Tag Archives: Fitness

Breakfast Burrito and Training Schedule

24 Jun

While some may love their oats for breakfast, I love my eggs for breakfast. I wish I could say that I get bored with these sometimes, but I just don’t. How can one go wrong with so much protein, greens and complex carbohydrates in the morning.

Now that I’ve been training so much I’m eating more calories, so I’ve added an extra egg to my breakfast burritos. Check out this baby:

Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast Burrito

From the bottom up:
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Tortilla
1/2 cup organic baby arugula
1 slice Trader Joe’s Beef Bacon (I promise it’s under the eggs)
2 eggs over easy
1 TBS Frontera tomatillo salsa

I’m about to complete my third week of half marathon training and this is what the schedule’s looked like this week:
Sunday Warrior Dash
Monday 100 minutes of power walking in fat burning zone with intervals on treadmill
Tuesday Running outside 50 minutes
Wednesday Boot camp
Thursday Personal training session, focusing on core
Friday Day of rest, stretching and foam rolling
Saturday 6 mile run day

My body hurts, I don’t think there’s a single muscle on my body that isn’t sore. It’s great that today is rest and stretch day. My trainer told me today that I need to stretch and foam roll as much as possible so I don’t get sick. I had never heard that before. He told me it won’t necessarily prevent illness, but helps with recovery process and therefore helping prevent injury and illness. I also see this is as another reason to get enough sleep and eat as well as possible.

Does anyone else have a breakfast obsession? As much as I love my breakfast burritos I do like to try new things.

More than Running

13 Jun

I’ve officially completed my first week of half marathon training. So far so strong.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Joanna's First Half Marathon

As I mentioned I signed up for a special 10-week training program with Armando at my gym. (P.S. He has a guest post coming up soon about massage therapy). The training program includes a boot camp class once a week, a personal training session once a week, a 10-week running schedule and a nutrition expert looking at how I’m eating. Given all I have learned about my body this past March (the resting metabolic rate and SubMax tests) I want to be under careful supervision for this race.

What I’m most excited for is fine-tuning my training. In the past I’d created workout plans for myself for races and that worked just fine. I now want to focus on taking racing to the next level to be stronger, faster and more efficient. I’ve set a goal of finishing this race in under two hours, it’s really going to take some diligent training on my part to accomplish that.

Some things that are different this time around are that I’m focusing on strength training, stretching, foam rolling and eating for endurance sports. Yeah I will do the running, but I really think that for me to get faster and stronger I need to incorporate all of these other aspects of training.

The first week’s schedule looked like this:
Monday – Personal Training Session, focus on agility, balance and strength
Tuesday – Rest day
Wednesday – Boot Camp
Thursday – Running Club, 50 minute run
Friday – Strength and stretch, chest and abs
Saturday – 6 mile run
Sunday – Strength, legs

For you runners do you think about strength training and stretching when you’re training for a race? For you non-runners, does this make running races more appealing to hear that stretching and strength training are crucial components to running?

I am not a Runner

10 Jun

Recently I told a friend that I am not a runner. Really. I’m not.

As a young girl, I watched Ironman competitions on TV thinking it was the coolest thing ever and that I could never do that because I am not a runner.

In high school, I had a hard time running a 12-minute mile, I think my fastest was 13:30. Always in the back with the slow pack. In college I dabbled in treadmill and never made it much past 2-miles @ 12-minutes a piece huffing and puffing the entire time.

Then came the late twenties when I tried my hand at triathlon, I did 6 my first year. I’d smoke most people in the water, I felt strong on the bike and everyone would pass me when it came to the run. The fact that they were all  passing me didn’t even matter, I felt slow. My legs were heavy and my lungs never quite big enough. I was not a runner.

I don’t like feeling limited. I don’t like to feel like I can’t do something. So I signed up for a 15k race. Had Armando train me for it. I finished with an awesome pace. I signed up for a 10K. Armando kept training me. A month later I ran it and shaved a minute off my pace. All of sudden I was capable of running 9:15 miles. That was fast for someone who’s not a runner.

This year, I completed a 3.5 mile race and to my surprise was the fastest woman in my company. Two days later I completed a 10-mile race. The 10-mile run felt awesome. Sure people were passing me up, but I felt fast. Legs were strong, I had plenty of space in my lungs, I felt like I was flying. I was a runner.

Running Club

Me after a midweek run

Now I wonder what else I’m telling myself that I’m not capable of that I can actually do. I have a few ideas, but I bet I’m not alone. All those things you don’t think you can do, I bet you can.

Is there something you’ve recently accomplished that you were sure you couldn’t do? What’s something you tell yourself you can’t do?

Schitzo Shrimp and More

22 Apr

Happy earth day everyone! I’m ba-ack. After a month-long hiatus from blogging I am back and ready to share my food and fitness adventures again.

Over the past month I’ve made many changes to the way I eat and workout. For a couple of weeks I have been keep track of my calorie intake via sparkpeople.com to see how many calories I am actually consuming throughout the day. Initially when I began to lose weight and lean out the thing that made the biggest difference was keeping a food journal. I wrote down everything I ate and that way I was accountable for it. I wouldn’t track calories but I used it as a system to make sure I was eating the right kinds of foods.

Now that my goals are more specific – I want to lose 3% body fat – I have to be more rigorous with what I eat and make sure I eat enough calories. The nice thing about that site is that it gives me a breakdown of the types of calories I am consuming. They have a cool pie chart of my fat, carbohydrate and protein intake. What I don’t like about Spark People is the user interface. It loads slowly even on a high-speed internet connection. It’s a very frustrating. There are also lists of foods with nutritional information pre-filled, but many of the specialty foods that I eat like grass-fed ground beef are not in the system. So I have to go to other sites find the nutritional content and enter it myself. I’ve stopped using it and am on the hunt for a different calorie tracking program. If anyone has suggestions I am willing to try it.

On the workout front, I have been working out for longer periods of time, less intensely. It’s very different from running as fast as possible and always going all-out at the gym. It’s a nice change of pace but it’s taking some getting used to. I’m spending more time at the gym. I’ve been planning my workouts around the time CSI and all the crime shows are on so the time flys.

Finally, I have been cooking up a storm. Making sure that I have enough food with me throughout the day. That’s been a bit of an adjustment as well, but I love trying new foods and new ‘clean’ recipes. This was dinner from earlier this week, cheesy corn grits with a zucchini shrimp saute. It was delicious and the recipe is from this month’s Clean Eating magazine.

Shrimp Saute with Cheesy Grits

Shrimp Saute with Cheesy Grits

The recipe is even more delicious than that it looks and it serves 6, I’ve made about 5 meals out of it.

Have any of you made any changes to your eating habits or workouts? Do you have a calorie tracking program that you just love? I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. This is a random piece of news,  but my super awesome brother and I were featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal this past Tuesday.

Throwing out the Scale

17 Mar

This past weekend, I had one of the most informative weekends of my entire fitness-junkie career! I got a Hydrostatic Body Composition test, a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test and VO2Max test. Some of you may be wondering what in the world these are, so before I get into my results and how they will impact my training (and eating) I’m going to explain a little about each of the tests and why they’re important. If you’re familiar with these tests, skip over this next section and get to reading at the end.

Hydrostatic Body Composition Test
This is a fat test. Without going into too much complex detail, the way that this works is you get weighed on an underwater scale. You go into a tub and submerge your entire body onto this underwater scale, while underwater you blow out as much air as you possibly can from your lungs. This technique is more accurate than a fat scale, body pincher or hand-held body composition scanners at the gym.

It’s actually more important to know your body fat composition than your weight. Say what?!? The reason for this is because someone can be very thin and in the normal range of weight while having a high body fat percentage and on the flip side someone can be on the higher end of the scale and have a low body fat percentage. Also, the fastest and most efficient way to change the way your body looks is to lower body fat and build lean muscle. Read more about body fat tests.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) Test
This test determines how many calories you burn while at rest. The way the test works is you sit in a comfortable chair for 12 minutes while breathing into a tube.

The importance of this test is to determine how many calories someone needs to lose, gain or maintain weight. It can explain why despite eating a low-calorie diet you’re not losing weight. Believe it or not if you’re not getting enough calories that can hinder weight loss and muscle-building. Our bodies are very complex systems and there is more to meeting fitness goals than just exercising more and eating less.

VO2Max
The VO2max test measures your maximum level of exertion, in other words it measures how intensely you can possibly work-out before you can’t workout any more. It distinguishes if you are burning body fat, muscle & fat or purely muscle as you exercise. This test is performed on a treadmill while wearing a mask and breathing into a tube.

Since I am someone who is interested in burning fat it’s important for me to know my fat-burning zone, so that I can train in the fat burning zone. Since I want to build muscle and keep it on, I don’t want to be in the muscle-burning zone.

These are all very generic explanations of each of the tests, but hopefully you can get the idea of what they are and why they’re important. If you want any further explanation, leave a comment saying so and I’ll have Armando answer your questions.
The Results
I am very happy to have taken the above tests, because now I have an actual baseline to track my results. My body fat percentage is 16.4%, for a 30-year-old female 20-25% body fat is considered good. Naturally I am very happy to have a low body fat percentage. I see this as a testament to the healthy lifestyle changes I have made over the past years and all that my trainer has taught me.
The Changes
As of Sunday I am no longer going to try to hit a number on a scale. Armando has been trying to beat into my head that the number on the scale doesn’t matter, he’s been saying “it’s all about how your clothes fit, the way you look in the mirror and the number on the scale can remain the same but your body and it’s shape will change dramatically” (muscle to body fat ratio). My stubborn-self (what can I say I’m a Taurus) wanted to base things on the scale, so I would weigh myself and allow my moods to be affected by the little digits on the blue screen of the scale. I am finished with that. I am also going to be eating more which will result in having more energy throughout the day. Additionally the trainer is changing up my workouts for me to maximize the amount of muscle I keep on my body.
Well, that’s not entirely true, he’s been telling me to do some of these things all along. There are some habits that die hard, I would do certain things my way and not listen to his instructions. I’ve been able to get very fit and produce some amazing results despite my stubborn Taurian ways. I think I’ll let the expert do his job now and I’ll follow his instructions. I’ll be getting the tests again in the next six months so I’ll have plenty of time to track progress.
Have you gotten any of these tests? If so, how did it impact your training?

Four Steps for Drinking Success

9 Mar

I’ve had a few people ask me what my thoughts are about drinking alcohol, I think this is a great excuse for a post. I have a pretty unique view on drinking. This one is specifically for you Alyssa.

Memorial Day margaritas (margarita, Memorial D...

Image via Wikipedia

So what is my drinking philosophy?
The short answer: I don’t drink alcohol (hardly ever).
The long answer: I don’t like drinking alcohol. It upsets my stomach, I’ve never acquired a taste for it, I see it as empty calories (I would rather eat than drink) and I don’t like the way I feel when I’m buzzed. This makes my choices at parties and bars very simple, I choose tap or sparkling water or if the option is available I drink tea or coffee. I am not 100% abstinent from alcohol, I occasionally have a drink or a shot. When I do drink it’s only premium liquor. My philosophy for alcohol is not that much different from my philosophy for food, only the best ingredients go into my temple of flesh.

I also know that this may not be the right choice for everyone but this is what works for me. If you are going to drink at a party or bar, I’d like to offer you these Four Steps for Drinking Success. You can apply this to eating at parties too, I do this when I know I will be around my favorite greasy foods.

Step 1 Remind yourself of your health or fitness goal. This will put you in the right frame of mind and give you a context to start from. For example, while I’m getting ready to go to a party I might say to myself, “OK you want the body of a fitness model and you’ve never been this close before. This is your dream and you’re going to make it happen.” If you have a photo that inspires you, look at it.

Step 2 Make a game plan. Figure out what you want to drink and how many you will have before you arrive. You have a much better chance of sticking with a plan if you actually make one. If you have friends going to the party get a couple to support you in making your best decisions. For example, I decide that I am going to have one shot of Patron at the party and one Margarita without salt and 3 glasses of water. I will call my friend Suzy Q and ask her, “Hey can you check in with me a couple of times at the party and ask me what I’ve had to drink? I want to make sure I don’t go overboard with drinking tonight. I want to be full of energy tomorrow for my workout. You asking me will help keep me in check, I would really appreciate it.”

Step 3 Drink plenty of water. You can mix it up here, you can drink a sparkling water with a strawberry or an orange slice or go with tap and a cucumber. This way you stay hydrated even if you drink more than you planned.

Step 4 If you go overboard, don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect and sometimes all the planning in the world won’t keep you from caving in. It’s OK, you are human and humans screw up. If you are beating yourself up call a trusted friend and talk to them. When I’m beating myself up I usually dial my brother’s number. (Thanks Pete! You’re the best!) He simultaneously tells me not to beat myself up while having me see where I screwed up so I can learn from my mistake and motivate myself to keep moving forward. Know who that person is for you and call them. 

Most of my friends are drinkers and we get along just fine. But I am curious, are there any readers who share in my philosophy? Those of you who do enjoy your adult beverages more than me how do you handle your liquor at parties?

Resolve to Fulfill on your Fitness Resolutions in 2011

11 Jan

With the New Year having just arrived and everyone making resolutions, I don’t think I can escape at least one post. This post isn’t going to be about resolutions per se, it’s about achieving your fitness goals and the difference it makes to work with a personal trainer, regardless of the time of the year. Some people see working with a trainer as a luxury or for people just starting out, I see it as a necessity for someone who is looking to make a real impact and change in their approach to health and fitness.

Over the years I’ve changed the way that I workout from massive amounts of cardio (triathlon training) and almost zero lifting weights to primarily supplementing weight training with cardiovascular exercise and stretching. I used to go to the gym and hit up the treadmill or elliptical for 60-90 minutes and these days I head straight for the free weights. I’m now well versed in the benefits of weight training. I have never had better results in terms of changing the shape of my body than with weight training. I didn’t learn this on my own and I don’t train on my own. I have a personal trainer and his name is Armando.

Even before working with Armando I had a triathlon trainer to coach me in the right amount of training for racing such long distances. My coach was and iron man competitor. I like to be trained by the best!

Working with Armando I have completely transformed the way I approach exercise and the way I relate to food. Relate to food? Yes, that may sound strange and it is something that you may never think about, but it’s crucial to producing results. He has not only taught me about how to most effectively workout for the type of results I want to achieve but also how to eat for performance. In the three years I have been working with him, I went down four pants sizes from 12 to 4. I really never thought it would be possible for me to wear a size 4, that my body was just not made that way I was wrong and I am still losing weight and gaining muscle. Additionally, under Armando’s care it took me less than 2 months to go from running an 11-minute mile to 9-minute 10k pace. That’s an insanely fast increase and I’ve never been that fast or had such an extreme jump in pace – not even with my former Iron Man trainer!

So you can get an idea of what going from size 12 to 4 looks like, here are some embarrassing photos of me in Vegas:

Me at the pool in Vegas

Me at the pool in Vegas

Another one of me at the pool in Vegas

Another one of me at the pool in Vegas

Me in Vegas

Me in Vegas

And here’s a YouTube  video of me jumping rope. You should know that before my training with Armando, I couldn’t walk without tripping. I just wasn’t that coordinated or balanced!

This is what convinced me that Armando is a specialist at what he does; he knew what I needed to do to enhance my performance.

I could go on and on about why training with a trainer is a great idea, but I will let the expert tell you in his own words. Thanks Armando for sharing your expertise!

Armando, personal trainer

Armando, personal trainer

What does a trainer provide that people can’t get from a book?
A trainer provides accountability. That word represents many things when used in relation to a personal trainer. First and foremost, there is having someone actually there with you pushing you along as you exercise. Exercise can be a ‘solo’ activity and often times that alone turns people off to idea of training.

A good trainer knows that he/she will be your cheerleader (sometimes the only one) and that his/her role is crucial in having you continue and be successful – a master trainer knows that it will take much more than just that. A crucial part to achieving any kind of success is having a community of people around you moving in a similar direction.  How do you do that?  How do you get others around you to be in sync with what you are out to accomplish even if they aren’t committed to that? Well, an expert trainer can and will have this happen. This is one area that has me stand out among the rest. I focus my attention on getting the people in my clients’ lives to support them in their fitness goals.

The bottom line is that there is an emotional connection with food. If you are human, you have this emotional connection. No exceptions.  A highly skilled trainer will not only help you work on your physical/biological muscles, but also will aid in you transforming your relationship to food.  Why is this relevant?  Nobody can just switch from one form of eating to another; I don’t care who you are.

A good fitness coach/personal trainer is in so many words, someone who can communicate effectively to people and above all, a leader.

What should someone take into consideration when they are choosing a trainer?
Make sure they are certified.  It matters that they know what they’re talking about. Anybody can tell you to do certain exercises – ANYBODY. A certified/educated/specialized trainer will not arbitrarily have you do that. He/she will know how to start you off and why to start you off that way.  It isn’t just about grabbing weights and taking off – oh no, not at all – this is a very common thing average trainers will do.

Is the trainer in shape, do they have the type of physique that you want?
I’m a long time athlete and former amateur bodybuilder. I have trained with and by the best.  I prefer to know that my trainer isn’t just someone who read a book and knows a bunch of stuff. I want someone who knows it AND has lived it. I want someone to look at and admire as I bust my ass.  I need a look at a desired future in front of me, not a reminder of why I am working out in the first place.  Finding the combination of both the scientific knowledge and the matching physique is a rare commodity, but trust that when you find that combination it will matter to know and see what you’re working with.

Do they live the lifestyle themselves (eat healthy, etc.)?
They better! I would want someone who has deep seeded roots in what it is they do for a living, someone who is a walking billboard of what it is that they say they are about. In other words, are they living it – or are they your average prototype personal trainer. You wouldn’t hire a business coach who doesn’t own his own business and furthermore not been successful with it – well the same follows suit.

Is the trainer only knowledgeable in creating workouts?
Once again, exercising is so much more than working up a sweat and calling it a day. As I told you earlier, ANYBODY can come up with a workout. A world-class trainer will know to test/look for imbalances, structural deficiencies, postural alignment, testing for appropriately firing muscles – oh yes, muscles have an order in which they are meant to fire.  You’re in a heap of trouble if your trainer doesn’t know how to look for that and correct it.  This is only the beginning…

Do they have, at the very least, foundational knowledge about nutrition?
Personal trainers are not nutritionists (unless they actually are), but I personally feel that anybody who says they train/teach people how to exercise HAS to have more than an adequate amount of knowledge in what to eat. There is so much more than simply eating.  Knowing what to eat, when to eat, and sometimes how much to eat will make or break an exercise program. Period. I strongly believe that the client should most importantly know WHY it is they are eating what they are eating. The second there is a reason, a context, if you will, for why you are ingesting what you are ingesting – the most crucial part has been connected. Once you know why, most will be able to envision it, feel it, and even taste it (yes, the experience of food can alter the second you view it as something other than food).  All the tremendous success my clients have experienced have been only after they knew the in’s and out’s of it all.

Are they fun?
Training is not always enjoyable. Especially if you are continually being asked to go beyond what is comfortable for you physically. Do they not only make the experience fun and enjoyable and have it not seem like “work”, but do they change things up and keep you mentally stimulated. This is crucial especially to people who get bored easily.  An excellent trainer will know that changing things up will keep the muscles growing while still maintaining the catered goals/workouts all intact.

If you have any questions for him, leave a comments, he will answer right here.

Working out and Feasting with Friends

23 Dec

I am a social being, I love being around people. This is a fairly new realization for me because most of my life I’ve spent thinking I was a loner. I have shy-ish tendencies. I wouldn’t consider myself shy by any means but I do get self-conscious at times. To understand why, we have to take a short trip to my past.

Our first stop is Kindergarten. When I was a little girl first starting school I didn’t speak English; Polish was my first language. I couldn’t actually talk to the kids so naturally I was a quiet kid. Although I’ve grown into a loud out-spoken adult, sometimes that child-like self-consciousness takes over.

Our next stop is my office, two years ago. After a series of reorganizations, moves and people leaving I was stuck in an office by myself. At first I thought it was the best thing that could possibly happen to me. After a few months, I couldn’t stand it when all I had to interact with was the computer screen. It became very clear to me that I thrive and am happiest when I am around people.

Let’s move along to the present, bringing our little trip to brief halt. This past weekend, I spent both Saturday and Sunday working out with people. On Saturday I went to the gym with my brother and his girlfriend and then they came over for dinner. I made this delicious meal.

Maple-glazed chicken, sauted kale & swiss chard with raisons and rosemary maple covered acorn squash

Maple-glazed chicken, sautéed kale & swiss chard with raisins and rosemary maple covered acorn squash

On Sunday I went to the gym with one of my best friends. Then after a stop at Whole Foods we made this delicious meal.

Clean montechristo sandwich and coconut carrot soup

Clean Montecristo sandwich and coconut carrot soup

When Monday rolled around I felt like I had been on vacation for a week.

As I drive along in life, I increasingly realize the importance for me to be around friends and family. Alone time is cool if I have to clean or read or study, but working out with a buddy is so much more fun and fulfilling.

What’s your workout style? Do you prefer to go alone or go with a workout buddy?

A Slump

16 Dec

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe the stress and monotony of work, maybe it’s other personal stuff, but I’ve been in a slump. It’s this phenomenon that I know exactly how to change and at the same time I’m not doing anything about.

I’ve been diligently working out on the weekends. During the week I head straight home from work.  I cook or read or study when I get home. I stay up later than I want and then I go to bed late. Then I sleep in, get to work later that I wanted and start the same cycle. I already know that I focus and feel better after having gone to the gym, yet there are those days that I just don’t do it.

Then there’s my social calendar, I can’t seem to create a balance. I schedule to hang out with friends or go to events during the week and that throws off my schedule. I stay on track with training when I don’t plan to do anything with friends but then I feel like a hermit.

The truth of the matter is, I’m healthy by many standards. I eat well, I run, I lift weights. But that is just not the game that I’m playing. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to have a lean muscular body type like the women in fitness competitions (I’m not kidding, since I was 8 I remember watching shows of fitness competitions). For as long as I can remember I have been talking myself out of going for it. It may not be everyone’s goal to look like Jillian Micheal’s or have arms like Angela Basset or Madonna, but that’s just what I want. My current workout regimen is just not cutting it. It takes so much more than doing an ab workout once every couple of weeks to get rock solid abs, it’s not going to work to eat pizza a couple of nights per week or eat cookies over the holiday season. Maybe some can get away with it, but I don’t have those kinds of genes.

The question is, am I willing to do what it takes? Am I willing to listen to my trainer? Am I willing to go the extra mile? Am I willing to train those days that I want to the least? Am I willing to do what it takes? Will I even like it when I get there?

I have no idea but I do know one thing, I won’t know until I just go for it and I won’t know if I keep talking myself out it.

Turkey Trot 10K

7 Dec

On Thanksgiving I started off the day with a Turkey Trot 10k in my Five Finger shoes. (I know it’s way past Thanksgiving time, but everyone can take away the value of maintaining a fitness regimen during the holiday season.) I’ve been breaking my Five Fingers in slowly, increasing a mile or less at a time.

5Fingers

Five Fingers

On race day it was about 40º F, I thought I had dressed appropriately…

Me Pre-Race

Pre race me

…I wore compression pants, sports bra, dry weave t-shirt, dry-weave long sleeve shirt, vest (that came in the race goody bag), gloves and a hat. I stood around outside waiting for the race to start for about an hour. I thought I was freezing. I was worried about my toes and body before the run, my mind started to go into a mild panic and I began to have thoughts like, “maybe this was a bad idea,” “what if my toes are numb the whole way,” “I should have never worn these stinking Five Fingers,” “I should turn around and go home.” I guess you can call that pre-race jitters, I get these each and every time I race.

Well, there was no need to panic because after the first 10 minutes of running, everything warmed up and I was sweating. I think I had put on just enough layers to stay comfortable and my toes were just fine.

A few tips for those of you doing cold weather racing:
• Dress for 20º warmer than it actually is
• Your toes will warm up if you’re wearing Five Fingers once you get moving (in 40º weather)
• If you’re running with a buddy and their race starts first, don’t check your bag with them

As for race results, I did some personal bests!
Time: 57:03
Mile: 9:12 (that’s 30 seconds faster than any mile pace I’ve ever run)

My next race isn’t until the end of February, I’m doing the Hustle up the Hancock. My goal is to beat last year’s time of 20:30.

Is anyone doing any cool races this winter? I don’t know about you, but I love the challenge of a winter run.

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