Fitting Fitness into Parenthood – Part 2

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So now that you’ve had a month to put into practice some of the suggestions from Part 1, how is it going? Hopefully, you’ve had more successes than not and have started to see how structuring our calendars as much as possible is key to getting things done. It’s been said that it’s easier to achieve a goal when you write it down. That same principle can be applied here as well.

Now that you’ve seen the nuts and bolts of fitting it in, how do you fit it in when you’re new to parenthood or new to fitness as a parent? The key is to do what you can do today. Some of us have been there in the gym on January 2nd. It’s full of all the new resolution makers to lose weight and shape up and they hit it hard. Then mid-February hits and pretty much anything and everything gets in the way of the calendar.

It’s like in running long distance. If you start out too fast you will burn out more easily. So start out with a realistic goal and go from there rather than try to overcompensate for what you haven’t been doing. Also, it’s important not to overdo it if you’re deconditioned to avoid injury!

If you’re getting (back) into fitness as a parent, here are a few tips to get you started!

  1. Focus first on posture! Holding an 8 – 10 pound weight (or more!) can really wreak havoc on posture. Just like when we’ve been told to switch sides where we hold our purses, start switching sides that you hold your little one to balance out the strengths and weaknesses. Incorporate Kegel exercises and drawing your navel into your spine as much as possible during the day to reactivate those abs!
  2. Invest in an ergonomic baby carrier! You can’t put a price on your health and while it may not seem related to health and fitness, how you carry any kind of weight is going to change your body position and could potentially lead to injury and/or chronic pain. And don’t forget to keep your legs, glutes, and core engaged when lifting, carrying and holding your bundle of joy. The baby should not be holding you; you should be holding the baby!
  3. Use that jogging stroller to your advantage and as a workout prop! This is an important time to build your energy back up in order to develop endurance and stamina. Starting with 20 – 30 minutes per day of exercise is a great way to start off slowly without overdoing it. After all, you want to increase your energy not zap it before you get a chance to start! As your energy increases and you feel ready for the next level, continue to add on time to your cardio fitness regiment and increasing strength for postural stability and joint mobility. You’ll know it’s time to step it up when it’s all too easy! And don’t be afraid of the next challenge!

Looking for some personalized guidance to fitting fitness into parenthood in person or online? Contact me at sher@divasrun.com!

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Fitting Fitness into Parenthood – Part 1

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One of the challenges for helping clients with kids achieve their fitness goals is to give them guidance on fitting workouts into their busy schedules as parents. I hear it all the time: “I need to spend time with my (spouse, kids, etc.)” “I’m too busy.” “My kids have to go to (insert any sport or other activity here).”

We all have the same amount of hours in each day. Yet, those hours are split differently between work, school, family, extra-curricular activities, social time, etc. Not everyone can pencil in a solid hour in their schedule for fitness everyday. So how do we figure out a way to stay healthy and fit?

  1. Rise and shine! Setting the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning will make all the difference in the day. Not too long ago, I read an article headline that shouted that you could lose more weight by getting up earlier. While the headline was deceiving and there is no magic in getting up earlier, you do burn more calories because you’re up and moving about for more time in the day. This was the basic premise of the article even though it made it sound like you could magically lose weight by just getting up early. While I value my sleep as much as anyone, balancing out getting up earlier with going to bed earlier will help. But, wait. I know there is so much to do at night that didn’t get done during the day, which brings me to the next tip.
  2. Let it go! I hate waking up to dirty dishes in the sink. But sometimes it will just have to happen. I’d much rather spend those 10 minutes in the morning or at night by either energizing for the day with a quick workout in the morning or by stretching and doing a 10-minute yoga routine in the evening to wind down. While I don’t recommend leaving dirty dishes in the sink the entire week because that could get smelly, it’s ok to address these things every other day or enlist some help.
  3. Delegate! If you’ve got kids old enough to assist with chores or a spouse who can  help on those mornings (or evenings) you need to work out, then ask them. Even if it’s not 100% to your satisfaction or expectation, let go of the high standards and let them help you the best way they can. And don’t forget to show appreciation so they’ll want to keep helping!
  4. Pencil it in! I’m as guilty as the rest when it comes to writing things down and just relying on my head or the clock. Scheduling in times when you can work out is important. I live and die by my calendar when it comes to my appointments and clients, but I don’t always write in times to work out like I should. This can be very helpful especially if you think you can’t fit it in. We have time during the day, we just don’t always use it wisely. And don’t rely on how you feel. We’re not always going to feel like doing a lot of things and yet we do them. After all, would you rather be uncomfortable working out or uncomfortable in your jeans?
  5. Make a long-term game plan! Just like penciling in your workout for the day, if you sit down before the week gets going or month even, you can find the time for fitness around those moments where other things are happening. Even if you take 10 minutes three to four times a day to be active, that is better than nothing. Are you a heavy plane traveler? Speed walk between gates instead of taking the train, if possible. Do you have to be at all your kids’ sporting events and/or other activities? Take 10-20 minutes to do some laps around the field or building – or more, if you can. You can still show support for them and watch, but let them know you’re going to spend the first part of their activity unwinding from work also. I’m sure they’ll understand and be proud of you for being such a great fitness role model! Better yet, grab another parent and work out together while your kids are busy! It will make the time go faster and be more enjoyable.

The reason so many of us say we don’t have time for fitness is that we simply fail to plan for it. Creating a more structured schedule and analyzing just how we spend our time is the key to fitting it in. Not relying on our feelings but rather approaching fitness as a task to be marked off the list for the day (even if it’s in several small increments during the day) is a great approach to just getting it done. And the earlier the better in the day whenever possible. Too much can happen during the day to sidetrack our fitness goals.

Take the next couple of days and write down everything you do and when, just like a very detailed diary. I bet you’ll find that getting caught up in watching TV or surfing the Internet mindlessly could be those times that you have to do a quick speed walking workout or run or even a few push-ups and planks.

Stay tuned for my next post on Fitting Fitness into Parenthood!

Need some help planning quick workouts? Email me at sher@divasrun.com for more information!

He Said, She Said

13226699I recently had the privilege of giving a presentation on walking and running to 2 groups – an all-female group and an all-male group. It was interesting to note how the 2 groups differed in their questions and in how they viewed exercise.

In the all-female group, their questions centered around what types of shoes to wear, what to eat and how to enhance their exercise with weights. The women seemed to be focused on how they felt and how to make exercise as comfortable as possible in order to complete their mileage without a wardrobe malfunction getting in the way.

In the all-male group, their questions were around how to make running more enjoyable. They viewed it as a task to be completed, but some also dreaded running as part of their workout routine. Their approach was more technical, i.e., just get the miles done and check it off the To Do list for the day.

For the women, I counseled on appropriate attire as well as addressing issues that only women face while running like menstrual cycles and appropriate sports bras. For the men, I dealt with discussions on nipple chafing (hey, it happens) and advising how to have a more enjoyable run by leaving their watch at home and running with a friend.

It was interesting and eye-opening to note the different approaches, but the theme I focused on with both groups was how important it is to focus on the mental aspect of running – mind over miles. More than 50% of competition is psychological. That competition comes from within and spans many things whether it’s getting motivated for a training walk/run or the struggle to complete an actual race event.

Men and women are different, to be sure, and each gender can learn from the other. That’s what makes running so great – male and female runners have unique elements each gender brings to the sport. But, we all share that one common thread – running is part an important part of our lives no matter the reason.

Read on about our wonderfully unique differences here: http://www.iawr-connect.com/training/how-different-women-runners-men/.

 

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It’s Gettin’ Hot (and Humid) in Here!

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I am not a huge fan of running outdoors in the summertime. In the South, the humidity will suck the life right out of you – and then some. However, sometimes it is unavoidable when I coach clients and it is definitely preferable to running on the treadmill all summer long.

Having been in this running business for awhile now, there are definite ways to ease the summer suckfest, starting with acclimatization. It’s also wise to hydrate properly, exercise in the early morning whenever possible, and recognize the warning signs for heat illness:

Heat CrampsSymptoms: Painful muscle spasms (often in calves), sweating, and normal body temperature. What to do: Replenish with fluids with electrolytes and gently massage cramped muscles.

Heat ExhaustionSymptoms: Profuse sweating, drop in blood pressure, normal or slightly elevated body temperature, fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, decreased coordination and staggering, increased heart rate (above 100 beats per minute), and fainting. What to do: Seek a cool and shaded area and apply cold compresses to groin, underarms, and neck. Apply cool water to skin surface, as tolerated. Avoid physical activity for 24 hours and drink adequate fluids during that time.

Heat StrokeSymptoms: High body temperature, altered consciousness, and dry skin due to lack of sweating. What to do: Call 911, apply cold compress to groin, underarms, and neck. Apply cool water to skin surface, as tolerated.

Remember to run smart in the summertime and be sure to check out more of my tips for summer running in the June issue of Atlanta InTown Magazine!

Feel free to contact me for more information on staying healthy while running in the heat!

Why Running is the Best Sport

TR-PUNISHMG-2TYou’ve seen us. We’re out there everywhere. Rain, sleet, snow, uphill, and flat surfaces.  Morning, noon or night. We’ll be out there. You may have even asked yourself why that crazy person is out there in a downpour or at some crazy hour like midnight.

Why? It’s who we are. It’s what we do. We are determined. We are defiant. We are dedicated, and we’ve discovered what other sports don’t recognize. They’re too busy using our sport as their sport’s punishment.

Running is Easy. All you have to do to run is access a treadmill (if necessary) or simply step outside. There are streets, track, and trails everywhere.  You don’t even need to join a club to do it.

Running is Cheap. All you need is a decent pair of running shoes to support your feet and ankles. There are no other pieces of equipment you absolutely need in order to participate. Sure, you can purchase fun gadgets to track your time and distance or pricey brand name outfits, but they aren’t necessary.

Running is Therapy. And it’s cheaper than therapy. Have a bad day? Don’t hit the bar; hit the pavement. You’ve heard of the “Runner’s High.” It really does exist. While running, the blood is flowing properly and efficiently through your body and to your brain cells. You are better able to think better and more clearly.

Running is a Healthy Lifestyle. There are so many health benefits to running: decreased blood pressure, a healthier heart, stronger bones and joints, and many more. If you want to start a health and fitness program, walking and running are the easiest ways to do so. Getting the body to move is the first step in creating a healthier lifestyle.

Running is Personal. When you need to get away and clear your head, you can run and choose your own path. Map a route or play it by ear and discover new scenery. Running is the perfect “me” time where it’s just you and your thoughts. But, it’s more than just individual. When you pass a runner, there is that silent, understood camaraderie.

Running is Community. We greet each other out on the streets. We form teams and run for causes that we believe in. We encourage each other and motive each other. And when the Boston Marathon was hit by tragedy this year, we didn’t let that stop us. We continued to run because no one can take away our running spirit.

So, lace up your shoes and get moving out the door! We’ll be out there and we’ll understand why. It’s a running thing that only runners understand.

For Boston

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Today is Tax Day. It was also the day of one of the most famous marathons – the revered “Boston.” It’s the one full marathon I’ve always dreamed of doing and maybe it is still in my future. I was glued to Twitter early today as I watched to see how Kara was doing and also Shalane. They may have missed the podium today, but they are still fearsome females in running shoes.

Long after they’d finished, the news came in. I was studying at a coffee shop and my fiancé texted me to ask if I’d heard about the bombs. Anyone who is at least my age and older will always remember where we were on 9/11. I remember even being in college during Oklahoma City and on my home turf in Atlanta. Terror just doesn’t want to stay away and you will always remember where you were and what you were doing when it strikes.

Nevertheless, the one thing that whoever did this doesn’t understand is that when you mess with the running community, we don’t back down. Boston will be back. We are wired as the most stubborn and strong-willed athletes there are. Even our sport is a punishment for other sports. Want me to run some laps? Gladly. I almost wish another Boston race were to happen tomorrow just to prove that attempts to strike fear in our hearts are welcomed as just challenges. Running is mostly a mental sport and sometimes we have to dig down deep just to keep going. But that is what we do because that is who we are.

Luckily, everyone I knew who was running as well as those I know who know others who were running were not injured by the explosions. It’s a scary thing to think that someone you know is affected. But there are those people who do know someone. And my heart and prayers go out to them.

Whether or not this act was by some international group as retribution on American soil or a domestic individual who didn’t get into Boston and was mad about it, let’s get one thing straight.

You can take our lives.

You can take our limbs.

You cannot nor will you ever take our running spirit.

Keep running.

Numbers

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Even if you’re not a math major, numbers can control your life and your attitude if you become a slave to your scale or to what size jeans you wear. I hear this often when clients gain or lose pounds. When they lose a pound, they’re happy and feel like they’ve really accomplished something. When they gain a pound, they’re upset and discouraged. Rather than concentrating on those numbers, and you know how tricky they can be especially depending on the time of the month, let’s take a look at some numbers that actually are important.

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Blood Pressure

Blood pressure tells a lot about how healthy you are on the inside. The higher the blood pressure, the greater chances of heart failure, coronary artery disease, stroke, and more. The ideal blood pressure in a healthy person over age 20 is under 120/80. Any reading over 120/80 is considered higher than normal and steps should be taken to reduce these numbers, especially if the reading tops 140/90. Regular vigorous exercise and reducing sodium intake are the top 2 ways to lower blood pressure. There are other ways to accomplish this, however, and more info on blood pressure can be found at www.heart.org.

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Resting Heart Rate

Resting Heart Rate tells how efficient your heart is beating in any rested state. The lower the number, the more in shape your heart is! This number generally works hand in hand with blood pressure and most digital blood pressure cuffs give this reading in addition to blood pressure. The great news about exercise is that it typically reduces blood pressure and resting heart rate. Any RHR above 100 is considered too high. When you exercise your heart – remember, it’s a muscle – the more efficient it becomes and the healthier you become!

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Waist-to-Hip Ratio

WHR indicates body fat pattern. Evaluating these numbers shows the obesity classification in an individual and their health risk. For women, WHR values above .80 are considered “apples” and values below .80 are considered “pears.” Abdominal fat cells are primarily responsible for greater health risk in apples for health issues like Type II diabetes and high blood pressure. With regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet, you can whittle that waistline down to a healthier number regardless of your body shape. For more info on transforming your diet, www.choosemyplate.gov is an excellent resource.

So the next time you obsess over the scale or the size jeans you’re wearing (and you know different designers run sizes differently), consider these numbers instead as an indicator of your overall health and fitness. So toss your scale and have your blood pressure, resting heart rate, and waist-to-hip ratio evaluated instead!