Friday, July 27, 2012

Fitness Tips From Olympians

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Olympians are in top shape and the best athletes in the world. With Olympic fever going around who wouldn't take advice from them? Even though they are professional athletes, you can definitely apply these tips to your daily life.

1. Get a workout partner.
"After spending so much time by myself on the ice in the past, I love working out with friends now," says Nancy Kerrigan who is a former professional figure skater and two-time Olympic medalist. For Lauren Wenger, a current member of USAs women's water polo national team and Olympic silver medalist, working out with a friend motivates her to work harder. She says, "When I see a teammate working hard, it pushes me that much more."

2. Write is down.
Often you can't remember what you did in the gym last week. Heather O'Reilly, a member of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team and two-time Olympic gold medalist says, "if I don't bring a sheet with my workouts on it, I end up wasting time and not being as efficient." You can write down before you go to the gym what you plan to accomplish and track it as you go along. O'Reilly says that she gets a sense of accomplishment when she sees that she has completed a workout.

3. Schedule it.
When you are an elite athlete, there is no choice but to schedule workouts. Krisit Yamaguchi, a former figure skater and Olympic gold medalist, says that it is important to schedule exercise. She says, "As a busy mom I can find 100 different things to do instead of working out. If I don't say, OK on this day, I will work out for at least 20 minutes, it won't happen." Exercise should be treated like a priority and if you schedule it into your day, you can't make excuses.

4. A boring diet is OK.
"Every single day, no matter where I am, I always eat one pack of instant oatmeal with a huge scoop of peanut butter for breakfast. It keeps me fueled and gives me enough energy for morning practice," says Wenger. Why fix something if it isn't broken? If it works for you, stick to it.

5. Rest doesn't always mean being a couch potato.
Just because you are taking a day off from working out doesn't give you an excuse to be a couch potato. "Staying active on down days actually makes me feel better the rest of the week," says Erin Hamlin who is a two-time luge Olympian. "Doing something low key, like going for a walk or taking a light yoga class, gets the blood flowing and results in more productive training days." Chellsie Memmel, a former Olympic silver medalist in gymnastics says, "Walking on the treadmill or outside helps my muscles relax and loosen up."

6. Set goals.
"I always think of the goals I am working towards, like a gold medal at the Olympics, and it motivates me," says Angela Ruggiero who is a four-time ice hockey Olympic medalist. She says, "If you don't have something to work for, it's easy to get side-tracked." And she's right, you need something to work toward. It gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end and allows you to track your progress. Your goals don't have to be as high as winning an Olympic gold medal, make them realistic, such as completing a 5K. Tell someone who can hold you accountable and keep you on track. Going public can push you harder because who wants to be embarrassed by not accomplishing them?

7. Discover what works for you.
You need to enjoy what you are doing. If other people think it is weird, but it works for you, who cares!? "When I was training, I would take a 15-minute hot bath with a cup of Epsom salt and a cup of apple cider vinegar," says Kerrigan. She says that even though it may sound strange, it helped her bruises heal faster and muscles feel better almost instantly. O'Reilly wears recovery sleeves for an hour or two after she works out and sometimes at night because she says it helps with the swelling.

8. Take vitamins.
When traveling to different countries, food options can vary drastically. "I recently started taking a variety of vitamins like vitamin C, calcium and fish oil, because fresh, nutrient-rich foods are hard to come by in some places," says Hamlin. Multivitamins can be a good back-up plan, if you think you diet may be lacking in nutrients, but make sure to talk to your doctor first.

9. Keep hydrated.
Obviously water is essential for survival, but it is also important to keep yourself energized. O'Reilly says, "I wind up drinking more throughout the day when I carry around my water bottle, which keeps me going." For Natasha Hastings, a USA Track & Field athlete and Olympic gold medalist, water is important to her for more than just hydration. "Other than drinking water for sports, I've always admired my grandmother and mother's great skin and I swear it's because they drink a lot of water!"

10. Diversify you fitness regimen.
You may think that Olympic athletes spend all of their time focusing on one sport, but adding another active hobby can be beneficial for them. "I've dabbled in golf and am always up for trying anything new," says O'Reilly. She plays badminton and squash, for a bit of a change in her usual routine. Wenger gives credit to her once-a-week yoga practice to her improved weekly training. She says, "it strengthens my muscles and loosens my joints." Changing up your usual habits can also make exercise more exciting, it is supposed to be fun after all!

Cuffey, Abigail. "10 Fitness Tips from Olympians." Woman's Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2012. <>.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's On My Workout Playlist..

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I have to have music when I workout. There's nothing like the perfect music to get me through being stuck on the treadmill. Music can motivate us and set our workout into high gear. There is actual research to support this.

Here are song on my current favorite songs on my playlist that I workout to..

Fun - "Some Nights"
Pitbull - "Back in Time"
Timbaland - "Hands in the Air"
David Guetta, Flo Rida & Nicki Minaj - "Where Them Girls At"
Kanye West - "Mercy"
Nicki Minaj - "Starships"
Nicki Minaj - "Pound the Alarm" 
Lil Wayne & Drake - "Right Above It"
Kanye West & Jay Z - "H.A.M."
Don Omar - "Danza Kuduro"
Pitbull - "Shake Senora"
Pitbull - "Bon Bon"
Skrillex - "Bangarang"
David Guetta & Nicki Minaj - "Turn Me On"
Skrillex - "Kyoto"
Dierks Bentley - "5-1-5-0"
Toby Keith - "Beers Ago"
Luke Bryan - "Shake It For Me"

The Science Behind Music

Let's face it, sometimes exercise can be boring. If you put on some good music it can totally change your attitude! Instead of watching the clock, you could be picking up your pace.

There is scientific evidence that listening to music while exercising can improve your results. This is because it is motivating and also distracts us from things like fatigue. Music helps people exercise longer and more vigorously. The same can be said for it being the other way around. If someone is feeling anxious, listening to music that is soft or slow can calm down and relax the mind and body.

There is even evidence that one song may be more effective over the other. Dr. Costas Karageorghis, an associate professor of sport psychology at Brunel University in England, has studied how music effects physical performance for more than 20 years. He says that one of a songs most important elements is tempo, which should be between 120-140 beats-per-minute (BPM) for an average workout. This tempo corresponds to the average persons heart rate during a workout.

For a leisurely walk around 3 miles per hour, shoot for 115-118 BPM. If you are wanting a power walk, aim for 137-139 BPM. For running, the BPM should be around 147-160.

So update your playlist to take your workout to the next level!

Kurutz, Steven. "FITNESS; They're Playing My Song. Time to Work Out." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2008. Web. 24 July 2012.

"Using Music To Motivate Your Workout." The Benefits of Using a Variety of Treadmill Programs. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2012. <>.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Motivation Monday!

Everybody always feels better about themselves after a workout, including myself. After each workout your self-confidence is increased. So, if you make exercising a habit, then your self-confidence will increase after each workout. Over time you should be feeling great about yourself!

Each work out, no matter how short in duration, is a step in the right direction!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Truth About Gluten

A few years ago, many people didn't even know what gluten was. Now, "gluten-free" seems to be the latest trend. The market for gluten-free products is exploding because many people believe that gluten-free means healthier. But what is exactly behind this gluten-free trend? Before you hop on the bandwagon, you should know this..

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein composite that can be found in grains, barely, wheat and rye. It gives dough elasticity, helps it rise and keep its shape, and can give it a chewy texture.

A gluten-free diet does help people that have celiac disease which is a chronic digestive disorder that affects about 1% of Americans. To people that have celiac disease, even a small amount of gluten makes that body think it is an invader which prompts an immune response. This immune response ends up damaging the small intestine. This causes severe gastrointestinal distress and nutritional deficiencies. If celiac disease is left untreated, these responses can lead to intestinal cancers, nutrients being unable to be absorbed, and other complications such as infertility and osteoporosis.

The hype...
Gluten-free diets have become very popular recently. With the rise in popularity, many people are using gluten-free diets as a means to cure other ailments such as fibromyalgia and migraines.

Many people also believe that a gluten-free diet will lead to rapid weight loss. Mark DeMeo, M.D., director of gastroenterology and nutrition at the Adult Celiac Disease Program and Rush University Medical Center located in Chicago says "There's nothing magical about a gluten-free diet that's going to help you lose weight." Most likely the cause of weight loss from the gluten-free diet is that it drastically reduces what foods that you can eat. So when you have less to choose from, you are less likely to overeat.

There is another side to this. Gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean low fat or low calorie. Gluten is used to bind food together and without it manufacturers usually add more fat or sugar. Gluten-free foods are also significantly more expensive than it's counterparts.

Should you go gluten-free or not?
Yes, if you have celiac disease. If you are wanting to try the diet, know that it is very hard to find foods that do not contain gluten. Gluten is in more foods than you would think. A gluten-free diet can also leave you with nutritional deficiencies. There is very little reason to take this risk unless you genuinely have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten. If you are wanting to eliminate gluten, you constantly have to pay attention to what you are eating. There no point to eliminating just some gluten.

Many people feel better after going gluten-free because they are eating whole foods instead of processed packaged foods.

Basically, if you think you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, get tested.

Ansel, Karen. "GLUTEN FREE DIET." N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2012.

Jaret, Peter. "The Truth About Gluten." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 22 July 2012. <>.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Link Between Television and Kids' Waistline and Athletic Ability

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     Children's health has always been an important issue for me. Childhood obesity is rising quickly and attention needs to be brought toward this epidemic. It makes sense that the more that children watch television, the larger their waistline will be. Now, there is a new study to describe more accurately what the association represents.

     Researchers at the University of Montreal found that each hour of television watched by two - four year old's contributes to their waist line and their muscular fitness level by the end of fourth grade. This is the first study to show how time in front of the television affects a specific measure of fitness, explosive leg strength. In the study, parents were asked about their children's television habits and then were examined by trained professionals. The child's muscular fitness was measured by administering a standing long jump test.

     The standing long jump is a good indicator of muscular fitness and athletic ability. The standing long jump measures explosive leg strength, very important in sports such as football, basketball and soccer. Researchers were able to translate hours in front of the television into centimeters around the waist and performance. It was found, for example, that each weekly hour of television watched at 29 months of age corresponds to about 1/3 centimeter decrease in the child's ability to long jump. By age 4.5, a child's waist size increased about 1/2 of a millimeter for every extra hour of television that was watched per week.

     These numbers may seem small, but to a child they are important. Also, considering that children watch a lot more television than one hour a week, the fractions start to add up quickly.

     There were 1,314 children that participated in this study and at the beginning parents reported, on average, 8.8 hours of television watched per week. This number increased by an average of 6 hours over the next 2 years which led to and average of 14.8 hours of television watched per week by the age 4.5

     Over time there has been a change in our habits and standard of living. We prefer pre-packaged or easily prepared foods that are high in calories and/or fat. In general, we are preferring sedentary activities. If children are watching television they are missing out on educational and recreational activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over the age of two should not watch more than two hours of television per day.

     Establishing unhealthy habits as a child can stick with them into adulthood. So it is important to enforce healthy lifestyle habits early. Parents need to serve as role models for their children as well. When parents watch an excessive amount of television, their children's television habits are more likely to exceed the AAP's recommendations. Parents should enforce activities that are educational or recreational.

     Although childhood obesity is not solely cause by television watching, it is a major risk factor. All risk factors for childhood obesity must be reduced.

GANN, CARRIE, and ABC News Medical Unit. "Study: More TV Linked to Larger Waists, Weaker Legs for Kids." ABC News. ABC News Network, 16 July 2012. Web. 19 July 2012.

Universite de Montreal. "TV habits predict kids' waist size and sporting ability." ScienceDaily, 15 Jul. 2012. Web. 19 Jul. 2012.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Motivation Monday!

Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Change has to be made it order to see change!