Yoga On the Go

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Although I travel quite a bit for work, I always find time to fit in a run or a workout. Some people use work-related travel as an excuse to forgo workouts. But I’m a firm believer of the mantra – where there’s a will, there’s a way. Most of the time, it’s easy to just go for a run in the city or to use the hotel gym’s treadmill. However, there are those times when fitting a run in seems almost impossible. I’m sure you’ve all been there:

  • You get in too late to your destination city to fit in a outdoor run and you don’t want to pay the hotel gym fee for a 45-minute run
  • The area where you’re staying is too sketchy for you to run outside; plus, the hotel only has two treadmills, both of which are out of order
  • It’s terrible weather outside, which sends you to the hotel gym only to find it’s too packed to find an open machine

Although I’d choose running over all forms of exercise, I’d prefer to do any type of exercise over none at all. In situations where I can’t run while traveling, I find it good to have a back up plan. Here’s how I cope…

Pack Your Workout: I received a yoga mat for my birthday and it is a wonderful fitness tool to have! It is thin enough to fit in my suitcase and even my carry on, yet still provides a quality yoga mat feel. I just put a hotel towel down on the floor, throw the mat over it, grab my yoga pose book, and I’m good to go.

Try e-Yoga: And speaking of yoga, iTunes has several free downloadable audio and video yoga podcasts (like Yoga Today), ranging from hatha to flow, and more. You can also print out several yoga sequences through Yoga Journal or download sequences at Yoga Download.

Workout Anywhere: Health and fitness magazines and their corresponding Web sites are great resources for workouts that you can do anywhere. Women’s Health magazine has a great list of ipod friendly workouts to download and Shape magazine has several spot-training workouts you can access with an Internet connection. Bonus – most workouts can be done right in your own hotel room.

So, as you can see, even if you’re confined to your hotel room, there’s really no excuse for skipping your workout. Now get going!

5 Ways to Avoid Snacking

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Hi All! I’m back from Austin and I am tired! I’m so glad that I have about 3 weeks to recuperate until I travel again. And speaking of traveling…

Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?

This morning, while on my 5 mile run, I noticed one of those radar speed signs that tell drivers how fast they are going. As I approached the sign, I noticed it posted 27 MPH, referring to the previous car that went past. As I came closer to the sign, the number quickly change to 8 MPH…then hovered between 8 and 7! How cool is that – a speed radar sign that seemed to accurately capture my running miles per hour! Next time, I’m going to take a picture to prove it – he he! See officer, I wasn’t speeding, but I’m on track for a PR!

Stress and the Snack Monster

As most of you know, I’ve been a little stressed and frustrated at work these days. There have been significant changes in the staffing model of our group, which is causing great uncertainty and unrest among the troops. As a result of this and other daily stressors, I’ve had the urge to snack more throughout the day. I’ve even found that I need to bring out all of my “tricks” to get me to stop snacking, including:

5 Ways to Beat the Snack Monster

  1. Chew gum – This can provide a temporary fix of having something in your mouth to chew. Although, if you chew too much and too often, you may take in too much air, leaving you with a bloated feeling.
  2. Eat a mint – Again, this gives your mouth and teeth something to do while your mind is resisting the urge to snack.
  3. Brush your teeth – Brushing my teeth gives me that clean fresh feeling in my mouth. Brushing also seems to send a signal to my brain that I’m finished eating for the time being.
  4. Use a teeth whitening strip – I keep these handy at home, in my purse, and on trips. Not only do they make your teeth whiter, but you have to wait 30 minutes before taking them off, which is usually enough time for the snacking urge to pass.
  5. Drink a glass of ice cold water – Sometimes when we have the urge to snack, it’s really because we are thirsty. Drinking a glass of really cold water takes care of that thirst and makes you feel full all in a few gulps!

What are your tricks to avoid snacking during the day?

A Weekend of Y & R

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. While many people use their weekends to grab a little R&R (rest and relaxation), my weekends seem to be filled with Y&R:

  • Y = YOGA

Saturday morning, I made it to yoga 30 minutes before start time to find that there were still spots left – yes! Last week, I arrived 15 minutes prior to class and was out of luck. Because I arrived so early, I claimed my yoga spot in the studio, then jumped on a treadmill for 15-minutes of interval walking. Then, it was time for class…

(photo courtesy of Flickr)

Y is for YOGA

The yoga instructor on Saturday mornings is amazing. She’s just the right mix of cheerful, helpful, and very knowledgeable. Even though it is a basic yoga class, she definitely makes you work. Lots of hip openers, three-legged dogs, sun salutations, and even a shoulder stand! This week, the class was especially warm – almost like we were doing Bikram instead of Hatha!

Whenever I go to yoga, not only to I come home refreshed and very bendy, but I also feel the need to shop for more yoga clothes. That can be very dangerous for your budget, especially when Lucy is just a 5-minute drive away – he he!

R is for RUNNING

Fast-forward to Sunday morning…Sunday is typically my long-run days. This week, I had planned on running 8 miles (last week’s long run was 7) but I ended up running 9 miles! The temperature was cool – about 60 degrees with a slight breeze – perfect for running. So, somewhere around mile 6, the endorphins kicked in and I had that distinct euphoric feeling that runners brag about. This “runner’s high” is different for everyone, but for me, it makes me feel like I could run for miles and miles, with little to no effort. So at that point, I challenged myself to run 9 instead of 8. By the time I reached home, 72 minutes later (that’s 8-minute miles for those of you who are counting!) I realized that I could have probably run another mile or so. Hmm, maybe I’m more ready for that half-marathon than I thought!

Well, I’m off to pack for Austin – I’m there tomorrow and Tuesday. Have a great night!

Should you stretch before running?

Hey everyone! Today’s lunchtime yoga session at the office was awesome! It’s not the type yoga that gets you all sweaty. It’s gentle yoga, the kind that stretches your muscles, but at the same time relaxes you so that you are refreshed for the rest of the afternoon. Great news too – the yoga instructor is lowering her rates – only $10 a session now instead of $15 – woo hoo!

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Stretching Before Exercise

While we’re on the topic of stretching, there’s been quite a debate over the last few years about stretching before working out. But recent studies have shown that static stretching before playing a sport makes you weaker. In addition, the CDC reviewed over 100 studies related to static stretching and found that people who did not stretch prior to exercise were no more likely to suffer injuries than those who did stretch.

Running Superstitions

Although significant evidence is suggesting that pre-exercise stretching is not recommended, experts say it will be hard to change decades of ingrained stretching behavior, particularly for runners. Like most athletes, I think runners have their rituals and superstitions. Some have their favorite shirts, lucky socks, and some have a certain stretching routine. So, if you’ve always stretched before running, and it’s worked for you so far, than why break the routine and mess with superstition?

For the most part, I do not stretch before running and haven’t in years. The most I do are a few ankle and trunk rotations, just to wake up my ankles and back before I set off. This has worked for me for many years, without problems, and I’m not about to change now. Just superstitious, I guess. After all, I’m a runner.

Birthday – Take Two

Just when I thought my birthday was over, my husband surprised me with a present! He kept asking me what I wanted but I never gave him a definitive answer. When I arrived home from work today, there was a big gift bag waiting for me on the table with wrapped presents inside. So what did I get?

Present #1 – A Gaiam travel yoga mat! I’ve been wanting one of these so bad!! I’m really trying to get back into the practice of yoga. However, since I’ve been traveling so much for work, I’ve been really inconsistent. Solution – take yoga with me on the road! I’m definitely taking this to Austin next week – yeah! I’ve already downloaded a bunch of Yoga Today sequences from iTunes (free video podcasts), including sequences for travelers, morning/evening, and for runners. Can’t wait!

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

And now onto present #2 – A Spa Day all to myself! This is a double delight – not only do I get the spa treatment for a few hours but I also get peace and quiet – and what mother doesn’t want that ­čÖé I’m hoping I can find a day spa that does it all – facials, massage, nails, and yoga – wouldn’t that be fantastic!

Gotta run, I’m off to research day spas!

Social Media-Free Birthday

Happy Birthday to ME!! Yes, today was my (add number here) birthday. For the last few years, I have spent my birthday away from home – in Orlando, San Diego, Key West, etc. But, because I’ve been traveling so much for work, I’m really glad I was able to spend this one at home.

Cupcake with colorful sprinkles

This morning, the kids woke up around 6AM and Scott so nicely got up with them, leaving me to “sleep in” until 7 AM. When I finally jumped out of bed, I was greeted by birthday wishes and homemade birthday cards – including one from Scott. Very sweet.

Birthday Run

Even though today was my birthday, I still went out for my normal Sunday morning run – this time, it was a 7-miler. For nearly an hour, it was just me and the road – which is precisely how I like it. The last time I ran 7 miles (I think on Wednesday), my legs were so heavy on the last mile. I really had to push myself to finish. Today, I felt much stronger, like I could have run another mile or two. I’ll soon see how I do with added mileage since I’m scheduled to run an 8-miler this week.

Birthday Treats

By the time I arrived home from my run, at least an hour had passed. When I walked through the door, the kids yelled “surprise” and presented me with an assortment of treats from our local bakery. Not the healthiest, but it’s ok once in a while, plus, it’s the thought that counts. The kids were so excited that they had picked out a chocolate coffee cake, a cherry danish, and a lemon bar for all of us to share. I have to admit, they all tasted really good, but I really can’t let myself get used to that type of breakfast. To offset the starch and sugar, I had some Dannon Strawberry Greek yogurt – high in protein, which is great for post-run fueling.

Birthday Fun

The rest of the day was spent with family – lunch, soccer practice, then onto the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Although the whole day could be considered a wonderful birthday, I think my favorite part was seeing the kids “dance” in their car seats to Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants the way home from the zoo. Mr. C even declared, “This is the best song in the whole world!” Not sure how much weight that statement has coming from a 5-year old who has only heard the song a couple times!

Because I was away from home most of the day, I had nearly a social media-free birthday, which felt SO good! Having a computer/Internet/Social Media-free day every once in a while can feel so liberating. When I do have the chance to do this, I have to admit, it’s hard to come back.

Ok, I’m off to get ready for work tomorrow. Have a great night!

Exercise All Day Long

Wednesday was a day full of fitness. It literally seemed like I was exercising all day long. It went something like this…
  1. Run
  2. Yoga
  3. Walk
Yoga pose

I started with a 7 mile run – 7 miles in 58 minutes to be exact! This is actually a little slower than I’ve been running the last two weeks. I’ve been averaging 745-8:00 minute miles, running for a max of 6.2 miles (10K). Today, my average was 8:20 – so I guess that last mile really slowed me down.

Next up, yoga! I went to a lunchtime yoga session right in our office. This is my first time practicing yoga in about 3 weeks because I’ve been traveling so much – excuses, excuses ­čÖü The session, which was attended by 5 other women in the office, lasted for nearly an hour. I was secretly thankful when the class finally ended because I was so hungry!

After work, I stopped by an outdoor mall to walk and browse for about 30 minutes. It was 80 degrees and sunny, even at 5 PM, so it was a great afternoon for a walk outside. It always seems so much easier to exercise when it’s nice outside. I wonder if I would exercise even more if I lived somewhere where it was nice all of the time – like San Diego. Hmmm, now there’s an idea.

Ok, off to read before bed. I have another fitness-packed day planned for tomorrow so I’ve got to get some sleep!

On second thought…Eggs

I am not a huge fan of eggs. I probably eat them twice a month, if that. I definitely don’t dislike eggs – but rather I don’t give them a second thought. Years ago, eggs were thought to be “bad” for your health – they were high in fat, cholesterol, etc. But in recent years, research has actually shown that eggs are, in fact, good for us when eaten in moderation. They may even help us lose weight.

A recent study in the journal Nutrition Research showed that men who ate an egg-based breakfast consumed significantly fewer calories during the day compared to men who ate a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. Although both breakfasts had the same amount of calories, the protein-packed egg breakfast seemed to keep the men fuller throughout the day, resulting in 400 fewer calories consumed. And we all know that consuming fewer calories on a daily basis can lead to weight loss, which for most Americans, would be a good thing.

Still a little skeptical, I decided to test out the egg waters. After my fast 4-mile run, my husband made me an omelette consisting of:

  • 2 egg whites and 1 egg
  • 3/4 oz cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 2 tbs salsa
  • 1 slice of bacon

The omelette was perfect and just what I needed after a hard run. In addition, I seemed to feel full all the way to lunch and beyond. In fact, I had absolutely no snacks today! I’m not sure if my snack-free day was the result of my egg breakfast, but I’m definitely willing to give eggs a second thought.

Business Travel Fitness

Often times, people use business travel as an excuse to avoid or postpone their workouts. They’re too busy, too tired, or too stressed to workout. Well, I’m just the opposite. I see business travel as a prime opportunity to enhance my workout – I get to run in a new city, with new sites, new routes, etc. No matter how tired or busy I am, I always find time for a run when I’m traveling for business.

Upward dog yoga pose

For instance, I just returned from Disney World where I was on 4-day business trip. Each day, the conference lasted from about 8 AM to 5:30 PM, followed by an evening reception or dinner with my team. This schedule included longer hours than I was used to in a normal workweek. Yet, 3 of the 4 days I managed to run. I would get up by 6 AM and be out the door by 6:15/6:30 AM. I would head out in the dark toward the Magic Kingdom, taking in all of the morning sounds – including early-rising families anxious to get to the park upon its opening, birds and other wildlife, workers spraying the sidewalks and vegetation, and, most importantly, the music and magic that illuminated from the Magic Kingdom itself. The path leading from the resort past the Magic Kingdom was about 1.75 miles round trip. This was not the best distance, but the path repetition was much better than vying for a treadmill in the resort. My runs would last anywhere from 30-45 minutes, which brought me back in time to meet my group at the 8 AM session. I loved knowing that I was finished with my workout even before most people were having breakfast.

I admit, getting just 6 hours of sleep 4 nights in a row, coupled with early morning runs really takes a toll on the body. But to me, it’s all worth it in the end. If you are like me and travel quite a bit for work or even for fun, remember that you don’t have to neglect your exercise routine while you’re away. Even if you can’t put in your full/regular workout, doing a partial workout can reenergize you and keep you from feeling guilty about all the food and martinis you may be consuming.

Just like jello, no matter where you are, there’s always room for a workout! Here are a few ideas on how to burn a few calories on your next trip:

  • Run or walk around the resort/hotel or city, provided you feel safe.
  • Utilize the hotel gym. If your hotel doesn’t have its own gym, ask if they partner with a local gym that hotel guests can use.
  • Do yoga or stretching in your room. Try yoga download for great yoga routines on the go.
  • Arrange to take a bike or hiking tour with a local company or borrow a bike and a map from the hotel.
  • Swim in the hotel pool.
  • Pack a jump rope and jump in your room (if on the ground floor) or outside in a garden area.

Here’s to more safe, healthy, and happy travels!

Easy Ways to Add Movement to Your Day

When it comes to exercise, I am first and foremost, a runner. I run for many reasons – for exercise, the freedom it gives me, etc, but I also love to run because it is a great calorie-burning sport. Running truly is one of the best ways to burn calories and lose weight, but it is definitely not the only way.

To burn calories and eventually lose weight, you can walk, bike, swim, or do anything that keeps you moving at a moderate to fast pace for at least 30 minutes a day. And the exercise doesn’t have to be a dedicated sport either. It can simply be adding in more moderate intensity movement throughout your day. For instance, even though I burn plenty of calories running, I still try to move as much as I can throughout the day to give my metabolism and my heart an extra boost. Here are some of my favorite ways to move and burn extra calories at work and at home…

At Work

  • A few times a week, I try to take a brisk walk at lunch, whether it’s at a nearby mall or around the neighborhoods near my office.
  • Instead of or in addition to instant messaging or sending an email, I try to take a quick walk to deliver a colleague’s message. In most cases, more face time with other co-workers, especially those at the senior level, is a good thing.
  • When coworkers suggest heading out for lunch, I try to find a place that’s close enough for all of us to walk.
  • If I’m feeling sluggish at work and don’t have time for a walk, I’ll do a few standing leg raises (lift your leg straight back while holding onto the back of a chair) or stretches in my office or in a closed conference room.
  • Any excuse I have to go out to my car, I take it. I park at the far end of the lot so it’s a fast 10 minutes roundtrip. It’s a great energy boost, while burning calories at the same time.

At Home

  • I have very thick wavy hair that takes forever to dry, even with a blow dryer. To add extra movement during these 15 minutes, I do lunges and squats while drying my hair. If you’re not used to these, take it easy because you WILL feel it the next day!
  • Whenever my husband and I go out to eat, we try to add in some type of activity before or after our meal, ie. walking around at the bookstore or the mall.
  • When eating at home, I like to take a walk with my husband and the kids before or after the meal. It’s a great way to relax and reconnect. If it’s bad weather, I crank up the music and dance around with the kids in the living room. They love it and I still get to burn extra calories.
  • When we look for weekend family activities, we try to incorporate movement in some way. This could be swimming at our YMCA, walking around at the city museum or zoo, going for a hike, or going to the play park.
  • I walk up and down my stairs an much as I can – with or without laundry or a child in tow.

How do you fit in extra movement throughout the day?