Most of the time we think of dehydration as what happens when we are out in super high temperatures like in the desert and haven’t had any water allllll day and are about to get sick or collapse. When in fact we made be experiencing dehydration before we can even feel it. Not providing your body with enough water with wreck havoc on your health AND get in the way of any fitness, health, or weight loss goals you may have. Let’s take a little bit of a further look into this…
Ahhhh summer… A time of beach days, picnics, backyard BBQs, and amazing vacations. And while that is all a ton of fun, it also means test after test and detour after detour. Traveling has a tendency of leading to breaking down and consuming awful foods because eating out is easy, faster, and sometimes “more fun.” I am here to tell you that vacation does not HAVE to mean straying from that amazing path of healthy living you’ve been carving for yourself! Saaaayyy whaaattt.
I would say start out with a shit ton of caffeine but I know a lot of people aren’t the caffeine type. I bleed coffee so my trip started with an extra large black hot coffee from Dunkin ❤ (aka heaven in a Styrofoam cup). We left New Jersey when I got out of work at around midnight, more like 12:30am but same difference. He was taking the first driving shift. However, starting a long journey with your co-pilot passed out asleep doesn't sound like a good time so I knew I had to do my best to stay up for a bit with him before I got my nap in and prepared for the switch. Over the next two days I will just say that we did our best to make sure there was a Dunkin or 7-11 at most of the gas and bathroom stops we made. We are both avid coffee drinkers (well mostly me but I corrupted him and lured him in with the draw of Dunkin iced coffee, oops). I know it is definitely mental but whether I am driving 1 hour or 14, having coffee by my side just brightens my mood and day and gets me through my typical road rage. Coffee may not be your thing but if say coconut water, or even POM with coconut water (which I also had with me), is then make sure you have some of that. Or maybe, like my boyfriend, you are one of those NUUN drinkers. Whatever it is, find that one drink that just instantly makes you feel better and you know will get you out of the HOLYSHITI'VEBEENINACARFORMORETHANHALFADAY mode.
2. Water Water Water
Now that you have your own personal “feel good” beverage to get you through mentally, let’s go to your body’s feel good need… Good ol’ H TWO OH. Iced coffee from Dunkin may make you smile but if you aren’t keeping yourself hydrated, especially on a trip to the beach or if you are driving across the middle of nowhere in Arkansas and the traffic is dead stopped and you are forbidden from turning to A/C on in the car and you’re sweating bullets, your body will begin to turn on you. Dehydration is not pretty and being stuck in a car for hours is not when you wanted to experience it. When you need your focus and concentration to be on point, you need to not get sick or develop killer headaches, that is when it is most important to stock the car with water. Trust me, when you make it to your destination and through your entire trip and did not feel an ounce of dehydration you will look beyond the 70 bathroom breaks (unless that is just people like me with the bladder of a 3 year old) and thank me.
3. Snack smart.
This means a variety of things. Snacking smart means making sure you pack yourself REAL foods, having the foods packed be things that will sustain you and not leading you down the dangerous path of munching for the entiiiireeee 14 hours, having things that are easy to eat and you don’t have to try to unwrap intricate packages while driving 70 down the highway, and knowing when to snack and when to stop to get a real full meal. I would recommend making a list of items and being realistic. Avoid overpacking but be sure not to under pack. Being hangry in a car on an overly long drive is THE WORST. Now, my boyfriend has a nut allergy snacking on handfuls of almonds is perfect for some but unfortunately we couldn’t go down that road. Here are some examples of things we packed for our drive:
– Hardboiled eggs
– Sunflower seeds
– Jerky (beef sticks from Steve’s PaleoGoods and all natural turkey and buffalo jerky from Trader Joe’s)
– Larabars (and/or Questbars, or other filling all-natural protein bars)
– Dried fruit
– Sweet potato chips … sometimes you need a little indulgence 😉
4. Don’t fear the meal breaks.
Whether it is being on a time crunch or just being hesitant of the greasy fried foods in the rest stops, sometimes people are weary of stopping for dinner and lunch on long drives. I am telling you not to be afraid to plan for a meal break on the road. However, again, be smart and PLAN PLAN PLAN. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail right? While doing our logistic planning I came across a godsend of a website. Road Now can be used for all things from rest stops to traffic to food. The beauty of it is that if you find the Interstate you’ll be driving down, the state you will be in while on it, and the direction, it will give you every restaurant and stop along the way. Now this isn’t just the McDonalds at the rest stop near exit 30. It is the diner and the Italian restaurant and this and that and everything within 5 miles off each exit. This means that you can find real good food and meals on your drive while avoiding the fast food. Winner winner chicken dinner … For real. We managed to find good restaurants, and with the beauty of smart phones, were able to get Yelp reviews on each one that peaked our interest so we knew what was worth it and what to skip.
Long road trips across the country do not have to be death sentences for your body or major detours for your weight loss or fitness journey. Of course, if you are looking for an indulgence galore you can certainly make this an excuse to do so. However, I am here to tell you that with a little planning, a little time, and a good dose of being real with yourself, you can ABSOLUTELY do a road trip the healthy way… Tell your digestive system I said you’re welcome.
Even when you’re just beginning CrossFit, you hear talk of the Open and the CrossFit Games constantly even when you are no where near February or March. People in all boxes everywhere throw around names like Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Samantha Briggs so often that eventually you just cannot take not knowing what this all means and you run home and google these people and are absolutely mesmerized by the multitude of YouTube videos you find. You are told these magical stories about the Open and how it changes people’s lives and you see everyone come alive. It seems fantastical. The idea that everyone no matter how short or long a time you have been crossfitting can compete for the chance to make it to the Games and go head to head with these people who you just watched do almost inhuman things in these YouTube videos?! Impossible. It just cannot be true. You don’t know if you can really believe it… Until you are smack dab in the middle of March and see first-hand truly how honestly magical and amazing the torturous 5 week long Open season really is.
It wasn’t until now that I actually realize just how lucky I was to venture into my box, and now second home, right in the mist of the 2013 Open. I attended my very first On Ramp beginners class sometime in the middle of March and all I remember is walking into the locker room hearing all the girls talk about how they did on this WOD and that WOD and reminding each other to go online and submit their scores before the end of the day. Now, it being my very first time walking into a CrossFit box and to be frank for a moment… I started CrossFit because I found a Groupon. A damn Groupon that happened to pop up in my email around the time I was looking for something to shake up and excite a lack luster and less than progressive exercise routine. I had NO CLUE what CrossFit even was. None. Needless to say I found out reaaaaal fast… I was overwhelmed, intimidated, terrified. Yet somehow there was something inside that said I should find out more about all this gibberish and code they were speaking. Why in the world was everyone SO FREAKIN EXCITED about working out?! I was intrigued. I was captivated right then and there. Day one and I am in. Committed. I wanted that fire and passion. Heck, I needed it.
I remember being told about the Open, about how it worked and why it was so much fun. I remember the environment and energy at my box being amazing on a daily basis. I did not attend any of the classes where they were doing the Open WODs themselves. Now I wish I had but at the time I was a newbie and I was still finding my place; and like I said before I was damn intimidated. But every morning I woke up just wanting to start my morning with the smiles and enthusiasm I knew I would find from the amazing CrossFit community I was becoming a part of. For some strange reason, 7:30am beginner classes didn’t seem to enthuse anyone in March 2013 because I was alone almost every single Tuesday and Thursday morning. But I learned a lot and I formed a bond with the two coaches that rotated days and did all my classes. A bond which I am very thankful for today because it pushes me to work hard day in and out. Somehow I was more motivated to workout now than I had ever been before in my entire life. The first time I did a “push up”, or my idea of one then, I’m pretty sure my coach actually laughed at me. I was surprised to find out I actually had NO IDEA what a REAL pushup was. I was dropped down to laydown getups… on my knees. It was such an unbelievable wake up call. I was slapped with a taste of reality immediately. I managed to survive the On Ramp classes and without thought or hesitation, showed up for my first “real deal” class at 6:30am on April 2nd. That is the time and day to which attribute my true start of the beauty that has been, and will continue to be, my CrossFit journey.
First of which being one word, snatches. As little as just a couple months ago I was still avoiding WODs with snatches because the movement SCARED THE BEEGEEBUS out of me. Recently, I had been pushing myself to work on them and just figure them out already so I can stop cowering from these WODs. When I saw them pop up in 14.1, I went in focused and determined. I did not at any point during the workout resort to any sort of clean and jerk sequence. I wouldn’t let myself. I maintained my mindset and told myself that I felt strong, and I did. The WOD ended and I was proud of every single time I touched the bar that day. The next moment of pride came with the end of 14.4. Finishing with 152 reps felt almost like a dream. Toes to bar was one of those movements that evaded me for so long and that I still do not have down to a science. I saw this workout announced and it was like a stab in the heart. I had no clue how this was gonna go. Upon finishing my wall balls, I looked at the clock with just 1 minute left and knew I just had to get under that bar. At least once. Now, until December, I had sat comfortably at a 75# clean, power, squat or otherwise. That was until my coach called me out for not challenging myself and finding my true strength. I started working up, but kept it at a slow comfortable pace. 95# is only a weight I had dared to touch about twice and both times being squat cleans. So I knew that if I was going to make it happen it was going to be a squat clean. It had to be. Well I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or what but I walked over to that bar, tightened everything, and went for it. Next thing I know I was standing straight up, no squat involved, holding the 95# barbell on my shoulders. I had done it. Power cleaned it. HOLY. SHIT. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe. I got the bar up for one more rough squat clean rep before the buzzer sounded and I collapsed with the biggest smile on my face. This was the BEST moment I have had in CrossFit thus far. My coach looked over and said, “It’s amazing what you can do when you have worked so hard learning the right form in a movement.” My head was spinning in the best way possible.
Yes, the Open exposed a lot of weaknesses for me also. In doing that, though it helped me be able to set some real concrete and possible goals for both the short term and long term. It has shown me a good picture of just where I stand in my CrossFit journey and how much further I want to go. It served to re-ignite that fire and passion that I had when I started CrossFit just one year ago. All I can say is thank you… Thank you to CrossFit for encompassing everything that working out should be from the community, coaching, and energy to the unbelievable combination of gymnastics, weight training, and cardio endurance. Thank you to everyone at Maxability for being such an inspiring group of people and pushing me to work harder than I ever have before and surprise and challenge myself every single day I walk into the gym. Thank you to my family for supporting me and all the crazy changes I have instilled and for following in my footsteps and changing your own lives alongside me. Thank you to my friends for letting me ramble on about CrossFit and never getting sick of me. Thank you to my boyfriend who is my biggest fan and cheerleader as well as a way I can keep accountable; mostly by striving to never let him one up me in his own CrossFitting. Sorry darling haha. And last but not least, thank you to myself for buying that Groupon in the first place and for making the effort to stick with it and progress and become the best version of myself.
If you have not yet heard of the miraculous powers of apple cider vinegar you’re SERIOUSLY missing you. Like seriously…
- For example: Most recently I had a reaction to amoxicillin that I was taking after a dental procedure. I developed a miserable looking rash across my chest. I applied apple cider vinegar directly to my rash in the morning after shower and before going to bed each night. After 3 days, my chest was completely clear! =O Yupp, you read that right. It was like my little miracle in a bottle!
If you don’t now fully see why it is I am so in love with this miracle in a bottle then I am at a loss. Like anything, use apple cider vinegar on a regular basis for a certain period of time in order to see a difference in weight loss, detox, hair, skin, or teeth. Apple cider vinegar has shown results faster than most market products and it is NATURAL AND ORGANIC! Two in one! What more can you ask for?! So go out and buy a nice gigantic bottle for less than $2 at your local grocery store and give it a go!
Why do people juice? What are the health benefits? How do you do it properly?
Juicing is something that has always intrigued me. But before I get fully into my juicing experiment and some tips and tricks, let’s start with the most basic so you can really understand the core behind this “health nut fad”.
Also, if it wasn’t apparent, when your body expels things that may very well have been blocking up certain things from working properly AND it can quick utilize and burn nutrients and vitamins, you will in turn lose weight! Most of the weight you are going to drop will be water weight; stuff your body holds on to in order to counter those pesky toxins. For some, like my boyfriend, you can drop 6 lbs in 2 days. Unreal. I actually hate him. For others, like myself, you may not lose anything. That does not mean the fast did not work. It simply may mean your body doesn’t have the extra weight to drop. So actually, I win. (Just teasing) But then comes in the factor of making sure you are doing this properly so as to not completely send your body into starvation mode since starving your body is not condusive to long term weight loss. With that said, I would not advise a juice fast any longer than 3-5 days to anyone who has no experience with these things. Start off small, learn, experience, read, plan, and be confident before consider 2 week to 30 day cleanses and fasts. If you don’t set yourself up for success these things can get very tricky.
Juicing, specifically a juice fast, should be something you go into with the main intention of helping your body function at a healthier, cleaner level. Also, to learn a little about your food habits. If you are looking for long term weight loss this could be extremely helpful. When you are not eating solid foods and have a strict juice schedule that means you cannot just snack anytime you want to. Take notice of the times you get urges and think of if you are actually hunger or if there is something mental or emotional attached to this desire to eat. The answer may surprise you.
So being that it is now March 1st, I have, as I promised myself, successfully completed two juice fasts. After my first two fasts I can truly say I have already learned A TON. For everyone that has ever wanted to or been curious about juice fasts, let’s take a little walk into the world of my experiment….
I have spent the last year completely adapting my lifestyle. Doing so was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced, both physically and mentally, and I am a much tougher and more focused person because of it. I thoroughly enjoy challenges especially in the health and fitness world. The kick I get out of doing something insane that I would’ve never even dreamed of seeing myself do before is like nothing else. So my ability to push and motivate myself is something I think I can tend to take for granted. The first juice fast was another new experience, a new challenge. I embraced it and went in not really knowing what to expect but just simply wanting to see where I stood. At the start of our second juice fast, my boyfriend and I were both going in a little more ready. We had a conversation that sparked what I think is the most useful piece of advice I could possibly give anyone looking to take a juice fast challenge.
Each year seasons toy with our emotions like a vicious cycle. Mother nature just laughing at us from behind her clouds. December hits, the days get darker, the temperature drops, and before we know it we are stuck in this sort of winter doldrums. And of course with the colder the months get, the further into this slum we seem to fall. For some the seasons have a greater affect than for others but on some level it changes the way each and every one of us lives our daily lives.
Have you ever woken up so cold you were just dreading getting out from under the covers? Has there ever been so much snow on the ground outside your door that you convinced yourself shoveling in order to make it to the gym was too much work or far too risky? Or maybe you use snowy days as an excuse to catch up on your favorite tv shows so you barely leave the couch… andddd make your way through your entire snack cabinet while you’re sitting there?
Don’t worry you aren’t the only one. Trust me.
We have all been there, done that, lived that life. We all STILL do it from time to time I’m sure.
I understand that battling the elements doesn’t seem ideal in the moment and sometimes it really just is not an option. However, it’s important to remember that these little rascally winter days should not be the cause of us losing control of our health and fitness! Excuses are excuses no matter how you dress them.
We all know that New Years is the time where we hear everyone and their mother make “NEW YEAR, NEW ME” statements. I will be the first to admit I’ve had a few of those posts myself; the goals I am going to crush and all the ways I will make 2014 even better than 2013. For everyone who says they are going to change something, improve something, reach a life goal, etc in the new year and actually means it more power to you! Let’s do this thing! However, with that said, we also all know that we tend to make these epic “New Years Resolutions”, grab the bull by the horns, go hard, anddddd then give up before the end of January. I am not here to deter you from making these declarations of change… I am here to propose that rather than jumping into freezing water without first dipping your toe in to test it out and then running screaming, we all should take the time to focus on all the little things we can do and change in our lives to help us reach these goals. Like really reach them. Crush them. Shatter them. Do even more than we ever thought. And never give up.
11. Get more sleep… Every night.
13. Stretch more.
14. Make resolutions you can KEEP!
It is admirable for anyone to see and recognize the things that are wrong with their life. Even more so to decide that these are things they actually want and need to change. EVEN more than that to make any sort of action towards changing these things or reaching these goals. But before you decide to turn your world upside down and overwhelm yourself, sit down and really think about these “resolutions”. Decide on something that you want to do, a big goal you want to reach, and plan out small mountains you climb and feats you can conquer. Hitting little goals on the way to something big will make you feel amazing and give you the motivation to keep going on this journey. Make resolutions that you not only will keep but that you will absolutely conquer and will help you to continue a new amazing life being that “new you”.
1. Quinoa: “IT’S A QUINO!” We have ALL seen that Bud Light Commercial… And if for some reason you live under a rock… I take pity on you because you must miss all the good commercials and like what else is there to live for. So here ya go (just because it makes me smile)
The unfortunate thing about this commercial is that it definitely does not make quinoa (which is pronounced KEEN-wah … get it together people) seem extremely appetizing. Except to those crazed sports super fans who went out and bought it just to see if it will help their team win. You know who you are. In reality, quinoa is both delicious AND nutritious. Win win. Quinoa is what nutritious call a “pseudo-grain”; it acts, and is used, like a grain but is really a seed. It does not have a strong flavor so it is a SUPERB replacement for things like rice, white or brown, and will pick up the flavor of whatever you cook it with. Quinoa is made up of slow-releasing carbs and is high in fiber so, especially for the people who claim they can’t diet because meals never fill them up, you will feel much fuller than expected and fight off hunger a lot longer. It also has about 10-18% protein so it one of the highest vegetarian sources of protein. Check out my recipe section for some neat ways to use quinoa (more will be coming soon too!).
2. Kale: Ahhhh the glorious “Queen of Greens“. I absolutely adore kale ❤ It is a nutritional POWERHOUSE. Just one cup of kale is only roughly 33 calories and contains 9% calcium, 134% vitamin C, 206% vitamin A, and a riiiiidiculous 684% vitamin K (based on percent daily values). OH MAH GAWD. Kale is also high in potassium, which for us lifters means it will help lessen muscle cramps, and is an insanely better every day option when compared to other high potassium choices like bananas. It is also high in iron and fiber which makes it, like quinoa, good in making any meal more filling…. Personal sidenote: I began substituting the spinach in my protein shakes/smoothies for kale and found that what used to barely satisfy me for breakfast now not only fills me up but keeps me full for hours!
3. Eggs: INCREDIBLE EDIBLE EGGS 😀 Remember that nutritional tug-of-war I was talking about? Unfortunately these wonderful little guys have been a sad victim of that for far FAR too long. Thankfully, nutritionists are spreading the good news about eggs more these days and I am here to do that same. Many people remember the times when we were all told that devils wereeee well basically the anti-diet food. They were terrible for us and we needed to stop eating them. Then all of a sudden it was okay to eat eggs but ONLY the egg whites. It was imperative though that we ditch the yolk. The delicious yellow center of my favorite friends were just not to be consumed. So wait a minute… You mean eggs raised our cholesterol sooo we could eat them but we had to throw out all the amino acids and nutrients? Yup that makes perfect sense… Stop listening to ridiculous lies about eggs. Eggs are 1- quality protein, 2- good fats, 3- antioxidants (specifically lutein and zeaxanthine). One whole large egg is just 77 calories and contains 5g of fat and 6g of protein as well as ALL 9 essential amino acids. As far as your cholesterol goes… Eggs raise HDL which if your GOOD cholesterol. Also the yolk of the egg is the part that contains the enzyme we need to breakdown cholesterol. It is actually recommended that we each 1 egg a day, some even say 1.3 egg yolks a day. So go ahead, indulge those fantasizes you didn’t think you could and EAT THE WHOLE FREAKIN EGG.
4. Coconut: Okay I want to admit this and get it out of the way immediately… I was never a fan of coconut anything. If it was coconut flavored I did not want it. BLECH! So if you hate coconut, I feel ya. Trust me though, you want to implement the two things I am about to tell you about into your regular diet andddd, here’s the kicker, you will start to really appreciate them. Coconut is a kickass source of many things that help our body run really awesomely. The best way to get these benefits are via coconut water and coconut oil. Coconut water for one tastes amazing and is filled with natural electrolytes. So ditch those post-workout or post-game sports drinks and pick up some coconut water! Thumbs up. It provides power and energy and keeps us running like a well oiled machine. Coconut oil now is my favorite product for baking and cooking and all that jazz. It is super high in medium-chain fatty acids that boost our immune system and balance blood sugar levels. It is also a good source of antioxidants, speeds up the metabolism, and aids in digestion. So feel 100% all around? You betcha!
5. Sweet Potatoes: Okay, guilty again, like coconut I was not sweet potatoes biggest fan when I first tried these fantastic carb options. Like they taste like syrup. I mean am I right?! But recently, I have been giving them more of a shot andddd so far so good. Sweet potatoes are proclaimed as one of the healthiest veggies! My Irish blood craves potatoes like nothing. It is not even normal. So if you are like me give these bad boys a try and ditch those other fakers that are no good for us. Sweet potatoes are also a staple for bodybuilders or people in weight training for multiple reasons. The complex carbs are awesome for a roughly 90 minute pre-workout snack or meal because you will maintain your energy longer. And remember that potassium trick I told you about with kale? Well sweet potatoes contain that same essential mineral in a more beneficial source. They also contain aminos that you find in many protein powders and supplements; tyrosine, valine, and isoleucine. In addition, a 200g serving has 7g of fiber, 700% vitamin A, and over 100% vitamin C.
6. Tofu: Last but not least, one of the most infamous bad reps. Tofu often gets pointed out for being bland, boring, etc. BUT, like quinoa and just about every other plain and basic food that you guys eat, it takes on the flavor of anything you cook it with so it is SUPER versatile. Another question when it comes to tofu is whether it is actually a sufficient source of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans. It absolutely is a fantastic source of protein just not as densely. It about 290g of tofu to get the same amount of protein that you would get in 150g of lean meat. However, tofu has significantly lower cholesterol and fat that any meat. So it is definitely a good option to use as a protein source in your regular diet. Tofu is also rich in calcium, vitamin E, iron, and copper (which helps our bodies break down and utilize iron).
From the time we are children through our entire lives we all hear about posture. Whether it’s during those school pictures where we are told to sit sooooo upright we think our shoulders are going into lift-off or at the dinner table during a nice family event when our parents yelled at us for our poor etiquette as we are slouching over our soup bowl (or maybe that was just me… damn Italian Christmas). Whatever the reason we got a lecture on posture was, we’ve still all gotten one at some point. Some of us have learned from these lectures, some of us are part of a Chiropractic family and have heard it so many times our ears bleed so its engrained and has become a habit that we are very grateful to have, and then there are the rest of us… The ones who never learned that lesson. The ones who are going to face a rouuuuugh adulthood if it goes unfixed. The ones who need to never follow Drake’s example of a deadlift. (I still cringe when I see that video -_- like come ooooon man)
Step 1: Squeeze your butt as hard as you can.
You need to begin with setting your pelvis in a neutral position. Your glutes were made specifically for your pelvis and spine. So have your feet directly under your hips, plant your feet in the ground, and squeeze your butt.
Step 2: Pull your ribcage down.
Next your pelvis and ribcage need to be aligned. No over-extending and no rounding of the back. Pull your lower ribs in and balance them over your pelvis.
Step 3: Get your belly tight.
Now, keep your pelvis and ribcage in place with your abdominals. While still squeezing your glutes, take a big breath of air and then exhale; engaging your abs as you let the air out.
Step 4: Set your head in a neutral position and screw your shoulders into a stable position.
Last, center your head over your shoulders and gaze forward. Draw your shoulders back, spreading your collarbones, and release them down.