Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Key Tips & Tricks I've learned on this Fit Journey

In my last couple of posts I've shared a couple of key ways I've been able to keep myself motivated (an accountability buddy and rewards). Today I want to cover a few other key elements to this journey.

After crafting this post, I realized it was extremely long... seriously. Too long. So I'm breaking it up into two [kinda still long] posts so as not to bore you completely and all at once. 
You're welcome.

Key For Me:

Good music-- When I first started running, I used one of the Worship stations we created on Pandora. And I was constantly skipping slow songs trying to keep my rhythm up. And then I remembered I have music with my Amazon Prime and started going through picking songs I like and looking for faster tempos.... I quickly realized that Lecrae is my absolute favorite for running. That man keeps the beat pumping and I use his tune Go Hard for a power song when I'm lagging in my run. Works every time.
Download some music and make yourself a pumpin' playlist.
I've created two running playlists- one for a 3 mile/5k run and one that runs 75 minutes for when I need a longer run. I make it my goal to keep running as long as my playlist is playing. I had a noticeable increase in speed after creating these playlists. Plus I enjoy the music so much it helps push me to keep going and enjoy myself.
Make sure your last two songs are power songs that just get you giddy, make you want to pick up your pace and your legs pumping. Because I'm old school.... I made Eye of the Tiger my last song on both lists.
And yes, as a matter of fact, it does make me run faster! lol

Rewards-- 5 lb, 10 lb, certain spots on journey (160, 159, 150, 149). I talk about all that in this post right here.

My Apps-- I have tried a few different fitness apps and I may try some more but these are the ones I keep going back to...
Runtastic- I'm a paid member and use RuntasticPro. I LOVE it. It counts my calorie burn, my miles and maps my runs. It shows me the run time for each of my miles for every session and will even chime in with mile markers/calorie burn/pace during a run if you want. Runtastic isn't just for tracking runs-- I use it for all my training, even snowshoeing! The app has quite the list of "exercises" and has also helped me track my weight loss and chart my progress. I especially enjoy when it sends me little emails letting me know I've achieved a new personal record. Those are awesome encouragements to me!
My Fitness Pal- syncs with Runtastic and keeps me on track with counting my calories, as well as my water intake and lets me add notes to my days. Plus at the end of each day when you complete your entry, it lets you know an estimate of how much you'd weigh in five weeks if you eat/train like that every day. Currently, I use the free version and don't have any plans to upgrade as it works just fine as it is for me. I want to add that I also enjoy the daily nutrient breakdown as I like to keep track of how much protein and how many carbs I'm eating.

Heart Rate Monitor-- For awhile there I got to wondering if my Runtastic calorie burn was on point or running a bit high and I wanted to monitor my heart rate during workouts because I often feel like I'm gargling my heart and was concerned I was pushing too hard. I use the Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor (oh yes, I researched it), it's a chest belt and watch set. After reading quite a bit more on target heart rates and using my monitor, I've learned a bit more about when I can/should push my body and when I should ease it up. I'm either one or the other-- I either push myself way to hard or I'm a slacker so this is quite helpful. My monitor also tells me my calorie burn and often runs the same as or a wee bit lower than Runtastic so it was a confirmation that Runtastic is the training app for me.

This ice bag knee wrap right here is the bomb. It give me heart eyes. I couldn't have kept running without this baby. I love it. It's got these great little blue beads in it that can be frozen or heated up and a nice long velcro strap to adjust it to your knee or your shin (remember the shin splints?!). It's way big enough to cover my whole knee and the beads allow for contouring it just so as to ice the sides of my knee as well. Talk about wonderful relief! I have also used it on my shoulder and a friend used it on her ankle sprain. (Although Therapearl also makes wraps for shoulders and ankles- we use what we have on hand. It works.)

Green Tea, Kefir and Kombucha-- Alright. I just lost some of you right there with the last two words... because if you've heard anything about these two fermented drinks you're thinking "Ew." Which I did as well, until I tried them. So allow me to spout this old adage- Don't knock it until you've tried it. My accountabili-buddy turned me on to green tea and I try to drink 3 to 5 cups of it a day. I prefer peach green tea. Yum. I completely agree with the notion that green tea is an appetite suppressant. I use whole milk kefir in my breakfast smoothies. I can't stand the taste straight. I favor a 10 day kombucha and I almost always add pure cherry juice to it for a little added flavor. I received my both my kefir and kombucha starters from friends but you can purchase starters just about anywhere now if you don't know anyone with a starter to share. Both are good for digestion and good gut health.
Of note: you can buy kefir drinks just about anywhere- in many different flavors. If you think you want to try it out that way- go ahead! Personally, I don't use the store bought kefir drinks for a few reasons- I don't care for their taste, they have too much added sugar, and making my own kefir is not only cheaper but healthier for me. 

Breakfast Smoothies-- I've read quite a bit about the health benefits and metabolism boost of eating at least 25 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast. I basically worked for three weeks to tweak my smoothie recipe to the point where it tastes seriously amazing and I can get around 36 grams of protein and 459 calories in a 20-24 oz smoothie. I'm thinking I'll share my smoothie recipe at some point. It's my hands down favorite healthy breakfast.

Healthy Snacks always on hand-- Since we're talking food, I must admit part of my weight gain problem comes from the simple yet complicated fact that I'm a snacker. I love to sit down with a good book and a good snack. Part of this journey has been me disciplining my snack habits. I don't believe in going cold turkey and so in the beginning I limited the portions of my favorite snacks and tried to incorporate more fruit. I started buying flavored Greek yogurts to help curb my sweet tooth. I subbed in Aldi's Fit n' Active 100 Calorie Snack Packs (chocolate wafers and chocolate chip wafers being my faves) for Oreos and cookies/brownies. Aldi's healthier trail mixes, trail bars and protein bars.... I've always got at least one of those in my purse, my bible study tote bag and in the snack drawer of my desk. As time has passed, my taste buds have changed and the sweet treats of my glory days don't have the same pull on me. I've been able to let go of the flavored yogurts for the most part as well. At this point in the journey- we keep two to three varieties of fresh fruit on hand, trail mix (with lots of nuts and dried fruit), plain Greek yogurt, granola and a few of those Fit n 'Active snack packs for when my sweet tooth gets a craving.
A few of my current favorite snacks- apple slices with peanut butter, hard boiled eggs and slices of honey ham, granola on yogurt (often adding fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey too!). 

Next post- more tips and tricks.... where I talk more about food, the snack I crave and my new found love of workout gear.


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