Saturday, December 31, 2011

Men In Black

Let's face it, while men want to look good, they also want simplicity when it comes to dressing. These two versatile pieces from North Face do just that and can save you money as well. Whether you are working out or hanging out, these slick looking options from North Face are an easy way to expand your wardrobe.

The 'Apex Bionic' Softshell Vest ($99) has a windproof, water-resistant exterior fabric and a soft fleece lining to keep you warm and comfortable. With it's tailored fit and always in-style black color, you'll look cool without looking like you are trying.

The 'Surgent' Print Hoodie ($75) is made of a cutting edge fabric with UPF 50 that is also treated with a sanitized silver anti- odor treatment which not only wicks sweat but also prevents the formation of odor-causing bacteria. The hoodie gives it that relaxed, casual look while the simple print gives it just enough edginess to get you noticed. Pair it with jeans or workout pants and you'll be looking hip. - Shop the Men's Half-Yearly Sale

Friday, December 30, 2011

My 5 Favorite Lower Body Stretches

One of my new year's resolutions is to stretch more so I thought I would share some of my favorite stretches with you. While there are different opinions as to whether you should stretch before or after exercise, most experts recommend stretching after exercise. You should try to incorporate stretching into your weekly workout routine as stretching can increase your flexibility, resulting in improved performance and decreased risk of injury.

The five stretches below all are glute/hip related and if you read my recent post you'll know why I focus on this area. Of course, there are many more stretches you can do but these are just some of my favorites. If any of the stretches below do not feel comfortable or are painful, please refrain from doing them.

Before you start, here are some general guidelines for safe stretching:
  • Never stretch cold muscles; warm up for at least 5-10 minutes or wait until after your workout to begin your stretching routine.
  • Do not bounce while stretching as you can injure yourself by creating small tears in the muscle. Instead, move slowly into a stretch, hold the stretch for approximately 30 seconds, and then switch sides and repeat.
  • Do not over-stretch. You want to feel a slight pull/tightness in the muscle when stretching but never pain. As the muscle relaxes and you no longer feel a tightness, you can stretch a bit further until you feel that same tightness again.

1. Seated Gluteal Stretch:
The gluteal muscles are a set of three muscles that make up your buttocks. They serve to extend and rotate your hip outward, in addition to extending your trunk.
    1. Begin seated with both legs extended out. 
    2. Bend one leg up and cross your foot over your other leg placing your foot on the ground.
    3. Twist your body towards the leg that is bent and use your opposite arm to press your leg towards your chest feeling a slight stretch.
    4. Maintain good posture by keeping your back straight.
    5. Hold for approximately 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

2. Crossover Stretch: The crossover stretch will help to release your hips, iliotibial (IT) band and lower back.
    1. Lie down with your legs straight and your arms extended out to the side.
    2. Bend one knee up towards your chest and place your opposite hand on your knee.
    3. Slowly pull your knee across your body towards the ground until you feel a slight stretch.
    4. Hold for approximately 15-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

3. Piriformis Stretch: The piriformis muscle is one of the muscles that make up your buttocks and helps to rotate your hip outward.
    1. Lie down on your back with both knees bent.
    2. Cross one leg across the other resting your ankle just above your knee.
    3. Lift your bottom leg off of the ground and grab underneath your knee with both hands.
    4. Slowly pull your leg towards your chest until you feel a slight stretch.
    5. Hold for approximately 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

4. Pigeon Hip Stretch: The pigeon stretch will help to release your hips- in particular, the gluteus maximus, minimus, and the piriformis muscles.
    1. Kneel down on all fours and bring one leg forward with your knee bent in between your arms.
    2. Extend your opposite leg out behind you and slowly press your front hip down until you feel a slight stretch.
    3. Maintain good posture by keeping your back straight.
    4. For a deeper stretch, slowly lean forward onto your forearms.
    5. Hold for approximately 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

5. Hip Flexor Stretch: The hip flexors are a group of muscles that serve to bend at the hip and lift your knees up.
    1. Kneel down with one leg in front of you with your knee bent.
    2. Slowly lean forward with your hips until you feel a slight stretch.
    3. Maintain good posture by tightening your stomach muscles and keeping your back straight.
    4. Hold for approximately 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Hope this helps motivate you all to stretch a bit more!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Be Seen

We had a terrible tragedy in the town that I live in this last week and it has prompted me to post this important topic sooner than I had planned. A 25-year-old law school student was killed while running on a foggy morning.  And while any death is tragic, it's particularly heart wrenching when it's a young person. My heavy heart goes out to her family.

Please, whether you run at night, in fog or in any inclement weather, be sure to wear something extra visible to motorists. Here are some options from a variety of vendors to help keep you visible:

  • Brooks Running makes an entire NightLife reflective line with both apparel and accessories so you can make sure you're visible. Here are a couple of key pieces from the line:

                                                  Nightlife Hat                    Men's Essential Run Vest

  • IllumiNITE makes some great jackets, hats and other performance apparel with a unique visible reflective design.

  • Nathan also has some great accessory pieces including arm and leg bands which are perfect for cycling.

  • lucy Activewear also has some nice reflective pieces with a cute dotted pattern for added reflectivity in the evenings.
                                           Run Tech Hat                       Fire Me Up Long Sleeve Top

Be seen and be safe!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ruffle Revival

As I mentioned before, ruffles are back as one of the season's hottest trends and they will continue to be in 2012 as well. I love how this Zella 'Ruffle Statement' Jacket ($98) from looks very sporty from the front with its body enhancing lines but has a playful, layered ruffle inset on the back. In addition, the pleats on the shoulders give it a slight puff for even more of a feminine flair.

With it's fitted tailoring and flirty ruffle detail in the back, you'll definitely make a statement both entering and leaving a room.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Journey Back to Running

Heading out for a run with Layla.
I have mentioned before in my blog that I am slowly easing my way back into running after having two babies and a fairly invasive hip surgery in between. I said I would explain, so here goes...

I first developed a pain in my groin area while pregnant with my first daughter and chalked it up to pregnancy pains. However, it never went away after giving birth and every time I tried to start running again it would hurt and I would develop a related, nagging injury along with it. I decided to just stop running until after I was done nursing to give myself more time to heal but it just got worse and worse. It hurt getting out of the car, playing with my daughter or even when walking longish distances. The final straw was when I went out for an easy bike ride and my hip locked up not even 2 miles down the road. After countless trips to different doctors without a definitive answer I finally started to think, "Am I crazy?  Is this all in my head?"

Nope. Hallejuha, finally an answer from a sports doc that told me what the problem was. I had something called FAI (femoroacetabular impingement) which was a fairly new diagnosis and likely why the other doctor's didn't diagnose me correctly.  FAI causes abnormal friction in your hip joint due to an excess of bone on the ball (femoral head) and/or the socket (acetabulum) thus creating damage in the joint. There are two forms of FAI, called cam and pincer, and generally you will have one or the other. I had both. Winner!

After learning more about what FAI was, it all started to make sense. I retired from triathlons partially because I was so frustrated with all of the injuries I developed. It seemed as though I could never reach my potential because a nagging injury would always come up. It turns out that the majority of those injuries were a result of my hips not working properly due to FAI.

I also quickly learned that in my case, I would require surgery. Yikes. Hip surgery at age 30-ish? I was lucky to find a doctor a couple of hours away from us that was one of the top experts on FAI. He confirmed the diagnosis and I set up a date for surgery soon after. He was honest and told me he wasn't sure I would be able to run again as it would depend on what he found during the surgery.

During surgery, the doctor shaved down the bone on both my acetabulum and femur so that my hip would hopefully work better. As far as damage in the joint, he found that part of my labrum had been damaged beyond repair so it had to be removed. In addition, I had a small section of bone that was damaged (from a fall I took on my bike) and he had to do microfracture on it to hopefully stimulate some cartilage growth in order to strengthen it.

After the surgery I got the news: I would be able to run. Yay!  Lucky for me, the microfracture was in an area that isn't a concern for running and the other work he did on the joint would not prevent me from running either.

Of course, getting back to running took a long time. First, I had to be on crutches for eight weeks with no weight-bearing. Then I couldn't run until 6 months out to make sure the microfracture healed. While the six months seemed like a long time, it had already been about two years at that point so I could wait (what's another six months?). 

However, six months later and about four weeks into starting to run again, I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, so running would have to wait again. Fine by me. I could wait as I didn't want to put any more pressure on my hips at that point and figured that would just give it more time to heal. 

After having my second daughter, I'm happy to say that I'm back to running. Granted, my pace is slower and my distances are shorter but I'm running again! After having gone through what I did, I have a new perspective on running. I feel lucky that I simply can run and will never take it for granted. I hope to be able to race again at some point but if my hips can't take it I'll truly be happy just running for fitness. 

Give your body a big thank you for what it allows you to do!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Last Minute Gifts for Your Fit Lady

Gentlemen, it's not too late to get your favorite fit lady a great gift in time for Christmas. Here are a few ideas:

The Sexy Back Tank ($59) by Lucy -  great for yoga, pilates or any low-impact exercise. And the back is, well, sexy.  Need I say more guys?

The Sculpted Power Jacket by Lucy ($128) is just plain gorgeous. This multipurpose coat can be worn to a yoga class or out to coffee with a favorite pair of jeans. With a flattering fit and a fold-over collar that can be adjusted for different looks, your lady will love this.

From etsy, the Love Half Marathon necklace ($27) made of sterling silver. A cute way for your lady to show off her love for running.

The prAna Julz Hoodie Top is made of a thin, almost sheer material that is very soft. It comes in a variety of pretty colors and prints and has a very flattering fit. I own one and love it as a stylish but comfortable cover-up and I always receive compliments.

Performance compression socks are all the rage right now with endurance athletes. They are said to help your overall performance by increasing blood circulation and decreasing recovery time.  These CEP Women's Running O2 Compression Socks come with a 30 day money back guarantee so there's nothing to lose.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Booty Barre Class Review

I mentioned a while back that I wanted to try a Booty Barre class - well, today was the day! I tagged along with my good friend Clare to one of her regular classes and she showed me the ropes. 

Booty Barre is described as a combination of cardio, ballet, yoga and pilates and it did not disappoint. It was a great mix of upper and lower body work and we used a variety of props (a ballet bar, a Bosu balance ball, a playground ball, a mat and hand weights) throughout the hour long class that kept things fun. My favorite move was called "Ride the Stallion" and yes I giggled in class but who wouldn't with a name like that (you know you would too!).

Besides the variety, the class is physically challenging. Thinking it wouldn't be that challenging going in, I decided to do a quick 2-mile run as I had a bit of time before the class started. Well, it was a good thing I only had time for 2 miles because anything more and I may not have finished the class. It was exhausting - it definitely worked my booty and then some. At one point I thought my arms would fall off but I just told myself that it was worth it and I sucked it up.

Anyone who has done a bit of ballet or gymnastics in their past will particularly love these classes. It works all those little muscles in your hips and glute area that are so often neglected. What I loved best of all was the variety in the class that will help tighten and tone your overall body. Although I felt like an uncoordinated teenager at times, I will definitely be back.  And I know I'll get better (and stronger) with time.

Don't be shy, try a class! You can find one in your area here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Sock"ing Stuffers

Once again I failed to not buy something for myself while Christmas shopping yesterday. Oops! I was at my local Fleet Feet Sports picking up some fun stocking stuffers and couldn't help but buy a pair of Sock Guy socks as they always have such fun prints.

So, if you are looking for a great stocking stuffer, check out Sock Guy socks for your favorite runner or cyclist at your local running or bike shop.  If you can't find any locally, here are some of my favorite ones...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Find the Time

My friend posted this great video on her Facebook today and I couldn't help but re-post. They use a unique presentation to convey a very important message about regular exercise. Check it out...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gluten Free Salmon Recipe

This is for my gluten-free friends! While I am not eating completely gluten-free, I have been adjusting my diet a bit to try and limit the amount of refined sugar and white flour that I eat. I have been loving this easy baked salmon recipe for many months now and while it isn't exactly unhealthy I wanted to try and experiment to see if I could substitute the bread crumbs for something even healthier.

Success! My new recipe tastes even better in my opinion and best of all, the whole family including my 3-year old daughter loves it. In addition, it's so easy to make and takes little time to prep.

Here is the new recipe for you to try if you like:

Ingredients: (4 servings)
4 salmon fillets (3-4 oz each)
3 tablespoons of dijon mustard (Grey Poupon is what I use - and its gluten free)
Dash of salt & pepper
1/3 cup of almond meal/coconut flour mix (see below) instead of bread crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter

Almond meal/coconut flour mix: combine a 50:50 mix of almond meal and coconut flour. Many health food stores carry these products (in fact, Trader Joe's usually carries almond flour) but if you can't find them you can get them herehere. There is something about these two ingredients that make this topping the perfect combination for salmon with a subtle coconutty taste that is delicious!

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Place salmon skin-side down (we have the butcher remove the skin for us) on a non-stick aluminum baking dish
3. Use a silicone brush to spread a thin layer of dijon mustard covering each of the fillets and then season with salt and pepper.
4. Top the fillets with the almond/coconut mix (not too thick) and then pour the melted butter on top.
5. Bake for 15 minutes

(Pardon the not so professional photos as they were taken with my iPhone!)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Top 10 Gifts for the Runner in Your Life - 2011

As you know, instead of my usual monthly picks post, I'm posting a few sport-specific holiday gift lists for the athlete in your life (not to mention yourself!).  See my previous post here.

1. Foot Rubz Massager - Great as a stocking stuffer or combine it with a new pair of your runner's favorite shoes. This little ball brings great relief to sore, tired feet and is my favorite tool to use while watching TV.

2. The Stick - A must have for every runner, The Stick is a great self-massage tool and will save you from having to massage your favorite runner all the time.

3. Runner's World Desk Calendar & 12 Months of Motivation Calendar - More than just calendars, both give your runner tips on everything from training to nutrition to injury prevention.

4. iTunes Gift Certificate -  Motivate your runner with the gift of new music.
Apple iTunes

5. Moving Comfort Form Long Sleeve Men's HVAC Synergy LS - Both lightweight tops are great by themselves or for layering. The Form Long Sleeve is on my list as I love the soft, seamless material and the flattering fit. While you can't see it in the picture below, it has a gorgeous embossed pattern which makes it even more chic.
The men's HVAC Synergy LS top has UV 40+ sun protection and is made of the amazing X-Static® material which fights odor and is moisture-wicking.

6. Running Laptop Covers - For the runner that has it all, a neoprene computer cover with clever running quotes can be found at There are many different designs but my favorite is below.

7. Personalized Runners Necklace - Surprise your runner with a personalized running necklace from Etsy. Unique and meaningful, they'll love you for it!

8. Photo Finish Frame - Capture your runner's favorite race with this special frame that holds a picture, medal and bib number.

9. Yurbuds Earphones - I just got myself a pair and they rock!  Finally earphones that don't fall out while you are working-out.  Sweatproof and made of soft silicone for a great fit.

10. Nike+ GPS Sportswatch - This stylish sportswatch features TomTom GPS and tracks your time, speed, distance, pace, calories burned and so much more!