Sigh… I’m a Chest-Breather

So, let’s start with the good news. Yesterday, I shaved 15 seconds off my pace.  I know it’s only 15 seconds but it is a goal I have been working on for a while. By February, I would like to shave at least another minute off of my pace. It still won’t put me in the same league as my running group but it will hopefully cure my fear of coming in dead last at Cowtown.

The not so good news: I will NEVER get any better or faster if I don’t learn how to breathe. Every time I run, I am gasping for air. I seem to have the same problem while boxing. (Yes, I said boxing. That’s a story for another post.) My trainer has to keep reminding me to breathe. For some reason, I barely breathe when I am active. After celebrating my achievement yesterday, I resolved to fix my breathing problem. I started with my favorite running source, Runner’s World. Their answer–I’m a chest breather and need to learn to be a belly breather. Here’s what the article says:

Most runners are “chest breathers”-not “belly breathers.” To help her clients see the difference, she has them run a mile at a pace that gets them huffing a bit. Then she has them stop and place one hand on their abdomen and one hand on their chest and watch. The lower hand should move with each breath, while the upper hand should remain relatively still (usually the opposite occurs). Every time you breathe in, your belly should fill up like a balloon. And every time you breathe out, that balloon should deflate. When you chest breathe, your shoulders get tense and move up and down. That’s wasted energy-energy you should conserve for running.

To learn to be belly breather, there is a pattern. I am supposed to coordinate my breathing with my steps and breathe with my mouth open (that will be interesting). Here’s how to develop the pattern:

Start with a 2-2 pattern-breathe in while stepping left, right; breathe out while stepping left, right. Advance to 3-3 (breathe in, step left, right, left; breathe out, step right, left, right), and then a 4-4 pattern.

While this doesn’t sound complicated, it does seem like a lot to focus on while running. I’m going to give this a try before my training session tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes.

There IS an app for that

I mentioned in one of last posts that my motivation is slowing. Just admitting that I wasn’t reaching goals helped some. It guilted me into an extra day at the gym. Still, I turned to Google to find some mobile motivation. While I didn’t find what I really hoping to come across, I did run across some very interesting apps.

The most interesting app I ran across was Foodeducate. This story behind this app is that is supposed to let you scan food and will give you what you really need to know about the food (without trying to translate the nutrition label). The app grades the food based on its nutrition facts and ingredient list and let’s you know the calories per serving. It also let’s you know the percentage of others that liked the food. It also gives you a few key points you should know about the food before eating it. Lastly, it will suggest better alternatives that may have less calories, sugar or unnatural ingredients.

Fooducate-cheerios

Here’s their slightly annoying video that shows how the app works. I highly suggest you mute your computer before pressing play. (Trust me on this.)

Upon further research of the app (Thanks breakingmuscle.com and Brighthand), I found that it seems the app has a food logging option, but it is currently only offered to iPhone users. Also, the app sends you advertisements (ick!)

Based on the reviews, so far the app has been successful. It has had favored reviews from USA Today, iMore and TIME. I personally judge the success of an app based upon user reviews and downloads. Currently, the app has almost 7500 reviews on Google Play. Overall, Fooducate has reviewed as average rating of 4.3 (out of 5) stars. It has been downloaded over 1 million times. The basic app is free and the pro version is $10. Of the reviews I read, the most common complaint was that the $10 was too much for the pro version.

While I have downloaded the app, I haven’t used it yet. (I forgot when I was in the grocery store today). I’m afraid to use it on food I already have in the house. Some things I just don’t want to know!

Besides, Fooducate, I also came across Calm. This app does just what the name insinuates: brings calm to your life. If the app is anything like the Calm website, it should be very calming. Unfortunately, I can’t use the app. It’s only available for the iPhone (boo!). Hopefully, the makers will get their act together and realize that Android users need zen too. In the meantime, all users can experience 2-, 5-,10,15-, and 20-minute zen sessions online.

Move It

I have a confession: I can’t run without my iPod. Seriously. It’s almost like trying to run without my shoes. Music is just such a great motivator when I’m not really into it or am ready to quit. The right song plays and I just keep going. Apparently, Nicole Nicohls, Tess, and Jess Denham all seem to agree – the right running song can be the kick in the pants you need.

Move It–that’s my playlist– gets updated periodically. Half the songs are pulled from other running lists I find online (there are tons!). The other half are just songs I hear that I think I would like to run to. Belows are some of the songs on my list. But don’t read it if you plan to judge it. Actually, never mind. Judge all you want. Judgment slows you down. So while you judge, I’ll run.

  • Girl on Fire (Inferno Version) – Alicia Keys
  • Dark Horse – Katy Perry
  • Let It Go – Demi Lovato
  • Fighter – Christina Aguilera
  • My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up) – Fall Out Boy
  • Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • Free Your Mind – En Vogue
  • I Wanna Be Bad – Willa Ford
  • Just Fine – Mary J. Blige
  • Brave – Sara Bareilles
  • Stronger – Kanye West
  • Freedom 90 – George Michael
  • Dangerous – Michael Jackson
  • Are We All We Are – P!nk
  • Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars
  • I Run for Life: – Melissa Etheridge
  • Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson

 

 

 

 

 

Social Fitness

As I mentioned before, there are TONS of sites and apps that can help anyone with just about any interest to reach their fitness goals. There are sites that record what you do, what you eat, how your feel, where your exercised, how long you exercised, who you exercised with and even some sites record why you succeeded or failed in meeting your goals. It seems the best, or at least the most popular, sites incorporate some type of social aspect into their sites. The social aspects serve as support for the users. Fitness and health sites also can’t deny that the social aspects of their sites are also beneficial to the sites themselves. The more you use it and share the results with your friends, the more you promote the sites.

While many people (including me) tend to want to be private about their fitness goals, they can’t deny that the social aspect (which is really a silent, grown-up form of peer pressure) is a great motivator. There is less of chance for you walking away from your goals when have 10 of friends watching you. Sites like SparkPeople and FitBit allow you share goals and results with friends and chosen strangers. SparkPeople also has forums that allow users to discuss issues.

Some sites, like MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal, make it even easier to publicize your success (or lack there of). With a click of a button, user information can be shared via Faebook, Twitter and email.

Several sites don’t require you to be a member to reap the benefits of the features they offer. Sites like SparkPeople, IDEA, and FitDay are loaded with fitness articles, videos, recipes, and nutrition guidelines. These features are accessible by going directly to the site. Many of them (especially Spark articles) will show up in topic Google searches as well.

Lastly –and I have to admit, I don’t get it– some sites, like Nike and New Balance, utilize Instagram. Users can post pictures of themselves mid workout. The images supposedly inspire others. While I think might be a great way for Nike and New Balance to improve their brands’ social aspect, I am not sure what the users are getting out of it.

Here’s the bottom line. There are tons of sites out there. Their sites’ goals to improve their standings in the social media environment will make them show up in your forums, blogs, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter news feeds, and Google searches. The key not to latch onto the sites that show up the most, but onto what site works best for you to help you reach your goals.

Hurdles

Depending on the race, sometimes there are hurdles to get over. Right now, I have come up against some of my own.

The first hurdle – It’s official. My fitness watch and my skin are not friends. I have the Garmin Forerunner 15. I have had almost 2 months and wear it religiously. A few weeks ago, I noticed skin irritation but wasn’t sure it was the watch. The picture below shows when the blisters started healing. I am not sure what to do for many reasons. The watch step counter was great motivation during the day. It actually told me to move when I sat too long. Also, the run/walk feature was helping me with the running. Plus, I have purchased both the foot pod and heart monitor that goes with the watch.

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Second hurdle – I need to find ways to eat better. Because of my schedule, I haven’t cooked as much I would like to which leads me to not as good as I should at dinnertime. Last weekend, I tried making lots of food on Sunday. Unfortunately, by Wednesday, I didn’t really want everything I cooked.

Third hurdle – I had planned to exercise 3 times a week but have only been doing 2. I run on Saturdays and box on Tuesdays.  Lately, I have been too tired to get up early enough to work out before work. I usually work really long days, so once I get home, I am not really motivated to work out.

Now that I have acknowledged these hurdles, I hopefully can truly face them and find ways to get over them.

A few of my favorite things

So far in my journey, I have found a wealth of tools available to those looking to live a healthier life. There is just about an app for everything. After wading through the sea of tools, I found that the tools listed below are my favorites:

#1-Cooking Light: I fell in love with Cooking Light (CL) magazine years ago. As an amateur chef, CL recipes give me my foodie fix without breaking the calorie bank. CL’s website (cookinglight.com) and app makes it easy to find recipes, healthy eating tips, plus get tips from other users. Recipes are rated by users, who often give their reviews, recipe modifications and serving suggestions. The app allows me to also search for, save and share recipes and make shopping list to take on the go. Unfortunately, the app is only available for the iPad and iPhone. It really needs to be offered to Android users as well.

Screenshot 2014-07-13 20.45.21

#2-Map My Fitness: Because I started to pretend to run, I wanted something to track my how far I run and how (not) fast I was going. ML suggested Map My Run. It is a great app and site that tracks your runs and allows me to keep a record of my running routes. I actually use its sister site, Map My Fitness, which tracks more than just running. It allows me to track all my fitness efforts. It features a journal where I can track how I feel, how I slept, my weight and my calorie intake. It also has a place to record big events like races. The site allows me to link to Garmin Connect and My Fitness Pal. MapMyFitness also allows me to connect with friends. We can see each others’ fitness activities and comment on them (this to me a big motivator!). What I thought it lacked was a food diary, but I discovered the diary location today (which is crazy since I have been using it for months!). Map My Fitness has tons of great features, I just wish it were organized better to make it easier to find and use them all. Also, I wish the app included a bar code scanner that would allow you to scan food to enter it.

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#3-Garmin Connect: I started my journey out with the fitness band, the FitBit Force. After having it for 3 months, the Force was recalled. After the recall, I searched for a new fitness band. During the search, I took up running. Correction: I took up whatever it is you do before you take up running. To help me actually learn to run, I decided I needed a runner’s watch, which is how I landed on the Garmin Forerunner 15. It combines a runner’s watch with a fitness band. (Go here to read more about the Forerunner 15.) Garmin has its own fitness tracking site and app, Garmin Connect. By simply syncing my watch with the site, it will track information on my runs including distance, altitude, pace and heart rate (if you have a heart rate monitor). While Connect is the easiest way to record the data from my watch, I wish this tool offered more of the features that Map My Fitness does, like a food diary.

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#4-@ShaunTFitness: When I first started being more active, I started with the Shaun T DVD, Hip Hop Abs. Though its commercial is corny, the workout is not joke. Shaun T makes you move and work but in a much more engaging way than other fitness videos I have tried. After using the DVD for a while, I started to follow Shaun T via Twitter. I love reading his tweets because he is often very motivating. He reminds you that your human and it is okay to stray a little from your plan as long as its in moderation and you return to it.

Screenshot 2014-07-13 20.52.10

It begins

A few months ago, I decided to be healthier. I needed to loose weight and become more active, but I didn’t want to use fad diets or quick fixes. I wanted to find something I could stick with which meant I needed to cut down on the bad stuff and increase the good stuff, without being miserable and totally abandoning everything thing I love. This blog is my record of my journey to find a healthier me and to find the balance between my health and enjoying the things I love in life — like chocolate chip cookies.