoulders over your hips- don't lean forward or backward when bending legs. This will keep your core engaged.
Now step forward with your L leg (in a walking manor from Step 2). Repeat the same movement with knees bending at 90 degree angles.
*Note: Try to keep the knees at 90 degree angles (see above images). This will ensure the safety of your knee joints. Never allow your front knee to extend in front of the front toe, ouch!
3. Quad Dips
Tone those thighs! Use a park bench or picnic bench (free equipment!).

Begin by standing in front of a park bench. Place your R foot back onto the bench (90 degree angle). Extend arms in front for balance.
Balance on your L leg, lowering straight down- shoulders over hips. Keep your L knee from jutting out over the toe. Once in the ending position (at left), push through the heels back into the starting position. Repeat this move 10 times, then switch legs.
4. Bench Jumps
Jumping exercises falls into the Plyometrics school of exercises. Great for balance, core training, and muscle tone. A 10" height is a good starting off point. Benches are usually between 12-16". 20 of these jumps should do the trick. Not enough for a good burn? Find something else demanding a higher jump. 24" does the trick for me!
Ah, yes. Another "keep it simple" move. Start with bent knees, tight core, hands extended for balance. Stand approximately 6 inches back from the bench.
Hop forward onto the bench with knees bent. Shift hips forward to stand straight up. Step backwards onto the ground into the starting position.
5. Rent a Puppy!!
How much more fun can it get? I'm sure you know someone with an active dog in case you don't own one. No? Go to your local humane society and they'll let you take the pooch of your choice out for a jaunt. Community service= two birds, one stone. Awesome.
Oh wait, and youre exercising too!!!
*Kudos: Thank you to my wonderful hubby-to-be for your amateur photography. Your support is much appreciated!