Thursday, April 30, 2009

Changing Up Your Workout Routine

Have you ever come to a point in your cardio or weight lifting training regiment where everything seems to be going great and your fitness goals seem to be within reach, but then suddenly you seem to hit a wall in respect to your results, and you can’t figure out how to overcome it? Often times this causes people to quit working out altogether, because they get down on themselves and lose their motivation and drive to succeed and begin to wonder, “Why am I doing this to myself?”

I know, because I’ve been there. Except I go to the opposite extreme like spinning four times a week, with weight lifting and running in between those days, and pushing myself so hard that I burn my own body out causing fatigue in which my body feeds on my muscle instead of the fat. Trust me… I’ve tried everything to bust through a plateau. By the one thing that everyone says to me is, “Have you changed your routine lately?”

This is a very important question, because changing up your workout routine is beneficial in seeing results. It is what is also called “muscle confusion”. You want to always keep the body guessing. Never let it know what is coming next, never let it adapt!

There are articles out there that range from changing your workout up as early as 3 week to as late as 12 weeks. I recommend (along with many others) changing it up every 4-8 weeks.

Here are just a few ways you can go about mixing things up:

  1. Change your rep/set range. If you were previously performing 3 set of 10-15 reps, try doing 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  2. Increase Weight. Increase the weight from what you normally lift and decrease the reps
  3. Alternate your grips/stances. Try switching to a more narrow stance when doing squats, or reverse your hand position when performing lat pulldowns.
  4. Switch to barbells/dumbbells. Use dumbbells for the bench press instead of the barbell, or try barbell bent-over rows instead of dumbells.
  5. Switch to free weights. Instead of using the machines try using free weights (barbells and dumbbells). Even the cable machines are great!
  6. Reduce/add time to rest periods. Take only 30 seconds in between sets to recuperate, or take an extra minute longer than you have been.
  7. Interval Train. Try sprinting for a minute in between 5 minutes of a regular pace jog or run.
  8. Same muscle – different exercise. Instead of doing the chest press or bench press, try doing regular pushups.
  9. Change Machines. Get off the elliptical and run on the treadmill or ride a bike.
  10. Motivation. Find something that keeps you motivated. Weather it be a workout partner, “goal” clothing, or even a good iPod music mix. Motivation is KEY!

There are many websites out there that can help you find an alternative exercise for the same muscle group. I even found some that we'll map out your whole workout routine for you. And you can always ask me questions on exercises. If I can't find pictures or a good explanation on how to do something I will take a picture or video for you. Just let me know!

Just keep your body guessing!


I totally space out last night when posting this. GO visit Sandy at God Speak Today for Fitness Friday, then drop in on Debbie at Heart Choices! They amazing ladies!


My Gettin' Fine in '09 Challenge is Posted directly below this!

Gettin' Fine in '09 Challenge Week 11

I can not believe that we are on the Home Stretch of this challenge. Next week will wrap this Gettin' Fine challenge. But in order to claim the gift card prize you have to write a bit about the last 12 weeks - including how much you have lost. After all this was a 12 week Challenge and I want to hear all about it!

As for me this week... my menstrual cycle came early yet again! So chocolate cravings kicked in. But I have to say that I've stayed on target with the workouts and I still weighed in at 132 lbs.

Monday: 1 hr workout / training session with my best friend (weights and cardio) = 550 calories

Tuesday: Interval run = 400 calories

Wednesday: 1 hr spin class which I only did for 40 minutes because I got called out due to my son hitting the gymnasium wall head on. This pictures doesn't even due the "egg" on his head justice, but hey he's a tough cookie. I burned 700 calories

Then later that evening I mowed the lawn, and yes, I wore my monitor. I burned another 750 calories. For a total burned of 1450!

Thursday: 1 hr spin class (one of the toughest I've been to yet!) Burned 1050 calories.

Friday: I have to go in for a meeting at work, but I'm hoping to do an interval run sometime in the late afternoon or evening!


So be sure and leave me a comment so I can go check out how you all did this week!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Are You Scared to Lift Weights?

Do you fear lifting weights because you think that you might “bulk” up?

I have heard so many women say that they only do cardio because they don’t want to look “manly”. Well I have new for ya… lifting weights will NOT make you “bulk” up or look “manly”.

First of all, the reason that men can build muscle so much faster while lifting weights is because they have about 10 times the amount of testosterone than women do. For that very reason we will NOT look like a women bodybuilder by simply weight lifting 2-3 times a week.

Being that this is such a “touchy” subject for a lot of women I wanted to share some of the myths about weight training (also called strength training).

1. Lifting Weights Makes You Muscle-Bound While strength training will help you build muscle, women simply don't have enough testosterone, a key hormone for building muscle, to become muscle-bound and appear masculine. The muscle you are able to build lifting weights will only improve your appearance and femininity.

2. If You Lift Weights, Do High Reps to "Tone" Your Muscles Most strength training workouts for women prescribe 2-3 sets of 12 or more repetitions. While higher repetitions have their place in your workout, they do little to improve your appearance. If looking and feeling your best is your goal, most of your workouts should utilize sets of low to moderate repetitions (5-8) for multiple sets. Performing 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps is especially beneficial when dieting, as it is the best rep range to use to ensure you hold onto your muscle. The more muscle you can hold onto when dieting helps you burn fat faster and keep it off once you achieve your weight loss goals. Sets of 12-15 reps will only make you look and feel worse during your diet.

* If you would like to read the rest of the myths click on the link below

Now I don’t even know where to begin with the benefits that you can get from doing weight training, and I’m sure I won’t be covering them all. But here we go…

1. Increased strength

2. Improved balance & coordination

3. Better bone density (lowering your risk for osteoporosis)

4. Fat loss by boosting your metabolism

5. Improves your posture by overall toning your body

6. You naturally burn more calories (Lean muscle tissue is about 20-25% more
active than fat, which means you will burn more at rest.)

7. Lowers your risk for breast cancer & colon cancer

8. Lowers the risk of having Diabetes

9. Improves the heart function (lowers blood pressure & Cholesterol)

10. Lowers the risk of depression (Causes the body for release endorphins which help
to elevate your mood).

It’s always better to start off easy. If you lift too much weight too early, it’s detrimental in so many ways – you might hurt yourself, you’ll be come discouraged, your muscles will take 2-4 days to fully heal, etc. Once you have the techniques down and you’ve prepared your muscles by lifting light weights, then you can decide to progress onto heavier lifting and a more serious strength training program.

When first starting out you may see the scale fluctuate up, but very minimally. I know that the days after I lift pretty hard I weigh 1-2 lbs more, but once my muscles have recovered (and my new improved muscle has burned more fat) the scale goes back down.

For those of you who aren’t real sure as to what to do when it comes to lifting weights there are many sites and books out there than can help you out. Below is a link to a site that shows 40 weight lifting exercises that are designed to tone your arms, legs, waist, back, chest, and shoulders.

Sandy at God Speak’s Today has posted about this very same thing previously. Here is the direct link to that post:
And don’t forget to take a look at her post today on making healthy family meals.


Gettin' Fine in '09 Challenge Week 10

Hello ladies! I hope all is well for you all. I can't believe we only have 2 weeks left in this challenge. I've been truckin' right along as usual. The only day I took off last week was Sunday, and that's going to be the same for me this week.

I weighed in this morning at 131 lbs.

Here is what I've done so far this week:
Monday - 1 hr 15 minutes cardio and weight lifting workout
Tuesday - Running Interval Week 3
Wednesday - 1 hr spin class and lifted on my legs
Thursday - Running Interval Week 3
Friday - I will be doing another cardio/weight training workout
Saturday - I plan to attend another 1 hr spin class

I've also been playing and running around a lot with my children. The weather has been nothing my beautiful!

Leave me a comment to let me know to head your way and check out how you did this week!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Eating Out - What To Do, What To Do?

There are so many temptations out there just calling our names. It seems like there is a fast food joint lurking at every corner, and then in between those are the ice cream parlors, Starbucks, and dine-in restaurants. Can’t catch a break can we???

So, the only way around these high calorie, fat soaking, water retaining joints are to beat them at their own game! How is that?... Figure out how to pick healthier choices. And if they don’t have “healthier” options, make something healthier by special ordering – Example: Asking for no mayo, choosing a whole wheat bun, or using Skim milk – no whip.

When I first started my weight loss journey back in June of 2008 I dreaded going out to eat, even if it was to a dine-in restaurant with family. I wanted to eat healthy, and not every place has healthy choices. I was scared to death of reeking havoc on my progress and all my hard work.

So, I started looking up some of my family’s favorite places to eat to figure out what was healthy. I also found it fun to see the fat and calories in things that I used to eat, or something that my brother or husband ate – Like Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, or a Basket of Buffalo Hot Wings.

In my searching I came across a Dotti’s site, who is avid about weight watchers. She has so many restaurants on her site with a lot of their menu selection broken down for you. Here are some examples of things that I thought weren’t too bad for me, but turns out that were a lot worse than expected.

From Taco Bell:
Chili Cheese Burrito: Fresco Style (280 cal/9 g fat/4 g fiber/40 g carbs)

From McDonald’s:
McChicken [5.2 oz] (370 cal/16 g fat/1 g fiber/41 g carbs)
French Fries: Medium [4 oz] (380 cal/20 g fat/5 g fiber/47 g carbs)

From Applebee’s:
Asian Chicken Salad (714 cal/9 g fat/9.6 g fiber/121 g carbs)

From O’Charley’s:
Pecan Chicken Salad (1925 cal/126 g fat/16 g fiber/42 g carbs)

Here’s one of my brother’s favorites from Applebee’s:
Buffalo Chicken Wings w/Bleu Cheese Dressing (1724 cal/132 g fat/2 g fiber/)
*Yep that’s right 132 grams of FAT!

Here’s my husband’s favorite from Olive Garden (and this isn’t counting the 6-7 breadsticks he has):
Fettuccine Alfredo: (850 cal/48 g fat/2 g fiber/70.5 g carbs)

I suggest checking out her site for yourself:

So, what I’ve learned from this is to know what my healthier options are before even going. At Taco Bell I usually get a hard soft taco, or Pinto’s in cheese. At McDonald’s when I don’t get a salad with light dressing, I choose my McChicken without mayo (that takes away 6 grams of fat by itself) and the I have maybe 10 fries from my kiddos. Their grilled snack wraps are good as well – minus the Ranch dressing. Applebee’s now has a weight watchers section that lets you know the calories and fat in them – love it! And O’Charley’s I now get their grilled California salad with no pecans or blue cheese crumble with the dressing on the side.

Here are a few of my tips when going out to eat:

1. Try to resist the bread basket as much as possible. If you choose to give in, then try breaking
it in half instead of eating a whole one.
2. Before your meal comes try feeling up on soup – like Olive Garden’s Minestrone. Broth soups
are much better than cream based.
3. Drink lots of water (this fills you up).
4. When your meal comes immediately ask for a to Go box. Put half of your meal in it to take
home. Restaurant meals cam usually feed two people!
5. Don’t feel bad about special ordering or even asking how things are made: no butter on your
veggies, dressing on the side, no mayo, no vegetable oil, etc.
6. Enjoy every bite – do NOT mindless eat. Savor!

I found some other website that give great tips and tricks to use with certain eateries.

Here is a link for Cold Stone Creamer, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Chipotle, Sbarro, and Baskin Robbins:

These other two just give great tips in general:


Don’t forget to skip on over to
Sandy at God’s Speaks Today and she what she has to say on Fitness Friday. Have a great week!


If you're looking for my Gettin' Fine in '09 post, it's directly below this!


AND - I don't normally direct traffic to my family blog but I wanted everyone to see my cute kids and their Eater photos. Go take a look at the link below - the videos are too cute!

The Foster Family

Gettin' Fine in '09 Week 9

Hey girls. I hope you all had great weeks. My back is healed and I've over my strep throat, so I was good to go this week! My weight went up a pound, but I figured that would happen due to not being able to push myself too hard last week - plus the fact that I can't seen to lay off the sweets! I'm tempted to just throw out ALL the Easter candy! I'm definitely a chocoaholic!

I actually started a running interval training program this week. One that I post about previously. (See my last post). It's a Lose Belly Fat 8 week program. I had to start at Week 2, because Week 1 wasn't hard enough for me. If your interested in joining me here is the link to the program:

I'm doing this on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

I'm lifting on my upper body and back on Mondays, on my lower body and abs on Wednesdays, and mixing upper and lower together on Fridays. Sundays will be my days off - God's day and family day!

On top of this I'm still planning on Spinning at least two day's a week (Wednesday & Saturday).

I feel that my body needed a change - you need to always keep it guessing!

Be sure and leave a comment. I want to see how you all did this week!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Benefits of Interval Training

What is interval training?

It's not as complicated as you might think. Interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.

Take walking for example. If you're in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks. If you're less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you're walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks. If you’re already a runner, run at a normal pace for 4-5 minutes then sprint for a minute – then back to your normal pace again.

With interval training (HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training) you are taking the body from an aerobic state and throwing it into an anaerobic state for only a short period of time. Anaerobic exercise is where the body is exercising at such a rate that the blood stream cannot supply oxygen to muscles fast enough.

Anaerobic exercise is essentially exercise without oxygen. This happens during high intensity and cannot be held for long periods of time. When the muscle that you are exercising is in this “oxygen deprived” state large amounts of lactic acid are produced. Lactic acid begins building up inside the muscle at a rate faster than it can be cleared creating muscle failure.

Evidence now suggests that a workout with steep peaks and valleys can dramatically improve cardiovascular fitness and raise the body’s potential to burn fat. Hum… How you might wonder?

By challenging both you aerobic and anaerobic systems simultaneously, you're improving your body's ability to burn calories by leaps and bounds. You're adding new muscle, which speeds up your metabolism of fat in general. You're getting an aerobic workout that burns lots of calories. You're pushing yourself beyond any plateaus that you may have hit doing the same thing over and over again. Your body is becoming a more efficient fat-burning machine.

Here is a description on how this process works. It might be a lot to take in (trust me, I read it about 4 times myself), but I’m breaking it down as best as I can.

Carbohydrate sources of glycogen (carbohydrates reserves stored in the muscle) can get used up fairly quickly in intense exercise. After the exercise the muscles find themselves depleted of energy stores. They have used up a large portion of there glycogen. These need to be replaced as soon as possible so the body starts converting all carbohydrates from the blood stream into glycogen rather than using it for energy. In simple terms, the muscle needs to refill its stockroom of energy so it starts taking the sugar out of your blood and converting into stored energy inside the muscle.

While this is going on the body still needs energy to run itself. The only area it can turn to for another source of energy is the fat supplied in the blood stream which is now readily available in an oxygen rich environment. This process is intense for about an hour after exercise, but continues for hours after the training. All this time the body is using fat which is pulled directly from our fat stores as its energy source.

Besides fat loss there are many other benefits from Interval Training. These include:
  • Getting a toned, athletic look - don’t just lose weight, mould your body into a shape that will be turning heads;
  • Tons and tons of energy - Imagine having energy for a full exciting life, you will have more energy than you know what to do with;
  • Super fitness - having a lot more cardio endurance and fitness than the guy who spend two hours on the treadmill each day;
  • Chase away disease - this exercise does wonders for lowering blood pressure and staving type 2 diabetes away; and
  • Energy - Automatically as you body loses weight, you will become aware of extra energy and vitality

I came across a very informative website on Interval Training, which I highly recommend:

It has 4 different interval training programs: 30 Second, 60 Second, Belly Fat Program, and Body for Life Program.

It goes into detail on the website as to what you should be doing on each of these. I have personally done the Body for Life Program when I was in college and I had success with it. After reading the “Lose Belly Fat Fast” program (which is an 8 week program) – I think I’m going to give it a whirl. Not to lose anymore weight, but to merely tone up before our summer vacation coming up in June. This vacation means a lot to me, why???

Because first of all it’s with family. We rent a house and all move in for a week. It’s loaded with everything you can imagine. It’s also the same house we went to last year where I saw pictures afterwards and it immediately prompted me to start Making the Cut where I’ve proceeded to lose about 25 lbs. So, after this summer I will be taking pictures and I’ll compare last year to this year. It will also be my blog’s 1st Birthday!

Here is a direct link to the programs that I described above. Just scroll to the very bottom of the page and you will see the links.

Don't forget to hop on over to see what Sandy has to say today at God Speak's Today. It's Fitness Friday!!!


As for you Gettin' Fine in '09 folks. My post for the week is directly below this one.

Gettin' Fine in '09 Week 8

Well lets just say this week did not start off on a good note for me. On Friday morning I went to the doctor with my children who had not been feeling well. I too had a nasty sore throat. Turns out that I had strep throat and they just had nasty colds. Funny huh!

Then on Monday I completed my workout and somehow tweaked my back to the point that it caused an inflamed / bulging disc. It's taken 4 trips to the chiropractor to get it all straightened out. I have been able to run and do only certain exercises. So here is what I did for the week:

Ran 3 Miles
Monday: 30 Day Shred (Level 2), ran 1 mile
Tuesday: Off Day
Wednesday: Ran 2 miles, arm exercises
Thursday: Interval Ran (2 miles), arm exercises, walking lunges, and abs
Friday: I plan on trying the 30 Day Shred. If it's too hard on my back I will be running again.

So how did you all do this week. I looking forward to hearing all about it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Who Works Out When They Have Strep Throat???

I DO - I DO!!!

I just found out Friday (after having a sore throat for 2 days) that I have strep throat. What amazes me is that my children and husband don't have it so where on earth did I get it???

I did manage a two mile run after coming home from the Dr's office, but I think it took every ounce of energy I had because below is a picture of me later on in the day. As you can tell - I was wiped! And my kids thought they still needed to climb all over me. My daughter, Avery kept rubbing my hair and bringing me my water bottle. She was just taking care of me.

Friday, April 3, 2009

WHAT to Eat Before Working Out

Last week I talked about “when” to eat if you’re working out. I also briefed over what fuels your body the best, so this week I wanted to give some examples.

First of all, you need to remember that the closer you get to your workout the fewer calories you should eat. You don’t want to workout on a full stomach. It takes the body four to six hours to digest fat, about three hours to digest protein and about two hours to digest carbohydrates. This is why it is recommended to eat very little protein and fat in your meal or snack as you get closer to your workout. Carbs get digested so much faster, and fruit even faster than that (it leaves the digestive track within 30 minutes).

So, here are a few rules of thumb to follow: If your workout is four hours away, eat a regular meal that combines protein, fat and carbohydrates, then follow this with a small carbohydrate-rich snack closer to your exercise session to tide you over (this is where I would eat a piece of fruit like a banana). Three hours before working out, make it a smaller meal and lighten up a bit on the protein and fat. Thirty to 90 minutes before exercise, have a snack of easily digested carbohydrates (see below). If you only have the 15 minutes between, say, leaving your office and hitting the gym to grab something, go for a sports drink or a few Saltines. Also keep in mind that while eating high-fiber foods is important for good health, they're best eaten after or long before exercise, since they can cause bloating and other annoyances that will make you feel uncomfortable when working out. If you can save your higher fiber food until after you’ve completed your workouts.

*** When I say sports drink that means one that it loaded with sugar. There are reasonable ones out there. Sure, their going to have sugar but you don’t want a TON of sugar. Sugar turns into carbs and when you drinking it before a workout it turns into fuel, but you don’t want to go overboard.

Ten snack ideas before a workout:

The snack should contain 40 to 100 grams of carbohydrates, and low in fat. Too much fiber may stimulate the digestive system at an inappropriate time.

  • Milk and 12 crackers, 2 tbsp. peanut butter (54 grams carb)
  • Banana and yogurt (56 grams)
  • Bagel with jelly and juice (83 grams)
  • Cereal (1 oz.) and milk (34 grams)
  • Juice and pretzels (50 grams)
  • Sports drink, 16 oz (30 grams)
  • Sports bar and water (20-50 grams)
  • Fresh fruits such as oranges or bananas, mango, watermelon (15-25 grams per)
  • Low-fat vegetable soup, chicken noodle or tomato and crackers (40-50 grams)
  • Blueberry muffin or fig bars and milk (45 grams)
  • Fruit juice
  • Pretzels
  • Bagels
  • Fruit smoothie

Some people do have a hard time exercising without eating first, especially if it’s been a long time since their last meal or snack. These individuals often are more sensitive to changes in their blood sugar levels, which fall during the first 15-20 minutes of workout. That drop in blood sugar can cause tiredness, mild dizziness, or even faintness—especially if your blood sugar was already low, but eating something beforehand can help prevent this. If you have health issues like diabetes or hypoglycemia that can cause low blood sugar, you’ll probably want to eat before your workout. If you get very hungry during a workout (and it interferes with your energy levels or focus), or become so intense after an exercise session that you end up overeating. These individuals should be eating before working out.

I am one of those people! I have chronically low blood sugar. To the point that I’ve collapsed in a Target after hitting the gym. Luckily this was “pre” kids. I now eat breakfast with my kiddos before I head off to the gym. I try to eat at least 2 hours before I go. Here are some things that I’ve been eating: Oatmeal topped with strawberries or blueberries, yogurt with a spoonful of crunchy granola, a veggie omelet with a slice of toast, an English muffin with 2 egg whites, Kashi cereal topped with blueberries. Carbs are good here since the body digests them more easily than protein. If I have less time than the 2 hours before going to the gym, I don’t eat the choices that I higher in protein.

Ideally, try to eat enough calories to equal about half the calories you expect to burn during your upcoming workout. So if you burn about 600 calories during your workout, aim for at least 300 calories during this meal, or a little more if your exercise is “high intensity” (over 75% of your maximum heart rate). At least 50-60% of these calories should come from carbohydrates, which should keep your blood sugar and energy levels fairly stable during your exercise session. Include some protein to help prevent the breakdown of muscle for fuel and give your muscles a headstart on recovery after exercise. Some good food choices and combinations for this kind of meal include:

Fruit and yogurt
Cereals (with more than 3 grams of fiber) and milk
Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
Hummus and raw veggies
Hard boiled eggs (or egg whites)
Cottage cheese and fruit
Half a peanut butter or turkey/chicken sandwich on whole grain bread
Whole grain crackers with nut butter or cheese
Whole grain fig (or fruit) Newton cookies
Milk (especially chocolate milk)
Tomato or vegetable juice
Yogurt smoothie (with added protein powder, if desired)
Most protein/energy bars

In the end, to lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than what you are burning. I know that sounds so easy, but honestly, it's not! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dont' forget to head over to God Speak's Today. It's Sandy's Fitness Friday post and she's always got something great to share.

Also, my fitness challenge post is right below this!

Gettin Fine In '09 Challenge Week 7

This week I have been dealing with some sick kiddos. And just yesterday I think I started getting what they have. Let's hope it moves on quickly.

I still got in all my workouts this week. I called off working out this morning with my friends due to my kids not doing so well yesterday, plus I'm taking a little trip to the doctor.

This morning I weighed 131. And here is what I did for the week:

Monday: Ran 1 Mile, 1 hr Zumba Class (950 calories)
Tuesday: Off Day
Wednesday: 1 hr spin class, followed by lifting on my arms (900 calories)
Thursday: 1 hr spin class, followed by lifting on my legs (1050 calories)
Friday: If I feel better I'll try to run on my treadmill. We will see!!

To top it all off. My "womanly" thing came another week early! This happened last month. I'm never an irregular girl, so this is throwing me off a bit. People have been telling me that the intensity of the cycling classes can do that to you. And I got to thinking... I've been doing it since February, and since doing it my cycles have all been off - so there may be a little truth to it.

The bad thing is... I can't stay away from chocolate!!! YIKES!

Be sure and leave me a comment so I can go and see how you all did this week.