Archive | February, 2014

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

28 Feb

I had heard of “fasting” before, but usually equated it to not eating anything for blood testing purposes or religious reasons. The first time I really read about intermittent fasting was through trainer Jason Ferruggia.

intermittent fasting

Jason has a book called, “The Renegade Diet.” In the book, he promotes intermittent fasting – where you don’t eat for 12-16 hours. “What??!” Yes it sounds extreme, but it’s actually 12-16 hours after dinner (your last meal), so most of that time is while you are sleeping.

In the book, he outlines how intermittent fasting can help you lose body fat and feel better all around. Here are a few reasons intermittent fasting may help you lose fat, according to nutritionist Brad Pilon:

  1. Increases fat burning hormones
  2. Increased fat burning enzymes
  3. Burn more calories
  4. Burn fat instead of sugar
  5. Eat what you want guilt free

“But aren’t you supposed to eat every 2-3 hours?” I have read that in numerous places too. However, I’m not claiming to know the right answer. Jason states that the whole “eat every 2-3 hours” is a myth. He says:

“Most people stuff their faces every 2-3 hours to “crank their metabolism” or “stoke the metabolic fire,” and end up eating way more calories than they need.”

In his book, he explains the science behind it more, as well as meal timing (when to eat carbs, etc.). He also discusses breakfast, since if you’re fasting for 12-16 hours, you probably will not be eating breakfast.

Is Breakfast Necessary?

Everywhere you look, health sites are saying to eat a nice, big breakfast and make sure you include protein. But is it really necessary? Ergo-Log wrote about this, and a study that was done:

In the 1970s researchers did experiments in which they gave their subjects just one meal a day. [Chronobiologia 1975; 2(suppl 1): 33.] The meal provided just enough calories to maintain body weight. When the subjects ate their meal in the evening they maintained the same weight. When they ate their meal in the mornings they lost a little weight.

Losing weight is a good thing though, right? Ergo-Log goes on to show other similar studies that showed that the weight lost is muscle mass, which is not a good thing. It’s a pretty interesting read so I encourage you to check it out!

Here are a few reasons to “skip breakfast” according to Dr. John Berardi (and he also touches upon intermittent fasting):

1. It’s not required to boost metabolism. The idea that metabolism slows radically in response to not eating certain meals in a single day just isn’t accurate. The amount of calories you’re taking in and the composition of those calories—proteins, carbs, and fats—are really what impact metabolism.

2. It may lead to eating less overall. If you skip breakfast you can eat fewer, larger meals beginning later in the day, rather than six smaller meals throughout the day, which may be less satisfying. This can lower your total caloric intake for the day and may lead to weight loss.

3.There’s a payoff even if you’re only an occasional skipper. Intermittent fasting reduces insulin levels, so you can actually increase your insulin sensitivity for better blood sugar management. At the same time, your body will release more growth hormone, which helps to preserve lean tissue and burn fat tissue.

4.It can help lower your total carb intake for the day. Most of us are over-carbed. We eat too many refined carbs, too little protein, and too much fat. Skipping breakfast can steer you away from the typical high-carb breakfast foods (toast, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes) that may trigger an insulin response that kicks you out of fat-burning mode.

5. It can help you tune in to your body. You just might feel better sipping water with lemon or a green juice instead of forcing down food first thing every day. If you’re one of many people who feel nauseous early in the day, you’re better off listening to your body’s cues. Sure, you’re co-workers come into the office, bagels with cream cheese in hand, but at the end of the day (and the beginning), you want to figure out what works best for you.

I would list all of the reasons you should eat breakfast, but through Google and other resources I think we know what reasons we are constantly given: It helps you lose weight, boosts your metabolism, you won’t be starving and eat a ton a few hours later, etc.

I actually did try intermittent fasting for a month or so, and surprisingly didn’t mind it. You would think that if you get up early, you are going to be hungry, especially since you’re not breaking the fast until around 11AM-12PM. But your body gets used to it. Each day, I would break the fast either with a green smoothie, or with eggs. And I ate bigger meals for lunch and dinner, and actually got in MORE calories than when I wasn’t doing the fasting thing.

I always thought it was so hard to get in enough calories with eating pretty clean (because what do you snack on?), but with the fasting, the bigger meals with more protein, carbs and veggies kept me full and helped me hit my numbers.

So am I promoting intermittent fasting/not eating breakfast? Not necessarily. But I did want you all to know both sides, because sometimes if you’re in a plateau, something like this could help you break through.

Perhaps try it out and see what works best for you! Doesn’t it always seem like health professionals contradict a lot of things? Eggs (good or bad?), coffee (good or bad?), Cardio protocol? That’s why I like writing about these topics, in order to explore both sides deeper.

Do you eat breakfast or have you tried intermittent fasting?

Are you curious about trying intermittent fasting?

What do you think about these viewpoints?

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5 Tips For A Better Salad

27 Feb

Salads can be so boring sometimes. But I have found ways to make tasty salads for myself that I actually like to eat…I used to hate salads! Now, I have one most days for lunch. I can’t have a salad for dinner though. That’s where I draw the line 😉

tastiersalad

1. Experiment with different protein options. My go-to options are canned tuna and hard boiled eggs. If I have leftover cooked chicken, I will sometimes use that. But tuna doesn’t have to be boring. There are so many options. I used to love Bumblebee’s Sundried Tomato and Olive Oil tuna, but then they discontinued it 😦 But they make new versions now with different flavorings, like Lemon and Pepper. Experiment and use a different kind for each salad. Also, experiment with different protein, such as tuna, eggs, chicken, tofu, beans, etc. Changing it up will keep salads from getting boring.

2. Add fruit to your salad. I used to think adding fruit to salad was really weird. It weirded me out to think of eating strawberries or pineapples with lettuce and some sort of meat. But now I love it. My favorite salad that I pack for lunch is canned tuna, mixed greens and strawberries. The combination is so good! I’ve seen recipes for putting watermelon in salad? Kind of scared to try it! I haven’t really experimented with other fruit in my salad, so if you have suggestions let me know 🙂

strawberry salad

3. Experiment with other toppings. This kind of goes along with the fruit thing, but try out toppings like nuts and dried cranberries. It will make your salad taste better and be more filling. Toppings can include things like beans too, like I mentioned in #1. I add chickpeas to my salad, and sometimes black beans. Again, it will help you feel full after lunch.

4. Prepare foods differently. So never would I have thought to make tuna patty cakes to put in my salad, until I saw that Minou Girl posted a recipe. Look through Pinterest, or  find bloggers with healthy salad recipes, and see if you can prepare something differently, such as canned tuna. This was a great way to spice it up and I have made it multiple times since. Here’s the recipe. Perhaps try doing fried eggs instead of hard-boiled, or cook your chicken differently.

tuna cakes

5. Try an assortment of veggies. Do you have your go-to vegetables you always use? I do too. But try adding new stuff to your salad and you may find your next favorite vegetable. I usually only add in tomatoes, but recently have been trying to add cucumbers as well. My current favorite is artichoke hearts though. Seriously so good and goes well with any protein. You can also try them in a sandwich!

You could also experiment with different dressings-though I don’t know too much about that because I only really use balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Let me know if you have a dressing you love!

What is your favorite salad combination?

Any tips I’m missing? 

What topping should I try in my next salad?

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Comparing Yourself To Others

27 Feb

How often to do we compare ourselves to those around us, or even those we see online through social media and blogs?

Recently, I’ve been guilty of doing just that.

Sometimes you see someone else posting about their accomplishments and you start doubting yourself. Should you be at that point too? Are you behind in your “self-development?”

Whether it’s comparing ourselves to other athletes, other bloggers, other people in general…I know I’m not the only one who does it!

For me, I know I have taken a chance in starting my own business, and I know that for now I won’t have the same abilities as some of my friends (like going on vacation, spending at the mall, etc.), but sometimes I can’t help but feel like I am behind in “life.” Should I be taking this risk? Or at 25 years old should I be in a full-time job, saving money like other people? I don’t have an answer.

What I do know is that when I start thinking that, I also think about how I can’t imagine giving up on my passion and dream just yet. I gave myself a year to work it out, and we will see what happens once I’m back from my trip to Paraguay this summer. I love what I do, and although it has been challenging, I want to continue it.

And that thought process can go with anything. Do you sometimes feel really slow looking at other, faster runners? (I certainly do). Re-evaluate when you have doubts, and think about what brought you to that passion in the first place. If you love running, and want to continue to improve, then you will keep running despite feeling slower than others. If anything, those faster runners will be your motivation. At least that’s how I view it with running, and with my life thoughts going on right now.

Yes, sometimes I wish I had more money. I wish I could do certain things others can. I wish I could pay off my student loans! But then I remind myself that in time, those things will happen. Others may be experiencing life events right now, but that doesn’t mean I have to be as well. There is no timeline for when things should happen. Plus, sometimes what we see on blogs and social media isn’t the whole story.

A good thing to remember.

Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others? What do you have doubts about?

Do you have your own business? Please feel free to share some tips with me – I’d appreciate it! 🙂

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Chest and Back Gym Workout

26 Feb

When I was thinking of what my next workout video should be, I decided I wanted to do a gym workout. Most of my videos you can do at-home, and with little to no equipment. But I know some of you like working out at the gym, like I do.

chest and back workout

Here is my chest and back workout for you. In the next week or so, I plan on uploading a leg workout so that you can pair the two and do each workout 1-2x per week.

Instructions

As I mention in the video, you want to do the A1 and A2 exercises 3 times before moving on. So you’ll do bench press and pull-ups for 1 set, take a 30-45 second break, then do another set of bench press and pull-ups, take a 30-45 second break, another set, and THEN move on to B1 and B2 exercises.

If your gym is set up so that bench press is really far away from pull-ups, it’s ok to switch to another back exercises, or do all 3 sets of the bench press, then all 3 sets of pull-ups before moving on. But ideally, you’ll do A1, A2 three times, then move on, etc.

You can watch the video and pause after each exercise so that you hear the cues, or you can take my printable with you to the gym!

Sets and Reps

It’s 3 sets of 12 reps for everything, so find a good weight for you to complete those reps. It should be a weight that is challenging in those last 2-3 reps. If you finish and feel like you could do more, then increase your weight. If you increase and can’t complete the reps, just lower back down to another weight and complete the set…nothing wrong with that!

Make sure you record your weights so that you can track your progress. Each week, try to increase your weight by a tiny bit. In 4 weeks, I’ll upload another chest and back workout so you can switch it up.

Here’s the video:

Let me know if you try it!

What are your favorite chest and back exercises?

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Health/Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

26 Feb

Is it the weekend yet?! I’m really excited for this weekend because I’m heading down to Atlantic City for a friend’s birthday…soooo Saturday needs to get here already. Anyone else like to gamble? (By gamble I mean play the penny slots) 🙂

Here are your health links for today:

  • Dark Chocolate Banana & PB Bars (9-to-Fit) – Um…yum?
  • What The Heck Are Macros (Toned And Fit) – Great, quick overview of macros and how the whole “If It Fits Your Macros” thing works. I actually wrote a post explaining it more here. I’m all for IIFYM if you are eating healthy foods too (and not-so-healthy ones in moderation).
  • Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies (Girl Meets Life) – I need to make these. I have so many things on my “to-do” cooking list…need to get on that…
  • 13 Fitness Challenges That Will Destroy You (STACK) – I really want to try the 10/10 challenge. The trainer says average people will probably last a minute or less. To quote How I Met Your Mother: Challenge accepted.

Check out those challenges…which do you want to try? Or do you have a fitness test of your own that you use to see how fit you are currently?

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Forever 21 Activewear

25 Feb

This past weekend I was shopping in Forever 21 when I saw these shorts:

I thought, “Oh these are actually cute, and feel comfortable…and only 15 bucks!” In the past, I have looked through their workout clothes but not really been impressed. I left the store and thought nothing of it.

Then, the next day my sister and I went back to another mall, and were in Forever 21 again. I was curious about their activewear so I went to that section. I found a ton of items that I loved and all were in the $10-$20 range! A lot of you liked my T.J. Maxx Activewear post, so I figured why not cover my Forever 21 finds too? If I didn’t know Forever 21 had gym clothes, then others might not…plus who doesn’t love a good bargain?

So after doing a little online shopping, here are my favorite finds.

leggings

Seamless Performance Leggings – $10.80

shorts

Side Pocket Skinny Workout Shorts – $12.80

They had these in the store, and I can attest to the fact that they are pretty soft!I loved the wide waistband, but really loved the side pocket. I have a pair of lululemon leggings I wear to the gym all the time because it’s the only pair with a pocket for my phone. I like to listen to my phone while I workout, so this is perfect!

shirt

Moisture Management Workout Tee – $12.80

tanktop

Color Pop Workout Tank – $17.80

I love the back of this tank top! May have to order this one…

leggingstribal

Tribal Print Workout Leggings – $19.80

Because who doesn’t like colorful leggings for running? Or the gym?

yoga shorts

Heathered Colorblocked Yoga Shorts – $12.80

I have been loving spandex shorts lately as opposed to normal running shorts. If I can find a pair that is just as comfortable as my lululemon ones, then that is a win! I love the color and pattern on these.

I’m all about find cute gym outfits to wear. I feel better when I am wearing something I like, than when I’m wearing a random, frumpy t-shirt and shorts (because I forgot to do laundry). The quality on the clothes I saw in the Forever 21 store was pretty good, though I haven’t worn any of their stuff yet, so I can’t say for sure how they will feel when you’re actually working out or running. I will get back to you on that!

Which of these is your favorite?

Have you shopped at Forever 21 for workout clothes? Where else do you find your workout gear?

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Best Health & Fitness Apps

25 Feb

Do you use apps to help you workout? Or track your workouts?

I have been using a few different fitness apps over the past few years, but have found a couple that I love and wanted to share with you. Oh, and most of these are free! You can pay for an upgraded version but I have not done that on any – they work just as well in the free version!

healthapps

Apps are a great way to track your workouts, find new workouts, or try something new. I’m going to list a few that I’ve used, and then a few that I found via Google that I would like to try. I’ll link to the iTunes store, since most have iPhones, even though I’m on the Android side now 😉

What I’ve Used

RunKeeper

RunKeeper is my go-to running app. You can play music through the app, and I just set it and forget it. You can set up audio cues for when you want it to tell you how far you have gone (i.e. – every mile, every 2 miles). You can also have it tell you your distance based on the time you’ve been running (i.e. – every 10 minutes it tells you your distance). I have it set so that every 1 mile it tells me my average pace. The one thing I wish it did was tell me my current pace, like my Garmin watch does. It has a “current pace” feature but it is way off sometimes. You can also set up workouts, so that it will tell you to run hard for 20 seconds, then cue you when to jog, then start again (did that make sense). Lastly, it has various training plans you can use from 5K training to marathon training.

LoseIt!

I use this app for tracking my nutrition. It’s so simple and straightforward. They have a huge list of foods that you can search, but if you can’t find a specific thing, you just scan the barcode on the food item. You can set calorie goals for the day, depending on if you tell the app how much weight you want to lose by a certain amount of time. You can also just put that you want to “maintain” weight. I like using it so I can track my macronutrients and make sure I’m getting enough protein, carbs and fat. I wrote a more in-depth review here.

GymBoss Interval Timer

You may have heard of GymBoss timers (like physical timers). Trainers use them in videos because they beep whenever your interval is up, as opposed to looking at your phone or watch every few seconds. Well, there’s an app for that! I’m sure there are plenty of interval timer apps but I really liked this one. You set up your intervals and it beeps every time an interval is over, and every time you need to start a new interval.  You can repeat the sets for however long you want it to go for. You can save each workout you do so that you don’t have to re-set everything up each time you need it. The only downside is I think when you lock your phone it won’t beep, so make sure you turn the lock screen off.

Nike Training Club

If you’re looking for workouts to do, then this is a great app for you. You can pick from different goals, such as Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, Get Focused. I personally don’t know the difference between get lean or get toned but I digress…

You put in whether you want beginner, intermediate or advanced, and what you want to train, and it will crunch out a workout for you. It gives you pictures for demonstrations and tells you how many reps/how long to do the exercise for. Great for when you’re at the gym and not really sure what to do!

Others

Here are a few other apps that I found, or that I have had friends rave about.

MapMyRun

This is another running app similar to RunKeeper. I haven’t used it but I think most people either use RunKeeper or MapMyRun. Looks like MapMyRun is compatible with the UnderArmour heart rate monitor which is pretty cool. Try each one out to see which one you like best!

Nike+ Running

Yet another running app. I actually know a lot of people who use this one too. It tracks your runs, but is also a community. You can do “challenges” with other people, and it also gives you training plans depending on your goals. The cool thing I like about it (that I’ve seen a lot on Instagram) is you can choose a photo and then overlay your Nike+ stats over it, so you can post on social media. Like this:

Sleep Cycle

I actually used this when I had an iPhone. It’s not a fitness app per se, but it’s good to know how much you’re sleeping and whether it’s restful or not. Jury is out on whether it is reliable data or not, but it is pretty cool to try out. It did correspond to when I’d wake up in the middle of the night and stuff. It analyzes your sleep and then wakes you up when you’re in the lightest phase of sleep (as opposed to in a REM cycle). You set your alarm for a 30 minute period, so that it will wake you up within that time frame.

Blogilates

I love Cassey from Blogilates, so I had to throw this in here. I didn’t get a chance to download her app when I had an iPhone, but I need to check if there is one for Android. (Update: It is available in the Google Play store). You can access her videos through the app, along with recipes, her community and her monthly workout calendar. If you’re not familiar with her, check out her YouTube channel! She’s always so vibrant and positive, it’s hard for it to not rub off on you while you’re doing her workouts. Also, they burn.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few, but these are the apps I use the most, as well as others I’ve heard about. I always love downloading new apps and experimenting, so if I have one to add to the list, I’ll make sure to write an updated post!

Which health and fitness apps do you use? 

Do you use something not on this list? I want to know so I can download it!

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