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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.