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Friday, July 29, 2011

Debate/Discussion: Child bodybuilding




I think I have to agree with the doctor on this one: he must be taking some sort of hormones to get that "ripped." Or maybe because most people don't think about their children becoming bodybuilders it is shocking to see? Perhaps children's bodies CAN look like that if they really try?

Then again, adult, professional bodybuilders often take enhancements to look like they do. Why should this child be any different?

This child in this video is in the Guinness Book of World Records, according to one article

 (Do click on the link to watch the video. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to bias anyone. I think everyone should make up their own minds. But I must say that the child scares me. A LOT.)

The article also states that child bodybuilding is becoming increasingly popular these days. There are boot camps to get children to look like this. There are even gyms specifically designed for children. Parents have to pay more because most ordinary gyms don't let anyone younger than 16 years old into the weight room.

(Be sure to read the article as well)

My opinion is this: A child's body hasn't finished developing at this stage in life. Who knows what the repercussions on their bodies may be once they hit puberty? I think it is wonderful for children to be more active. Especially nowadays and the problems with obesity and eating too much junk food. 

However, there is excess in everything: 
  • Eating too much is excess
  • Playing too many video games is excess
  • Having a 6-year-old look like Arnold Schwarzenegger is excess.

I can't think of even one benefit this kind of training has for a child and their family. Ok, I can think of one: MONEY. The children above are famous because of the bodies they have. 

It just doesn't sit well with me.

What do other people think? Is it more harmful than helpful?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pumpkin Bread


Pumpkin Bread
1-15oz can pumpkin
120 ml (or 1/2 cup) olive oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
dash of salt
2 Tbsp. flaxseeds, ground
Preheat oven to 365 degrees (180C). Stir together flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and flaxseeds. Mix pumpkin, oil, eggs, and spices together in another bowl. Then combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Don't mix it too much. Bake for 50 minutes or until done.

I didn't have any whole wheat flour but if I did I would definitely use it! I recommend it for this recipe. Just use half whole wheat flour and half regular flour so your bread is not too dense. Delicious!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unforeseen Circumstances

WARNING:
Googleimages
This will be a short post, hopefully, on some (unforeseen) circumstances coming up that I hope won't hinder my marathon training progress.


NEGATIVES

 
Googleimages

1) Moving to another country

So it's not exactly what you may think. I've been living abroad (meaning outside the United States) for the last four years. I previously lived in England and currently live in Spain. I was studying while In England (where I got married) and then my husband and I left and came to his country (he's Spanish). 

We are leaving Spain in September because the crisis has hit the country bad. The unemployment rate is at 20%: so 1 in 5 Spaniards are unemployed. He has been out of work for more than a year now and so we decided to leave. 

The silly thing is that I'm more concerned about having to change my running routes than the move! I know the move will work out with some effort and hard work. 

But it's hard for me to leave my tried and true routes! I mean now I have to re-map everything, kind of start from zero, and so I'm a little worried. That will take some time and I don't want it to disrupt my training.


Googleimages

 2) Jobs

I've been lucky in that my work in Spain has allowed me to be flexible. I worked for myself and so could schedule my workouts in whenever I pleased. Now I will most likely have a 9-5 job, working for "The Man," who won't let me come in late or leave early because I need to get a run in. 

So my schedule will be a lot more restrictive. I'm worried that I won't have the energy after a 9-5 to do my runs or the time. Again, it will just take some adapting to it (time) but I hope it won't disrupt my training.


POSITIVES


1) Documentation

Something I am really excited about with this move is that I am motivating myself to be a lot more proactive about documenting my journey. There will be a lot more videos and pictures to come on the blog, so stay tuned! 



2) Running Team

I've already done some research about the area where I'm moving (North Carolina) and there are a couple of running teams near me! This is going to be the push I need to stay motivated. As well as make some new friends and connections to the running community in my area. I've always wanted a running buddy so I'm thrilled with the possibilities!



3) Half Marathon       

The day before yesterday I signed up for a half marathon race in North Carolina! It will be my second one and will be held on November 6th. I am super excited! My plan is to also run some 5ks and 10ks leading up to that race. I want to get a few more races under my belt before I run the marathon in 2012.


4) Marathon   

I also found a marathon in 2012 in the area! It is a qualifying race, which is perfect. It is in Myrtle Beach (technically South Carolina) and takes place February 18th. Registration begins in August.


 5) Odds and Ends

One last positive is since I will be in the States again I can try/do some research on a ton of things I couldn't find abroad (future posts on these products coming soon):
 
Moving is always stressful. It is only heightened when you have to pick up and move to another country. But I (and my husband) look at it as another adventure. I'm cool with that...as long as it doesn't screw up my training!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fitness Tip: Lackluster Energy

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER (My first half marathon)
Yes, lackluster energy affects the best of us. After taking a look at my embarassing, lazy, pictures above you know it's true. So how do I get the job done when I just want to sit on the couch staring into space or catch up on my youtube videos? 

Honestly, sometimes I don't know how I do it either.

Typically, working out the first thing in the morning is the best option. For me, it helps me get it out of the way so that I don't have to worry about making excuses later. 

Sure, I still have crust in my eyes and it takes me a minute to get oriented, but after that I'm good. Plus, I have added energy for the rest of the day and have a sounder sleep at night. 

When I don't get up early I feel lazier as the day goes on. At the end of the day I make up some excuse why I can't go run:

  • It's too late
  • I have to get up early tomorrow
  • I'm too tired
  • I'm hungry
  • It's too dark
  • I have no clean clothes...

On the weekends I have no reason to get up early. So how do I handle it? I get a buddy! 

Now, I am not one of those lucky people who has a running buddy or are part of a running club. There is no one who wants to run with me! 

However, I can oftentimes beg my husband to come with me on his bike on days I truly feel energy-less. He holds my water, tracks my miles, and sometimes provides witty conversation (sometimes).

Of course I can't always count on my husband or getting up early. So instead I try to stay on my feet. I find that if I get up and then plop right down on the couch, it will be harder to muster up energy later. 

When I get up I wake up with a plan. I will eat breakfast, check my email and in an hour I need to be doing something active. If not, I'd better have a real good reason.

Or I can just look at the pictures above and see what happens when I DON'T. Not cute.


What do YOU do when you feel a case of lackluster energy starting to materialize?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 9 Hair

So here is my hair wet before starting my hair process. 


I took my hair down Friday and but them in big, chunky ones to sleep in. I also exercised in them on Friday, packed in them on Saturday, and ran in them today --13 miles. That's why they look rough!

Today I'm doing my caramel treatment.

Here's what it looks like

So I left the twists in because it's easier to apply in sections.

Typically I undo each one individually


Apply the mixture and then twist it back up.


I do this over all over my head and then put on a plastic cap for 1-2 hours. I ran out of plastic caps and had to improvise with a grocery bag. No, I did NOT take a picture of that!

The hair is heavier and shinier.

I then undid all the twists so that I could shampoo the mixture out well. I didn't want any residue left over.

I had to take the pic myself!
So I washed my hair and then detangled in the shower in sections with my Trader Jo's conditioner. I applied my deep conditioner in the same manner as the caramel treatment.

I rinsed out the deep conditioner and then followed that with my herbal rinse.

BEFORE
AFTER

Once that is done I apply my leave in conditioner.

Kimmaytube Leave in

As you can see the pH is 4.5. Anything from 4.5-5.5 is perfect for the hair.

Then I twisted my hair up using the Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque. I don't like it as a deep conditioner so I am going to try it as a styling agent. It says on the container that you can leave it in "for a frizz free moisturizing styling creme". So we'll see.

This is how my hair looks most of the week when I put my twists in. It's easy to do, maintain and stays neat.
It's flat twisted in the front and pulled back with a clip.
At the end of the week I take out my twists and do some sort of an updo. For example:
 





Week 10 Hair
  • Shampoo
  • Detangle with conditioner
  • Deep condition
  • Kimmaytube leave in
  • Twists

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Reflections: Injury and Recovery

Taken from googleimages

I've been reflecting lately on my injury last year. Not for any particular reason except that is was an important obstacle in my life. I have always been able to exercise when I wanted and how long I wanted; but not then. 

Sure there were times when I chose not to exercise but this injury made it impossible. I was physically unable to engage in physical activity. 

This was a crucial moment for me. 

I have learned a lot from that experience and work everyday not to commit the same mistakes. I want to share the process I went through from injury to recovery to running again.


Understanding the Ailment

Once I was past the denial stage, meaning I accepted that I was injured, I researched all I could about my particular injury. This was partly to make sure I did not aggravate it and slow down recovery and partly to see how long this recovery would take. 

Most of my research was online. Based on my particular symptoms I realized I was suffering from a common, overuse injury called illiotibial band syndrome (IT band syndrome). I read up on what that meant to my body, how it was caused and how to treat it.

Coping

This was a two-part process because I had to learn how to cope with my injury mentally and physically. As I said above, I researched how to treat it. The best "medicine" for this type of injury is rest. I had to stop running altogether for at least 3 months. I incoporated useful stretches for the IT band into my routine. When I was able I also incorporated leg exercises. 

For a full month I did no exercise, nothing. This was hard for me to deal with mentally because just a week ago I was training for a marathon! I was running 4 times a week and weight training twice a week. I went from a highly active lifestyle to a non active lifestyle in a span of days. I didn't stop running gradually because I wanted to get better fast and because I was in serious pain. 

I realized that I had hurt myself a week before but I was in denial. Instead of resting, maybe taking a couple of days off, I ran 18 miles. I had to stop at mile 16 because I was limping from the pain. 

The next morning I could barely walk. I mean with every step I was in excruciating pain. This lasted for a week and then the pain subsided. However, I knew I had to be smart. So I just stopped cold turkey. This was the best thing for me to do physically but mentally I was a mess. 

I had incredible mood swings. I would restrict my diet because I was afraid that I would gain weight. I thought, if I gained weight, it would be even harder for me to get back into shape once my 3 month hiatus was over. 

I would see people running in the street and get incredibly jealous. I was mad, depressed, and overall disappointed in myself. How could I have gotten injured? What was wrong with me? Did I know anything

Googleimages

A friend of mine is a psychologist. One day, talking casually, she introduced me to visualization. She told me to visualize my route. To think about the smells when I run, the sounds, the sights and how my body feels during a run. 

She encouraged me to run in my mind. It may sound strange but it was helpful. I would sit outside, or sometimes in my room and just close my eyes. Sometimes I would think about a particuarly satisfying run that I'd done in the past. Or invent an entirely new one.

It was great becasue I was able to satisfy my mind while protecting my body. 

After that tumultuous month was over I slowly started getting in shape again. Nothing too taxing on my body though. I would stretch everyday, do some leg exercises to strengthen my IT band and also abs. I also rode my static bike. Soon my 3 months were over.

When To Go Back Out There

As I said the normal recovery time for this type of injury is 3 months. Of course I listened to my body. I was itching to go back out there and run but I was afraid to run. I was afraid that I would start running and that pain in my IT band would resurface and then the entire cycle would start up again. 

I was deathly afraid of this. I almost didn't go out there and run, almost but not quite. 

I started with running 15 minutes the first day. I warmed up on the static bike for 10 minutes first. Then I stretched for 10 minutes paying extra attention to my injured area. 

Googleimages

Instead of running right away, I walked for about 10 minutes or so then started running. I ran at a leisurely pace. I ran even slower than my long run pace.

I ran the slowest I have ever run. 

After my 15 minutes I cooled down by walking 10 minutes and then repeated my stretching routine. 

I made sure to run on dirt roads at first and to avoid hills until I felt strong enough. I ran a total of twice a week at the beginning and would increase my time by 5 minutes each week. 

Not until I reached 30 minutes of running without stopping did I increase to 3 times a week. When I reached 45 minutes I incorporated hill work and started running on asphalt surfaces. 

The question: When to go back out there? Is a complicated one. All I can say is to take it slow. You don't want setbacks. You want to get injury free as soon as possible and stay that way.

Googleimages

Self-treatment vs. Hospital Care

Throughout my injury and recovery process I pretty much self-treated. Based on my pain and the nature of my injury I did not feel like I needed to go to the hospital right away. 

I gave myself until the 3 month recovery was over to see the doctor. If I wasn't fine by then, and if my leg acted up again while running, I would see the doctor in case I had a more serious injury. 

Luckily, in my case, I just needed to rest and to take care of myself and not push myself too hard. I was a beginner runner acting like I wanted to qualify for the Olympics! Of course I was going to hurt myself. So I say self-treatment is good up to a point. 

Obviously you know your body better than any doctor. You know if an injury requires more than homecare or not. 

If you are in extreme pain and normal anti-inflammatory/pain medication does nothing than maybe you need to see a doctor. 

Some injuries do require surgery so keep that in mind as well. Be smart and don't be afraid to get help if you find you need it.

Googleimages


Writing this it seems like the time went by in a flash. 

But it was super long! 

Okay, it was only 3 months. However, I didn't start training again until June. 

So from December 2010 to June 2011 I was MIA. 

The amount I ran after those 3 months was nothing compared to my training. 

Three weeks into my training now I can tell how out of shape I am! 

Yet, I'm wiser for the experience and determined to run my first marathon more than ever!


Stay tuned for a future post on my 1-month marathon training update.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Weekly Recipe: Coconut Brown Rice and Curried Vegetables with Lentils


Coconut Brown Rice and Curried Vegetables with Lentils

1 bottle lentils
2 cups mixed frozen veggies
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 can lite coconut milk
3/4 cup water
1 cup brown rice (regular or jasmine)
2 handfuls raisins
1-2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
salt
pepper
oregano

Put water and coconut milk in a pot and bring to a boil. Add rice and then lower to simmer until liquid evaporates. Meanwhile, add oil, garlic, onion and spices to pan and saute until fragrant. Add frozen veggies and cook until almost done. Then add lentils, raisins, and adjust seasonings. Simmer until rice is done, add rice, stir and serve.

This is another highly versatile recipe. Add any veggies you like. I think it would have been delicious with some red pepper and maybe a bit of spice like chili peppers. I used normal brown rice for this dish and it was delicious! So experiment and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Woes of Back Pain Part 2: causes and cures

Be sure to check out my previous article The Woes of Back Pain Part 1: my experience to read more about how I coped with my lower back pain problems.
Taken from googleimages

Background
Unsurprisingly, back pain is a slippery type of pain. It is hard for doctors to pinpoint the exact cause. Unless it has to do with a more serious problem. By more serious I mean appendicitis, a kidney infection, arthritis or osteoporosis. These are all more complex conditions that cause back pain as a "side effect", if you will.

For the rest of us it is a lot harder to diagnose as well as treat back pain. The good news is that if you are suffering from back pain you are most definitely not the only one. Apparently anywhere from 80%-90% of adults will experience some form of back pain!

The most common causes are muscular strains and ligamentous sprains.

Treatment
Back pain usually subsides in a few weeks so doctors typically recommend patience (I don't have any!) and an anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen) and/or muscle relaxing medication depending on the pain.

Your doctor should also give you a physical examination, ask you questions, and based on those will send you for tests.

I also experimented with heat to help soothe my pain. I filled up a hot water bottle and applied that to the sore area. I also slept with a pillow between my knees, stretched more, and incorporated exercises into my routine to strengthen my back. 

(Check out Fitness Tip: Easy Ways to Strengthen the Back for more help and Hatha Yoga for tips on stretching and relaxation.)

If you do find that you are suffering from back pain I would try rest first. Stop whatever activity you are doing that aggravated your back. Incoporate stretching and topical treatments to the pain. If that doesn't work, and the pain hasn't gotten better in a few weeks, then it's time to go see your doctor.


Other Treatment Methods
My back pain did not go away quickly. I suffered for about 2-3 months before I found relief. I'm not a person who likes taking medication so I would only take what I was prescribed when the pain wouldn't let me sleep. Instead I incorporated yoga into my routine, which truly worked miracles. I also looked up particular stretches that were best for the back.

Since my back pain was more of a strain based on overuse, stress, and other factors, I felt safe in taking this approach. If you do not have one of the aforementioned more serious ailments, and don't like to take medication, natural remedies like: yoga, massages, acupuncture, tai chi, and relaxation techniques can help.

I would like in the future to try acupuncture and will probably even visit a chiropractor for more tips on how to protect my back. 

The most important thing you can do is self care at home. If you do require medication be sure to see your doctor.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Debate/Discussion: shake weight, ab vibrators, toning shoes...do they work?

Watching a recent infomercial about one of those ab vibrator belts the other day got me thinking. We are always looking for the "quick fix" because we are impatient. People don't want to wait three months to get in shape based on eating healthy and exercise. The most popular commercials these days are on the:
 
Shake Weight

Taken from googleimages
  
Toning Shoes 

Taken from googleimages

 and 

Ab Vibrators

Taken from googleimages

So I wonder, do they work?

Maybe I'm a "snob" or "traditionalist" when it comes to exercise and healthy living because every time these commercials come on I roll my eyes. I don't believe for a second that these devices will get people into shape for the long term. Sure, someone who never gets off their bottom will show results out of default. Just like if they went to a gym and decided to lift weights, do some ab exercises or run on the treadmill. 

What happens after your body becomes accustomed to a certain exercise? Well, you have to change it to continue seeing results. Especially considering the Shake Weight is only 2 1/2 lbs (5lbs for men) I would think that after a month or so you would stop noticing a difference.

Yet, there are so many people who believe the claims. Some of my family have Shake Weights or have used toning shoes or want to use these things! I did a bit of searching online and it seems it depends on who you talk to whether these products work or not. The general consensus seems to be that at first you will probably notice a difference but that will subside after awhile.

Like I said, I've never personally used these things but the people who do stand by them. As with anything you have to be careful to avoid injury but I'm not sure the message is a good one. I can't see how sitting on the couch shaking a weight is going to get anyone into shape. Or sitting on the couch with a ab vibrator belt either for that matter. Walking is good whether wearing toning shoes or not. It seems that the amount of calories burned doesn't differ anyway if you wear the shoes or don't wear them.

Here are some sites at a glance that give some interesting information on these products:

Shake Weight
https://www.shakeweight.com/
https://www.buyshakeweightformen.com/
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/10/health/la-he-skeptic-20100510
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39677329/ns/health-fitness/t/stroke-luck-shake-weight-kind-works-tone-arms/

Toning Shoes
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/truth-about-toning-shoes?page=3
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/can-shoes-really-tone-the-body/
http://articles.cnn.com/2009-08-12/health/shoes.fitness_1_shoes-muscle-activity-podiatric-sports-medicine/2?_s=PM:HEALTH

Vibrating Belts
http://www.livestrong.com/article/385482-is-a-vibrating-belt-reducing-belly-fat/



Has anyone tried these products? Do you know anyone who has tried these products? What do you think of products like these in general? Share your thoughts.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Stick to a Workout Program

The main ingredient in sticking with any workout program is:

Taken from googleimages

How does one get this? Well, for me...
Changing things up 
    • I always change my workout program every 3 months anyway to prevent plateauing. But when I do I don't only increase the weight or the repetitions. I look for something completely different. I like exercises that hit various muscle groups at once, so I go through them in a circuit and then repeat as necessary. 

    • I hate to spend a lot of time exercising. For me, quality is more important than quantity. I will always choose short, intense, workouts over workouts where you are in the gym for hours. 

    • I've also added new tools to my routine such as: fitness balls, fitness bands and steps. I'd also like to get a medicine ball and a jump rope at some point. Check out Fitness Tip: Trying something new for other tools I plan to add to my routine. 

    • I'm even thinking about joining a running club! (More on that later)
    Set goals 
      • This was one of the most important things I did for myself. I've always been into exercise and healthy living. However, I did gain weight when I left college (2006). Not a ridiculous amount, but it was 10 pounds too much! 

      • So in 2009 I gave myself a challenge: by the same time next year (2010) I wanted to be back in shape. I organized a routine by setting smaller goals for myself. That's when I started running. From there I wanted to run longer and faster, and so set my sights on races. 

      • It's good to have an overall goal to get in shape, lose weight or get a toned body. But you have to set smaller, mini, goals throughout your process to stay with it.
       Try new things

        Reward yourself 
          • For me this was going on vacation last year. I went to a few differerent cities in Portugual and then travelled to the north of Spain. After all that hard work I needed to give myself a pat on the back, as they say. Even though I still exercised during the trip in hotel rooms, it helped to reinforce why I was doing what I was doing.

          • Maybe your reward can be buying new clothes once you lose that weight or treating yourself to an ice cream once you've run that race you've always wanted.
          Taken from googleimages

          Don't give up 
          • There have been TONS of times throughout my process where I've wanted to quit, didn't feel like exercising, and just wanted to gorge on a whole box of cookies and say to heck with it! But I didn't. Maybe on a truly lazy day I would grab my husband and tell him to come with me on his bike to motivate me to run.
            • Even though he wasn't running with me I felt like I had that support to get off my butt and hit the pavement. He helps me by keeping my pace, with his encouraging words, and also carries water so I don't have to!

            Reach out to others 
              • It is so rewarding for me to be able to help family and friends by sharing my knowledge with them. They saw how dedicated I was and how I had reached and surpassed many of my own personal goals for my health. So they wanted help in their own lives as well.

              • I love going to the gym with friends and showing them how to use the machines. Or maybe giving them an exercise program full of ideas on how to get in shape. Many people come to me saying they want toned arms or to lose weight or to get healthier. So I just give them advice, things that have helped me. I always recommend that people do their own research.

              • This blog, for example, is not only for me to document my journey, but to also help anyone who needs it. Why hoard information when you can share it?

              While motivation comes from within, external sources (friends, family, aquaintances, even strangers!) can help you out. Do whatever you can to stay positive and you will succeed!


              What are some things you do to stay motivated?

              Sunday, July 17, 2011

              Week 8 Hair

              I tucked the end in and added a clip when I went out. It's flat twisted down for a faux french braid (my twists are in) and then the front of my hair is also flat twisted.

              Not too eventful this week, thankfully! I'm still getting over the hair fiasco from last week. I wore my hair in an updo for most of the week. I had my twists in and then I put them in an updo that same day because we went out. I didn't take pictures (not sure why!) but I got the inspiration from this youtube video. I have to say, although we have different hair types, it looked pretty darn close!


               (See minute 1:55-3:55 for the style tutorial)





              Yesterday I did another take on the freestyle updo from last week. The only difference is that I left the right side out, so it was like a swoop. I was going to take pictures but was too lazy. I will get better about taking pictures! I plan to do the same updo today with my twists so I will be sure to take a picture for next week.

              I left the twisted updo in for at least 3 days. I did it on a Sunday and slept with it in on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn't touch it, add more product, or anything, until that afternoon on Wednesday. 

              I just sprayed it with my spritz and then added my moisturizer. I did the same on Thursday. I took out my twists Saturday and did my updo and then twisted them in big twists for bed. I didn't apply any extra product.

              When I took my twists down they were super moisturized and I didn't have any problems with knots. So I will mimick what I did to my hair for the same results this week. 

              I am finding that manipulating my hair almost not at all between wash days works best for me. Meaning, not adding any extra product or touching it, helps my hair thrive. 

              I am sure to moisturize and seal enough on Sunday. With that my hair lasts 3 days or more without doing anything to it. This is including exercising and sweating. 

              This week I'm a lot happier with my hair.


              For wash day today I'm using the same routine but trying some other products I have in my arsenal.



              Week 9 Hair
              • Shampoo
              • Detangle with Trader Jo Nourish Spa conditioner
              • Deep condition with my Bear Fruit Hair Banana and Avocado product
              • Herbal rinse
              • Kimmaytube leave in
              • Twists with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and seal with my scalp oil

              Friday, July 15, 2011

              Fitness Tip: Trying something new

              Taken from googleimages

               I think we all get to a point, when exercising for awhile, where we want to try something new. Perhaps a new routine, a new class, new gear...


              Here are some new things I want to try:
              • Minimalist running shoes
              • Barefoot running
              • Heart rate monitor
              • GPS watch
              • Kettlebell
              • Various DVDS on spinning, pilates, boxing, and yoga...
              • Foam rollers

              I am really focused right now on perfecting my running form, staying injury free, and becoming stronger and more flexible. I plan to purchase this book at some point in the near future: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running. Once I get it I will definitely do a review on it and document my progress. 

              I haven't done that much personal research yet, but the "buzz" out there is in favor of barefoot running and minimalist shoes. 

              What I do know is that barefoot running is a process. Meaning, you can't just start running barefoot without careful planning and training. It takes about 1.5 years for someone to train to run even a half marathon barefoot. This is assuming they are in tip-top shape. I want to run better and more efficiently and I believe barefoot running will help me acheive this.

              I want the heart rate monitor for some of the same reasons I stated above. I want to be a more efficient runner. Building up your stamina and your speed is not only about adding on mileage week after week. It is actually more useful to increase how fast you run, or how fast your body works when running. Building on this makes a runner stronger, faster and more efficient. 

              Say you typically run at a 6 or 7 (10 being your full potential) but can easily run at an 8. Well, the heart rate monitor will help you measure this as well as keep you within safe boundaries.


              The GPS watch is one of those tools I like to drool over! It makes mapping a running route much easier and more accurate than all of those pedometers on the market. Nike, apparently, has a new GPS watch. It is touch screen and uses TomTom technology. It looks fabulous!

              I don't know what other brands are good. I just know I want one! And that they are expensive, so I have to save up. (And, clearly, do some more research)


              The kettlebell I want to spice up my routine. I've done traditional weight training for a long time and want to try something new. It seems to work your upper body pretty efficiently and looks like fun!

              Spending a lot of money I don't want to do. So instead of going to expensive classes, I plan to pick up some DVDs and try some things I've been wanting to for awhile. I've always wanted to try spinning. I also want to try some new toning techniques and improve my flexibility. Which is why boxing, pilates and yoga are on my list.


              Finally, the foam roller looks like an easy way to soothe sore muscles. I always hear that it's the runners "best friend" so I'd like to give it a try. Sometimes normal stretching doesn't always get the job done.

              There has never been a problem with me changing up my routine to keep me interested. I just feel like I want to reach another level of my fitness. Using these tools will help me reach this goal. 


              What are some tools/classes/gear...you want to try? What are some of your favorites? What do you recommend? Have you tried any of the above things? What do you think of them? How do you change your exercise routine to stay interested and keep your body guessing?

              Thursday, July 14, 2011

              Weekly Recipe: Asian Style Brown Rice



              Asian Style Brown Rice
              1 cup brown rice
              1/4 onion diced
              1/2 red pepper cut into strips
              2 cloves garlic minced
              Frozen veggies (I used spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots for this recipe)
              1 can mushrooms
              1 Tbsp. sesame oil
              Red pepper flakes
              Pepper
              Ginger
              Soy sauce 
              Sesame seeds
              Flaxseeds ground

              Cook the brown rice according to package directions. Meanwhile stir fry the frozen veggies with the sesame oil until cooked through. Then add the onion, red pepper, garlic and spices. When they are done cooking add the seasame seeds and ground flaxseeds and soy sauce (all to taste). Stir in the brown rice and adjust seasonings to taste.

              I've also added bean sprouts and baby corn before to give it more of an asian feel. Add any veggies you like and enjoy!

              Tuesday, July 12, 2011

              Debate/Discussion: Black women do not exercise because of their hair



              Last month I was browsing the web for health and fitness news. I stumbled upon two articles, quoting two different reports, which stated that the majority of black women don't exercise because of their hair.

              Meaning, that they choose not to engage in physical activity to avoid "messing up" their hair. The first article quoted that about 30% of black women use this as an excuse. While the second article stated that this is extremely detrimental to black women because 77% are overweight and 49% are obese.

              DISCLAIMER: I'm not sure whether these websites are reputable or the organizations that conducted this research. 

              However, that's not really my concern in bringing up this topic for discussion.

              I want to know if people out there really believe this. I, personally, have heard fellow black women say they "can't" or have to "postpone" exercise because they recently "got their hair done." As a black woman myself, I frequently schedule my exercise around my hair. 

              In fact, I'm sure a lot of women do that regardless of race.

              As many may know I am dedicated to health and fitness. I subscribe to many newsletters and magazines giving tips and tricks on how to stay fit. Often there are beauty tips for women on how to take care of their hair before and/or after a workout. Why? Well, because looking good is just as important as feeling good. I think we can all agree to that! However, I never find these tips for MY type of hair. Never for a black woman's hair type. 

              This is an issue.

              Just like we need help on how to perform exercises correctly to avoid injury, so too do we need tips on how to maintain our lifestyles with exercise. Hair is important. There are numerous studies that explain the importance hair has on self image and others' perception of ourselves. So these newsletters and things are providing a useful tool for its readers. I just think there is a large group of women left out.

              I don't engage in exercise to make a political statement. 

              I go because I believe it is essential to my health and I love it! Then again, when I go to the gym, run, or look at these exercise resources, I can't help noticing how women who look like me are not represented. Or at least not as much as I would prefer.

              Everyone is different. Everyone has to find what works for them, their body, their hair, and their lifestyle. I just think that everyone needs motivation. 

              Maybe if black women were more represented in fitness magazines and articles about fitness, they (we) might be less "afraid" or "nervous" to exercise.

              Bottom line: hair cannot be an excuse not to exercise.  

              Heck, NO excuse is a good excuse not to exercise!  
              (Ok, maybe if you have some sort of health issue...)

              What do others think? What do you do to take care of your hair while exercising? How do you overcome excuses in general?

              Sunday, July 10, 2011

              Week 7 Hair

              They look so innocent don't they? Don't be fooled! (googleimages)

               That banana-mango deep conditioner was a complete DISASTER! Do  NOT and I have to repeat, DO NOT ever, ever, EVER try that recipe. I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I plan to rip out that page and/or burn it. (I put all my hair recipes and things I want to try in a diary type book).

              First: 

              The mango would not stay in my hair. It was falling all over the place. The recipe said to mash it but I guess it really should've been pureed.

              Then 

              I could not rinse the banana pieces out of my hair! I was panicking last week because I had all this gunk in my hair that would not come out! Even today washing my hair, there were still some pieces left!

              Last week I had rinsed it out and then applied my herbal rinse. I look in the mirror and see all this gunk in my hair. I didn't take pictures simply because I was desperate. I try to pull the pieces out but my curls wouldn't let it go.

              • So I apply some more shampoo and work it in really well. No help. 
              • On top of the shampoo I apply some conditioner because it has good slip and maybe the banana pieces will slide off. No help. 
              • On top of the shampoo and condtioner I apply some of my scalp oil to it. That has even more slip so the pieces should definitely come out then! No help. 

              I was smoothing my hair so much at this point that some banana pieces did fall out into the sink by default. But the DISASTER was by no means solved.

               The worst part is

              that this was at 2am. I had to do my 2-hour run that night because we were out all day. I didn't go until 1030pm and then when I got back I started my hair. Well, with trying to get the banana pieces out, and then giving up and just twisting my hair and hoping it wasn't noticeable (it wasn't) I didn't end up going to bed until 5am!!! Yes, people, I didn't go to bed until 5am and had to wake up at 11am. 

              I WAS A COMPLETE MESS FOR THE REST OF THE DAY AND I HAD TO MEET PEOPLE FOR LUNCH!

              Suffice to say, I wanted to body slam the person who invented that recipe and then decided to put it on the world wide web for all to see!

              Of course I'm back to my Shea Moisture deep conditioner today. Because even though I don't like it that much, at least it smells good and there are NO BANANA PIECES!!! Thankfully, no long term damage has been done to my hair but I did waste a perfectly good, ripe, mango and banana!

              Oh the trial and error of natural hair!

              Week 8 Hair 
              • Shampoo
              • Detangle with conditioner
              • Deep condition (Shea Moisture!)
              • Herbal rinse
              • Kimmaytube leave in
              • Twists