Friday, May 28, 2010

Fun filled healthy weekend

Well, we're coming up on a long weekend and I've been thinking about the plans we have. We're hosting a party with friends and family, my in laws are staying over a night and we're squeezing in a trail run & mountain bike.

It's a lot for someone like me, who doesn't have a lot of extra energy. Here are 3 tips to enjoy a fun weekend and stay healthy:

1. Sleep is still important. Sometimes when we have a busy weekend planned, we tend to stay up late and get up early. Then when we get back into our routine, we wonder why we're so tired. Could be as simple as not getting adequate sleep!

2. Don't forget to drink water. I can really tell if I'm not hydrated enough. Tired, brain fog, etc. So, in the middle of all the fun goings on, don't forget your water bottle. Especially if you're going to be outside a lot!

3. Don't be afraid to say no if you need it. If you're running low on energy, it's ok to say no to an activity that comes up. Really, it is!

Or, if you've planned a big day and can't get out of it, try taking a quick nap or rest a few minutes. Last weekend we went to an amusement park. It's a long day for me, so I made sure to take breaks every hour or so to sit down and relax. It helped.

Don't forget that a weekend packed full of fun can still be a healthy weekend. Listen to your body, and you'll have more fun and feel better when the work week starts back up.

Enjoy and take a moment to give thanks to all that sacrificed their lives for our freedom!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Family, fun and races

This past weekend was my husband's birthday. We went to King's Island and did a 5k there with family, then went to the park for a day of fun. It's become a yearly birthday gift to him because it combines three things he likes: 5k races, family and amusement parks.

I've been thinking about that day and even though it's a tough day for my adrenal fatigue, it still brings a smile to my face.

First, if I'm going to spend the day at a hot, crowded amusement park, the only way I want to is with a really good workout beforehand. This 5k fits that bill.

Second, we get to spend time with our family including our 3 young nieces and nephew. They really love the trip, and they get so excited about doing the race. I feel like we're making a positive impact in their lives as they run the race together (I think we are, read this post about my niece). Hopefully, they'll have good memories of exercise and maybe they'll keep doing it.

Third, even though this is a gift to him, as cheesy as it sounds it's also a huge gift to me. I'm so blessed to have a husband that enjoys doing races as much as I do. When we first got married, he would attend my races and take pictures. I remember wishing he would participate. One day, he decided to try one, and the rest is history!

So, I figure I can endure a long day in the heat at King's Island. It's a small price to pay for so many good things!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fitness health

I was on my bike, half way up a HUGE hill when I asked myself "why". Why was I there?

Don't get me wrong, I love a challenge. I don't shy away from a good, hard workout. In fact, I enjoy it. There has to be a reason in it, though. But being on a mountain bike, riding up the pavement, I didn't see the point.

Especially since I had doctor's orders not to push too hard.

Nevertheless, I found myself there, pushing way too hard. I didn't know it would be so difficult to get up that hill! My husband and I were at Brown County State Park, going over the same trail that we have our first mountain bike race in June.

I finally made it, lungs burning and panting for air. Guess what? I saw another one ahead. So, I took in what air I could, and started in on the next one.

I thought that if I could just make it through these hills, I could do the race...I had my heart set on it. A car pulled up directly behind me, almost taunting me not to stop. I didn't care, I was going to push it...

Then, I had a voice inside telling me I'm never going to get better if I keep pushing up this horrid hill (read what's wrong here and here). Is it worth setting my health back, just to say I made it?

I'm pleased to tell you, I swallowed my pride, got off the bike and walked the remainder of the hill. Nothing happened. The world didn't end, no one cared -- but I feel great!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fitness and injury

A warning to pushing too hard, too fast by Matt Collins...

As a kid I was very active. As a matter of fact I was pretty active up until only about 6 years ago. Once I started an office job, I simply dropped all physical activity.

Over the past few years I started doing some exercise here and there, but was never consistent. The World Cup, the Tour de France, and even my wife’s races would get me excited to be fit again, but the feeling would only last until I was too tired to work out.

Finally, last year I began training and made it a habit. I successfully trained for and completed three triathlons, a handful of 5k races, and the P90X workout program. I loved the way my body felt and hated missing a workout. Aside from all the training I also did a lot of mountain biking.

Once the winter rolled around, I didn’t really have anything enjoyable to do for a workout. I was occupied with my studies and bored on a bike trainer and treadmill. Nicer weather rolled around and I was ready to pick up where I left off – only, my body wasn’t.

At the end of last year I was running at a 6:30min pace during races and mountain biking for miles. My first time out running I started off just like I used to – pushing hard for my best time. Around the ½ mile mark my back seized up and I was done; I was pushing way too hard too soon and my body told me to stop.

That was pretty painful, but I was able to recover fairly quickly and I had to get out and train for my first race. I didn’t push quite as hard the next time, but it turns out my body wasn’t even ready for that. After only a few times out I developed shin splints and it’s taken me months to recover.

I had three races in five weeks and I had to be ready. As a result I prolonged my injury. I had a goal to accomplish and I let that override my better judgment. I thought that because I was in good shape last year I could simply pick up where I left off with no ramp up period. That’s a mistake I won’t be making again.

From this I learned that even though I am capable of certain things, my body still needs to be reintroduced to the punishment it used to be able to handle. If you are getting ready to start an exercise program back up or even for the first time, remember, your body needs to be acclimated to being worked. That first time out it’s easy to push; however, a day or two later you may find yourself in loads of pain and possibly injured. I see it all the time with folks trying to get fit again after a long or even short hiatus. They start off hard, then quit shortly thereafter.

Whether you were very athletic as a kid (as I was) or even completed strenuous workouts as recent as a few months ago, take it easy and work your way back in gradually – you’ll be better off, trust me.

Written by Matt Collins, OnTrack Fitness ballroom dance instructor. Read more about Matt here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fitness regrets, lessons learned

There was a client that I had several years ago, a client that I learned a big lesson from and will never forget. Unfortunately, I learned what she really needed from me a little too late for her good, but a lesson I keep with me that has made me a better trainer.

This client was a female with small children and a very demanding career. Her job demanded that she traveled throughout the week which caused a lot of stress to her and her family.

When I met with her in the consultation she struck me as already thin, athletic and fit. Her goal was straightforward: tone up a little, become a faster runner and create a healthier lifestyle by exercising consistently. She was going to do all of this by working with me only once per week. Not impossible but rather difficult, I thought at the time.

I created a program for her and we got started. I quickly realized that we would have to squeeze in a run and resistance work in our training sessions, as she struggled to get her workouts on her own.

What I later realized was she really needed me to take away having to think of one more stressor in her life. Exercise was the last thing she wanted to have to worry over and think about what she had to do. She needed someone to come to her, tell her what to do, and then be there to encourage and ensure she did it.

We worked together for almost two years, the entire time struggling to get consistency in workouts and obviously not seeing much progress.

The entire time I pushed education: why she needs this, how to get to her goals, what she needs to do on her own. I talked about how it relieves stress and how she needs to learn to get into a healthy routine so she can finally be able to do all of this on her own. Then she wouldn't need a trainer, thinking that was her mindset.

Yet, every week the report was the same: she may or may not have done her workouts. During this two year period, I often pondered why there was never any change, what was wrong? - My client obviously needed something and I wasn’t giving it to her!

Finally, the inevitable came. She decided to ‘cut back on family expenses’ and personal training was out. I knew it was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier to take. Although I knew a trainer can’t be solely responsible for client’s failure, I felt like I had really failed her.

I used to think back on the situation, beat myself up, wishing I could go back in time to do things differently. Then I realized the best thing I can do is use what I learned on my future clients.

This is what I learned: some people need us, as trainers, to come to them and tell them everything is ok, and not worry about putting them on their feet to exercise on their own. Some people need us to take that stress away from them.

Certain people may need a trainer for a very long time; this is something that I always believed to be a horrible trait of a trainer – that they must not be doing their job if they have clients for a long time. But this client changed my mind. She needed me to work with her – every workout if possible, to take the stress out of a very high stress life.

This was a hard lesson learned for me but an important one.

Everyone we come in contact with is an opportunity to touch their lives. Are you going to be open to it? Is there someone that sticks in your mind like mine?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chilren's fitness, adult behaviors

The other day I was talking to my sister about an upcoming 5k our family is doing. I found out my eight year old niece is really excited and wants to run the whole thing. I had no idea of her interest!

I've been thinking about the conversation ever since. I started wondering: What makes some adults stay fit even when life gets hectic, and other adults struggle just to stay active?

I think part of it comes from childhood. Just like all other behaviors, at least a portion of this comes from what we did as kids, what we were praised for and what we felt good at.

Think how easy it would be for someone to stay fit if it's all they've known since childhood.

Now, think how hard it would be for someone to get fit if they've never been introduced to the behaviors of being active and healthy! It's so important for our children to be introduced to healthy behaviors while they're still learning.

I guess that's why I'm excited to hear about my niece.

I know this was true for me. My interest started at age 9 when our school introduced the President's Physical Fitness Challenge. I took it to heart, practicing my running and especially the arm hang for hours and hours. My dad even rigged a pull up bar in our garage...the rest is history.

My thoughts are still on my niece. I hope I can be supportive and encouraging to her so she grows up healthy, fit and confident.

What are you doing to support healthy behaviors in your kids?

Desk job workout

I have a lot of clients that have stressful jobs. They sit at a desk all day, every day. It's hard to come home after a long day at the office, have supper, get the kids to bed and then try to get in a workout.

Here's a few exercises that you can do in the office in no time at all. These exercises will help keep in shape, relieve stress and refresh your mind.


1. Pushups: You can do these right at the edge of your desk, sitting in your chair or if you're like me, do them against a filing cabinet while you're standing there making copies.

2. Squats: Easy, just stand up and sit down a few times at your desk. You've just done squats! Note: make sure your knees are behind your toes. (If you sit/stand normally, you'll do this.)

3. Leg extensions: Sitting at your desk, straighten your leg to strengthen your quads. No one will ever know your exercising, it'll be your little secret!

4. Toe/heel raises: You can do these exercises to strengthen your calves and shins either seated or standing (again, at the copier). Tip: if you're seated, put a stack of files on your lap to add a little weight.

5. Tricep dips: Easily done at the edge of your desk or file cabinet. Or, you could do a tricep pushup the same way, instead of dips.


It's just as important to stretch your muscles as it is to strengthen them, and it can really relieve tension. Remember to hold your stretch about 15 seconds, and don't forget to breath.

1. Chest/shoulder/bicep: Our chest muscles get so tight, especially if we sit at a desk working on the computer all day. Clasp your hands behind your back and lift up until you feel a stretch. Repeat a few times during the day.

2. Glute/hip: A simple stretch that feels great. Sit tall at your desk, cross one leg so the ankle is sitting on top of your lap, right above the knee. With a straight back, lean forward until you feel a great stretch in the outer hip area.

3. Back: Again, a great stretch to relieve tension. Clasp hands together in front of you and round your upper back. Enjoy!

4. Full body: just like the picture!

I used to do these exercises all the time when I worked at an office. No one noticed, so if I did it, you can -- don't be shy! Who cares if they notice, you're taking care of your body.

Don't forget, good posture while you're seated will give you more energy and won't leave you feeling tight and tired after work. Sit tall, abs tight and shoulders pulled back and down. Oh, and don't forget to take some deep breaths as you work.

Now there's no reason you can't get a little exercise, even with a busy schedule. Try it!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kids and fitness

This past weekend I had the chance to be a part of something really special. I help sponsor a race series called Kids Racing For Kids. It's an all kids triathlon, ages 7-14.

This first (of six) race was at the IUPUI Sports Complex. I was pleasantly surprised to talk with so many kids, a lot of them very young, that were veteran triathletes! There were also a lot of first timers there. I must say, all of those kids were much more light hearted on race morning than I am.

I'm a triathlete myself, so I have a special place in my heart for anyone that swims, bikes and runs. But to see a child participating in an event like this is so exciting! What a great time to introduce an activity that is not only fun, not just going to get them in great shape, but it's a huge confidence builder.

When I first started training for triathlons, I didn't know if it was something I could even finish. Then when I finished my first race - WOW! What a thrill! The sense of achievement is indescribable.

I think about how a simple race can truly be life changing.

I now think about those kids. I think about how, by participating in events like these, it actually helps form a person's life. Starting as a child, it helps mold their behaviors, their sense of self worth for the rest of their lives!

Any kid can do this. There were all kids there - small, big, shy, confident. I saw every personality. The cool thing: they all belonged there.

I wish there had been kid's triathlons when I was a kid. Would it ease my race day jitters? I imagine that it would be second nature to find time to go to the pool, or get on my bike every day.

Do you have kids? Do you encourage them to participate in events like this?