Making and keeping fitness resolutions

This year is a little different for me. Most years, I write distinct fitness goals like lose 10 pounds in 8 weeks, or reach 18% body fat by a certain day. I even write up a workout plan, writing the days I will workout and the types of workouts I’ll do. I also put together…

Making and keeping fitness resolutions was originally published on Self Evolve

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This year is a little different for me. Most years, I write distinct fitness goals like lose 10 pounds in 8 weeks, or reach 18% body fat by a certain day. I even write up a workout plan, writing the days I will workout and the types of workouts I’ll do. I also put together a meal plan so that I don’t cheat too much on the diet, which is about 75% of the effort anyways. But this year, I’m growing a human. How exactly do I write anything concrete while pregnant? How do I make and keep my fitness resolutions?

Write them down..

In pencil. The one thing they can’t tell you in pregnancy is the exact number of pounds you’ll gain. Of course, there’s a range they prefer you to stay in. But if you gain a few extra pounds in addition to that range, it isn’t the end of the world. I have a friend who gained 40 pounds for both her pregnancies, and has successfully lost it all and looks amazing afterwards. While it’s ideal to only gain 25-30 pounds while pregnant, it is okay if your weight gain isn’t textbook, as long as baby and you are healthy. So keep those goals written in pencil, but still keep the standard format.

Have a measurable

A number of pounds or even better percentage of body fat is ideal to write down. While pregnant with your first baby like me, you have no idea just how long it’ll take you to “bounce back.” We’re not all blessed like Beyonce, some of us will take longer than others. And it’s better to be realistic and give yourself time. For me, I have big ideas and hoping they manifest themselves this year. But goal-wise I keep it simple. When I got pregnant, I was hovering around 145-150 pounds and was pretty happy with my weight. My goal is to get back to that range 6 months after baby girl arrives. Obviously, 6 months is a long time. But this includes the 6 weeks post-partum that no high-intensity exercise is allowed. And this also includes caring for a baby full-time. Which I’m not sure but I hear is pretty time-consuming.

Don’t beat yourself up

If you don’t hit your exact goal by the exact date, don’t beat yourself up. Just keep plugging away. Maybe it’ll take you 8 months to reach those fitness resolutions. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Your health and fitness are number one. No one else should come before you. Not even that little adorable mini me demanding all of your time.

What are your fitness resolutions?

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Making and keeping fitness resolutions was originally published on Self Evolve

DEXA Scan: Accuracy and injury prevention

How do you track your progress? Most people turn to the scale to track their weight-loss progress. While this does show one aspect of your health, it doesn’t show the whole picture. Just because you’re losing weight and in the healthy weight zone doesn’t mean you’re healthy. It’s better to take a holistic approach when…

DEXA Scan: Accuracy and injury prevention was originally published on Self Evolve

How do you track your progress?

Most people turn to the scale to track their weight-loss progress. While this does show one aspect of your health, it doesn’t show the whole picture. Just because you’re losing weight and in the healthy weight zone doesn’t mean you’re healthy. It’s better to take a holistic approach when tracking your progress towards fitness and health. Most gyms offer the standard Omron hand-held device that detects your body-fat percentage. But this is not very accurate, seeing how it could be off by up to 5% either way, so if it says you’re 15% body fat, you could actually be 10 or 20%! So what’s a better option?

DEXA scan is the future

DEXA scan, or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, uses x-ray technology to figure out the distribution of lean muscle, fat, water and bone in your body. Unlike any other body composition measuring tool, DEXA results are highly accurate and reproducible. And it’s quick! The scan only takes about 7 minutes and you get your thorough results right away. With hundreds of locations world-wide, it’s easy to schedule a scan at a nearby facility.

In addition to DEXA being a great way to track progress, it can also provide a window into many other areas of your health and fitness life. The scans show advanced findings such as muscle asymmetry and visceral fat. Knowing your muscle asymmetries can help you avoid injuries while working out and can help you tailor your exercises accordingly. Visceral fat is hard to detect but so very important since it affects your organs. Excess visceral fat can cause serious health problems.

Accuracy leads to better results

What type of results should you expect from the DEXA scan?

  • Total body bone mineral density
  • Total body muscle mass
  • Total body fat mass
  • Total body bone mass
  • Total body fat percentage
  • Muscle and fat mass in the trunk
  • Muscle and fat mass in your right and left arm
  • Muscle and fat mass in your right and left leg
  • Central abdominal fat measurement

With these results and information, your health and fitness journey becomes more stream-lined. They help you make a plan that works for you and your specific customized goals.

I plan on getting a DEXA scan after my baby girl arrives in April 2019. Although the amount of radiation in a DEXA scan is tiny, it isn’t recommended that a developing baby to be exposed to radiation no matter how low it is. But I’m excited to utilize the DEXA scan to help me make my plan of action to get my body back after baby.

How do you track your progress?

 

DEXA Scan: Accuracy and injury prevention was originally published on Self Evolve

Stan Lee lives on: The Real Superhero

The original superhero If you somehow haven’t heard, Stan Lee passed away this week. But while his human form may be gone, his legacy will live on forever. And if you somehow don’t know who he is, continue reading to find out why and how Stan Lee has touched so many lives. The very beginning…

Stan Lee lives on: The Real Superhero was originally published on Self Evolve

The original superhero

If you somehow haven’t heard, Stan Lee passed away this week. But while his human form may be gone, his legacy will live on forever. And if you somehow don’t know who he is, continue reading to find out why and how Stan Lee has touched so many lives.

The very beginning

Way back in 1939, Stan Lieber became an assistant at the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazine. By 1960, Timely evolved into Marvel Comics. His duties were pretty mundane at first. He would make sure the inkwells were full, proofread, erase pencil marks, and fetch lunch for the artists. His comic-book debut was the text filler “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” in 1941. He was so embarrassed that he used the pen name Stan Lee. He graduated from writing filler to actual comics with a backup feature, “‘Headline’ Hunter, Foreign Correspondent”, two issues later. 

Fast forward a few years in the late 1950s, and DC comics revived the superhero archetype and experienced significant success with Flash and the Justice League of America. Tasked with the request to create a superhero team and with nothing to lose, Lee created a team of superheroes with flaws. This was very different from the typical idealistically perfect people with no real, lasting problems that were in the comics meant for preteens. Lee introduced complex, naturalistic characters who could have bad tempers, fits of melancholy, and vanity; they bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying their bills and impressing girlfriends, got bored or were even sometimes physically ill.

Marvel Comics

Lee started with the Fantastic Four and developed all the well-known superheroes of Marvel Universe. The popularity of the heroes wasn’t expected, and it took a snowball effect. Lee continued to write monthly comics up until 1972, then assumed the role of publisher. Over time, Lee became a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics. As you know, he would make appearances in all his films and would meet his fans at comic cons including the comic con he created.

While Stan Lee has physically departed, his writings and superheroes he created will live on. They will continue to show not only kids but also us adults that even superheroes have human problems.

How has Stan Lee and the Marvel Universe affected your life?

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Stan Lee lives on: The Real Superhero was originally published on Self Evolve

Working out while pregnant and shortened labor times

As a first time Mom.. Labor is scary to me. I know people who had labors lasting as long as 36 or over 40 hours. The idea of doing anything for two days straight sounds awful, especially when there’s a lot of pain and uncomfortable actions involved. So once I found out I was pregnant,…

Working out while pregnant and shortened labor times was originally published on Self Evolve

As a first time Mom..

Labor is scary to me. I know people who had labors lasting as long as 36 or over 40 hours. The idea of doing anything for two days straight sounds awful, especially when there’s a lot of pain and uncomfortable actions involved. So once I found out I was pregnant, I started researching what could I do to hopefully have a shortened labor time. And I was pleased with what I found. So happy that I just had to share with you all.

Exercise during pregnancy

For a long time, it was frowned upon for expectant mothers to do much more than lay around all day. Many women were told to just not workout once they were pregnant. This stemmed from the belief that exercise could somehow affect the fetus in a negative way. Doctors were concerned for early deliveries or perhaps fetus deformities from the increased activity. Thankfully, research actually shows quite the opposite. 

A study done in Spain found that women who exercise just three times per week during pregnancy have a shorter labor. The women who exercised had a total labor time that was an average of 57 minutes shorter than the women not led in exercise. Not just labor time affected, the women in the exercise group were also less likely to get an epidural. Another notable difference, the women who didn’t exercise reported higher weight gain during pregnancy. 

Shortened labor time

So how much exercise is enough? Pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity according to the CDC. In addition to the shortened labor benefit found in the study, exercising during pregnancy may also help decrease the risk of gestational diabetespreeclampsia and cesarean delivery, reduce back pain, strengthen heart and blood vessels, and give other benefits, notes the ACOG. With all these benefits, exercise should be a no-brainer, right?

It is important to note that before starting any exercise program you should talk to your doctor. With your doctor’s approval, the intensity of your workouts depends on your level of physical fitness before becoming pregnant. Women who are very active before pregnancy can maintain the same intensity of workouts with their healthcare professional’s approval. Women who are just getting started should ease into the exercises. I’m currently working on workout programs geared towards both beginners and more active expectant Mothers. Stay tuned to learn more about the safe way to a shortened labor time.

Working out while pregnant and shortened labor times was originally published on Self Evolve

5 surprising benefits of sex: beyond the bedroom

If you’re anything like me.. You love sex. You may even be a little addicted. For me, I didn’t discover my love for sex until I hit my 30’s. My ex-husband mistakenly took my increased libido as something else and left me hanging dry (literally). But since my divorce, I have been able to find…

5 surprising benefits of sex: beyond the bedroom was originally published on Self Evolve

If you’re anything like me..

You love sex. You may even be a little addicted. For me, I didn’t discover my love for sex until I hit my 30’s. My ex-husband mistakenly took my increased libido as something else and left me hanging dry (literally). But since my divorce, I have been able to find not just good sex, but amazing sex. I feel like a child who was locked in a closet for most of it’s life and just now being released into the world. Everything is new and awesome! But a few of my friends have been trying to tell me that I should be waiting for the next husband to saddle up in bed. So this prompted me to find good reasons to stop or continue having sex. All I could find were these benefits:

5 benefits of sex

  1. Helps keep your immune system humming. Sexually active people take fewer sick days. A study showed that people who have sex once or twice a week have higher levels of a certain antibody compared to those who had sex less often.
  2. Boosts your libido. I’ve noticed this in myself. I went 3 months this year without any sex (it is possible), but once I started again there was no going back. Having more sex helps it feel better and keeps you coming back for more.
  3. Improves bladder control. This applies to women. Good sex is like a workout for your pelvic floor muscles. When you have an orgasm, it causes contractions in those muscles which strengthens them.
  4. Lowers blood pressure. Unfortunately, masturbation doesn’t count. Sexual intercourse lowered systolic blood pressure in one of many studies.
  5. Counts as exercise. Sex uses about 5 calories per minute, four more calories than watching TV. It gives you a one-two punch: it bumps your heart rate and makes you use various muscles. So similar to going to the gym, be sure to clear your schedule to make time for it. Consistency helps maximize benefits.

These are just 5 of many benefits of sex.  And I know this isn’t a common topic, but wanted to shine light on it once more. And while many of us may think that our sex life will only worsen with age and longevity of our relationship, this is not necessarily true. A study done recently showed that even people who have been together for over 24 years still had a great sex life. It showed that having similar sexual desires/ personalities mattered when it came to sexual happiness.

What time of day is your favorite to have sex?

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5 surprising benefits of sex: beyond the bedroom was originally published on Self Evolve

Why and how to do a proper lunge

Do you lunge, tho? Most clients tell me they hate lunges, which is exactly why I make them do them. But the reason behind lunging can be misunderstood. Also, form is everything in order to avoid injury. Lunges are one of the hardest single-leg exercises out there but they are important for endurance athletes, from…

Why and how to do a proper lunge was originally published on Self Evolve

Do you lunge, tho?

Most clients tell me they hate lunges, which is exactly why I make them do them. But the reason behind lunging can be misunderstood. Also, form is everything in order to avoid injury. Lunges are one of the hardest single-leg exercises out there but they are important for endurance athletes, from runners and hikers to cyclists and climbers. Lunges improve unilateral leg strength which is critical for navigating trails, maximizing agility, and preventing muscular imbalances. Also, doing that lunge uses the body’s stabilizer muscles from the leg all the way up to the core.

Sore knees

A lot of athletes and people in general struggle with lunges due to sore knees. The traditional upright lunge is a quad-dominant exercise, meaning you’re putting more stress on the front of your thighs-knees included- than on anything else. But by taking a bigger step with each rep and allowing your torso to angle forward as much as 45 degrees, you can transfer some of the stress from your quads to your glutes, alleviating joint pressure. “Strength in the posterior chain, specifically the glutes, is important for pristine running mechanics and horsepower to make you faster for a race” according to Erica Suter, a Baltimore-based strength and conditioning coach.

Here are the five best lunge variations:

  1. Deficit Lunge: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart on a low box or step, holding a dumbbell in each hand down at your sides. From here, take an exaggerated step back with one foot and lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then push through your front heel to raise your back foot to the starting position.
  2. Lateral Lunge and Pulse: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell by both ends against your chest. Take an exaggerated step to the side with one leg, and allow your torso to hinge forward slightly at the hips. Bend the knee of your stepped-out leg to lower your body until that thigh is parallel to the floor (or as deep as you comfortably can). Extend your arms straight out in front of you, then immediately return the weight to your chest. Push through the heel of your bent leg to raise back to start.
  3. Cursey Lunge: Best one yet! This lunge engages every glute muscle! Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand down at your sides. From here, take an exaggerated step back with one leg and cross it behind your opposite leg. Allowing your torso to hinge forward slightly at the hips, lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then push through your front heel to raise your back foot to start.
  4. Offset Reverse Lunge: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in one hand down at your side. From here, take an exaggerated step back with the opposite foot and, allowing your torso to hinge forward slightly at the hips, lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then push through your front heel to raise your back foot to start.
  5. Reverse-Forward Lunge: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell by the horns with both hands against your chest. From here, take an exaggerated step back with one foot, and allowing your torso to hinge forward slightly at the hips, lower your body until your front thigh is parallel with the floor. Then push through your front heel to raise your back foot, swinging it all the way through into an exaggerated step forward. Lower once more into a lunge, then push through both feet and straighten your back leg to return to start.

What’s your favorite lunge variation?

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Why and how to do a proper lunge was originally published on Self Evolve

What fuels Shalane Flanagan: eat to run fast

What fuels you to run fast? Everyday we are faced with the age-old question: what do you want to eat? Many couples and families alike struggle to find the answer to this question but most people tend to try to eat healthy. But what is healthy? Everyone is different, but today I’m going to focus…

What fuels Shalane Flanagan: eat to run fast was originally published on Self Evolve

What fuels you to run fast?

Everyday we are faced with the age-old question: what do you want to eat? Many couples and families alike struggle to find the answer to this question but most people tend to try to eat healthy. But what is healthy? Everyone is different, but today I’m going to focus on the super fast marathon runners and what they eat to fly. With the Chicago Marathon 2018 coming up, I feel it’s fitting to share a few recipes from a new cookbook coming out August 4th from NYC Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan. Read on in order to run fast.

Thai Quinoa Salad

This is a great healthy version of the beloved Thai salad. It’s hearty with quinoa, and you can add in fresh grilled steak. It had the complex carbohydrates needed to full you prior to race day. Full recipe can be found here.

Turkey Trot Meatballs

run fastEasy to make and packed full of protein, these turkey meatballs are the way to go. You can make a lot of them and have them around for awhile. You can dress them up or down. Add them to your salad or in rice bowls. Full recipe can be found here.

Red raspberry beet smoothie bowl

This is a great option for pre and post-run. Beets are good for your cardiovascular system since they lower blood pressure. Oats are a great option for easy-to-digest carbohydrates that provide energy for running. Full recipe can be found here.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Reese’s are delicious but unfortunately full of sugar and hydrogenated oils, which are really bad for you. These are just as rich but you can feel good about eating them. They use coconut oil, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and maple syrup for the main ingredients. All whole foods, good fats, and natural sweeteners. Store these in the freezer for a yummy cold treat. Full recipe can be found here.

Pre-order the cookbook today!

 

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What fuels Shalane Flanagan: eat to run fast was originally published on Self Evolve