Sunday, July 15, 2012

Plan Ahead and Stay on your Fitness Track!

I am starting my new job tomorrow, I'm super excited because I am finally going into an industry I love - fitness!!!  I've been impatiently waiting to get accepted after my third interview 3 weeks ago, and I finally got an offer!

While all this excitement is running through me, I'm also becoming a little nervous with staying on track with my fitness and nutrition.  I won't have the time to carefully plan every meal my husband and I eat as well as devote several hours to running and the gym.  I'm sure that once I'm working I will learn to balance my studying, workouts, cooking, cleaning, and my social life.  

So for my first week of work, I planned and prepared my lunches and snacks that I will take with me.  Knowing I have healthy food with me will help me avoid temptation of unhealthy snacking or going out to lunch and spending extra $$$$  My job has a kitchen there, so I can refrigerate everything.  Otherwise, I would have brought a cooler with me.  

I bought a bunch of 
dried fruit
and Lunabars.  
 I also cooked some things in bulk.  I made --brown rice with veggies, eggs, and chicken, -guacamole and corn salad, 
-grilled chicken breasts, 
-steamed broccoli, 
-boiled cut up beets, 
-and cut up some watermelon!  
I put it all in large containers - so it will be easy for me to pack smaller containers during the week.

Prep once - and eat healthy all week!
1) Shop for healthy groceries
2) Prep meals or key ingredients and stash them all in the fridge
3) Pack your lunch the night before
4) Make your dinner with the ingredients you have in your fridge!

This was my shopping list for the week:

Cottage Cheese
Low fat swiss cheese

Mixed Greens
Baby Carrots
Bell Peppers

Black Beans
Brown Rice
Luna Bars
Whole wheat bread
Trail mix
Whole wheat pasta

Deli Turkey
Chicken Breasts
Frozen Shrimp

So here's what MY LUNCHBOX contains for tomorrow:

-Fage yogurt with honey
-Dried fruit and nut mix
-My brown rice, veggies, eggs, and chicken in a small tupperware container
- 1 Liter water container (that I can refill at work)


-Pint of blueberries
-Deli Turkey
-Whole wheat bread
-Low fat swiss cheese

Speaking of my husband, I forgot to mention I also have a bunch of tupperware containers in the freezer full of his favorite pasta gravy and meatballs - my own healthy version of course.  I make this twice a month in a huge pot divide it up and freeze it for quick last minute meals!  I make this with whole wheat pasta.

Well, wish me luck at my job tomorrow! 

Have a great Sunday night :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Gladiator Gauntlet with Hubby!

Every Saturday my gym has an outdoor "class" called Gladiator Gauntlet.  It is "Tough Mudder" style training.  High intensity interval training (HIIT), mixed with weights, and resistance - done in a group environment.  FUN!!!

There is a warmup - consisting of jumping jacks, burpees, squat jumps, pushups, mountain climbers amongst other heart rate elevating exercises.  Each is about a minute long with a 20 second break in between - that's a great warmup!  The last part of the warmup is a 4 minute run - with a 10 pound dumbbell in hand.  You raise it and keep it elevated while running every 30 seconds, then bring it back down and continue running.

The class consists of 3 stations that you do consecutively and repeat 3 times - with 3 water breaks in between each set.  The first station was lunges with weights.  With each lunge, you raised the dumbbells over your head, as you came up - they remain at shoulder level (you can't bring your arms down).  The second station was with the elastic bands.  Your partner tries to hold you back while you are running forward, then you switch.  The last station was all about the abs!  Alternating knee to elbow crunches and raised leg shin touches.

Then you get a minute water break and repeat the whole thing over again - 2 more times. You end the class with some stretches and sighs of relief that it's over.

 I do this class after a 40 minute warmup on the treadmill.  I usually put it at a 15% incline and just walk at 3.5 mph.

I finally convinced my husband to try the class with me.  I thought it would be a great bonding experience for us.

This has nothing to do with the class, but I just wanna show how strong he is! :)

I promised him it wasn't hard.  Halfway through warmups he gives me the death stare.
I ask him, "Baby, are you going to kill me when we get home for bringing you here?"
He responds, "If I have any energy left, yes."

He is definitely not out of shape, like he claims.  His job is very physical - and I probably wouldn't be able to do anything of what he does.  But this class definitely tests your cardio fitness, endurance, and stamina.

He threw up during the dumbbell run warmup.  After that he said he felt better and took it a little easier on himself.  He used to be a lifeguard and a lacrosse player, so he was definitely familiar with the workouts and the idea of conserving your energy if you're tired.

After we finished our workout, I made him a super healthy breakfast - spinach omelette with a side of steamed broccoli.  He was still hungry after and had turkey on whole grain bread with hot sauce.

Only after breakfast did he tell me that he was feeling GREAT.  He asked me if that's how I felt every day after my workouts.  I replied - ABSOLUTELY!  That is one of the main reasons I do them.  You feel as if you can do anything you set your mind to after completing a workout like that!

Since this is an HIIT class, it boosts your metabolism for the entire day.  So as I suspected, he is hungry every 2-3 hours!  Which is awesome because this is how often I usually eat.  I'm making sure to feed him healthy, nutrient packed meals - not to undo all the work he did this morning.

He liked it so much - he told me he wants to do more of these workouts with me!

Mission accomplished :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Buffalo Chicken and Guacamole Lettuce Cups

This was a last minute lunch idea I came up with when me, my sister Michelle, and her friend Sabrina were scavenging the kitchen looking for food.  Michelle and I have been keeping up with our 3 days a week hot yoga schedule, Sabrina joined us in our little experiment too, and today was a yoga day.

We did our 90 minute hot yoga at 9:30 in the morning.  When we came back, we all jumped in our pool still wearing our clothes we were so hot!
Whenever I take that yoga class, my metabolism is raised for the entire day.  I keep my meals and snacks healthy - not to undo everything I worked for during those torturous 90 minutes!  Although it would have been a lot easier to pull out something calorious and satisfying from my parents fridge, I decided to quickly make something healthy instead.  Something Michelle calls heaven on lettuce!

The amount I made satisfied the three of us, with some leftovers (probably enough for a 4th person).



Buffalo Chicken:
2 cans of Chicken Breast (I used the Costco Kirkland brand)
Franks Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce 

2 ripe avocados
2 tomatos
1 small onion
1/2 can corn kernels

1 Head of Lettuce - broken into sections to make cups for the chicken and guacamole

For the Buffalo Chicken:

Drain the canned chicken

Separate it with a fork and add in the buffalo sauce, mixing it well

I added about 3 tablespoons

For the guacamole:

Cut open the avocados and scoop it out with a spoon.
Add salt and pepper to taste and mush it with a wooden spoon.

Add the chopped onion and mush it in.

Add the corn and diced tomatoes, mix it well.

Taste it and add more salt/ pepper if needed.  You can also add a splash of lime juice to prevent the avocado from turning brown as quickly.

Lettuce Cups:

Wish we had more lettuce in the house :/

Assemble the lettuce cup by filling it with the chicken and guacamole.

And enjoy!
(Repeat until you're satisfied)

I'll put this on a whole wheat wrap when I make it for my husband.  In his own words, he likes his food "manly!"

What is the first thing you reach for when you're starving but trying to eat healthy at the same time?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Les Mills BODYPUMP - Try It!

My gym, 24 Hour Fitness, has a variety of Les Mills classes.  They range from weight training, to kickboxing, to cardio, to Pilates and yoga.  I only used to take a class at my gym when I needed extra motivation - by working in a class environment.  However, after trying the Bodypump class, I was hooked!  

I took 2 Les Mills classes this morning - partially because I had a ton of energy after my hot yoga class last night, and partially because I mixed up my gym schedule.  I got there at 9 instead of 10.  So I ended up doing 2 miles on a 15% incline - waiting for the first class.  Then I did Les Mills Body Combat (a mix of karate, boxing, tai chi, and taekwando), ate a snack (thank God I always have a healthy snack in my purse!), and finally my favorite - Bodypump!  So yes, I spent 2 and a half hours at the gym this morning.

Bodypump is a 1 hours, resistance training class using a barbell and barbell plates.  It focuses on high repetitions and low weight.  For my first class, the instructor told me to do a very light weight the entire time (I had 7.5 pounds on each side).  This was very easy for me, but I stayed with this weight so I can get acquainted with all the exercises and change up the weight next time.

The class is divided into 10 different songs (4 to 6 minutes each).  Each song focuses on a different muscle group in this order:  warmup, legs - squats, chest, back, triceps, biceps, lunges, shoulders, abs, and cool down stretches.  You get a short break between each track to adjust your barbell weight for the next muscle group.  

The instructor changes the pace of the reps according the the beat of the song (ie. - 3 counts down, 1 count up).  Pumping to the beat of the song distracts you from the number of reps you're doing and how hard they're getting towards the end of the song.  They also remind you to keep proper form - and that it's better to lift lighter weights but maintain the correct form until you build up strength for more weight.

This class really builds up your endurance and elevates your heart rate - meaning you get a cardio workout out of it as well.  It improves your strength and really shapes and tones your muscles.  

I started taking Bodypump at the end of April and have been taking it 2 - 3 times a week ever since then.  I wanted to build up some muscle, because all the long distance running I was doing was making me feel weaker.  After the first few weeks, I noticed my body changing and myself getting stronger.  This is what keeps me coming back.  I want to see how strong I can get, how much weight can I keep adding onto my barbell.  It's a great feeling!

Check out their website to see if you have a class in your area!

Have a strong day everyone! :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Full Body Quickie Workout

This is a quick strength and cardio workout that can be done in under 30 minutes.  It warms you up with a cardio session and incorporates some strength and balance into your cardio.  Then you go into high intensity interval training (HIIT) mixed with body weight strength training to let you catch your breath.

This can be done on a treadmill or outside.  The only equipment you need is some light weights (2.5 to 10 pounds).  Go heavier if you want more of a challenge.  If you don't have weights you can use whatever you can find around the house - water bottles.. tomato cans...  anything with a little weight to it!

Get a piece of paper and pen - so you can write down your results.  Use these results as your measuring point for next time - so you can push harder and try to beat your old score!

The first part of the workout is running (or walking).  You're running as fast as you can for 10 minutes.  Keep increasing or decreasing your speed judging on how you're feeling.  I always increase the speed to my maximum during the last minute.  If doing this on the treadmill - it tracks the distance for you! If you're outside - you can either use GPS on your phone, or count how many times you ran around the block, track, or park.

When doing the strength portion of the workout, try not to take breaks in between - except to record your result.  Keep your heart rate up and keep pushing through it.  Maintain good form and posture the entire time.  If you get tired, slow down the exercises rather than stopping.

3 minute brisk walk  (if on treadmill - turn off after warmup and restart for the 10 minute timed run)

10 minutes - Run as fast as you can!

(stop treadmill, write down distance, pick up your weights)


30 seconds - jog with weights
1 minute - jog with both weights lifted overhead
30 seconds - jog with weights
1 minute - jog with both weights lifted overhead

(stop treadmill and come off of it)

1 minute - Lateral raises using your weights 
(record how many you did)
1 minute - Burpees
1 minute - Crunches
1 minute - Pushups
1 minute - Squat jumps
1 minute - Crunches
1 minute - Pushups

Superman exercise - hold for as long as you can

Plank position - hold for as long as you can


Stretch those awesome muscles!

And you're done!  Keep your sweaty paper with results for next time, and try to beat your own scores!

Let me know how you guys did!  I was SOAKED after this workout!

Have a great day :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Are You Overtraining?

It is good to push yourself beyond your limit during exercise to build and improve your athletic performance.  However, doing so without adequate rest and recovery can result in chronic fatigue - overtraining.

I see this happen to a lot of people who start going to the gym as soon as a new year begins - for their new years resolutions.  They push themselves very hard for a few days or even weeks, then you never see them come back.  They either go back to their old habits and take the gym out of the equation, or they overtrain initially and literally become too tired to actually go to the gym.


I experience overtraining with running.  I love it so much that I started doing it every single day last year.  Long, long runs - every single day (7 to 12 miles a day).  I would push myself to run longer than I did the previous day, thinking that I can do better since it's a new day.  When I felt that I couldn't run the distance, I would do a shorted run (5 miles) on hills.  My town is situated on a huge hill, so finding hills is not a problem - avoiding them is.

After about a month of this intense training, I noticed I was just getting worse and worse at running.  I was out of breath from just starting a light jog, my joints were starting to hurt, and I was just tired all throughout the day, too exhausted to do normal every day activities.  I had a hard time vacuuming my apartment!

Then in December I got really sick.  I was diagnosed with mono for the second time!  I was stuck in bed for a month and a half.  I really think this was a way for my body to tell me that I was overtraining it, and that I need to take it easy, build up slowly, and incorporate some recovery days into my training.

After I recovered from mono - I did just that.  Partially because I couldn't walk a mile without getting out of breath, but also because I didn't want to get sick like that again.  Today I'm back to where I was last year in running distance - but I built this up very slowly.  I am also cross training (HIIT workouts, TRX, weights, and other forms of cardio).  If I do wake up and feel exhausted, I have an active recovery workout day (a light walk, yoga, and stretching).


The amount of exercise before overtraining varies on each individual person and their fitness level.  What was considered overtraining for me (50+ miles a week) is easy training for an olympic runner.
Some signs that you might be overtraining are:

  • You feel exhausted instead of energized after your workout.
    • One of the best things of a workout is the post workout feeling of energy, health, and wellness.  If that feeling is replaced by an uncomfortable, exhausted feeling - your body is trying to tell you something.
  • You are repeatedly not able to complete your normal workouts.
    • You're getting weaker, slower, and losing your endurance.
  • You're training extremely hard every day.
    • It's good to incorporate a few days of extreme training - such as HIIT or heavy weightlifting.  Doing this every day does not allow your body to recover properly, and you end up wearing it out.
  • You're losing your leanness - even with more exercise!
    • Working out too much can deteriorate your muscle tissue.  Too much cortisol increases insulin resistance and fat deposits (especially around the stomach area).  So if you're noticing that you're definition is fading, even though you're working out harder and harder everyday - you may be overtraining.
  • You're getting sick more often.
    • Your immune system may be suffering as a result of overtraining.  
  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Increased injuries
  • Loss of motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Irritability

To get results from your training routing, your body needs an adequate amount of rest.  If your training exceeds the rest period, your performance will decline.  Allow yourself to take a break from time to time.  Learn to listen to your body.  With adequate rest, your body will come back stronger than before.


  • Take a break from your training routine and allow time for your body to recover.  
    • Otherwise, you're doing more harm than good for your body.
  • Deep tissue and sports massages.  
    • You can also use a foam roller and roll out the affected muscles.
  • Temperature contrast therapy.
    • Hot & cold showers, ice baths, or my favorite - sauna and jumping in a cold pool.
    • This stimulates your immune system, improved circulation, and encourages blood flow.
  • Reduce the volume and intensity of your training.  
  • Make sure you are getting enough calories throughout the day - to compensate for your training.
    • Just make sure they are coming from nutrient rich foods, not junk.
  • Get enough sleep!
    • This is when your body repairs itself and recovers.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hot Yoga

First time hot yoga = torture
Will I do it again = absolutely!

The other day, my sister Michelle and I too a 90 minute hot yoga class - "Fire Shaper."  It is done in a 105 degree room with 40% humidity.  We started sweating as soon as we walked in there.  We wanted to try it out for the many benefits it has to offer.  I am interested in the claims of clear skin and expelling toxins from your system.  She is more interested in fat loss and building up core muscles.

The class consisted of 26 poses, each pose is repeated twice.  The poses themselves aren't hard - they can be adjusted to your fitness and flexibility level.  It's just the fact that they are done in a hot room, your heart is racing and your body is dripping with sweat.  There was a large variety of people in the room - all ages, shapes, and sizes.  I was amazed by the woman in front of me.  She must have been in her 50's, but she was so flexible and performed all the poses perfectly.

Michelle and I were in the back of the classroom, since we were new students.  Just laying down on my yoga mat, I felt my heart rate already elevated.  As we progressed through the poses, I felt my heart pounding as if I just finished a sprint!  At some points I even felt dizzy and about to pass out.  I kept breathing deep and really concentrating on the poses and my heart beat to keep me focused.

Michelle had to lay down after about 45 minutes because she felt extremely dizzy.  (The instructor advises you not to leave the room if you feel dizzy, but rather lay down on your back, and breathe in the savasana "dead man" pose.) This way you can get used to the heat and accomplish more poses next time.  After 20 minutes of Michelle laying there, the instructor came up to her and gave her a vitamin C solution in her water.  As soon as she drank it, she felt better and was able to finish all the poses in the class.

After 90 minutes of what we called "torture,"  we finally left the classroom.  We were soaked in sweat - like we jumped in the pool with our clothes on.  Our towels weighed 5 pounds heavier that they did when we first walked in there - because they were drenched in our sweat.  We stepped outside into the 90 degree weather - and it actually felt cooler that it was inside.  Both of us were starving and shaking a little bit.

As soon as we got home, we had some cottage cheese with fruit and honey.  We took showers and cooled off.  As soon as we took our showers, we both felt amazing.  I felt reborn and purified, and so did Michelle.  My stomach was super flat.  We were full of energy and both of us were glowing.  I felt absolutely amazing.

I was a lot hungrier than normal during dinner time - but I filled up on extra veggies.  That is the one thing you have to be careful with when you burn so many calories - what you consume after!  Hot yoga claims to burn over 600 calories per hour!  So this means that Michelle and I burned over 900 calories in that class!  Plus I took an hour long barbell weight class in the morning, and did the stair machine for a half hour as well.

The entire time in class, the instructor was not only telling and showing us what pose to do, but also explaining the benefits of every pose to your body.  Hearing those benefits made me push a little harder and concentrate deeper.

Some benefits of hot yoga:

  • expel toxins from your body
  • build core muscles
  • fat loss (don't confuse this with all the water loss after class!  Fat loss only comes after a few sessions!)
  • improved balance
  • increased energy
  • assisting in sleep
  • decrease stress
  • restore health to your organs, joints, muscles, and immune system
Some bad things we've experienced so far:
  • Extreme dizziness at times
  • The classroom reeks
  • People grunting
  • No talking in class (even if it was Michelle telling me she feels dizzy)
  • Some people take it waaaay to seriously
Michelle and I decided to do hot yoga for the rest of July - at least twice a week.  At the end of July, we want to see if we see any long term changes.  I want to see if I actually feel better and if my skin is clearer.  Michelle wants to see if she loses any weight or dress sizes (because you can't always rely on the scale for fat loss - your body can be losing fat but gaining muscle - which weighs more!)

I will continue my normal workout schedule.  Michelle is starting a workout routine that I am making for her - cardio and strength training.  And both of us are watching our diets!

I will let you know at the end of July how our little experiment goes!