FAQs…

If you haven’t noticed we live in the age of information. It’s EVERYWHERE and EVERYONE has an opinion on what’s what with health and fitness. I think there’s a lot of noise out there and a lot of misinformation (or just plain BS) about healthy. It’s hard to wade through all of the information to find helpful tips on what’s right for YOU! Here are a few questions I get asked on a regular basis, so I thought I’d share that info with all of you as well!

Q: What’s the best kind of exercise to do for weight loss? 

A: In my professional opinion, interval training (specifically high intensity interval training if you’re capable of that level of activity) is the best form of exercise to participate in when attempting to lose weight. Why? It’s proven to increase fat metabolism at a resting rate and also improves cardiovascular endurance at a faster rate than sustained cardio exercise. It can also be done quickly (with only a minimum of 20 minutes) and with very little need of equipment.

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Q: What should I eat? 

A: I think this is the most loaded question I get asked. The answer can be both simple and complex.

First, you have to consider what you currently eat (type, amount, times). Do you eat a lot of processed foods, drink soda (pop) and/or juices, eat only one meal a day? Those are key areas to hone in on first. Try to cut out the CRAP (chemicals, refined grains, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives). Cut out sodas and juices. And, focus on eating evenly throughout the day. If you’re already doing those things…

Consider your health goal…do you want to eat healthier to feel healthier, do you want to lose weight, do you want to gain muscle mass, do you want to lose body fat? The answer to this question can determine what types of foods to focus on (after cutting the CRAP).

Get real about your current capabilities… can you cook, do you have to cook for other and are they willing to change their diet, would you consider joining a meal delivery service, are you incredibly crunched for time, etc. If you can barely use a knife, maybe it’s time to sign-up for the fresh delivery service or perhaps a cooking class!

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Finally, and I’d say most importantly you need to stop making excuses. If you want to eat healthier then do it. It’s as simple as googling a recipe, trying it, and continuing to do that day after day until you feel comfortable with your new eating/cooking habits.

Q: I’m always tired…what’s wrong with me? 

A: This is also one of those loaded questions, but I’d say 9 times out of 10 people who suffer from chronic fatigue are suffering from poor digestive health…namely inflammation. When your digestive system has to struggle to extract the nutrients it needs from the food you’re eating, it’s using a lot of energy that should be going to your brain and muscles to allow you to live life to its fullest. So, if you’re getting enough sleep and still feel like the walking dead all day. It’s time to take a look at your diet!

Q:  Where do you get your supplements and health foods/products and essential oils? 

A: I primarily get my protein, vitamins, and health foods/products such as shredded coconut, flaxseed, buckwheat flour, apple cider vinegar, Dr. Woods black soap, stevia, spices, teas, and a whole host of other items from Swanson Vitamins. I get my essential oils from DoTerra.

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What are some other health and fitness questions you have about making healthy changes?

Stand & Stay Healthy: My DIY Standing Desk

Yesterday NPR released THIS ARTICLE about how sitting at desks (aka sedentary lives) are “killing us,” and how moving can stop the death march.

While I think it’s a little overly dramatic, research has proven that the average American lifestyle includes about 15 hours work of sedentary time (including sleeping). On the bright side, research has also found that taking small breaks from sitting (no matter how long the break) is associated with lower waist circumference (how round you are), triglycerides (how much fat is in your blood stream) and and blood glucose (how much sugar is in your blood stream) levels.

However, as the NPR article points out…no one is really shouting from the mountain tops how long breaks should be or what the best practices are for getting in more active time.

The not-so-popular truth is we as individuals need to start taking responsibility for our health and realizing that it took a long time to build our bad habits… so it may take awhile and some serious effort to break them.

Weight loss and health doesn’t come from 1 hour at the gym after a 1 hour commute (where we sit), a desk job (where we sit), and another 1 hour commute home (while we, yes, sit). It takes some creativity! Some ingenuity! And, gasp… some forethought!

So, not that it’s any sort of a best practice, but here is how I keep active.

1.) I built myself a standing desk. I literally googled DIY Standing Desk… It cost $22 🙂

Standing Desk

It’s not an fancy-schmancy automatic one, so it takes a little effort to set it up. But, I usually set it up after lunch and stand for the rest of my afternoon.

2.) I park my car about 10 minutes away from the door to my office… on purpose.

3.) I drink a lot of water. It’s a win-win situation… I’m properly hydrated AND the bathroom is about a 2 minute walk out of my office.

4.) I schedule my exercise, I make it social, and I do things that I enjoy! My calendar lis filled with appointments for after work run clubs, biking meet ups, and occasional lunch breaks where I leave the office to go swim some laps. I enjoy meeting up with people to play volleyball, go hiking, or go explore a new part of town. I decided a long time ago that if I didn’t choose activities that I enjoyed doing, I’d never do them. 

5.) I hang out with other active people. Now, I realize you can’t just easily change your friend group and you definitely can’t change your family. But, research also suggests that the old phrase, birds of a feather flock together, is very true. Want to be more active? Find people who want that for themselves too!

6.) I stand whenever possible. Out with friends at a bar?… No stool for me thanks. Riding the subway or bus? You can have this seat Ms. Parks. Bout to board a plane? I’m the last person on and I circle the terminal during layovers.

7.) I protect my sleep! How does that help being active you ask? Well, if you’re not getting adequate or restful sleep, you’re not going to want to be active the next day! I spray my sheets with relaxing lavender linen spray and/or I diffuse some relaxing scents in my bedroom before bed.

I LOVE SLEEP! 

Linen Spray

What do you do to stay active?

NIRSA FitExpo Here I Come!

It’s been a long long time since I’ve written anything. Although I did write a few guest posts on the UPMC Health Matters Blog!

Check ’em Out!

Simple Red Smoothie Recipe

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3 Quick & Healthy Breakfast Ideas

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Now that my internship at UPMC and grad school is winding down, I thought it was high time that I get back into the swing of things. What better way than to share something exciting!

This coming weekend I’ll be attending the NIRSA (National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association) Region 1 Fitness Expo in New Jersey, and I’ll be presenting! 😮

I submitted a proposal to teach a class on HIIT (high intensity interval training) cycling, and it was accepted. So, yours truly will be leading some fellow health and fitness professionals in the Northeast Region through an intense HIIT class on Sunday! Whoop whoop!

So, I wanted to share the info I created for it. Enjoy and if you replicate it or share it give credit where credit’s due por favor 🙂

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What a Wonderful Weekend & Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! I hope you all had a very relaxing Memorial Day! The past two years I’ve spent the holiday relaxing with my friends at Myrtle Beach, but this year I stuck around DC and went to North Beach, MD to catch some sand and sun (I promise there was actually some sun… I got a little sunburn to prove it)!

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But Saturday may have been my official kick-off to summer with a little afternoon 5 mile run with a friend and then a night out for some seafood and fun at Tim’s Rivershore in Virginia with some lovely people…@thefire

They had a pig roast and a bonfire going, and (as always) some live music and tons of sweet outdoorsy ambiance. If you haven’t been there…GO!

PLUS we got to see a moonrise! This picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice, but the moon came up over the water just like a sunrise…it was amazing!

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And… I finished my last crossfit foundation course, which graduates me to make a fool of myself in regular classes now! Yippee! #Iwill do one unassisted pull-up by the time this whole crossfit thing is over!

I also made a few new playlists including this gem… that features one of my new guilty pleasure spin songs…

It’s a simple climb, jump, hill, sprint loop repeated 4 times, use the first one as a warm up and then stretch…I told my student to make the middle two loops their hardest of class, and then the last loop is the beginning of a cool down, but still working.

Enjoy 🙂

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Have any guilty pleasure workout songs? 

Plank a Day in May!

So, I mentioned yesterday to look out for info on my Plank a Day in May challenge via Challenge Loop! I totally meant to post this last night, but I got a free ticket to hear Isabel Allende (she wrote a stellar novel version of Zorro) and I couldn’t pass that up!

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It’s pretty easy to sign up for Plank A Day in May and all you need to complete the challenge is yourself and the floor!

What’s the challenge? One plank a day held until failure or for a set amount of time. For example, I did 2 planks for 1.5 min each yesterday morning with my feet elevated on an exercise ball. I chose to do two sets of knees to chest (still with my feet on the exercise ball in plank position), but you definitely don’t have to do any extras as part of the challenge.

Post the kind of plank you did (check out the challenge page for ideas on different types) and/or have a friend take a photo of you rocking out your plank.

What’s a plank? Good question! There are lots of different types of planks. The most basic looks like a push up that starts on your elbows…

Joyce

My friend Joyce rocking out her plank!

More advanced planks include extending your arms…

tracy plank

Then there are lots of variations in each position: like lifting one leg…

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There’s also…lifting one arm, lifting one arm AND one leg together, elevating your legs, elevating your upper body, or even kicking it out in front of you and eventually trying to grab your big toe (whaaa! I know… a little nuts!)

Why planks? They are one of the easiest (no equip necessary) core strengthening exercises you can do! Plus, they not only work your abdominals, but also your shoulders, back, arms, quads, and calfs. Variations on the original can also focus on other parts of your core (i.e. side planks work your obliques, and elevated leg planks work your shoulders more).

Why a challenge? So the question should be…why not! You’ve literally got nothing to lose (except maybe your love handles) AND  you’ve got a free accountability partner right here to cheer you on! Plus, I’m working on a sweet prize for the winner (picked randomly).

Go, go, go! Plank plank plank!