What You Can Learn From Shaun T: You Can Do This!

“Every person has a unique gift or talent that they are meant to share with the world. That is why you are on this planet . . . . because you have something to offer that makes everyone better. Let your light shine today and every day. Because without your light, the work would be dark.” – Shaun T

Flickr Photo by: Vital Worldwide

Flickr Photo by: Vital Worldwide

Shaun is known for his big guns and ripped abs. He’s also got a big heart and a passion for helping other people be the absolute best they can be. He’s worked hard for his fitness icon stardom and had to overcome some challenges to get where he is today.

Before Shaun became known a fitness icon for Beach Body’s Hip Hop Abs and Insanity series he was a dance choreographer in New Jersey. In a podcast for NPR’s “My Big Break” series, Shaun says at the time, he was in an abusive relationship with a partner that was not supportive of his career.

He got a call from a friend in California that encouraged him to come out to Los Angeles for a vacation. While in L.A. he auditioned for a new dance agency. Out of the hundreds of people auditioning for the spots only seven men and five women made the cut. Shaun was one of them and was told that he would be contacted in a couple of weeks if they were interested in him.

Shaun tells NPR, “I was at the laundry mat, with my pocket full of quarters, when I got the phone call that the agency wanted me to move to LA to pursue a career in dance.”

Shaun T Meets Beach Body

“Believe it or not, Insanity is very difficult for me to do!” — Shaun T

He moved to L.A. to lead workout dance classes. In not time his classes were full.  That’s when Beach Body discovered him and set his iconic career in motion.

Shaun’s first Beach Body project was Hip Hop Abs, then Rockin’ Body followed by Focus T25 and finally, Insanity. It’s amazing to hear him admit that Insanity is difficult for him to do! He goes on to say that when people that are new to Insanity do the workout with him for the first timey they notice he’s out of breath too.

In October 2012, Shaun Thompson married his best friend and became Shaun Blokker. He made a choice to get rid of the negative influences in his life and go after his dream.

“People, you have no idea. I understand why you feel weak and why you might be not as confident as you want to be,” he says. “All you have to do is tell yourself you can do this, and I know that it’s possible.”

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Exercise Tip Of The Week: Work Out With High Achievers.

“Don’t join an easy crowd. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform and achieve are high.” – Jim Rohn

When I was out of town last weekend I visited a Cross Fit gym and got to see for myself what all of the fuss is about.  My trainer, Kelly, was a little powerhouse who reminded me of a blonde Jillian Michaels.  She was overtly serious about Cross Fit and her role as a trainer. She was determined that we were going to work as hard as we could while maintaining perfect form.

When she popped up against the wall in handstand position and demonstrated the wall stand push-ups that were part of the WOD that we would be doing I was a little out of my comfort zone.  But that’s okay. I like that. I can’t do a wall stand push-up, but Kelly can. And if she can do them, why wouldn’t I be able to if I worked at it?

Who Do You Hang With?

Do you hang out with people you’re comfortable with or people who push the limits?

Do you hang with high achievers?

Do you hang with high achievers?

Self-help guru Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If this is true (and I wouldn’t be putting it in this article if I didn’t believe it was) you need to spend most of your time with people that are doing things that you aspire to achieve.  For me that would be people like wall stand push-up Kelly.

High fitness achievers are easy to find. You’ll find them at the Cross Fit gym and in the front row of the HIIT class at the local Y. They are the ones pushing themselves to do more today than they did yesterday. High achievers seek out coaches and trainers that will help them improve their skills and, at the same time, are mentoring people that look to them for help.

At work they hang out with the people that walk on their lunch hour and that don’t give in to eating a donut just because they’re a free leftover from a morning meeting. They post workout pictures and positive quotes on social media and get followers that want to get the residual effects of their accomplishments.

Be The Change

Jonathan Mead, creator of Paid To Exist says, “If you surround yourself with world-class athletes, it will be hard for you to not become one. If you go on a retreat where the only option is to create, it will be hard for you to not produce something groundbreaking. If you wake up with a community of doers, leaders, and world-changers, it will be incredibly difficult for you to not embrace your own greatness.”

But it’s not just about tightening up your circle so that the five people you spend the most time with motivate you to do more. It’s about being an inspiration to people that need your influence and support.

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” –Kobe Bryant

Are you a member of the high achievers club?

If you liked this article you might also enjoy: The Eight Habits of Ultra-Fit People.

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Preparing For A Half Marathon: Thirteen Tips For A 13 Mile Run

As I was running I started thinking, “What tips can I take back that might help someone getting ready to run their first half marathon?”

Take Your Camera and Extra Clothes and Check Your Adrenalin At The Door. 

Seasoned event runners don’t give much thought to getting up on a Saturday morning to run a half, or even a full marathon.  For me it was different.

I put in some on-the-clock training hours but also considerable time figuring out how to make my training pay off so that I could enjoy the event without being too cold or warm, tired, or stressed.  The secret lies in getting organized well ahead of race day so that nothing is left to chance when the time finally arrives and your nerves are standing straight up.

Race Track

I did the Indy Mini half marathon last year. This is the Indy 500 race track that’s part of the course.

Two Weeks Before The Race

1.  Nutrition – Two weeks ahead of race day you’re still doing some good training runs so now’s the time to focus on the best nutrition possible.  Stay away from food and drinks that have simple sugars or are high in fat.  Now more than ever, you want foods that are nutritionally dense.  Focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins.  A green smoothie for breakfast or lunch is a good option too.

2.  Hydration  – Increase your water intake.  You should be drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.  If it’s summer or you live in a warm climate bump it up to ten glasses a day.

3.  Game Day Shoes – Pick out the shoes you plan to wear on race day.  Running shoes should have between 40 and 50 miles on them before you race in them so if your event is two weeks away it’s probably too late to buy new shoes.  But, if your shoes are worn and don’t have enough life in them to give you proper cushioning  and good support, consider buying a new pair and wear them throughout the day for the next two weeks to get some extra miles on them.

4.  Jelly Beans – Sports jelly beans are loaded with caffeine, sodium, potassium, and carbohydrates and can provide just enough energy to give you a second wind if you start to fatigue around mile 9.  Don’t wait until race day to test them out.  Pick a couple of brands and try them while you’re out on your training runs so you’ll know that you like them and they like you. On race day save them until you really need them.

  • One word of caution.  I have a friend who popped one in his mouth while he was running an event and he sucked it into his windpipe and wasn’t able to finish the race.  I’m sure this was just bad luck for him but it doesn’t hurt to slow down, or even pull over if it’s time for a bean.

One Week Before The Race

5.  Music Is Magic – I started experiencing some nervous energy one week before the marathon. Finding new music to download and putting a play list together helped channel  that energy into something that would pay off later on.  I have a playlist with 100 songs on it that shuffle.  I know that every song on the list is one that I enjoy running to.  This works for me because I can turn the iPod on, hit play and never touch it again until I’m done.  I don’t want to be hunting down the songs that I want to hear while I’m running an event.  I have a play list that I created a few months ago (check it out here) and continue to add songs to it including Mr. Saxobeat, Who Dat Girl, Call Me Maybe and Wild Ones.

6.  Unpredictable Weather – Check the weather so you’ll know what you need to wear before, during and after the run.  For the Illinois run we hung around before the start in gloves, hoodies and wind breakers.  We left most of that behind.  I would rather be on the side of having too many clothes in the car to take on or off rather than not enough. If rain is predicted take a big green garbage bag and cut a hole in the top of it so you can put it over your head.  If you have to stand around at the start line in the rain it will keep you dry. These garbage-bag raincoats were all over the place at the event on Saturday.

7.  Clothes: Lots of Them – Pack a full change of clothes for after the race.  You’ll hang out after the race for awhile in the damp clothes you ran in but there is nothing like dry clothes – and shoes – to put on for the drive home.  I packed my drive-home-clothes in a separate bag so they would all be together and easy to grab when it was time to change.

Three Days Before the Race

8.  A Real Camera – Pack your camera and make sure it has working batteries.  You will want a picture of you at the finish line taken with a real camera, not one that is taken with a Smartphone.  You need a quality picture.  Trust me on this one.

You will want a picture of yourself when you finish.

You will want a picture of yourself when you finish.

9.  Smart Carbs (Not A Carb Load) – Add an extra serving or two of complex carbohydrates to your diet such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, beans and fruits.  Complex carbohydrates will provide your muscles with an adequate supply of glycogen which will enhance your performance on game day.

10.  What Time Does It Start? – Double check the start time and location of the race.  If you’re not familiar with the area make sure you have a map that shows where you need to be, at what time and what arrangements there are for parking.  Is parking free?  If you have to park on a city street or metered lots you’ll need quarters.

The Big Day

11.  Early To Bed – Get to bed early and get up early so that you can eat breakfast at least three hours before the race and take your time getting ready.  I’ve read many times how important it is to eat a breakfast that you have eaten before.  Don’t try out anything new the day of the event.  If you want to find the best pre-race breakfast start working on that a few weeks before.  Oatmeal is my standard breakfast so that’s what I had.  It’s an easy, warm, comfort food that stays with me all morning.

12.  Feel The Rush? – Don’t underestimate the power of the adrenalin rush that takes place when the race starts.  That rush has the potential to throw you off of your game and leave you drained before you’ve completed the 13 miles.  Standing at a half marathon line with 10,000 other people is exciting. Look around.  No one is standing still.  You can feel the enormous energy oozing out of the crowd and into your body and it’s really cool.  But if you get taken up with it and go out of the gate too fast you’ll lost your momentum once the adrenalin level tapers off.  Start out slow and then push yourself after the halfway point if you’re feeling great and have a lot of energy left.

13.  Experience It.  You’ve worked hard and are ready to do something others can only dream of.  Take it in.  Look at the people and scenery around you.  Say thank you to the folks along the way that are cheering you on even though they have no idea who you are.  Be gracious to the volunteers handing you Gatorade or water.  Return the high five to the boy standing on the sidewalk that reaches his palm up to you as you run by him.  Have someone take your picture at the finish line with your medal on then post it on your Facebook page.  Give yourself a high five. Let it all soak in. Savor it. Celebrate. It doesn’t get any better than this.

No doubt number 13 is the most important, but if you skip 1 through 12 enjoying the race might be more of a challenge.

What tips do you have for someone that is going to run their first half marathon?

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Tired, Bored and Lazy? What You Need Is A Fitness Challenge.

I’m over winter!

How many times have you heard someone say that the past three months?

The snow and freezing cold temps have been relentless this winter.  An outdoor thermometer with a -10 reading and a new winter weather alert every three days can obliterate your motivation to do anything.  Especially go to the gym or do a workout at home.

Maybe what you need is a challenge; one that you don’t have to leave the warmth of your own home to participate in.

Below are six to web sites that offer  a variety of health and wellness challenges that will keep you moving and buoy your motivation until warm weather.

1.  Skinnyo .com is the ultimate on-line challenge site.  At Skinnyo you can start or join a challenge and get support from the other Skinnyo groupies.  The challenges range from sexy legs and arms to wedding weight loss.  Join the site for free, update your profile and get started.



2.  30 Day Challenges.com – If you have a little black dress you’d like to get into or want to look good at the beach this summer, 30 Day Challenges.com will make sure you’re ready.  Beyond challenges, the site  has a how-to page that shows the proper way to do the challenge exercises, a healthy recipe tab, and a forum where you can interact with other participants.  It’s free and easy to navigate.

30 Day Fitness Challenge


3.  Eat. Drink. Be Skinny!.com – There are 12 challenges that you can join at Eat, Drink and Be Skinny.  What’s interesting about this site is they are not all fitness challenges.  There is a nutrition and juicing challenge that will help you put the exercise and eating together for big results.  The site belongs to Teresa Marie Howes, who holds a certification from the American Council on Exercise in personal training and has a background in nutrition.

Eat Drink and Be Skinny


4. 21 Day Fitness Challenge.com – There are four unique challenges at 21 Day Fitness.com.  A Health and Fitness Challenge, More Energy Now Challenge, Fight Type 2 Diabetes Challenge and a Faith and Family Challenge.  Each challenge incorporates a variety of activities specific to the goals. Once you register, there is a daily dash board that you can log into to record your progress.  Plus, you’ll receive daily e-mail reminders to keep you on track.

21 Day Challenge


5.  SkinnyMs. Fitness com – Train like a Navy Seal, ramp up your cardio with a Tabata challenge or sign up for a 7-day strength and stamina workout.  There’s plenty of motivation at Skinny Ms Fitness.  The site has short videos that provide exercise demos so you can make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly.  Not all of the challenges are based on exercise goals.  For example, if you want to tackle your sugar problem, join The Sweetest Challenge and kick your sugar addiction to the curb.

Skinny Ms


6.  Challenge Loop.com – There is challenge here for everybody.  Weight loss, no dessert, run a marathon, and walk the dog can all be found at Challenge Loop. What’s fun about this web site is you get to post pictures that reflect your personal experiences.  For example, at the Home Cooking challenge people are posting pics of the stuff they are fixing in their own kitchens.  There are even ways to win prizes at the loop and, unless I’m missing some fine print, they are all free of charge.

Challenge Lop

The variety of challenges found at these six web sites is amazing.  Add to that that they are all free and there’s no excuse not to sign up! Get your friends and co-workers to join with you and make it even more fun.

Do you have a favorite on-line challenge?

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30 Day Butt Lift Workout Plan From BeFit

I’ve been posting exercise challenges lately.  I’ve posted the 30 Day Squat Challenge, 30 Day Ab Challenge, and have provided links to several Burpee Challenges that you can check out.

Why am I all about these challenges lately?  Because you can do them at home, they are serious exercise, and you only need a few minutes each day to get them done. Plus you don’t need to purchase a gym membership or even a workout DVD to participate.

Here’s another challenge for you to try and the only thing you need for this program is internet access. It’s the 30 Day Butt Lift Workout Plan from Lionsgate’s Be Fit. In this introductory clip, 30 day butt lift trainers Courtney Prather and Alicia Marie give you the top three reasons why you should do consistent lower body workouts.

30 Day Butt Lift Workout Plan

The BeFiT 30 Day Butt Lift Workout Plan utilizes workouts to firm your glutes and legs, strengthen your abs and core, and help you sculpt a strong and sexy body.

Actress Nikki Limo who you know from How I Met Your Mother and 90210 will be uploading workout diaries every Friday to detail her own experience as she goes through the month long workout program.

There’s even a 30 Day Butt Lift Work Out Calendar you can download to keep you on track.  Check it out here.

Ready to get started?  Below are the links to the workouts for Week 1:

Day 1– Butt Workout 1: Tone Up | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmcLB9ObdOM (Preview)

Day 2– Butt Workout Cardio 1: Bootcamp | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUZuKIUXcYg (Preview)

Day 3– Butt Workout 2: Booty Booster | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFJt322szc4 (Preview)

Day 4– Rest Day- Consider making a healthy grocery run

Day 5– Butt Workout 3: Firm Extreme | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssMiQX0XyZ8 (Preview)

Day 6– Butt Workout Cardio 2: Fat-Burning | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2BaSmw3CTE (Preview)

Day 7– Butt Workout 4: Dance Fit | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCrm1SC7YiM (Preview)

By doing these short workouts each day you can head into the New Year lean and fit and won’t have the traditional one to five pounds of holiday weight to lose.

For other Be Fit workouts go to http://www.youtube.com/user/BeFit.

Don’t forget to share the butt workout with your friends and co-workers.  You could even invite them to join you in a 30 day butt workout challenge!

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Burn Calories and Tone Your Tush With the 30 Day Burpee Challenge

I love burpees

Need a way to burn off some of those extra holiday calories?  One of the 30 day burpee challenges may be just what you need.

The standard burpee – like we did in grade school P.E. class – gets your heart rate up and works every muscle in the body.  Burpees are back in vogue now that body-weight exercise programs and HIIT and Tabata workouts are trending.  If you’re like me you have a love-hate relationship with burpees.  I’ve decided to suck up the hate part and have committeed to doing a couple of sets every time I work out.

There are several different burpee challenges circulating on the internet so you have a few to choose from. Pick your poison and get started on one of the challenges below.

But first, in case you’ve forgotten what an actual burpee looks like, here’s a picture:


Pinterest photo

1.  Spartan Race 30-Day Burpee Challenge – This challenge is pretty simple.  You do 30 burpees every day for 30 days.  You can break them up into sets of five, 10, 20 and so on.  Whatever works for you.  This challenge has a Facebook page that you can illicit support from.   Click here to join the challenge:  Spartan Race Facebook Page

2.  30 Day Fitness.com  – This 30 day burpee challenge starts out a little slower than the Spartan Race challenge but you really have to up your game by day nine.  Each day you do five more burpees than you did the day before so by the end of the challenge you’re doing 100 (ouch!).  I like this challenge because it breaks you in a little slower, but doing 100 burpees is huge for most of us I’m guessing.  The 30 Day Fitness.com challenge starts here.

3. He and She Eat Clean Bikini Body Burpee Challenge – It’s never too early to start working on your bikini body.  It may seem like you have plenty of time if you live here in Illinois with me, but why mess around and not be ready when the sun finally does make it’s appearance?  This challenge takes it to the next level by adding pushups to the burpees.  And Tiffany of He and She Eat Clean says you can add a set of three to five pound dumbbells if you are looking for even more of a challenge.  Thanks, Tiffany.  I think the no-weight challenge will sufficiently kick my you-know-what.  Check out the bikini challenge here.

4.  Forward From The Heart Burpee Challenge – This one is probably the most doable.  By day 30 of the challenge you’re doing 30 burpees which doesn’t sound too bad after looking at some of the other programs.  You even get some rest days throughout the month.  The goal with the Forward From The Heart challenge is, by the end, to be able to do 30 in a row. Click here for The Heart Burpee Challenge.

Not excited about the burpee challenge just yet?  Here’s a burpee challenge trifecta for you:

5.  Shrinkingjeans.net Gold Medal Ass Challenge – As if the burpee, or the bupree plus pushup challenges weren’t  bad enough, the Shrinkingjeans have created a squat + burpee + wall sit workout.  By day 31 you will be doing 100 squats, two minutes of burpees, and a two minute wall sit.  The good news is you can set your own goals for the two minute burpee blast. Thankfully, Sunday is a day of rest in this challenge because you’re going to need it. The Shrinkingjeans challenge is here.

All of these challenges can be done at home without any equipment.  They will help you bash the winter blues and head off the cold weather weight gain that happens at this time of year.

Do you have a favorite burpee or squat challenge?  Drop a link to it in the comment box below.

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Chia Plus Emergen-C Is Vitamin Infused Hydration

Do you have days when you’re just dog-tired?  Boy I do.  Especially in the summer after I’ve put in a few miles on the pavement or in the gym.  By the time I get to work I know my challenge is going to be staying focused, on-task and motivated.

I’ve noticed that some runners have been showing up to races with a sports drink – or even plain water – with Chia seeds in them.  I wonder if there’s any science behind this new fad of hydrating with a drink full of chia to improve sports performance?

It turns out there is. Kind of.

Emergen-C + Chia = Hydration

Emergen-C + Chia = Hydration

A study cited by the National Institute of Health compared athlete’s performance using two different high dietary carbohydrate (CHO) treatments.  One treatment consisted of CHO-loading with 100% of the calories coming from Gatorade.  In the second treatment, 50% of the calories came from chia seeds and 50% from Gatorade.   While the results of the study did not prove enhanced performance from adding the seeds, it did show that athletes did just as well with the second treatment and using the seeds allowed them to reduce their sugar consumption by 50% which means fewer calories and more nutrition.

Wayne Coates, ultra runner and author of the book called Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood, says that chia has long been known as runner’s food and was one of the main ingredients that the Aztec warriors used for fuel.

Coates says “The Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyon in Mexico have been known as the “running Indians” and they have used [chia] for years. The Aztec warriors used to carry it on their campaigns.  It is said that that’s really what they ate; it gave them sustained energy.”

Plus, because of their high fiber content, chia seeds really take on water so not only are they are effective for nutritional hydration, they fill you up.

Chia Seeds + Emergen-C = Healthy Hydration

What about Chia seeds with Emergen-C?  Emergen-C is already one of my favorite drink mixes that always helps me get out of a low-energy slump.  Each mix has 1,000 mg of Vitamin C which has been shown to increase metabolism and boost energy.  It also has a hefty supply of B Vitamins:  Vitamin B6 – 500% DVM, Vitamin B12 – 417% DVM. There are also several other  nutrients including potassium, thiamin, niacin, and folic acid.

Today I’ve mixed a little more than a teaspoon of chia seeds into my Emergen-C beverage (photo above).  If I cut up a lemon and add it to the concotion I’ll have the perfect drink.

Anyway, I’ll let you know if it helps me get through the day.

I think I feel better already.

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What You Don’t Know About OTC Pain Meds Can Hurt You.

Popping a couple of ibuprofen or aspirin pre and/or post workout to help you push through the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that you know is coming may be one of the worst things you can do for your skeletal muscles and your gut.

Whether you’re trying to reduce the pain and inflammation caused by a long run, heavy lifting session, or an injury, taking non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibits post-workout muscle repair and growth, and delays the healing process in the case of injuries.

Pills 2

Post-Workout Pain Relief

A number of studies have been done that show that NSAIDs and, in particular, ibuprofen, have the ability to limit the body’s natural ability to repair the tissue damage caused by exercise and injury.  Muscle regeneration is also affected.

Significant research by Dr. Louis Almekinders and his team at the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine looked at the effects of NSAIDs on tendonitis.  Using four test groups, they broke the athletes in the following categories.  They were as follows:

Tendons received no treatment; they were not exercised and they did not receive an NSAID.

  1. Tendons were exercised.
  2. Tendons were exercised and the anti-inflammatory NSAID Indomethacin was given.
  3. Tendons were not exercised; Indomethacin was given.

Tendons in the four groups underwent injury through repetitive motion, similar to what would occur during athletic training. Seventy-two hours later the only group with increased levels of prostaglandins, which are the body’s own potent mediators of inflammation, was Group #2.  Groups #3 and #4 had significant lower levels of prostaglandins.  The participants in Group #4 that only received the NSAID had almost no prostaglandins in the sample, which signals a complete inhibition of the inflammatory healing process.

Not only does the use of NSAIDs inhibit the body’s natural healing process, they also cause a significant decrease in strength of flexor tendons, maybe as much as 300 percent over four weeks.

This theory was proven through a study done on acute ankle sprains in the Australian reserve military where Piroxicam was used to treat the injury.  Results showed that in the participants that used the NSAID Piroxicam, ligament healing was stopped.  And, even though the participants using the NSAID felt better and were able to resume activity, their ankles were considerably more unstable leaving them prone to injury.

An in-depth article discussing the treatment of skeletal muscle injuries by The International Scholarly Research Network (ISRN) Orthopedics has this to say:

“Whether or not NSAIDs should be used in the treatment of muscle injuries is still controversial.  They have long been the first choice to relieve pain after a skeletal muscle injury. NSAIDs may suppress the [the body’s own] inflammatory response and thus reduce the pain and swelling.  However, this response is an essential phase in the healing of injured skeletal muscle.  Attempts to inhibit this phase will lead to an incomplete functional recovery.  [Also], experimental investigations showed that NSAIDs might also decrease the tensile strength of the injured muscle.”

ISRN researchers concluded that using NSAIDs is so detrimental to the health process they recommend they not be given until 48 hours after the injury so that the body’s natural recovery response is not interrupted.

What About Pre-Workout Pain Relief?

If we know we’re going all out for a workout or run we may decide to pay it forward and take our pain killers before we exercise.  Beyond limiting muscle regeneration, taking NSAIDs pre-workout can mask the pain for us during the workout making us more prone to injury.  Remember, pain is how our body tells us that we’re overdoing it and it’s time to scale back, or, in cases of acute pain, suspend the workout.

But, there may be an ever better reason to skip taking a couple of Advil before we go to the gym.  In studies done on healthy, trained men, NSAIDs aggravated exercise-induced injury in the small intestine.  It only took a couple of doses of ibuprofen to register intestinal cellular damage in the athletes.

You might think about switching to an acetaminophen like Tylenol, but beware that overuse of these products increase the likelihood of liver and kidney toxicity even in healthy people. If you’re on a steady diet of acetaminophen and like to have a couple of beers after a long run, you’re flirting with disaster.

Better Options

NSAIDs are so good at numbing the pain from delayed onset muscle soreness and injuries that we consequentially think they must be helping us heal.  We figure we hurt less so we must be getting better, when in fact muscle and tendon repair is being impeded and our strength is being compromised.

No doubt there are times when taking an anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medication is needed and warranted.  However, taking them on a regular basis to avoid pain may, in the long term, be a costly mistake.

And there are some better, healthier options.

Believe it or not studies have shown that drinking tart cherry juice after a workout reduces soreness and promotes muscle recovery.  Low-fat chocolate milk is also a nutritious high-protein drink that hydrates and promotes muscle healing and strength.  Coffee has also proven to decrease post-workout muscle soreness when taken before exercising. Some other post-workout methods to consider are an ice bath, massage, and a session of light exercise.

*In the case of an acute injury, apply RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and contact your doctor.

The good news is muscle soreness after a workout lets us know we worked hard and if we allow ourselves time, the muscles will repair and be stronger than before.   The last thing we want to do is something that makes us feel better temporarily but hinders our progress long-term, which is what the use of NSAIDs will do.

Over To You

What’s your secret for treating muscle soreness and pain?  Please share.

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Ten Reasons You Should Join A Group Fitness Class

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

If you’ve been going to the gym faithfully for months doing the same routine but not getting the results you feel you deserve you may need to change things up.  Taking a group fitness class is one of the best ways to fire up your same-old-same-old so that you can start seeing some significant results again.

Here are the top ten reasons why you should join a group fitness class:

1.  It Will Get Your Out Of A Rut – I’ve been around the gym for a few years now and I can tell you that  people that go into the fitness center three times a week do practically the same workout every day.  Most of the time it looks like this: thirty minutes on the treadmill (or elliptical) followed by some strength training using the machines.

When you do the same thing over and over your body adjusts to it and you cease to see any improvements in cardio endurance, muscle strength or weight loss.  When you join a group fitness class you’ll do different exercises every day.  Classes like boot camp, Tabata, and interval training offer a mental challenge that keeps you from getting bored and, at the same time, employs different muscle groups and heart rate ranges so you start seeing results again.


2. You’ll Do Stuff You’ve Never Done Before – Fitness instructors are a competitive bunch and they want to challenge you, and themselves, to be the best.  I don’t know a fitness instructor that doesn’t want the class they teach to be the one that everyone talks about after they leave.  This is why when you go to a group class you’ll do exercises you’ve never done before, and maybe some you never thought you could do.

You may not be inspired to try a BOSU or kettle ball workout on your own, but will learn how to use them if they’re part of a class. I asked the Y I work for to purchase gliding discs for us to use.  Having a new toy to try out was fun but also very challenging.  With the discs came an entirely set of new and unique exercises that worked our muscles in a very different way.

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Walking vs Running: Both Are Good For Heart Health. One Is Better For Weight Loss

Whether you walk or run for fitness, there’s minimal difference between the two in health benefits.  Both walking and running will reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes risk a new study finds.

The research that touts the findings that walking and running are equal when it comes to heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular disease collected data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study.  More than 33,000 runners and 16,000 walkers were involved.  The median age range for the walkers and runners was 40 to 60 years of age.

Over a six year period of time both activities led to similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  Here’s what the study found:

  • Running reduced the risk of high blood pressure 4.2 percent; walking 7.2 percent.
  • Running reduced the risk for high cholesterol 4.3 percent; walking 7 percent.
  • Running lowered the risk for diabetes 12.1 percent; walking 12.3 percent.
  • Running decreased the risk of heart disease 4.5 percent; walking 9.3 percent

Paul Williams, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley points out that both running and walking reduce risk factors but it’s a matter of how far you walk or run, not how long.  The more people walked or ran each week the more their health improved.

Williams also says that to reap the benefits, walkers must keep a brisk pace.  Walking for exercise isn’t a “mosey type of thing.”

While both walking and running are equally effective to reduce cardiovascular disease risks, running is the superior activity for people that want to lose weight.


Girl running with dog

What to lose weight? Turn your brisk walk into a jog.
Flickr photo by lululemonathletica


Running Is Better For Weight Loss

In another study Paul Williams evaluated body mass index (BMI) of more than 32,000 runners and 15,000 walkers.  Participants supplied weight and height history for the preceding five years, along with their waist size and details about their workouts including distance, pace, frequency and any other exercise they did.

The walkers were, on average, older than the runners by about 12 years for both men and women.  The runners also had lower BMI.  The average male runner’s BMI was 24 and the women’s was 22.  The average male walker’s BMI was 27 where the women’s was 25.

After a six year follow-up, both groups lost weight but the male runners and female runners with higher BMIs had the best results. Williams says that “an overweight woman of average height and BMI over 28 might expect to lose 19 pounds by adding a 3.2 mile run to her daily routine, but only 9 pounds by expending the same amount of energy by walking.”

Plus, Williams points out, it takes less time to produce the same amount of effort running and vigorous exercise vigorous like running increases your metabolic rate and it remains elevated after the exercise.

Pick Up The Pace

The health benefits of brisk walking might not be enough if you’re a walker that’s trying to lose weight.  For higher calorie expenditure try picking up your pace and add some running intervals to your walking program.  If you feel you’re not ready to take on running all at once, adopt a Couch to 5K program that’s designed to move you from walking to running over a period of a few weeks.

Spending more time running and less time walking will increase your calorie burn and get you to your weight-loss goals quicker.

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