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!
Can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through the month! Usually this month is hectic, between wrapping things up for some downtime during the winter holiday, picking up gifts, food prep, parties, final exams, travel and family get togethers.
The last thing on your mind is probably diet and exercise. I get it. I was even forced to skip a workout session this week. However, the key is balance. While you might not have time to go to the gym for an hour every day this time of year. They key is just do what you can to stay active. This could mean subbing in some at home HIIT sessions using body weight, or breaking up exercise into 10 minute sessions when you find those pockets of time.
Hopefully these tips keep you on the right track this season. Have a wonderful winter Holiday and remember, it’s not too late to get started on setting those goals for 2016. One of my goals for next year will dropping a blog post at the beginning of each month. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out! Also, hit me up with any topic suggestions, questions or comments.
Peace out for now! :) ☮
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!
I’ve been training pretty hard for a race since July. I was so excited and feeling great about running the 10K in Denver at the Rock and Roll Marathon. I always like to test my limits in a higher altitude, because the scenery is so much better. I prepped my things the night before and laid my head to rest at a fairly decent time with an alarm set for 6am. I woke up at 4am and maybe it was a sign, I couldn’t get back to sleep until 5am and then my alarm went off at 6am. I felt a little groggy, but managed to get ready in the dark as much as I could without disturbing my fiance who wanted to sleep until the very last minute.
Time flew by that morning as I had breakfast and got ready, I guess I forgot to look at the clock most of the morning because by the time we had left it was 7:40 am. and I was planning on leaving around 7am. I knew this was really late, but figured the it would be ok. Well it wasn’t, because when I arrived at the start line they were tearing it down! I was devastated! On one hand it wasn’t the end of the world because I debated running this one due to time and financial commitments and then they announced the headliner band, Matisyahu. That changed my mind and I decided to commit to running a faster 10K instead of training to just finish a half marathon.
I had a great training season, getting my mileage up to 8 miles on long runs, hill work, intervals and an intense taper. I was ready to race! A couple of thoughts crossed my mind as I stumbled around in disbelief, I could stick around and pout about it or grab my paper map and get my miles in. I went with the second option. I had way too much energy in me to just hang out and I needed my runners high!
So I headed out and did the best to stay kind of on course without getting completely lost, which definitely impacted my time. I was pretty much balling under my shades, how did I let this happen!? I also heard someone holler at me that I was taking a short cut. Whatever! I wasn’t stopping until I hit 6 miles! I had finally found the race and ran the opposite direction for a while before jumping in and crossing the finish line. I ended up running close to a personal best but know I would’ve done much better if I wasn’t reading a map and stopping for traffic. It was somewhat rewarding, but not near as great as it would’ve been had I actually started and ran with other runners. But as my fiance always says, “there’s no future in the past”. So this experience taught me a few things about running and life.
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!
Suspension exercises that use a piece of equipment like the TRX are gaining popularity, and with good reason! Using a simple device that uses very little space and that can offer a total body workout is a win-win. But one thing you might be wondering about is: Can this simple device be as effective as traditional resistance training? There isn’t a ton of research in this area, but this study indicates that suspension exercise can be effective at increasing core endurance, which makes this a great form of resistance exercise for runners or other endurance athletes. Suspension training also was shown to result in similar training benefits as traditional training among middle-aged and younger adults. It’s also is a great way to change up your resistance training to prevent boredom and challenge your body in a new way with one exception. If you suffer from lower back pain, you will want to proceed with caution.
Supercharge your workouts
Gravity is no joke, at least here on earth it’s not. Pair that up with the right angle and you’ve signed up for a challenging exercise. Some basic, but effective exercises that you can get started with on a suspension device include biceps curls, squats, rows, triceps extensions and shoulder press.
Getting a core workout while working other major muscles in the body is what a plank is all about. Really set your core on fire by placing your feet or elbows in a suspension device. The added instability increases muscle activation in the core in order to hold that plank, which will help you get a strong core in no time.
Looking for more exercise ideas? Click here.
FYI- I'm moving everything over here from the Nancy Flock Fitness page, so this is actually a post I wrote last year, but still very relevant as I get ready to plant my garden again this year!
This summer I decided to grow a garden after last years success with it, but have found that gardening definitely tests your patience. In the beginning, so much work goes into digging in the dirt, pulling weeds and watering your garden for weeks before you can eat anything from it.
I've also progressed my workout routines to include more lifting and DOMS comes around now (aka I'm sore!). I'm not going to lie, that's just what lifting does to you! Especially with eccentric contractions which are where you can get the most bank for your buck, but that's another post in itself for another time.
Anyways, just like my garden it’s been around 2-3 weeks and I'm getting impatient about seeing more definition. Well the reality is it will probably take closer to 4-8 weeks maybe even 12 to really notice all my hard work. This is just like my garden!
The takeaway from this is that if you’re new to an exercise program and you feel like you’re are putting in all of this work and getting no ROI just trust in the lifestyle change, keep working hard in the gym and kitchen. One day down the road, you will see the change just be patient!
Being patient is definitely one of those things that is easier said than done. Here's a few tips on how to develop this skill in such an impatient world of instant everything.
As for my garden, some plants are flowering but no veggies yet...A collage of future zucchinis, tomatoes and peppers. Cheers to growth!
Bolton, J. (2011) Four Steps to Developing Patience: Your Zesty Self retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-zesty-self/201109/four-steps-developing-patience
Here's a playlist that will be getting me through some workouts this month!
This Summer's Gonna Hurt Like a Mother F****R - Maroon 5 (Cool Down or warm up 3:44)
Fun - Pitbull, Chris Brown (3:22)
Fast Forward - Oliver (4:45)Valencia-Intro/Edit/John Christian Remix - Moti (3:47)
Valencia-Intro/Edit/John Christian Remix - Moti (3:47)
You Know You Like It - DJ Snake, Aluna George (4:07)
Understand Why - Keys N Krates - (3:08)
Lean On (feat. M0& DJ Snake) (2:56)
Burnin' Up - Don Diablo Remix - Jessie J, 2 Chainz (4:30)
The Rhythm - MNEK (4:06)
Hey Mama (feat. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack) Boaz van de Beatz Remix - (2:51)
Loud Pipes-Ratatat (3:46)
Well, summer is unofficially here and with longer days comes more time to lounge around at the beach, take vacations, attend festivals and much more. With everything that’s going on in the summer it’s easy to let exercise and good eating habits slide to the back burner. Check these easy ways to stay fit while having a crazy, busy fun summer.
Take your workouts outside Parks make an awesome outdoor gym and some of them actually are! But that’s OK if you’re not lucky enough to live in one of those communities, you can still use the swings and benches as equipment. Check out these park friendly total body moves.
Push up into pike-Begin by placing the top of your feet on a swing, walk your hands out if needed so that your body is fully extended into a plank position. Lower down into a push up by bending the arms, and pushing back up. Then fire the core muscles and bring your feet towards your torso into a pike. Repeat. This move is pretty advanced, so you may need to break it up by starting with the plank and work your way up.
Single leg squat with leg elevated on bench or swing – Place the top of one foot into the swing, then step out far enough to give you enough room to come down into a squat while keeping the knee over the foot and not letting it go past the toes, all while balancing. You’ll notice in the video I struggle with, the gravel makes it more challenging. A squat where both feet are grounded, and you move as if you were going to sit in a chair, then come up is a great place to start for this move.
Bench step up – Step up onto the bench with your right foot. As you step up tap the left foot on the bench and step down (landing on the left foot). Go for thirty seconds, then switch sides. If you’re feeling energetic, raise your arms as you do this move.
Side Plank – Lie on your right side, with knees straight. Prop yourself up on your right elbow and hold. Raise your body is into a straight line by raising the hips and hold for 30 seconds.
There's a video at the bottom showing you these moves, please don't be to harsh on the comments. Filming myself exercising is something I'm new at and really puts me out of my comfort zone. But hey, that's what we need to do to grow so cheers to this and always striving to do better.
For cardio, you can run, do jumping jacks, walk or grab a bike and go for a ride. Endless possibilities outdoors!
Make it easier to stay hydrated by naturally flavoring your water. Throw cucumber slices, mint, strawberries, watermelon or any other fruit in for the perfect hint of flavor.
Break out the grill- Grilling the right foods can be healthy and flavorful. Opt for grilling veggies for sides and your favorite lean protein.
Summertime means smoothie time. What better time of year to dish up an icy cold smoothie for breakfast. Add frozen fruit for texture, temperature and flavor! For even more nutrition and flavor check out Vega’s products. They are so healthy and perfect for getting nutrition on the go, I don’t leave home without taking my Vega!
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!