Wheatberries – good for weight loss!

Wheatberries are a funny little grain.

While they are sometimes hard to find (I get mine at Whole Foods in the bulk aisle), they are worth their weight in gold when you add them to your regular diet. They are good for maintaining and balancing your regularity and help with weight control because only a small handful fills you up! And they are fat-free.

Wheatberries, also known as Hard, Red Winter Wheat, are a whole grain that is very high in fiber (the insoluble kind which keeps you fuller for longer), Antioxidants and Vitamin E.

If you are able to find them then they are very easy and versatile to add to your weekly menu. You can add them to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning, your salad at lunch, and your stir-fry dinner. They can be a replacement for rice or pasta and added to soups or breads. Sometimes you can find ‘Wheatberry bread’ – check by the organic breads at your supermarket.

To prepare wheatberries, put them in a pot with water, bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to med-low and let them perk for about a half hour. When they are done they will be a nutty-tasting plump little chewy grain. You can store cooked wheatberries in your fridge for the week and uncooked ones will keep in the cabinet for about a month.

Beginner 5K Prep

If one of your goals this year is to run a 5K then now is the time to start preparing yourself. While you can find 5K races throughout the year, many of them are held in April & May before the summer vacations start and are usually held for a local charity or fund-raiser. I enjoy participating in the local races because it’s much less about competition and more about being a part of the event.

For beginners it’s the best place to start. You set a goal for yourself of running the race and finishing it which gives you the motivation to train for it and the committment to keep at it because you’ve already signed up. And for beginners who take that leap toward their first race, the satisfaction of crossing the finish line is exhilarating! It can be addicting – “runner’s high” is a real thing.

So, how do you get started? You just need to start…

This weekend is the perfect time to start your training. Try this:
Week 1 – twice this week alternate between walk and run for 15 minutes
Week 2 – same thing but bump it up to 20 minutes
Week 3 – again…this time for 30 minutes
Week 4 – drop it back down to 15 minutes but no walking this time
Week 5 – add in a 3rd day – 15 minutes straight running
Week 6 – keep with the 3 days 20 minutes – no walking this time
Week 7 – 3 days, 30 minutes run – walk a tiny little bit every 10 minutes but only if in you need it
Week 8 – 3 days, 35 minutes run
Week 9 – 3 days , 40 minutes straight run
Week 10 – your first 5K!!!!

If you have access to a track than I would suggest starting there. If you want to measure distance then once around a track is a quarter-mile. That can get a little boring if you do that every day so you may want to run around your neighborhood or in a park trail. This is also more realistic since your 5K is probably going to have your running on black top.

Happy Training!

Broad Street – Here I come!

I’m very excited. This morning after about an hour of trying the website and having it hang every time I hit the next button I finally received my confirmation that I was officially registered for The Broad Street Run. Yay!

I’m more excited because the rest of my running plans and goals for 2012 can be finalized. I try to schedule one race per month. This keeps me motivated and engaged in my training. I’ve started with a winter run this year already – the 9.3 miler aptly named the “Terrible Tyler” after the hills at Tyler State Park. One of them is actually named “The Widow Maker”. It’s a bad hill. The remainder of my races will mostly be monthly 5K’s starting in March, with the Broad Street 10 Miler in May, the NJ State Triathlon in July, and the Philadelphia Marathon in November. I’ll probably through in a Mud Run for fun because I’ve never run one and I like to try one new race per year to keep it interesting. There is also an 18 mile run in LBI in October that’s nice.

So, over the next several weeks and months I will be writing about training in addition to nutritional tips & tricks. You don’t have to be entered in an official race to consider yourself in training. Training can be just you wanting to fulfill your goal of being healthier, losing weight, or relieving stress (or all 3!)

For now, the countdown is on for me and about 30,000 other runners who managed to register for Broad Street in a record time of 5 hours. I’m thinking it can’t be harder than a marathon…

One month to go!

It’s just under one month until Daylight Savings Time. Do you know what that means? Spring is almost here and the unofficial running season begins!

Of course running doesn’t have an official season. Plenty of us are consistently and diligently on our treadmills at home or at the gym all winter long, or just when we get the urge to move off of the couch. I personally despise the treadmill. Yes, I’m a runner who hates the treadmill and will do anything to avoid it. If I’m forced to get my cardio workout indoors you will find me on the elliptical, maybe the bike, definitely in the pool, but very rarely on the treadmill. I will run outside, albeit lower mileage, as long as it’s not so cold that it hurts to breathe…and even then sometimes I will brave it if it’s not windy.

So, this is why I personally get excited for Daylight Savings Time. There’s more light at the end of my workday that I can actually get some decent running in during the week. And with the daylight comes the warmth, or at least the progression toward warmth. I don’t have to cram my cardio in at the gym and hope that there’s a good movie playing in the cardio room :-). I’m not a morning person so the sunrise run is not for me. If you are one of those people who can manage to perform at those ungodly hours than I tip my hat to you!

The message that I want to convey is that it’s OK if you’re one of the many people who aren’t as motivated to exercise during the cold winter months. Most of us are in that same boat. However, with just a few weeks until the lighter and warmer weather, you may want to start thinking of what you want to do come early to mid March.

Things to consider and prepare yourself:
1 – Look at your sneakers and see if you need a new ones (if your soles look worn it’s time for a new pair)
2 – Spend some time at the gym or at home strengthening your leg and core muscles
3 – Check out your gear and make sure you have comfortable clothing to run in
4 – Determine a location for your first few runs (local track, neighborhood, park trails)

Having a plan and going through a few steps to prepare for your running will help you get motivated, increase your committment to your workouts, and reduce your risk of throwing in the towel after your first time out there.

Happy Training!

Spice it up!

Spice it up! Your workout that is…

I’m referring to Cross-Training. Since it’s close to Valentine’s Day I thought that I would remind everyone that it’s not only our love lives that need a little spice this time of year. Some people may be intimidated by the thought of Cross-Training and possibly have visions of buff Triathletes but Cross-Training is really for everyone.

Cross-Training is simple. All you need to do is choose something different in your workout. It could be anything!

– If you’re mainly a runner, then try swimming a few laps for a workout instead (most High Schools offer open swim time for a nominal fee).
– If you’re a cyclist, try running.
– If you’re just starting out at the gym, make sure you alternate between the different cardio machines.

When you Cross-Train, you’re challenging your body in a different way than its used to and your body responds. This happens your body becomes efficient when it performs one task over and over again and you through it a curve ball by changing the task. Your body will work harder to adapt and learn the new task, burn more calories doing it, and you’ll fend off boredom.

So make the effort to try something new in your workout.

Happy Training!

Quinoa – The Super Grain!

With February being heart-healthy month, it makes sense to talk about what foods to eat for a healthy heart. Everyone else is, right? There are a whole boat-load of recipes out there but I want to suggest you try one that’s a little more out of the ordinary…Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). I’m sure I’m not the only one who mispronounced it the first time 🙂

Quinoa is a superfood, although I’m not sure if it made the official list yet but it has my vote. It’s a grain that packs a ton of protein – more than any other grain. It contains as almost as many amino acids as meat does and it’s loaded with more vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium that other grains. The heart-healthy kick comes from all of the insoluble fiber is has along with some mono & polyunsaturated fat – the good kind! This means it will fill you up and keep you running smoothly. Because of these wonderful nutrients it battles not only heart disease, but cancer, diabetes and stroke, and gives your immune & digestive system a boost. My favorite thing about it is that it really fills me up without being heavy.

How do you cook it? Pretty much the same as you would cook rice and it’s more versatile. It comes in flavors too. Use it with sauteed veggies, toss it in soup or put a scoop in your salad. You can add dried fruit to it for a sweeter flavor to balance it’s nutty flavor. You can also make burgers out of it…or at least cut our some of the meat by mixing it in.

If you’re new to Quinoa then get the regular flavored kind (Trader Joe’s makes a good one) and toss in some veggies & chicken for a nice stir fry, then experiment from there.

Good Form = Better Workout

It’s true. When you’re working out regardless of whether you’re using free weights, machines, exercise bands or balls, you need to have proper form. Why? There are two main reasons: Injury Prevention & Bigger Bang for your Fitness Buck.

When I was at the gym earlier this evening and I was resting between sets of the leg press, I was watching my mom on the machine circuit. I had coerced her into joining me because she hasn’t been there in a little while :-). On three separate machines I noticed that she hadn’t adjusted the seats properly to her height/frame and wasn’t in the best position on the machine to be getting the optimal benefit for the time she was spending on it. When she reached the tricep extension she looked like she was going to hurt herself so I intervened.

There is an easy way to fix this and it’s not avoiding the equipment. On the machine circuits they have a help box with pictures on each of them. They tell you the name of the machine, show you a picture of what muscles they target, and give you step by step instructions on how to use it. Most of us don’t even look at it! We watch someone else go first and assume they are doing it right becuase we don’t want to look silly to the other people or pretend we don’t know what we’re doing.

Next time you’re at the gym and using the machines, take 1 minute to review the help box. Do this even if you think you know how to use the machine because you might find you’re not using it to it’s potential – get the most out of your time spent at the gym! Make sure you’ve properly adjusted the leg or arm height, hold the handles the correct way, and don’t use other parts of your body to compensate for trying to lift a weight that is too heavy for you.

Examples of what NOT to do: letting your elbows come away from your body when doing tricep push-downs or bicep curls, lifting your butt off of the chair while attempting chest or shoulder presses, and putting your feet too far down on the leg press platform.

When in doubt – ask the staff at the gym…they can help you.

Happy Training!