Hey everyone! I hope you all had the merriest holidays and are kicking off 2016 with health and fitness in mind. It’s always refreshing for me to let go a little towards the end of the year and chill a little on the workouts, indulge in some tasty treats in moderation, of course and simply be merry! After kicking back for a bit, I feel ready to set some new goals and refreshed enough to feel like I can accomplish them.
So this year I’m setting a running goals and I know resistance training will help. I’m focusing on shaving some time off of my last half marathon in the mile high city.Running in a city with mountains in the backdrop always makes it worth the challenge of exercising in altitude, a challenge I just can’t get away from. I guess you could say I love to get high! Haha runner’s high that is. If you haven’t experienced anything but exhaustion and misery while exercising, keep at it because it does get better and before you know it you’ll be high on those endorphins too!
I’ve done a lot of endurance activities in the past, so nothing new here. The only difference might be that over the last couple of years I’ve always been so scattered for them. Almost deciding on participating just in the nick of time to start training. Or lining my events up back to back. Like the year I ran two half marathons with a little less than two weeks between the events. Finished, and I guess I could say well because I was never injured. But it really proved to me how much more effort you do put into workouts done at 5280 ft. elevation compared to 3025 ft. elevation, which is home. I ran the half at home at an easy pace because I wanted to take it easy knowing I had the other half to complete so soon. When I ran the second half in Denver, I’ll admit I stopped to snap a couple of pictures but really pushed it more. Interestingly enough, I ended up with the same time for both races 2:39. Definitely a proud to just have finished time and nothing else.
While deciding on participating in an event simply to finish is an excellent goal and wonderful thing to accomplish. This is especially true if you are new to exercise or if it’s what keeps you going. For me, it’s kept me going for almost 14 years. But this year I want to do something different and have set a time goal of 2:10 for the half in October.
what's my plan to accomplish that?
I’ve started off by using periodization and have mapped out the entire year in a calendar. From now until about March I’m working on building muscle and doing some cross training. So I’m running 1-2 times a week, lifting heavy to build muscle 3 times a week and cross training once a week and taking 1 day off . While cross training is beneficial for injury prevention, studies have shown it to only be 25% to 50% as effective as running to improve performance. So that’s why I’m doing my cross training during my hypertrophy (muscle gaining) stage which is now.
I’m ramping up my resistance plan to build muscles to support all of that running which will make it more efficient and faster. Here’s my muscle building plan: Feel free to use it if you wish.
If you're just starting out, the plan is fine to use but just start out with 3 sets of 12 reps and progress to 3 sets of 10 after 4-6 weeks, then 3 sets of 8 after another 4-6 weeks, then 3 sets of 6. Every 4-5 weeks take an “unload” week, where you don't’ lift as much or as heavy, believe it or not this will actually help you get fitter.
As your reps get smaller, the weights get heavier. You want to make sure you reach muscle fatigue by the end of the set while maintaining good form. I usually adjust 1-2 exercises with each progression. So for example, for my next progression I’m planning on doing Lat Pulldown to replace the cable row just for a change and make sure I get every muscle worked during this hypertrophy phase.
So one thing I know I really have to do some work in will be on nutrition. While I’m a pretty healthy eater in some sense cause I love to eat fruits and veggies I know I need to focus on macros. Protein, carbs and fats and getting the right ratios of it. I don’t care for meat and have been a full blown vegetarian for the past 7 years I know that getting enough protein has been a struggle for my active lifestyle. My performance has probably also reflected that as well.
I’m not saying you can’t get enough protein from plants and legumes to support lots of activity, because you can and many people do. However, over the last year I’ve embraced more of a plant obsessed flexitarian diet, added Vega Sport Protein shakes and really noticed a difference. My resolution is to really focus on meeting the protein macro, especially during this muscle building phase and keep carbs in check. They’ll be plenty of time to eat more carbs when I start to pick up the miles. Cause eating carbs is definitely a perk to running!
It’s once again that time of year when your calendar is filled with family get togethers, holiday parties, shopping and sometimes just pure chaos. No matter what life throws at you this year, don’t give up on your exercise routine. It may be the only thing that keeps you happy and sane! Here’s some tips on staying fit this time of year.
Short Bursts of Exercise
Did you know that an exercise session lasting only 10 minutes is beneficial? Maybe you can’t find a thirty minute block, but 10 minutes three times a day can be enough to release some feel good chemicals.
Balance and an ounce of prevention go a long way this season
Don’t deprive yourself of any worthy treats this season. Deprivation only sets you up for disaster in the long run. Be sure and enjoy that special treat or dish, on occasion. But also be picky about what you choose to “spend” your treat calories on. Why waste them on pre-packaged store bought treats, save them for the special things that only come around this time of year. But don't forget to watch portions! My favorite carb splurge-Sweet tamales, Vanilla, Strawberry, or Pineapple they are all delish!
If you’re going to drink alcohol
Don't do so on an empty stomach and try alternating drinks with water. You’ll save calories and possibly a headache the next day!
If you’ve got an extra 25 minutes and are looking for a more advanced workout you can do anywhere, gotcha covered with this routine from ACSM. It's one of my favorite routines I can do anywhere!
Hopefully these tips help you have a bright, happy and healthy holiday season. Cheers!
My fave is my version of pumpkins spice oatmeal. It’s super simple to make. I just make a regular serving of plain oatmeal. Skim milk would also work, if that's what you prefer. Then just add a ¼ scoop of canned plain pumpkin, sweeten with honey or stevia and don’t forget the spice! I use nutmeg, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice. It comes down to whichever one happens to be easiest to reach that morning. Stir it up and you’ve got a delicious bowl of oatmeal to kick off your day!
Think all things pumpkin have to be sweet? Wrong, mix up some pumpkin soup by adding vegetable broth to canned pumpkin. Check out this delicious healthy recipe for pumpkin soup.
You can also Add a pumpkin to your workout
Use a somewhat heavy pumpkin for these moves. Repeat each exercise 12 times and do 2-3 sets. To really set this workout on fire, add 30 seconds of of jumping jacks between each set!
How much sugar are you consuming and why does it matter? You may be underestimating the amount and the damage that can be done. Besides unsightly weight gain, it definitely has some other nasty effects on your health. Read on to find some tips on ditching that sweet tooth!
First off, sugar really impacts your brain function. Researchers have found that it can impact your memory and one of the reasons it could contribute to weight gain is because it’s impacting the part of your brain that controls hunger levels. Another scary and shocking fact is that scientists have looked into this and found that it activates the brains reward centers, so if you keep reinforcing that it could lead to a tough habit to kick.
Obviously, we all know sugar is hard on teeth. But did you know that when you eat sugar your mouth becomes more acidic which creates a breeding ground for bacteria growth. Increased bacteria in your mouth could even lead to periodontal disease.
Recent research also shows that sugar plays a direct role in diabetes. As sugar levels increased in our food supply, so did levels of diabetes. The researchers found that the incidences of diabetes were not obesity related. Inflammation is also something that can cause havoc on our body systems. The effects of inflammation can include everything from muscle and joint pain to increased risk of getting heart disease.
The sugar high thing is just a myth. While a shot of sugar might give you a short term jolt, it’s not worth it because it’s gonna send you crashing down. When simple carbs like sugar enter your body they are processed very rapidly and this causes your blood sugar levels to spike, then crash along with you energy. You can get more steady energy from eating complex carbs like whole grains that are processed much slower.
While sugar does all this to your body, you might be thinking about using an artificial sweetener for a couple of reasons: zero calories and if sugar is so bad maybe artificial is better. Not so fast, a review done by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine suggests that sweetness that comes from artificial sweeteners containing zero or very little calories offer only partial activation of the food reward pathways in the brain. So basically, you could get cravings for more of the sweet stuff because you’re not getting any satisfaction from the fake stuff. Also, fake sweeteners are super sweet compared to the real stuff and this could make you crave sugar even more or lead to a sugar dependence.
So how do you kick the habit?
Start reading labels- Sugar hides in mysterious places, so make sure you become familiar with what’s in your food. You can’t ditch sugar if you’re unknowingly consuming.
Gradually stop. Taking a cold turkey sudden approach can be a recipe for disaster, especially if you know you might be eating quite a bit of sugar. This will help reduce some of the nasty sugar withdrawal symptoms like irritability, headaches or tiredness.
Keep a food journal. This helps you stay accountable to your goal of ditching sugar. You’re probably less likely to eat it if you know you have to log it.
Lastly don’t beat yourself up if you are struggling. Just keep working towards your goal and don’t give up. It’s taken me years to get my sugar intake under control. Since sugar has such a powerful effect on our brains, making this lifestyle change can be very challenging but with patience, a positive attitude and a plan you can do it!
Over time you will get used to life without as much sugar and chances are you won’t even miss it!