Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Pick a Healthy Snack Bar (#Sponsored by @PickyBars)

In a perfect world, we could all eat directly from the Earth. Fresh veggies every day. Proteins sourced from beans and other legumes. Some might eat the animals, too. Everything on our plates would be healthy. Natural. Free of additives, contaminates, fake ingredients and, well...other things not so evidently of this Earth. But in this imperfect world we live in, this is nearly impossible. Or downright difficult. Maybe even unaffordable. So we rely on our food industry to help feed us. And there are a number of ways we do this. One popular way among us fitness-minded folk: The tasty little snack bar otherwise known as "protein" and/or "meal replacement" bars.

Let's be honest, though. These convenient little bits of healthy—not always so healthy.

When it comes to snack bars, we are very easily persuaded by advertising, pretty packaging, mouth-watering flavors and blogs such as this one. You say it's good? Sure, I'll buy it. Come to find out, it might not be so good. Or good for me. Or better yet, it might be just right for me. So you have to be very careful...careful about what you read, taste and see.

Truth: I'm a visual girl. Pretty packaging catches my eye. But I've been had by the unhealthy snack bar in a pretty package, so I choose my snack bars wisely from the get-go. At least I try to. Even though they aren't "from this Earth," snack bars rule.

So today, I'll introduce you to one that I think is most excellent. And I'll share with you a checklist I go through that helps me pick out a healthy snack bar. Now, I'm not a registered dietitian or nutritionist, so take this advice as a testament to what works for me and do with it what you will. I'm just a girl who likes to eat healthy. If that helps someone else be the same, so be it.

Let's get started, and let's do so with Picky Bars.

I contacted Picky Bars to see if they'd be willing to send over a few samples. After reading about them online, I couldn't help but wonder if all the hype was true. The flavor combos tempted my taste buds and the nutrition stats seemed great. Every bar has "a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, slow releasing carbs for level blood sugar, minimal soy content, and healthy fats making up 25% of the calories." Proof on the package:

It's all about "real food balanced for sport," and whether or not you're an athlete you can appreciate food that supports both endurance and recovery.

People rave about them—but would I? I dove right in.

Yes. Picky Bars for the win. I'm not just saying this because I got some free samples: These bars are good. And very good for you.

What you see above is their "The Need for Seed" flavor. Different than anything else I've come across, it's base is sunflower seed butter which is particularly tasty. And look at those chocolate chips. See the cranberries, too? Yum. Just...yum.

Consider them recommended.

Once again, it's not all about flavor <—Although flavor does factor into a purchase decision. When it comes to snack bars, it's mostly about the nutrition it delivers. If you can't turn to something real for whatever reason, you have to turn to something real close to it. Here are the questions I ask myself when I'm shopping for a snack bar.

Really, what it boils down to is simply reading the label. It will speak the truth.

Oh, wait. You probably wanted to see this shot instead:

Despite the fact that fiber is a little low, the rest of the stats look awesome. And these bars taste, amazing.


Get yourself some. You won't regret it.
To keep up with new flavors, follow Picky Bars on Facebook and Twitter.

Question: What do you look for in a decent snack bar, and which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Quick Kettlebell Workout

Tuesday is my favorite day at the gym. I start off with a 45-minute Spinning class, then follow it up with a 30-minute kettlebell class. I teach both, of course. And to be blunt, you want nothing to do with me when I am done. I sweat like no other in this short amount of time. It's a true testament to the power of Spinning and kettlebell workouts, really, whether you do them together or separately. So today, since it's Tuesday, I thought I'd share with you this quick kettlebell workout.

If you don't have kettlebells, you can always replace them with a single dumbbell. (Note: You'll have to modify the plank at the end, which essentially means you'll have to plank on the floor instead of the 'bell. In your case, the weight. Not sure planking on a weight is a safe bet.)

kettlebell exercises, workout, workout wednesday
Three times through, keep the pace a comfortable type of quick. You'll feel that heart rate rise up, but pull back if it reaches a rate that's not manageable for you. In other words—trust and listen to your body.

Sure, it's only nine moves done three times, but that's the beauty of a kettlebell workout. I call it my "quick and dirty" workout, because that's really what it is. Super quick, downright dirty to your muscles if you do all the moves correctly. 

Translation: You'll feel it.

If I could give you a Spinning workout, I would. But that's a whole can of worms I can't necessarily translate to Daily Dose. I wish I could, though.

Question: What is your go-to, all-time favorite fitness class to take?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

A three-day weekend is glorious, it's true. I am certain that many of you spent it like I did—with family, doing things you don't normally get to do, or things you don't normally get to. Like yard work, for example, which is what we did a vast majority of our time. Gotta say, I kind of hate yard work. But at least it's of the more physically active of the household chores.

I keep a pair of old running shoes on hand for such things. I find them comfortable and motivating. There's something about lacing up, no matter what you're lacing up for. Right? Yes. But, in addition to all of the plants I potted and replanted, there's also this on my deck now:

My own personal lettuce garden. 
I'm super excited about it.

Healthy eats, right outside my back door.
Not so healthy: Pizza.

We have a most-excellent pizza place in my town. It's literally walks away from the beach, and right below a bluff that overlooks the beach. And seriously, it's so good. We like to pack up the girl and head down there every once in a while for a pie, and sometimes we forgo the pie for something else we've packed to bring. Which, of course, you immediately regret when you get down there because the whole town will inevitably smell like garlic during high eatin' time. 

You'd think it would disgust you after a while, but it never gets old. 
Oh, never gets old.

Good thing I ran nine miles this morning. Goodbye, pizza pie.


With just about a month left until race day, it's time to say goodbye to single-digit long runs in favor of those that'll really get me to the finish line. I'm feeling good about it. Really good, actually. It seems as though I completed all of my scheduled runs without a hitch. And today's 9-miler, despite being sloppy wet, was really comfortable. Surprisingly so, actually. The details:

Dare I say that I'm looking forward to pushing through ten?
I've got a few days to think that one over, though (she types as she laughs). 

I'm pretty happy with that average pace. If I can keep it up through 13 miles, I'll beat my last half marathon time, where I averaged a 10:46 pace. Oh, and if you're wondering why I didn't teach my usual Tuesday lineup: I was home with a sick little girl. Sad.

So Monday is gone and Tuesday is looming. But before we shed the weekend, I cannot depart without honoring the day itself. Memorial Day. And all I can say to that is "thank you."

And yet, I never feel as if it's enough. So much has been given up for my freedom. For my ability to run freely from street corner to street corner. So much.

Question: What was the best part of your weekend?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pinspiration Thursday: #Sponsored by @UAWomen and #WhatsBeautiful

I continue to find myself in awe of this Under Armour campaign. Did you join the website yet? Have you discovered #whatsbeautiful yet? Gosh, such a network of inspiration! When you join, you set a goal which you then work toward and, along the way, you link up with others that have similar goals to which ultimately creates your very own network of inspiration. And let me tell you, this is a network that's overflowing with inspiration. And it all stems from Under Armour. So today's Pinspiration Thursday is coming at you from Under Armour:

In other word: Don't give up when the going gets tough. Because that's "when the tough get going." Right? Isn't that a saying from somewhere? Regardless, it's true. Stick with your workouts. Hold that plank for those last few miserable seconds. Work through that last, fatigue-filled repetition. Why? Because you can. Say it: I will. Hashtag it: #IWILL.

In case you need more inspiration:


Did you catch that dynamic pushup/tuck jump combo thing near the end. Go ahead, re-watch it. I'm newly obsessed with being able to do it.

Question: My personal goal on the What's Beautiful site is to maintain my daily dose of fit. So tell me, do you get a daily dose of fit? If not, how often do you work out each week?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion During Exercise

For those of us that live in areas that celebrate all four seasons—it's that time of year again. Time to sweat our butts off whenever we find fitness outside. I welcome it, but I also loathe it. I much prefer colder temperatures when it comes to running outside, for example. But heat is a fact of life that we must deal with whenever it presents itself. So today, I thought we'd discuss how to avoid heat exhaustion during exercise.

Let's take a moment to define heat exhaustion so that we're all on the same page: Our bodies are built to cool themselves, but sometimes, external factors get the best of us and our bodies ultimately can't keep up so we fall into a state of inefficiency otherwise known as heat exhaustion.

Now, obviously the above can be signs of other medical issues, so please, be smart if you're exercising in the heat and you experience ANY of them. Stop, get help. Your health is always more important than your training run.

I digress.

Exercising in the heat can be a huge challenge, especially if there is a bit of humidity involved. To cool itself, the body releases excess liquids into the atmosphere around it. So obviously, if the atmosphere is already full of liquids (like humidity), this poses a problem for our built-in air conditioners. This is why it is extremely important to adhere to well-known rules and regulations regarding exercising in hot temperatures. In such situations, your end goal should always be to avoid heat exhaustion. That way, you can check a successful run (or whatever) off your list.

So what follows is a list of the aforementioned and commonly known rules and regulations regarding the avoidance of heat exhaustion during exercise:

1) Take it easy. 
If you aren't used to exercising in hot temperatures, don't assume that you'll be able to lace up and go. Like the process of acclimating to higher grounds, it takes time to adjust to higher temps. First time out in the hot summer sun? Go a shorter distance at a slower pace, and bring water.

2) Avoid black clothing.
Ever sit on the black leather seat of a car and totally burn your bum? Black attracts heat. Why wear it? And besides, funky colors are totally in right now. Be bold with your brightly clothed self!

3) Let your skin breathe.
Fitness clothing is so advanced these days that you'll be hard-pressed to find anything that isn't touted as "sweat-wicking" or "breathable," which is a very good thing. Your skin needs to get rid of excess moisture and heat. Trap all that in with a long-sleeved t-shirt or coat, or a shirt that holds on to sweat and you're asking for trouble.

4) Hydrate.
When your body sweats, as I've said before, it gets rid of excess moisture to help itself cool off. But you need to replace that moisture, so keep drinking water throughout your workout. Drink it before and after, too. If that doesn't make sense, let me ask you this: Your car burns fuel as it goes, but will it go when that fuel supply runs out?

5) Wear sunscreen.
This has less to do with heat exhaustion and more to do with protecting your skin. It works hard all summer to help regulate your body's temperature. Seriously, lotion up. It's important.

6) Get some airflow.
When it's super hot outside, we find ourselves coming inside for relief. But that doesn't always mean that we can find it. Gyms tend to heat up quickly, whether that gym is in your own home or down the road. So make sure you pick the treadmill with the built-in fan, or the one closest to the floor fan if at all possible. Airflow does wonders for indoor workouts as it keeps excess moisture in movement. And by "excess moisture," I mean that which you expire via exercise.  Otherwise known as sweat.

Question: How do you manage exercise when the temps get hot? Got a hot-temp tip I forgot to mention?

Monday, May 20, 2013

What makes a run beautiful?

For me, tonight, pushing through allergies and heat to complete four and a half miles made for one beautiful run. Lemme tell ya, it almost didn't happen. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in a corner of my air conditioned house, but I made this dang training run happen at the last second.

I set my alarm for 6:00AM to snag the aforementioned run before everyone else got up, but my allergies got the best of me and I couldn't fathom lacing up my running shoes when I could barely breathe out of my nose. Maybe it's not allergies, though. Maybe I have a cold, but really—I think it's allergies. I have never in my life had allergies, but my mom tells me she didn't have them either until after pregnancy. So maybe I really do have allergies now. Huh. Regardless, I felt much better by day's end, so I pushed through it all to check "run" off the list at around 7:00PM this evening.

What makes a run beautiful? Rising above whatever could stop you from doing it, because there's no greater feeling in the world than looking back on that potential stopping point and saying, "eff you, I did it anyway!"


Nothing overly exciting to report here. I completed all of my runs this week, despite having to switch around my schedule a bit. I ran the last 8-miler with my mom and, oh boy was it hot. Hotter than I had expected, actually. We've gone from Winter to, well...Summer, it seems. Not much of a transition up in these parts, which is fine with me. I'm done with cold weather. And I'll be running the Chicago Women's Half  in the middle of June, so I really need to get myself used to some warmer runs.


Time for some of this:

Question: What makes your run beautiful?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Magazine Prints Weight on Cover. Thoughts?

I love magazines. I'll never stop reading them. But it took a few years of working in the advertising industry to realize that they don't always speak the truth. They sell products and lifestyles—and they alter photos to do it. So whenever I catch myself comparing my thighs to those of the girl on whatever page of whatever magazine I might be reading, I have to remind myself that I am me. That I am happy and healthy, and I am not "Photoshopped" to sell something. Therefore, I am real.

But not everyone can draw that conclusion. In fact, a lot people still look at magazines and make comparisons. That's the society we live in. Compare, compare and compare some more.

Now, I don't read Allure very often, but this magazine is in the headlines right now for printing Zoe Saldana's weight on the June 2013 cover.

"115 pounds of grit and heartache," it reads. The star defended the magazine, saying that the magazine was trying to describe "that for a lightweight person I seem to be really strong minded." And the writer in me agrees with her. I think that's exactly what the magazine was trying to convey. Small, but tough.

Not a bad image.

But in this day and age, when so many of us have such an unhealthy relationship with the numbers on the scale, should the magazine be printing something like that? On the cover, no less, for all to see?

Let's discuss.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sponsored Post: We're so much stronger together. #whatsbeautiful via @UAWomen

One of the things I love the most about being a FitFluential Ambassador is the access it grants me to positive, inspiring and motivating individuals that live and breathe the fit and healthy lifestyle. I turn to this community for workouts, tech advice, healthy recipes, smiles and more. And it always delivers. But there is a common misconception about this group: That FitFluential Ambassadors are in it for the free products and access to big brands.

These two things are only a small part of the FitFluential story. If you ask any ambassador, they'll tell you that getting free products and access to big brands is really just icing on the motivational cake. Campaign participation is incredibly fun for bloggers like myself, and can be quite beneficial—but the sense of community that comes from testing and sharing things we believe in is worth so much more. Not only does it introduce you, our readers, to new and exciting things—it almost always opens the door to a bigger, better discussion. It connects people on so many levels, which ultimately creates a web of inspiration unlike any other.

But you don't have to be an ambassador to join this web of inspiration. FitFluential is powered by its ambassadors and fueled by its followers. Together, we create this positive, inspiring and motivating community. And it's this sense that fuels our interest in Under Armour's new What's Beautiful campaign.

Even if this campaign was sponsored by my left foot, I'd still support it.

This is a "competition born from a mission to redefine the female athlete." Show me someone who DOESN'T want to empower the female athlete (the one within you, or the one standing next to you), and I'll write an entire post sponsored by my aforementioned left foot. (Seriously, that would bore you to bits.)

Under Armour is really doing a wonderful thing with this campaign. It's all about girl power...about setting and achieving goals. About motivating and/or following each other every step of the way.

Oh, and it really is a competition that runs through July 15, 2013. But you don't have to approach it as such. Stick with the motivation angle and you'll come out on top, no matter what. But if you do want to focus more on the competition aspect of this campaign, sounds like there are some prizes involved.

Dive into the website for more information.

Here's my profile:

Admittedly, I'm still diving into all that it offers. But from what I've learned so far in my site-surfing adventures, it sets you up to connect with like-minded individuals in an effort to make and meet goals on a personal- and/or on a team-based level. Yes, you can create your own team defined by a goal you throw out there. No, you don't have to. You can certainly request an invite to join a team that speaks to you and your personal goal(s). That's one of the things that makes this campaign so beautiful. You can find others going through the same thing you are in an effort to conquer similar challenges.

My own personal goal? To continue getting a daily dose of fit (obviously), but with a side of positive attitude and self-love, each and every day.

This seems like an obvious goal for me, sure. Maybe even an easy one. But the whole "positive attitude" thing...not so easy. I'm damn hard on myself. Super critical of my performance in a workout, and how I look in workout clothes. (Any clothes, really.)

That's stupid, I know.
Call me human. And imperfect.

It's what I am.
And that's what's beautiful.

So, come on. Let's be strong together. What is your goal? Declare it loud and proud by creating a profile on the Under Armour What's Beautiful campaign site. Join a team if you feel so inclined. Or simply do your own thing. However you go about it, promise me you'll fight for your fitness. Believe in your fitness. Because beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder. And those that see beauty in the art and heart of all that it fitness and good health...and teamwork and achieving group or personal goals...those people see a beautiful thing. And you have what it takes to be one of them, those "beholders" of beauty.

Believe it: You will achieve your fitness goals.
Say it: "I will."

Join the web of inspiration by using #whatsbeautiful and #iwill on Twitter, too. Inspire others, and let others inspire you. Be sure to follow @UAWomen and @adailydoseoffit! You know I wanna know what you're up to...I cannot wait to be inspired by your journeys (as if I'm not inspired by them already).

Question: What is your current health and fitness goal? What are you doing to achieve it?

Monday, May 13, 2013

#ChiWomensHalf Training Update, Week 10

Last night, after a long weekend of celebrating moms and motherhood, I hit up the store where I found (among other things) this New Balance running belt:

It was marked down to $13, which is not what it rang up for—I scored it or $5. [Insert happy dance here.] Now, I don't carry a lot with me when I go running. Typically just my phone for safety purposes, music and so I can track myself on MapMyRun. And I usually just hold it unless it's cold enough for a jacket with pockets, but I'm getting up there in mileage as my half marathon approaches, which means I need to bring some water with me now:

I have not yet figured out how to recruit people to set up water stations for me. Wouldn't that be nice? A girl can dream... Needless to say, I found out this weekend when I ran eight miles that this double-fisting is not a comfortable solution. I'm fairly used to running with my phone in one hand, but these two items are not balanced. And having two items in-hand means that I can't alternate from one to another, which ultimately leads to some shoulder fatigue. My right shoulder is already a bum sometimes, so I needed a belt of sorts.

Obviously the color is awesome. Pink is my favorite color, cue the Aerosmith song. (And yes, that's a mini Bobble and it belongs to my daughter.) It fits my iPhone, although it's a tight fit. There is still some room for a key, credit card or some sport beans if need be. And you can't see it, but there's an attached ID tab that you can write on so you don't really have to carry yours.

Verdict? I love it, although I can't wear it on the front. It bounced too much so I had to turn it toward the back, which ended up working out nicely. And with my music cranked, I could still jam and I heard every message from MapMyRun. For $5, I'd say this was a good purchase. Even when it's not on sale, I think it retailed for about $20.

But that's enough about the belt. I still need to update you on last week's training.

Yeah, I only ran once during the week. I had to switch around the 6:00AM schedule at the gym, which left me teaching three times last week. I no longer teach on Mondays, hence my ability to run today. I switched to Wednesdays, but the Monday instructor couldn't take over last week which left me teaching both. I'm not really a two-a-day girl, so I left out the short run that typically takes place on Wednesdays.

I don't really think it affected my training, as I ran a great 8-miler on Saturday. Here's how it split:

1) My time was great. In fact, I was really happy with it. I started off a bit slow, but then I  clocked in even faster than I had hoped for. Time: 1hr, 16mins and 27secs. Average pace: 9mins and 33secs. Fingers crossed I can sustain something similar to this as I get closer to race day.

2) The weather was much cooler than it was during my last run, which made a huge difference. Also, I ran first-thing, which also seems to impact my performance a bit.

3) The path was new and different to me. I've run bits and pieces of it before, but never altogether. And parts of it where really nice and peaceful.

4) The legs felt great. The last mile was tough, but the last mile is always tough—but I push through it, and always do my best to increase my speed. Gotta race to the finish, right?

In other news, the search is on for a new running skirt. I love my black skirt I got from Target years ago, and since I'm making my return to the half marathon, I figured it would be motivating for me to buy myself a new running outfit to wear on the big day.

Question: What race day traditions do you have? New clothes? New music? Special breakfast?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pinspiration Thursday

There's this moment when you exercise. I know you know it. Your muscles start to fatigue and your mind starts to take over in a way that you really wish it wouldn't. It says "hey, you...just stop." But you don't want to stop, not really. You want that last rep or mile. You want it bad. But then you realize how nice it would feel to just give in to the fatigue. And sometimes you have to give in to avoid injury, but it's not those times that I'm talking about. It's the times you give in simply because you give up.

Don't give up, friends. Tattoo this onto your brain (figuratively speaking, of course):

Source / Pin
Question: Will you tell me about a time you kept going? How did it feel to break through that I-wanna-give-up barrier?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Energizing Peanut Butter and Chocolate Balls

I've had this weird obsession with chocolate and peanut butter lately. 
Specifically, I've been all about consuming the two in bar form.

But I have such a love/hate relationship with protein bars. So many of them are filled with such junk. I do my best to pick the best, but it doesn't always happen. So I got to thinking that I could make something equally satisfying at home. But in ball form.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but...damn. These little suckers are good. And fairly good for you. Plus, they're super easy to make.

Last time I went to Whole Foods, I picked up a bag of Vega's Chocolate Energizing Smoothie mix. I love these plant-based smoothies on their own, but the stuff makes for an excellent base in homemade goods. If you don't have any on-hand, you can always double the cocoa or add more oats. Or use whatever protein powder you do have. That's the beauty of these balls, they're highly adaptable.

Notice the sprinkles? I used Trader Joe's Sugar, Chocolate and Coffee Bean Grinder...only because I was curious, and only because it just adds an extra flavor boost.

Totally not necessary at all, so don't despair if you don't have any.

Source: Me!

1 cup peanut butter
• 1 cup Old-Fashioned Oats
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1 tbsp Vega Chocolate Energizing Smoothie mix
• 1 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1 tbsp Chia seeds
• Trader Joe's Sugar, Chocolate and Coffee Bean Grinder, to taste (optional)

1) Mix all ingredients
2) Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes (or so).
3) Form into balls, return to 'fridge.
4) Try not to eat them all at once.

Seriously, these bad boys are so adaptable. You can start with the peanut butter, oats and honey and build from there. Here are just a few other variations I've consumed over the years:

Protein Bombs
Oatmeal Raisin Peanut Butter Bites
Amazing Berry Bombs

Speaking of consuming food. Seriously, best lunch ever:

Fresh veggies, cheese, some beans and a slather of hummus wrapped in a wheat tortilla shell.

To die for.

Question: What's your "best lunch ever"?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

@Greatist: The Ultimate Guide to Good Posture (#Infographic)

Sometimes it feels so good to slump down in a chair and zone out for an hour—but it's really bad for your posture. Those heels you bought that totally make your outfit—hot, but really bad for your posture. Sitting at a computer all day, or just a few minutes, in a less than ergonomic position— (yes, you guessed it) really bad for your posture.

Having good posture not only boosts confidence, it boosts your body's ability to perform correctly. From circulation to proper muscle strength and balance, let's face it, posture is important. So here's your ultimate guide to good posture, compliments of Greatist:

  Good Posture
Find More at the Greatist Fitness Blog

Monday, May 6, 2013

5 Ways to Encourage Your Toddler's Physical Fitness

Hey, didja know that May is National Physical Activity and Sports month? So perfect, I least up here in Michigan, the weather is FINALLY looking like Spring. The grass is green, the beach is cleared of its Winter sand dunes, flowers are coming up and so is the, I'm loving it.

It's like Mother Nature is encouraging outdoor physical activity and sports.

According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, "National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is a great time to spread the word about the benefits of getting active. Getting regular physical activity can benefit everyone—children, adolescents and adults alike." I mean, let's be honest, I talk about this all the time on Daily Dose. But as a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I primarily speak to the older audience. And by "older," I refer to everyone not in diapers. But let's face it, our toddling counterparts need physical fitness, too.

But with tots, it's less about losing weight and gaining strength, it's more about setting a good example and encouraging them to find their own way of getting some physical fitness in their life (otherwise known as "having fun while moving"). Usually, they're pretty up for it. So, from one parent to another, and with all that I know about physical fitness, I give you 5 ways to encourage your toddler's physical fitness.

1) If they can walk, let them walk. The other day, I found myself struggling to juggle Hannah, her diaper bag, my gym bag and a cup of coffee as we walked into the gym. So I put Hannah down and let her walk. She was so proud to cross that parking lot with me and walk through the front doors on her own! And it dawned on me: She can walk now, I should let her walk now. So when it's safe, I do just that. In the stores, around the neighborhood...I let her walk as long, far and often as she wants to.

2) Buy some balls. Hannah is too little for soccer, and admittedly, that's not her soccer ball in the picture above, but I noticed her eyeing up the exercise balls at the gym as of late. Mine's been collecting dust in our basement (because I hardly exercise at home anymore), so I added it to her collection:

She loves chasing it around the house, and she loves kicking her smaller balls down the hallway. Nothing like a little foot/eye coordination development, eh? And with the nicer weather now, all of this can happen outside, too.

3) Get on the floor and wrestle (gently, of course). In our house, there's this typical time at night when all three of us are on the floor of our living room. Hannah literally climbs all over my husband and myself. It's hysterical and awesome at the same time. She'll literally dive at us, which will lead to one of us holding her up in the air like Superman, or gently turning her over in a mock backflip, or helping her with a few body rolls on the ground. What's cute is that she literally gets "out of breath" about it because she plays so hard. It's the best ever, really. And she's totally using all of her tiny little muscles from start to finish. Not only does this type of (gentle) play encourage strength, but it helps her become even more aware of her own body and how it can and cannot move.

4) Sign up for toddler-specific fitness classes. At this age, these fitness classes typically involve at least one parent, so not only is your child getting some physical fitness, they're having fun with you. Check with your local gym to see if they offer a Mommy/Baby yoga class, or maybe a Parent/Tot gymnastics or swimming class. (I mean, let's face it—this is a great way to let your inner child out, too.)

5) Lead by example. Tots like to mock what you do, it's that easy. If mommy and daddy think it's cool to go for a walk, then I bet the toddler will, too. In addition, remember that toddlers can't necessarily just decide they want to play outside. So at this stage in your kiddo's age, you have to be conscious about actually taking them outside to play.

Now, every child is different, so if there's only one thing you take away from the above, let it be this: Physical fitness is a journey, not a destination. You've heard that before. So at this point in your child's life, you really just need to do what you can to encourage movement. Teach them that movement...that being playful and fun. While books and DVDs have a place in almost every home, so do toys that encourage active play. Don't worry if they don't use these toys correctly right now, the point is that they're using them.

That they're moving (and having fun).

Question: Parents, how do you/how did you encourage your young children to be physically active?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

#ChiWomensHalf Training Update, Week 9

Here we go again...

Another week of half marathon training, done and done. I'm feeling a bit fatigued after today's long run. Most likely it's because of a Spinning class I took on Saturday—My gym hosted a ride to raise some funds for a new Autism learning center in the area. I couldn't skip it. I didn't want to skip it. Not only did I contribute to a great cause, I got to ride in a Spinning class. It's not something I get to do very often as a student. Typically, I'm in the lead bike these days. So it was good. Hard on the legs, but good.


Everyone was thrilled to jump off the bike and into a cup of Cho (not literally, of course).

Back to this week's running: My short runs were excellent. Outside at the crack of dawn, which is how I like them to be. I've been keeping an eye on my pace. I can typically up the ante for anything under five miles. Here's how it split on Wednesday's run:

When I get above five miles, I get closer to that 10-minute mile mark. It's more sustainable for me, really. Last time I ran a half, my average pace per mile was 10:46 minutes/mile.

That was four years ago. I ran  seven miles today and clocked in closer to the 11-minute mile mark. Not too far off.

In my defense, my legs were not fresh. And I was having some lower back pain, which always slows me down a bit. I can attribute the low back pain to some uneven sidewalks and bad transitions up and down from the curbs. Aside from that, and from the somewhat fatigued legs, everything is feeling good.

Still running in the Sauconys:

They've still got some life in them, and I am thinking they'll take me to race day, but there's always that concern that they won't since it's only up from here in terms of mileage. I'm beginning to wonder if I should invest in another pair of running shoes, just so I'm not scrambling at the last minute to break some in if need be. I typically have two pairs going at once, but my second pair...I just don't think they'll be good for the longer distances that I'm getting into now.

Gotta think on this one.

Question: If you run, what are some of the things you do to increase your pace? How many pairs of running shoes do you use when training? Are you good about changing them out when they wear down?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pinspiration Thursday

I've taken back something that hasn't been mine in a really long time: My morning run outdoors. I absolutely love getting out of bed and pounding pavement at the crack of dawn, but for so long, the crack has come at a time when I've found myself well into my day. But now, oh now it comes early. Around 6:00AM, which is actually perfect. That's when I would usually head into the gym for a jaunt on the treadmill or track. But not anymore (unless it rains).

I am back to running outside in the morning. Dawn, I see you:

Getting up early to exercise is not for everyone, I know this. But it's absolutely for me. I much prefer to get my workouts over and done with so that I can enjoy the rest of my day. And I find that morning workouts set an awesome tone for my day. You'll probably hear this from a lot of people that exercise in the morning.

I have another reason for you: I love working out in the morning because it feels like all the world is quiet but me. That all the world is mine to enjoy. That these are my moments. Mine alone. I find peace in my morning runs—but that's not to say that the rest of my day is hectic or unwanted. Quite the opposite, actually. I just love that hour or so I get to myself. I get lost in my thoughts while simultaneously enjoying whatever it is that I'm doing. (Today, I thought about how I'd have seven miles on tap this weekend....I can't wait!) And I enjoy thinking about whatever it is I'm going to be doing later that day. (Like laundry, or teaching class...or hanging out with Hannah and Jason.)

Call me crazy if you want, but really, it boils down to loving the little things. The little moments. Which brings me to today's Pinspiration:

Speak French?  I studied it for five years in school, put it to use on a trip to Paris a number of years ago, and have since forgotten all but the basics. But I knew exactly what this sentence meant when I first read it.

Life is made of the little moments.

True, right?

Question: What little moment made your day today?


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