Money Trees

Money Trees

Ever wonder why healthy living has to be so darn expensive?  From higher prices on organic food to expensive gym memberships, it never ceases to amaze me how people take advantage of those seeking to live a healthy life.  There are so many scammers out there preying upon those desperate to lose weight.

Recently, I fell victim to one of the latest fads.  I knew going in that it was overpriced and told myself I’d just take the free class.  I think a gym membership of over $100 per month is totally ridiculous, but people were plunking down their money around me.  I was looking for a cross training option to eliminate one run per week so I thought I’d give it a try.  People from my school were going so I thought it’d be fun to go with a group.  I decided to call to set up an appointment to take the free class they were offering.  I should have known at that moment not to get involved!  The bells were ringing, but I chose not to listen.  When I made the appointment for the free class, they asked for my credit card to hold a spot.  I said, no way.  I am not buying anything so I will not give my card.  They said they needed it in the event I failed to show up.  Hmmmm  My friend graciously used her card (she was a member) to hold the spot for me.

After the class, which I did enjoy, I agreed to sign up for one class per week at $89 per month plus tax.  I did think the price was high, but felt ok about it as I used to pay that for yoga classes.   When I arrived for my first class at the studio (not free) I was informed that I had to purchase, or rent, a heart rate monitor.  I informed them that I already owned a chest strap and was in fact wearing it with my watch.  They told me I had to purchase, or rent, theirs in order to have my results up on the board and emailed to me after class.  I asked how much the strap was.  The monitor would be another 80ish dollars.  When I refused, the person at the desk seemed shocked.  I guess nobody every refused before.  When she reminded me I wouldn’t get my results displayed, I informed her without my glasses I couldn’t see them anyway.  But, you won’t get your emailed results, to which I replied I’d get them from my watch.

After going a few times, I realized that I wasn’t getting to replace a run after all.  When you take this class you run/walk for 30 minutes on a treadmill every class.  At this point I decided to cancel my membership as it was not really meeting my needs.  I knew you had to do so in writing so I emailed and texted the owner my request to cancel my membership.  I asked for confirmation and the date my membership would end.  Of course, cancelling is not an easy thing either.  I received a voice message stating I’d have to come in to the studio and fill out paperwork to cancel.  Wow.

This newest fad in gym memberships, the boutique gym is really just another way to rip people off.  From the first phone call I knew this gym was out to make money at every turn.  While it is a nice workout, it is surely not worth over $119 per month which most girls in my office are paying, some as much as $179.  The brand new, very nice gym my husband joined costs him $20 per month.  They have the exact same equipment.  They don’t even advertise and they are doing just fine.  Clearly, the other gym is appealing to women who will pay just about anything to lose weight.

Today I will go over to the gym and fill out the paper work.  I am sure I will get a hard sell to stay and that really annoys me.  I hope my experience serves as a reminder to us all of what I already knew.  You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a great workout.  I gave up my gym memberships long ago in favor of working out at home.  I am motivated and don’t need a boutique experience to keep me on track.  I can lace up my sneakers and do that exact same workout right here.  I have all the same equipment they had.   Here are some great workouts you can do at home for free.

Walking/Running – just lace up your sneakers and go.  Keep a pair in your car at all times and you can walk at lunch during work, or on the drive home.  Sometimes, I pull over at the local park and do just that.  I purchased a treadmill for home and keep it in my basement for those bad weather days and months.  Best investment ever.  I got mine at Costco and they even came and assembled it on delivery.

Elliptical – I also purchased an elliptical machine at Costco and have this in my basement.  I’m not a total fan of it, but it got me through many injuries.  Blast the music and go.  I like to alternate songs, one fast – one slow.

Yoga – I purchased yoga burn for under $20 and it has many workouts, but you can truly find so many classes for free online.  Google on youtube for any type of yoga class.

Weight training – Many classes are online for free.  You can purchase some hand weights.  I have a professional weight bench and set up (from my husband).  We’ve had it for over 20 years.

The options are limitless and again in most cases free.  Want a boutique experience, invest in a great sound system and spend the money fixing up your personal gym.  Me, I like to exercise some days in my pajamas.

Have you called victim to a fad recently?  What happened to you?  Please share, as we all need to remind ourselves often that expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better!

 

There’s an Option for That

There’s an Option for That

Just back from a few days in San Diego.  What a beautiful, peaceful place with absolutely perfect weather every day.  I only got in one run during my time there as my Achilles is still bothering me.  Recently, I had to switch over to intervals of run/walk to not do more damage to my tendon and hopefully keep moving forward.  It’s important to know there’s generally an option for getting your workout in and that has to be good enough for now.

Depending on the injury, or issue, there is very often an option for getting in a workout.  In the past, I would completely stop working out and feel totally sorry for myself.  I’ve learned to find the modification that I can do and just focus on that.  So, for me right now the option is walk/run intervals and I’ve resigned myself to this fact and actually quite enjoy it.  Walk/run intervals are keeping me on the road and not further damaging my tendon.

What options are out there for your injury?  It really depends on what it is and what your doctor, or PT thinks is appropriate.  I can tell you what has kept me going during my injuries and hope you connect in some way.

Lower Body Injuries – Work Your Upper Body

When I had ankle tendon repair surgery it was a long time before I could even walk.  To keep my sanity I worked my upper body.  I broke the upper body into sections and each day I did something while seated in a chair.  Chest and biceps one day, triceps and back another.  There are many videos available on YouTube, but I used Body Beast videos by Beachbody.

Can’t Run – Walk

If you can’t run at all there is always the walk option.  You get just as good of a workout with less stress on your muscles and joints.  When I am in the walk mode I tell myself a simple truth – a mile is a mile no matter how fast you move.  Shoot for 10,000 steps a day and you’ll be getting enough movement.

Returning to Running – Try Run/Walk Intervals

I’m currently using Galloway training methods coupled with heart rate training to get myself back on the road.  My Achilles has been bothering me terribly and it’s been frustrating.  Run/walk intervals allows me to get in time on my feet needed without further injuring the tendon.  When using these intervals you are not putting constant stress on the tendons.  When you are walking you are using different muscles than when you are running.  The switching back and forth allows muscles some time to rest.  I’m hoping this will keep me in the game for my race in November.

It’s hard to keep motivated when you feel down and out.  Talk to you doctor and see what you can do.  Finding something I could do has helped keep me sane when I easily could have given up.  I hope you find a way to keep moving through.  Please share below what has kept you going during injuries.

 

Mindset Matters

Mindset Matters

In the past, I primarily lived with thoughts of all the things I couldn’t do well.  Negativity permeated every inch of my inner dialogue.  I couldn’t run as fast as my friends, I couldn’t run without experiencing pain in my ankles and feet afterwards and I couldn’t lose weight as fast as others could. When asked to slow down my heart rate during runs, I whined about how slow I had to run and called it slogging (slow jogging). Listening to this week’s podcasts reminded me that my power to succeed resides in my mindset, therefore developing it must be a critical part of any training plan.

As part of this type of training, we must tap into our inner dialogue and begin to shift it.  I’ve begun shifting my thoughts and tapping in to focus instead on all the things I can do.   Filling my head with all the things that were going well has helped me remain positive about my training.   Here are some simple ideas to help change your inner dialogue and develop your mindset.

Meditation

I wish I could say I do this regularly, but I don’t.  Research does suggest that meditation has major benefits to many areas of overall wellness.  Mindspace app is one of the tools I downloaded.  I’ve used it during the night when I can’t fall back asleep, but I’ve yet to develop a regular routine.  I do, however, think of my long runs as meditation as I am in a mindfulness zone and think deeply.

Podcasts

There are tons of podcasts you can listen to for developing your mindset.  I have found many motivational speakers and love to listen to podcasts on long runs.  Sure does make the time pass by with less focus on the struggle.  My favorite podcasts right now are put out by Another Mother Runner and Running Lifestyle.  Find what speaks to you and listen to learn.

Read

One of the best books for me was recommended by my yoga teacher a few years back.  It still is the one that I reread when I need reminding of the power of mindset.

I wrote a summary of this book here Life Change

How has your mindset affected your training?  What have you done to develop and harness the power of positivity?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Spiralize for Strength

Spiralize for Strength

Now that I’m moving back into my training cycle, it’s time to get serious about my nutrition.  Proper nutrition is just as important, if not more, than the actual training I need to do.  Fueling properly improves my chance of enjoying the runs and having the energy to complete the distance.  Without it my body will not perform at the level I need and I know full well that feeling of running with cement shoes on my feet.  I’ve been a rather bad girl this winter as I recovered from my broken toes.  It’s time to clean up my act and get back to fueling my body properly.

Being a self proclaimed veggie hater, I’m always looking for ways to sneak those needed vegetables into my day.  Last year I purchased a spiralizer and began experimenting with all different types of veggie noodles.  I tend to play it safe and use zucchini most often as it’s pretty bland and doesn’t overpower recipes.  I can’t say I won’t ever eat pasta again because my love affair with homemade pasta runs deep.  I can say it’s a great options for many recipes that allows you to have the texture of pasta without the grains.  Most veggie noodles can be eaten raw or lightly cooked making it a great choice for weeknight meals.  What a great way to sneak those vegetables into the day.

Today I read this article, which I found to be excellent. It really sums up the process of making veggie noodles, including benefits and cooking suggestions.

http://blog.paleohacks.com/gluten-free-noodles/

Give it a try!  You never know which veggie noodle you’ll like.  I’ve discovered I do like red beets, something I swore would never touch my lips.

Here’s the link to the spiralizer I originally purchased and the fancy one I just got a super deal one.  The inexpensive one works just fine and I’ve used it for over a year.  I just wanted a better one because it has more options.

 

This one is a thing of beauty and I leave it on my counter as I use it often.  Super heavy and well made.  It is expensive, but a great investment for the foodies in the group.  You’ll use it for so many salads this summer, as well as your veggie noodles.

What are your favorite veggie noodles? Share your recipe and ideas below.

Barefoot Training

Barefoot Training

After my ankle tendon surgery, I thought I’d never walk barefoot again.  In fact, I thought barefoot walking was bad for me and avoided it at all costs.  I even kept a pair of shoes next to my bed to put on immediately upon waking.  I believe it was said to me at some point that barefoot was not a good idea for me.

When I began reading how to strengthen my feet and ankle tendons, I was surprised to see barefoot walking as one of the recommendations.  I tried to increase the amount of time I walk in the house without any shoes and ended up with three broken toes.  Not a great plan.  Anyway, I’m not giving up on this idea and recently did some more reading about it.  Many runners advocate for shoes that have zero drop, or are closer to replicating barefoot running.   I did buy a pair of zero drop running shoes and tried using them all winter on the treadmill.  Unfortunately, when I transitioned to outside I began having pain in my ankle tendon.  This caused me to rethink my plans.

I plan to strengthen the balancing muscles in my feet and ankles in hopes of improving my running.  I realized I must transition to zero drop shoes a bit more cautiously and if you are a woman who wears heels a lot you will likely need to do the same.  I have tight Achilles tendons and poor ankle mobility, especially in my left ankle.  Running in my minimalist shoes led to overuse pain in my peroneal and achilles tendons.  Thankfully, I listened to my body and stopped immediately.  Taking a step back here is the plan to transition and strengthen my barefoot work.

Starting immediately, I will be doing all my warm up work (Silly Toes) barefoot.  This routine will be done every day, whether I am running or not.  It actually feels so good to stretch the lower legs out.

Barefoot BOSU work will strengthen balance and ankle mobility.  One leg balance routines are extremely helpful in strengthening smaller muscles in the ankles and are fun to perform on the BOSU.

Wearing my minimalist shoes for workouts other than running and even getting a pair for walking should also help strengthen my lower legs and feet.  Finally, I plan on walking barefoot whenever possible in the house but will be sure to avoid metal doors this time!

Are you a runner who uses zero drop, or barefoot shoes?  How did you transition?How has it improved your running form?  Please do share as I am interested in learning.

BOSU Ball

Breathing Easy

Breathing Easy

Anyone beginner runner knows that breathing can be extremely challenging at times.  With so many other things to think about, like pace and form, breathing shouldn’t be so hard.  This week’s training tip is one that has been helping me catch my breath on runs.

When you breathe through your chest, shallow breathing, you take in less oxygen.  It’s important to learn how to belly breathe, using your diaphragm, to increase intake of oxygen. To practice and learn how to engage in belly breathing, try this simple exercise:

  • Lie down on your back and place both hands on your belly.
  • Keep your upper chest and shoulders still.
  • Focus on raising your belly as you inhale. Feel it with your hands.
  • Lower your belly as you exhale.
  • Inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth.

Once you feel the difference, practice this breathing standing, walking and then running.    It is hard when you are running, or gasping, so really practice the technique first in non running options.

My running coach told me to try and establish a breathing cadence, or pattern when running.  The easiest way for me to do this was to count my breathes in and out.  At first, I counted 1-2-3-4 on inhalation followed by 1-2-3-4 on exhalation.  I then tried to work my way up to 5 where I am currently.  Eventually I hope to get into a zone and not have to think so much about breathing.

Many people wonder about nose vs. mouth breathing during exercise.  While it would be wonderful to run like the wind and calmly breathe through my nose, that is not reality.  Reality is you get more oxygen when you breathe through your mouth, so why stress it.  Just breathe through your mouth and don’t complicate matters that don’t need complication.

Finally, when you are in the midst of a run, if you are gasping for air your pace is likely too fast.  Slow it down, catch your breath and continue at a comfortable pace.  Your breathing is a measure of your conditioning and it should develop and improve over time.  Continue to vary your workouts, practice your breathing techniques and gradually increase pace over time.

I hope this helps you breathe easy out on your run, or workout this week.  Give it and try and let me know if it helps.  Please share in the comments below.

Sunlight for Healthy Training

Sunlight for Healthy Training

I am an early riser by choice.  It’s just a habit I’ve formed over the years and I’ve actually never set an alarm clock in my life.  My body just has a sleep cycle that’s developed over time.  I was super excited to read and learn that many experts are now highly recommending early morning, outdoor exercise for important health benefits. My early morning workout time is peaceful and now linked to improved health, how exciting is that. Just look at my morning view, this alone can improve my mood and make me so grateful to be alive.

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Many people are now being found to be Vitamin D deficient, myself included.  I was pretty surprised when my doctor told me just how depleted my levels of Vitamin D were in lab testing.  She explained to me at the time that Vitamin D is critical for correct hormone function and brain health. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to many types of cancers including breast cancer.  I remember wondering if this deficiency had been a contributing factor of my mom’s Alzheimers disease.

When my doctor diagnosed this deficiency, I remember telling her that I really don’t spend a lot of time in the sun by choice.  While she told me the benefits of exposure to natural light, she explained that it would be nearly impossible for me to get all the needed amounts of vitamin D just from exposure to sunlight.  We talked about foods high in D (fatty fish, cheese, eggs) and supplementation plans.  It took me several front loading doses of vitamin D3 to get my levels into acceptable level ranges.  I have been on a maintenance dosage for two years now and continue to monitor levels through lab testing (blood tests).

When reading about Vitamin D, I came upon some interesting links between lack of natural sunlight exposure and wellness.  I learned that exposure to sunlight during the day can actually help you sleep better, improve hormone function and increase endorphin production.  Light sends a signal to your body and brain to wake up and also helps regulate your body’s circadian clock.   It has been found that your circadian rhythm could impact your metabolism as well.   This coupled with eating foods known to be rich with Vitamin D and proper supplementation can improve overall health.

It is said that one of the best times to be exposed to natural sunlight is between 6:00 – 8:00 AM.   You only need about 20 to 30 minutes of morning sunlight to reap the benefits.  Getting at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day boosts serotonin levels, which will help improve melatonin levels at night and could improve sleep cycles. I remember sharing this information with my dad as a means to help my mom with sundowning, a common occurrence in Alzheimer’s patients, caused by sleep disturbance. It was recommended that she be exposed to this early morning light as a means to reset her circadian clock.  Recently, I read that it’s also linked to increased benefits during exercise through improved metabolism and vitamin D levels.

This week’s training tip is to move your early morning workout sessions outside, increasing exposure to natural light, for maximum health benefits.  Even in the winter anyone can go for a short walk, perhaps not at 6:00 AM as it will be dark, but certainly before noon.  Make this your new health habit for some important lasting benefits.  Lace up those sneakers and go for a walk, or jog each morning.  Your body will thank you! I’m heading out right now myself.

Are you already a believer in early morning exposure to natural light?  Please share what you have learned on this topic in the section below.  I look forward to learning more about this topic in my quest to improve my health.

Supplementation

My doctor put me on Vitamin D3, but after several front loading doses, my levels didn’t improve.  We paired K2 and D3 and my levels finally tested in the correct range.  There is some research that demonstrates a link between the body’s ability to absorb D3 when taken with K2.  After years of taking them separate, I came across this product that has combined both into one pill.

Vitamin K2 (MK7) with D3 Supplement – Vitamin D & K Complex for Strong Bones and a Healthy Heart – 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 & 90 mcg of Vitamin K2 MK-7 – 60 Small & Easy to Swallow Vegetable Capsules

Further Reading

http://www.medicaldaily.com/sun-exposure-vitamin-d-and-other-health-benefits-sunlight-246487