Roll With It, Baby! (Five Of The Best Foam Roller Exercises To Try Right Now!)

Ol’ Punxsutawny Phil saw his shadow yesterday, so that means six more weeks of winter… and for those of us in sunny AZ, that means six more weeks of  60-70 degree weather! Yippee for running season!  Many of us across the country are conditioning for some sort of a race in the spring.  I happen to be training for the Phoenix (Half) Marathon on March 1st. With more miles comes tighter, tired muscles and as we all know, those conditions easily lead to injury.

Just in case you haven’t seen (or noticed) a foam roller at the gym, here are two types I like to use.  The big blue one gets used for everything (including building forts around here, ha ha!) My brother talked me into picking up the black one- it’s called a Rumble Roller.  The little foam knobbies on it stimulate deeper layers of muscle tissue as you roll.  It’s intense!

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The concept behind foam rolling  is simple: by using your own body weight and agility, you roll specific muscle groups against a firm foam roller to imitate a deep, gliding massage. I’ve used foam rollers in with students in several class settings- Pilates, yoga, even strength training- but these days I’m loving a five minute roller session after a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class or a long run.  After my eleven mile run Saturday morning, I made a short vid of my five favorite exercises.

Upper Back: Get into a “bridge” position, cradle your head, and roll from your shoulders down to your bra line (you know what I mean, guys.)

IT (Iliotibial Tract) Band: Resting on your forearm, roll from the side of the knee all the way up to the hip. Keep a long spine. This one is especially great for alleviating knee pain (hallelujah, runners!), and it’s also known for minimizing the appearance of cellulite!

Hamstring: My personal fave!  Tuck one leg behind roller and place roller just under the thigh of the other leg.  Roll the upper hamstring just enough for the foot to point and flex.

Piriformis: Sit on the roller, cross one leg over, and roll through the sitting bone area.  The lower you drop the knee, the deeper the massage.

Quadriceps: Place the center of the roller under both of the upper thighs and roll, baby!  The loosening of the quads will help to open the glutes as well.

*Roll one to two minutes on each side of each exercise.  Be sure to avoid rolling any joints.

The next time you’re on your way out of the gym, find a roller and give it a few minutes of your precious time.  It may be the closest thing to getting a massage all week (in my case, all year.) You’ll love the way you feel!

Let’s Be “Pals!”

Happy November!  Before reading this post, please take a moment to move that bowl(s) of leftover candy and hide it away.  Bag it up and save it for Christmas stockings, give it all to your neighbors, toss it, just do whatever it takes to keep it from tempting you- because starting TODAY, we are about to become better friends through fitness.

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Have you heard of myfitnesspal?  It is an awesome app/program that tracks calories in AND calories out.  That’s what I love about it.  The app asks for your age, height, weight, etc. and bases calories burned on that information PLUS what exercises you plug in that day.  Myfitnesspal is extremely user friendly, and has an enormous database of foods you can quickly input as the day goes on.

Studies have shown over and over again that people lose weight and KEEP off the weight when they must be accountable for their choices.  When I feel like I need a little “pat on the back”- aka chocolate- at the end of the day, I take a look at my status on the app and then decide if it’s really worth it!  I also love that there is a tab you can scroll down to encourage your other “pals”, and they can keep an eye on you, too!  (Don’t worry, it doesn’t tell your friends that you just downed a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, it just lets them know if you’re staying under your calorie goal!)

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Give it a try today, and let’s be pals!  I’m “busybody7″- look me up and send me an invite at sweatsavvygal@gmail.com and we’ll keep each other on track.  Oh, and the app is free too!  What have you got to lose?! {wink, wink!}

020Besides the fact that Halloween is over, I’ve got other reasons to celebrate November 1st.  This Connor boy of mine becomes a teenager today!  (He just got his braces off too!) I love this kid and his sense of humor so much!

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As if that wasn’t enough, our high school has it’s big homecoming game tonight.  I will be going to support my boys!  My hubby is coaching, my oldest son (lineman on the far left in blue) is playing (as a sophomore, yea!), and my thirteen-year-old here will be having fun as ball boy.  Should be an exciting night!

What are your plans this weekend?!

Hot Pocket, Anyone?

My mom tells me that back in the seventies, she got herself on a health kick during one of her pregnancies.  In order to eat better, she started eating- get this… “hot dog salads!”  Seriously?!

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These days, we feel we have to apologize for the fact that, every once in a while, the dreaded hot dog finds its way into our kid’s diets.  Honestly, I have a friend that gets the dry heaves when the words “corn dog” or “Hot Pocket” come up.  It’s hilarious.

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(Speaking of Hot Pockets and hilariousness, this guy deserves an award.)

Anyway, I do have a point here.  We live in a crazy, busy world.  If we eat well at least 80% of the time, most of us (including our kids) are going to be healthy and happy. Let’s aim for that.  Enjoy your occasional dinner out with the kiddos at IHOP, or those Oreos on your road trip with your hubby without giving up on those good health efforts all together.

That said, here’s another great recipe that even little ones will enjoy!  It’s a great after school “treat!”  A special thanks to my super fit friend Susan ( http://fitfamilymeals.blogspot.com) for the recipe- my kids love this one!

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Banana PB Fudge Shake

  • 1/2 banana
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein
  • 1 TB PB2 (powdered peanut butter- seriously awesome!)
  • Nutrition
  • Calories: 147
  • Carbs: 20
  • Protein: 13
  • Sugars: 10
  • Fat: 2.5

P.S. Don’t leave your computer without clicking on the Hot Pocket video link above.  I don’t care how busy you are today- it’s worth it!

Ther Best Darn (Clean) Soup in Texas!

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Howdy Ya’ll!  Now that there is a slight chill in the air (even in AZ we’re not melting, YEA!), I’ve been longing to make one of my favorite soups.  Some of you know that I lived in Houston for eight years, (can I get a holla holla for H-Town?!) and one of my all time favorite restaurants is Pappasitos- a true gem known for their fabulous Tex-Mex!  After leaving the Lone Star State, my hubby and I missed our friends, our home, and Pappasito’s Tortilla Soup.  (This pic was taken a few months ago when I went to visit my brother, his wife, and their two sweet kiddos!  My sis-in-law had just given birth a couple weeks before, and we had to take my mom to get the soup… and maybe their Tres Leches made it’s way onto our table somehow?!)

I did a little research to find the recipe, and then I “cleaned” it up a little.  In fact, I’m not sure why it’s called tortilla soup- there aren’t any actual tortillas added- but sometimes if I’m splurging, I’ll cook some fresh tortillas to go along with it. My mouth is watering just thinking about this stuff!

Pappasito’s Tortilla Soup

7 cups chicken stock or broth

3-4 chicken breasts; grilled and diced

1 cup white onions; diced

1 cup carrots; sliced

1 Tablespoon minced fresh jalapenos (sometimes I just add 1/2 T- so spicy!)

1 cup Zucchini; sliced

1 cup yellow squash; sliced

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 cup Roma tomatoes; diced

2 cups kernel corn

6 oz  low fat Monterey Jack cheese; shredded

Place the broth in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and
simmer until carrots are tender.

Add jalapenos, zucchini, and yellow squash to broth and simmer 10 minutes
more. Add sea salt to taste.

Taste and make sure all veggies are tender. Add tomatoes just before
serving. Top with cheese and diced avocado- delish!

Give it a try this weekend, and enjoy that fall air!

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Get Ready to Lace Up!

Funny Sports Ecard: While I was running today I heard someone clapping, it was my thighs cheering me on.

Maybe this is the reason I turn up my music so loud when I’m running!  (A special thanks to my little brother for forwarding this to me, this is probably the funniest e-card I’ve seen.)

I’ve had a few folks asking  me for some running tips and some playlist ideas lately.  I can’t say I’m a running coach or expert, but I’ve done a handful of half-marathons and I sure  do enjoy the sport.  Here are a few tips that may help you discover that “runner’s high” too!

1. Stop thinking and get moving.  Don’t wait until next week or next month or until the weather gets nicer, just do it!  Even if it’s only down the street and back, get running.

2. Go shopping.  I keep buying the same brand of Asics running shoes every year- they just work for me!  I have friends that love Brooks and Saucony.  Head over to a running store and try a few brands out on their treadmill.  The staff at those stores usually do a good job of monitoring your stride and recommending what brand will fit you best.  (Go ahead, pick up a new shirt too- it’s all in the name of getting fit, am I right?!  I’m so much more motivated to work out when I have something new to wear!)

3. Pace yourself.  Too many people start out too fast and find themselves out of breath and out of steam.  Even now, when I’m training for a race and find myself wanting to quit, I simply tell myself, “run as slow as you can!”  I mean it!  Never stop picking up your feet, even if it’s embarrassingly slow.

4. Sign up.  Get yourself registered for something (a 1 miler or 5K is perfect for most folks starting out).  Knowing you have an event to prepare for is a great motivator! Many cities have local races during holidays like Thanksgiving. Google “Turkey Trot” along with your city, and there’s a good chance you’ll find one close by.

5. Get groovin’.  I mentioned how much I love new gear (shoes, watches, even socks!)  for getting out the door to run, but I also love me some new tunes.  Stock your ipod with a few new songs, and you’ll be AMAZED at how much faster you move and how much fun you have while doing it. When training for a race, as much as I love running with my friends, I find that my solo runs with my ipod are always a much quicker pace.

Here’s a few on my playlist now:  (No judging until you’ve hit the road with a few of these tunes!)

Gold Digger (Kanye West)

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Fall Out Boy)

Turn Up the Music (Chris Brown)

Second to None (Styles of Beyond)

Turn Around (Conor Maynard)

It’s Tricky (Run DMC)

Shawty Got Moves (Get Cool)

Greyhound (Swedish House Mafia)

Heads Will Roll (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

 Hee Hee.

*** I’m always on the lookout for clean versions of great songs, so if you have some good suggestions, let me know!***

More posts on running coming soon, but I hope these simple tips help you get going!  Now it’s YOUR turn… I want to hear about some of your running/jogging/walking tips!  What songs keep YOU going?

 

Berries and Buns (of Steel)

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It’s raspberry madness over here, folks! This week my sis-in-law and I discovered a gem of a produce market just a few miles away.  I got these babies for $.99 a box!  That’s unreal!  I’ll be enjoying these with my Power Oatmeal Pancakes this morning (and making jam for my neighbors with the rest!)

Now for the recipe… Power Oatmeal Pancakes!

This a yummy meal that I’ll be making this morning… perfect for the kiddos too!  (Or not– my older kids leave so early that I often don’t get around to heating up the stove before they’re out the door.)  More for me, right?! It’s a recipe I stumbled upon when reading up on Tosca Reno’s Eat-Clean Diet books. (http://www.eatcleandiet.com) Oh, by the way, I am an oatmeal addict. I love how long I stay full after a couple of these little guys.  Give ‘em a try!

Nutrients per Serving (3 small pancakes):

Calories: 274
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbs: 38 g
Protein: 16 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 117 mg

• 2½ cups / 600 ml dry rolled oats
• 6 egg whites
• 1 cup / 240 ml low-fat milk of your choice
• 1 Tbsp / 15 ml ground flaxseed
• 1 Tbsp / 15 ml safflower oil
• 1 tsp / 5 ml baking powder
• 1 tsp / 5ml vanilla
• 1 tsp / 5ml cinnamon
• Cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend the mixture for 20 seconds. The resulting mixture should be smooth. Spray a griddle or skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Pour ¼ cup of pancake mixture on the hot surface. Cook until the panckes are dry and bubbly on the edges. Bubbles should appear on top, as well. Turn and brown the other side.
  2. Try using unsweetened applesauce or mixed fruit to top your pancakes.

Before I sign off, I must share one thing that has brought me endless amounts of giggling this week. Brace yourself!      

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While perusing my local Goodwill this week (my daughters take tumbling classes next door, so I was killing time and looking for Halloween costumes), I discovered this little goodie.  Well, I should say that my twelve-year-old son found it. (Should I be more worried about that fact?) Anyway, he laughed and said, “Hey mom, you should put this on during one of your classes!”

Little did he know that this video is what started it all.  I practiced the Buns of Steel series (yes, series- Buns, Thighs, Abs, etc.) hundreds of times in the 90′s- while I was still in high school.  I had Tamilee Webb’s moves down by heart.  I wanted to be her.  High ponytail, French cut leotard, white Reeboks and all.  I told my parents I would not, no would not, be applying for college because I was destined to be an aerobics instructor. Well, the last laugh is on me, I guess.

Anyone else remember BUNS OF STEEL?  I want to hear about some of your favorite old workout videos!

TABATA Cardio Workout!

Good morning and HAPPY FRIDAY everyone!  I’m going to start your weekend off with a bang… are you ready for this?!

Let me take a moment to give you a brief explanation of what Tabata is (no, it’s not martial arts or a utensil used to cook stir fry.)  Tabata is high intensity interval training (HIIT), developed by a Japanese scientist- Dr. Izumi Tabata. It’s simply the best supra-aerobic cardio workout ever discovered, and it works the entire body. You need very little to no equipment. It can easily be done at home- or my personal favorite while traveling- in a hotel room! It’s also done as a strength training workout, but today, I’m going to focus on the cardiovascular training method.  After all, I love the idea of starting my Friday off with buckets of burned calories, don’t you!?

Tabata burns 9x more fat than any other cardiovascular workout- yes, please!!!  The training lasts four minutes… 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest- repeated 8x. CHALLENGE yourself with this addictive format, and you’ll get results!

As with any other type of fitness program, be sure that you are in proper condition before completing the workout.  I love modifications, and I show a couple options in my video, so please keep that in mind- you may need several weeks to build up to the high impact options I show here.  Finally, you won’t want to do this cardio Tabata workout more than twice a week.  Mix it up with some strength training and/or some yoga too.

Today’s workout is just over 20 minutes… that’s it! Let’s DO THIS!

Disclosure- I had just finished teaching two classes in a row when I made this video, so in watching it back, my form is a little less than stellar and I look pretty grumpy! :(

WARM UP: 5 minutes of jogging, marching, even a brisk walk- anything that works for you. We want to get your heart rate up gradually.

BLOCK 1: “High Knees”- 20 seconds, recover 10 seconds. Repeat 3x more.

“Hit the Floor”- 20 seconds, recover 10 seconds- 4x.

BLOCK 2: “Power Jacks”- 20 seconds, recover 10 seconds- 4x.

“Jump Rotations”- 20 seconds, recover 10 seconds- 4x.

*** 2 MINUTE RECOVERY*** Keep moving, resist the urge to flop down on the couch!

BLOCK 3: “Scissors”- 20 seconds, recover 10 seconds, 4x.

“Fast Feet”- 20 seconds, recover 10 seconds, 4x.

BLOCK 4: “Split Jumps”- 20 seconds, recover 10 seconds, 4x.

“Diamond Jumps”- 20 seconds, recover 10 seconds, 4x.

 

YOU DID IT!  KEEP MOVING TO BRING THE HEART RATE DOWN GRADUALLY, AND GIVE YOURSELF A HIGH FIVE!!!

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