Tuesday, September 27, 2011

30 Day Challenge

I'm giving myself a challenge starting today and it's a big one for me. No sugar for 30 days. Anyone who knows me well will doubt that I can make it (I can do it Annalisa I swear!). I have a huge sweet tooth and while I used to be able to get away with it while training for Ironman-distance races, I need to curb it ASAP. 

I could eat sugar with every meal and in-between if I let myself. Somehow my almost 3-year-old daughter didn't inherit my downfall. She takes two bites of a cookie or a few licks of a lollipop and then announces that she's done. If not for my memory of how painful her labor was I would doubt that she was even related to me. I figure by posting it on my blog, it will help keep me accountable. Want to join me? 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fit Nursing Mamas

Wearing a supportive bra while working out is always important but even more so when you are pregnant or nursing. More than likely your breast size has increased so it's best to invest in new sports bras to support your new shape. Luckily there are some great sports bras that are supportive, allow easy access for nursing and aren't matronly-looking. The two fitness bras below are reasonably priced and while not marketed specifically for pregnant/nursing moms, are versatile enough for both. 

The Fiona Bra ($44) by Moving Comfort is what I am currently using and love. It's supportive, flattering and the front adjustable straps not only allow for a customized fit but also easy access for nursing. Best of all it comes in lots of fun colors!

The Rebound Racer ($48) also by Moving Comfort is a new bra in their line and one that I definitely want to try. It has the same front adjustable straps as the Fiona but has a more sporty look to it with panelled details and heathered fabric. 

The biggest difference is that the Rebound Racer has a racerback design (see picture) whereas the Fiona has a scoop back. In general a racerback design tends to be more supportive. 

Both are great bras for low to high impact exercise, have a large selection of sizes and are fashionable unlike most nursing specific fitness bras. Whether you are a mama to be or a nursing mama get out there and get moving!

Friday, September 16, 2011

10 Tips for Fueling Success

Photo credit Eva Kolenko
Being properly fueled while training or racing can mean the difference between finishing with a smile on your face or not finishing at all. There is definitely a balance in the number of calories you need to ingest during exercise. If you take in too few calories you risk bonking (low blood sugar resulting in sudden fatigue and loss of energy).  But if you take in too many calories you can inhibit your muscles from working properly. 

Here are my top ten tips to keep you moving in the right direction:

1)  Start your workout with a full tank.

  • Eat approximately 50-75 grams (200-300 calories) of carbohydrates before a workout to help increase your glycogen levels (your muscles’ primary fuel source during exercise). 
  • In addition, 2-3 hours prior to exercise you should drink about 15-20 fl oz of fluids to help with hydration.

2) Drink early and often. 

  • Losing even just 2% of your body weight from sweat loss can impair your performance, contribute to injuries or even worse, cause heat illness. 
  • Don’t use thirst as a guide to hydrating as this means you are already behind in your fluid replacement.

3) Stay hydrated throughout your workout. 

  • It is tough to recommend specific fluid replacement guidelines for exercise because of a variety of factors (individual weight, weather, intensity level, terrain, etc.). However, as a starting guideline, aim to drink approximately 8-10 oz every 15 minutes while exercising. 
  •  To help determine what your needs are, weigh yourself before and after exercising and for every 1lb lost, drink 20-24 fl oz of water to replace lost fluid. You can then modify your fluid needs as desired depending on the workout and other factors.

4) The one-hour rule.

  • When exercising longer than an hour it’s important to take in carbohydrates and electrolytes, especially in warmer weather. 
  • In general, ingesting between 60-90 grams (200-360 calories) of carbohydrates per hour of exercise will result in the greatest performance benefit.

5) What to drink. 

  • As mentioned in #4, water is adequate when exercising less than an hour.
  • When a sports drink is needed to help replace your fluids and electrolytes, research shows that the ideal carbohydrate concentration is between 6-8%. A higher concentration is likely to cause gastrointestinal distress and a lower concentration will likely result in a loss of performance.

6) Practice, practice, practice! 

  • As mentioned above, your exact caloric intake requirement will vary depending on your weight, your stomach’s tolerance, the length of time of your workout and the intensity level at which you are exercising.  Therefore, it is very important that you practice during training to see what drinks/foods your stomach will tolerate and how much.

7) Choose something easily digested.

  • Stick with sports drinks, gels, energy bars, bananas or other small snacks that are easily absorbed.
  • There are many different types of energy replacement foods and drinks out on the market. To help find something that is right for you, visit your local bike or running store (such as Fleet Feet Sports), as many of them will have a variety of brands and flavors as well as trained employees to help educate you about the products

8) Avoid sugar overload.

  • While many of the energy replacement foods (gels, chews, jelly beans, etc.) are fast-acting and an easy-to-digest source of carbohydrates, be sure to drink water rather than a sports drink with them. Drinking water helps enhance absorption and avoid gastrointestinal distress from a sugar overload.

9) Race day rules. 

  • On race morning, eat the same foods that you are used to eating everyday. Never experiment with new foods before or during a race. 
  • It’s best to wake up about 3 hours before your event to get in a good breakfast. Additionally, about 2 hours before your race start is when you should be finished eating solid foods so that your body can properly digest its food and be prepared to race.

10) Post-exercise fueling. 

  • Carbohydrate intake and hydration are very important for recovery and sustaining energy levels after exercising. Try to eat approximately .5 grams (2 calories) of carbohydrates for every 1lb you weigh within 2 hours after exercising to help replenish your glycogen stores. 
  • Protein is also important, but at a lesser amount than the carbohydrates. Some experts recommend a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 4-to-1, while other recommend a 2-to-1 ratio. Experiment to find the best ratio for you (your needs may vary depending on the intensity level of each workout as well).

Happy training and racing!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September is National Yoga Month

Have you ever wanted to try yoga or just see what it's about? Here's your chance as September is National Yoga Month! The best part is that yoga studios across the country are offering free classes to encourage you to give it a try and, in the words of the Yoga Month website, "inspire a healthy lifestyle." Over 1,600 studios across the country are offering a free week of yoga classes through October. Just register on the Yoga Month website to find a local participating studio near you and get your zen on.
To further inspire you to try a class, here are some of my current favorite yoga pieces to wear so you'll look and feel good. 
Grab a fun printed top that will liven up your wardrobe. I love the mauve colored sandstone inspired print from prAna in the Leyla Top ($60) and also the green peacock batik print from prAna in the Sonja Top ($48). Even better though is the fact that these two tops are made from a recycled, moisture-wicking, performance blend fabric called Veeda so you can feel good about your purchase. Both have internal shelf bras for support and a fun criss-cross back design.   
If you need a bit more support up top, the Grace Tank ($64) from Zobha is great for larger busted women. It comes in a variety of fun colors/prints which is hard to come by in the more supportive tops. And how cute is the Space Dye Tinker Tank ($49) from Athleta with it's side tie and ruching detail at the top. I love the fact that it has a loose, flowy cut which is something I look for these days as I try to get back into shape after baby #2. It comes in some other great fabric choices and is also available in plus sizes.
The Mackenzie Capri ($68) is another prAna item on my "To Buy" list. The side tie shirred waistband adds a little flair to this cute capri. A capri is a great first investment in yoga wear as they are more versatile when it comes to changing seasons. The Low Rise Crop Capri ($50) from Nike is a very popular capri with runners but can easily be used for yoga as well. The striped waistband is surprisingly flattering and each season Nike has come out with great new colors that coordinate with the rest of its line. It also has a convenient small pocket on the back and ergonomic seaming for a great fit. 
Finally, let's not forget about the men! The Asics ecoline® Short Sleeve top, is made up of a recycled Hydrology® fabric that is not only moisture wicking but also eco-friendly. At $38, the Asics top is a pretty good deal for both a performance and eco-friendly material. It's also versatile enough to use whether running, taking a yoga class or for any other sweat-inducing activity. Another great top is the Nike Pro Combat Fitted Shirt ($25) also made of a moisture wicking material and comes in a variety of different colors. It has a more body hugging fit which is designed to move with you as you master those new yoga poses.
The prAna Sutra Pant, ($65) shown here in the Espresso color, is made of a lightweight blend of hemp, organic cotton and a bit of spandex for a comfortable in your pjs type of feel. The relaxed fit pant also has two front pockets and is available in sizes XS-XXL. The Kung Fu Pant ($98) from Lululemon also has a roomy feel and is made of a 4-way stretch breathable fabric for a comfy feel. It also has two front pockets and while it only runs in S-XL sizes, it is available in 'Tall' sizes unlike the Sutra Pant.

Regardless of what you decide to wear, get out there and try that yoga class you've been talking about this September or October for free!