How not to train for a race

Thursday, February 25, 2010 by kate

I’m running a half marathon this weekend. If you told me eight years ago I’d be on my third half marathon, I wouldn’t even know how far that was. Starting out, I couldn’t run a minute. Heck, I didn’t even know how to run.* Now I can go for hours. And I’d like to say I love it. I’d like to say I get that runner’s high everyone talks about. But I don’t. There’s no such thing. They’re all lying. It’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes for runners. Sure, I feel better after a run. But that’s mainly because I know I can eat all those calories I just burned.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in the past 8 years. So I decided to share my wisdom** with all of you.
Here’s all the things you shouldn’t do when training for a half marathon.***

Don’t …
… run 13 miles a week before the race.
Taper taper taper. Running that distance will burn you out before the race has even begun. Save your energy for the real thing.

… buy brand-spanking-new sneakers close to race day.
Just like that pair of skinny jeans, you need to break in your sneakers before you take them out.

… pick a race in a coastal New England community in the middle of winter.
It’s cold. And windy. And possibly even snowing, raining or snaining.

… make up your own training schedule based on your mood, the weather and whether you've done laundry.
Sure you should be flexible, but follow a training program. It’ll guarantee you’ll be ready come race day.

… fit in extra workouts on “rest” days, thinking you’ll be super trained.
People who create training programs know what they’re doing. Your body needs those rest days whether you know it or not.

… decide to try a new class called “Chisel” at the gym the same week you plan on running the half marathon.
This will make you sore. For days.

Any other advice I should add?

*Don’t laugh.
** … or my stupidity
***I may or may not have done all of these things. I plead the 5th.

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Fitness & friends

Monday, February 22, 2010 by kate

The buddy system. It’s as old as time, or just a little bit younger. There was Adam and Eve, Tom and Jerry, Thelma and Louise, Laverne and Shirley, Lewis and Clark. You hold hands crossing the street and workout together, right?

No, according to a new study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The study shows people tend to workout harder when they go it alone. But they also workout for a longer period of time when they’re with someone else. So I guess it all depends on what your goal is. If you want the biggest bang for your buck, ditch the friend. But if you’ve got the time and want to gab and grunt, make a play date.

Personally, I like to workout alone, but sometimes it’s fun to mix things up a bit.

What about you? Do you like to sweat with your sweetie or do you burn better without a buddy?

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Giving up gum

Thursday, February 18, 2010 by kate

I have a problem. Some people go through packs of cigarettes. I go through packs of gum. It didn’t start out that way. At first, it was just a piece here and a piece there to curb my appetite, and then before I realized it, I turned into a chain chewer.

There are others out there like me.

We try to hide it, but eventually those empty wrappers catch up to us and the office cleaning lady gives us a knowing look as she empties our trash full of evidence.

But I’m coming out of the gum closet for a reason today. For today, I’ve given up those tiny pink rectangles of chewy goodness. For the next 40 days, I’m going gumless. I’m sure gum wasn’t what Jesus had in mind when he set up that whole Lent business, but it works for me.

This isn’t meant to be a churchy post. I just wanted to show how you can use any reason, any season, any excuse to make a change in your life. Hopefully the Holy Ghost will help me resist my urge to chew gum.

What’s your vice? Have you ever tried giving it up? What worked for you?

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Anywhere ab workout

Monday, February 15, 2010 by kate

Our guest blogger today is fitness expert and new mom Nicole Glor.

I recently had a "c-section" and thought I will never have my abs back. However, while planning my next video, "Hard Core Abs," I found that these moves, combined with healthy diet and cardio, can take anyone from C-to-6! Try them now to harden your core and work your arms as well.

Thread the needle

Lie in a side plank on your left elbow and hip, legs extended. Lift the hips off the floor to balance on the elbow and forearm and outside of your left foot (you can also stagger the feet so one is in front of the other for balance).
Extend your right arm to the ceiling and then bring it down to the floor and reach it toward the back of your mat, threading the needle underneath your left armpit. Bring right arm back up toward the sky to complete one rep. (Trainers tip: Try not to sink in your left shoulder by keeping the core and left arm strong and dynamic.) Do 15 reps and repeat on the other side. Total of three sets.

Hip Dip
Assume the same starting position as threat the needle – side plank on your left elbow and forearm but with right hand on your right hip. Simply stack feet and lift hips off the floor and then tap the mat with left hip by bringing them back down without collapsing. Tap and lift hips for 15 reps and repeat on the other side. Do three sets.
Weighted oblique reach
Lay on your back with a 10-pound weight in your hands. Knees should be bent and feet flat on the floor. Lower the weight behind your head to the floor, and then bring it back up while crunching and twisting the weight to your right side.
Repeat from the ground up and then crunch and twist to your left for one rep. Repeat for 15 reps. Do three sets total in your workout. Finish any ab workout with some lower back toning, because the back is an essential part of a hard core.

Fitness, Fit it in. Nikki

NikkiFitness is an AFAA certified NYC personal trainer, group fitness instructor at Crunch in Manhattan and fitness columnist for Her workouts focus on multitasking toning and cardio intervals to cut workout time in half and boost metabolism. She has 4 DVDs on Amazon including the new Fit Travel Workout DVD, Booty Camp, Military Wife Workout and the Beach Bride Destination Wedding Workout. Get her newsletters, music playlists, video demos and DVDs at

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Online addiction

Thursday, February 11, 2010 by kate

I’m not going to lie. I’m OCD about my internet. Back in college my roommate and I made a bet that each other couldn’t go a week without AIM (back when AIM was the new Twitter). I’m pretty sure we both made it … and we both had a lot more time on our hands. It’s amazing how much time can be wasted online – whether it be checking email, Facebook stalking or actual work. And I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty empty when my internet connection goes down.

Researchers have found a link between internet addiction and depression.

18 internet-addicted people were compared with 18 people who weren’t addicted to the internet. The non-addicted people were not depressed while the addicted people were classified as moderately to severely depressed. Researchers found these people were using the internet to replace real-life socializing.

The winter creates the perfect storm for this. Short days and cold whether keep us indoors and online. So make an effort to get outside, stay active and ban yourself from the internet for a day. See if you can.

How much time do you spend online?

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A love affair with chocolate

Monday, February 8, 2010 by kate

No Pudge Brownies
These fat free brownies are easy to make (just add fat free vanilla yogurt) and delicious. They come in mint, raspberry, cappuccino or plain. And a serving is only 120 calories and no fat! If you’re worried about portion control, mix 2 tablespoons of mix with 1 tablespoon of fat free vanilla yogurt in a mug and microwave it for a minute or so. I love them with light vanilla ice cream or Cool Whip free!
Hungry Girl’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
This recipe is so easy. There are only 3 ingredients: A box of fudge brownie mix, peanut butter and a can of pumpkin puree. Ok. Bear with me here. I know it sounds weird, but pumpkin is high in fiber and low in fat. And you can hardly taste it. Just mix the mix and pumpkin together, top with peanut butter, put it in an 8x8 pan and bake it at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let it cool, and then pop the pan in the fridge. Warning: Don’t taste the fudge before it has been chilled. For some reason, if you taste it right out of the oven the pumpkin flavor is stronger than if it’s chilled.

Steph Chows’ Mocha Mousse is made with tofu and greek yogurt, and while I haven’t tried it yet, I definitely plan to. There's no cooking involved. Just blend and serve!

Weight Watchers has a recipe for Chocolate Turtle Cookies using fat free cream cheese, egg whites and fat free milk.

If you’re not worried about consuming too many treats this coming weekend, check out our We (Heart) Chocolates review. The demands of this job are almost too much. I had to spend a whole day eating chocolates. For you guys. Tough. Real tough.

Are you planning any healthy treats for Valentine’s Day? Share with us!

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Healthy Super Bowl snacks

Thursday, February 4, 2010 by kate

The Super Bowl is as much about food as it is about football. Chips, beer, beef and cheese. I think that pretty much covers it all, right? You can cut out thousands of calories just by being a bit more picky about what you score for Sunday’s game. Here’s one recipe that sounds pretty easy and tasty! Who doesn’t love guac?

Low-Fat Guacamole

1 1/2 cups frozen green beans, thawed
1 small avocado, cubed
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno peppers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a blender or food processor, puree the green beans, avocado, garlic and lemon juice until very smooth. Stir in the peppers and cilantro.

Pair this with some tasty All-Bran crackers, warmed pitas or blue corn chips.
I love these crackers! You can eat 18 for 130 calories, 6 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber!

Or make a vegetarian chili and top it off with some fat free cheese.
And for those of you ready to take a leap of faith, try these Tofu Tenders.

What’s your favorite Super Bowl snack?

previous post

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Overweight and Underage

Monday, February 1, 2010 by kate

I often say I’m a fat kid at heart, but that’s not just talk. I am. Wonder bread, Twinkies and whole milk lined my lunch box. Oh sure, an apple was tucked in there somewhere, but it was often overlooked or traded for tastier treats. Growing up in a house with 4 other siblings, food was a commodity with a minimal shelf live – especially if it was sugar-coated or salty. So Michelle Obama’s recent campaign against childhood obesity hits close to home-sweet-home.

Obesity has more than doubled among adults and tripled among children from 1980 to 2004, according to a report from the Surgeon General. That means nearly one in three children is overweight or obese.

“The health consequences are so severe that medical experts have warned that our children could be on track to live shorter lives than their parents,” said Michelle Obama, who is launching a campaign to fight childhood obesity.

Reading over the Surgeon General’s recommendations, I was struck by how simple their suggestions are:

At home: Parents should cut down on sodas and sugary juices, add more vegetables and whole grains, limit TV time and add more activity.

At school: Schools should have healthy food options and require physical education for students.

At the doctor’s: Doctors need teach their patients about the importance of good health.

At one point in my adolescence, I was more than 100 pounds over my BMI’s healthy weight range. I remember my pediatrician never once mentioning weight loss to me. I also remember how shocked my mother was to find out how much I actually weighed. I guess it’s easy to overlook what’s staring you in the face.

I often wonder what my childhood would have been like had my doctor approached my mom about my weight early on. Or if those Twinkies weren’t loitering around my parents’ pantry. Sure, I was active as a child, but no amount of kickball could make up for my romance with chips and dip.

So as simple as these recommendations sound, they obviously aren’t being done right now by millions of parents across the nation.

According to a recent study, obesity now poses a greater threat to your health than smoking. And our overweight children are on track to live shorter lives than their parents. You wouldn’t give your child a cigarette, so why are you killing them with candy?

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