Tag Archives: fitness

One of my Favorite Things: The Mini Jambox by Jawbone

When I find something I love I want to tell everyone!

I’ve had a big Jambox for several years and I love it. I taught outdoor boot camp and I lugged this 3 lb. speaker with me everywhere (along with all of my other equipment.) At the time I didn’t mind at all. The sound was great, and the battery life was exceptional (at 15 hours).

IMG_3827

I started teaching indoor boot camp about a year ago and I didn’t have to provide my own speakers anymore. This was wonderful! I didn’t miss the extra 3 lbs. of baggage at all.

One day, however, I showed up to class only to find the cable that connects my iPod to the stereo was missing. It wasn’t a standard cable either, so no one had a substitute on them or in their car. Imagine telling your class that shows up at 5:30 in the morning that they have to work out with NO music. It was not a great start to their day (or mine). After that my 3 lb. Jambox once again became a staple in my bag of tricks. Now it was a love/hate relationship though as it took up a lot of space and added more weight.

This is what I typically haul around and carry the length of a football field and back to teach my class.

IMG_3819

Enter the mini Jambox! This was perhaps my favorite Christmas gift this year!

DSC_0057

The new mini Jambox comes in 9 colors and only weighs 9 oz. It’s much smaller than the big Jambox but the battery life is still very good at 10 hours. I think it lasted even longer than that for me though.

IMG_3811

 

To get a better perspective of it’s size, I took a picture of it with my iPod. Now this I don’t mind adding to my bag!

IMG_3817

 

The mini Jambox comes with a stereo cable and a micro USB for charging. You can also pair it with your device via bluetooth. Also, at a press of a button it tells you how much battery life is remaining. This is a feature I love!

The Jawbone website sells a carry case for $30, but I use an old sunglass case. Works for me!

FullSizeRender

 

Although the club where I teach has since replaced the stereo cord, I will continue to carry around this portable speaker and never be caught unprepared again.

It’s amazing how happy a little device can make you feel!

The Chihuahua Effect

Fitness is important in our house. I’ve written in previous blogs how my husband and I both wear the UP Band by Jawbone to track our daily activity. Since then I have added four more people to my team on the UP app and we’re all ‘competing’ to be the most active.  (No one will say it, but we all secretly want to beat everyone else).

The UP app gives you a base goal of 10,000 steps to reach each day. It’s really not that easy, especially if you’re not into cardio. A gut busting boot camp or weight session barely makes a dent in your daily step goal. Doing 100 push-ups is pretty impressive but since it doesn’t give you any steps, it doesn’t help in your daily feat to win the step game.

The people on my team who run, hike or take daily walks are the ones who are the lead steppers. I do cardio about four days a week and these are the days that I easily reach anywhere from 12,000 to 17,000 steps by the end of the day. I have an advantage over most of my teammates when it comes to topping the stepper chart on my cardio days.  I call it the ‘chihuahua effect’.

chihuahua-and-big-dogPhoto credit: http://www.chihuahuawardrobe.com/is-it-safe-to-raise-a-chihuahua-around-larger-dogs/

I’m 5 feet tall and my husband stands at 5’6″.  When we go on a weekend hike, we travel the same distance, but time after time I end up with significantly more steps than he does.

Image

This doesn’t go over very well with him most of the time. I really can’t blame him! He traveled just as far. He worked just as hard.

After each hike he will ask me how many steps I took and as he’s groaning I will say (with much pleasure), “It’s the chihuahua effect”. Simply: He has longer legs. He has a longer stride. I have to take more steps to keep up. We figured that I take about one and one-quarter to one and one-half steps for every one of his. This adds up over time.

Below, my stats are on the left, and my husband’s are on the right. (Somehow it shows he traveled farther than I did. This happens a lot when we use RunKeeper).

My stats His stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the course of continuous activity for an hour the UP band calculated I took about 600 more steps than he did. So what does this mean over the course of an entire day?

Well, it’s hard to say exactly because we didn’t walk everywhere together. However we did take pretty similar paths. At the end of the day I ultimately took about 1,200 more steps than he did. (Again, I’m on the left).

His final stats My final stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does all this mean exactly?

Well, not much really.

For me it’s one reason to be thankful for my very short legs. Is this fair to all my tall teammates?  Sure!

Ladder Up! The Perks of Agility Training

photo 5

I include agility training in many of my boot camp classes and with my personal clients as well. They think it’s fun and a nice change to get their cardio in. However, I always have a reason for the way I conduct their training. It’s not just fun, but it serves a purpose as well!

“A new study from the Air Force Research Laboratory shows that agility training can improve your cognitive performance.”

“Military personnel were divided into two groups for six weeks of training. The first group participated in the military’s standard physical training (jogging with calisthenics like jumping jacks and burpees), while the second group underwent agility training (ladder drills and shuttle runs). After six weeks, the first group increased their endurance. On the other hand, the group performing agility training improved their VO2 max, athletic footwork, memory, and concentration.”

I believe in working multiple muscle groups at the same time. Technically your brain isn’t a muscle, but why not train it as one?

120705488

Photo credit: http://www.writingriffs.com/2014/01/dr-rickhanson/

““Agility training incorporates components of learning, focus, balance, and coordination,” says study coauthor Erica M. Johnson, Ph.D. This type of training can stimulate richer connections among multiple brain regions by demanding them to work together, she says.”

Also, they help quicken your reaction time and who doesn’t need that? They are a great addition to a functional training program.

So what exactly is this agility training I’m referring to? I found a YouTube link with an excellent visual and narrated description of 13 different agility drills. These drills are widely used in sports training, but are beneficial for everyone! It’s listed at the end of this post.

photo 4 photo 2

 

 

Agility training is a great way to spice up your workouts.

 

 

 

Check it out and give them a try!

 

http://www.kingsportstraining.com/blogs/training-blog/7694405-13-speed-and-agility-ladder-drills-videos-for-faster-footwork

——————————————————————–

Source

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/workout-helps-you-think-fast?cm_mmc=Facebook-_-MensHealth-_-Content-Fitness-_-LadderDrills

Understanding Protein

If you’re confused about how much protein you need per day, you’re not alone. There’s not a cut-and-dried answer. Everyone has a different “need” depending on gender, weight, activity level and goals.

I’ve been doing a lot of research to try to answer this question for myself. There is a lot of information out there. Here is the lowdown on what I found.

What is the RDA for protein:

The purpose of the RDA guidelines is to inform you how much of a specific nutrient your body needs on a daily basis to function properly. So basically, depending on your weight and activity level, the RDA for protein can be viewed as the minimum requirement to keep you healthy.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein for men is 56 grams per day and 46 grams per day for women.

Chances are you may need more. But how much more and why?

What is Protein?

Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the human body, making up roughly 20 percent of your total body weight. Muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue are mainly made up of protein. Also, protein plays a major role in all of the cells and most of the fluids in your body.  Although your body is good at “recycling” protein, you use it up constantly, so it is important to continually replace it.

Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids. Your body can produce some of these amino acids, but others must be consumed through the diet. Animal products (meat, eggs, dairy) and many plant foods are good sources.

Follow this link to see what’s included in the protein food group:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods.html#

Protein and Weight Loss

When you want to gain muscle and lose fat, eating the right amount of protein is key. Protein and the amino acids that make it up are required for two main reasons.

1) To construct muscle – they are the building blocks

2)  They act as a switch to ‘signal’ that it’s time to start up the “muscle building machinery”.

Leucine is probably the most important amino acid that stimulates this “switch” and is highly present in protein rich food.

Because protein is required to build muscle AND to signal the body to start this process, it’s important to spread out protein consumption evenly throughout the day.

How Much Do You Need?

“When it comes to building muscle and losing fat, research consistently shows that doubling the RDA spaced out throughout the day is the path you want to take to get the best results the fastest”. (BJ Gaddour, “Men’s Health, Your Body is Your Barbell”). This seems like a good rule of thumb in general. Let’s see what other people say.

Nutritionists use a standard to estimate your minimum daily protein requirement.

Multiply the body weight in pounds by .37.

Using this formula, a 150 lb. man would require a minimum of 55 grams of protein per day. This falls right in with the RDA.  And if you’re very active and exercise frequently, professionals agree you can nearly double this requirement. Be advised, though, if you’re shooting for a gram of protein per pound of body weight, or more, you’re probably overdoing it. The extra protein will not necessarily benefit you. Also, that’s a lot for the body to process and the extra calories will most likely end up as fat.

To look at it another way, it is recommended that 10-35% of your daily calories come from protein. This is a rather large range and where you fall in it also depends on your weight and activity level. For a  diet of 1800 calories per day, this means anywhere from a minimum of 45 grams of protein to over 150 grams of protein per day. That 35% is a pretty high number and may be overdoing it for a lot of people. In my diet, I lean towards around 20% protein.

So you see, there are various rules of thumb to figure out the ideal protein for you.

Tracking the Protein Grams you Eat

Many foods contain protein, but at the end of the day, how do you know how much you’ve consumed?

Here is an easy rule of thumb:

Remember the numbers 1, 5, 10, 15, 25 to roughly estimate protein intake.

That’s:

  • 1 gram of protein for every serving of fruit and vegetables
  • 5 for every egg or handful of nuts you eat
  • 10 for every cup of milk or yogurt
  • 15 for every cup of beans or half-cup of cottage cheese
  • 25 for every 3-4 ounce serving of meat

Protein and Exercise Recovery

After a workout your body switches immediately from performance mode to recovery mode. It’s important to rebuild broken down muscle so you can come back stronger in your next training session. It is a great idea to refuel with protein right after your workout. Try a protein shake. Whey is a rapidly digested protein source loaded with leucine that will help maximize muscle recovery and growth.

Nutrient Timing: Exercise Recovery and Carbs

I found an extra helpful tidbit in my research about muscle recovery and carbs.

Nutrient timing is the concept that certain foods benefit your body more at specific times of the day than at others. After exercise, your muscles want to restock their supply of carbohydrates in the form of  glycogen. This is the time that your muscles are primed to take in the carbs you eat. In fact, after exercise is one of the few times carbs are preferentially transported to your muscles and away from your fat cells.

It’s a great idea to plan your starchiest meal of the day within 2 hours of your training. This could be breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on when you workout.

Your other meals of the day should consist of protein and nutrient dense carbs and vegetables.

A Few Last Words…

I hope this helps answer some questions you have about protein or got you thinking more about nutrition. As a trainer I am all about the workout but honestly, 75 – 80% of the weight loss equation concerns what you put in your mouth.

Wishing you much success!

———————————————-

http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/protein-guide-maximum-muscle#sthash.cEiKJ5O5.dpuf

http://www.nutritionexpress.com/article+index/authors/jeff+s+volek+phd+rd/showarticle.aspx?articleid=807

 

 

Germs and the Gym

It’s the end of January. You’ve finally got yourself into a little workout routine and maybe you’re starting to make some progress and see some results. This makes you happy. You should be! This is hard work! And just when you’re starting to believe you will see your goal, BAM, you get the plague.

This scenario is all too familiar to me! And it raises the question, “Should you work out if you’re not 100%”?

I have a definite opinion on this, but only because I repeatedly made the same mistake for years until I learned to listen to my body.

But before you hear from me:

What do the Doctors say?

If you google this subject you will find that doctors generally agree it’s ok to workout if you’re symptoms are “above the neck”. Imagine symptoms associated with the common cold including a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and watery eyes. If you have “below the neck” symptoms, hacking cough, chest congestion and/or tightness, then it’s advisable to take some time off. Also, they advise against working out at all if you have a fever, feel fatigued or have widespread muscle aches.

While this medical ‘guidance’ is helpful it’s really not that cut and dry. People are different. Circumstances are different. You have to know yourself.

What I’ve learned:

The best way to get my point across is to give you an example.

A few years ago I was deep in my training when I got cold symptoms. I know a lot of people who don’t slow down for a cold. I decided to follow their example. The result for me? I believe I was responsible for giving myself pneumonia!

I have asthma, so I’m not like ‘a lot of people’ when it comes to the common cold. I didn’t always have asthma though. I developed it as an adult, so I had a lot to learn!

The first thing I learned is that dangerous illnesses can stem from a simple germ and feed on stubbornness. I didn’t ‘want’ to take a break. Heaven forbid I miss a workout! There were two things I didn’t realize. First, my body was laboring much harder doing a familiar workout because I wasn’t well. Second, my body was already working hard to get better. A lose, lose situation!

A simple cold turned into pneumonia because I refused to rest. I was out for weeks.

If you won’t do it for yourself, think about the other guy.

I truly believe that whenever I get the plague it’s from the gym (or shopping cart handles, but that’s another blog). No one who goes to the gym wants a germ infested person contaminating all the equipment. In my opinion, if your nose is all runny and you’re sneezing everywhere, you should definitely stay home no matter what the internet says.

The final question.

I’ve learned that if you have to keep asking yourself, “Should I work out, I’m not really feeling great,” the answer is “NO, you should not work out.” Give yourself a break. You will probably recover faster with a little rest and may just prevent your fellow gym friends from catching your plague.

Everyone wins!

The New UP App (Try saying that 10 times fast!)

I’ve had my Jawbone UP band for just about a year now, and of the 3 activity tracking bands I own, it’s my favorite so far.

Jawbone just introduced the UP24, the wireless version of the UP band (sold for $20 more – $149.99) and the new 3.0 UP App. While I’m not about to run out and get the new band yet, I’ve been playing around with the new app for about a week and want to let you know what I’ve found so far.

Last week I received an email telling me about the update and in very general terms what to expect.

The first change is the “Today I Will” Challenge and Milestones. The email said, “What will you achieve today? New insights help you conquer daily goals and celebrate meaningful milestones. Small changes today add up to big achievements over time.”

This excited me! I love a challenge and more importantly I love to conquer it. My excitement began to dwindle though because it turns out that you have to wait for the app to prompt the daily challenge. Total bummer! About 4 days later (after my update) I was finally prompted.

My first challenge was to add 500 steps to my biggest stepping day since my app update. I was asked if I would accept the challenge of moving 13,868 steps the next day. Challenge accepted! I like how the app keeps track of how many steps I still need to take.

IMG_4509

It took a little extra effort to conquer the challenge on this particular day. It was a Wednesday after all, and usually it’s a struggle just to get to my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I felt pretty good about this.

photo

So on to the next challenge!  Wait…what? You’re asking me to do the same challenge tomorrow? I wasn’t expecting this, but OK. Challenge accepted…again. So I clicked the ‘Tomorrow’ button. photo

Challenge conquered, again! Yippee! Again, it took a little extra effort, but it was worth it to get this little pat on the back.

IMG_4529

Now on the the next challenge! Wait…what? You’re offering me the same challenge a third day in a row? Sorry, ‘No Thanks’.

I declined the challenge, but wasn’t offered another one yet. It’s a little disappointing, but it’s just an app after all.

My husband received a different challenge: to drink 8 glasses of water that day. I love how the app keeps track of your progress!

IMG_4506

And of course, after completion of his challenge, he got a little pat on the back too!

photo

Of course after he completed his challenge, he was offered the SAME challenge again the next day. I suppose the app is trying to create habits with the repetitive challenges, which is good, but where’s the element of surprise?

Another change to the app is the activity log. I like this!

IMG_4528

Just scroll up and it gives you a list of your recent data. This is just YOUR data. When you have a ‘team’ like I do, everyone’s activity shows up on your ‘timeline’ similar to a Facebook newsfeed. The activity log is just like your home page. Your recent data at a glance.

The last change worth mentioning is the sleep recovery mode. Raise your hand if you occasionally forget to set you band to ‘sleep’ mode. Me, Me! Just last night in fact! The updated app lets you easily recover your sleep summary and even breaks down your light and deep sleep just as if you had set it. Awesome!

All in all I think the new app has a lot of great potential. I was a little disappointed with the repetitive nature of the challenges, but who knows, it could really help someone else. I also wish I could prompt the challenges instead of having to wait for the app to get around to it. I do appreciate the beautiful graphs and the occasional pat on the back though.

I can’t expect too much from it. It is just an app after all!

Deck of Cards – The Workout

If you play your cards right you can get an excellent workout whether or not you’re a few cards short of a full deck!

Just a little humor to introduce one of my very favorite workout formats! I’ve seen different versions of the Deck of Cards concept, but this is mine.

photo

What Is it?

You really do use a full deck of playing cards to guide your workout! Place the deck face down and flip one card over at a time. Each suit is assigned a certain exercise, or in my version two different exercises, and the number on the card tells you how many reps to do. Face cards and Aces are always 15 reps. Your challenge is to complete the entire deck.

Why I LOVE it!

There is definitely an element of surprise. You can do this over and over again and always have a different result. You can also change out the exercises each time you do it so it’s a totally different workout. The possibilities are endless. If you want ho-hum and boring, please do not try this at home. It gets extra fun and challenging if you turn over 2 face cards of the same suit in a row. That’s 30 reps please!

How to Play

The first suggestion is to grab a friend or ten! Of course this can be done solitaire style, but a partner can help you press on if you end up having to do 30 Burpees in a row. Yes I did use the ‘B’ word, and it’s highly recommended you include them as part of this workout because they are awesome. I’ve done this format in a boot camp, with partners and by myself with my dogs licking my face. The last option would be OK minus the dogs.

Planning the workout

You can choose 4 body weight/cardio type exercises or use mine below. Each is assigned a suit.

  • Push-ups – Hearts
  • Burpees – Spades
  • Sit ups – Clubs
  • Squat Jumps – Diamonds

You can choose 4 strength exercises (add weights) or use mine below. Each is assigned a suit.

  • Overhead press – Hearts
  • Squat – Spades
  • Russian twist – Clubs
  • Hammer curl with tricep extension – Diamonds

First, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle the deck. You don’t want to know the order of the cards, that would ruin the fun!

Second, divide the deck equally in two.

The first half of the workout is your cardio time. You will only do the 4 body weight/cardio type exercises for the first 26 cards. For example, for every Heart you turn over you will do pushups, and for every Spade you will do burpees. Remember, you do the number of reps that’s on the card you turn over,  and all face cards are 15 reps.

After you complete the first 26 cards you move on to the strength portion of the workout. Now every time you turn over a Heart, you will do the overhead press, Spades become squats, etc.

I threw in a special exercise for Aces just for variety.

Every time you turn over an Ace, whether it’s in the first half of the deck or the second, you perform walking lunges with a twist, 15 each side or a total of 30.

Variations

My favorite way to do this workout is the way I described above, however, you can put it together in different ways.

First, you can just do the top 4 body weight/cardio type of exercises for the entire workout, while also adding in the walking lunges for the Aces. This  works especially well if you don’t have equipment. When you add up all the reps per exercise type, it’s quite impressive! (But if you like nice round numbers like me, you might want to throw in an extra rep of each!) Here are the stats:

  • Push-ups 99
  • Burpees 99
  • Sit ups 99
  • Squat Jumps 99
  • Walking lunges with a twist 120

Second, you can do the whole workout with weights, like the second half of the workout. I’ve never tried it this way though, so if you do, let me know how it goes.

Third, you can throw all my suggested exercises out the window and use your own!

Final Thoughts

I’m going to lay my cards on the table and say I love to combine cardio and strength in all my workouts. The beauty of this though, is that YOU hold all the cards. So what will it be?