Hey fitness fans!  Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, but we had a very busy & active summer, so I haven’t been sitting down at a computer!  We spent lots of time outdoors, hiking, biking and running.  So, it’s actually a bit ironic that I am writing an indoor equipment review today.

As I said above, I did a lot of outdoor fitness activities this summer, but there were a few times I had both kids with me and needed to do a good workout on my own (and didn’t feel like getting up at the crack of dawn).  So, I hit the gym and I found a great cardio machine!  It is called the Helix Lateral Trainer.

I have used plenty of treadmills and eliptical machines in the past, but there are few that can make me sweat like the lateral trainer!  The only other machine I have encountered that gives me that same dripping with sweat workout is the escalator type stair climber machine.  You know, the one that looks like an escalator and you think to yourself, “How hard can that machine be, it’s like walking up an escalator?”

But have you tried it?!?!  I was always amazed at how hard workout 30 minutes on that machine was.

Anyway, my gym doesn’t have the escalator stair climber, but does have the lateral trainer.  It looks like this:

HELIX 3000

Your feet rotate clockwise or counterclockwise 360 degrees, like a lateral figure 8, working the inner and outer thighs and the glutes.  However, I have found that it really works your core as well.  I use an interval setting and really try to push myself to go faster on the parts with less resistance.  When I do, I am really tightening my core to keep my balance and my feet moving.

The machine at our gym has 8 programs.  I usually use the interval setting with varies the resistance each 1-2 minutes depending on how long of a workout you program.  You can vary the resistance when you start the machine and also change it during the workout.

If you ever see this piece of equipment at a gym, I would encourage you to try it.  It is easy to use and will kick your butt!  If you have used one before, what did you think?

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I love running!  Every time I run I realize how it helps me think clearly.  I’m amazed at the clarity I have while on a long run.

I don’t run with music for a few reasons.  1. I got used to running without headphones when I trained for a marathon in 2001 (the race would not allow headphones).  2.  I often run while pushing a bike trailer, so I can’t hear my daughter if I am listening to music.  She is my little coach and likes to yell out, “Mom, go faster!”  🙂  3.  If I ever have something I can’t figure out, I can usually come up with an answer or idea to the situation when I run.

The other thing I love about running is that it’s something you can really get better at rather quickly.  You can really improve if you set small goals for yourself and keep trying to achieve them.  Sometimes I have a goal of time, sometimes distance.  If I’m having a good run and reach my time or distance goal, I try to push just a tiny bit more, like just making it a few more minutes or getting to a specific landmark.

A friend of mine visited me over Christmas break and made the comment that she couldn’t even run to the end of the block.  Although an in shape and active person, she just didn’t see herself as a runner.

She got inspired by a friend to try running and ran her first race in April which was 4 miles!  Now she has completed several 5K races and is signed up to do a triathlon in July!  Goes to show running is something you can start and build upon rather quickly.

Becky (in the middle)

My hubby has recently gotten back into shape thanks to running too.  He was a competitive runner in both high school and college, but had hardly run after that due to aggravating knee pain.  However, this winter a great opportunity was available through his office.  All employees had access to a running coach to train them for a 10K Memorial Day Race…The BolderBoulder.

He got a customized training schedule where he started with running 2-3 miles at a time about 2 days a week and adding some cross training another 2 days.  The mileage slowly increased and he got up to 6 miles at a really good pace.

Last Monday was the race, and he did great.  We both could probably use some race strategies for next year since did a lot of weaving through runners (there are over 50,000 participants in the BolderBoulder)!  This meant our personal GPS devices showed we ran quite a bit over 6.2 miles, giving us one average pace, while the official race results reflected a different average.  Oh well, no big deal, we are just happy to have done it for the first time and look forward to a summer full of running!

So, if you have never been a runner, or haven’t run in a while, I would encourage you to take advantage of the season and get out there.  Start small and set goals for yourself, you can do it!

Whew, this was a bit of a rough week, workout-wise!  I took a week off for Spring break since we went to Santa Barbara, CA to visit my grandparents.  I didn’t get a chance to get a run in out there since we only had 3 mornings (besides our travel day).  One of the mornings we went whale watching and on the other two, I was a nice wife and let my hubby run before we went off exploring for the day.

My workouts have been a struggle though this week as a result…  I really didn’t anticipate losing steam by only taking one week off.  Not eating quite as healthy probably played a part as well.

But, I had a nice chat with one of my neighbors at the bus stop one morning this week and he and I were talking about local races (runs, triathalons, etc.).  I had thought about signing up for some races earlier this year, but kind of forgot to follow through on it.  I’m glad he brought that thought back to the front of my mind again.

Also inspiring today was seeing photos of some other neighbors who ran a 1/2 marathon this morning.  What a great accomplishment for them and another reminder for me to get signed up for some races!  For me, a goal oriented person, it is good to have that specific date on the calendar to keep me moving forward with running.  I love to run anyway, but being signed up for a race gives me that extra push.

So, my plan for this week is to find some races to sign up for.  My neighbor suggested using racingunderground.com to look for local events.  I have also used active.com in the past.

Do any of you have any favorite sites you use?

Over the past 6+ months, I have tweaking parts of my diet (overall eating lifestyle, I’m not on a diet) to  continue to adhere more and more to clean eating principles.  To me, the most important aspect of eating clean is eating “real” unprocessed foods.  It’s not always easy, because it means I end up cooking and doing dishes A LOT!  But, I think it is very important to eat healthy, fresh, unprocessed foods and to teach our children this lifestyle.

So, one area that needed improvement, was in the form of my afternoon pick-me-up.  It used to be in the form of a Diet Coke (more in the Summer/warm months than the Winter).  I have never had more than one 12-16 oz. can/bottle in a day, but I still drank it to give me a little boost in the afternoon.

I decided that green tea would be a better source of caffeine, so I tried Pom’s Pomegranate Lychee Green Tea.  I really developed a taste for it and liked the addition of pomegranate to the green tea flavor.

However, it was $2+ per bottle and it does have fructose in it.  So, I decided I could make my own (that’s my style!).

I bought some 100% pomegranate juice and some regular green tea.  Right now, I am using Traditional Medicinals Green tea bags, but I am going to switch to a loose green tea to save packaging.

Organic Golden Green Tea® [tdm-001016.jpg]

I steep 3 tea bags with 12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) of hot water.  I then pour it over ice in a large glass and add a splash of pomegranate juice.  It is very refreshing and a much healthier alternative to soda!  Give it a try & let me know what you think.

I have been working on eating clean and ran across a recipe I pulled from Shape magazine years ago. It’s super easy, and I think it’s delicious!  It makes a great lunch.

Image

Whole-Wheat Shells with Chickpeas and Arugula:

Use baby arugula for this dish if you can; the flavor is more mellow.

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

8oz. uncooked whole-wheat shells

3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil

1 3/4 cup chickpeas (about 1 15 oz. can)

4 packed cups arugula, chopped

1/3 cup golden raisins (or dried cranberries)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

4oz. crumbled feta

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and transfer to a medium-large bowl.  Immediately drizzle with olive oil and toss to distribute.

While pasta is still hot, add chickpeas, arugula, raisins or cranberries and tomatoes and toss gently.  Cool to room temperature, then stir in feta.  Taste and add salt (feta tends to be salty, so go easy) and black pepper, if desired.  Top with toasted walnuts & serve.

Nutrition score per serving (2 1/2 cups): 588 calories, 21 g fat (32% of calories), 5 g saturated fat, 83 g carbs, 21 g protein, 12 g fiber, 241 mg calcium, 5 mg iron, 628 mg sodium

I heard a great quote the other day which I am going to steal, share because I think it is worth repeating…  “Strong is the new skinny!”

As a fitness instructor for group exercise, I always incorporate strength training into all my workouts. One reason is muscle burns fat for longer periods of time in a “rest” state than cardio does (Tip from Nancy Reinhardt – online coach).   More calories are used to make and maintain muscle than fat, and in fact strength training can boost your metabolism by 15 percent (everydayhealth.com).Strength training also combats bone and muscle loss which occurs in men and women as we age.

I think that some women have a fear that if they lift weights they will “bulk up” and look like a female version of the Hulk.  However, this is a myth.  Women body builders train specifically to produce muscle mass.  This is not how an average woman would be strength training.

I believe some women dislike the fact that the scale may show a few pounds of weight gain that sometimes comes with increased muscle.  However, with muscle gain, you will have an improved physique that may improve the way your clothes fit even if the scale ticks up a couple of pounds.  This is because fat takes up a lot of space within the muscles.  As you strength train and burn calories, your percentage of body fat will decrease as your muscle mass increases.  Fat takes up more space than muscle, so the net change will mean an overall smaller size.  I personally care more about how my clothes fit more than a number on the scale.

Prior to my wedding, I worked with a trainer and began a vigorous weight training routine.  She placed more emphasis on the weights than cardio and I have to say, I was the smallest size I have ever been.  Granted, I spent a lot of time working out (nothing like your own wedding to motivate you),  but I really think the weights helped better shape my body.

So, with that said, I am off to the gym to hit the weight area!  I know it can feel intimidating for some, but don’t be afraid to ask someone at your gym for help.  The individuals that work in the fitness area are always more than happy to give you a tour of the equipment and help out if you have questions.  I have been using weights for over 11 yrs. now and I still had to ask how to adjust some equipment last week!

Let me know if you add some strength training to your routine.  I would love to hear how it goes for you!

I have to thank my hard core neighbor for inspiring me to keep running through the winter.  The other day when it was 40+ degrees, I asked her if she wanted to run this week.  She was up for it, so we ran today with her dogs.  She asked me if I wanted to borrow her shoe tracks and I remembered I had a pair of Yak Trax that my Dad had given me years ago.  I never thought of wearing them running, but I was up for it.

We went to an area dog park and ran about 3.5 miles on a snowy trail with her 2 dogs and our trax on.  Of course the weather wasn’t quite 40 degrees and there was some wind, but with the right gear on, we weren’t affected.  Ever since running the ColderBolder in 20 degree snowy weather, I know I can handle most Colorado days.

I had a great time today and told my friend that we definitely need to do it again.  I’m so glad to be able to keep running outside all through the Winter in most conditions.  So, if you think you have to bring your workouts inside for the season, I encourage you to think again.  It’s worth investing in some good gear and giving it a try!