Friday, June 14, 2013

The things we take for granted...

I took being able to go outside and run many miles non-stop for granted. I would often beat myself up or be really hard on myself if I didn't perform the way I wanted or expected to. I am a marathoner that has completed three marathons at respectable times and with a move to another state...I am suffering when I run! We moved to Denver, Co a little over a week ago and I have not quite, exactly, allowed myself to acclimate before attempting to run. I am stubborn, impatient, and I have some pretty hefty running/training goals, so I really felt the need to get out there & see what I could do. Well, I have not managed to run three miles without a walk break.

There should never be any shame in listening to your body & performing at the level your body can handle. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!! So, I run based on exertion & not so much based on pace. This is a different world, for me, but I am actually embracing it better than I thought. It has been nice to make new discoveries about myself during this journey. The main thing is that I listen to my body & try to stay reasonably active for the sake of my mental & physical health. Everyone needs to be sure you are staying active & do NOT take your health & ability to exercise at your level for granted.

So, I LOVE living in Denver, thus far! It is beautiful here (mountain sunset pic below) & there are miles & miles of trails. The city is brewing with activity & active people! I do, miss the familiarity & comfort of Indy, but Denver reminds me of my hometown. I know once I get acclimated & along with adjusted to my new roles, all will be well.

The future for me is bright! I am too stubborn to give up & not keep trying. Besides, I love to run & I am confident that I will get to a comfortable running pace & back to working towards my goals. So, be sure you are not taking your abilities for granted! We never realize how good we had things until they are gone or their use is restricted...

One small step for me, one nice loss at the scale

A guest post from Amy Magan-The 4th Frog Blog

When my friends Liz Chandler and Leilan McNally started the “Be Fit Crew” on Facebook, I reluctantly joined. Not so much because I wanted to be a part of the group, but because I felt like I should be a part of the group.  Messages from the Be Fit Crew would appear in my newsfeed and I’d glance over them, not really committed to the group’s focus on personal fitness.
Then Leilan posted the “Fiver Challenge,” a challenge to all Be Fit members to lose five pounds during the month of May. I ignored it for a day or two. Eventually, because I felt like I should, I accepted the challenge. And here it is, June 4, and I’m down 7 or 8 pounds.
I wish I could tell you that I started a daily or even regular exercise program. I want to say that I dutifully recorded everything I ate and drank, but I didn’t.  I’m pretty certain I owe my Fiver Challenge success to one thing: I quit drinking Diet Coke.
Just typing that feels like I am betraying an old friend. Diet Coke and I have been a thing for a very long time. But it turns out, I can live – and live better – without it.
Here is what not drinking Diet Coke has done for me:
1.     It’s drastically reduced my cravings for sugar and carbs, which in turn has reduced the amount of calories I take in each day.
2.     It’s given me more energy. Weird, I know. I used to drink Diet Coke first thing in the morning for the caffeine boost. The boost is what I would get, but then my energy would fall down again. Without Diet Coke, my energy is more level over the course of the day. I do drink iced tea in the morning for a little caffeine kick.
3.     The increased energy has given me more desire to do things like ride my bike, go for a walk with a friend, play soccer in the yard with my kids, which add up to calories burned.
4.     When I lost the Diet Coke, I gained a new mindset. I hadn’t planned to give it up, but I went on a weekend retreat where it wasn’t available. By the time Sunday night rolled around, I realized I’d survived without it and decided to see how long I could keep it up. It was a small change I was making for my health and my success with it helped make it easier to make other small changes, like trying a Jimmy John’s Unwich for the first time.
I know that this one small change won’t result in a 7-8 pound weight loss every month. But it’s a good start and a foundation to build on.

Amy Magan is a mother of 3, blogger and a recovering Diet Coke-aholic. You can read more about Amy’s (mis)adventures at The 4th Frog Blog.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Walking Is Better For You Than You Think

As many of you probably know, I run almost every day. However, I didn’t start off running seven to nine miles a day. I started by walking and trying to get to a rate of four miles per hour. That was the goal. Even now, I mix my running routine with walking and running. Currently, I warm up with a one to two mile walk, then start a mixture of interval training. Walking thirty seconds and running thirty second, increasing the running seconds by 15 to 30 seconds per mile. Then cool down with a mile.

There are many benefits of walking. For me, it is therapeutic. I like my walking time. It’s thirty to sixty minutes of time away from the world. According to the Mayo Clinic, it strengthens your bones, prevents various medical conditions, as well as maintaining your weight. Another study by the University of Pittsburgh, states that walking can benefit mental health as well as physical health. Participants in the study, who walked less than nine miles a week were more likely to suffer from memory problems.

Before starting any sort of exercise routine, talk to your doctor and make sure you are able to do exercise. You can do this at your next medical check up. If you are not seeing your doctor every six to twelve months, make this a priority. Regular check up are important to overall wellness.

When you start, make sure you have the proper equipment. The one area where you should spend the extra money is in the shoes. Go to a running store and get fitted for the shoes that match your stride. Most of these stores will have a treadmill and they will watch you walk/run and then determine the best shoe for you.

The next step is comfortable clothes. Make sure you have clothes to walk where you plan to walk. If walking on a treadmill or indoor track, you can get by with shorts and a t-shirt. Look for clothing that wicks moisture - this helps keep you cool.

If you don’t want to buy a watch with a stop watch, you can use your smartphone. Most phones have apps that will track your distance and time. Nike+, RunKeeper, and DailyMile are just a few. Each has different benefits. My suggestion is to use the one you like the most. Also, poll your friends and see what they like to use.

I like to walk outside. On the trail I use, it is marked at every half mile. I like that. I also use Google maps and calculate distances from my house. I try to use this map to gauge different mile markers on the route. This is easier than driving the route with your car. The map lets you pick a point and routes it out.  

The main point is to get moving. Sedentary lifestyles are killing us. We must get moving and get more activity into our lives. I hope to see you out on the trail.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Get Your Kids Hiking! Start them Young and Keep it Fun

This is a guest post to help promote a new book from author and avid hiker Jeff Alt.  Be FIT Crew has not received any compensation for this guest post - we just like to share our passions with others!!  

Want Your Kids to Enjoy Hiking and the Great Outdoors? “Make it fun”, says Jeff Alt,  renowned hiking expert and author of the new book Get Your Kids Hiking! How to Start Them Young and Keep it Fun.

Jeff is an avid hiker.  In addition to walking the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, he also walked the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife, and trekked across a 50-mile path of Ireland with his wife, young daughter, and extended family. He and his wife emerged from the church doors on their wedding day wearing backpacks, and his son was taken on his first hike at 8 weeks. 

Jeff has lots of great advice about how to make sure you and the kids have a great time outdoors. “It’s time to get off the couch and hit the trail with your kids.”

Here’s how!

Start’em Young: Ergonomically designed baby carriers make it easy and fun to carry your infant and toddler with you wherever you hike. Walk to your Favorite Park or beach. Bring a friend. Stop often and let your little one explore. Make your hike a routine your kids will look forward to. 

Let the Kids Lead! Follow the leader! Hike at your child’s pace and distance. Whatever your child takes interest in, stop and explore that bug, leaf or rock with them. Tell them about the animals, rocks, trees, and flowers. Getting to the destination is less important than making sure your kids have so much fun; they will want to go again and again.

Count Down to the Adventure: Psych the kids up with pictures, videos, and highlights of the places they will go and the things they will see. Use books, magazines, maps, and the Internet, especially park websites and videos showing the spectacular wildlife and locations they will see.

Suit Up in Comfort, Style and the Latest Technology:  Take this checklist with you shopping so you get the bases covered:

ü  Footwear: Until your kids are walking consistently on their own (birth-3), fit them with a comfortable pair of water resistant shoes. Make sure the three and older kids are wearing light weight trail shoes or boots with a sturdy sole. A Vibram sole with a waterproof breathable liner is preferred. Wear non-cotton, moisture wicking, synthetic or wool socks.
ü  Clothing:   Dress for the weather! Wear non-cotton synthetic, wool & fleece clothes and dress in layers. Wear multipurpose clothes like pants that zip off into shorts or shirts with role up sleeves. Pack a waterproof breathable rain parka. Dress for the season with fleece hat & gloves or a hat with a wide brim for sun protection.
ü  Packs: Get age and size appropriate backpacks that fit each hiker comfortably with hydration hose capability.
ü  Trekking Poles: Get a pair of adjustable, collapsible poles with an ergonomically designed handle for each person.
ü  Fresh, Clean Water: You can get a hydration hose system for your pack or just use bottles. Disinfect wild water using hi-tech portable treatment water systems such as a UV wand or micro-straining filter.
ü  Communication: Bring a smart phone so you can take lots of pictures and if there’s connectivity, email to family or upload to your online blog or Facebook page.  Carry a GPS unit to keep you located on the trail and for geocaching.
ü  Other Must Haves: Pediatrician recommended suntan lotion and bug repellent containing Deet or Picaridin; First aid kit that accommodates the whole group & first aid knowledge to go along with the kit. Bring a compass & map and brush up on how to use them. Learn how to make a shelter to keep you warm and dry. Keep matches and a lighter in a dry place and know how to make a fire to keep warm. Carry awhistle and a signal mirror in case you get lost. Pack a survival knife with a locking blade. Bring a head lamp flashlightextra batteries, 50 feet of rope or twine, and always have several feet of duct tape for that unexpected repair.

Bring water and food kids love:  Hand out needed extra energy and water as needed on the trail. Pack their favorite snacks and bring plenty of water. Stop often for a drink and a snack.

Pack Fun Items: Let young children fill their adventure pack with a bug catcher, magnifying glass, binoculars, a camera, a map and compass, whistle, or flashlight. Let your little adventurer take ownership and pack a few items of his own; even if it’s not hiking related.

Play Games and Bring a Friend: Play I Spy using your surroundings as you walk along. Create your own scavenger hunt in search of animals, plants and views along the way. Make up rhymes and sing songs as you walk. Pack along a plant and animal identification guide for your older child. Let your social butterfly bring a friend, with parental permission. Intrigue your computer savvy child with the high-tech hiking gadgets like GPS, headlamp flashlights and pedometers. Use your GPS and take your kids on a geocaching adventure.

Credit to photographer John Mitchell

Take Advantage of Park Activities and Guided Nature Experiences:  Utilize and enjoy the amazing services and resources offered by our parks, trail and recreational system and associations. This will help ensure that the experience is enjoyable, memorable and even life-changing.

Get Your Kids Hiking: 
How to Start Them Young and Keep It Fun!
By Jeff Alt

ISBN 978-0-8253-0691-4
May 2013
Beaufort Books publishers, New York

About the Author

Jeff Alt is a travelling speaker and hiking expert who provides seminars in collaboration with the Shenandoah National Park staff, and Appalachian Trail Shows in and around National Parks. Alt has walked the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife, and he carried his 21-month old daughter on a family trek across Ireland. Alt has been hiking withhis kids since they were infants. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). His hiking advice has been featured in numerous publications and media, including Scholastic Parent & Child, The Boston Globe, National Geographic Adventure,, ESPN, Hallmark Channel, National Public Radio, and more. Alt is a speech language pathologist and lives with his wife and two children in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In addition to Get Your Kids Hiking, Alt’s other books include A Walk For Sunshine, A 2,160
Mile Expedition for Charity on the Appalachian Trail, A Hike For Mike, and Four Boots
One Journey (ebook). 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Your Grandma Could CrossFit

I know what you’re thinking, most likely it’s 1 of 2 things. Option 1: I have no idea what she just said, what the heck is CrossFit? Or Option 2: CrossFit is those crazy people on ESPN and I could never do that.

Guess what? I want to tell you all about CrossFit, rip away the unknowns and the myths and share the one fitness approach that has completely changed my world. The first, and most important, thing I will share is that I am by no means an expert here. This is my experience with CrossFit- and it may not be for everyone by preference, but I assure you, everyone can CrossFit! 

What is CrossFit? 
I will let the people of CrossFit tell you the official answer here  and in this great video: 

Yes, you’ll see a lot of really super fit people here. But if you watch closely, you’ll see people that look like every day folks to. Maybe someone like you or like me. For me, I define (loosely) CrossFit as a new challenge every time I set foot in the door. I’m not competing with anyone else, I’m pushing myself and supporting the others. To be better than yesterday, stronger than yesterday and more fit EVERY day. We run, we lift, we laugh, we encourage, we high five and we hug. Big sweaty goofy hugs. We cheer, we push, we yell, we cuss and we listen to music really loud. And even when I’m the very last person running in at the end of the workout’s run (if running is included that day), there is always someone there to say “great job”. I could never list out all of the exercises we do, because they vary daily, they vary by ability – all workouts are SCALABLE to what you can do today. 

Why I love it.
When I walked in, terrified, to my first day at “The Box” (CrossFit lingo for the gym you belong to) – I had only watched the videos of the “fittest” doing these things. However, I was driven by the need to do more, and be more in my fitness journey. I love running, but I was starting to get bored- and I didn’t like nautilus weights at the gym. A personal trainer, for the number of sessions I wanted to be able to have, was too expensive. This seemed like a good option to try.
I was met with paperwork and a walk around the box. AstroTurf field, iron lifting bars, weight plates and lots of things I’d really only seen at football training facilities. The warm-up that day was tougher than most of my regular workouts, and it was only 10 minutes long. I was hooked. I had joined by way of a Groupon, to get a good, long trial. I gave myself the gift of sticking it out for 1 month to really get a feel for it. We would do things like bench presses, but I couldn’t lift the bar (45 lbs). So, I started out with 15 lb dumbbells in each hand. I couldn’t do full pushups, so I did them on my knees. All the while, I had a coach to push me, instruct me and correct my form. Personal training in a group setting – this was for me.

The single best thing CrossFit has given me so far? The ability to LOVE my body exactly as it is right NOW. That doesn’t mean it is perfect, it doesn’t mean I don’t have bad body image days- but I know that I’m working hard to improve and a little more every day I view my workouts and my food as a way to fuel my progress. 

The Basics
Every day has a similar structure – group warm up, review of the WOD (Workout of the Day), then usually a skill focus (core, strength, etc). The warm up usually lasts about 10 minutes, then the WOD can last anywhere from only 10 minutes to a full 45 minutes. Either way, you’re leaving it all out on the floor to the best of your ability. You’ve never sweat like this before! 
Example of a typical WOD, with modification levels

The Progress
I’ve been crossfitting for just under a year now. Remember how I said my first bench presses were with 2 15 lb weights? I bench press 100 lbs now. That’s the bar plus 55lbs. I have done a max deadlift (picking up a weighted bar from the ground to standing straight) at 225 lbs. These aren’t bragging rights, yet I’m proud. This is progress. I’m faster, I’m stronger and I feel better than I have in a very long time. This past Sunday, I competed in my first CrossFit competition – put on by my CrossFit box – Church of Iron. I did 3 of the 4 workouts that day. I definitely was not in it to win it- but I held my own and had moments where I felt so accomplished! 
WOD #3 at the CrossFit Competition (5/19/13), 10-to-1 Ground to Overhead with 80#, 40 yd sprints between sets

The Last Word
Do not let the amazing physiques of seasoned CrossFitters scare you away from trying some of the most fun you can have with fitness. I wasn’t lying when I said your Grandma could do CrossFit. They do it all the time!

If you want to amaze yourself, push yourself and gain new friends, give it a shot! I’ll invite any of you to come take a class with me! Still not sure? Feel free to message me with any questions you don’t want to post publicly!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The May Fiver Challenge

Sorry about posting this late. But I thought what better day to post about a Fiver Challenge than on May fifth. 
On the night of the 30th, I had an idea to attempt to lose five pounds in May. Thirty one days. How hard could it be to consciously lose this weight? Then, I decided to open the challenge up to the entire group and see how much could we lose as a group. 50, 75, maybe even 100 pounds. I do t know. 
This is not a competition. It's not a race. All we want at the end o the month is the amount lost. It's a way to help build our fitness community and work together to lose weight. That's it. All you have to do is work on your routine to hit the five pound goal.
Five pounds in one month should, in most cases, be doable. Many weight loss experts,I have read, state normal, reasonable weight loss is one to two pounds a week. Our challenge is one pound a week. 
How do I plan on getting to the goal? I am cutting soda out of my diet and working on portion control. Those are my big issues. For others, it may be the same or hitting the gym one or two more times a week. I am also working on reaching 130 miles this month. Those miles can come from running, walking to work, swimming, and biking. I am not suggesting you do this. I currently run 80-90 miles a month. 
So, who's with me to do this? 
How can you join us?
Join our Facebook community.
Take your weight once a week. ( )
Report back to the group, on our Facebook page on May 31st. 
We don't want to know your weight, just the amount you lost. 
If you want to follow my progress, check out my blog

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Disney: 10 Miles Per Day

I've heard that you can easily walk up to 10 miles per day at Disney World.

10 miles.  20,000 steps.

That's a lot of steps.  Especially for short little legs.

My kids are 8 and 5.  My 8 year old could walk to the moon and back and still ask to go out and ride her scooter around the block.  My 5 year old, on the other hand, has to be bribed to walk to the corner.

So we've started walking as a family.  The kids are willing and even eager to participate because they know why we're doing this - so that we can have the energy to spend a full day at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.  We've made sure that everyone has comfortable and sturdy sneakers that we can walk in now and take with us on our trip.

I created a training plan.  

Remember that these walks aren't about speed or anything.  It's about building endurance!  Bring water bottles, bring snacks for the longer walks.  Take the longer walks in interesting places like a nature preserve, walking trail, to a park or favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.  Stop for a break if needed.  The idea is just to get your kids (and you) used to being on your feet for extended periods of time.  

Just like with any healthy living choices, it's all about preparation and commitment.  Best of all, making this plan work in our current schedule now means that we should be able to keep it up when we get back from vacation - a new addition to our healthy lives!