Posts Tagged ‘ healthy living ’

Pilates Power

PilatesEvery time I read up on great exercises I can do to improve my running and come back from my injury I come across moves that I typically do in my pilates class. The only problem is I hadn’t gone to pilates in weeks. Knowing that every week that passed that I skipped my pilates class was a missed opportunity to improve on these areas, yesterday I decided I had to go to class that evening. I threw on my workout clothes, laced up my sneakers, grabbed my mat, and headed out.

I’d forgotten how refreshing going to class was. I felt rejuvenated head-to-toe. And sore! But a good sore, letting me know the exercises were working all the right muscles. It also reminded me how much I appreciate all the camaraderie and support I find there. My instructor is wonderful. Super sweet and encouraging with such a positive energy it’s impossible not to smile even when she’s pushing us through difficult movements. My fellow pilates goers were also quick to give me words of encouragement. I’m already excited to go back. I’ll be back to running before I know it! πŸ™‚

 

Top Ten Strength Training Exercises for Runners

KettleBellSquatWinter is a great time to focus on the weight room, building strong muscles that will keep you from injury and help you to become a more dynamic runner.

While I’m a big proponent of pilates for strengthening muscles, especially core muscles, I also like to incorporate weights into my strength training workouts. There are many exercises that are effective in building a stronger you, but below are my:

TOP TEN STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES FOR RUNNERS

Goblet Squat

1001-goblet-squat-483x300

 

 

 

Push-ups

Push-ups

 

 

 

 

Walking Lunge

walking-lunge

 

 

 

 

 

Single-Leg Squats

single-leg-squat

 

 

 

 

Single-Leg Deadlifts

single-leg-deadlift

 

 

 

 

Bulgarian Split-Squat

split-squat

 

 

 

 

 

Russian Twist

russian twist with medicine ball

 

 

 

Pull-ups

pull-ups

 

 

 

 

 

Back Extensions

backextension

 

 

 

 

Step-Ups

Dumbbell-StepUp

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said, there are many more exercises that are wonderful and also effective for runners, but these are a great place to start. These focus on the entire body, but specifically legs and core. There are many different camps in regards to how often, how many reps, and how much weight one should lift, but I would recommend to start with 3 sets x 10 reps of enough weight that you can keep good form for each exercise while still taxing your muscles. If you can do all the reps with ease, you need to increase the weight. (Sidenote: Just last week I was doing the same exercise as a man twice my size but with a heavier weight!)

Happy running! πŸ™‚

Easy Homemade Granola

homemade-granola-recipe
I love making homemade anything instead of buying store brand if I can. Most recently I tried a new granola recipe that is delicious! It’s adapted from the cookbook Baked and is very easy to make. A perfect topping to yogurt – the perfect healthy snack!

Easy Homemade Granola

2 cups rolled oats

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

3 Tablespoon, plus 1 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup whole almonds (I used sliced almonds)

1/3 whole hazelnuts

1/3 cup golden raisins (I used regular raisins)

1/3 dried cherries (the cherries add a nice tartness, but any dried fruit would work)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 325Β°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I sprayed the pan with cooking spray instead).

2. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.

4. Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them (I used a wooden spoon): Gather up some of the mixture in each hand, and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.

5. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

7. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

8. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola and use your hands to transfer it to an airtight container. The granola will keep for 1 week.

 

Enjoy! πŸ˜€

Running Wisdom

winterrunning

Saw this picture from 32north.com and had to repost it here. So true! Let’s go for a run!

Happy Running πŸ˜€

Eat & Run and the Allure of Vegan Living

  I recently finished Scott Jurek’s new memoir, Eat & Run. I love reading memoirs, especially ones that center around sports or athleticism of some kind. Jurek is a renown ultrarunner (ie. running longer than a marathon distance, 26.2 miles). He’s won many events he’s entered such as the Western States 100, Badwater (135 miles through Death Valley), and the Hardrock 100. In his book, Jurek chronicles his adventures and passion with ultrarunning and the people that most influenced him on his journey to ultra-greatness.

What’s even more impressive than not only finishing, but winning all these races is that Jurek does it all on a plant-based, vegan, diet. No meat. No dairy. Nada. Wowee! Before Eat & Run, I read Finding Ultra about another ultrarunner named Rich Roll. He also competes at an elite level while basing his diet completely on plants. Both these men make compelling arguments for living a vegan lifestyle. They also both impressed upon their readers how simple and, more importantly, profoundly healthy it can be, Jurek even includes recipes at the end of each of his chapters. But when I see a pancake recipe that calls for seven (SEVEN!) different types of flour, I’m a little hesitant that this is the lifestyle for me.

I’m a vegetarian, so perhaps I’m a little unjustly judgmental here, but I’m not sure I could ever convert 100% to a vegan diet. While I don’t eat a ton of dairy I definitely eat enough of it that it would be a big change for me. As I read these books I contemplated making the switch, but at the end of the day between the time it would take to find and learn how to make non-diary meals, the hassle of not having as broad a menu selection when eating outside my home, and knowing that I buy 99% of my dairy at local or family owned farms, I don’t think it’s worth it to me. But that’s really the crux of it, while it’s not right for me I can see why people would chose to switch to vegan living and I give them props for taking the time and energy to live what many deem a healthier lifestyle.

Happy Running! πŸ™‚

When the Going Gets Tough

  It’s not always easy focusing on all the tasks that need to get done on any given day. Work, kids, writing, blogging, exercising, errands among a litany of other items that will quickly fill up any agenda. And when all those things pile up it can easily get overwhelming. Often I find myself wanting to spend my free time plopped in front of my TV instead of accomplishing what I should be doing instead. And while I don’t think TV is bad, sometimes it’s nice for my brain to turn off for an hour or two, it’s when I know my brain doesn’t need a break and yet I gravitate toward that pastime first.

Everyone is different and will most likely need and use different motivations to get his or her butt in gear and do something productive. Over the years I’ve found a few things work well in respect to getting me motivated. Maybe some of these will work for you too!

1. Get out of the house (and away from the distractions of home)

2. Make a list – it’s always very satisfying to cross things off that list as I finish them.

3. Exercise first – for me if I don’t get my adrenaline pumping before I start my tasks at hand I end up feeling lazy, unmotivated, and unfocused. Working out (especially running) clears my mind for the day ahead and gets me excited to tackle those tasks!

4. Create deadlines or goals – If I’m unmotivated, especially with my writing, I’ll tell myself something like – “Write until lunch, then take a break to read while eating, then go back to work.” This works very well for me as it breaks my tasks into easy to manage chunks rather than seeing the task as broad and overwhelming.

5. Remind myself how awesome I always feel after completing or working toward a goal

Next time you feel stuck in completing a task, I hope you find that extra push to get you toward your goals! πŸ™‚

Welcome to the Gun Show

I love complementing my workouts with weight/strength training. I’ve read many articles and books that encourage women to integrate strength training into their weekly routines. Building muscle burns fat and with time you will look and feel healthier and stronger.

Articles if you want to read more about lifting weights:

Women’s Health: Lose Your Fear of Weight Lifting

Runner’s World: Balance Running and Strength Training

One myth dispelled and one word of encouragement:

One time while I was lifting an older gentleman approached me and told me how he was really impressed with my weight lifting – it was sweet and non-creepy don’t worry. I said thanks and he continued by saying that he wishes he could get rid of his (rather substantial) belly. I told him that the first step was just showing up. He didn’t seem very encouraged by my wall-quote answer. Here’s the encouragement – You will see results. Promise. But like most things in life it takes an investment before you see a pay out. So don’t go once, mope around with sore muscles the next day and never go back. Find a workout buddy, a personal trainer or a class that will keep you accountable so you will stick with your training long enough to see those results. And they will come!

Myth: Women who lift weights will get muscles like a dude

If you are taking any kind of performance enhancing drug then yes, you will look have muscles like the guys on the Jersey Shore. Chances are you aren’t planning on drugs so you have nothing to worry about. (And if you are – shame on you!)

Here’s an experiment if you are nervous about getting ginormous muscles Step One: Go to the gym

Step Two: Do 3 sets of 15 reps of bicep curls with 45lb dumbbells. What?! You couldn’t even lift the 45lb weights let alone do a bicep curl?! Exaaaactly.

Now stop worrying and start strength training!


Homemade Saltines

One of my goals this year is to cut back on processed foods. This means some of my favs like saltines, graham crackers, pretzels and granola bars need to be removed from my grocery list. Problem is – I love snacking on these foods! Solution? Learn how to make them from scratch myself. πŸ™‚

I’ve been doing some research online to try and find recipes that are not only unprocessed but healthy, easier said than done! Many of the recipes that I’ve found include gobs of butter or shortening or something akin. While I understand that eating foods like butter rather than margarine are better because while they are higher in fat they are not made purely of chemicals and thus are healthier food choices, I still didn’t want to make my favorite snacks with super high fat content either. Dilemma!

But after searching high and low, I have found a recipe that seems to meet my criteria for a healthier snack food. I will continue posting recipes as I find/try them. If you have any favorites, I’d love to hear about them! Enjoy! πŸ™‚

This recipe comes from Just Eat It, a blog dedicated to yummy recipes.

Homemade Saltines

  • Olive oil for brushing pan and dough
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375Β°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Brush 2 large baking sheets generously with oil.

Toast 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper in a dry small skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat, shaking skillet occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cool pepper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon table salt in a bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Add shortening and blend into flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingertips (or pulse in processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size lumps. Drizzle evenly with 1/2 cup ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again.

Divide dough into 2 portions and flatten each into a 3-inch square.

Roll out each square on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pinΒ into a 20- by 8-inch rectangle. Trim edges and sprinkle each sheet with teaspoon toasted pepper. Run rolling pin lightly over dough to embed pepper in pastry. Brush each sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.

Cut sheets crosswise with a small sharp knife into 1-inch-wide strips (straight or wavy). Arrange strips evenly spaced in 1 layer on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, 16 to 20 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.

Personal Training

One of my goals for 2011 is to run a marathon. A race that is 26.2 miles long. This was also my goal of 2010 but due to poor training I suffered from an IT band injury early on that waylaid these plans. (The IT band is a tendon-like band that stretches from your glute muscle/hip area and attaches to your tibia. When it gets inflamed it causes pain around the knee.) Of course it took me way too long to actually stop and rest and rehab my IT band which meant I just made it worse before I actually got any better.

This year I’m almost back to a hundred percent and have done a couple short runs without pain. I’m hoping that by going slower than I normally would and not pushing as hard as the rest of my body would like to, I can rebuild and come back stronger than before. I realized that if I wanted to accomplish this I needed a little extra help. That was why I enlisted the help of Angie, my new personal trainer/running coach.

As a reader, I read a lot about injuries and running and how to best approach both. I also talked to a lot of different people about my injury and asked for recommendations. Every single person I talked to, all training professionals in running, had different advice. Every so often an article would coincide with another article or a another book, but for the most part I tried a million different things because “I know someone who had an IT band problem and he said that – FILL IN THE BLANK – worked and he was running again in a month!”

Yeah. Right.

Let me save you some time and grief if you ever get an IT band injury – the only surefire solution is REST. If you don’t rest it will get worse. Other than that every body is different so what “most definitely” works for Joe doesn’t mean it will work for Josephine. You have to take the advice that’s given and do what you can to stay in shape while letting your body rest and heal. Other than rest, two factors made a huge difference for me: 1. Finding the right pair of shoes for my feet (every foot/running style is different) and 2. Using a foam roller. A high school track coach told me that one of his athletes had IT band issues and what typically happens is that scar tissue begins to form causing persistent problems. Once I began rolling my leg out on the foam roller every day (I thought I would pass out it hurt so much – it feels kind of like a ongoing charlie horse), I started feeling a major difference. My pain and tightness both subsided! Yay!

This may be way too much info, but just in case you too suffer from running injuries I wanted to be thorough. πŸ™‚

Bottom line – to continue working my way to running a marathon, I knew I needed help. I heard about Angie and her running program NuFit through the magazine Runner’s World. She is a certified running instruction, yoga instructor, and nutrition consultant. She is based out of Seattle but has a great website that I thoroughly perused. She offered remote personal training packages that would include an 8-week training schedule, weekly check-ins, and nutrition tips. While she would be my guide, I needed to be self-motivated as well as hold myself accountable to sticking to the schedule. Sounded like the perfect fit for my personality! I figured this was the kick I needed and after several emails back and forth decided to go ahead with the personal training.

I’m in week one and am loving it! I feel better already (although exercise will do that regardless) and feel like I’m on the right path for this new year. I’ll continue to give you updates on my progress as well as any setbacks (like I missed a day already because I was sick) so stay tuned.

But I want to know – have you ever used a personal trainer?

Cranberry Chutney

Your holiday parties might be over, but I couldn’t resist sharing this easy, yummy recipe with you!

Cranberry Chutney

1 (12oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries

1 1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

1 large cooking apple, chopped

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

 

1. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. (Cranberries will eventually lose moisture and deflate.) Reduce heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until apple is tender and mixture thickens. Cool completely.

2. Store in refrigerator. Serve over cream cheese with crackers or as a garnish for a main dish.

Enjoy! πŸ˜€