Tag Archives: Running

The Marathons in Life

I’ve completed three marathons and the third was the hardest, not easiest. The first was the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. I was an idiot and ran it when I was completely under the weather, just because I was [am] stubborn and don’t like to give up on my goals, even when it’s wise to. The second was the Walt Disney World Marathon. That was a fun one. Lots of high fives with costumed Disney characters and pauses in front of iconic Disney backdrops (think Magic Castle) for mid-race photos. Ah, to feel young and innocent again whilst putting your body through a gauntletThe third marathon…the hardest marathon…was not your typical road race. It was a 17-month long commitment to breastfeeding. Yup, it was a marathon in every sense of the word; equal parts difficult and fulfilling, challenging yet beneficial for one’s health, and mentally grueling while simultaneously inspiring. Here’s how the lessons I learned from my road-race marathons applied to my commitment to something else. Gotta love exercise-life parallels. I’m all about ’em.

Good Things Don’t Come Easy 

Nursing was not something I was passionate about at the beginning of my journey with it, whereas I have always been very passionate about running. But my experiences running road races (shorter ones like half marathons, 10-milers and 10Ks, too) have taught me that tough commitments can have unexpected rewards. Thus, I stuck out the breastfeeding thing, using my stubborn, marathon mentality to get me through its challenges (of which there were many, including the fact that it was extremely difficult for me to produce enough milk through pumping…in order words, I had to be present around the clock to provide).

Somewhere about a year after my son’s birth I experienced a dramatic shift in perspective; instead of knowing I should appreciate the ability to provide for him in his infancy into toddlerhood, I finally truly appreciated it. It hit me one day out of the blue. I saw how much intimacy we shared, how quick the years ahead would pass us by, how much like a little boy instead of a baby he already was, and I knew. My heart finally understood that it was the hardest and best decision I had made for us both thus far.

Physical Discomfort Makes Us Mentally Tough 

I never knew that bloody heels and almost passing out during my first marathon would be things I would become grateful for. The painful experiences taught me not only to wear more protective socks and to avoid physical competitions when sick, but also that I was capable of enduring pain and moving forward a little bit tougher. This made shorter distances mentally easier in the future, and left me with the reassurance that, for better or worse, my body is capable of anything I might ask of it.

When my motherhood marathon began, I also endured pain…but it was much worse. TMI ahead, folks. In the first few months of nursing I had cracked nipples because of my son’s small mouth and his tongue tie (he was born a month early and we had to wait over a month for an ENT appointment). My hormones were crazy and at the start of every nursing session I experienced unthinkable letdown pain. I would literally cry out in pain or attempt to take deep breaths through tears. Getting through those upfront challenges built up my resolve that no matter what normal challenges lay ahead (nursing strikes, mastitis, maintaining supply) that I could handle it. Mommy’s battle gear was ready!!

The Second Time Around Will Be Easier

If there’s one thing I know it’s that being a novice is tough. Most first-time road runners don’t know how to fuel properly and typically don’t learn proper negative-split and cross-training techniques. But over time and with some effort, runners refine and evolve. They implement strategies to help them run faster while enduring fewer injuries.

Similarly, first-time moms encounter  many challenges that force them to be more strategic and build up their tolerance for future issues. For example, my nursing experience was initially tough, but I have no doubt that it paved the way for an easier experience next time. Aren’t most things easier for mom after the first child? Please tell me yes! 

No one said nursing a toddler was free of complications! Lol.

You Can’t Marathon Straight Through Life

In a study published by the NIH, the Mayo Clinic found that there may be an “upper-dose limit” for endurance exercise. In other words, marathon after marathon and sustained competition at an elite level can have detrimental effects on an athlete’s heart. Think of it kind of like overdosing on a medication…it goes from helpful to hurtful very quickly. Cardiac tissue can have multiple negative adaptations to intensive training, including large-artery wall stiffening, coronary artery calcification, myocardial fibrosis, ventricular arrhythmia and more. These devastating effects of exercising TOO much strip away all the benefits and longevity that come with exercise in moderation (which can increase life expectancy by 7 years!). At some point, we have to intuit when we’ve gone too far, when it’s time to move on from the marathon…for our health’s sake.

Similarly, what I consider the “marathon of motherhood” (i.e. nursing) isn’t intended to be something the mother and child practice forever. At a certain point, life’s demands, the child’s distraction or disinterest, or the mother’s need to focus wholeheartedly on her own health again, come into play. In fact, the volume of milk that a toddler needs goes drastically down after the 12-15-month mark, and too much milk or dairy can stand in the way of getting enough of other key nutrients. To continue “marathoning” the nursing in the same frequency as when the child was in infancy isn’t ideal for the child’s health (that’s not to say that some nursing isn’t still healthy, nutritious and emotionally satisfying for the child). Anywhere between 18-months and 3 years old is when experts say children naturally wean, meaning they lead the process based on their physical and emotional needs.

That said, my son was just under the 17-month mark and I knew it was time to stop pushing us both through our once-a-day nursing that remained; the morning nursing. I had been pushing him to continue for weeks, even though he was showing disinterest. We might get a few minutes of nursing in and that was that. I knew he was gearing up to quit – he loved his sippy cup with whole milk way more than me (well…my boobs) at that point and had recently found new ways to share cuddles and affection with me on/off throughout the day, filling the emotional gap that I was worried would be created by stopping nursing. I could also feel my own hormones and emotions crashing over the whole ordeal. It didn’t feel the same anymore. I felt like after nearly 1.5 years I really needed a few mornings to pass the torch to my husband so I could sleep in and get the rest my body was begging of me.

One morning a couple weeks ago, my son just flat-out refused to nurse. I tried everything I could to get him to and he just wouldn’t. I set him down to play instead and off he went on his merry little way. I knew. That was it. My marathon had ended. And it was actually a good thing for us both, I found.

Was it easy to nurse 17 months? Heck no. But it got easier over time. Was it worth it? Yes. 100% worth it. All marathons are. 

What’s your marathon? What have you been tasked with that requires every fiber of your being to persevere through? Most importantly, even when it’s hard, can you see the potential for the long road ahead to mold you for the better? Hang in.

 

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. It’s that I had the courage to start.”

-John Bingham, American Marathon Runner and Author

 

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

Discovering God in Movement

I’ve discovered in my foolish efforts to move faster, through exercise and life, that happiness alludes me. The more I try to align my purpose with the values of this world (my image, finances, and outward success), the more spiritually depleted I become. The more my spirit suffers, the more my physical and emotional health precipitously decline. The inner parts of me [and you] are interconnected. That said, the best part of discovering my weaknesses is that I’ve witnessed an eternal strength of God, who serves as my backbone during the movement of life, even as I am spinning in its tornado. These are just a few examples to ponder, when my body and mind were swept away by the hurried pace of life, but my spirit was called back to place of staying grounded.

…There are different ideas about meditation. Common Eastern meditation practices are a way of clearing the mind and simultaneously opening it up to receive the eternal, energy, detachment from superficiality, whatever the specific practice or belief encourages. You probably find a lot of these meditative forms in yoga classes. As an exercise professional who teaches yoga, I’m well acquainted with them. The Christian view of meditation is fixing one’s mind on scripture or the way of God, and allowing that to guide one’s adoration and intentions. Some Christians believe Eastern forms of meditation are “corrupt” because they don’t focus specifically on God and thereby open the mind to “satanic” and Godless thoughts. Yes, I’m a Christian. But no, I don’t believe Eastern forms of meditation are corrupt. In fact, I have experienced the Spirit through both forms of meditation, and have seen firsthand how each has a positive and transforming power; how God can be in written words, in the stillness of opening one’s mind, and in the focus on eternity. God is omnipresent. I’ve also experienced spiritual growth through another, less-talked-about form of meditation: movement.

…It all started when I was in high school. Field hockey tryouts were every August, so the summer evenings were spent running the hilly road that my family’s house was on. As I ran up and down, one hill after the next and my heart racing, I felt like life tilted just enough to see it from the right angle. Juvenile worries faded and my mind wasn’t distracted by the whir of emotions that accompany teenage years. I felt like I was one with God, the universe, life. Some might call it a runner’s high and attribute it to endorphin hormones, but if you’ve experienced a similar spiritual experience then you know just as well as I do that it’s more. So much more.

My running became less routine during my first year of college. Evening runs were traded-in for “pre-gaming” frat parties or cramming for morning exams. I lived in a cloud of stress and under a haze of booze, wondering if my pre-law coursework was really taking me in the direction I was supposed to go with my career and life. After my first year of college came to a close, I resumed running that hilly route on summer evenings, even though making the field hockey team was a thing of the past. I pined for the feelings of connection to God that I experienced on those high school runs and hoped I could find Him again that summer. The faster I ran and the harder I tried to force it, the less I could see of that Great Spirit. I was devastated. Where did God go? Had I been abandoned?

One evening run, mulling over my directionless academic experience and dim prospects for personal happiness in practicing law, I hit a different cadence. Instead of running fast and furiously, I just ran steady. My breath matched my step and a rhythm established itself. With every exhale, my mind began to clear of the stress. With every few steps, I felt more calm and began a true communion with God, there in that moving meditation with my feet loud on the pavement but His words whispering softly to my mind. It was in that moment of moving meditation when I let go of the things of the world, the lies I was telling myself about what “success” should look like. In letting go, I fell seamlessly into a new purpose. I realized I wanted to help other people feel amazing in their bodies, like I did in that moment. I didn’t even know about the Exercise Physiology degree option at that point in time, but I understood I had to figure out a way to help people move and find freedom for their bodies and spirits. So, that’s what I did.

Since that day, when my entire future turned on an axle, I’ve found it surprisingly easy to connect with God via exercise. It’s been my favorite form of meditation. It’s in the other forms of life’s movement that being spiritually centered has been a challenge. The hurried movement from one deadline to the next, from email to email, and all the busy-busy stuff in between that takes up mind and heart space. But, I’ve found that even though its undeserved, God is still there amidst the distracted movement of life.

…It was my last walk-through of my post-college apartment in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. My now-husband and I had just made the decision to begin our lives together. We were making engagement plans, picking out furniture, and feeling the initial butterflies of settling in together. I walked through the apartment and felt stale feelings prickling up. Memories of the sleepless, scared and lonely nights in that space caused my throat to tighten. I had lived there three years and almost every experience had been marked by extreme growing pains. Late nights panning through spiritual books, trying to understand how to approach the “real world” as myself. Afternoons collapsing into my bed to nap, my body inflamed and suffering, before waking up to go back to work for another evening shift of clients. I heaved a sigh of relief that I was finally moving on. As I finished sweeping the last room’s dust bunnies I remembered that I hadn’t swept my bedroom’s closets out. I walked to the back of the house, opened the glossy black closet doors and began sweeping. A faint clatter sound on the ground caught my attention. As I knelt to inspect, I discovered the top piece of a broken prayer box that I’d long forgotten about, laying in the heap of dust. Someone had been with me through all the tears and loneliness, even when my unintentional inclination was to leave Him hiding in the closet.  

…It was my last walk-through of our first apartment together before moving. We had just bought a town home that we were giddy about. As I walked through the apartment, I checked cabinets and corners, almost 100% certain that we had collected all our belongings, but the paranoid perfectionist in me beckoning one last inspection. I pulled back the mirrored closet door and looked through the now-empty space where clothes had formerly been stuffed on hangers. My heart caught in my chest. Again? On the opposite wall inside the closet hung a cross made from Popsicle sticks, one I had long forgotten about and hardly remembered hanging there. It was a gift from a friend I had made while working in Sedona, Arizona, the capital of “New Age” practices, as a personal trainer. That friend made the cross in prison, where he was now serving time for turning back to drugs after several decades of fighting to find freedom from them and enjoying brief reprieve that summer we met. When he sent me the cross, he included a note with the quote:

“Peace,

It does not mean to be in a place

where there is no noise, trouble

or hard work. It means to be in

the midst of those things and still

be calm in your heart.”

(unknown)

…It was a handful of months after moving into our new town home. When we bought the home, we were thrilled that there was a lot of green space in front of it – a unique find in the city, let alone just one block from public transportation. The green space reminded me of being back at my childhood home and made me feel more spiritually centered. When we did our first walk-through of the home after getting the keys (it was officially ours!), we videoed the empty rooms exclaiming over the things we loved and things we planned to change. I was walking in front of the camera, my husband filming me from behind, when I approached one of the front windows. “And this beautiful park!” I declared. “If anything ever happens to it, I’ll die.” I replayed that moment in my mind while standing in front of our home, tears streaming down my face as I looked at the spray-painted grass and miniature white flags butting up right next to our property. These marked where a construction company would soon excavate this slice of nature to carve out space for an underground garage and apartment building. I was devastated.

I was spouting my frustrations over the phone to my husband, regretting our decision to buy and worrying over what living with a crane over our heads would be like. He was calming me down and reassuring me that we were still going to love our home. My crying reduced to sniffles as he explained that this “misfortune” might be an asset for improving our home’s future sale price. As this thought sank in, I took another long look across the expanse of greenery before turning my attention down to the ground in front of our home. It was still a painful thought; that the green oasis would soon be destroyed. As I kicked my feet against some loose rocks and dirt, a cream color caught my eye. I reached down, thinking I would pluck a large rock out of our front planter. But what I unearthed was something unexpected. “Hold on, Casey…” I paused him mid-thought. What is this??

It was a miniature St. Joseph’s statue. I’m not Catholic so I didn’t know what this signified. After a little investigation, I learned St. Joseph is the patron saint of families and homes. Catholics bury the statue in gardens and yards to bless the sale or purchase of a home. I’m not sure if the former homeowners put it there for their sale of the home or to bless its buyers [us], but that home afforded us many happy experiences and a tenfold profit (from our modest down payment) when we sold it just five years later. I still have that statue in my bedside drawer, a selfish part of myself unwilling to part with it now.

…It was just a few months ago, my husband and I experiencing butterflies on the drive home from Richmond, VA where we had just walked through a home we felt excited about putting an offer on. Are we crazy for moving to a new city where we have no jobs? Are we uprooting our lives for no purpose? We were both voicing our doubts and worries out loud on that drive, even though both of our heartstrings were being pulled in favor of the home. As the waves of giddiness and nervousness passed over me, I looked upwards to the sky through the front window. The light that had been pouring in through the car windows suddenly seemed dim. I wondered if it was about to rain. As my eyes cast upwards, I saw that the entire sky was covered in billowy white clouds…except for one small patch of pure blue in the shape of a well-defined heart. I knew. While only caring about the future amid my busy plans, God was steadfastly with me in the present.

….

Whether I’ve been moving fast or slow, looking up or down, focusing on meditation or tripping through life absentmindedly, God has proven that He is always there. And when I realize that I’m more than the sum of my physical parts, thanks to something greater, it’s pretty awesome. It puts a bounce in my step as I hit the pavement for a good run.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

Different Types of Exercise: Pros and Cons

Exercise variety can maximize your health returns and reduce your risk of injury. On the flip side, focusing on one modality at a time can enhance your sport or exercise-specific performance. So, the decision is yours. Without further ado, let’s look at the pros and cons of focusing your physical efforts on endurance training, high-intensity interval training, Pilates, yoga, light weightlifting, and heavy strength training.

Pros & Cons Endurance

Endurance Training

Pros – Endurance training is when you exercise in an aerobic zone. This includes a wide range of movements and sports, from walking to riding a bike, and more. Generally speaking, when you’re exercising in this zone, you can sustain your effort for longer periods of time, possibly even while carrying on a light conversation. The ability to sustain energy in this zone means that you can oftentimes handle both longer workouts and more frequent endurance workouts. Either of these scenarios can help you stick to a training plan, burn calories and improve cardiovascular health. Endurance training is great for fat burning and individuals of all fitness levels.

Cons – Although endurance training usually yields fat-metabolism for fuel, too much of this exercise can also deplete muscle stores. This can happen when individuals overtrain, do not supplement their exercise with proper nutrition, and/or do not balance their regimens with strength training. Also, in recent history, there has been some evidence that extreme endurance exercise training may cause abnormalities in the heart. Hey! What do ya know? You don’t have to make yourself feel guilty for not being an ultra-marathoner! 

 

Pros & Cons HIIT

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Pros – HIIT is an awesome, time-efficient way to get in your workout. It involves high-intensity bouts of exercise interspersed with moderate to light-intensity exercises for recovery. Not only is this exercise format a time-saver, but it also causes Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). EPOC is a term used to describe the extra oxygen that your body demands and consumes following rigorous exercises. While consuming this extra oxygen, your body’s metabolism is elevated. This means that you’re continuing to burn calories for as much as 36 hours following a HIIT workout! Not bad, I must say!

Cons – There is no standard formula for a HIIT workout, even though there are some commonly used routines (for example, a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio). This means that you could walk into an exercise class and be asked to perform any number of different exercise regimens. While this keeps things fresh and full of variety, it also means that unqualified fitness professionals could lead you – and your body –  astray. This is especially true if you’re a beginner or have a low level of fitness since HIIT is very intense, putting individuals at a higher risk for injury if left unsupervised or asked to perform exercises to the point of fatigue (which causes many people to lose form). My advice: trust your gut. Always recognize your right to step out of class or choose an exercise modification that better suits your needs, if you’re not comfortable. 

 

Pros & Cons Yoga

Yoga

Pros – Yoga is one of the oldest exercise practicies, dating back at least 5,000 years ago! Something with staying power like that is bound to be worthy of our attention, right?! Various yoga disciplines and formats can be great for different goals. You can attend a class that focuses on breathing and find that it helps you with stress management and mental clarity. You can also attend a power yoga class to exert some energy, challenge muscles and improve flexibility. Specific poses can improve your balance, core strength, hip flexibility, shoulder stability, and more.

Cons – The trickiest thing about yoga is finding a class that suits all of your physical, mental and spiritual needs. Certain westernized yoga practices focus more exclusively on the physical, while branches of Ashtanga yoga and Hatha yoga may take you a bit deeper. Some people love repeating mantras, learning sanskrit and being encouraged to do service yoga, while others just want to zone out during some sun salutations. Whatever your yogi-cup-of-tea, keep at it until you find one you love! A little research on the formats never hurts. One last thing worth noting though; you won’t have the same muscle and cardiovascular gains doing yoga as you will in other exercise formats. In fact, some people increase their risk of injury by doing prolonged stretches too often. So, since yoga is all about union and harmony, try to find some balance between your yoga sessions and other exercises each week.

 

Pros & Cons Pilates

Pilates

Pros – Pilates traditionally focuses on the core muscles, so anything between your hips and neck. This means that you will be extra vigilent in your awareness about proper posture and core control during one of these workouts. Pilates can be done on a mat, with or without props, and on specialized machinery (most commonly the reformer, cadillac and barrel). If you’re looking to achieve spinal alignment, Pilates is for you! If you’re eager to reduce back pain or increase your core strength, give it a try!

Cons – Several traditional Pilates disciplines focus on the same exercise series for every workout. While these exercises can be scaled for your fitness level, you may reach a plateau after regularly performing them. Some people feel that they don’t get great weight-loss or strength gains from Pilates. Thus, it’s important to get individual advice from your instructor on how to get the most out of each movement and/or how to find a new, more challenging (or less challenging) class. Another drawback worth noting is that it can be difficult to find affordable options for exercising on Pilates-specific equipment. Group classes on reformers are becoming more common and help reduce the costs of participation when compared with paying for one-on-one instruction, but they can be hard to find depending on the diversity of options in your neighborhood.

 

Pros & Cons Light Weightlifting

Light Weightlifting

Pros – Light weightlifting is a great way to workout on days when you don’t have a lot of energy or if you’re new to exercise. Lifting light weights will pump blood to your muscles and stabilize your body. It may also give you a little cardiovascular training effect. Lighter weights are also great if you’re recovering from an injury, tapering down your training regimen, or in need of practicing exercise form/technique before graduating to higher weight classes. These weights may be little, but they can lead to strength! Plus, little dumbbells are kinda cute, right?! Or is that really weird of me to say?…

Cons – While lighter weights are certainly the way to go when you’re learning a new exercise, they aren’t what you need forever. Unfortunately, a lot of women get into a comfort zone with 2.5-15 lb weights and fear that grabbing heavier weights will cause them to bulk up (which is not true…just read the next section below!). This can hold women back from gaining more muscle and reaping greater metabolic and strength benefits. Interestingly, only 10 reps or less is considered strength training – and that’s 10 hard reps, not casual ones. So, if you’re looking for more gains, you can’t pump out 15+ easy-to-moderate reps with five pounders forever. I know, I know, they’ll miss you too!

 

Pros & Cons Heavy Weightlifting

Heavy Strength Training

Pros – Strength training with weights that feel subjectively heavy to you is an excellent way to stimulate your body to adapt. It can lead to muscle gains, bone mass gains, increased metabolism, decreased risk of injury, improvements in joint health, and more! Strength training is an anaerobic activity. In other words, your body uses different energy for this exercise when compared with endurance training, which is aerobic (see explanation above). Perhaps the biggest bonus to strength training is the impact on your physique. That’s right, this exercise format more than any other can help you feel amazing in a strapless gown or bikini. Time to make friends with the barbell! 

Cons – Strength training is very technique-intensive. Without proper form you can easily go wrong in this exercise category. Also, various weight-lifting methods can be complicated to understand for the non-professional. Split training, progressive overload, periodization, and other approaches can feel confusing. This can discourage people who are looking for something effective and straightforward. Thus, if you’re interested in strength training and you’ve never worked with a professional, I suggest that you invest in a few training sessions and make your goals clear to the trainer you’re working with. He or she will respect your desire to get a “crash course” in weight lifting basics so that you can practice them on your own. The trainer can also help decipher what kind of regimen will be best for your body, goals, time commitment, and schedule.

 

Pick your exercise poison and enjoy! Just keep in mind that even if you’re an awesome marathon runner or a heavy-weight champ in the gym, you will need to build in what’s called taper or recovery weeks where you exert less effort and allow your body to restore. Generally, if we don’t balance out our training a little bit, the pendulum is liable to swing in a direction away from optimal performance (often into injury or fatigue).

Have another exercise format (or sport) you’re wondering about?! Fire away in the comments section or email me directly via the Contact form! I’m happy to answer questions about kickboxing, tai chi, skiing, cycling, contact sports, and more!

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

30 Day Exercise Plan: Surge into Spring

Bloom and thriveFeel free to call it a 30 day workout plan, a 30 day bust it to bikini season, a revamp of your fitness, whatever. Call it what you like! I only ask that you take this 30 day plan, and ANY exercise plan, with a grain of salt. There is no one-size-fits-all routine. But, this particular exercise plan will help satisfy a ton of your body’s needs. It is suitable for beginners and advanced exercisers alike, and can be completed in or out of a gym! There are lots of extra suggestions too, for how you can make the routine your own and boost your results. So, get ready to surge into spring. Get ready to thrive!

Below, you will see a 10 day program that incorporates all three energy zones of training. To put this simply, the exercises in this program tap into strength, speed, and endurance training. Why all three?

Strength (or building towards strength) – assists in muscle balance, spinal health, osteoporosis prevention, weight loss, toning, lean mass acquisition, and more.

Speed – short runs, or cardio workouts, with speed intervals, and/or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will help boost caloric expenditure in a short period of time and may aid in stimulating growth hormone.

Endurance – allows you to workout for a longer period of time while enjoying the benefits of fat burning and reaching an endorphin high.

There are many more benefits to each training zone. These highlights are just the start.

Go ahead, take a look at the example routine below that shows 10 exercise days that will balance your body, burn energy, and make you feel ready for warm weather. This routine should be repeated 3x, from start to finish, during the 30 day period.

Surge into Spring

For more details about how the exercise suggestions above can be turned into actual workouts, see the Beginner (B), Intermediate/Fit (F), and Advanced/Athlete (A) level suggestions below:

DAY 1:

B – brisk walk/slow jog for 45 min

F – 45 min jog/run

A – 45 min fast run with 30 seconds sprinting every 3-4 minutes (one way to do this is to do it once every new song on your playlist)

DAY 2:

B – 30 min lifting upper/lower combos

F –  45 min lifting upper/lower combos

A – 60 min lifting upper/lower combos

DAY 3:

B – brisk walk/slow jog for 45 min

F – 60 min jog/run

A – 75 slow to moderate pace run

DAY 4: REST DAY!

DAY 5:

B – 30 min upper and core workout

F – 45 min upper and core workout

A – 45 min upper and core workout heavy (aim for weights that fatigue you or cause failure within 8-10 reps)

DAY 6:

B – brisk walk/slow jog for 45 min

F – 45 min jog/run

A – 45 min fast run with 30 seconds sprinting every 3-4 minutes (one way to do this is to do it once every new song on your playlist)

DAY 7:

B – 20 min HIIT

F – 30 min HIIT

A – 40 min HIIT

*For more information about HIIT workouts, check this out: How to HIIT

DAY 8: REST DAY!

Day 9:

B – 30 min upper, lower and core workout

F – 45 min upper, lower and core workout

A – 45 min upper, lower and core workout heavy (aim for weights that fatigue you or cause failure within 8-10 reps)

DAY 10:

B – 20 min jog + 5 sun salutations + 3 burpee rounds of 8 reps

F – 30 min run + 8 sun salutations + 5 burpee rounds of 8-10 reps

A – 45 min running – every 6-8 min stop to do a 2 sun salutations and 2 burpee rounds of 8-10 reps *if you become dizzy then save the salutations and burpees for the end of the run

Notes to make this work for you:

  • Repeat days 1-10, 3x
  • As you cycle through the routine the second and third time, note that days 9, 10, 1, 2 and 3 are without a day off, so be sure to manage your energy and plan for a purposeful rest day
  • If you feel overly exhausted towards the end of the five consecutive days of exercise then eat a slightly heavier carb meal or two, to boost energy
  • If, at any time, you feel prone to injury or pain, cease exercise for a few days before resuming and/or contact a medical or fitness professional who can help you
  • Any of the running days can be substituted for low-impact cardio on machine equipment. I have included running suggestions simply because it’s a great form of exercise that can be done both in and out of the gym. Do what is best for you, though
  • Rain day contingency plan (for those exercising outdoors) – swap a run day with a strength day, or email me! I will whip up a routine for you in no time (it’s what I do)
  • Confused about which exercises to select for lower vs upper body? Want to know how to make this work for you? Leave a comment or contact me directly – I won’t leave you hanging if you’ve got questions

Over 30 days, this routine can help you lose anywhere from 2.5 – 6 lbs. Not bad considering that the vast majority of these workouts are under an hour, right?! The general weight loss recommendation for women is typically .5 – 1 lbs/week. We’re right on pace with those recommendations, if not pushing them a little bit because I know that women get extra invigorated once the weather turns warm. That said, we’re not going overboard and trying to lose “21 lbs in 21 days.” Yikes, was an organ removed?! We’re aiming for progress that is manageable for the long term. It’s not fun to feel fabulous in June and “junky” again by July, is it?

These weight loss estimates are only based on these workouts, not on the level of intensity you may bring to the table while doing them. The estimates also don’t take into consideration the calories you continue to burn after your workout. Additionally, these estimates assume that you’re eating for weight maintenance. If you eat a little less than your maintenance caloric level, then you can lose a little more. Even 150 calories less a day can be helpful for weight loss and will ensure that you’re not feeling deprived or swinging between binge eating days and starvation.

Here are a few general suggestions to help improve your diet during your program:

  • Eat veggies at lunch and dinner – this is so crucial for satiety, nutrition, and training your taste buds to appreciate truly yummy, natural, and healthy foods
  • Don’t skip breakfast – c’mon we’ve heard this one since we were 5!
  • Remember to drink water
  • Limit processed sugars/sweets – if you like sweet treats, I’m not one to tell you never to have them – simply try to plan a time of day in advance for when you will enjoy them. This will help prevent you from going overboard and will allow you to focus on the taste and anticipate the enjoyment
  • Try to limit processed foods by planning meals ahead of time and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store (where the fresh stuff is!)
  • Have a back-up plan – carry nuts, an apple, a protein bar, or any healthy snack to help avoid low blood sugar swings and keep up energy (my friends know that I can be quite the soccer mom – snacks are always on hand!)

As you can see, this isn’t reinventing the wheel. We don’t have to struggle to find the perfect routine or the next fitness fad. We just have to put simple actions into motion so that we can have healthy lifestyles that fill us with joy.

Good luck! I’m here if you need me!

2

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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The Nitty Gritty; Secrets The Pros Know That You Should, Too

There is a vast array of knowledge that fitness and health professionals keep tucked away in their brilliant brains. It’s disappointing that this information is either not shared or is not communicated in easy-to-digest pieces. For this reason, I’ve decided to put together a very small sampling of some of the most important, unexpected things to know about exercise. You will see a dramatic change in your body and confidence if you put these tips to action. Ready? Set? Let’s GO!

We will focus exclusively on the breath today. Yes, it’s that important…go figure. 

YOUR BREATH IS POWERFUL

Power of the breath

Any person with a brain in their head knows that not breathing will cause you to, um…die. Things just got serious. This fact alone shows us the power of oxygen. What some people don’t know is that we can manipulate the breath in a number of ways for exercise performance, metabolic changes, and peace of mind. Faster breathing impacts the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) and slower breathing impacts the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest). Different forms of exercise utilize various breathing techniques to activate one of these two systems. For example:

Swimming Breath

Swimming: Bilateral breathing is crucial for swimmers’ performance. As I’m not the most expert swimmer, I will allow Swim Smooth to explain: “Bilateral is swimming jargon for breathing to both sides, left and right. Classically this is done every 3 strokes (counting both arms) so your breathing alternates from side to side. But equally it could be done every 5 or even 7 strokes.”

Pilates Breath (2)

Pilates: I can remember my first Pilates class to this day. I had NO idea what was going on and figuring out the breathing completely boggled my mind. Various disciplines/formats of pilates even coach you to breathe differently. Some have you breathe in and out through your nose only (like in yoga) and others encourage you to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It can certainly be confusing for beginners. Make note of this: whenever you “pull in” or try to squeeze your abs in class is typically when you exhale. If you don’t breathe “perfectly,” don’t sweat it. The Pilates Police will never know.  

Running Breath

Running: Health and Fitness Director Budd Coates has brought increased awareness to rhythmic breathing in running over the past few years. To save you the stress of all the science (which exercise nerds like me love), I will explain it as succinctly as possible. When we run, we tend to use more energy from the dominant side of our body (probably the side of your body that you kick and throw a ball from). This creates extra stress on muscles on that side of the body and typically results in us exhaling as our dominant leg makes contact with the ground. At this point, the force that goes up into our bodies is 2-3x our normal body weight. To keep this stress more evenly distributed, rhythmic breathing helps runners learn how to sync their breath with their strides so that the exhalation is more balanced left-to-right foot strike, and stress is more evenly distributed.

Yoga Breath

Yoga: There are numerous breathing techniques in yoga. The breathing practice, Pranayama, is one of the most important and foundational components of Ashtanga yoga. When I was in yoga teacher training at Yoga Vidya Dham I learned about an instructor who practiced “fire breath” so much on his own that he both lost over 30 lbs and suffered from internal bleeding. He had to be rushed to a hospital for treatment. Unbelievable, right? When done properly, breathing techniques in yoga induce calmness, clarity of mind, and focus. There’s a little something for everyone and with experimentation and practice, you’ll find a technique that you love. This site has great, simple videos of some common techniques: http://www.doyogawithme.com/yoga_breathing

Quick tip: In yoga you are almost always exhaling as you bend or move forward, closing off your body in your mid-section. You almost always inhale as you open your body, bending backward or away from your mid-section. 

Exhale the sticking point

Lifting weights: It’s helpful to breathe slowly so that oxygen supplies “refill” your muscles, to the greatest extent possible, in between reps. This gives your body energy to keep going through the set. It also helps to exhale forcefully at the hardest point of each rep to push past what is called your “sticking point.” If you’ve ever tried to lift a heavy weight over your head and felt a point of resistance that was almost impossible to push past, you know where the sticking point is for that exercise. The same applies to all movements. Why does the forceful exhale help at this point? It helps because your diaphragm (which contracts and releases with your breath) is attached to a muscle in your core, the transverse abdominus. This muscle, when pulled in tight with an exhale, helps stabilize your body and thereby assists any lift you’re doing.  Just don’t forget to inhale too! Kind of important. When you’re not exercising the transverse abdominus acts like a gentle corset around your middle.

Now that you’ve WAY overthought various breathing techniques, remember to take a deep breath. Wink wink. With practice, you will get to where you want to be. It may take a while and at times, it might make you blue in the face, but sure enough, you will eventually be in full control of your breathing. Once you are, the power you have to stay composed during intense exercise will be incredible. You may also find that calming down your racing heart and shallow breathing is easier when your significant other forgets to pick up dry cleaning, your child cries bloody murder over a toy you refuse to buy, or your favorite pair of shoes is out of stock just when you need them most.

Stay tuned for tips similar to The Nitty Gritty! There’s plenty more of this good stuff in store for you…

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggiewellnesswinz logo 2

 

References:

https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/684/ace-integrated-fitness-training-ift-model-for

http://www.ashtanga.com/

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1827342,00.html

http://www.doyogawithme.com/yoga_breathing

http://karimfitness.com/

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/running-air-breathing-technique

http://www.swimsmooth.com/bilateral.html#ixzz3P1NGLSuM

http://www.yogapoint.com/info/yvd.htm