Choosing the Right Shoe

brooks

 

 

If you have been into an athletic store lately, you might have found yourself overwhelmed by all the options. There are several brands, styles and colors. I will be honest, in the past, I would buy the shoes that had a cool color scheme. I didn’t care if they were a trail shoe, a cross training shoe, a running shoe or a walking shoe. If I liked how it looked and it was the right price, I bought it. When I took up running, my trainer went over the importance of having the right shoe and being properly fitted for it. What? I had no idea! I soon learned that each shoe style has a different purpose, and it mattered.

Running shoes: designed for a forward motion and provide extra cushioning for the repetitive pounding motion that runners experience with each stride.

Cross training shoes: designed for lateral or side to side motion, flexible sole to help the floor during workouts such as aerobics or zumba.

Walking shoes: designed with a thicker heel and flexible sole to aid in the initial heel strike that takes place when walking (heel-to-toe).

Trail shoes: designed to help grip dirt, provide extra protection against rocks and often have extra protection around the toes.

Now that we covered a few of the types of shoes, how do you get the right fit? Some athletic stores, such as Run On and Luke’s Locker, have trained specialist to help you. For example, if you need a running shoe, the staff will observe your run to determine the type of gait you have, and then recommend different shoes that suit your foot. They should bring you various pairs to try on. At that point, you need to take for a test run around the store or on the pavement to see how they feel. In all likelihood, you may not really know that you have the perfect shoe until you take them for a run. Most of these types of specialty stores have a 30 day return policy.

Two training seasons ago, I switched brands. I ran in the new brand for a month and ended up returning them on the 30th day because my toes were repeatedly numb. I was so grateful I could exchange them for a different shoe. I then went on to run in Brooks, which for me are the right shoe. Everyone’s foot is different, so other brands such as Asics, New Balance or Altra may be the right fit for you. One other thing I learned through this process is that I needed a half -size larger running shoe than I wear in a dress shoe. This is common. Some people end up in a shoe that is one full size larger. Also, if you have recently had a baby, then your shoe size may have changed.

So in summary… don’t just choose the cute shoe! Make sure you are wearing the one for the activity you are performing. If you have a specialty store in the area, ask a professional to analyze your gait and help you pick a shoe that is best suited for you. If you experience any pain or numbness, the shoe isn’t the right one. Keep your shoes updated, especially running shoes. They tend to wear out after 6 months or between 400-500 miles.

-JA

To Roll or Not to Roll? Foam Rolling

Foamrollers

 

 

Are you using a foam roller? If not, hopefully this post will encourage you to give it a try. Last year when I started a weight training program, my trainer introduced me to foam rolling. I only knew what I heard about if from runners in my circle, but I had not seen it done, nor did I understand the benefits. He went through a lengthy explanation and demonstration. I never understood the saying ‘it hurts so good’ until I gave it a try. Each day when I came into the gym, we were to spend 15 minutes warming up, with foam rolling included. If you are not familiar with it, the foam roller is a cylinder tube used in a way to give deep tissue massage to your muscles, known as self- myofascial release. The muscles are rolled back and forth over the roller 10-15 times. While it can be used in many ways such as relieving chronic pain and rehabilitation, I primarily was trained to use it in a preventative way. I was not walking around with pain in my quads or hamstrings, but when I was foam rolling, I found my ‘hot spots’ or trigger points that would hurt when the pressure was applied from the roller. After allowing the pressure to remain isolated to the hot spot, the pain eventually would subside, breaking up/releasing the ‘knot’ in the muscle. With regular use, the hot spots became fewer and my muscles had increased flexibility. This was incredibly important for me as my calves, hamstrings and quadriceps were often tight and needed the extra attention.  The foam rolling was especially helpful in the days post workout, keeping muscle soreness to a minimum. While I continue to foam roll as part of my overall fitness program, I have also had times I used it to help relieve  pain from minor muscle injuries.   I had the benefit of having someone teach me how to foam roll, which was important so I did not injure myself. In preparing this post, I did a search and there are many videos and articles with the ‘how tos’ on the foam roller, lacrosse ball and massage balls. Watch a few, consult with your trainer on how best to work it into your fitness program. There are dos and don’ts so please educate yourself before trying it..  You can find foam rollers at most quality sporting good stores and Amazon. They are a variety of types and sizes an will run you about $20.   Go ahead and show those muscles some love. After all, you work them so hard whether it be at boot camp, weight training, running or in every day life.

Check out these links for more information on foam rolling:  ACE Fitness  and Runners World.

Do you have a regular foam rolling routine? Please leave a comment and share your experience.

-JA

 

Why I Use Intervals to Train for a Half Marathon

memphis

Running. It’s a love/hate relationship. I am not always motivated to get out and run, but once I do it, I am so glad I did. It has become somewhat therapeutic for me. I am able to work through so many things as I run. It hasn’t always been that way. Four years ago,  I couldn’t run from my front door to the mailbox. I had no desire to run. If you saw me running, something was terribly wrong and you better start running too. Yet here I am several years later, a runner. As I was going through my fitness transformation, I heard about a 5K training class and I thought about it. I just knew I did not have the cardio vascular endurance to run 3 miles, so I was hesitant. My friend and trainer, Victoria, assured me I would be successful and that I should try it. She explained that it was an interval based program, so I wasn’t expected to run the entire class. I convinced a few friends to join me and off we went. We started with a 30 second jog  and a 1;30 min walk. We did this for about half and hour. I was stunned to see that I could do it. Over the course of 6 weeks, we increased our intervals. It all led up to our goal race and I ran my first 5K. I had walked many 5Ks before, but this was the first time I ran. My sister-in-law, Adrianne, and I ran together, only walking through the water station. We ran the rest of the race. Keep in mind, this was less than 8 weeks from when I started. When we went on to train for our half marathon, we continued the interval training. My trainer explained that running intervals helped reduce the risk of injury to the body and improved recovery time.  To be honest, the idea of running 13.1 miles didn’t really appeal to me. My sweet friend Amy asked me to train with her and other friends for the St Jude’s 2012 Half Marathon in Memphis. She had a personal connection with the hospital and we all joined together to run and raise money for St Jude’s. I barely had completed a 5K, but I wanted to try and train for the half. Interval training had worked for me before, so now I wanted to see if it could get me through half training. I completed my first half marathon in Memphis in 2015  and have gone on to complete 3 more.

Since becoming a fitness instructor, I have also helped coach 5K and half marathon training groups. I enjoy watching the transformation of these non-runners into women who go on to finish half marathons and marathons. I began reading whatever I could find on interval training so I could explain why it reduces the risk of injury and aids in a faster recovery. In my case it is partly psychological. I know that every 3 to 4 minutes, I get a short break. Our group usually runs a 3:1 interval ( run 3 minutes, speed walk 1 minute). At times we have gone to 4;1, but 3:1 is a comfortable fit for me. Interval training has shown to increase cardiovascular efficiency and to increase tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. This leads to improved performance, greater speed, and endurance. I actually am able to complete a 5K faster when I use intervals than when I run straight through. Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with overuse.  When training for longer distances, giving the body short breaks is helpful to the joints.

So, if you are one of those people who can’t run 20 yards, interval training may be the right fit for you. I realize that it is not for everyone. However, for those of us who are not natural born runners and want to try, interval based training is a good option. Want more information? Please email me at jennifer.alameda@embracingahealthylife.com. Happy Running!

-JA

Fruit Infused Water

As a part of my journey to a healthier life, I am trying to break myself of the habit of drinking diet soda. I have one soda a day despite knowing that is not good for me.   I like water and I drink a lot of it, but there is something about a soda that satisfies a craving in me.  I have been on a quest to find a replacement for my daily soda. I recently came across a blog with several recipes for infused water. I had never tried  infused water before. Most everyone knows the human body requires adequate water to sustain life. The American College of Sports Medicine says that water is the most essential component of the human body. Not only does it transport nutrients, helps eliminate waste, but it also helps regulate body temperature while exercising. It helps with blood pressure, blood circulation, lubrication of joints and aids in digestion.  Soda does not do any of those things  for me, nor does it provide my body with any needed nutrients. I need more water!

I tried several of the recipes across many blogs and even came up with a few combinations of my own. I finally settled on one combo that has me drinking 32 ounces MORE of water than I was before. It’s so easy too. I slice up an orange and a lime in the morning. I squeeze the juice of one slice of orange in a large glass. I add in 3 more slices of orange, 2 of lime and fill with water 12 ounces of water. I let it sit in the refrigerator while I go through my morning routine.  By then, the flavors have infused the water and I enjoy drinking it so much more than plain water. I do this a couple of times a day and drink this in addition to my normal water intake. I have seen several versions of these infusions in different sizes ( ball jar size to pitchers) using all kinds of fruits and spices. Here is one blog that has a lot of recipes you can try. I hope you find one that appeals to you and results in you drinking more water! This has helped me reduce my soda intake and soon I hope to break the habit completely.

If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments.

-JA

Oatmeal that taste like cookies? I had to try!

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I am always in search of yummy and filling breakfast ideas. One of my favorites is oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon. I add a sliced banana on top after it’s cooked.  When I saw this recipe on Pop Sugar last week , I decided I would try if for breakfast. After all, it says it tastes like cookies.  I mashed up the bananas, added the peanut butter, stirred in the oatmeal, sprinkled it with cinnamon and into the microwave it went. Went I removed it, it didn’t look anything like the picture.  Then again, my meals rarely look like the photo included with the recipe. I added a little milk, stirred it up and gave it a try. The texture was thicker than I expected, but the flavor was pretty good.  I like peanut butter, but  I think next time I would try some other kind of butter or maybe a teaspoon of honey. It was filling and did hold me over until lunch time.   If you try this recipe, comment here and let me know if you think it tasted like cookies, and if it was satisfying.  Do you have a favorite go-to breakfast that keeps you satisfied all morning?

Green Chicken Enchiladas

Happy Friday! Today I am sharing one of my favorite recipes. I really enjoy Tex-Mex food. I probably could it eat it every day. I am always in search of lighter versions of my favorite dishes. I came across this recipe and it has been a favorite every since. It is a healthier version of enchiladas.

  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups bottled salsa verde, divided
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey jack cheese or Mexican Blend. divided
  •  8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Combine chicken with 1/2 cup salsa, 1/2 cup cheese, salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up. Place in casserole baking dish. Pour remaining salsa and cheese over enchiladas. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until slightly browned) .  You can serve with sour cream, pico de gallo  and/or guacamole. YUM!

Serving size: 1 enchilada: fat 6.8g; protein 21.5; carb 12.7, fiber 0g

Have a recipe to share? Please send to jennifer.alameda@embracingahealthylife.com.  It may be featured in an upcoming post.

JA

Virtual Races – Boo!

Boo

Have you ever considered a virtual race? For some, weekend morning races are not always convenient. For others, the location of a race or the start time can be an obstacle. Virtual races are becoming more popular. They can be completed during a time that works best for the runner. This past  year, I participated in two virtual races:. They were the Jedi Challenge and the US Road Running Mother’s Day challenge. For both, I signed up online, submitted my completion time and was awarded my medal. I will be honest, the bling motivates me! I love receiving the medal and then proudly displaying it on my medal hanger. There is a Halloween virtual race coming up! It’s the Faster Than Boo Virtual 10K.  The deadline for registration is October 19th. You will receive your virtual race kit in the mail. It includes the T-shirt, race bib, and yes, even the medal!  The race needs to be completed between October 29-October 31. Gone for a Run asks that participants then share race photos and a recap on their Facebook page .  My frunners and I have registered and are planning our run for the 31st. Register here: Faster Than Boo Virtual 10K . Give it a try and let us know what you think.

What virtual races have you done?

JA

Safety Gear: Road ID (giveaway)

Roadid  

As a runner, safety is always foremost in my thoughts. During one of my training sessions, my running coach introduced me to Road ID. I immediately ordered one and since then, I have been encouraging all the runners I train to invest in one.  Road ID has many products, but the one I want to share with you today is the wrist ID. It’s a silicone bracelet with a face plate which is customize to include your name, emergency contact information and medical information. Knowing first responders would have all the information they need about me, provides me with peach of mind when I head out for a run. These ID bracelets come in a variety of sizes, styles and colors. You can even customize them with badges (10K, 13.1, etc). If bracelets are not your style, they have shoe tags and dog tags. Keeping up with the trends, Road ID even has a face plate that can slip onto your Fitbit.  I started with a blue slim band and eventually decided I wanted another color. Rather than replacing the whole bracelet, I just ordered a new band and moved the face plate to it.  Last year, I moved to the Wrist ID Sport . This washable nylon version has reflective strips and Velcro closure. It’s so versatile. I can attached it to my bike, my hydration belt or wear it.  With a variety of sizes, you can also fit your little one with a bracelet. My son wears a silicone wrist id any time we are in a place with large crowds.  Should he ever be separated from us, it contains our contact information. Many friends have the shoe tag for their children.  Another great safety feature is the free Road ID app for your smart phone.  This is excellent for those who run or bike alone. It has eCrumb tracking, and a stationary alert. If you are not already carrying identification when you are out for a walk, running or biking, try one of these great Road ID products.  Please visit www.roadid.com to see all of the fantastic safety products they offer.

GIVEAWAY:  Please go to comments and tell me which product is your favorite and how you would use it for a chance to win a $15 gift card from Road ID. I will randomly select a winner on Friday Oct 9th. Winners will be notified by email.

JA

October, already?

I can’t believe that it is October. The past two months have been a bit of a blur. I promised myself I would get this blog off the ground, but life got in the way.  NO more excuses. Today is a new day, and here we go!

Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to attend a mat based Pilates class. This Restore the Core class was provided by Karna Fitness of Allen, Frisco and Plano (north).  It’s a 45 minute class that concentrates on strengthening the transverse abdominals, while addressing the other core muscles. Often times after pregnancy, these muscles need a little extra attention to help bring them back to the tight girdle they were prior to expanding through pregnancy.   Deep breaths and slow, purposeful movements aid in strengthening these muscles. Measurements are taken during the first week and after the last week, so participants can see their progress. In the past when I attended this class, I lost up to 7 inches in my waist, hips and thighs. It is an amazing class! I can definitely feel the soreness in those deep abdominal muscles each time I laugh or cough today. I know I will see results in the coming weeks. The classes are offered once a week in a 6 week session on Tuesday at 9:15 at Stonebriar Mall in Frisco.  Please visit  www.karnafitness.com. To join, please email  victoria.patel@babybootcamp.com. Be sure to let her know you heard about here.

 

JA

Welcome!

Welcome to my journey to a healthier lifestyle. My hope is through my experiences, you will pick up a few tips that will help you too become the best YOU possible.

My lifestyle change began two years ago, when I found myself 75 pounds overweight. My ‘ah ha’ moment was when I looked at my two year old son and realized that I owed it to him to choose a better lifestyle. My excuse was I worked full time and he was in day care all day.  How could I put him in someone else’s care while I worked out? I did my research and found a fitness program that allowed me to workout twice a week in the evenings with my son. I started tracking everything I ate, and almost a year later I had lost 75 pounds.  That led me to try Pilates, weight training, biking, running and yoga. I have maintained the weight loss. Yes, there were bumps along the way, but I continue to work at it. I am now a certified Personal Trainer teaching various fitness class formats.

I know you have heard this before, ‘if I can do it, so can you’. It’s absolutely the truth! You can do it. I couldn’t run 50 yards when this all started and have since completed 4 half marathons! It’s not a fast process, but the changes you make today will stay with you the rest of your life. I still have to work at it every day. This is where Embracing a Healthy Life comes in. I will share my experiences, reviews and recommendations.

Is this your ‘ah ha’ moment? Join me! Let’s be our best selves!

JA