Nutritious and Fit

Diet, Fitness, and a Healthy Attitude

The Gym Box- Group Fitness at Home

Instead of going to the gym, I prefer to run/walk outside and do yoga and strength training DVDs at home. It’s just more convenient and less boring than driving to the gym to run on a treadmill and aimlessly wander around the weight rooms. However, sometimes I need a change, and I would love access to group fitness classes like kickboxing, plus running in the winter isn’t always appealing since I’m not a fan of the bitter cold. While reading Shape Magazine, I came across a blurb about something called The Gym Box. It’s basically a cable box for your TV that lets you stream hundreds of different gym-inspired fitness classes for only $10 a month! That’s MUCH more economical than a gym membership, especially if the only thing you want out of it is access to classes. It’s also less repetitive than using the same DVDs all the time. I went to the website to check it out, and it seems really easy! If you want to watch on your computer, you don’t need to purchase the box, but if you want it for your TV, you have 2 box options. One is more expensive than the other, but both of them allow access to the classes for the monthly fee AND you can use them for Netflix, Pandora, MLB, and other channels. If you don’t want to spend money on the boxes, you can even hook your computer to your TV. I haven’t tried it out yet because I’m still paying for the rest of my basic (meaning no group classes) gym membership for the next couple months (which I hate and don’t use), but it seems like it might be a good investment. Go to the website to get started (www.thegymbox.com) and if you do, PLEASE tell me how you like it! 🙂

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09/14/2011 Posted by | physical activity | , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Year, A New You!

I devised a work-out plan to help me tone and strengthen muscles while getting lean at the same time. For those of you looking to get back in shape after the holidays or want to make it your new year’s resolution, feel free to give it a try!

I suggest that you make your resolution to be about making small, but permanent, changes that will support a healthy lifestyle. This work-out is a good goal for those who don’t work out on a normal basis- it’s a 6-day a week work-out, so don’t feel like you have to go from not working out at all to a full 6 days!

The plan combines cardio, strength training, and yoga. Most personal trainers don’t stress the importance of cardio because they are so focused on strength training. What needs to be realized is that both are very important. Weight loss is simply calories-in vs calories-out. You don’t choose whether the loss comes from muscle or fat, so that’s why strength training is important- it will prevent the loss from coming from muscle, which helps make your body changes more permanent. Without cardio, however, you will not likely burn enough calories to lose weight at an appropriate pace. Most of what will be happening is a gain in muscle, with minimal fat loss. Yoga is a way to gain muscle while stretching, which is important in changing your body as well- your posture will improve, your balance will improve, and you will definitely get more lean!

Make sure to warm up and cool-down for every work out, as well as stretching afterwards on the days you aren’t doing yoga. The yoga DVD I’ve been using is The Firm Power Yoga, which I love. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my flexibility, and my upper back appears much more flat- before the DVD, my shoulders and chest were so tight that my back appeared rounded even though I had good posture.

  • Monday- 1 hr of cardio
  • Tuesday- Strength training, 30 mins of cardio
  • Wednesday- 30 min Yoga DVD
  • Thursday- Strength training, 30 mins of cardio
  • Friday- OFF
  • Saturday- Strength training, 30 mins of cardio
  • Sunday- 1 hr cardio, 30 min Yoga DVD

Strength- this routine uses supersets to ensure your heart rate stays up for an increased calorie burn. Supersets use a few different exercise as 1 set. For example: 1 super-set= 1 set of step-ups, 1 set of tricep kick-backs, and 1 set of crunches. You would do this without rest in between, and then repeat. For each exercise, find the weight that is challenging but comfortable for you. I use 5lbs. It should take you between 30-40 mins to do this routine. I recommend before starting each superset, you gather the equipment you need to be prepared.

  • Step-ups/bicep curls– step up with right foot as you curl the weights up, and bring your left foot to meet it. Then step down with right foot again as you bring the weights down. repeat using the same foot, about 30 times. Switch to your left foot for the next set.
  • Tricep kick-backs– 15 reps
  • Crunches on a balance ball– 20 reps
  • Do this super-set 2x

 

  • Squats/shoulder-press– stand with feet wider than hip-width with weights in hand, elbows bent so that the weights rest by your shoulders. As you squat down, act like your sitting down in a chair keeping your knees behind your toes. As you stand up, press the weights above your head. Bring them back down as you squat. Do 20 reps.
  • Push-ups– I do them on my knees. Hands are shoulder-width apart, keep back flat. Do 15-20 reps.
  • Superman– lie on your stomach, arms stretched out in front of you. Lift arms and legs at the same, using your back muscles. Do 15-20 reps.
  • Do super-set 2x.

 

  • Straight-arm lat pull-down– 15 reps- please pay attention to the girl’s form in this video. make sure to keep your back flat and shoulders pulled back, away from  your ears.
  • Lunges/hamer curls– stand with feet together and lunge forward with 1 foot while bringing the weights up. repeat with the opposite foot, and do 20 reps
  • Chest flies
  • Do super-set 2x

 

  • Lat pull-down
  • Lateral lunges– stand with feet together, lunge to the side with one foot bending at the knee and keepin the other straight while your buttocks goes behind you . Bring the foot back and repeat on the other side. do 20 reps (10 on each side).
  • Do this super-set 3x.

 

  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Torso twist with medicine ball- lean back so your balancing on your tailbone, knees bent and only resting on your heels. Holding the medicine ball, bring it one side and then the other using your abdominal muscles to twist.
  • Plank
  • Captain’s chair
  • You only need to do this set 1x. Do each exercise until you feel too uncomfortable to continue.

This is the first step in my work-out plan. I did this strength routine for a little over a month, and now I’ve just begun a new one. In a few weeks, I’ll post that one as well.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

12/28/2010 Posted by | physical activity | Leave a comment

Bikini-ready!

Hope everyone’s summer is going well! I’m sure everyone is trying to hit the beach so I wanted to share something I stumbled across randomly. I went to TJMaxx and found this work out DVD for only 5 bucks! It’s by SHAPE and it’s called Ultimate Bikini Body Work-Out with Dominique Hall. It has 4 components: a 30 minute total body work out, a 10 minute abs/core work out, a 10 minute legs/butt work out, and a 10 minute cardio blast. It lets you customize your workout using those components and it’s great! It’s definitely hard work, and some of the moves require a bit of concentration (at least for me!), but my entire body definitely feels the benefits! It’s only been a week since I started, but I know I’ll get some results because of the way I feel. Below, I list the pros and cons of the DVD.

Pros:

  • Can be a full hour workout or a quick half hour work out
  • Effective
  • Total body
  • Able to personalize it to your individual needs
  • Challenging

Cons

  • The cool-down stretches are awkward and I don’t feel all that stretched after
  • The pace feels a little all over the place; sometimes I feel like she’s pausing too much between reps, and then sometimes I feel like I can’t quite keep up, especially when the moves require coordination!

Overall, it’s a great work out and you’ll definitely see results! I try to do it every other day, and the days I don’t do it I go for a run either in the neighborhood or the high school track. I try to add yoga in there as well, especially because I don’t feel stretched enough with this video.

Have a great work out!!

07/10/2010 Posted by | physical activity | Leave a comment

strength-training

So I finally started my job as a personal trainer at the gym! I have my first client on Monday; I am very excited! So far, I’ve just been shadowing other personal trainers to learn exercises and other tips. I also finally got back to my own strength training. I’ve been pretty good with cardio lately, but not so much with the toning! I thought I’d share with  you some of the exercises I did today to give you some ideas for your work-out!

First, always make sure to warm up for about 10 minutes. Then do strength-training and follow up with cardio.

I started with squats on a bosu ball. It looks like half a ball on a flat disk and provides you with an unstable surface.  This forces you to engage all of your core muscles no matter what you’re doing on it! When you perform squats on it, you’re also using more of your leg muscles than just your quads. I did 10 squats and then held a squat for 10 seconds and repeated. I then continued to stand on the bosu ball and did shoulder exercises (arm raises) and bicep curls. For the arm raises, start with arms at side and keeping your elbows straight, raise them out to the side at shoulder height, bring arms together in front of you and lower. Then repeat the  motion backwards: raise arms in front to shoulder height, bring arms to the side, and lower down. Using a moderate amount of weight, I did as many reps of arm raises and bicep curls as I could. I then repeated the circuit one more time (squats, arm raises, and bicep curls).

I ended with abs: as many crunches as I could on a balance ball, bicycle crunches (lie on back, hands behind head, knees 90 degrees, bring 1 elbow to opposite knee and switch for 1 rep), and side hip raises. For side hip-raises, lie on side, supporting upper body by having your forearm flat on the ground. With other hand on hip, lift hips off the ground and lower for 1 rep. Then I did supermans for lower-back (lie on stomach, arms extended out in front. Lift arms and legs off the ground and lower down for 1 rep). Instead of counting reps, I just did them until I couldn’t anymore.

In between those first and second sections, I also did other lower body and upper body exercises. These included inner and outer thighs (I did them on the mat, but there are machines for them too!), and lat and straight-arm pull-downs to work my upper back and triceps.

Have a good work-out! 🙂

04/08/2010 Posted by | physical activity | Leave a comment

More Motivation

This post is sort of a continuation of the last one. I realized something else that I feel is great motivation and I wanted to share it.

I actually was never a runner at all until last semester. I took a sports nutrition class during that time and instead of taking a final exam, we were allowed to choose an athletic event and train ourselves for it. This is when I realized that I loved to run and that, contrary to what I had previously thought, I actually could do it! It felt so great when I crossed the finish line! I didn’t beat any records by any means, but considering it was my first time, I did pretty well, and I was so proud and excited!

You don’t have to take a class in order to train for an event, so I would definitely recommend finding one in your area. Obviously, start small with something like a 5k.

I found this website, Running in the USA, to help you find an event in your area.

You can also get active by participating in walk-a-thons like the Start! Heart Walk headed by the American Heart Association or the 3-Day for the Cure Breast Cancer Walk. It’s a great way to get active and feel great about yourself while supporting a good cause.

For those of you more intense athletes, I recently stumbled across a race called the Warrior Dash. It’s only about 3 and a quarter miles long, but filled with crazy obstacles.  I considered signing up, but realized that I don’t have time to train for any of the dates because of school, and this course is definitely something I would need to train intensely for!

For those of you in my area, there will be a 5k race at Meredith College called Less Fork, More Foot on Sunday April 11th.  As I hear of events, I will tweet about them so make sure you follow me or at least look at my recent tweets on the right side of my blog.

I love the idea of signing up for something, because it gets you moving while you’re having so much fun! It also promotes great self-esteem and a feeling of self-worth and accomplishment!

03/17/2010 Posted by | physical activity | Leave a comment

Motivation!

Spring is here and I am definitely loving it! I have finally been able to get back to running on a regular basis, and it’s going great! The hills at the lake make it so much more intense, so I haven’t been able to quite run the whole 3 miles. Each day, I am able to run a little more and each day I feel that much more accomplished! There is this one hill that always seems to get me, and I have to stop halfway through it, but today I conquered it! I was so excited, even though I had to walk for a bit afterwards to catch my breath. Feeling so great about my work-outs lately is what has led me to this post.  I know sometimes it can be hard to get up and get moving, so I thought I’d share some motivation techniques.

My biggest motivating factor is having a goal in mind.  It’s so much easier to push yourself to work harder when you have something in mind that you want to accomplish. For instance, I almost didn’t go running at the lake today, but I wanted to beat my previous accomplishments and run all the way up that hill! I will of course have to give myself a break tomorrow, because I don’t want to overdo it, but my next goal will be to run up the hill without being completely out of breath and eventually to run the entire 3 miles around the lake, hills and all.

Something that keeps me going during my run is listening to music.  I made a separate work-out playlist on my ipod full of songs that get me going.  I listen to a mixture of songs that make me want to get up and move, like Evacuate the Dancefloor by Cascada and Just Dance by Lady Gaga, and songs that inspire me like Change by Taylor Swift and Crazy Dreams by Carrie Underwood. I also throw in some songs that remind me of things like my childhood and my college days.  Ace of Base reminds me of the “dance-offs” we had in the neighborhood growing up and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing reminds me of the late-night dance parties we had in college.

Here are some other ideas that might help get you motivated:

  • Bring a friend that you know would be challenging to keep up with; I went running with my roommate today who just finished her first indoor triathalon, and I don’t think I would have made it up that hill without her!
  • While you’re working out, picture something you want to accomplish in life and what it will feel like when you get there. When I’m running, I picture things like getting into a dietetic internship, graduating from the  master’s program in a couple months, and landing my dream job. Before I know it, I’ve been running so much longer and faster than I thought I could have!
  • Most girls I know cut out pictures of models or celebrities that they want to look like, but this is not a good idea! It only ends up making you feel guilty if you don’t look exactly like them, but that’s silly because you’re unique and beautiful! Instead, pick out a time in your own life that you felt great and find a picture that represents that. Use THAT as motivation to look and feel as great as you did at that time. This way, your own beauty is your motivating factor 🙂

03/15/2010 Posted by | physical activity | Leave a comment

my new favorite online fitness tool!

I found this new website, thanks to my one of my best friends! It’s called My Fitness Pal.  It’s great for keeping track of your daily diet and physical activity to help you stay on track, and you can also post statuses on your progress for your friends and diet-buddies to see!

I love this as a food log to track my diet! I’ve often found with websites like these that they don’t have all the foods that you eat listed and you have to keep entering them in yourself, but I put in my diet today, and found everything in the database!

The physical activity log is a little more difficult, at least for people like me who use work-out DVDs to get their work outs in because it doesn’t have DVDs listed for you to add to the log.  The good news is that if you have an estimate of how many calories you burned, you can type it in manually. For instance, I did Walk Away the Pounds 2 mile walk by Leslie Sansome and Level 1 of Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred today to ease back into my work-out after being sick all week. I looked up walking at 4 miles an hour in the exercise database and saw how many calories that burns. Since the Walk Away the Pounds work-out involves much more activity than just walking, I estimated by adding some calories to the given amount.  For Jillian Michael’s DVD, I looked up circuit training, and put in the amount of time the work-out lasted. I didn’t feel as though this was a correct amount either because their term “circuit training” is too general and not specific enough to my actual work-out, so I added a few to make it an even 200 calories burned instead of 180.

My Fitness Pal is also a great website because it asks for your goals and your measurements and determines how much you should be eating and how many calories you should burn every day.  It helps you be sure that you are losing weight in a healthy way by showing you how much you need to eat in order to lose the healthy amount each week (1-2 pounds) and allowing you to see if you’re not getting enough or if you are getting too much. 

You can also adjust your goals for the percentages of each macronutrient (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) for those of you who have particular goals in mind and have a good understanding of the concept. For those of you who are new to the idea of this, it’s best just to stick with their recommended amounts on the website for now; they are healthy amounts and will give you great results!

To introduce you to the idea, the standard recommendation is that at least 50% of your total daily calories should come from carbohydrate, about 15-20% from protein, and about 20-30% from fat to get a balanced diet. To figure out what percentages of these you are getting, you must first know how many calories there are per gram of each of those. Carbohydrate and protein are 4 calories per gram and fat is 9 calories per gram, so  you multiply that number by the number of grams you’ve eaten and divide that by the total calories. For example, my total calories according to My Fitness Pal was 1,864 calories and my carbohydrate intake was 285g. I multiply 285 by 4 and get 1140 to know how many calories of carbohydrates I ate. Then you use that to find the percentage–> 1140/1864= .61 or 61%. So 61% of my total calories came from carbohydrates. 

Keep in mind when looking at the goal percentages on My Fitness Pal, that your intake won’t be exactly right on. They are great guidelines, but don’t worry if your given goal is 55% carbohydrate and you got 57%. As long as you are in a healthy range, you’re right on target! My Fitness Pal also increases your daily calorie goal by the amount you burned during physical activity. Don’t feel pressured to eat that much more; exercising tends to increase your appetite so doing this allows you to eat more if you are in fact still hungry, but you don’t have to eat more if you aren’t.

I apologize for not posting very often lately! It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but I’ve done some brainstorming so now that my life is calming down, I’ll be able to post more regularly.

Some ideas for my future posts are:

  • tips on dining out
  • exercise routines: time-savers, abs, office work-outs, cardio
  • lunch, dinner, and snack ideas
  • information on high fructose corn syrup, whole grains vs. refined grains, and good vs. bad fats

I will also be posting recipes soon too!

  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas
  • Winter Vegetable Soup made with black beans, sweet potatoes, zucchini and more
  • Low-fat brownies

Let me know if there’s anything you want to see me post about!

Goodnight! 🙂

02/18/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition, physical activity | 1 Comment

my work-out

If you’re like me, you don’t have time or money for a gym membership! Over the past year and a half, I have figured out how to get in shape without the use of a gym. I divide my time between running or walking outdoors, work-out DVDs that combine strength-training and cardio, and yoga.  Today, I went to the lake that’s right near my apartment. There are many steep hills both at the lake and on my way to and from the lake, so it’s a great work-out! I burn lots of calories and tone my legs and glutes at the same time. If you don’t have a lake nearby, walking and running outside in your neighborhood is still a great way to get in your cardio and burn calories without having to go to the gym. I actually find it more motivating to be outside as opposed to a treadmill.  It’s so peaceful, and it’s nice just to clear my head of my daily stresses while getting in my daily physical activity.  Even if it’s a little chilly, I just bundle up when I’m walking, and I wear layers if I’m running so I can remove them as I get warmer.  If you choose to walk or run outside, shoot for at least 3 miles, and if you can find an area with a lot of hills, that’s even better!  Of course don’t over do it; start small and work your way up. The pictures I’ve included in this post are ones that I took at the lake near my aparment on various walks.

After my walk at the lake, I like to do yoga. It provides even more toning of your muscles as well as burning more calories and giving your body a good stretch that feels like a reward after you’ve accomplished so much on your run/walk.  I am not a flexible person, so yoga feels essential to me.  Without it, my muscles get very tense and tight causing my body to hurt and my muscles to knot up. When I’m doing yoga on a regular basis, in addition to the fact that I’m in less pain, I feel like my posture is better, and my shoulders aren’t so hunched over.  The yoga routine I’ve been doing is The Firm Power Yoga DVD. It’s only 30 minutes, so it doesn’t take that much time to add it on to the end of your run or walk, and I noticed a difference almost immediately!

On the days that I’m not at the lake and doing yoga, I usually do a strength-training DVD that also incorporates some cardio.  My current favorite is Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred. Each level is only about 25 minutes long and it kicks my butt! It works all the muscle groups while increasing your heart rate so that you can burn even more calories. When I first started it, I definitely noticed a difference in my body. I was more toned and felt great!  It’s so important to do strength-training, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or over 25 (yes, 25 is when we start to age!). When losing weight, you’re not just losing fat, you’re also losing muscle-mass. If you don’t counter-act it by building more muscle, it’ll be much easier to put the fat back on after you’re done losing. Plus, the more muscle you have, the more calories and fat you’ll burn! The reason it’s important as we start to age, is that after age 25 we start to lose muscle mass, making more room for fat gain. Since we don’t want that, the best way to avoid it is by strength-training. I definitely recommend the 30-Day Shred DVD, and even doing yoga will help you strengthen your  muscle! In the future, I’m sure I will be trying out other DVD’s, and I will definitely report back!

Remember, the key to a great work-out is to make sure you FEEL great doing it! Exercising is a huge self-esteem booster, and feeling good about yourself and your body is the first step to getting in shape. Trust me, you have a lot to feel good about! 🙂

02/04/2010 Posted by | physical activity | Leave a comment

my journey

Hi again! For my second post, I thought I’d tell you a little more about me and how I came to be the healthy, well-rounded person I am today:

I wasn’t always so healthy! In high school, I was told by my physician that I had high cholesterol and high lipids! At only 17 years old and 115 pounds; I couldn’t believe it! This is when I gave up fast food on a regular basis, and my blood work went back to normal, however this was not the end of my struggle.  The following year, I went away to college and of course gained weight.  It’s been said that the mythical  freshman 15 is in reality only about 7 or 8 pounds, but I actually gained at least 20.  That summer, I lost almost 25 pounds, and my interest in nutrition had come about full force. Throughout the rest of college, even though I did gain about 6 pounds back, I managed to keep most of it off through eating sensibly and being physically active when I could.  During these years, I was never completely happy with my body.  Sure, I was no where near fat, but I was insecure regardless. After college, I went away to graduate school, and had a complete attitude turn-around. I’m not sure when my complete turning-point was exactly, but all of a sudden, instead of being insecure, I decided that it wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t have the perfect body. I was not fat, I had some great qualities, and I was able to accept the qualities I was once self-concious about as part of who I am. I decided that I would eat healthy and work out because it made me feel good, and not because I was worried about my body image. Without even realizing it, I was eating healthier than ever (with of course the occasional splurge), and working out more than ever! I found a great work-out system that fit to my schedule and my needs, and before I knew it, I was a whole size smaller and in the best shape of my life! Although I feel great about the fact that I got in shape, my attitude-change was even more liberating. Even with all the stress of graduate school, work, and my many other obstacles, I’ve been able to find happiness. It is such key to be happy with yourself, because when you are, all the other mountains you face suddenly seem like small hills that you are able to climb with ease.

I hope this blog and my story will inspire you to realize that you are amazing and beautiful no matter what and to aim for a healthful and happy life!

Take a look at my links page for links to help you get started, and keep checking back here for more tips and suggestions!

02/01/2010 Posted by | Attitude, diet and nutrition, physical activity | Leave a comment