Workout…RECOVER…Repeat

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The older I get, the important recovery time has become for me. In my mid 40’s, my workouts can still be intense but my recovery takes sooooo much longer. Like, A LOT longer! Some days I get out of bed and feel like I’m 100 years old!

20 years ago I could go for a run, grab a bagel and a shower and go about my day. And do it all over again the next day and the next and so on. Not anymore!

As we age it takes our muscles longer to repair themselves from the damage we do during hard training. I hate to admit this but it’s reality.

Besides an extra rest day here and there (and a nap) I use several tools that help me recover a little faster and get me ready to move again.

My hip and hamstring flexibility is abysmal. It always has been, my high school track coach can confirm this. I’ve never been able to reach my toes.

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Just. Can’t. Reach!

So I use a Stretch Out Strap. It helps me stretch, and hold the stretch, with good form without bouncing around and I can use the loops to slowly stretch deeper as I loosen up. I’m never going to be Olympic gymnast-flexible but the Stretch Out Strap helps me be a slightly looser version of the Tin Man.

I have very high arches that get tight and sore sometimes so this Sportline Recovery Massage Stick works great for that. It also works well on tight muscles to work out the kinks.

My Fitness Gear foam roller is my new favorite piece of equipment. I think I love it more than my treadmill! I use it for self massage on my calves, hamstrings, quads and hips after a hard run and for a few minutes at night when I’m winding down. It’s done a lot of good for my tight hip flexors.

These tools along with rest, lots of water and good food help me feel less like I’m 100 and more like I’m 45!

Happy Exercising!

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How to Prep for the Grocery Store

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We’ve all heard the saying that health is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, right? I don’t know if those numbers are right but I do know that nutrition and exercise work together and it’s difficult to have a well rounded healthy lifestyle if you only focus on one part. That’s not to say you have to do everything at once. For example, you can take a month or two to focus on establishing a good exercise routine before you worry about changing your eating habits. But eventually, to work towards your best health, you’ll need a combination of good exercise and good nutrition.

Once you’re ready to focus on nutrition, what do you do? I had a friend recently tell me she was standing in the grocery store just looking at the shelves and not knowing what to buy. So here are a few tips to get you started if you’re not sure what the heck to do.

  1. Make a list of fruits and vegetables you like. Don’t try to “force” yourself to eat things you don’t like just because you’ve heard they’re healthy. (I’m looking at you, kale!) You’ll be miserable and won’t stick to it. If you don’t like the texture of Lima beans, don’t put them on the list. If peeling oranges seems like a lot of work for a little piece of fruit, then don’t put them on the list. A healthy diet has lots of fruits and vegetables so make that the bulk of your list but you can also add things like nuts, seeds and beans. (Link to webpage)
  2. Find some recipes or prep techniques for the list you just made. Maybe you find some fruit smoothie recipes that look interesting. Or maybe a vegetable side dish recipe or a bean salad that looks good. Having a plan for what you buy will cut down on waste and help you feel better prepared for the week.
  3. Make a list of your favorite meals and think of ways to make them a bit healthier. Do you love toast with your eggs in the morning? Spread it with mashed avocado or natural peanut butter instead of butter. or make it with whole grain bread. Can you add some pureed or shredded vegetables to one of your favorite dishes? Can you cut down on a sauce or some cheese in a recipe? 
  4. Some people do detailed meal planning and prep every week. If this works for you, especially at the beginning, then go for it. Write down all your meals and snacks for the week and build your shopping list from that. Personally, I plan my family’s dinners but breakfast, lunches and snacks are not usually planned out. I try to have a couple of options available. For example, my kids like cereal, fruit, bagels, oatmeal, yogurt and eggs so I have all of those available for them to choose from for breakfast.
  5. Think outside the box. You don’t have to have breakfast food for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch. A salad of baby spinach, chopped apples, walnuts and dried cranberries makes a great breakfast! And I eat oatmeal or cereal at any time of the day.
  6. It can be challenging to stay away from processed food but also keep things convenient. There’s nothing wrong with some prepackaged, processed foods as long as you pay attention to ingredients and as long as you’re not making these items your primary source of nutrition. Fruit and nut granola bars are easy to stash in your bag or desk for an afternoon snack or for your commute home. Whole-grain crackers and cheese slices or pretzels and hummus are good too. Precut vegetables make it easy to throw together a salad for lunch or dinner. Jarred marinara sauce makes an easy topping for chicken or pasta and you can add shredded vegetables to boost its nutritional value. Canned beans or soups or frozen vegetables are good to keep on hand as well.
  7. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The middle aisles are usually where all the pre-packaged junk food is. Stick to the perishable sections like produce, the meat and dairy case and the bakery department. Pre-cooked chicken or packaged, marinated meats can make putting a meal together quick and easy but stay away from processed meats like lunch meat and hotdogs. Choose low-fat dairy options or non-dairy like almond milk. If you like yogurt, choose brands with real fruit that provide some sweetness instead of added sugar. Whole grain or Ezekiel bread make quick, healthy sandwiches or toast.

Unless you’re an elite athlete training for a competition or under strict doctor’s orders, you don’t need to make yourself crazy over your food. Focus on fruits and vegetables and use common sense.

Happy Exercising!

How to Encourage Your Partner to Get Healthy

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When you exercise regularly and eat healthy and are working hard to improve your fitness, it can be frustrating to have a partner or other family members that don’t do the same. Usually, our first instinct is to do whatever we can to get them on board, right? But there are good ways to do that and some not so good ways.

First of all, understand that it has to be your partner’s choice and decision. No matter what, you can’t force someone else’s behavior change but you can encourage and support it. Just be patient. I’ve worked in the fitness industry for almost 25 years and have been married for almost 23 and my husband just adopted a regular exercise routine in the last two years. Talk about patience!!

  1. The number 1 thing you can do is be an example. Continue your regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits. If your healthier lifestyle has you sleeping better, mention that. If you’re missing less work, mention it. If your back pain is gone, mention it. Hopefully, your spouse or partner notices these things on their own but if not, its ok to talk about the positive impact fitness has had on you. Don’t brag or be condescending, though, because that will backfire! See #2 below!
  2. Making snarky or sarcastic comments (even if they come across funny) doesn’t send a good message. Embarrassment, shame or nagging usually has the opposite effect and your partner will dig his heels in and go in the opposite direction. And lets be honest, do you really want to embarrass your significant other? Even if this tactic works in the short term, your partner will be doing it begrudgingly so it won’t last.
  3. Send the right message. Make sure your partner knows that you want them to exercise and eat well because its good for them and will improve and enhance their life and their family’s life. If you talk about setting future goals together such as being available for your kids and grandkids, that can be very motivating. Having personal goals is an important step but setting goals together as a couple or a family helps too.
  4. Don’t make choices for them. It’s not your place to tell them they should lose 20 pounds or they should stop eating McDonald’s. Leave that to the doctors! “Should” statements are very judgy! Your partners first priority might be to work on their flexibility so they can tie their shoes. Don’t assume that you know what they should or want to improve.
  5. Remember that your way is not the only way. Maybe you love Crossfit but your spouse wants to go running. Or you go to Pilates and your partner wants to learn martial arts. Let them figure out what works for them. My husband is a meticulous food tracker and I don’t track food at all. We each have our own way of doing things and it works for each of us. Be supportive even if its not something you like to do.
  6. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods you both like. This goes along with tip number 5 about not expecting your partner to do exactly what you do. Instead of trying to force them to eat what you eat, find out what healthier options they might be open to even if it’s something you don’t like.
  7. Lastly, always stay positive. Always. Recognize the smallest of steps even if your partner only makes 1 positive choice out of 15 negative choices. Don’t attack your partner if they skip a workout or decide to have a handful of cookies or an order of cheesy fries. Encourage the positive, ignore the negative.

Be patient. Be positive. Be supportive. They’ll get there eventually!

Happy Exercising!