Side Plank

Side plank is one of my favorite core exercises! It engages everything in your abdominal structure, but unlike many abs exercises, it is really quite difficult to engage, and potentially strain your lower back. You should NEVER feel a lot of pressure in your lower back when you are performing any abdominal exercise. If you do, it means you are either not using the proper muscles to complete the exercise or you have used the proper muscles to the point of fatigue or failure and your lower back is trying to be nice and help you out. This is a trick! You will not feel like your lower back helped you when you are in pain later! Be careful and start out with 20-30 seconds on each side, eventually building up to 60 seconds or more.

Running and Strength Training Workout

Runners (at least the ones I know) are notorious for neglecting their strength training workouts. It’s like stretching (which many people also tend to leave out): you really don’t realize how important it is until you develop a problem, breakdown in desperation, and try it. Then you wonder how you lived all this time without it! However, even with that knowledge at the top of your mind, it can be difficult to think about adding several more training days or sessions into your life that is already busy with runs, work, family, and everything else you need to fit into it.

 

Strength training can improve your performance as a runner, and help prevent injuries. The vast majority of recreational and professional runners will be sidelined by an injury at some point, but by strengthening the muscles that support your knees, hips, and legs, including your core, you can avoid many common problems.

 

So here’s the beauty of my workout: you combine everything all into one session and get your mileage and strength training all in one. You can also scale this workout if you are doing fewer or more miles, just keep the intervals the same. You can also swap out the plyometric (jumping) moves for the low impact version if you can’t maintain control of the position or if your joints cannot take them.

 

 

RUNNING & STRENGTH INTERVAL WORKOUT

4 mile run, regular pace. At every mile interval, stop and do the following:

 

20 jump squats (or squats)

10 burpees w/ pushup (you can cut the pushup if you don’t have the strength at the moment)

20 lunge jump (alternating lunge)

 

Each interval will tack 3-5 minutes on to your workout, and will also make your running pace feel a bit more difficult.

Have you added strength training into your workouts? How has it changed things for you?

 

2013 Xterra Trail Run World Championship 21K at Kualoa Ranch

I’ve been running in the Xterra trail runs at Kualoa Ranch for a few years now, but this year I decided to step it up and actually go for the full 21K course. One of the things I really like about this event, other than it’s drop dead gorgeous scenery, of course, is that there are several races offered, so it can be a great group outing, even if everyone isn’t up for a half marathon. In addition to the 21K, there are 10K, 5K, and the super adorable keiki sprint courses.

 

The day could not have been more beautiful or perfect for racing! We’ve been having some nasty Kona weather lately: the trade winds disappear and are replaced by muggy, voggy weather. November is also the beginning of the rainy season, but race morning was clear and cool, with a slight breeze. A very auspicious start!

 

The 21K course is quite challenging; a mix of single track and wide gravel paths, there is about 1700 ft of total elevation gain over the entire route! I’m familiar with the first part of the course in Ka’a’awa Valley, so I knew better than to expend too much energy climbing up the first three hills. My strategy for the entire race was to take it easy on the inclines so I could fly downhill and keep pace on the flat portions. It seemed to work pretty well. I was able to pass quite a few runners on the back section of the course, and I still had some energy left to speed up on the final mile.

After climbing the side of Ka’a’awa Valley, the course cut across and down, looping back toward the ocean. The 10k course split from us at this point and went down to the staging area. I could hear the announcer at the finish line, and felt a twinge of regret that I was less than halfway done, but the ocean view that came up next calmed me a little.

The run through Hakipuu became progressively more challenging until we reached the highest point of the day: Pualoa Pass at 751 feet. It’s kind of the whole point of a trail run, but the terrain was TOUGH! I was also a little bummed that I had no real choice but to run through some stream crossings around mile 9. Finishing the race in wet socks caused several unpleasant blisters, which I usually avoid by properly fitting shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what I loved most about this race:

  • The terrain and the weather could not be beat! This is a beautiful course, with plenty to keep my attention, even without the distraction of music or podcasts.
  • Aid stations were well stocked, and plentiful. I try to avoid racing with too much stuff in tow. I trained using a Camelbak, but I was really glad to be able to dump it for the race.
  • LADIES T’s!!! I cannot tell you how many ill-fitting, ugly men’s t-shirts I have received from various events. I never wear them, and I feel like they are such a waste. Xterra has seen the light, and women’s fit shirts were distributed to the ladies this year.

 

 

Raw Zucchini Pasta

 

It is hot! And I have no AC.. And my ceiling fan had died. Which means I am definitely not turning on the oven, and even the stove top can be unpleasant. Luckily for me, it’s zucchini season, and I’ve been mixing up a ton of zucchini “pastas,” or raw salads, if you’d rather call them that. I use a ridged vegetable peeler to create long, spaghetti-like ribbons, but some people like the wider, ribbon style cut you’ll get if you use a mandolin slicer. Either way is good, and if you have really good knife skills, you can do it all by hand. My favorite way to dress up the zucchini is with pesto, fresh cherry tomatoes, and a grating of Parmesan
on top, which also happens to be the easiest. I’ll also add a protein like chicken, salmon, or shrimp if I’m eating the salad as a main course. Yum!

 

Check out these other sauce and topping ideas. They would also work on good, old fashioned grain pasta too:

 

Lemon-yogurt cream

 

Avocado cream sauce

 

Creamy peanut sauce

 

 

What’s your favorite summer meal to beat the heat?

 

Halfway to the Hapalua Half Marathon


I’m halfway through my training program for the Hapalua Half Marathon on March 10. So far everything is going well, if not exactly according to the schedule. Before I started this structured plan, I hadn’t been running regularly for quite some time. I find that training for an event helps keep me more consistent when it comes to cardio; otherwise I just don’t put in the time. Now I’m back to the point where running a few miles feels great instead of excruciating.

The three day a week running schedule has been enough to get my mileage in and up, but not so much that I don’t have time to focus on strength training and other fun stuff like hiking. It’s important to me that I incorporate lots of cross training so that I don’t get bored or suffer an overuse injury. I’ve also loved and hated incorporating more hill training into my runs. Those days are very challenging, but make me much stronger for the flatter terrain days.

I had a minor setback the first weeks of training. The back of my knee was getting inflamed after my runs. I have great shoes that fit properly and are still in good condition, so I knew that wasn’t the cause. After a bit of research and experimentation, I figured out my poor hamstring was so tight it was tugging at the insertion point behind my knee. A bit of daily and post run stretching solved that problem. I must confess: I am HORRIBLE about stretching. This was a great reminder of how endurance, strength, and flexibility all have to work together for maximum results. My advice to you: don’t neglect the STRETCH!

Are you currently prepping for a race? How’s your training going?

 

Healthy Snacks for the Big Game

The Big Game is on this weekend and whether you are in it for the football, the commercials, or the halftime show, I know food will also play a large role in you Super Bowl experience. The traditional tailgate fare of nachos, burgers, pizza, chips, and deep-fried delicacies is not exactly health food. I’m not trying to set you up with a spread of baby carrots, celery, and  hummus (although that IS delicious) but just because it’s a party doesn’t mean you have to make the worst possible food decisions. Portion control should always be your #1 strategy, but these cleaned up snacks look great too!

Aged Cheddar Potato Chips with French Onion Dip

If you’re feeling extra fancy, and have some time to spare, homemade baked chips are a great vehicle for dips of all kinds! You can get creative here and use other veggies: beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes also make tasty chips.

 

Source

 

Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon is a great flavor enhancer, and these mushrooms only use a small amount. If you wanted to lighten this up even more, you could use turkey bacon instead.

Source

 

Mini Cauliflower Pizza Bites Poor Cauliflower. It rarely gets the love it deserves. When was the last time you had really great cauliflower dish? This is a genius use of the cruciferous veggie, and you may even get the picky eaters in the room to eat it!

Source

 

Do you have any healthy snack recipes you love?

 

pv.body Review

I was approached by pv.body a few weeks go to review their athletic wear subscription service. The company concept is pretty neat. You take a quiz with questions about the fit, colors, and styles you prefer in tops and bottoms, as well as the types of workouts you usually do. Then, using your style profile, pv.body will send you a new outfit every month. It’s a pretty good deal at $49.95 a month (and no shipping, even to Hawaii. Yay!), especially is you buy a lot of athletic clothing.

 

I took my quiz, and a week later a very snazzy hot pink envelope showed up at my door. Inside was a grey pair of American Apparel leggings and an “Alaaskan blue” adjustable cami from NUX, (which I had never heard of until then). Both are American made, which I’m into. Priced out separately, the leggings would have cost me $44 and the tank $49 if I had bought them retail. So again, great deal from pv.body. Both pieces fit well and are of high qualit’y. The leggings passed the deadlift check (my whole behind is not exposed when I bend over) and I like the fact that the straps on the tank are adjustable.

 

However, even though I like both pieces, I don’t think I would have ever picked them out myself. I generally don’t wear grey tights, because after a few miles outside or a few sets at the gym I’ll look like I have peed myself due to all the visible sweat. Maybe TMI, but true. I’m also not that into the ice blue color of the tank. Pv. Body has a pretty liberal return policy, so I could have sent either item back if I had really wanted to.

I must not be the only person to be enthusiastic about the concept of being styled instead of choosing my own clothes, but then wishing I could have picked them out myself. Pv.body is launching a slightly different model in February: they are putting out their own line.

 

Ellie, pv.body’s new, in house line, will come out with a new, 24-piece collection every month. You have the option of selecting your own outfit or leaving to the pros at pv.body. The pricing will be the same as the old subscription, $49.95  month, or you can purchase individual pieces at retail if you’re not into commitment. The February look book seems great, but I have yet to receive the actual product.  If you’d like to try the subscription out, pv.body is offering you a 20% discount off your first month.

What athletic apparel lines do you like? Would you use a subscription service for your workout clothes?

*I received this outfit free from pv.body in exchange for my review of the company.

 

Butternut Squash Recipies

I am a big fan of winter squash, even more so now that some island-grown varieties are becoming available, including one of my favorites: butternut squash As with many things in Hawaii, butternut squash can get to be an expensive buy at the grocery store, especially considering that most squash weigh several pounds. So, whenever there is a sale, I am the crazed woman buying 5-10 at a time. They keep pretty well for several weeks, even in a tropical climate, and I can always cube and freeze a few if I can’t get to them before they would go bad.

Butternut squash is a great option if you are trying to keep you calorie and carbohydrate intake in check. It is a flavorful and filling way to add a lot of substance to a meal; I often use it in place of sweet potato. When you compare the facts: 45 calories & 11g carbohydrate in 100g of butternut squash versus 86 calories and 20g carbohydrate in 100g of sweet potato, it’s easy to see how this substitution can add up to results. Butternut squash also contains significant amounts of vitamin A, an antioxidant that protects and improves the health of your skin and eyesight and may protect against lung and oral cancers.

So how can you get some of this great stuff into your diet? Roasted, with olive oil, salt and pepper is a classic favorite, but there are a ton of options.

I really like the spice flavor combinations in this Moroccan stew. You can always add chicken, lean beef, or tofu to bump up the protein. I eat this with quinoa instead of couscous; I’d rather have a whole grain.

These top 5 recipes from Oh She Glows all look creamy and comforting, perfect for the chilly weather we’ve been having.

You could even make a hummus! Who doesn’t like a dip?

Do you have a favorite butternut squash recipe?

New Year, New Half Marathon Training Plan

Happy New Year!

A new year means a whole new training schedule! I’ve been off distance running for some time now, but I have several half marathons on the schedule for 2013 that I need to get prepared for. The first race is the Honolulu Hapalua, brought to you by the same great team as the Honolulu Marathon. I did the inaugural race last year, and now I feel like I need to commit to it; my friend Amanda has already decided we will be the 70 year old ladies who are honored in 2043 for completing every run since its inception. But, in order to even imagine doing that, I need to make sure I train in a reasonable way to prevent injury. I’m also trying to improve my time this year, which is why I’m including some hill training days as well as tempo runs. The plan looks like this:

 

Week Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 rest XT 3 EZ XT 3 tempo XT 4
2 rest XT 4EZ XT 3 hills XT 5
3 rest XT 3EZ XT 4 tempo XT 6
4 rest XT 4EZ XT 3hils XT 7
5 rest XT 3EZ XT 5 tempo XT 5
6 rest XT 4EZ XT 3 hills XT 8
7 rest XT 3EZ XT 5 tempo XT 9
8 rest XT 3EZ XT 4 hills XT 10
9 rest XT 3EZ XT 5 tempo XT 8
10 rest XT 4EZ XT 3hills XT rest
RACE DAY

 

For my hill runs, I’ll be including some of the steeper climbs in my neighborhood (Diamond Head and Kilauea next to KCC), which my training partner isn’t too excited about, but he’ll thank me later.

I really enjoy the half marathon distance; it’s long enough for me to require a formalizing training schedule, but short enough to avoid hysterical sobbing on the course (see my full marathon story for those details!) I also like being able to dedicate time to other physical endeavors; something I wasn’t really able to fit in while preparing for my full marathon. And I’m not alone in feeling this way; the half marathon is the fastest growing road racing distance in the US.

What about you? Any half marathons on your schedule? Which distance is your favorite?

 

 

NYC’s Soda Ban

Last week the New York City Board of Health overwhelmingly voted to disallow the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, fast-food establishments, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums, and food carts. Whether or not this new policy will make a dent in the city’s obesity stats remains to be seen, but it has most definitely stirred up an abundance of conversation about the government’s role in public health.

 

Personally, I’m a fan of the ban (surprise!). It’s not taking away anyone’s freedom to consume as much soda as they want, they just have to do it in steps now. Obesity is a real issue in this country not only for our health, but our pocketbooks as well. The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report today, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, which forecasts 2030 adult obesity rates in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs. The annual cost of treating obesity related diseases in the USA is anticipated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion by 2030. I would much rather we spend that money educating our children and improving quality of live in our neighborhoods, wouldn’t you? This is not just a freedom of choice issue; the horrendous health of our citizenry has real social and economic costs!

 

Naysayers also claim that the ban on super sized sugar drinks won’t change anyone’s behavior, so it’s not even worth trying. I think, again, they are wrong here. Even small steps towards health can add up to a big change overall. When I was watching the Weight of the Nation a few months ago, one of the interviewees said something that really stuck with me. She said that in a country where only 1/3 of the adult population can maintain a healthy weight, something is wrong. Personal choice and responsibly play very large into taking good care of your health and fitness. But so does the system. If the healthy option is the default, more people will choose it. Simple.

 

What do you think about all this? Nanny state in action or public policy with the public in mind?

 

Sunset Beach to Ehukai Beach 1 Mile Swim

Saturday morning I was standing on the North Shore with 700 other swim cap clad racers, wondering whether or not I was going to be the last person to finish the 1 mile open ocean swim from Sunset Beach to Pipeline. I’d be a disgrace to my profession! I trained for this race on the South Shore, doing laps at Kaimana, but I had never swam this route before and I was very nervous. I’m a super slow swimmer, and to be honest the ocean freaks me out a little; I don’t like being at the mercy of the current and waves when I’m in the water.

 

This race had an water start, and the men and women were divided into two waves. My stomach was doing somersaults as I swam out to the buoys. Just as I arrived, the second start went off and all of the women started swimming past me. After the first 15 minutes, the majority of the pack had sped off out of my line of vision. It was just me, a handful of other stragglers, and the entire ocean safety squad keeping a close eye on us.

 

Everything was fine, and I was cruising along at my steady, yet slow pace until I hit Rocky Point. In the summer the North Shore of Oahu basically flat; big waves make their appearance in the winter. So the waves that were breaking at Rocky Point this weekend were teeny tiny by North Shore surf standards, but swimming through waves is an entirely different story! I kept being pushed around by the water and the current was kicking up a bit too. I felt like the reef below me wasn’t going anywhere, and I was getting really frustrated.

 

Luckily, my now personal lifeguard was there to help direct me past the breaking waves. It was really difficult to figure out where I needed to go with the waves crashing over me. I rounded the point, and I could see the finish up ahead! But again it felt like the ocean was conspiring against me, and I wasn’t making any noticeable progress toward shore. I paused to tread water and take a quick break. And a brief cry into my goggles. I couldn’t get too emotional because I had to keep swimming! There was no way out of this except to finish, because I’d be dammed if I’d already been in the water 45 minutes and then gave up.

Just me and my safety squad

 

 

My lifeguard (and now my coach too) pointed out the finish line buoys up ahead. He encouraged me to keep going, that I was so close! I looked around and didn’t see ANYONE else in the water. “Am I last?” I asked him. He looked around behind him and shouted “No!” That was the last little push I needed! I sped (well sped for me, anyhow) past the buoys and fought the waves to run up onto the beach. I have never been so excited to be almost last in my life!

 

This race was really tough for me, both physically and mentally. I’m glad I did it, but I’m also glad it’s over!

Feels good to be on dry land!

 

Exercise: The Numbers Are In!

Your exercise routine is probably burning far fewer calories than you think. I’ve been doing some experimenting with my heart rate monitor recently and here are the somewhat disappointing numbers:

 

1 hour of hot yoga: 170 calories

25 minutes of trail running (during which I felt like I might die at any moment): 237 calories

1 hour of tennis practice: 200 calories

40 minutes of open ocean swimming: 300 calories

 

If you want to get a major calorie burn on you really have to put in some time, which is not realistic for most people.

 

7 hour day hike: 1200 calories

2 ½ hours of running (13.1 miles, half marathon): 1300 calories

 

Even if you had the time, putting workouts like these in every day would be a very quick way to an injury and long recovery.

 

What’s my point in telling you this? It’s certainly NOT that exercise has no value. When it comes to your health, a minimum of 30 minutes a day is a wonder drug, as this video explains. Even when it comes to weight and fat loss, a consistent exercise program can help keep you on track and will reshape your body.

 

But if your goal is weight loss, you have to look at what you are eating. A burger and fries can easily counter your 7 hour day hike. Rewarding yourself with dessert because you are working out will lead you nowhere. If you want to change your body, you need to change your food choices as well as your activities.

 

The first step is to keep a food journal. Record EVERYTHING that you eat or drink for at least a week. It’s a very enlightening process, I assure you. Just becoming more aware of what you’re eating can make a big impact. After the week, evaluate your journal and choose 2-4 things to work on for the next week. Making dietary changes in small increments instead of huge cuts will help ensure that you stick with your program, rather than binge after a week or two of strict adherence.

 

Have you ever kept a food journal? How did it affect your eating?

 

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies: Thoughts on Dessert

Last weekend I spent my Saturday morning serving up snacks and running keiki through an obstacle course at the grand opening of the Manoa Valley Public Library. I made a delicious, nut-free version of these banana-coconut cookies; I can vouch for their tastiness because I had no leftovers at the end of the day and I wasn’t the only sampler. I was really excited to come across this recipe because I wanted to serve something that fit in with my food philosophy, while at the same time was kid-friendly.

 

I really hate it when I go to a health-centered event and all that is available is junk. Processed, trans fatty foods after a race or a childhood obesity prevention seminar filled with deep dish pizza doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Not to say that I don’t like a sweet treat, but I’d much rather have one made with ingredients that carry some nutritional value along with sugar.

 

When indulging in dessert, you can try substituting whole grain flours for refined versions, applesauce for some of the oil (a trick my Busia used all the time in her fudge brownies), reducing the amount of added sweeteners you use, or using a lower-fat dairy.

 

Now, you can only take all of this lightening so far before your favorite cookie starts to taste like cardboard diet food, which is the total opposite point of indulgence. In situations like these your #1 best option is to watch your portion size! This is important for all foods, actually. Devouring 10 small “healthy” treats is not a great option either. Having one, small full fat, sugar laden cookie will not ruin your health or your training plan. Having three bites (actual bites, not enormous, mouth-filling, I’m-only-going-to-record-three-bites-in-my-food-journal bites) of chocolate cake will not be the end of you. Just make sure that you really want whatever it is you’re about to indulge in, take the time to enjoy it, and don’t enjoy it too often. Fresh, ripe fruit should be your everyday go-to sweet fix.

 

Do you have any cleaned-up desserts you really enjoy? Please share them!

 

Wahiawa Pineapple Run: Sweet Victory!

Last weekend I ran in the 37th annual Wahiawa Pineapple 10K Run. This was my second year, and it’s one of my favorite races on the island. Not that I don’t love Ala Moana or Kapolani Park, but this was a rare opportunity to run in the country. The course started out at Ka’ala Elementary School and then went straight up Kamehameha Highway through Wahiawa town. The next 4 miles of the course led through rolling hills alongside agricultural fields with great views of the Waianae Mountains. Ironically, I didn’t see a single pineapple during the race; most of the land is now used for other crops.

View of the Waianae Mountains from the 10K course

 

I was not going for a personal record this race, and I took a very easy pace. I’ve found it a little difficult to get back into speedier short distances after training for long-distance races. All 755 of the finishers, no matter what their time, received a pineapple at the end of the race. To celebrate my sweet victory, I think I’ll make a pineapple sorbet, similar to this one, but without the addition of agave. I think the fruit itself will be sweet enough.

 

 

I love participating in races like this one. There is a great energy during the event that you just don’t experience during a training run. There are TONS of foot, bike, swim, and even SUP races taking place this summer and fall. Check out Active.com or the Running Room’s event calendar to see what’s coming up. Several of my clients are going out of town this summer, but will be training for a race during their extended break to help keep them on track. It is so much easier to stick to a plan if you have an end goal in mind.

What event would you like to complete? Have an great race experiences? Tell us!

 

Exercise Your Mind: Summer Health and Fitness Reading List

Even if you don’t have an extended break coming up, there is something about summer that practically demands you take advantage of the longer day and read at least a little. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial than a romance novel (did I mention that I saw Fabio a few weeks ago? He’s still around apparently!) these books are great. None of them are traditional diet or exercise instruction books, but they really made me think about health and fitness in a different way. Not to mention they were all great reads, academic coma-inducing text need not apply!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barabara Kingsolver

Novelist Barabara Kingsolver recounts the year she and her family lived as locovores: consuming only things they could grow themselves or obtain from local farmers. The book also discusses industrial agriculture, the environment, and even includes some menus and recipes from the family’s year of local eating.

 

 

 
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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

I read this book last year as I was training for my first marathon, and really made me want to get out and run. McDougall sets out to learn the secrets of the Tarahumara, a isolated tribe in Mexico famous for their long distance running abilities, after being sidelined by yet another repetitive running injury. On his journey leading up to an epic 50 mile race through Copper Canyons, he dives into the world and characters of ultramathons and learns why everything he thought about running turns out to be wrong.

 

 

 

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink

The average person will make over 200 food-related decisions everyday and not really think about most of them. Wansink examines how certain cues, such as portion size, brand name, price, and even lighting and color schemes affect your ability to regulate how much and what you eat. Learning about these “tricks” can allow up to set up eating situations in which you can automatically and mindlessly make the decisions you really want to make.

 

 

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Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John S. Ratey

Brains and brawn are not mutually exclusive. Through several fascinating case studies Ratey argues that exercise actually remodels how the brain functions and may be the cure for ailments as diverse as ADD, Alzheimer’s, and addiction.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim

This book just came out last month and is next on my list. Here’s what the publisher has to say:

“Calories—too few or too many—are the source of health problems affecting billions of people in today’s globalized world. Although calories are essential to human health and survival, they cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. They are also hard to understand. In Why Calories Count, Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim explain in clear and accessible language what calories are and how they work, both biologically and politically.”

 

Any suggestions on other great books to add?

And the Winner Is…

Summer is right around the corner, and the results from the Spring Shape Up are in! Dozens of women across Oahu participated in this year’s challenge, and I’m really proud of the hard work everyone put in. Ladies were running races for the first time, setting new personal records, fitting back into their smaller jeans, and improving their health. But there was one participant who really stood out, the winner of the Transformation Challenge: Mayumi Ogumoro!

 

Mayumi got involved in the challenge for a few reasons. She was at her heaviest weight ever; she had just received the frightening news from her physician that she was pre-diabetic; and she wanted to be a healthier, more active role model for her young son. She set a short term goal of losing about 25lbs during the three month challenge: a great start to her long term 80lb goal. Mayumi has lost about 30lbs so far during the course of the challenge, and she is well on her way to reaching her ultimate goal! She also got the great news last week that her blood sugar is now well within the normal healthy range!!

Initially, Mayumi did 2-3 strength training workouts a week with me. She also put in a lot of work on her own time: she started taking long, daily walks with her dog, and testing out all different types of exercise options available at her gym. Then her husband got involved, and the two of them became exercise partners as well as friendly competitors. The variety of her workouts, plus the extra support and accountability Mayumi was getting at home and and in her sessions kept her on track.

 

But she didn’t only focus on her activities. Mayumi made some really important changes to how and what she was eating. She swapped out heavily processed foods for a whole foods diet based on plants and lean meats. She even tried some new interpretations of her family’s favorite not-so-healthy BBQ staples, and to her surprise, they loved them!

 

I’m really amazed by all the hard work Mayumi has put into this transformation, and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in the next 12 weeks!

 

2012 Spring Shape Up Transformation Challenge

Do you need a little motivation? We all do! That’s why I’m running the Spring Shape Up Transformation Challenge! Earn the chance to win fabulous prizes by setting and working toward a fitness goal. For more information, click here.

Four Minute Fitness

Do you have four minutes for exercise? Of course you do! Check out my video for a quick, full body workout you can do basically anywhere in less time than it will take you to find a parking spot at the gym!

What’s your favorite exercise to Tabata?

Healthy Food Choices Made Simple: Fooducate Yourself

It can be really challenging to make good decisions when you are at the grocery store. It’s hard enough to choose between, virgin, extra virgin, or organic olive oils that are all basically the same, much less decipher the food marketing campaigns companies use to entice you. This is why I’m currently in LOVE with the Fooducate app. It takes out a lot of the detective work that comes along with making healthy choices. (And it’s free!)

 

You can either scan a bar code, enter it manually, or search for a product by name. Each product in the Fooducate data base is given a letter grade. The really cool part is that each entry gives you the product highlights (both good and bad) so you can easily find the facts about added sugars, trans fats, artificial colors, and misleading serving sizes that food manufacturers don’t necessarily want you to see. You’re also given a list of alternatives you can look for if the original product isn’t really as great as it seemed at first.

 

I’ve found this app to be especially useful when buying things like cereal and yogurt: products that are always touting their health benefits, maybe a little too loudly.

 

I’m brand new to this iPhone app thing, so I’d love some comments about any health and fitness apps you like to use!

 

Confusing Food Labels

If a food product is marketing itself as being healthy, it’s generally not. Think about it, do kale, brown rice, and chicken breast have multi-million dollar healthy eating advertisement campaigns behind them? No. But they are all great parts of a healthful diet. Here are some claims and labels you should watch out for:

 

Fat Free. This does not mean calorie-free, nor does it mean low calorie. In fact, sometimes the fat free version of a product has more calories than the original! Often times the fat has been replaced with added sugars (which can wreak havoc with your weight and blood sugar) and may even have toxic tran-fat replacing some of the naturally occurring fat.

 

Cholesterol Free. All animal products contain cholesterol, and eating dietary cholesterol has not been linked with high blood cholesterol levels in most people. So what if there’s no cholesterol? Read the ingredients label to see what else is in it.

 

No High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Great! But there may be tons of sugar in the form of sugar, honey, evaporated organic cane juice, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dextrose, fructose, or one of the other numerous aliases sugar goes by. Your consumption of added sugars by any name should be limited. Check out the nutrition information!

 

Gluten Free. Gluten is a type of protein that is commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye. The only people who need to avoid gluten are those with celiac disease and those who have an intolerance to gluten For everyone else, the current explosion of gluten free bread, cracker, and pasta products are not necessary, and will not help with weight loss. Many of the products have significantly more calories than the original. Gluten free doesn’t mean low carb either: rice is gluten free. You would be better off focusing on whole grains and trying to avoid refined flour and products with added sugars instead of gluten.

 

Natural. This means nothing. There are absolutely no regulations and guidelines for labeling products as natural. At the grocery store, a box of cookies, corn fed beef chock full of hormones, and eggs from chickens dosed with antibiotics can all carry the title of natural.

 

Organic. There are specific guidelines farmers and producers have to follow in order to call something organic, but that label basically only insures that certain pesticides were not applied to the produce or product ingredients. It DOES NOT mean that it is low calorie, low fat, low sugar, or healthy or not. Use common sense. A organic cupcake is still a cupcake and should be treated as such!

 

Are there any labels or marketing claims that bother you? Have you purchased something based on the nutrition marketing only to find out you’d been tricked?