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Thursday, October 16, 2008

IPOD Tunes - Part 1

I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite tunes to listen to when I run/workout in hopes that I would get some lists back from you. I making 2 parts out of this so we can include a list of cool-down songs in the next post.

Here are 5 of my fav's -

1 - "This Is How a Heart Breaks" by Rob Thomas
2 - "Mercy" by Duffy
3 - "Leavin' " by Jesse McCartney
4 - "Say" by John Mayer
5 - "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by Rusted Root

"Love Lockdown" by Kanye West

This song is fun to do speed work with when running because it has short bursts of speed as well. So I go at my normal pace and then when the song speeds up I sprint until the song slows down again. Beware that the faster tempo lasts longer at the end so be ready for a strong finish!

How about you? What songs do you like to "get your groove on" with?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Try this exercise to tone those buns!!!

Lie on your back
Bend your knees
Lift your buns off the ground (like you're pushing up into a bridge except your shoulders remain on the ground)
Hold for 30 sec. - 3 times
*increase time according to strength

1 - Raise and lower those buns 30 times - 3 sets.
2- At the end of the 30 seconds, raise and lower those buns 10 times.
3- Keep one foot on the ground and raise other foot up.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Treadmill Training
fig. -

As this past Labor Day weekend turned a cold cheek it got me thinking that I may be starting my indoor running routine earlier than planned. I much prefer to run outside as I find running on a treadmill can get tedious and monotonous so these are a few tricks I've learned to curb the boredom.

Sprint Intervals - For 30 sec. - 1 min turn up the mph for a speed burst. Repeat several times through-out your run. Some treadmills have a pre-set program for running intervals or one touch speed change.

Incline Intervals - Increase the incline for a brief period of time.

Research has shown that varying the intensity of your treadmill exercise and your corresponding heart rate increases the body's metabolism more than running at the same pace for a long period of time. So in order to burn fat efficiently you should vary the speed of your treadmill belt accordingly.

Here's a workout example- increase or decrease intensity as needed.

Warm-up: 5 minutes @ 5 mph
Run: 15 minutes @ 7 mph
Speed intervals: 10 minutes - rotate 2 minutes @ 6 mph with 30 sec. @ 9 mph
Cool down: 5 minutes @ 3 mph at 7% incline.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


If you've been trying to lose weight or increase your running speed and have hit a plateau, then give plyometrics a go!
Fig. -

Plyometrics is a type of explosive training that involves exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum force in the shortest possible time.

Add these exercises to your running routine to help improve your leg muscle's power and explosiveness. Studies have shown that these jumping drills can lead to an improvement as great as 8%. That's 96 seconds off a 20 minute 5k!(1)

1. Bounding for Distance - Pretend there are tires on the ground a few feet apart; your goal is to land in the center as you spring forward with each stride. There should be a feeling of floating in the air between each bound. Go for about 30 yards.

2. High-Knee Carioca - Step sideways with your left leg, behind with your right, side-step with the left, then step in front with the right, raising your knee to your waist. Repeat for 30 yards, then switch sides.

3. Single-Leg Hop - Jump forward, aiming for distance, five or six times on one leg. Switch to the other leg. Variation: Do them for height.

4. Skipping - Explode off the ground, skipping as high as possible and minimizing time on the ground. Keep your thigh parallel with the ground. Skip for about 30 yards.

5. Double-Leg Hop - Jump six to eight times in a row, trying to get as much height as possible. Jumps should be consecutive, without rest between each one. Variation: Do them for distance instead of height. (1)

These are just some basic plyometric drills you can add to your routine to help peak performance. For some additional (and higher level) exercises visit...

Have FUN!!!

1. Keystone, Ed; The Fast Lane - Training Advice for Peak Performers.,7120,s6-238---12559-0,00.html

Monday, July 21, 2008

Addressing Low Back Pain - Part II

Exercises to strengthen your core muscles and help alleviate back pain.

The causes of back pain can be quite numerous and it's difficult to pin-point it to one. It's a general agreement between Therapy professionals that strengthening the core muscles is a good defense. These muscles include your abdominals, obliques, glutes, and the many muscles that surround your spine.

Also, if an individual is carrying excessive weight in the abdominal region it puts additional strain on the back muscles. It is extremely helpful to start an exercise regimen to decrease the added weight thus decreasing the unnecessary pressure on the back. Remember to consult your physician before starting an exercise program.

Here are some suggested exercises to start with in strengthening your core muscles.

Figures obtained from

It's hard to verbally explain an exercise without pictures so I've located a great website that is very helpful at It provides video's of many exercises you can do starting very simple and leading to more complex ones. Hope this helps!

Andy - I'm glad to hear that your back pain has been alleviated a bit! If you can stand it, you could also try sleeping with a small pillow under your knees. By lifting the knees you decrease the space between the small of your back and the bed so sometimes that helps. Good to hear from you!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Addressing Low Back Pain - Part I

Low back pain can be either acute (temporary) or chronic (lasting for a long period of time) but can be treated with stretching and exercise.

Part I of this treatment involves stretches that can aid in relieving symptoms. Make sure not to deviate from the directions next to the pictures. Doing so can increase tension and pain in the back.

Figures obtained from

Stay tuned for Part II. This will include exercises that can help strengthen the core muscles.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Aspartame - Is it Really that Bad?

Diet or Regular?

I have been researching the effects of Aspartame for a couple weeks now and there is so much conflicting information that it's hard to come up with a definitive answer. So I thought I would provide some of the info that I found and let you form your own opinion on the discrepancy that aspartame is either harmful or helpful.

What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is a sugar substitute that is marketed under a number of trademark names, including Tropicana Slim, Equal, NutraSweet, and Canderel, and is an ingredient of approximately 6,000 consumer foods and beverages sold worldwide. It is commonly used in diet soft drinks, and is often provided as a table condiment. It is also used in some brands of chewable vitamin supplements and common in many sugar-free chewing gums. (

Those that support the use of Aspartame report the following:
  • It was approved safe by the FDA in 1981
  • Sugar substitutes do not cause cavities
  • It helps you lose weight since one teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories, whereas aspartame has less than 1 calorie per teaspoon
  • To help control blood sugar, sugar substitutes reduce the total carbohydrate in meals and snacks and therefore can be a help in managing blood sugar levels.
  • A study was performed where subjects were given doses of aspartame, some being 20 times the daily amount taken by the vast majority of the general population. The results were that these subjects showed no changes in mood, memory, behavior, electroencephalograms (which record the electrical signals of the brain) or physiology that could be tied to aspartame.

Those opposed to the use of apartame argue the following:

  • It has been shown that aspartame in the dose accepted as safe by the FDA (50 mg/kg/day) can produce phenylalanine levels in a large number of women and their babies during pregnancy-large enough to produce abnormal development of the baby's brain.
  • The manifestations of aspartame disease in young children include severe headache, convulsions, unexplained vision loss, rashes, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, obesity, marked weight loss, hypoglycemia, diabetes, addiction (probably largely due to the methyl alcohol), hyperthyroidism, and a host of neuropsychiatric features.
  • It causes weight gain as a result from the liver working overtime to break down the chemicals in aspartame. Thus there is less energy available for fat burning and metabolism.
  • It causes unstable blood sugar levels, which increases the appetite and causes cravings for sweets/sugar.

In my opinion...
I beleive that aspartame hasn't been around long enough for us to know the long term effects. However, I also think that "everything in moderation" is a good rule to stick too. If you have any advice or additional info on this subject, leave me your comments!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tips for Beginning Runners

Are you thinking about hitting the pavement ( or treadmill in this weather) and don't know where to begin? I've got a plan for you that may help to get you going or ease any frustrations.

Plan your runs on the basis time of rather than distance. Plan to get out of the house for a certain amount of time. Forget how far you go. Forget how fast you go. Just get out the door and stay out. For many people, thirty minutes of activity is a good place to begin. That does not mean running for thirty minutes. It means staying on your feet moving forward for thirty minutes. If you can run, run. If you can walk, walk. Do whatever you can, but keep moving forward. If it gets too hard, slow down.

A program of alternating running and walking is a good way to begin. The first week that may mean running for 5 minutes and walking for 5 minutes to recover. In time, it may mean running 10 minutes and walking 2, or running 15 and walking 1. You can work your way up to running the whole time and then you can start running for distance.

A great way of tracking your progress is by keeping a running log. I like to train for 5k's and 10k's so I keep track of my time, distance, running route, and how I felt on my run. You can use any notebook or if you'de like to track it online, Runner's World offers a free one that even graphs your progress. Click here to try it out.

Also, I found a Beginners Training Program at the "Run the Planet" website if you want any additional ideas. Good luck with your running aspirations!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How Well Do You Know Your Feet?

Asics Gel-Nimbus 9
Runner's World
Crowned it the
World's Best Shoe 2007

I've become well acquainted with my feet after spending years running on them. I've come to know what they need in order to give me the most comfort and best performance. Let me help introduce you to your feet.

When buying a new pair of running shoes, here's some guidelines I've found that should help:

Step 1 - Find a good running shoe store. You can buy your shoe at the local mega-mart, but the sales professionals in a specialty store are better trained to help you pick the right shoe. To locate a store, ask friends who run, check running magazine reviews, or check the yellow pages.
(I've used both Al's Sporting Goods and Sport's Authority and have been happy).

Step 2 - Examine the soles of your old running shoes. Notice the spots where the shoes show wear from the road. This tells you where your foot falls every time it hits the ground.

Step 3 - Place your shoes side-by-side on a flat surface. If the shoes tilt in toward the middle(pronation), your new shoe probably needs more stability than your old shoe. If they tilt to the outside (underpronation or supination), you may have a high arch and your new shoes should have good shock absorption (cushion).

Step 4 - Look at the top of your shoe. If you can see an outline of your big or little toe, and you've noticed discomfort in those areas while running, you should try a larger or wider shoe.
Step 5 - Consider the amount of running you will be doing. This tells you whether you should buy an elite running shoe or a basic model. The more intense the running, the more money you'll want to spend on the shoes.

Step 6 - Go to the running shoe store. Tell them what you've found out about your old shoes, or bring a pair with you. The employees should be able to "read" your old shoes and guide your choice. If not, you probably should find a different store.

Step 7 - Try out the shoes. Take a jog around the store. Try on as many shoes as it takes. Make sure you like the feel and fit of the shoe.

Step 8 - Buy the best running shoes for your feet. When you find the right pair, don't let them get away. Take them home and start breaking them in! (Wear them around the house for a few days before you go running to avoid blisters)

Personally I need a shoe with a wide width and cushion since I tend to underpronate. Also, I've come to like a shoe with some mesh lining that allows for my feet to breath. The best thing you can do is take an old shoe with you to the shoe store and most of the time they can analyze it and tell you what would work best for you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Carbs - Good vs Bad

A carbohydrate or "carb" is a special type of calorie which contains extra energy. They are the major source of fuel for the body and individual cells. Thus avoiding all carbs will leave you feeling tired and dragging your feet. However, when we generate more energy (eat too many carbs) than we burn through activity, we store those carbs as body fat. Let's address what constitutes a good carb vs. a bad carb.

Good carbs have these healthy characteristics:

  • High in fiber: helps you stay full longer (and avoid overeating), provides sustained energy, lowers cholesterol levels, helps to remove toxins from the body
  • Low in sugar: stabilizes blood sugar levels and insulin production
  • High in nutrients: natural vitamins and minerals promote health and help to prevent chronic disease

These include whole vegetables, whole fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grain cereals and bread.

What are "bad" carbs?

"Bad" carbs are refined, processed carbohydrate foods that have had all or most of their natural nutrients and fiber removed in order to make them easier to transport and more 'consumer friendly.' Most baked goods, white breads, pastas, snack foods, candies, and non-diet soft drinks fit into this category.

What happens when too many "bad" carbs are taken in?

Because these foods cause your blood sugar to rise excessively, your body is forced to over-produce insulin to process it. When too much insulin is produced, then fat storage increases as well.

But if you eat good carbs (instead of bad carbs) then your blood sugar level will not skyrocket after each meal, and thus you can burn fat and lose weight much easier. Plus, you'll feel energetic all day on a more even level, without the "highs" and "lows".

In my opinion....

Since I love bread and pasta there is no way I am going to avoid them in my diet. However, I do try to maintain a higher activity level to make up for it so I can burn the extra sugar and calories. Also, I am going to eat the veggies and fruit on my plate first to help curb my appetite so I don't have the second helping of pasta. YUMMM!

(Thanks for the post idea Kylene!)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Benefits of Strength Training

Many people (especially women) who are wanting to lose weight or "get back into shape" focus more on walking, running, biking, and aerobics than strength training. While these activities will burn calories and help you to shed some pounds, strength training will increase your metabolism so you'll burn even more calories at rest.

The most common methods of strength training are using free weights and/or weight machines. From a women's perspective, we don't want to "bulk up" and look too muscular so as long as you use a lighter weight and do a lot of reps, you should just accomplish a stronger/toned muscle.

i.e. When I do bycep curls, I use 8 lbs and I do 15 - 20 reps. If I can't do at least 15 reps then I need to use less weight. I then repeat this 2 more times for a total of 3 sets (with a brief rest between each set).

For those who do want to "bulk" up then use a higher weight where you are only able to do 5 - 10 reps for 3 sets.

Click here for a great list of strength training benefits.

(Shanda, I tried to answer your questions under the comments on the last post. Hope it helps!)

Friday, January 11, 2008

What is your BMI?

The Body Mass Index or BMI is a great way to find out your general health condition. Though the BMI is used for statistical purposes only, it can provide you a quick estimate if you are overweight, underweight, normal, or obese. To calculate the Body Mass Index, the weight of an individual is divided by the square of their height.

Click here to calculate your BMI

It’s important to remember that:
  • You could have a high BMI but be at a weight that is considered healthy if you’re muscular or athletic.
  • You could have a normal BMI and have poor nutrition.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fact or Fiction

In order to lose fat in specific places, you need to do exercises that target that area alone.

Fiction: While exercises that target specific areas will increase the strength and muscle tone located there, they will not burn those fat deposits specifically.

For example: Doing sit-ups will not burn the fat deposited on your abdomin, but it will make your stomach muscles stronger and more defined.

Fat is lost when overall calories expended are more then the calories taken in. So in order to lose that unwanted fat, you need to increase overall activity.

I always tell myself that I've got some pretty kickin' abbs underneath the flab covering them!

Opening Statements

I thought it appropriate for my first post to admit my purposes for creating this new blog. Mainly it's an outlet to share my passion for fitness and health. Since I am a stay at home mom (which is my decision and I love it), I don't always get to discuss adult topics. I spent four years studying exercise science and another two studying physical therapy so in order to not lose this collected information in my head, I needed a place to spit it out. Thus my blog was born....Fitness Junky.