As someone who is not only interested in fitness but also an ACE-certified group fitness instructor, I am always on the lookout for information or products that are new or helpful to either my own health and wellness goals, those of the people in my classes, or both.
After meeting Andrea Metcalf, a fitness expert based in the Chicago area, at the Blogher conference in August, I’ve been keeping an eye out for information regarding her upcoming book, Naked Fitness (which is about “stripping off all of the excuses” and not exercising with no clothes on, as you might wonder). The book is coming out on December 28 (just in time for those inevitable New Year’s resolutions, huh?). I was lucky to be able to attend a bunch of workshops that were in conjunction with promoting the book launch, and I thought I’d share a summary with you.
The first workshop I attended was a lecture on the benefits of drinking chocolate milk after a workout. If you’re a fan of chocolate milk as I am, you’ll be happy to know that chocolate milk is actually the BEST post-workout snack because it contains the protein, carbs, electrolytes, fluids, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, and other nutrients you need to refuel muscles, build muscle and help reduce exercise-induced damage, and hydrate and replenish electolytes. The lecture was given by the nutritionist to the Portland Trailblazers, Ruth Carey. We learned all kinds of fascinating information, like:
1. After a tough workout, you should have some kind of snack within thirty minutes after it’s over, as well as another snack or a meal within two hours.
2. Though water is important, if you guzzle down a bunch of it at a time when you’re really thirsty or post-workout, it will leave the body quickly because you will have to visit the restroom. If you drink milk, however, it stays in your system longer, helping you to stay hydrated.
3. Chocolate milk IS indeed better than white milk, because it’s got carbohydrates AND protein.
One of my favorite new pieces of information that I received that morning was something I already knew but hadn’t ever heard explained this way before; it totally makes sense and is a great visual, too. Andrea was talking at the end of the hour about how most people are loading the end of their day with calories by eating a small breakfast (or no breakfast!), a bigger lunch, large dinners and then, often dessert. She said that people should really focus on eating a well-balanced breakfast that uses up about one-third of their daily calorie allowance and eat smaller meals (with snacks) as the day goes on. She said (here’s the visual) that you should “eat how you want to look”: imagine an upside-down triangle. The wide part that’s at the top represents your breakfast, and as the day goes on (and you look towards the bottom of the triangle), your calorie intake goes down, ending with that little triangle point, which is little to no dessert. Andrea said that many people eat the opposite way (picture a right-side-up triangle), and that’s why so many of them are heavier than what is healthy for them. I love this, don’t you?
I also attended a TrainerMat workshop, during which Andrea conducted a yoga class segment and did a little focusing on stretching out our lower backs. It was an amazing workout. TrainerMats are pretty awesome, by the way: they have workout diagrams on them so you can have a little guidance in your home workout. Andrea created the TrainerMat for Weight Loss (which we all received as a gift).
After the TrainerMat workshop, I listened to a lecture about the benefits of consuming tart cherries. Researchers believe that tart cherries can help athletes reduce their exercise-induced muscle and joint soreness. They contain antioxidants and are considered a “super fruit”; you can check out more information about cherries (yum!) at www.choosecherries.com.
If you are looking for some different (and healthy!) recipes this holiday season for the vast amounts of parties you’ll be attending (or throwing), you’ll love this: here’s a super-easy recipe for Sundried Tomato & Basil Flatbread ‘Pizzas’ , created by chef Amanda Skrip and demo-ed for us—along with two others. All three recipes featured different varieties of Tribe hummus, and all three were delicious!
Sundried Tomato + Basil Flatbread ‘Pizzas’
2 rye crisp crackers(Kavali or Wasa work well)
2 tablespoons Tribe Sundried Tomato + Basil Hummus
2 oz. reduced-fat crumbled feta
4 leaves of basil, finely chopped
Spread hummus atop crackers. Top with feta and basil.
What’s the best thing to do right after you eat a bunch of hummus? That’s right: hula-hoop! (okay, not really the best thing, but that’s what I did!) I took a Hoopnotica hula-hooping class, which I was really looking forward to for many reasons, not the least of which being the fact that my hips are, ahem, abundant and I figured that hooping would be easy for me. I was wrong. It wasn’t easy at first, but as I practiced, I got used to keeping the rhythm and making my hoop stay in motion as opposed to falling flat on the floor. At the end of the hour we even learned to hoop over our heads, using our hands, for a great arm workout. Hooping burns a large amount of calories and is very fun; I hope to get better at it as I get more practice!
The bulk of the afternoon took place in the fitness department of my local Sears, which has been completely made over and is one of the flagship “Sears Fit Club” departments. For years and years, Sears has had a great reputation as a prime source for top-quality household appliances; now they are stepping into the market as a contender for your (and my!) fitness equipment business. Sears has always carried fitness equipment, but (and I don’t think they’ll mind me saying this, since I’m getting ready to compliment the heck out of them) the department was always a little on the wimpy side. I never really gave the equipment they sold before much more than a half-glance, because the department wasn’t anything special.
Boy, was I surprised at what they’ve done with the place! Now the department is stocked with the top brands in fitness, at all price points. The equipment is organized in ways that make sense, and the department is run by—get this—a personal trainer. To have somebody who has real knowledge and experience with what he or she is selling is a true asset. I admire the initiative that Sears has taken; they’re blowing full force into the fitness industry and I think it’s going to force everyone else who is out there to step up their efforts in order to compete. In addition to having all different kinds of equipment and information available in the store, the Sears Fit Club has established a phenomenal online presence through their Facebook page and their Twitter account. Every Wednesday night they hold a Twitter chat (get more info HERE!), and the community they’ve been building is one that can help anyone out there with the inspiration they need to conquer any fitness goal.
After leaving Sears, the final activity I did with Andrea was some training on a Power Plate machine. The premise behind Power Plates is that the vibration of the machine makes the muscles charge much, much faster than if you were doing your workouts on the flat, still ground. It helps with core strength especially. I was excited to experience this machine because although my old health club has them, I never got to try it!
After the Power Plate session, it was time to say goodbye to Andrea and all of my new friends. Taking part in all of these new-to-me fitness activities was a great way to spend my time. I felt energized when it was over (and isn’t that how you should feel after exercise?). If any of this interested you in the least, be sure to check out the links I’ve provided. It’s good to mix up the routine when you can, you know?
Disclosure: I received samples and various pieces of small fitness equipment/tools as parting gifts for attending these workshops, without any expectation that I write anything specific about them. All of the words and opinions expressed above are of course, as always, my own!