Keeping On Track When You Take Time Off

As the summer comes quickly to a close, you may be considering one last vacation weekend, something to rejuvenate you before the hubbub of fall schedules hits.  Or you may be considering a longer vacation, some time away from all of the daily madness.  For some, a vacation means sailing to a destination, and then hanging out, paper-umbrella topped drinks in hand while occupying a poolside chaise lounge. For others, it is a first-class flight to a foreign country, to feast on the national dishes, tour the cultural capitals and photograph the scenery. Still others might choose a boat-towing drive to the shore or lake cabin for a family reunion of barbecues and late-night marshmallow toasts around the campfire.  All of these ideas are wonderful, meant to soothe our tired spirits.

But the question becomes, where does the daily running or walking workout fit into your vacation vision?

See the sights and log your miles!
See the sights and log your miles!

Staying fit during your fun time off isn’t a chore if it’s part of your plans.  Here are some tips to help you stay on track, even when you’re taking time off:

Take Yes.Fit with you: The easiest thing to pack is your Yes.Fit login and then log your miles from your smart phone. You keep track of your workouts, do a virtual run or walk and maintain your progress no matter where you travel, and the online community keeps you motivated.

Find a race and get a cool souvenir: A race T-shirt and bib from a new city is a great way to remember your visit while getting a workout and meeting new people. Running In The USARunner’s World and Active list races for every state and include sign up information.

Plan your visit but leave some free time: Don’t over-schedule your days with things to see and do. You won’t have the energy or the time to work out.   Build that time into your schedule so you can hold yourself accountable.

Contact the local running community: If the area is unfamiliar to you, contact someone in the closest running club for suggestions on where and when it is safest to run. Buddy up with some of their members; you make new friends while sharing workout tips and other important information, including the locations of the best bars and restaurants in town.

Chose your hotel wisely: If you are not fond of running in an unfamiliar place, consider a hotel with a running track or treadmills. If these amenities are not available, check with management for reciprocal use of a nearby gym.

It’s all about trade offs: The best baguette in Paris, peerless pasta Bolognese in Rome, superlative steins of beer in Munich – all those calories come at a price. Staying with your exercise program gives you more food flexibility and a little less guilt.

Running or walking for exercise on vacation is an enhancement: you meet new people, see the cityscape from a different perspective, get a unique (and wearable) souvenir and maintain your long-term goal of living for a healthy lifetime.

Cheat Day: Tips For Not Going Overboard

Did you know August 10th is National Lazy Day?  It is!  In honor of National Lazy Day, we here at Yes.Fit thought we’d talk about our favorite day of the week, Cheat Day!

It’s finally here! The day you’ve been waiting for all week. The time when you reward yourself for all of the squats, presses, curls, extensions, and miles that you put in at the gym or out on your Yes.Fit challenge. Yes, we are talking about none other than Cheat Day! A day so glorious that your taste buds cry out for it and your mouth waters just hearing its name. Okay, so it’s here.  Now what? Do you choose to completely fulfill every food fantasy of yours in one sitting? Or do you play it a little smarter and use restraint while still making healthier alternative choices for arguably the best day of the week by workout enthusiasts? We say the latter is the best choice and you will be glad you did so as to not totally go off the rails and set yourself back in regards to your fitness goals. Here are a few cheat day food suggestions that are sure to give you the taste you crave without all of the regrets the next day:

1. Sweet Potato Fries – The key is to trick your mind into thinking it’s eating calorie-packed, greasy, salty, fast food french fries when in reality, you’re getting a low-glycemic, healthier alternative that actually tastes amazing! Sprinkle with a little coarse pepper and sea salt, and you are in for a treat!

2. Low Fat Ice Cream – Pick your favorite flavor and to balance this sinfully sweet delight off right, crumble your favorite protein bar on top to add a healthy kick while avoiding the sugar crash!

3. Whole Wheat Pizza – Quite possibly the greatest cheat meal ever devised, however, let’s give pizza a makeover shall we? Create your own healthier substitute with a whole wheat crust, low-fat cheese, fresh tomatoes, and any other topping your little heart desires. Don’t forget the spices and herbs!

4. Lean Turkey Burger – Skip the 1,500 calorie monstrosity of a cheeseburger you can get at a drive through window, and create your own that’s still worthy enough to fall on Cheat Day. Add cheese, reduced fat bacon, and throw it on a whole wheat bun, and you will never look at a fast food burger the same!

The key to never completely going overkill on Cheat Day is to make creative choices and trick your brain into thinking it’s actually getting what it ultimately desires. Remember, there is always a healthier alternative out there, and if there isn’t, you probably don’t need to eat it anyway. For more healthy living ideas, good lifestyle choices, and to hear stories from our fitness community, visit us today!

Trusting Your Body

I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of voices that compete for my attention when it’s time to workout.

There’s Mr. Responsibility, the one that keeps an eye on the training plan, progress toward my goals and how much time I have to exercise on any given day.  He’s also really good about tracking calories in and out, water and cares a lot about those numbers that pop up on my apps and devices.

There’s Doubting Dude, the one who makes me question why I set goals, whether the progress I am making is really meaningful, and sometimes even the point of working out at all.  His favorite days are rest days. Obviously.

And there’s Ms. Overachieving Optimist, she is pretty sure that today I can go even faster and farther than yesterday, so that I can get all the miles in and get to work on time and finish everything on the never-ending task list. 

It can get pretty noisy in my head some days, which is why, in the end, I have to listen to my body.  As a first-thing-in-the-morning workout person, I have learned to let that crew chatter while I lay in bed and take inventory of aches, stiff joints, or sore muscles, starting at my toes and working my way up.  Are they new or lingering, better or worse? Did I get enough sleep to work, play and exercise safely?  

Once I’m up and dressed and headed out to do my walk (or swim or ride), I let the crowd go at it again while I warm up and stretch. We can usually come up with a compromise plan that fits my schedule and my plan, then I trust my body to let me know how hard to push.

During workouts and races, I listen to the cadence of my breathing. Am I gasping and irregular or have I found a solid rhythm that allows my lungs to fill and empty, but not too easily?

I check in with calves and shoulders and other muscle groups that burn or get tight if I’m out of form or not breathing well. Since I live in a really flat region, when I travel and find myself out on hills, I pay close attention to new aches and pains caused by different terrain.

I’ve also learned the hard way to keep tabs on those spots where shoes, clothes and other gear can rub blisters or leave rashes. Better to pause for a quick adjustment than to nurse a wound for several days!

It has been fun to push myself to go longer, faster and farther, especially now that I know the difference between the voices in my head and the messages my body is sending.  Getting stronger has also helped me become a better listener, and being a better listener is helping me get stronger with fewer injuries.

What signals are you learning to trust as you listen to your body?

Contributed by community member Laurie V. 

Music as a Training Tool

Isn’t it amazing how music has the power to move us? Move us to dance. Move us to sing.  Move us to feel. Move us to remember. Move us to tears. And of course what is useful for this purpose, move us to move faster.

A couple of songs in my playlist that move me are Don’t Stop Believing (I like the version from the Rock of Ages soundtrack) and Fight Song by Rachel Platten. These two songs show a couple of the different ways that music can move us, can give us power.

Don’t Stop Believing moves me not necessarily because of the words of the song, but more so because of the concept of the title and the idea behind the song — to not stop believing in myself — and that whatever it is that I want to accomplish, I can make it happen.  The song just happens
to have a good beat to it too, so it works well for a walking playlist.

With Fight Song, the lyrics have a very moving message. I was introduced to this song by my sister-in- law when I was looking for some songs for my walking playlist last summer. I listened to the little clip on iTunes, thought it sounded like it had a good rhythm to it, bought it and added
it to the playlist. The first time I listened to the whole song was in the middle of a walk. It moved me so much, I had tears in my eyes before it was over. It felt like the words were describing exactly how I felt when I was approaching the finish line of my first 5k race earlier in the year.
Any song that makes me want to get up and move is game for me to add to my playlists. And I can get song inspiration from just about anywhere – playlists shown in magazines, posts asking for song ideas in groups I’m part of on Facebook, TV shows, commercials – literally anywhere!
I’ve been known to look up episodes of shows on IMDB to see what a song was or use the app Soundhound to identify one I hear on the radio.

Listening to music during workouts can help you work out longer and make workouts more enjoyable. Besides finding music that makes you want to move, the key to using music to increase your speed is to choose songs with increasing beats per minute (BPM). The higher the BPM, the
faster the beat of the music and the faster you’ll want to move!
Now many of you may think, “I go at the pace I go and what I’m listening to doesn’t or won’t impact it.” And that may be true. But for most, I’m willing to bet your pace is influenced by the pace of the music pumping into your ears, the beat getting into your subconscious.  Making your
heart beat faster. Making you move your fingers. Making you tap your toes, if you were sitting down, that is. Making you want to move… faster.
Here are a couple of specific examples of the impact of music on my pace.

Last fall, when I was just getting my weight loss journey in full swing, I had not been finding the time to put together a playlist and was just shuffling my full music library as I walked. Then after I created a walking playlist, I reduced my pace on my next 33-mile walk from 19 minutes 41
seconds (19:41) per mile to 18:58.

Recently, I got a new phone and hadn’t recreated my playlists yet. So instead of being able to listen to one of my usual playlists with high pace songs, I had to go shuffle my library like way back last summer, and it definitely slowed my pace a fair amount not having that structured
music.

A couple of good websites I found for checking the BPM of songs are Song BPM and BPM Database. There are also a number of BPM apps, but I haven’t tried them.  The BPM you want for music will depend on your activity. There is a good chart available here that provides the BPM for various categories of walking and jogging, as well as running, cycling, stair climbers and ellipticals, and even a suggested BPM for yoga and pilates.

Create a playlist of songs with similar beats per minute to stay at a steady pace throughout your walk or run. Or sprinkle in songs with higher beats per minute to add faster intervals and increase your overall pace.

Contributed by community member Joanna H.

Ten Minute Mindfulness

 

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the moment. We often focus so hard on the health of the body that we forget to consider the health of our minds. Mindfulness helps us to accept the moment for what it is, not what it was or what it might become. Why is this important to fitness? Mindfulness is an exercise of the brain, helping to control emotions and maintain awareness of the present. Because of the impact on the mind and spirit, mindfulness helps relieve the physical pain of anxiety and stress, and can help you refocus on fitness or other goals – whatever those goals may be! Here are a few quick mindfulness practices you can fit into your daily routine:

Coloring-By now, we’ve all probably heard of or seen the adult coloring books that have swept the nation. These actually have a purpose! Try sitting down with a handful of colored pencils, crayons, or markers, and color for ten minutes. Focusing only on the picture in front of you, concentrate on the colors and how they interact with one another on the page. After ten minutes, you may experience a calmer, more aware state of mind!

Breathing-Deep breathing sounds simple, right? When breathing with intention, we may begin to influence our internal bodily functions, decreasing heart rate and blood pressure. Take ten minutes (or as long as you like), and go somewhere quiet. Try walking outside of the office or into an empty room of your house. Close your eyes and breathe in, expanding your lungs fully. Slowly breathe the oxygen back out. Imagine the positivity flowing in and negativity leaving your body. Intentionally breathe deep and slow, concentrating only on the sensations you feel while breathing. The point of this is to decrease the clutter in your brain and calm your body. Whether you are feeling emotional or you are calm, this activity can help keep you centered!

Meditation-Meditation is a practice that can take some time to master, but simple and short practice creates a sense of mindfulness even for beginners! To begin a short, simple meditation, try breathing in while counting to five, hold the breath while counting to three, and let the breath out slowly while counting to five again. Concentrate on breathing deep into your belly, notice your stomach expand with the healthy breath in, and notice it deflate as you exhale. Repeat this process for five to ten minutes, only focusing on your physical sensations in order to clear your mind and reset your body!

Awareness-Sometimes finding a quiet space for breathing or meditation is not possible. Sometimes our lives are so chaotic or hectic, we just do not have space in our schedule to take ten minutes away from everything. Why not try mindfulness right where you are? Whether you are at work, taking care of household chores, at the gym, or jogging through the neighborhood, practicing awareness in the moment is possible. It is as easy as taking note of your five senses! Focus on only the sensory elements, and not on your thoughts. What do you feel through touch? What do you smell? Taste? See? Hear? Continue this process to take note of first one of each sense, and then repeat to identify two, then three. Keep repeating until you are no longer focusing on the commotion of your busy brain!

Mindfulness is a long-used practice that encourages a healthy mindset. At Yes.Fit, health and wellness in everyday life are priorities. With a healthy mind, body, and spirit we can all reach our goals!

Five Reasons To Participate In A Summer 5K

If you’ve never participated in a 5K, you may be wondering what all the buzz is about. It seems like everyone lately is competing in a race, whether as a company team building event or to raise money for a good cause. Many races at the 5K level allow participants the option of walking or running, so these races are accessible for everyone! It’s a great place to begin if you have an interest in becoming a runner or want to challenge yourself. Here are five reasons that you should make 2017 the year you complete your first 5K.

Your Body – It’s great exercise and a fantastic way to burn calories.   Work on getting in shape by having tons of fun at the race!

Your Heart – You need cardio in your workout regimen. It’s what keeps your heart healthy and has been shown to naturally lower cholesterol and your blood pressure.  Running and walking are great cardiovascular exercises.  Lace up those shoes, and get your heart rate up!

Your Mind – Running is one of those exercises where you don’t need to count reps or follow steps to a specific beat. All you have to do is breathe and move one foot in front of the other until you reach your destination. This means that your mind is free to wander. You can clear out the day’s stressors and enjoy the freedom of going wherever your running shoes take you.

Your Spirit  – Select a race where your entry fee will benefit a cause that is important to you. You benefit from the exercise and an awesome charity or cause benefits too.  That’s a win-win!

Your Social Life – When you begin running or walking regularly and participating in races, you will meet new people. Your expanded social circle will allow you to develop relationships with people who have similar interests and possibly get you going even longer distances.   Have fun, meet new folks, and get fit.  What isn’t to love?

Of course, if joining your closest friends in a race corral is not for you, maybe you can get together with your best buds, form your own 5K team and route, and join us for a Yes.Fit challenge!

7 Important Things to Know About Fueling For a Workout

Picture this scenario. You just got off of work. You make your way home, change into your favorite new workout attire, and with a water bottle in hand, get in your car and make your way to your favorite place, the gym! Work was superb, and you just heard your favorite song come on the radio as you miraculously get lucky with a front row parking spot! You suddenly remember you haven’t eaten a thing since lunch, but your adrenaline and excitement levels are so high that you decide to not worry too much about it. As you begin your workout, you feel more sluggish than normal. The weights feel heavier, and your energy level that was so high only a few minutes ago seems to have vanished into thin air, as you struggle to squeeze out 10 reps when normally 20 is a breeze. You start to feel your blood sugar drop and you find you need to sit down on a bench.  You wonder what has happened. “I know I should have eaten something,” you mutter to yourself, as you decide to cut your workout short.

Food is fuel!
Food is fuel!

The moral of this story is that it’s important to understand how big a role food plays when preparing to work out.  Fueling your body before a workout is the same as fueling a jet plane before a long, rigorous flight. Both are not going to go anywhere without gas in the tank. We at Yes.Fit have compiled a list of 7 important things to know about fueling for a workout:

1. Sustained energy – A properly balanced meal before your next workout will ensure you have plenty of energy to perform all of your exercises to the end with even some to spare!  Giving your body appropriate fuel will provide stable, sustainable energy to keep you going.

2. Increased strength – With fuel in the tank, you will be able to go further in your reps, sets, and even maybe break your own personal record!  Your muscles need energy to burn.

3. Carbohydrates are key – As part of your pre-workout meal, make sure to include slow-digesting, low glycemic carbs to ensure a steady release of energy to kick your workout’s butt! Examples are sweet potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice.

4. Nutrient timing – Make sure you consume your meal according to when you plan on working out. You do not want to let too much or too little time pass between fueling up and the start of your workout. Approximately 30-45 minutes prior is adequate enough time to let food properly start to digest.

5. Low blood sugar – Not eating properly before a work out could potentially be dangerous for your body depending on your conditioning level.  If your body isn’t adequately fueled, you could experience blood sugar drops.   Symptoms of low blood sugar could include headaches, nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue, and shakiness.  If you continue to experience symptoms like these, please consult a doctor immediately.

6. Don’t overwhelm or underwhelm your digestive system – Give your body the proper number of calories it needs to achieve a phenomenal workout. If you’re not sure, try the “hand and fist” method. The size of your hand is a great guesstimate of the amount of protein, and the size of your fist for the number of carbohydrates you particularly need!

7. Refuel mid-exercise – If you find that your energy is diminishing half-way through your workout, even though you ate beforehand, it can’t hurt to eat something small to increase your blood sugar for the second half. A banana or your favorite protein bar should do the trick!

Fueling with the proper food before a workout not only guarantees that you will give your body and muscles the energy and strength it needs to perform its best, but it will also help to avoid any unwanted, unsafe drops in blood sugar that could turn a fab day into a drab day. Working out is fun, exhilarating, and rewarding. Make sure your next time at the gym, at home, or wherever you decide to break a sweat is just that! Visit us for more helpful tips and stories from The Global Leader in Virtual Races & Fitertainment™.

Running and Walking Safety And Awareness

We read frequently about tips to help us become a better, stronger, faster runner, or suggestions on how to improve our physical fitness, but we often overlook a key aspect of any running or walking routine – safety and awareness.  This is especially important for road runners or walkers.

Stay Safe While Having Fun
Stay Safe While Having Fun

Being aware of your surroundings is the biggest, most important aspect to staying safe while you’re out logging your miles.  It’s so easy to zone out, to get into your groove with your music or your audiobook, and forget to pay attention to what’s going on around us.  Stay engaged with your surrounding and be aware of people and cars coming and going around you.

The second suggestion we have is that you always carry ID with you.  Slip your driver’s license inside a pocket or in your phone holster, or invest in a runner’s shoe ID tag -something to help identify yourself in case of an emergency.  Additionally, we encourage you to keep in your phone a list of In Case of Emergency contacts, so if needed, Emergency Services can call someone for you.

Consider always carrying a $5 with you, too.  You’ll never know when you need to call a Lyft, or grab a second bottle of water.

Next, let’s talk about earbuds for a minute.  We know how awesome it is to exercise with music blaring in our ears, encouraging us to move, but this can compromise safety.  A good compromise is to keep the volume low and to use only one earbud, which will allow you to hear approaching vehicles, cyclists, or other joggers.

And finally, be sure you are visible, especially if you exercise after dark.  Equip yourself with reflectors, or consider a LED light-up vest.  And if you’re running or walking with your favorite four-legged buddy, consider his safety too, with a reflective collar or harness.

Getting outdoors and logging Yes.Fit miles is a great way to stretch yourself toward better health and fitness, but we want you to be sure to be safe while you’re out there!  A little planning and a little common sense will go a long way to ensure that your run is engaging, fun, and protected.

Five Summer Running Must-Haves

Summer is here, and the heat has arrived.  Sometimes the oppressive heat and humidity really put a damper on exercising outdoors.  We have some suggestions on running must-haves to help you beat the heat.

Choose The Right Gear
Choose The Right Gear

Don’t forget the sunscreen. I prefer a sports sunscreen so it’s not as greasy and is water resistant so sweat doesn’t make the sunscreen run in my eyes. I also make sure to apply it on areas where the sun hits the hardest like my shoulders and head. My hair has a natural part and the part gets sunburned very easily so I make sure to use tons of sunscreen there.

Grab those shades. Protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays is important. Although they aren’t as flattering, I wear sunglasses that give me a wide range of coverage. I don’t want the sun to creep in through the sides, so I choose wrap-around styles. I also make sure they don’t slip up and down on my face while I’m running, and I’ve found a glasses-keeper that is adjustable to hold them in place is helpful.

Choose cooling running clothing!  Running skirts are awesome for ladies.  I wear them year round, just adding tights under in the winter. In the summer they are the perfect bottoms to run in! They are cool and they wick away the sweat!  Guys, look for moisture wicking shorts.

Speaking of moisture wicking… look for sweat wicking socks. There’s nothing worse than running and feeling like your feet can’t breathe. The right socks in the summertime are super important. I need my feet to be able to breathe as well as for the sweat to be wicked away so I don’t get blisters.

And finally, don’t forget that water!  A Hydration Belt or Hand Held Bottle is perhaps the most important piece of gear you can have. Hydration is key in the heat and humidity. I make sure to always hydrate well before my runs during the summer.  Choose whatever works best for your running style.

And one more running must have….a swimming pool to serve as an ice bath after your run!!! Ok, so it’s not a must have but it is oh so nice!  No matter if you choose to exercise inside or out, or you’re walking your Yes.Fit challenges, we are here to cheer you on!

Ditching The Slump – Four Tips To Getting Back Into The Game

 

You’ve planned it all out. Thirty minutes a day, five times a week. You’re going to stick to your schedule this time. Things start off well, and you’re feeling good.   But then increased work and family obligations drain your energy. Your plans fall by the wayside.  You’re not meeting those goals you worked so hard to set.  You’re not seeing any progress. Eventually, you give up working out altogether. You’ve fallen into a slump.

But does it have to be that way? What can you do to emerge from that slump with renewed motivation?

You can do this!
You can do this!

Here are 4 helpful tips to ditch the slump and get back to enjoying your workout.

1. Just Dance. Don’t want to spend hours in the gym? Get up and dance! Dancing moves your entire body — your arms, hips, and legs all get a workout! Plus, it provides a ton of health benefits, including increased energy, improved coordination, and greater circulation. It’s easy, fun, and will make your workout worth looking forward to!

2. Refine Goals. Slumps often arise because we set our goals too high. Reduce that workout from thirty minutes a day to twenty-five minutes. Try twenty sit-ups instead of thirty. Turn that weekly routine from five days to four. Keep goals flexible, not fixed. That way, when you don’t meet your goals one month, you’ll can alter your goals the next month to reflect your needs without feeling defeated.

3. Stop Pushing Yourself. Is ‘no pain, no gain’ your mantra? Has that ever made you push yourself a little too hard to the point that exercise feels like a chore? Exercising too much can have some painful consequences on our bodies and minds, including increased heart problems and insomnia. Be proud of the work you’ve accomplished, no matter how small.

4. Stay Positive. Negativity can produce harmful neurological and physical effects on our health. By staying positive about our workout, we can increase our lifespan and live a healthier, happier life. Change the way you view exercise and it will make you better equipped to handle those days you missed. Love working out; don’t loathe it!

With these tips, you can tell that slump to go take a hike (and maybe take one yourself — it’s beautiful outside!)