Workout Wednesday: Motivation

Here is a little motivational quote to get you through your workout today. It’s the middle of the week and you may be starting to feel your motivation slip and feeling tired from work or school. Attack the day and get that workout in! Remember, the only person you are competing against is the person you were yesterday. Your goal everyday is to improve and be better than you used to be.

 

Treat Yo Self: Fitness Style

Treat. Yo. Self. —- Take some advice from Donna and Tom from Parks And Rec. Spoil yourself. You deserve it.

Working out, sticking to your fitness plan, and getting after your goals can be extremely exhausting. You will have your ups and your downs. You’ll see results come when you do not expect them and there will be times when you expect results but have hit a plateau. Even when you expect this to happen, it can become frustration and you may find that you lack motivation to continue. This is where treating yourself comes in handy. Buy yourself something awesome when you hit that plateau, start to lack motivation, or hit a substantial goal. Some of the best motivation you can find to keep going in your fitness journey is buying yourself some new workout clothes or accessories.

Losing Motivation?

Anytime I feel down on my progress or feel my motivation slipping, I buy something small that I can use in my workouts. Typically, I’ll buy a new shirt, shorts, headband, gloves, socks or just something else that I can wear on most of my workouts. The concept here is that when you get something new, you will want to wear them. This is a little added motivation to get out and hit that next workout. It’s a great way to jump start a new workout streak, try some new workouts, or fit through that tired feeling you have.

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Hit a small fitness goal?

Reward yourself for small fitness goals that you hit. Just like how dogs earn treats when they do something good or learn new tricks, you should get a reward for your hard work too. These rewards can be something a little more expensive or something that you’ve been wanting to buy for awhile but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Some of my favorite things to purchase are new race entries. If you are a runner, you know races can become expensive. One reason I love this idea as a treat is because it gives you something to look forward to completely and will help you stay on track with your fitness goals. The other item I like to get is a new pair of running or cross training shoes. You will need to replace your shoes as some point anyways, so might as well pick up a new pair with a new colorway and hold onto them until your current shoes where through. Having those shoes waiting for you will keep you excited to keep training and earn the right to where them down the road.

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Achieved that big fitness goal you’ve been trying to reach for years? TREAT. YO. SELF.

I recently hit my goal of moving my VO2 Max Score from “Very Good” to “Excellent” on my Fitbit App. I had been working on this by increasing the frequency/consistency of my workouts. Mixing up aerobic and anaerobic exercise and it’s slowing increased. I like this measure better than weight because your weight can spike or plunge at anytime and doesn’t have much impact on your overall fitness. So what did I do to treat myself? I bought two new pairs of running shoes and running pants. Things that I need and will use for a long time, but are not cheap. I can’t wait to break them out and keep pushing myself.

Some other items that are great to get when you achieve these massive fitness goals are Bluetooth headphones, new fitness watch/smart wearable, or gym equipment. These are big ticket items that are not cheap, that you’ve been wanting to buy for some time, and can finally have a reason to get them. If you don’t need or want anything new for working out, then treat yourself to something else. Go on a vacation. Go to the spa and get a massage. Go get a Mani-Pedi. Buy yourself something new for your kitchen or house. TREAT YO SELF to something you wouldn’t normally get. You’ve earned it and you deserve it!

Running With a Cold?

If you are a runner, you are almost guaranteed to run into some circumstance that will cause you to have to take a break from your scheduled training. Whether it is an injury, work, vacation, family emergencies, and so on. I’ve recently been struggling to get over a cold and cough that just will not go away. It has really put a damper on my training routine that I have had planned. So it made me ask the question, when is it okay to continue training when sick and when should rest take a priority?

I absolutely hate to take breaks in my training because too long of a break can throw off the routines that take forever to get setup. At the same time, I’m extremely cautious and make sure I do not work myself into an injury. Avoiding injuries can be easy with proper stretching, preparation and mindfulness. The one thing that you cannot plan for is getting sick. Eating healthy, drinking plenty of fluids, getting enough sleep, and removing stress from your life are great ways to stay healthy. But even the healthiest among us will catch a cold from time to time.

The week I have been fighting a cold that involved a sore throat, upset stomach, and headache. As much as I wanted to get out and put some miles under my feet, I had to listen to my body and rest. Three days of medicine and extra hours of sleep and the headache and stomach ache were finally gone and my legs were screaming “LETS GO FOR A RUN!” Unfortunately, the cough had not subsided. So now I’ve got to make a choice, go for a run or keep resting?

running while sick

 

My rule of thumb (and what you’ll most likely see other runners mention) is that if the cold is from the neck up, then you are good to go and train. In the past I would go running while congested and by mile two, the sinuses are completely clear. Honestly, I swear a good run will work better then most decongestant medicines. Just be prepared to be wiping you nose every other minute of the run. The reason for saying “from the neck up” is because if your stomach is acting up, then you are risking getting sick while training and throwing up (or it coming out of the other end). It’ll be messy and you really should be focusing on hydrating and eating properly until your stomach settles down.

stop coughing

The issue I was concerned about this time with my cold was the cough. The problem with a cough and running is that at any moment a coughing fit can arise and breathing becomes difficult. Add that to the exertion that happens when running, and there might be some trouble. I decided that I felt well enough to go for a short run and at a comfortable pace. This way if I had to stop mid run I could walk back, and not exerting too much effort by simply jogging means that if my cough does pop up, I can at least slow down and catch my breathe before continuing. Ultimately, it was a great workout. I decided to go for a 3 mile run at a 9 minute pace (that being my half marathon pace). As I turned home, I felt really good and no sign of coughing, so I went one more mile just to get some more steps in for my legs to be happy. Afterwords, I made sure to drink plenty of water and loaded up on the electrolytes by adding in NUUN tablets to the water. After that water was downed, I brewed some green tea to help sooth the throat soreness that had picked back up after the run.

Lesson here that I’ve learned, listen to your body but do not be afraid to push yourself. You can certainly train while sick but be extra cautious and make sure you are prepared to have to stop and take care of yourself. Also, the other lesson here is that it is important to stick to your training plan to insure you hit your race goal, but taking a few days off could and most likely would help your over all training by not pushing yourself into an injury or extended illness.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how you approach training while sick or injured. Please feel free to leave comments here and let’s get a discussion going to help out the rest of the running community!

 

Recovery Tip: Ice or Heat an Injury

Should we ice or heat to recover from an injury? This is a question that all athletes and trainers have been asking for a long time. If you have ever seen the great 90’s movie, Rookie Of The Year, you know that some people have an interesting take on the recovery approach….Now we all know heating up ice cubes is ridiculous and won’t work, but Icy Hot products are one of the most popular recovery products in the market. They are great for aches and pains, but there are some injuries where heating or icing could actually cause added harm.

Exercising to stay healthy and improve your fitness is always great, but unfortunately at some point you will run into an injury. It’s to be expected when you are trying to push yourself to make improvements to your body and health. Set backs and injuries can be expected when training, but the good thing is that there are plenty of options out there to treat any injury. The bad news is that there is so many options out there that it can be confusing on which ones to use. So instead of trying to pick out the right product at the local pharmacy, let’s get back to the basics.

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When to Ice an injury:

Ice should be used on acute injuries. These are injuries that involve swelling or bruising. Ice is almost always the answer to any fresh injury. It’s primary role is to help slow down and reduce any swelling and inflammation. Examples of injuries to ice:

  • Rolled ankles/joints
  • Freshly pulled muscles
  • Impact injuries (hit by pitch in baseball, tackles in football, etc.)

Always remember, when it comes to icing an injury that you do not forgot the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

When to Heat an Injury:

Heat should be applied to injuries that involve tight muscles, spasms, and chronic pain. The key to heating injuries is to improve blood flow and loosen muscles. The key to recovery with heat will be stretching after heating. Here are a few examples of injuries to heat:

  • Back Spasms
  • Lingering pain in muscles (not freshly pulled muscles)
  • Stress Headaches and neck pain

It is important to not mix these up. If you were to switch ice or heat on these injuries, you could be making the injuries worse. Icing a spasm would cause more tightness and pain. Heating a rolled ankle would increase the blood flood to the area and increase the swelling.

Please make sure to go see a Physician for serious or lingering injuries. Major injuries require expert opinions and testing. Icing a torn ACL would be great for pain management and reducing swelling, but you will need surgery. Let’s hope you never have to experience that example or one like it.

Best of luck out there in your path to a fit and health life. Remember that small injuries will occur, but that is no need to quite or give up. Embrace the recovery time and hit the ground running once the pain is manageable or completely gone.

 

 

 

 

Health Tip: Cut The C.R.A.P

Just like how Teri Garr in Young Frankenstein had to PUT…THE CANDLE…BACK, you need to PUT…THE DOUGHNUT…BACK! Seriously, put it back. There is next to no nutritional value in doughnuts, cake, cookies and white bread. They may taste great and that sugary snack can get you from lunch to dinner but it does nothing good for your body.

There are about 1000 different diets and schemes to losing weight, being fit, or just being healthy in general, but the one thing they all have in common is that eating healthy is the key. One of the most common phrases you will hear in the fitness community is “Abs are made in the gym, but revealed in the kitchen” and it is absolutely correct. One of the prime examples of this that has been in the new lately is from Tom Brady. The dude is now 39 years old and in the best shape of his life. While most quarterbacks in the NFL are breaking down on almost every other play, he’s slinging the ball around like guys who has never been hit by a linebacker. The main reason for this is because of an overhaul in his diet. It’s absurdly strict and definitely not recommended for everyone, but the point is that what you put in your body is extremely important and affects everything from your weight to your attitude to your energy levels. If you want to read up more about how Brady keeps dominating the NFL, check out this article from Yahoo.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect when it comes to my diet and eating habits, but I know that the healthier I eat the better I feel. A rule that I like to follow is the 80/20 rule. This just means that the I focus on eating healthy and natural foods 80% of the time and I allow myself to indulge in cheat meals 20% of the time. Now those cheat meals tend to be fries, chips, bread, or chocolate. I’m not going all out with fried food and extra fatty food. One way I focus being healthy is by cutting the C.R.A.P. and eating F.O.O.D!

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Cut the C.R.A.P.

Carbonated Drinks: 

By cutting these out, it means that you’ll be cutting out a lot of sodas and drinks that contain chemicals, sugars, and calories that have no nutritional benefit. These drinks are what are considered empty calories. They may taste great and help curve that sweet tooth, but your body doesn’t need them. When your body doesn’t need calories, it stores them as fat for later. This is why those diet drinks that are so popular do not actually lead to weight loss. Your body sees these chemicals/ingredients and doesn’t need them, so it’ll flush them out or store them for later.

Refined Sugar:

That white bread, white cake, and favorite breakfast cereal is doing nothing for you. Refined sugar has zero nutritional value (fiber, minerals, vitamins) and are extremely high in calories. Cut these out by switching to high fiber breads and oatmeal and you’ll notice how you’ll be more full, more often. That full feeling will lead to eating fewer calories and more weight loss.

Artificial Sweeteners/Alcohol:

Artificial sweeteners are those yellow, blue, pink sugar packs you see people loading up their morning coffee with and is one of the main ingredients in soft drinks. If it’s not natural and needs to be created in a science lab, it’s probably not ideal for your body.

Alcohol is another option here. Beer gut is a real thing. No don’t get me wrong, I love to have beer/wine as much as the next person, but alcohol is processed through the liver as a toxin and signals the body to store fat. So this is something you should definitely cut back on or cut out all together.

Processed Foods:

These foods are ones that have additives that allow the food to not expire or have longer shelf lives. Examples being cereal, fruit snacks, dried fruits, mixed nuts, and microwave popcorn. These are great because you can buy them in bulk and not worry about them expiring before you can eat them. But avoid them as much as possible because the artificial ingredients and additives are terrible for your body. There is great article here that explains more about why exactly you need to avoid these foods.

Consume Real F.O.OD.

Fruits & Vegetables:

There is a reason that health professionals want you eating multiple servings of fruits and vegetables every day. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs. Replace those fruit snacks, candy, and sugar snacks with unprocessed and natural food. This simple change will boost your energy in no time. You

Organic and Lean Proteins:

The reason you should focus on these is that they are all natural. You know what you are getting when you are eating these organic and lean proteins. Now I’ll be honest, I don’t eat organic that often because they are expensive. So when I don’t eat organic, I look at the labels that and ingredients. The shorter the ingredient list, the better.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids:

Add these into the diet by eating more fish, specifically salmon. Omega 3s are great because they are anti-inflammatory and will help reduce overall swelling.Not only that, but they can help reduce risks of heart attacks and strokes, they can reduce anxiety and depression, and they can help improve sleep. For a full list of benefits, check out this article.

Drink Water: 

If you think you are drinking enough water, you are not drinking enough water. The majority of the human body is composed of water and is the key to life. By drinking more water you will not only have more energy and feel hungry less often, but your skin will clear up and your body will be flushed of harmful toxins. The recommended amount of water you that you should drink is 1 oz per 2 lb of body weight. So if you weight 150 lbs then you should drink 75 oz of water. Honestly, I think that is nowhere near enough. I’d recommend drinking 1 oz per 1 lb of body weight. I weight 155 so that is  roughly 1.25 gallons. When I’m working out regularly, I’ll definitely hit that amount and never have to worry about dehydration.See the image below for just a few of the great added benefits of drinking more water.

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Now, I know that making all these adjustments at once will be tough but they will absolutely be worth it. If you do not feel like you can completely make these changes at once, then start small and slowly work them into your eating habits. I’d love to hear more about other eating habit changes that you have been making that have been successful. Feel free to comment here  or reach out to my social media pages with details. I always love learning new and different ideas to living a healthier lifestyle.

 

Finding & Replacing Running Shoes

Anyone who has ever trained for a race and or just runs for fun knows that finding the perfect pair of running shoes is close to impossible. There are so many options out there that it can make one dizzy. There are shoes for short distance, long distance, road running, path/soft surface running, track running, heel to toe landing, flat foot landing, pronation, supination and so many more. So when we runners find a perfect shoe for us, it’s the best feeling in the world and we never want to let them go! Unfortunately, the shoes wear out and most like the company that produced the shoe has changed the design or move on to a new model. This means back to the beginning. So here are a few tips on how to  find that perfect pair of shoes and how and when to replace them so you don’t cause an injury from worn down shoes.

Tip 1: Finding The Running Shoe For You

  • GO TO A RUNNING STORE! This seems pretty simple, but most people shop online nowadays for the convenience. While shopping online is great and I definitely do that, it’s not worth the injuries you can get from improper shoes. Most stores have treadmills where the sales associate can watch you run for a bit to see what your natural gait is and what your foot strike is like.
  • Don’t worry about the look/color of the shoes at the store. Most will be very bland and we all know runners need something will a little spark to them. After all, “look good, feel good” is one of the more popular saying for runners. The focus of this is to find the best shoe that is the most comfortable for you when you run. If the store doesn’t have the color of the shoe you want, they can most likely order you one or you can order them online. Just make sure you get the brand, model and size information.
  • Once you find the shoe you want, ask the store what their return policy is. Most stores will offer free returns and exchanges for 7 days. This will allow you to take the shoes for a few training runs and make sure the shoes are perfection. Do not be afraid to return them if they are not perfect. Running shoes should fit you so that you forgot they are there and you can focus on the important aspects of running.
  • Once you’ve got those bad boys, hit the road and crush some miles!

Tip 2: When to Replace Running Shoes

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Lady Gaga Bodyshamed? Really? 

Lady Gaga’s halftime performance his past weekend during Super Bowl LI received positive reviews by almost everyone who watched. From her entering the stage on suspension wires to her mic drop and football catch, she absolutely crushed the show.

In the middle of the show she had a wardrobe change and switched into an outfit that revealed her stomach. Watching this live, everybody at my watch party had the exact same reaction…damn she is in great shape! We all thought she sounded and looked great during the show.


Unfortunately, there were some online trolls who didn’t feel the same way and felt like they had to body shame her stomach. It’s disgusting how someone could shame someone for not have a defined six-pack and no extra skin. And you can guarantee that these same people would have body shamed here if she did have a six-pack. They would have called her “too masculine” or something absurd like that.

Thankfully, Lady Gaga has millions of fans that came to her defense. Many of her fans went to social media to praise her for herself-confidence to wear the outfit.

Body shaming is something that should NEVER happen! Everyone has their own story, is at a different part of their life, and we have zero reason to judge anyone because they do not have a “perfect/supermodel” body.

How great would this world be if we all helped build each other up instead of tearing each other down?

Super Bowl LI: Prop Bets

Sticking with the Super Bowl theme of posts this week, I felt like I needed to post these in advance of the game. Full disclaimer, I am not betting on this game but below are the bets I would make if I bet was betting today. Check out my picks below

Game Pick: I’m taking the Pats 27-24

Patriots -2.5 (buy this down from -3 if you can) and Under 59

Entertainment

  1. What will Luke Bryan be wearing when he starts singing the U.S. national anthem? (Bovada)
    • Blue Jeans 1/2
  • Any other pants or shorts 3/2

 

Yeah, give me Blue Jeans and it’s not even close

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Super Bowl Workout: Commercial Edition

It’s SUPER BOWL time!! This year we should have another great Super Bowl Event. The game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons is setup to one of the best Super Bowls in recent history. Then you add in a Halftime show with Lady Gaga and probably a guest star or two. All of this will be extremely entertaining, but we all know the main reason that most people will tune in is for the commercials (I mean who doesn’t love those Budweiser Clydesdale commercials)! The Super Bowl will be watched by an estimated 120 Million viewers this year, which means it’s going to be one of the biggest days of the year for TV advertising. The average commercial will run a company roughly $5 Million for 30 seconds and it’s almost guaranteed that they will make that back two-fold with an effective commercial campaign.

In addition to a great football game, halftime performance and hilarious commercials, there will be a plethora of snacks and fried food consumed by viewers. I know I’ll be eating and drinking my fair share of calories during the game. If you read my earlier post about food being consumed on Super Bowl Sunday, you know the average american will consume roughly 6,000 calories….yikes! So in order to help combat those calories, I’ve put together an easy workout to do while watching the commercials. It’s a little something to keep us active and off the couch while we eat/drink our body weight in chicken wings, pizza, and beer.

Concept: Watch the commercials like normal. After watching the commercial and finding out what the product is, do the workout listed below that matches up with that companies category. Each workout listed will allow you to do the exercise while still paying attention to the next commercial or the game.

Category Exercises:

  • Food/Drink – 10 Jumping Jacks
  • Alcoholic Beverage – 10 Squats
  • Automotive – 10 Push-ups
  • Electronics/Household – 10 Sit-Ups
  • Miscellaneous (gaming, movies, entertainment, etc.) – 10 Lunges

Feel free to tweak or change some of the categories or workouts to your desire. Hope you enjoy!

Super Bowl: Healthy Snack Idea

It’s almost game time! The biggest sporting event of the year is just two days away. Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will be watched by an estimated 120 Million people. If you are like many of those people and myself, you will most likely be watching at a watch party surrounded with friends, family and a lot of food. On average, Americans will consumer 6,000 calories during the 4-5 hour game……yeah that’s the equivalent to how many calories one would burn if they ran a full marathon.

I’ll definitely be indulging more than usual during the game this weekend, but I’m going to try to make sure that there are some healthier options and snacks available. This way I can still indulge in some great food but not worry about what may happen to my waist line. My contribution to the watch party snacks will be a twist on the classic mozzarella sticks. I’ll cooking up some awesome Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks (yea, I’ll be the guy who brings something somewhat healthy and I’m not ashamed). Below is the recipe.

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