Friday, March 26, 2010

Run your first 5K!

The birds are singing, the days are getting longer, snow and ice are a bad memory…well so we hope. It’s officially spring! That means it’s time to outside to get your butt in shape. If you are ready to take your walk up to a run, there is no better motivation than to sign yourself up for your very first 5K race and then of course train for it. All you need is about 10 weeks to train, a great pair of running shoes and some can-do attitude.

A few things to do before you get started:

  • Check with your doctor to see if running is right for you if you have any medical condition or injury...better to be safe than sorry.
  • Get a great pair of running shoes. As avid KC runner Elizabeth says, “Seems to me that anyone can run any distance if they find a reasonable training plan and stick to it. It also seems to me that a lot of beginning runners are picking the wrong shoes - that is, buying according to looks/price - and then they get hurt and quit. I'd recommend starting out at a specialty store and having them analyze your gait. You may drop a few more dollars than you would have otherwise, but you won't feel it quite as much the morning after!” I recommend checking out Gary Gribbles (
  • Set a realistic schedule. The plan calls for 4 days of training a week. Put your days and times that you will run on your calendar and treat those times as untouchable times…like you would a meeting at work, your graduation ceremony, happy hour with your favorite people. You get the picture…write it/type it and then stick to it. Also, if you’re not a morning person, do not plan on training in the morning at 5 a.m…that is a recipe for disaster. Instead, train over lunch or right after work.

The plan:

  • Run 3 days per week (on non-consecutive days)
  • Cross train 1 day per week for 30-45 minutes (weight lifting, biking, swimming, cross fit, etc.)

Remember, this is YOUR training. If you can already run for a 2 minutes at a time, by all means, start at Week 5 and go from there. If you are struggling to make it past a week, stick with that particular workout until you have mastered it before going on. It’s about you and your success. It doesn’t matter how long you take to get there… it’s your attitude and perserverance. Justin, a long time KC runner says this about running: “Running is 90 percent mental - if you think you can do it, you will do it.” If you fall behind, no worries…keep at it and you will reach your goal!

Week 1: Walk 30 minutes.

Week 2: Alternate walking 2 minutes with running 30 seconds for a total of 20 minutes.

Week 3: Alternate walking 1.5 minutes with running 30 seconds for 24 minutes total.

Week 4: Walk 1.5 minutes, run 1 minute for 25 minutes.

Week 5: Run 1.5 minutes, walk 1 minute; run 3 minutes, walk 1.5 minutes for 28 minutes total.

Week 6: Run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

Week 7: Run 6 minutes, walk 2 minutes for a total of 32 minutes.

Week 8: Run 20 minutes.

Week 9: Run 25 minutes.

Week 10: Run 30 minutes the first two days and 32 minutes the last day.

Week 11: 5K RACE!

For upcoming races in your area, click here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Even the busiest people can work out!

Don’t think that you can commit 30-60 minutes of time to exercise each day? The problem might just be that a bit chuck of time like that just isn’t possible. But what about doing 3-6 shorter workouts of 10 minutes? Everyone can find a 10 minute break here and there weather it’s right when you get up, during work, over lunch, right after work, in between (or even at) your kid’s soccer practices and right before bed.

Studies show cardiovascular fitness and is even MORE effective at creating exercise adherence, as compare to a long workout session equaling the same time.

So find time (just 10 minutes, at least 3 times a day) to reap the benefits of exercise.

Here are some suggestions for your 10 minute workouts.

  • First thing in the morning and right after work, take a brisk walk around the block
  • Over your lunch break, climb the stairs at your office building or get outside and walk or run
  • When shopping at the mall, take 10 minutes out to walk briskly around the shopping center (extra points if you are carrying bags!)
  • During your favorite TV shows, walk in place, do jumping jacks, jump rope or anything else that raises your heart rate
  • While you’re waiting for dinner to cook, noodles to boil, meat to brown, walk in place or around the house continuously or do other kinds of aerobic movement like jump squats, jacks, etc.

Point is, is that everyone has 10 minutes randomly throughout the day. Just make sure that you are working in your target heart rate. Make exercise a priority to treat your body (and heart!) right!

Friday, March 12, 2010

To buy organic or non-organic...that is the question...

Organic vs. non-organic (or conventional) produce has been a confusing issue for consumers. Organic produce is grown without the use of man-made fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals or herbicides. For a detailed description of what it takes for a food to be labeled “organic,” refer to the USDA’s regulations and definitions. Shop in peace by checking out the lists and facts below of what to buy organic and what to save money on by purchasing conventionally grown.

Buy organic

The foods below are known to contain the greatest amounts of pesticide residue:

  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Pears

Buy conventional (non-organic)

The following items are either protected by a barrier (via their in-edible skin) or do not get treated with an overload of pesticides.

  • Pineapple
  • Mangos
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Corn
  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas

Some things to consider when deciding to purchase organic or non-organic produce.

  1. The cost. Organic produce is typically more expensive than regular produce. Organic crops have a lower production yield, more labor intensive practices (ex. Hand-weeding instead of using pesticides) and are subject to tight government regulations. All of these things add to the price tag. Try to shop at your local farmers market to save money on organics.
  2. The nutrition. There is no evidence to say that organic fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients than their conventional counterparts. So if it’s nutrition you are concerned about, just eating your daily recommended 10 servings of fruits and veggies is the goal.
  3. The health risks. Though it would seem like ingesting a bunch of chemicals would be harmful to your health, there is no hard evidence that the amount of pesticide residue left on your food is harmful to the body. That being said, if you are one that tries to be all natural, go for organic.
  4. The quality. Organic produce may spoil sooner than conventional produce because it is not treated with preservatives and conventional produce may come in odd shapes and inconsistent colors, but all in all, they should taste the same.
  5. The environment. Organic farming keeps the environment in mind by conserving water and soil as well as cutting down on pollution.

So hopefully keeping these things in mind, you will be able to stroll the isle of your grocery store or farmer’s market with produce picking confidence.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The 222 calorie BLT!

So currently, I'm obsessed with BLTs. And if you know me at all...this is new and weird since I really dislike pork products. However, there is just not much else that reminds me of spring and summer than a tasty BLT. Okay...I guess there's swimming pool smell, watermelon and heat to remind me of summer, but they aren't as tasty as a great BLT. The deal with BLTs though is that they are often a poor choice because they are grilled with butter, have a ton of saturated-fat ladden bacon on them and are very unhealthy-carb heavy. BUT I have made a slim version of an ol' fat favorite! Check it out:

  • 3 stripes of crispy, pan fried bacon (don't add extra grease...that's nasty)

  • 1 toasted Oroweat sandwich thin

  • 3 slices ripe tomato

  • 2 large lettuce leaves

  • 1 tbsp light mayo

Put these all together and viola! A 222 calorie tasty sandwich that is just as good as it's fatty 400-500 calorie counterpart.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's the best cardio?

I have a ton of people ask me how they can make the most out of their cardio routines…basically, how to burn more calories in less time. That’s easy (and challenging J)! High intensity interval training (HITT) is designed to blast through calories like they’re going out of style. Whether you just want to get out of a cardio rut, break a weight loss plateau, burn more calories per workout session, improve your cardiovascular fitness or decrease your running, biking or swimming distance-time, HITT is for you! Basically HITT is simply going between bouts of moderate exercise and intense exercise and repeating.

Benefits of HITT:

  • Blast more calories: the more rigorous the workout, the more calories you burn…even if you are only doing a minute of rigorous work at a time!
  • Banish boredom: changing things up every few minutes or so will keep you on your toes…literally! J
  • Improve your cardio capacity: as you continue your HITT, you’ll be able to go longer during the high intensity part!
  • You don’t need a gym or any equipment to get a great workout: you can do HITT with any motion including walking, jogging, running, biking, elliptical-ing swimming, doing jumping jacks and really any repetitive movement that elevates your heart rate.

So choose your poison…exercise, that is…and get started today!

Here’s a sample beginner HITT program. Use the chart below to determine how hard you should be working.

5 minute warm up

1 minute at RPE 5*

1 minute at RPE 8

Repeat the one minute intervals at 5 and 8 for a total of 20 minutes

5 minute cool down

As you continue your training, increase the duration of your workout.

10 Point Scale for Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

  • 0 - Nothing at all
  • 1 - Very light
  • 2 - Fairly light
  • 3 - Moderate
  • 4 - Some what hard
  • 5 - Hard
  • 6
  • 7 - Very hard
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10 - Very, very hard