Monthly Archives: December 2011

DON’T Resolve to Go to the Gym; DO Resolve to Move More

It’s that time of year again: the time when gyms are flooded with new members making New Year’s Resolutions with the hope that this year it will stick. Many gym employees joke about this time of year and this crowd (that usually dies out by March), but I say go for it. If making a resolution for January 1st is what it takes, then by all means do it!

In fact, I myself was once one of those resolvers. For 2008 I decided that I didn’t want to be chubby and out of breath all the time. So I went to the gym. I attending a weight lifting class once a week and spent the other days exercising around my apartment. I watched the crowd die down and classes go from 25 attendees to a comfortable 10-15, but I never once considered quitting. I also, however, didn’t bank my new healthy body on a total schedule change. I didn’t try to fit the gym in every day. I simply became more aware of how much I moved – or didn’t – during each day.

I got up and took a walk every so often at the office. When I came home, I sat and bounced on my fitness ball while on my laptop. I constantly stretched, danced around with my weights, or played with my cats. I just started moving more.

And obviously I not only saw benefits but it stuck! It became my new lifestyle.

Nine months into 2008, I proudly wrote this: “Today I did 10 controlled push-ups, all the way down and all the way back up. I have energy without drinking coffee. My knees, which used to hurt so bad I struggled with stairs, rarely bother me anymore. My body has slimmed, my muscles are toned, and my mood is boosted. I feel great!”

So go for it! Be that New Year’s Resolution gym goer. Join me – create an exercise routine that works for your life and feel the benefits of keeping active! (Or, if you’re already there, be nice to the resolvers — you never know who will be your future fitness instructor and competitive runner.)

Everyone has to start somewhere.

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Filed under Beginner Exercise

Weight Loss Commercials Drive Me Insane

It’s hard for me to watch weight-loss commercials and not be driven insane.

For example, NutriSystem has ads featuring celebrities that go on and on about they lost weight with NutriSystem. Fine, I’m all for promoting healthy weight loss, and if you need a structured system to help you, that’s okay. The weight loss company even offers a vegetarian plan. But then, at the end of the ads, featured celebrity du jour says that she lost her weight while eating “hamburgers, pizza, and even chocolate” (Jillian  Barberie Reynolds’s NutriSystem ad).

I don’t like false promotion of foods that you should eat in moderation, if at all, as healthy. Sure, if you exercise and watch your calories, you will shed some pounds, but if these calories come from fatty substances like red meat, cheese, and sweets your heart will be fat and deadly. End of story.

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Filed under Celebrities, Nutrition

2011 at the Races

2011 was a big year for me as far as running races went. I tried new distances — including both an ultra (more than 26.2) and getting back into track with the 800 and 1500 meters. I went from beating my own personal best each time to placing in my age group.

Did I race you at all this past year? Here’s where I was seen running:

February

* Disney Princess Half Marathon, Florida (2:08): This race was fairly disappointing for me. There was a lot of hype and very little follow through. “Music along the whole course” meant maybe 10 musical acts, one of which was a slow song. After GU was handed out, there was no water for a mile. And the majority of the race was ran in the dark along highways.

March

* Get Your Rear in Gear 10k (53:39): I loved this race! It was an out-and-back along the scenic West River Drive in Philadelphia. It was my first time doing this distance and my second 5k ended up being my fastest to date.

May

* Broad Street 10 Miler (1:32): I do this race every year. It’s the best run in Philadelphia and always falls on my birthday weekend. This year I took 9 minutes off my time despite the fact that my toe went numb at mile 4!

July

* Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run (31:31): This is another Philadelphia run that I will definitely do every year as long as they still have it. Even though I loved it in 2010, I had a few complaints. But in 2011, all of them were fixed and the course was even better. My love of this race has my track coach thinking I’ll make a good steeplechase runner.

* Ron Jaworski’s Quarterback Scramble 5k (24:19): I traveled to Stone Harbor, NJ, along the beach, with a family for this fast and flat race. My performance shocked me because I had no clue I had gotten that fast. In 2010, my best 5k was 26 and change.

October

* Penn State Mt. Alto Cross Country 2.8 Miles (24:20): This was my first cross country race ever. And it sucked. Mud, rain, grass, rocks, trails, hills, … it sucked. I am not a cross country racer.

* Ragnar Relay (30 hours!): I ran the PA one from Lancaster to the Poconos with a relay team made up primarily of people I had never met before. Some of them have since become some of my favorite running buddies, including Kristin, with whom I ran a half marathon at 3 a.m. Both of us hit ultra distance during the relay!

* Girard College Trailblazer 5k (23:10): It pays to run with fast girls! I was chasing my track teammates along this paved Philly course and knocked another minute off my 5k time. It was my first time having my name called as a winner: I got 2nd in my age group!

November

* Rothman 8k (38:03): This is the Philadelphia Marathon’s shorter brother, run the same weekend along the same course. I took 9 minutes off from my previous 8k best!

* Bulle Rock Turkey Trot 5k (24:08): I traveled home to Maryland for Thanksgiving for this race because the previous winners had some times that seemed slow … then I ran the course and understood. It was no joke! The hills of a golf course are not fun to run. But I still managed to eek out 2nd in my age group and got a trophy!

* Delaware Open Cross Country Championship 5k (26:46): One word: death. I managed top 30 and our team took 1st for teams of 5 runners (seen in the picture here), but I hated everything about this race.

December

* Colgate-Palmolive Women’s Track Tournament: I’m racing the 800 and 1500 meter races in the 6-week New York City tournament. It’s the first time I have ever done either distance. So far I’ve hit just under 3 minutes for the 800 and just under 6 for the 1500. Hoping to improve in the coming weeks.

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Filed under Running

A Quick Point to Ponder

The largest meat-eater that ever lived was the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Where is he today?

The only athlete to win the Ironman triathlon more than twice was Dave Scott. He won the competition six times and followed a vegan diet while training and competing.

Who would you rather live — and survive — like?

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Filed under Veganism

Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?

“Is a vegan diet healthy?” is a common question, particularly amongst people contemplating a change. Here are answers from three popular, non-vegan, Q&A Web sites, columns, and health resources.

CNN diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis says:
“Overall, vegan diets (diets containing no animal products) can be very healthy. They are generally much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than animal-based diets, which include meat, eggs and dairy. Research suggests that replacing a percentage of the saturated fat in your diet with plant-based proteins such as beans, tofu, and nuts can significantly reduce a number of heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In addition, several studies have found that very low meat consumption is associated with a significantly lower risk of death. …”

The Mayo Clinic says:
“A well-planned vegetarian diet is a healthy way to meet your nutritional needs. … Adopting a healthy vegetarian diet isn’t as simple as scraping meat off your plate and eating what’s left. You need to take extra steps to ensure you’re meeting your daily nutritional needs. …”

Healthline says:
“… A well-planned vegan diet can be nutritionally adequate, even for children and pregnant and lactating women. However, it is important that wise food selections are made. …”

For the most part these sum up my thoughts. Simply following vegan guidelines of leaving out animal products will not constitute a healthy, nutritious diet. There are plenty of junk foods that are vegan. But, a healthy vegan diet has been proven to have more health benefits and less related problems than a healthy meat-based one.

To help grasp what constitutes a “healthy” vegan diet, here is a vegan food pyramid from the Vegan Coach.

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Filed under Nutrition, Veganism

Walk Your Way to Good Health

Before I was addicted to exercise I had a doctor ask me, “How do you get your exercise?”

“I walk. A lot,” I replied.

“No. I mean exercise. Walking doesn’t really count.”

While impressed that a general practitioner would take the time to ask a patient about their workout habits, I have been forever disturbed by her disbelief in walking as exercise.

I was reminded of this instance recently as a friend asked me if taking her half an hour break to walk around outside counted as exercise.

My answer? Every time you move your body, it counts! Whether you take an extra flight of stairs or walk a mile at lunch, you are getting exercise that benefits your lungs, heart, waistline and more. Walking is a great way to get started, especially since it is low impact and functionally sound.

This week, my friend decided to take her walking one step further: she’s been wearing a pedometer … and on her first day of tracking her steps she went over 11,000! The recommendation is at least 10,000 per day.

***

A pedometer is a small mechanism that clips to the waistband of your pants, and keeps track of how many steps you take. It counts by tracking each bounce created by your hips, so take it off when riding in the car.

For a free pedometer of your own, join Tylenol Arthritis Pain Relief’s Keep Moving Program and receive one along with a DVD.

Step counters are also available for purchase at sporting goods, health, and other stores. If you spend more money, you get more reliability and more functions (such as calories burned, time, etc.).

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Vegan Athletes Abound

Veganism amongst professional athletes is a very popular topic. Every vegan bodybuilder, boxer, runner, and more is coming out to speak about they keep fit on a healthy, animal-free diet and lifestyle. The news coverage on these sporty men and women has been phenomenal! Here are some good ones to peruse for inspiration:

* ESPN’s Page 2 highlights Milwaukee Brewers’ Prince Fielder, Hall of Fame footballer Tony Gonzalez, fighter Mac Danzig, Minnesota Twins’ Pat Neshek, and marathon runner Scott Jurek in “Who says you have to eat meat to be a successful athlete?”

* We Like It Raw (as in a raw vegan diet) talks about Tim “the raw runner” VanOrden and his upcoming speaking events.

* The Vegan Soapbox has a good article about being a vegan athlete in general titled “We Are All Guillermo Vargas.”

* For even more, check out Buzz Feed’s feature on vegan bodybuilding that includes links to six of the best articles and sites on the topic.

* Click on the picture here to see a more complete list of vegan athletes with links to even more info about being one.

Now, aren’t you inspired to eat a fantastic vegan diet and exercise to your max potential?

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Filed under Athletes, Veganism