The Importance of Rest Days

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Does anyone else get overzealous when making a workout or training plan? I think it’s especially common this time of year to plan on doing a super intense workout every day.

It may sound like a good idea; after all, it makes sense that the more you workout, the more your fitness will improve. However, going as hard as you can every day is a good way to set yourself up for injury or burnout.

According to NASM (2014), overtraining syndrome occurs when someone is “training beyond the body’s ability to recover” and side effects may include “decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood disturbances” (p. 306).

Yikes! The quote above doesn’t even mention the increased risk for injury, including plantar fasciitis, shin splints, stress fractures, or pulled muscles. Not to mention, if your workout schedule is so intense that you can’t see yourself continuing it longterm, you put yourself at a high risk of burnout.

Remember to give your body time to rest and recover. Alternate workout types (running, strength training, Jazzercise, etc.) so you’re not repeatedly fatiguing the same muscle groups in the same way. When strength training, avoid training the same muscles on back to back days. If following a running plan, make sure to include easy days of running. For all workouts, avoid high intensity all the time; throw in some easier days. Not every workout in your week needs to be insanely tough to have a  positive effect.

I can’t tell you how many rest days or how many high intensity days to have a week. It all depends on the individual, their fitness level, their workouts, their nutrition level, their age, so many factors. One person may need two full rest days a week, while another is fine with a rest day every two weeks. Listen to your body and be aware of the symptoms listed above. There’s no shame in taking a rest day-it’s good for you!

By the way, when I say rest day, it doesn’t mean a “lay on the couch and watch Netflix” day (although it definitely can sometimes!). Going for a walk or doing a relaxing yoga flow allows your body to recover while still being active.

Source: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Fourth Edition

3 in 30 Treadmill Workout

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had a treadmill workout to share with you guys. This will get you 3 miles in almost exactly 30 minutes.

Of course you could just set the treadmill to 6.0mph and run for 30 minutes but where’s the fun in that? If you’re anything like me, distraction is a must on the treadmill and changing the speed makes the run more entertaining. It breaks the time down into more manageable chunks (“only 3 minutes before the next speed!” instead of “ugh 20 more minutes”)  and gives you something else to concentrate on.

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This eases you in with a nice warmup, gradually gets more difficult, then takes a step back before ramping it up for the finish. I’d suggest walking for a few minutes after to cool down. Hope this makes the “dreadmill” a little more enjoyable!

Confession of an Aspiring Registered Dietitian

I have a secret to tell you. I probably shouldn’t, considering this is a nutrition/healthy living blog.

Okay, are you ready?

Here it goes…

I don’t like cooking.

I really don’t. My cooking skills are minimal and I need very basic recipes to follow. The thought of creating my own recipes makes me laugh and probably makes my husband want to hide.

That seems like a cardinal sin for someone who wants to be registered dietitian, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t I love food and spend my days whipping up healthy creations so I can share my perfect recipes on my healthy living blog?

Well, I think that’s one thing that will actually help me as a registered dietitian. I fully understand the reluctance and hesitation people may have when it comes to cooking and eating at home. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to eat healthy without spending hours in the kitchen making complicated meals and snacks. For that reason I’m going to start talking more on here about what I eat.

Please know that I probably won’t share everything I eat on here. There will still be plenty of ice cream and occasionally (gasp!) fast food that probably won’t make it into posts. I’m not perfect and I don’t strive to be; I hope you don’t either. I’m also not trying to hide my less-than-stellar nutrition choices. What I want to show is how to easily eat healthy most of the time with limited cooking skills, tight finances, and a somewhat picky husband. Just real life here.

You can expect to see my meals, snacks, and maybe “what I ate today” posts on a semi-regular basis, sprinkled in with other nutrition topics. Let me know if there’s anything in particular on nutrition that you’d like me to write about!

Weekly Workout Recap 1/9-1/15

Happy Monday! My last week of break had a good mix of Jazzercise, running, and yoga.

Monday-Jazzercise & Yoga video

A big class and a set I like made this class a lot of fun. I might share this one in a couple weeks because I really like it. That is, unless I come up with one I like even more before then!

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The yoga video for the day was I Am Loved and featured backbends. Bailey enjoyed batting my head with her paw while I was upside down.

Tuesday-4.5 mile run & Yoga video

I’m not even sure if I can call this a run because I walked so much. My feet and calves hurt from the start, it was windy, and just frankly sucked. It was supposed to be 6 miles, which quickly turned into 5, which became even shorter when I heard a noise, got spooked, and promptly turned around on my out-and-back course.

But a few months ago I couldn’t run at all and while I was running, my grandma was receiving another chemo treatment. I’m grateful I can run at all and know there are many, many worse things than a cruddy run.

I Am Open for the yoga video; I enjoyed this one, even if I did end up in the most ungraceful dancer’s pose ever.

Wednesday-Jazzercise & Yoga video

Between my set and my run, my legs were dying. I think if I’m going to be running more, I need to ease up on the legs routine.

The last day of the I Am yoga challenge: I Am Complete. I loved this flow and really hope there’s another Bad Yogi yoga challenge soon.

Thursday-Plank challenge

Since I’m challenging myself to a Year of Challenges, I decided to do a plank challenge next. Day 1 was only 20 seconds; otherwise, it was a much needed rest day.

Friday-Jazzercise & Plank challenge

After class, I received a very nice compliment from a customer. I’m so grateful I can share my love of fitness and make a positive impact on others. Then 20 seconds again for the plank challenge. The beginning of this challenge is great but I’m supposed to be up to 5 minutes in 30 days. Yikes!

Saturday-Jazzercise & Strength45 & Plank challenge

I had a big class with a ton of energy on Saturday. That always makes for a fun, sweaty class! Then I had (if I do say so myself) a killer Strength45 set. My center recently got stability balls and this was my and most of the customers’ first class with them. I think we’ll have an adjustment period getting used to them but it was an effective workout regardless. I woke up so sore on Sunday. Plank Challenge 3/30: 30 seconds

Sunday-Polar Bear 5k & Plank challenge

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Race number 2 of the race series my mom and I are completing. It was a decent run, even though every part of my body was sore from the day before. Plank Challenge 4/30: 30 seconds

Last week involved a lot of aches and pains, so recovery is going to be the focus of this week-good nutrition, adequate rest, and finally replacing my broken down Jazzercise shoes.

2017 Miles: 13.7

CharityMiles: 18.78

Walk for a Dog: 2.05

Grad School, Second Semester Classes

Happy Friday the 13th! My dad always reminds me that he turned 13 on Friday the 13th, so it’s a good day/date.

Next week marks the start of second semester of graduate school. My courses this semester are a little different than my classmate’s since I’m adding the RD portion to my program. Before I can officially be accepted into the MPH/RD program, I still need to complete a few science prerequisites and that’s what my focus is on this semester.

Classes I’m taking for the spring 2017 semester:

Organic Chemistry (online)

Organic Chemistry lab

Physiology (online)

Virtual Physiology lab (online)

Community Nutrition Planning and Evaluation

That’s 14 credits, 10 of which are online. Technically my only MPH class this semester is Community Nutrition but after these prerequisites, I can officially add on the dietetics portion to my program.

I’m excited and nervous for this semester. I’m really excited for Physiology because I enjoy learning how the body works and I think it will be beneficial for my personal training. Organic Chemistry makes me nervous because I’ve heard from so many people that it is an extremely tough class; I also don’t really like labs because I’m not a hands-on person. But I’m ready for a tough semester and eager to be one step closer to my dream of being a registered dietitian.

With my schedule, I’ll only be on campus two days a week. I’ll continue to teach 4 Jazzercise classes a week, along with offering PT sessions. I plan to nanny as much as the family I work for needs me (which hopefully is a lot). I’m interested in coaching Girls on the Run and volunteering with Cooking Matters again, as well any new opportunities I can find, but will have to get a better feel for my workload before I commit to anything else.

Why You Should Strength Train

When I first started to exercise, I’d go to the gym, spend 30-45 minutes on the elliptical, and call it good. That was my workout routine. It wasn’t great for several reasons but one major flaw was that it lacked any kind of strength training.

I love cardio as much as anybody but strength training provides several benefits that cardio alone doesn’t. In fact, the latest Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults participate in muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days a week, in addition to the recommended minutes of aerobic activity (Guidelines).

The guidelines recognize the importance and multitude of benefits that come from strength training, including increased bone density, increased metabolism, improved body composition, and reduced risk of injury. It obviously also increases strength, which leads to functional fitness. Functional fitness consists of the everyday things that we need and should be able to do, like being able to bend down and pick up a box, carrying a child, or even being able to get up and down from the floor.

So you can see that strength training isn’t just for guys with big muscles. It’s for everyone; it helps us perform our daily activities, keeps us healthy as we age, and even helps us burn more fat throughout the day.

Convinced but intimidated by the weight room? That’s okay. I’ll tell you a secret-I am too. I use Jazzercise (there’s a strength portion in every class and I teach a Strength45 class every week), barbell classes, and at-home workouts for my strength training.

Some of my favorite ways to strength train include:

  • Bodyweight exercises: No equipment necessary.  Tricep dips, pushups, squats, and planks are all excellent exercises that use only your body for resistance. Plus there are several ways to modify to increase or decrease difficulty.
  •  Dumbbells: Dumbbells lend themselves to multiple exercises and are a great way to strength train. One benefit of dumbbells is that both sides of the body work independently of each other helping to address muscular imbalances. For example, women tend to be stronger on the side they carry their purse or child. Because two dumbbells are generally used, the stronger side cannot overcompensate and help the weaker side.
  • Resistance bands/tubes: When used correctly, tubes can create resistance in both directions, making them highly effective. They’re also a very adaptable piece of equipment that can be used in many ways.
  • Stability ball: This is probably my favorite piece of equipment. By creating an unstable surface, the core is forced to engage to keep the body stabilized. Out of all the body parts, the core is probably the most important to strengthen (think about what keeps you from falling over) and the stability ball makes it work.
  • Barbell: I only use barbells when I take certain strength classes but I enjoy switching it up from my usual training. Mixing up your workout is always a good thing.
  •  Lastly, if you’re unsure of what to do, ask a personal trainer to help you get started. Remember that good technique and safety are key.

There’s so many benefits to strength training and I personally always feel awesome after a good strength training session. I hope you learn to love and embrace it too!

Sources:

American Physical Activity Guidelines

NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Fourth Edition

ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual, Third Edition

Women’s Home Workout Bible

Resolute Runner 5k

They say what you do on New Year’s Day sets your intentions for the rest of the year. My parents and I decided we wanted to set our intentions with a 5k.

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Being rushed and almost late to our race the night before, we swung the opposite direction and showed up at the race 30 minutes before packet pickup opened and 2 hours before the race began. Oops. At least we got a good parking spot.

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While waiting, we anxiously watched the temperature. The night before my weather app said it was supposed to be almost 40 degrees during the race. The morning dawned colder than expected and the predicted temperature for 10 o’clock kept dropping. I panicked and changed into a warmer top, forgetting that the Colorado sun warms things up fast.

The course followed Ralston Creek Trail, did a lollipop turn around, and went back the same way. The path was really narrow in some parts but the race did a great job of calling runners to the start line by pace and releasing in waves to alleviate some of the congestion. There were still some places that were pretty crowded but it could have been a lot worse.

Going into the race, I didn’t know what to expect from myself. My legs were tired from running the two previous days after doing almost no running for two months. My virtual Turkey Trot had awful conditions, I ran the New Year’s Eve 5k with Ryan at a slower pace, and I forgot to turn on/off my GPS for both races and didn’t have definite times for either of them. I thought a sub-30 would be nice but decided to just see what happened.

I positioned myself towards the back of the 9-10 minute/mile wave. When we started running, I knew it was going to be a tough race. My calves were unbelievably tight; they felt like two knots in my legs. My half mile splits averaged around 5 minutes and I had to push myself to keep that pace. I had enough energy though to kick for the last half mile to finish in 29:50.IMG_5608

See our hats? The race did hats instead of shirts and I’m in love with mine! It’s warm and cute and I’m excited to have another hat to run in.

After we ran, we watched awards (it was a fast field!), stopped at Starbucks, and had lunch at my dad’s favorite pizza place. All in all, it was a great morning and a perfect start to 2017.

 

 

Debunking Health Claims on Food Labels

Knowing how many people make resolutions to lose weight or be healthier (learn to set better goals here), grocery store shelves explode with “healthy” foods this time of year. Every label is covered in nutrition claims, making the product seem like a miracle cure. These healthy foods aren’t always what they seem though and those buzzwords might not mean what you think. Here’s a cheat sheet for next time you’re shopping.

  1. Organic: Organic does not equal healthy. I can make a cake with organic flour, organic sugar, organic butter, and organic everything else. Does that mean it’s healthy? No, it’s still cake. I’m not saying you can’t eat cake or it’s not good to eat organic. Organic is simply how the product was grown. I want to make it clear that just because something is organic doesn’t automatically make it a nutritious choice.
  2. Gluten free: Eating gluten-free has somehow become associated with being healthy. Some people cannot eat gluten due to Celiacs disease or a gluten sensitivity but for the majority of people, eating gluten is perfectly fine. However, marketers have eagerly taken advantage of the trend and gluten-free is now common to see on labels. Some of these products never had gluten to begin with and most products that are modified to be gluten-free are not healthier than their counterparts with gluten. Often times, there’s added sugar or fat to make it taste better.

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    Just because my hard cider is “naturally gluten free” doesn’t make it healthier than other drinks
  3. Fat free: When it comes to packaged products like cookies and crackers, fat free typically means added sugar and less satisfaction which can lead to overeating.
  4. Protein: Protein has somehow become the “magical macronutrient”. Protein powder, protein shakes, protein bars-it’s everywhere, each product boasting that it has more protein than the next. Protein is good for us but to a certain extent. More protein isn’t necessarily better and you can get all the protein you need from regular food (most Americans don’t have a problem consuming sufficient protein). Also, keep in mind that protein bars are often comparable to candy bars when it comes to calories and sugar.
  5. Detox: Detoxing, cleansing, juicing, whatever word you use, it’s not necessary. The body takes care of itself and there’s no scientific evidence to support that you need to eat or drink anything extra to detoxify. Side note: if you like drinking green juice or other veggie juices, continue to enjoy them. Just don’t exclusively drink green juice or feel like you have to if you don’t like it.
  6. Superfood: This has been very popular buzzword lately. Generally foods that are labelled as a superfood are healthy foods. The problem is that the superfood label tends to come with a super price tag. If it’s in your budget and something you enjoy or would like to try, by all means, buy it. Remember, though, that there are lots of other nutritious, less expensive options and there’s no reason to feel guilty if you’re not eating “superfoods”.
  7. Finally, please remember that if a pill, wrap, or cleanse worked, no one would struggle with their weight. Be smart when shopping and use some common sense to make healthy, nutritious choices. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Weekly Workout Recap 1/2-1/8

It’s the first full week of the new year and the time to recommit to fitness (actually anytime is a good time to recommit to fitness). Unfortunately most of my workouts didn’t feel fabulous this week. I’m physically feeling fine; it was just a meh week. Maybe post-holiday let down? Anyone else feeling this way?

I started writing this recap Friday morning and had to edit the beginning because my workouts at the end of the week were pretty great.

Monday-Jazzercise & Yoga video

Because of my school schedule this semester, I’m switching from my normal Monday class to Friday. Since I wasn’t teaching in the morning, I signed up to sub an afternoon class. I’m not sure if it was the change in time teaching or not loving my set but I just didn’t feel like my energetic self. Hopefully the class didn’t notice.

I also started a new yoga challenge: the I Am challenge by Bad Yogi. It’s a 10 day challenge and each day has a new mantra “I am…”. The first day was I Am Powerful and it was actually fairly challenging. I think that was the point though, to remind yourself that even when you’re struggling “I am powerful”.

Tuesday-Yoga Video

Day two of the challenge was I Am Peaceful. I really liked this relaxing flow, even though my peaceful breathing got interrupted by doggie kisses.

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Wednesday-Jazzercise & Yoga video

Another meh class. I’m not loving my set this week, which is a little surprising because it’s core and I usually love core. Oh well, not every set is the best set ever. As long as my classes feel like they’re getting a good workout, that’s what’s important.

Day three of the challenge was I Am Free. This flow was a little different but I liked the hip stretch.

Thursday-3 mile run & Yoga video

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I was supposed to teach a Jazzercise class in the morning but snow caused the morning classes to be cancelled. I went to the gym instead to run on the treadmill. I made up a workout I actually enjoyed and finished 3 miles in 30 minutes. Watch for the workout in the next couple weeks.

Then day 4 of the challenge: I Am Confident. This might be a good one to save for when I’ve got big projects or interviews coming up. Also, in case you were wondering what my yoga practice looks like:

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Just real life here.

Friday-Jazzercise x2 & Yoga video

I taught my new regular morning class and subbed a class in the afternoon. I still didn’t love my set in the morning but enjoyed it more in the afternoon. Weird, right? My legs were crying later that night!

When I heard the sad news about the events at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, I needed to clear my head and decided to do my yoga video for the day: I Am Creative. It worked to cheer me up, especially when Bailey crawled under me and I ended up doing a plank on top of her.

Saturday-Jazzercise & Strength45

I decided it was time to change my set. I’m so glad I did because I loved this new one! It was fun and tough at the same time. During my strength class, I somehow managed to mess up every routine but had fun joking with the class. It was a pretty intense set, so I don’t think anyone minded the laughs.

You might notice I didn’t do my yoga video today. I Am Optimistic is a 10 minute meditation video. I know meditation is supposed to be really good for you but it wasn’t happening.

Sunday-Virtual Ugly Sweater Run

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My friend Michelle and I were supposed to do the Ugly Sweater Run three weeks ago but Denver got hit with a huge snowstorm and below 0 temperatures. The race allowed us to pick up our bibs, hats, and medals the next week and this weekend we were finally able to get together to do the 5k. We walked while catching up and then treated ourselves to Starbucks.

Then I Am Capable yoga video to end the week. I fell straight on my butt every time I tried the arm balance but I absolutely loved what she talked about during this video! It’s important to remind ourselves that we are always capable to try and that’s what’s important. I hope I remember that when I’m applying for dietetic internships next year.

A slow start to the week led to some awesome things at the end. Hopefully that means 2017 is going to shape up to be a great year!

2017 running miles: 6.1

CharityMiles: 5.69

Walk for a Dog: miles: 0.51

Holidays & Family Time

I’m so blessed that I have a family I actually enjoy spending time with and am fortunate that December allowed me a lot of family time.

My mom and I spent 4 days in Texas with my grandparents. My grandma started chemotherapy treatment and since my aunt who lives in Texas was out of town, we wanted to be there for her and my grandpa.

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While I wish we were visiting under better circumstances, it was wonderful to spend time with my grandparents.

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I took my poppy for Starbucks! He said it was “good coffee”. I ordered for him-my grandpa can be a little ornery sometimes and I’m not sure the barista could have handled his thoughts on the price and complexity of ordering a cup of coffee.

Thankfully my grandma’s first treatment went well and we were all able to spend some quality time together.

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Our little Christmas tree & a candle for our baby

Ryan and I spent a quiet Christmas Eve together just the two of us (four if you count Bailey and Benji). We then spent Christmas Day down in Denver with his entire family.

A few days later, I drove to see my parents in Nebraska. I see my parents a lot but there were some other special visitors-mainly my 5 month old nephew Wyatt! Oh and my brother Scott and sister-in-law Maegan.

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But if you got to spend time with those chubby cheeks, you’d forget about everyone else too!

I wasn’t in Nebraska for very long (I drove up early Thursday morning and back to Colorado Friday afternoon) but I enjoyed every second I was there. I visited my friend first thing on Thursday and then spent the rest of the morning and afternoon with my nephew, sister-in-law, and mom. I joined my mom for her Jazzercise class and then we all enjoyed supper together.

Friday morning started with a run with my dad and then lunch and more baby cuddles before I had to leave.

Luckily, everyone followed me to Colorado on Saturday and now Ryan could join us as well. We exchanged Christmas gifts in the afternoon. My mom and dad made it a Make a Deal game, where we could keep our present or exchange for a mystery gift. Some of the mystery gifts were good, like money or a coffee mug, but some were duds like a can of chicken soup or old pencils. Don’t worry-we all got good gifts in the end. Then we played Cards Against Humanity, which is the most awkward game to play with your parents and pastor brother!

My parents, Ryan, and I then headed out to do our New Year’s Eve race. When we came back, we enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve (celebrated a week late) dinner of chicken trays from Chik Fil-A and yummy Mary Mountain cookies. Scott, Maegan, and Wyatt had to leave after that but my parents stayed the night so we could do a New Year’s Day run in the morning.

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I’m so thankful I got this time with my family. It’s hard when everyone lives in different places and has different work schedules but I hope we’ll all be able to get together again soon.