Thursday, September 29, 2011

WIN THIS: A Sampler Pack of Umpqua Oats

I love oatmeal. Search for it on Daily Dose and you'll find post after post that declares it a breakfast bowl of gold. Well, unless it's "instant" oatmeal. I've always had a problem with the pre-packaged stuff. Particularly if it comes to me through a drive-thru window. Not so good. Not so good because the taste is usually off...not so good because the ingredients are usually unidentifiable. So when I found Umpqua Oats, I thought...well, wouldya look at that! Instant oats I actually want to eat! Why? They're "nutritious, delicious and fast." All things that mean a lot to me when it comes to breakfast. As much as I dislike the fact, it's true that I eat breakfast on the go a lot.

So when the kind people at Umpqua sent me the above to munch on, I munched away with gusto 'cuz the stuff is good. Really good, and I've honestly only eaten through four of the nine you see above. Raving reviews so early? Yeah, that's a good thing. (Remember, I'm a picky oatmeal-eater.) First up? Kick Start.

Nuts, fruit and a dash of brown sugar. I ate it on my way to work (I know, so bad) and it was so good. A little high on carbs (57 grams) and sugar (26 grams), but it IS meant to be a meal. And it DID carry me through to lunch. So did Lei'd Back and Not Guilty.

Apples, blueberries, flax and Chia seeds. Hardly sweet, which made it feel extremely homemade. But it was every bit instant. Translation: Fill up with 2/3 cup of hot water, recap and let it sit for two minutes. Bada-bing, bada-bang! Instant breakfast. I have to say, favorite SO FAR is Old School.

Apples, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and almonds—oh my! But what I love the absolute most about these oats is not the oats themselves, rather, it's the company story. Just two moms in search of a "healthy, quick and mobile breakfast for active people everywhere."

I know, right?

Use the Store Locator on their site to find this deliciousness in your area—or you can enter my contest. Yep, that's right. Two lucky Daily Dose readers will each win one sampler pack of Umpqua Oats. TWO of ya! To enter, visit the Umpqua Oats site and decide which flavor you'd most like to eat and tell me as much in a comment below. Please leave an email address in your comment in case you win. Do the following for extra entries:

1) Like Umpqua Oats on Facebook.
2) Follow Umpqua Oats on Twitter.
3) Like A Daily Dose of Fit on Facebook.
4) Subscribe to A Daily Dose of Fit via email.

Best of luck! Contest ends next Thursday, October 6, 2011 at midnight EST. Two winners will be chosen and announced on Friday, October 6, 2011.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Elements of Fitness

Let's go back to basics for a minute—it's really important to stop and check yo'self on occasion. Who knows, you might have let something fall through the cracks. And by "something," I mean an essential element of fitness. What are they? There are 4. And every fitness regime should include them in one way, shape or form. Behold:

1) CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE: According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should be getting two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or an hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Of course, additional benefits are achieved when those numbers are increased. They just represent the bare minimum. But they are not the be all/end all. You can't live on the cardio equipment and get strong, sculpted muscles.

2) MUSCULAR STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE: You should be strength training each muscle group at least two times a week, and never (ever) on consecutive days. Pumping iron challenges your muscles in ways that promote easier living. It's our muscles, after all, that facilitate our movement. You do the math. (Oh, and...there's that whole "muscle use burns fat" thing. So why not use 'em a little in the gym after you run on the treadmill?)

3) FLEXIBILITY: Does a stiff rubber band hold your newspaper together? Negative, therefore stiff muscles won't hold your body together. Well, OK. So they will...but they won't move very easily which can cause all sorts of aches and pains down the line. When you strength train or test that cardiovascular endurance, you work your muscles so much that they clench up. Stretching after a workout pulls them back to their usable state, promoting better body mechanics moving forward.

4) BODY COMPOSITION: Fat versus fat-free mass. Obviously we know which one should feature the higher percentage.  Tie in the three components above to a healthy, well-balanced diet and you'll find that the fat comes off a lot easier. Shall I put it bluntly? Stop consuming processed crap, like Big Macs and Big Gulps. They just negate the work you do at the gym.

There are four pieces to the fitness puzzle, and so it goes without saying that the fitness puzzle is incomplete with out each of them. And that's why we need to go back to basics on occasion, to make sure we're putting all of the pieces together. Only then can you complete the picture.

Speaking of pictures. Check out my lunch:

Simply Healthy Black Bean Soup. I was thinking about it all morning at the gym, how I would make it right when I got home, then consume it promptly upon it's completion. Which I did, but not without tearing away a few pages from my calendar. Didja catch today's phrase, pictured above? "Try this dinner: A big vat of veggie and bean soup, served with a fat salad." No salad, but I got the veggie and bean part down.

Love this stuff so much when the temps drop. I want another bowl just typing about it. But alas, I'm really not that hungry. And I've got things to do: Baby's closet is ready to be filled with what we've got so far, and I have to take my Prenatal & Postpartum Exercise Design exam. (Bring it.)

Question: Are you guilty of scrimping on any of the elements listed above?

Monday, September 26, 2011

On bad body image.

I love Cathy Thorne cartoons.

You might recall seeing this one.

They are always so...right on. And simple, which I think is really fantastic. She conveys so much with so little, and somehow manages to get a chuckle out of ya, too. Total talent, if you ask me.

The particular cartoon at right is obviously brilliant, and I'm sure something we can all relate to. No matter how hard you work in the gym, no matter how many pounds you drop or what size clothes you wear, the truth is, if you don't believe in yourself...if you don't believe in your own beautiful, strong and smart self, then you're still one step behind yourself.

It's hard to look in the mirror and love everything you see. You are very human in that respect. But at some point, you have to look in the mirror and admit that what you see is what you get. And that's a very good thing, actually.

It's good to be different. It's good to have "flaws" because those "flaws" aren't always a bad thing. They are simply just signs of our unique and individual selves.  If we all looked like Barbie and Ken, boring would that be?

Love what you get. Love it with all of your heart. After all, you only get it once.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Bunch of Apples (and one pear)

The seasons are definitely changing up here in Michigan. The sun still shines, but the leaves are beginning to fall. Much like the temperatures. And the apples. Today, they fell right off the tree and into my basket. Apple picking has become one of my most favorite Fall rituals. I go to Jollay Orchards in Coloma, Michigan every year—and every year it gets more and more entertaining. From the tractor rides out to the trees, to the tasty baked goods in the barn...perfection. Just like the apples themselves. This year, I even picked a pear. But I did not pick it alone, as I was lucky enough to get the company of both Mom and Sister, and two of my cousins. A visual display of our day:

And so now, I have a produce drawer full of fresh, crisp apples (and one pear) ready and waiting for my next (super healthy, good carb) snack attack. Pass the peanut butter, please. (I wonder if it would be good on the pear, too...)

Question: How do you like them apples? With peanut butter? In a pie?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

5,000 Things

I feel like I have 5,000 things to do today. And before you scoff because you know fair well that I don't work full time, lemme say this: I realize that I have my afternoons off, but I'm not one to willingly waste away the day. I like to get stuff done, and today is no exception—even though lounging on the couch and enjoying the fresh breeze as it floats through my house sounds temptingly lovely. Especially with this in plain sight:

But I can't do that. I can't sit and read the afternoon away because of all this:

My Prenatal & Postpartum Exercise Design course, which desperately needs to be completed but now sits haphazardly next to the coffee table in my living room. And also, apparently, among crumbs and gunk that need to be vacuumed up. (It's a good thing we're cleaning the carpets tonight, which means I have to move as much as I physically can out of each carpeted room in the house before the hubs gets home.)

An almost-finished room for Baby, perfectly painted but lacking doors and a closet system. Also a crib and a dresser, both of which sit boxed in our extra bedroom.

A basement full of laundry. Yes, that's the Maytag Man in all his cardboard glory. He scares me every time I walk into our basement. But I figure it's better than Heath the Joker, whose cardboard cutout sits in the room adjacent to this one.

Note, I also have to make a play list for class tomorrow and I have to make really might not sound like a lot to do (I'm guessing some of you have kids), but to me...well, it makes my brain a little crazy. Let's just say I can be very easily distracted if I don't stay focused. And in my opinion, staying focused is one way we can keep our brains challenged. Or, in other words, keep our brain fit. It is, after all, a muscle.

Easier said than done, right?

5 Ways to Stay Focused (while gettin' sh*t done)
1) Accept that you might not get everything done, but give it your best shot. There are only so many hours in the day, so we can only do what we can do before our bodies shut down for the night. Eliminating the "gotta get it done" mentality makes room for more focus.

2) Make a list...
...and stick to it. If "check out" isn't on your list, you'll be less likely to do it. That is, if you're stickin' to your list.

3) Take care of yourself all day long. Eat lunch, take a shower...get your workout in. You, after all, are more important than anything on your list of things to do. And clearly it's perfectly fine to write these things on your "To Do:" list.

4) Prioritize in order of importance or by the time it takes you to get something done. If a certain task can wait, then let it. If it's something you can chip away at all day long (like laundry), get it going early and consider it the task for between tasks. And if it's something that absolutely needs to get done, like, yesterday...then bite the bullet and get it done pronto! No more excuses.

5) Ask for help. Never, ever be afraid (or too proud) to ask for help. Sometimes, despite the idea behind Sarah Jessica Parker's new movie...we can't do it all. We can either accept that (see #1) or accept help from others on the tasks we know we'll struggle with.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to check "Blog" off my list and move on to "Move things" in prep for tonight's big carpet cleanin' extravaganza. (Note: If you live in the area and need to clean your carpets, rent a carpet cleaner from Martin's. Yeah, the grocery store. It was $50 total for the cleaner, the cleaning solution and the deposit. $50! You get it for 24 hours. That's enough time, right?)

Question: How do you get things done?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The SELF Magazine Machine Move

Back in May, I attended SELF Magazine's Workout in the Park event in Chicago and consequently walked away with a subscription to the magazine itself. Some scoff at this particular glossy, but I like it. It's fun, light...not intimidating in any way. Fitness, with a little bit of fashion and flair. Yes, it might be lighter on the fitness than other magazines (you know which one I'm talking about), but that's not to say it doesn't produce quality advice and downright doable exercises. For example, the issue on newsstands right now offers up a "lower-body blitz" in the form of six double-sided tear away cards, each with an exercise or two you can try at home.

I happen to be in love with one of them, and if you take any of my classes or train with me, you'll be seeing this one in your workouts quite soon. Get ready:

If you try this at home, remember you can  use hand weights or a weighted bar. For seven more at-home butt burners from Self Magazine, just click here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nourish: Food + Community

So begins the description on the back of the DVD that Nourish just sent me to review.

What is Nourish? An "educational initiative designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability"—two things I believe us fit-lifers should really care about. We are what we eat. Our activities (exercise included) are fueled by what we eat. And we should only be eating the best, most nutritious foods, so it absolutely matters where that food comes from. The DVD explores this, and the fact that food is more than just a source of fuel for our bodies. It's, as Michael Pollan says, about community and identity. Our farming methods affect those living around our farmlands. When we ship in products from other countries, our desire for sweet papayas and cacao beans gives life to economies in countries less privileged than ours. And that, in effect, ties our two countries—our two very different communites—together as one papaya-lovin', chocolate eatin' group with much respect for each other.

But this exchange of goods, it's not always so fair. It's certainly not always so fresh, which leads us to our food industry. An industry that is overflowing with over processed, overeaten goods that aren't so, well...good for us. Or fresh. Remember yesterday's post about our current eating habits as a nation? Remember our lack of understanding when it comes to the concept of "fresh." This DVD sheds light on that issue. Calling attention to the overuse of high fructose corn syrup, the overuse of corn in general, and the idea that the papaya you're about to eat traveled for days and days on end just to get to your table. Meaning, just because you call it produce...that doesn't mean you can call it fresh. You have to pick the right papaya. And in this day and age, that can be hard. Or expensive.

Let's take a look at the trailer for the aforementioned DVD:

If you like it, you can certainly order your own copy. At the very least, spend some time on the Nourish website. They've got quite the collection of videos you can watch at your leisure.

It's really a very powerful initiative with the ability to change your perspective on the food in front of you. This, of course, comes at a time when our farmer's markets are getting sparse. Fresh fruits and veggies are slowly going out of season, making way for fall apples and return trips to the local supermarket for "fresh" fruits and veggies. As the unavailability of truly fresh foods comes upon us, we are forced to remind ourselves about the importance of eating as close to the source as possible. It's hard, but it is entirely possible.

And it can make a world of difference in your health.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Eating Patterns in America

Do you eat the same foods day in and day out? Are you more inclined to pick one restaurant over another? What foods have you been eating more of? These questions and more are answered on a yearly basis by the NPD Group, otherwise known as a market research firm. Their results, compiled in the 26th Annual Report on Eating Patters in America, help companies create new products and reform old ones—all in an effort to better entice us (the consumers) in the supermarket, at the drive-thru window or in the car we debate which restaurant sounds good for dinner.

This latest report, although not available for the masses quite yet, includes 650 pages of facts, graphs and more. All of which seems to represent the way we eat. Here's a taste, take directly from the NPD website:

1) We are skipping fewer meals.
2) We have mixed feelings about "fresh."
3) More of us are buying health in a pill.
4) Sodium may be declining as a health concern.

Whatcha think? Do you fall prey to any of the above? Note, they aren't all bad.

It's good that we're respecting the importance of a well-balanced diet by eating the BLD combo (breakfast-lunch-dinner), but it's a bit unnerving that we can't get in line about the concept (and importance) of "fresh." We're still not using enough fresh foods in our meals, and although we're buying into the farmer's market a lot more than usual, the shelves at our grocery stores are stocked with more processed and shipped-in foods than one could probably even count. But at least we're taking our vitamins, even though some of us are still relying on diet pills to lose weight and control hunger. (Really? Sheesh.)

As for sodium, well...I've certainly read my fair share of articles about the importance of a low salt/sodium diet, and I do my best to pick the low sodium options when I'm at the grocery store. It seems I'm not alone in that respect, which is good. Maybe we've finally kicked the salt habit. Or maybe we're continuing to get smarter and smarter about it. For the most part, that is. According to the aforementioned report, we still eat a lot of salty snacks. Contradictory? Perhaps.

Again, from the NPD website:

The foods and beverages we ate more of last year than ever before:
1) In-Home Meals: Pizza, fruit, salty snacks and yogurt.
2) Restaurant-Purchased Meals: Breakfast sandwiches, hot cereal, burritos and iced tea.

Thank you, Starbucks and McDonald's, for enticing us to eat your hot cereals (not). You all now how I feel about these in-a-pinch breakfast options. I'd rather spend my money on a big 'ol tube of old-fashioned oats. But I'd certainly rather order hot oats at the drive-thru than a breakfast sandwich. But that's just me and my need for a sweeter type of breakfast. And don't even talk to me about skipping breakfast...I can't. You wouldn't want me to.

Moral of the story? Make sure your eating patterns are healthy patterns.

And do check out the NPD website. You'll find a lot of interesting reports that focus primarily on the way we live. What's on our mind? They'll tell you.

Question: What are some of your most prominent eating habits?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pick the Right Music

The other day, I had a conversation with a fellow fitness instructor during which we both confirmed this fact: The hardest part about teaching a class (any class) is picking the right music. Music, after all, truly sets the tone. When the going gets tough, it motivates like no other...encouraging movement and providing the necessary push to make one last repetition. But as the instructor, you must stand in front of a diverse group of people—and you can only hope that the music you've selected touches everyone involved in some way.

The same can somewhat be said about your own personal playlists, too. You have to like what you're listening to. Let's face it: Frank Sinatra is great, but his soothing voice and romantic notes don't really  make you want to sweat out that last set of Sumo squats. Odds are good that you prefer something high-energy. Something that makes you want to move like you've never moved before. Something, dare I say, you can even sing along to. At least in your head (although there is this one guy at my gym who sings out loud to whatever is buzzing through his ear buds).

Music is personal. And when it comes to working out, it has to be perfect.

So how does one pick the right music for a workout, whether one is picking for themselves or for a group? You could listen to the radio, pick from old favorites...or you could consult a number of online resources like iTunes and Amazon for big hits and favorite playlists. There's even a website that's totally devoted to music for workouts.

I recently received an email from the creator of RunHundred, "a free music database on which visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo and era to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine." You obviously can't download free playlists, but you can hear snippits of every song and find links to websites on which you CAN make the download. You can even vote for your favorites. And whether you're looking at "The 10 Best-Rated Workout Songs," songs from "Top 40 Radio" or "The Top 10 Workout Songs for September"—you'll surely find some inspiration for your own playlists. Or if you're a group fitness instructor like me, for your classes.

And if you're wondering what The Top 10 Workout Songs for September are, according to RunHundred, the list includes:

1) Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
2) Alexandra Stan - Mr. Saxobeat
3) LMFAO, GoonRock & Lauren Bennett - Party Rock Anthem (Russ Chimes Remix)
4) Pitbull & Marc Anthony - Rain Over Me
5) Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer - Give Me Everything (Sidney Samson Remix)
6) Nadia Ali, Alex Kenji & Starkillers - Pressure (Alesso Radio Edit)
7) Gym Class Heroes & Adam Levine - Stereo Hearts
8) Lady GaGa - Edge Of Glory (Bare Noize Remix)
9) Switchfoot - Dark Horses
10) T.I. & B.o.B. - We Don't Get Down Like Y'all

Now go, head on over to RunHundred and get inspired to make your newest (and greatest) workouts. Just remember this one thing—always pay for your music.

Question: What kind of music are you currently putting on your playlist? Any songs always make the cut, no matter what?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Great Ads from NikeWomen

I'm not sure when the following ads ran, but I love them so much. Nike really hits it in every aspect. As a former advertising professional and Nike's intended target, I would know. If I had a home gym, I'd request prints to frame (one for each wall) because you gotta love all four:

Question: Which of your body parts do you like to celebrate and why?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Get fit...not frustrated.

I drove past my own street again today. Fail. And also quite frustrating. I'm beginning to think I fall under the category of "distracted driver." Better get that under control before Baby becomes precious cargo. (Well, I guess it already is.)

Speaking of frustrating, I thought we might discuss the trials and tribulations of working out to meet certain goals, be they weight loss or strength goals. Maybe you're training for an event and not making the strides you want to. Maybe you're trying to lose a specific amount of weight each week. Whatever you've set yourself up to, you've probably had at least one moment along the way where all feels completely and totally and utterly lost. You know you shouldn't give up, but you just want to pull out your hair.

All thoughts of "why keep going if nothing is changing/getting better" creep in and consume you. Don't let them. Seriously, you can work through those thoughts. And whatever plateaus you've encountered.

6 Ways to Overcome Frustration at the Gym
1) Reevaluate your goals. You won't lose five pounds every day, nor will you run a marathon in two weeks if you've just started running. So making the commitment to do just that is basically a setup for failure. When it seems like you just can't meet your goals, stop and ask yourself if your goals need to be changed. Or if maybe you need to set up mini goals. Hey, there's nothing wrong with making little accomplishments in an effort to overcome that big goal. And there's nothing wrong with changing up that big goal to make it more attainable. Once you reevaluate, you can refocus. Frustration gone.

2) Take a break. Seriously, if you aren't building in rest have to. Our bodies get to a certain point where they just can't take it anymore. That's when we get hurt. Or hit plateaus. To truly make advancements in the gym, you have to allow your body time to rest and recuperate. On the other hand, your mind could need a break from the gym, too. That's what vacations are for. Momentary pauses that allow us to regroup. And we often need to regroup at the gym, too. No vacation in line for you? Just take a week off. Or just a few days. Come back when you're excited about hitting the gym again.

3) Seek help. Speak to a personal trainer. Hire one if you've got the budget. Remember, personal trainers are trained to know the ins and outs of workin' out. To assess you and to tell you what could and shouldn't be changed. You never know if what you're doing is wrong. You could be setting yourself up for all that failure and frustration without even knowing it. Maybe your old favorite exercises aren't doing you any good anymore. Maybe your training schedule isn't outlined as best it could be. Go ahead, find that trainer. Most of them are more than willing...and usually very excited to you about your training methods. Some might insist that you pay, but I guarantee there's at least one at your gym that's willing to offer some free advice. Why? Because they love their industry.

4) Find a workout buddy. Partner up to make the most out of your workouts. Not only will you make time fly, you'll have someone at your side you can learn from—and confide in. Perhaps you'll come to call them your sounding board for all your frustrations at the gym. You know, 'cuz sometimes it's instantly relieving to just speak those frustrations out loud. And you never know what they'll say in response that might spark a change.

5) Plan accordingly. In multiple different ways. Plan to workout at a time that's most convenient to you, rather than a time that's just available because you have a free minute in between things. You should be able to enjoy your workout, not have to breeze through it because you're simply moving from one scheduled thing to another. When you rush a workout, it never feels good because you're more focused on getting to what's next, rather than what repetition you're on. And speaking of repetitions, it helps to plan in advance what you'd like to do in any given workout. You won't waste time, you'll know exactly where to start.

6) Expand your understanding of exercise. If you have a set-in-stone routine, the minute someone takes your machine is the minute frustration sets in. But YOU need that, and you need it right now...right? For any given exercise, there's probably at least three ways to perform it using three different pieces of equipment: Cable machine, free weights and exercise bands. And for every given muscle group, well...there's probably countless ways to attack it. So teach yourself new exercises so that you can keep going when the going is stopped by another exerciser.

Phew! Relaxed?

I am. I just noshed on a mini pumpkin smoothie.

I'm getting so into pumpkins right now. I know it's still a little early for thoughts of Halloween and Thanksgiving, but this hint of cool weather and falling leaves seriously makes me want all things pumpkin. The recipe: 

Mini Pumpkin Smoothie
1/2 cup milk
1/2 6 oz. container vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 of 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Toss in a blender and blend away! It makes the perfect little snack-size smoothie, 'course you can double the ingredients if you'd like more of a meal.

Question: Is there anything you crave at this time of year? What's got you frustrated at the gym as of late?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Maggie Goes on a Diet

So I was flipping through a copy of People at the gym today, the one with Kim Kardashian on the cover (over her), when I came across a review of the following book: Maggie Goes on a Diet by Paul Kramer. It targets children, and it's about a 14 year-old girl who is overweight. She gets made fun of at school, she goes on a diet, she loses weight...and gets popular. I was all for this book until I came to the "lose weight, get popular" message. Is this really a message we need to be sending to our children? That you can only be "popular" if you look a certain way? Shouldn't we be teaching our children that it's not about looks, but that it is about living healthy and eating the right things and forgoing the video games for a little physical activity? Check the following:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

"...chubby wubby..." 
Someone taught that girl to say that, whether or not they realize it. My child is, well...currently unborn and too young to really understand the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. But as it grows older and comes in contact with this topic, I will teach it to the best of my abilities to make healthy decisions. That healthy is good and fun. And that we shouldn't, under any circumstances, make fun of or judge others because of their own battles with health and well being. 

It's not about how we look. It's not about changing ourselves to be more popular, nor is it about excluding people who don't look or act like us. In an age of bullying, this is evermore important.

Especially when it comes to our children.
Needless to say, this is one book that won't be on my kid's bookshelf...although, it could be a very good way to educate them in a way that I don't think this book truly intended: It's important to make healthy decisions, to live healthy which also means to eat healthy, but we do these things not for others...not to be popular...not to be "skinny"...but to simply be healthy. Because only when we're healthy can we truly live a great and wonderful life. And we call come in different packages, so one person's healthy might be different than another person's.
Question: Would you read this book to your child?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

Ten years, and not a moment goes by during which we forget. We don't forget where we were, what we were doing, and we don't forget how we felt. Most importantly, we don't ever forget the victims. God bless the victims and their families. And may God bless the United States of America. Together, we fight terrorism and violence. We remain strong. And together, we are one from sea to shining sea.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Write for Daily Dose!

I woke up this morning to what an only be described as fall weather. Light rains, falling leaves...chilly temps. It makes me want a sweatshirt and some football—I'm about to get both (well, so long as my favorite Notre Dame sweatshirt still fits me). My boys take on the University of Michigan today, the wolverines, and they do so in the "big house" (whatever). At night. In "throwback" uniforms.

My husband loves Michigan. We live in a house divided.

Blue and gold, Baby. Blue. And. Gold. (Note: If Baby were already here, he/she would be wearing Notre Dame gear. I'm just sayin'.) But Baby is not here yet, though it continues to make it's presence known by kicking away at my internals. Little darn thing woke me up at 7:00AM this morning. I think it was ready for a workout, given my usual early morning workout routine. It's Saturday, precious. Let momma sleep.

Alas, I am up.
And fairly anxious to start the day.
We've been making great progress on the nursery.

Well, Jason is since I can't paint. Fumes and all. Sadly, I love to paint. So while he's knee-deep in it, I'm working my way through the other parts of the house, getting things done before the big game. Aren't Saturdays great? I get so much done on Saturdays.

I anticipate this phenom to go away in a few short months. Four, to be exact. I've been thinking a lot about this blog and what to do with it once the little one arrives. I have no intentions of walking away from it, but I am extremely nervous about finding time to write it. At least in those first few weeks, since I'll be so busy getting Baby on a schedule and adapting to life with someone who depends entirely on me (well, and my husband) for nourishment and support. And if I'm up all night providing just that—I worry that this here blog'll be the last thing I want to attack come daylight. But I also wonder if it'll be a nice little release while Baby snoozes. These things have yet to be determined, but again, I certainly have no intention of neglecting this site. Or you, dear readers.

This is why I'm asking for help.

I've met (virtually, in most cases) a lot of really great people since I launched A Daily Dose of Fit. Some are bloggers themselves, others are not. And some I've known in-person for quite some time. But all of them...all of YOU, dear readers, have such great thoughts, such great responses to some of the topics I've presented. And I know you've got some great ideas, too. So I want to give you a chance to shine. I want to introduce YOU to everyone else. Care to write for Daily Dose? Consider this a request for guest posts.

I cannot pay you, but I can expose you to readers you might not otherwise have had. Or I can simply give you a chance to see your thoughts and words on the Internet (if you don't currently have a blog or website to promote—really, it's fun). And I won't schedule anything to post until later in December, most definitely January and beyond, depending on how many submissions I get. So that gives you ample time to come up with something. (I debated whether to bring this up now or later, but there are some pretty significant holidays peppered throughout the upcoming months, so I figured the timing was right.) Here's how it works:

It's truly that simple, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me with those, too. I'm really hoping to expose you guys to each other. You are all so great! And of course, I'm really very grateful for your help in this crazy new chapter of my life!

Friday, September 9, 2011

School days, school days...

...oh, those dear old Golden Rule days! You either loved them or hated them. Me, I loved them. Call me a nerd, but I always enjoyed learning new things. Even more so in college because I got to actually pick my courses of action. So everything I took (Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations, 2D Design, Mass Comm Law...) was a class I truly wanted to be in. Which was great! And I loved...LOVED getting new supplies to use in said classes.

Needless to say, I was envious of the kiddies in my neighborhood this week. Oh, those kiddies and all their new backpacks and pencil cases! I'd be an eternal student if I could.

Lucky for me, I have to be an eternal student if I wish to maintain my personal trainer certification. Just today, Mr. UPS Man delivered my next at-home course.

Give you one guess what it's about...

Given that I'm already five months into my own pregnancy, I'm quite anxious to learn if I'm doing everything correctly. We covered this special population in my initial personal training classes, but I imagine the above will go into greater detail.

I also just found You Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy at my local library. It wasn't until I brought it home that I realized Dr. Oz was an author. Apparently he's quite the deal. I will admit to knowing nothing about him, except for the fact that he's one of Oprah's favorite things. Right? I scoped his Wikipedia page, and some individuals seem to be concerned that his medical practices are somewhat unconventional. I don't know. I don't care, really. I have my own doctors...doctors I trust.

It just makes me further intrigued by the book at right.

I'll let you know what I learn, and I'll let you know what the book says.

Until then, I leave you with this bit of inspiration. Who is George Santayana? Back to Wikipedia I went, where I learned that Georgie was apparently "a man of letters" (otherwise known as a "philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist"). The inspiration:

Remember, it is entirely possible for you to get in shape. To feel healthy. To feel good about yourself. To lift weights. To run a race. To, whatever you've always wanted to do. Go. Do it. You can, and knowing that is what makes it all come to fruition.

Have a great night!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Planks. The epitome of all core exercises. For example:

Side Plank with Single Leg Adductions
Plank Jacks
Add a leg kick to your plank
How long can you hold a plank?

You either love them, or you hate them with every fiber of your being. If I may, I might suggest you start loving them...but I digress. Planks are all the rage. And not for the reason you might think. Planks are hitting the Internet by storm. Check it:

There's even a site dedicated to planking, which features pictures of people planking in spots across the world. Although, realistically speaking, they're not doing quite the same type of plank done in gyms for fitness purposes. But still, core strength is required. And it's kind of fun to see where people are "planking" themselves.

This is where I give you a fitness funny.

Forget about planking. It's all about Batmanning now. If you know my husband, you know why I personally find this entertaining.

Seriously, though. I don't know how these dudes do it. That's some major ankle/shin strength right there if you ask me.

Enjoy...and be careful if you try either of the above. If you ask me, I think we should all just stick to regular planks. On the floor. In the gym.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Make the Most of Each Repetition

Once you commence your workout, life becomes a series of "1...2...3...4..." and more. Onward and upward you go, completing your desired number of repetitions with gusto until you've completed your workout. But it's not enough to just complete those repetitions. If you simply move through the motions, you miss out on oh so much. Correction: Your muscles miss out on oh so much.

And what's a workout if it's null and void in the end? It's nothing, and that's something I have been pondering a lot lately as I navigate the constraints of my pregnant body in the gym.

I can't lift as much, but I can still do the workouts—how can the two come together so as not to decrease the benefits? How can a workout be successful each and every time? Again, it's all about your approach to the repetitions. Even if you aren't pregnant. No doubt, you've heard me say some of the following before. As a result, long-winded I shan't be.

How to Make the Most of Each Repetition
1) Slow down. Don't let momentum steal your glory.
2) Breathe. Inhale, then exhale.
3) Concentrate on the muscle group you are working. Not your to-do list.
4) Seek out the contraction. Make it happen. Work it, girl (guy).
5) Check your form. Do every repetition right, even if you have to scale back the weight.
6) Pick the right weight. Forget about the number.
7) Pick the right exercise—one that won't hurt you.
8) Stretch. Consider it your bonus repetition.

Question: Are you good at focusing at the gym, or are you guilty of going through the motions? How do you make sure you get the most out of your workouts?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Short Week (and a back exercise)

I've been walking around this day thinking that it's Monday. That's what happens to me when weekends flip into a three-day affair. I don't think I'm alone. Just to remind everyone...well, to remind's Tuesday. For a few more hours, at least.

Good weekends had by all? Mine was fun, albeit a bit packed full of excitement. Love when that happens, except when Sunday night hits and it's time to gather the good for the next day's affairs. Oh, see...there I go again. In this case, it was Monday night that hit me like a log falling out of a tree. And here I sit. Sipping a decaf Caffe Wein (coffee/chocolate/milk...decaf/non-fat) at one of my favorite coffee spots in town.

I'm inside. I wish I was at a table outside.

Dare I say it feels like Fall? I don't want Summer to end, but I'm loving the chill in the air. Still in shorts and sandals today, but rocking the scarf look. I feel cozy. I'll take this weather with a smile, but I'll hate it when the sun finally disappears for good. I am, however, a bit sad about it. This is my favorite time of year to get outside and run. So many great fall races take place in my neck of the woods, and my running game just isn't what it used to be. For obvious reasons, of course. Bump update:

(Can you spot the rabbit in the background?)

I am still running, though. Albeit at a slower pace. A much slower pace, actually. 20 minutes of brisk walking, followed by 25 minutes of run/walking around the track. One lap on, one lap off the running. That's my cardio these days and I'm stickin' to it. For as long as I can, at least. Don't worry. I'm watching the heart rate so as not to overdo it. I top out at 140, which is barely a jog. I think it puts Baby to sleep, it never moves when I'm running. But it's moving like crazy these days! Especially at night. The bugger has take to waking me up on occasion. Prep work, I assume, for those long nights of endless cuddling to sleep and feeding and dirty diapering.

Let's talk about fitness.

I've been really into my exercise bands lately.  You might recall the Bow and Arrow move I talked about a few days ago. Here's another, which also works the back:

You can find the original image on the Oxygen website, along with how-to instructions. But really, I think you can figure it out, said Tara with a smile.

Can't wait to try it out on my Circuit Sculpters this Friday. Give it a go for yourself and let me know what you think. And if you have any new or unusual band exercises you think I should know about, do leave a comment or shoot me an email at daily dose (dot) notes (at) gmail (dot) com.

Question: Is your workout changing now that things are slowly starting to change outside?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's that time of year again.

Today, echos of "touchdown" and victory marches will be heard in and outside of stadiums across the country. Freshly painted with white lines and team logos, well-groomed fields will soon be trampled by college boys prepped to entertain us with their athleticism, sportsmanship (or lack thereof, in some cases) and their drive to succeed. They will give us another reason to be proud. Proud of our alma mater, proud of our favorite.

They will give us football season. It's here, and it is certainly time to tailgate. Cheer for the team you love best, cheer for the underdog. Cheer with your heart, fight not with the opponent. It's all in good fun, and should remain as such. This is my favorite time of year, believe it or not. It takes me back to high school football. It takes me back to college, where us girls across the street from Notre Dame got season tickets, too.

GO IRISH, I say. Let's give Our Mother a win today.

Question: Do you enjoy college football? Who do you cheer for?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bow and Arrow for Rear Delts and Lats

Got a new move for ya. I put it in my Circuit Sculpt class this morning, and at first I wasn't too convinced, but then I felt the burn. And ultimately ended up liking it. It's rather easy, only in the sense that you can do it anywhere so long as you have an exercise band. Got access to a cable machine? You can do it on a cable machine, too. Enough delay, let's get to it:

How-To: Bow and Arrow for Rear Delts and Lats
1) Grab an exercise band with a suitable degree of tension. Handles are awesome, but not necessary as evidenced by the photo at right.

(Thanks for letting me borrow it, Woman's Day.)

2) With the handles in your right (pulling) hand, grab at the middle of the band with your left hand and raise your left arm straight out to your side. Hold it there throughout. Bring your right hand up to chest height, keeping your elbow in line with your shoulders. Start with your right hand in your left armpit.

3) Pull with your right hand directly across your chest, creating tension while keeping your elbows in line with your shoulders. Don't let them sag or move toward your back.

4) Repeat until you've reached your desired number of repetitions, then switch sides. (Stay even!)

5) If, after one complete set on each side, you feel as though the band isn't challenging you enough—try another band with more tension, or simply create an extra loop in the band that will ultimately shorten it. This creates additional tension, too.

6) To set this up at a cable machine, secure the cable itself at shoulder height and hook up a single handle. Hold your stationary arm up in the direction of the anchor point as if you were actually holding the anchor point, pulling with the other as described above. Adjust the weight as necessary and keep your shoulders perpendicular to the anchor point (in other words, don't face the cable machine).

It's really important to maintain the form described above. Our shoulders are very sensitive to improper technique. And trust me, shoulder injuries are not fun nor do they go away easily. I speak from mild experience.

Just to refresh: Your deltoid muscles sit right atop your shoulder joint. That cap of muscle that pops when you do shoulder exercises (or wear tank tops). Therefore, your rear delts are simply the back portion of this muscle. Your latissimus dorsi, on the other hand, can be found in your back. They're the big muscles that, when you look at a map of back muscles, look much like wings. Imagine these muscles working as you move through the above to really assure yourself that they're being engaged.

Speaking of engaging, if you're looking for a light lunch that really get the taste buds, try this:

I sauteed some zucchini with a bit of shallot and garlic, then dusted it with fresh black pepper and crushed red pepper. And since I definitely wanted to eat my leftover Sweet Italian chicken sausage, I chopped that up and threw it in the mix, too.

So good. And so easy.

Question: How are your shoulders these days? Do you train them regularly? What's your preferred method of doing so?


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