So you want to lift weights

Lately I’ve been hearing quite a few women (and some men) tell me how they get intimidated when they go to the gym, and not by the treadmills or ellipticals. It’s the weight area that is filled with those extra-beefy men lifting those extra-heavy weights. While the view is nice, most beginners are worried they will…

So you want to lift weights was originally published on Self Evolve

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Lately I’ve been hearing quite a few women (and some men) tell me how they get intimidated when they go to the gym, and not by the treadmills or ellipticals. It’s the weight area that is filled with those extra-beefy men lifting those extra-heavy weights. While the view is nice, most beginners are worried they will look like fools while trying to lift weights. Also, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want those beef-heads talking to you, trying to tell you how good you look lifting. (which is why I wear headphones to the gym all the time, works about 90% of the time)

I’m here to tell you there’s nothing to fear! Free weights and even those bars are nothing to worry about. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind next time you’re in the gym:

  1. Warm up before lifting weights! A simple 5 to 10 minutes on the treadmill will do, be sure to get the heart rate to at least 100 to 110 BPM!
  2. For the beginner, start super light! Don’t feel bad grabbing only 5 pound weights, or starting with just the bare bar. Start low and you can always add weight if it’s too easy! It’s better to go up than to go too heavy and injure yourself.
  3. Start with a simple 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Give yourself 30 to 60 seconds between each set for rest.
  4. Exhale while contracting your muscles, i.e. exhale while curling up on bicep curls and inhale while going back down.
  5. Maintain control throughout every movement. It isn’t a race, and you get the most out of the exercises if you do them with control. Focus on the movements and don’t let gravity or momentum take over.
  6. Proper form is key. Overall, the general rule is to keep your core engaged, your knees should never be fully locked, and you want to watch yourself in the mirror if available to make sure you’re not hunched over or letting your form slip.

If you’re not even sure what proper form looks or feels like for you, I can help you find your proper form through a few personal training sessions. Even if you’re not local to Oak Park, it is beneficial to find a personal trainer to help you learn proper form while lifting weights. Many people in the gym may be willing to help you as well, but take advice with a grain of salt. Unless they are fitness professionals, they may not know the proper form for you. Everyone is a little different and your form might not look exactly like that beef-cake who weighs 300 pounds. Just saying. 🙂

Also, another myth busted: lifting weights doesn’t make you super huge. You will gain muscle and tone up, but in order to get huge like a bodybuilder you’d have to do way more lifting than any normal person at the gym does. So unless you really try, you will only get stronger muscles and look sexier of course.

Do you lift weights? If so, how did you start? Are you intimidated by the weight section of the gym? If so, why? What’s your biggest fear? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

So you want to lift weights was originally published on Self Evolve

Downward Facing Goat

I’ve taken quite a few yoga classes before, but never with so many farm animals until this past weekend. On Sunday, I went to Kamins farm up in Grayslake, IL for an hour long session of yoga, with the additional bonus of farm animals. Not only goats were involved, there were also some potbellied pigs,…

Downward Facing Goat was originally published on Self Evolve

I’ve taken quite a few yoga classes before, but never with so many farm animals until this past weekend. On Sunday, I went to Kamins farm up in Grayslake, IL for an hour long session of yoga, with the additional bonus of farm animals. Not only goats were involved, there were also some potbellied pigs,…

Downward Facing Goat was originally published on Self Evolve

Running for beginners

Are you looking to increase your cardio? Are you looking to get into running but don’t know where to start? Do you hate running but want a runner’s body? If you answered yes, this article is for you. Some background on me, I used to hate running with a passion. Despite being good at it,…

Running for beginners was originally published on Self Evolve

Are you looking to increase your cardio? Are you looking to get into running but don’t know where to start? Do you hate running but want a runner’s body? If you answered yes, this article is for you. Some background on me, I used to hate running with a passion. Despite being good at it,…

Running for beginners was originally published on Self Evolve

SPENGA what?

SPENGA: Spin, Strength, Yoga. Last week I tried my first SPENGA class, kinda. It was on a rooftop and not in the studio, so unfortunately there were no bikes and therefore only strength and yoga (50/50). Despite missing the spin, I had a great time! It was a gorgeous, breezy night in Oak Park, and I…

SPENGA what? was originally published on Self Evolve

SPENGA: Spin, Strength, Yoga. Last week I tried my first SPENGA class, kinda. It was on a rooftop and not in the studio, so unfortunately there were no bikes and therefore only strength and yoga (50/50). Despite missing the spin, I had a great time! It was a gorgeous, breezy night in Oak Park, and I…

SPENGA what? was originally published on Self Evolve

Embracing nature

To organic or to not organic? That is the question. What do you do? Do you go out of your way to buy organic, or do you just grab whichever is more convenient? This can go multiple ways, but today we’re going to try to focus on two product types: deodorant and sunscreen. Two essentials…

Embracing nature was originally published on Self Evolve

To organic or to not organic? That is the question. What do you do? Do you go out of your way to buy organic, or do you just grab whichever is more convenient? This can go multiple ways, but today we’re going to try to focus on two product types: deodorant and sunscreen. Two essentials while working out, especially while working out outside (i.e. running or attending my weekly strength and conditioning class).

For natural deodorant, what does that look like? Ideally, at the very least, deodorant without aluminum. Why not aluminum? While aluminum is used for things like cans of soda, it is not ideal on our skin. First of all, you may have an allergy to aluminum. A good amount of people break out in a rash when using antiperspirants. Also, aluminum may cause other issues outside of just a rash, i.e. it can interfere with your hormones. Aluminum isn’t the only thing to avoid, triclosan could be a stronger endocrine disruptor than propylene glycol, so try to avoid it as well.

The tricky part about going natural is finding a deodorant that stands up to sweat sessions, i.e. that super humid run or when you’re doing planks at the gym. The deodorant that I use and find effective is Arrow Protect Natural Deodorant by Birchbox. It smells good and stands up to my tough workouts. Which one do you use?

As for sunscreen, it’s important to read the ingredients on the bottle as well. Many sunscreens claim to be natural, but are they? Ingredients to avoid for SPF include chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate  and homosalate. There are other chemicals to watch out for. Ideally, you want to reach for the organic option that uses mineral filters rather than chemical filters.

Mineral sunscreens are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, usually in the form of nanoparticles. There is good evidence that little if any zinc or titanium particles penetrate the skin to reach living tissues. Thus, mineral sunscreens tend to rate better than chemical sunscreens. What sunscreen do you use? Do you read the ingredients before buying sunscreen or just grab the most convenient sunscreen at the store? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Embracing nature was originally published on Self Evolve

Track Your Fitness

If you’re like me, you like to track how many steps you take in a day. If you run like me, you also like to know how far and what your pace is while running. Cherry on the top? I also want to know what my heart-rate is in order to make sure I’m not…

Track Your Fitness was originally published on Self Evolve

If you’re like me, you like to track how many steps you take in a day. If you run like me, you also like to know how far and what your pace is while running. Cherry on the top? I also want to know what my heart-rate is in order to make sure I’m not…

Track Your Fitness was originally published on Self Evolve

Carb loading and running

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Eat a mountain of pasta the night before a race!” Even to this day, I have people ask me if I’m going to eat pasta before the big race I’m training for. I’m here to break apart this old, nauseating thought that we somehow need pasta to run…

Carb loading and running was originally published on Self Evolve

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Eat a mountain of pasta the night before a race!” Even to this day, I have people ask me if I’m going to eat pasta before the big race I’m training for. I’m here to break apart this old, nauseating thought that we somehow need pasta to run far.

Carbohydrate loading can help you. What is carbo loading? It’s a strategy involving changes to training and nutrition that can maximize muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) stores prior to endurance competition. Athletes believe that by loading the muscles with glycogen, they can prevent hitting the “wall” and hopefully allow them to run at their desired pace for longer. It has the potential to improve performance by 2-3%, if done properly. The issue is, a plate of pasta isn’t carbo-loading. Follow these simple steps to properly carbo-load:

  1. Don’t skip the carb depletion phase. 7 days prior to the event do a long or strenuous workout which will deplete your body of glucose. For the next 3 days maintain a lower carb diet of 35 to 50% of total calories. For the final 2 days prior to the race switch to 75% of calories from carbohydrates, while dramatically decreasing overall work volume (the other 25% is largely protein).
  2. Avoid simple carbs! Don’t eat junk food, and avoid sugar. Ideal carbo-loading foods: potatoes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains. If you have trouble with high fiber/runners trots, look for options like sourdough bread with honey or sweet potatoes.
  3. Don’t carbo load for short distance races. 5K or 10K? Too short! Carbo loading is only needed if you’ll be running OVER 90 minutes. I would even argue that it’s not necessary for a half-marathon but should be done for a full.
  4. Don’t load for too long, only do it for about 2 days prior to the race. The rest of the time before the race? Not loading! Don’t load up for a week, that is just un-necessary.
  5. Don’t freak out over the weight gain. Carbs make you retain water, which is needed for race day! Don’t even worry about that number on the scale, unless you’re ignoring step #2 and eating cookies.
  6. Don’t skip your last load due to nerves. You want that race morning fuel! You must give your muscles that last boost of glucose to help prevent energy lulls, mood swings, and fatigue. Aim to 1-3 grams of high quality carbs, low fat and low fiber – oatmeal with banana or yogurt with fruit if you can stomach it.
  7. Don’t eat that pasta dinner! One large meal of carbs is NOT carbo-loading and for many people it has the opposite effect of what they desire.

Of course, at the end of the day, everyone is different. You have to find what works best for you. Personally, I haven’t carbo-loaded before. But, I have also never ran a full marathon before. I usually eat before every race though. On the morning of a half marathon I eat fruit, drink lots of water, and drink some coffee. The week leading up to the half? I just focus on eating healthy: lots of veggies, fruits, healthy proteins and fats. Now that I’m training for the full marathon, I will be sure to pay more attention to what I’m putting into my body.

Food is fuel. And fuel is energy. Do you carbo-load? What do you eat before running? Or do you run on an empty stomach? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Carb loading and running was originally published on Self Evolve