On a roll!

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I first came across foam rolling on Pinterest when I was looking for a way to relieve my sore muscles. Once a little pain sets in, it can put a HUGE damper on motivation, and it’s easy to forego workouts altogether. In one respect, soreness means you’re doing something right. Too much, however, could indicate dehydration or the need for a good old-fashioned stretch.

Recently, a friend of mine posted a photo of her foam roller and said that it was one of her greatest investments. After that, rollers kept popping up everywhere – Instagram, Facebook, you name it! To be honest, that first one only caught my eye because it was bright pink, but after a little research, I knew I had to have one.

What is foam rolling, anyway?

Foam rolling is a soft massaging therapy that you can do on your own with a roller made of – you guessed it – foam! It’s also known as self-myofascial release and is a hell of a lot cheaper to do at home.

The “real” myofascial release that you would go to a licensed therapist for is a pretty expensive treatment that involves applying pressure to your connective tissue to reduce pain and increase motion. To get the best results, a series of 4 sessions are recommended. For a full treatment, including info session and diagnosis, you could pay upwards of $600. Yikes!

GRID Foam Roller

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The roller you choose makes all the difference. It may be painful to roll at first, but once you form a routine, you’ll start to experience great results. Some of the benefits include better sleep (kiss those restless legs goodbye!), increased flexibility, and reduced muscle pain. My recommendation is the GRID foam roller by TriggerPoint. For just $39.99 (plus shipping), you’ll be well on your way to feeling better. Compare that to what you’d pay for just one session at a wellness center!

The GRID is designed to replicate an actual massage, and as you roll, you can feel the different pressure points rubbing against all of your tight muscles. Unlike most rollers that have a foam core, this one has a hollow core that is wrapped in a thin layer of foam, making it firmer with the ability to withstand up to 500 pounds of static weight. At just over a foot long and less than six inches wide, you can literally take your GRID foam roller anywhere! And the best part? The product is backed by a 30-day guarantee and one-year warranty, so roll your heart out!

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As part of my cooldown after each workout, I roll my back, glutes, hamstrings, I.T. band, hip-flexors, and calves, for about 30 seconds on each body part. It feels so good. Plus, I’ve never slept better! Around nighttime, I was getting aches and odd sensations in my legs that would wake me up at odd hours, especially after a tough workout. Since I started rolling with the GRID, I haven’t had any trouble sleeping through the night. I’m seriously amazed.

Bottom Line

This is a must-have purchase for everyone who works out. If I could only choose one recovery tool, this would be it. The only decision you need to make is which of the five fun colors you want!

Check out TriggerPoint’s website for more information and to view the entire product line, including massage balls, DVDs, guidebooks, and more!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by TriggerPoint. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise or fitness program (yes, even foam rolling!). Use this roller and all other fitness tools at your own risk.

An obsession is coming 

Photo property of Beachbody, LLC

This January, Autumn Calabrese is back with a new Beachbody fitness program. You know her – celebrity fitness trainer and creator of 21 Day Fix, Country Heat, and the cooking show Fixate, to name a few.

80-Day Obsession – a program designed to sculpt your abs and booty.

When the news first broke at the beginning of the month, I was less than thrilled. An 80-day program? That’s like a lifetime. I quickly dismissed the idea and went back to Letting Shi(f)t Go.

Then I thought about it. In the scheme of things, 80 days is not very long. It’s less than three months – the probationary period before benefits kick in at a new job, the first trimester of pregnancy, a quarter of a year. In fact, several other Beachbody programs run longer. In other words, it’s doable.

I thought about chunking the program into four 20-day cycles and how each new cycle would be an opportunity to take before and after photos, reset the mind, and begin anew. It would be good to challenge myself to make a BIG commitment, and to show others that even with a full-time job, a family, and a few freelance jobs on the side, it’s still totally possible to work on yourself. Now I’m actually excited for it to begin!

What I know

  • The program lasts 80 days (duh) and will begin in January
  • New workouts are released every Monday-Friday
  • High-intensity workouts build on previous ones – no repeats
  • Times vary from 45-60 minutes a day (much like in Core de Force)
  • It follows the container system, with precise guidelines of when to eat what
  • There will be tacos!

Preparation

So maybe you aren’t in the mindset to fully commit right now. It’s going to be an extreme 80 days. Luckily, you still have about four months to get your mind and body ready for it. Start by completing some of Autumn’s other programs – 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and Hammer & Chisel.

Before you say “Oh, hell no!” I encourage you to believe in yourself. Before you think you can’t commit to 80 days, see my idea for breaking it down (above). Before you say that 45-60 minutes a day is just unreasonable, remember that a one-hour workout is just 4% of your day. It might take some rearranging of your schedule (I wake up at 5 am to get my workout in before I go to my day job), but it’s definitely worth it. Your body (and your mind) will thank you.

Always remember – nothing is impossible.

A post-workout bite

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Recovery is an important part of fitness. Sometimes you don’t realize that until you’re so sore, you can’t even get out of bed the morning after an intense training session. Never underestimate the power of the cool down and a good post-workout meal.

A couple of months ago I stumbled across a company, ToYou Healthy Snacks, that makes – you guessed it! – healthy snack bars, including a delicious Post-Workout.

According to CEO Sergio Font, the company was created to “share passion for both a nutritious and active lifestyle.” If this doesn’t resonate with me, I don’t know what does. In fact, it aligns right with my mission to “inspire others to live fit, healthy, and happy lives.”

What you see is what you get.

There are no additives or preservatives, and the bars are gluten free and filling. The perfect post-workout snack to fuel the day and calm hunger. Easy on the go (and an excellent topping for yogurt), these bars help speed up my recovery time.

Each of the seven simple ingredients serves a purpose and complements each other. Salty, savory, and subtly sweet – you won’t even taste the veggies!

Cashews

My favorite! These nuts are high in fat (the good kind) and protein and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The magnesium supports healthy bones and nerves.

Dried Spinach

This veggie is packed, and I mean PACKED with vitamins. It’s rich in iron, vitamins K, A, B12, & C, folic acid, manganese, and magnesium. The question here is what doesn’t it do for you?

Hemp Protein Powder

A great source of digestible protein. It’s loaded with calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and more. It’s also a great natural anti-inflammatory.

Mint Chips

These chips add a burst of sweet flavor to the bars and give it a desserty feel. Mint promotes digestion by easing inflammation and prompting our glands to secrete digestive enzymes. It’s a good post-workout herb because it aids the circulation of energy and helps calm inflammation.

Sweet Potato

I am obsessed with sweet potatoes. Not only are they completely yummy and versatile, but they are filled with vitamins that help keep us healthy. Vitamin C produces collagen, which reduces cellulite and keeps our skin looking young and fresh; vitamin D builds strong bones and boosts our energy levels; magnesium helps keep the calm and aids in muscle repair. These are good carbs.

Chia Bran

Chia is fun. You can use the seeds to grow a funky kind of pet – think about those 90s commercials! Or you can eat it and nourish your body with some good stuff. It’s gluten free and has more fiber than plain old bran cereal. Chia is also a good source of healthy fat and has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s known to improve mental focus.

Brown Rice Syrup

When I spoke to a representative from ToYou, I specifically asked about this ingredient. It’s a sweetener created from brown rice, somewhat similar to maple syrup or honey. There are trace amounts of minerals, but it’s just a binding agent that is minimally used in all of the bars.

Tell me, how do you recover?

For more information about the Post-Workout bars and ToYou’s entire line of healthy snack bars, visit toyousnacks.com

 

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by ToYou Healthy Snacks. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

The Weight Loss Equation 

Did you know that there’s a pill you can take before bed that shrinks your waist by a few inches before morning? No? Well, that’s because it doesn’t exist (yet, anyway). Losing weight and keeping it off takes work. The equation is simple, but the process isn’t always easy.

Healthy Eating + Exercise = A Healthier You

I used to think that I could work out 3-5 days a week and keep eating crap. Then, when I didn’t see any movement on the scale I would get discouraged and give up. That’s the cycle most of us fall into. One day of bad eating or a missed workout isn’t going to do damage, but if it becomes a habit, it will. Like so, one good day of working out and eating clean won’t produce change.  It’s like Darren Hardy describes in his book The Compound Effect, small movements or actions over time will add up.

Make Healthy Choices

I love pizza and wish I could eat it every day. I still enjoy it, but in moderation. Instead of four slices, I’ll have 1-2 (depending on the size) with a side salad. Eat lean protein, healthy fat, good carbs, veggies, and minimal fruit. I don’t follow a specific diet or base my daily meals off the food pyramid. I’m mostly paleo, like the idea of the Whole30 plate structure, severely limit processed junk, and use portion control containers to make sure I’m not overdoing it. I don’t recommend one eating program over the next – I think you should do what’s right for your body and your lifestyle. I will say that I’m totally against smoking and any other unhealthy habits that cause bodily harm. Do yourself a favor and keep it clean!

Know Your Triggers

Are there foods that you love so much that you just can’t stop eating them once you get started? I feel that way about sour patch kids (a processed food exception!), kettle corn, and black cherries, to name a few. You might be thinking, “Whoa, wait a minute, cherries are healthy.” And they are – in moderation. But they are a food with no breaks for me, which means I can easily eat a full bag. And that can pack in over 300 calories, 52 grams of sugar, and 76 carbohydrates. Even though they are rich in vitamins and minerals, natural foods can be dangerous too. When possible, I do best when I limit trigger foods, because I know I really can’t get away with eating just one.

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These are the 21 Day Fix Portion Control Containers I use to get the right amounts!

Eat Slowly

It takes about 20 minutes for us to feel full (unless you’re me because I have the stomach of a dog and can eat for days. Second dinner, anyone?) Sit down to eat and chew slowly. It’s not a race and you don’t have to be the first one finished.

Eat The Correct Portions

When you go out to eat, your meal is generally not just one portion. That’s why most of us end up taking the leftovers home for another time. When you prepare and serve your own food, stick to the recommended serving sizes on the packaging. It really does make a world of difference because the serving sizes are usually much less than we would expect.

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This is a serving of fruit – 1 cup.

Stop Eating When You’re Full

Remember when your mom used to make you clean your plate? Well, you’re not 6 anymore. Don’t feel guilty about stopping when you’re full. You don’t have to toss the food – save it for the next day’s lunch.

Burn More Calories Than You Consume

I don’t advocate counting calories, because 150 calories of ice cream and 150 of grilled chicken will NOT get you the same results. So, sometimes it’s pointless. But I recently started plugging my daily meals and snacks into my Fitbit App and man was I stunned. Maybe horrified is a better word. What I thought was a a relatively healthy breakfast – lemon poppy seed muffin and a strawberry sunshine smoothie – turned into an 810 calorie breakfast. I think my reaction was “Holy Shit.” I didn’t count my calories for about a month after that experience. And then I decided to change how I was eating. Muffins = not good for me because they are loaded with carbs and sugar and don’t keep me full. My daily intake now is about 1,200 calories of predominately paleo (and healthy) foods. See what works for your body and run with it.

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Calories burned after a kick-ass MMA inspired workout.

Drink Water

I can’t say it enough. I even wrote a post about it last year. Water is good for everything – your skin, muscle soreness and recovery, your kidneys, the list goes on. Get a water bottle you like and drink up. I really like my Healthy Human water bottle because it keeps my water cold for hours and even overnight.

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This is my LIFESAVER. Without it, I wouldn’t get in my daily ounces.

Move Your Body

When you have a desk job, it isn’t always easy to get moving. I typically get 9,000-11,000 steps in per day, but I’m always on the move (I’ll save that for another post). You can easily add a few steps by walking to the break room to refill your water bottle or taking a trip to the farthest bathroom. When driving to a destination, don’t wait for a front row spot to open up. Park at a distance and take a leisurely stroll. Window shop!

Find A Workout You Love*

I used to hate working out. I don’t enjoy anything that causes me to be in pain – like bikini waxes (*shudders*). I stumbled upon a dance workout that is super fun and I love it! It’s good to mix it up and include cardio, weight lifting, yoga, HIIT, and others. You want to be motivated enough to workout at least 5 days a week. If one program doesn’t work, try another, and keep trying until you find your fit.

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Photo is the property of Beachbody, LLC.

Ditch The Scale

I’m serious. I weigh more now than I did in college, but I’m in better shape. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat. Focus on the non-scale victories. Do your pants fit better? Can you see that definition in your arms? Are you sleeping better? Do you have fewer cravings? The list of benefits goes on and on.

Reward Yourself, But Not With Food

I used to let myself have ice cream or candy after a workout because I thought I deserved it. Now that sounds completely ridiculous to me. Today I prefer a sudsy shower or bubbly bath. You shower every day after your workout (I would hope!), so why not make it something to really look forward to? I have sugar scrubs, rich lathers, and a nice cream to put on after. I save the baths for when my muscles are sore and drop in a bath bomb, some Epsom salts, or a scented bubble bar. Candles are a nice touch too!

To recap, there is no special pill, miracle cream, or pixie dust that will make you a size 2. It just takes consistency, persistence, motivation, and willpower. Keep it up and you’ll see results before you know it.

*Visit teambeachbody.com/KPfitMiss for more information on workout programs, to sign up for Beachbody On Demand, and to request me as your FREE coach!

 

Keep on blazin’ on

What is the Fitbit Blaze? A smart watch that, in addition to telling time, allows you to track your steps, calories burned, heart rate, and log daily exercise, among other things.
Who is it for? Anyone who wants to track daily activity, up their fitness game, add challenges, and look stylish while doing so.

Price. Starts out at $199.95, but can be caught on sale.

Why I like it

Stylish. The watch has received criticism for its 80s-like retro feel. (As if that were a bad thing!) I prefer the Fitbit’s rectangular shape over a circular watch face. But really, it’s just about personal preference.

Comfortable. I’ll admit that when I first saw the watch in person, I wasn’t sure I would be able to sleep with it. It’s pretty large in comparison to my small wrist. BUT, like (un-itchy) clothing, once you have it on, you don’t really feel it anymore. The band is soft and flexible and there are plenty of holes to find the right fit. I don’t even notice it while sleeping.

Awesome App. The app is very user friendly and automatically syncs to the watch to provide you with updated stats upon launch. You can see your steps, miles traveled, calories burned, time exercised, sleep quality, and so much more. You can even look at trends for the week or month. It also shows you how much battery is left and when you need a recharge. It’s really awesome and gets an A++ from me.

Move Reminders. If you have a desk job, you’ll appreciate the hourly reminders to get up and move. Small movements throughout the day add up – if you take 250 steps each hour while at work, you will have taken 2,000 by the time you quit for the night. Take a walk to refill your water, grab a cup of tea, or, like I prefer, walk to the farthest bathroom and back.

Sleep. Easily track your sleep quality and habits, and awake to a silent alarm each morning. I wasn’t sure that the slight vibrations would wake me up. They do. The problem is hitting snooze!

Customizable. There are so many fun ways to switch up your style. Fitbit sells a variety of interchangeable bands, but some cost upwards of $75. Check eBay for many bands under $5. You can also change the way the clock displays – there are 9 digital and analog styles to choose from.

Battery Life. The battery lasts about 4 days, which is fantastic (and a lot longer than other smart watches). You also get a pretty long warning before the system shuts down. Mine blinked red for over 8 hours and I was able to plug it in before it flat lined (not ideal, but it happens).

Why some people don’t

Display. The Blaze has been criticized for NOT having an Always On display. I can tell you that I’m not a fan of always on for two reasons – it drains the battery faster and it is kind of annoying. With the Blaze, you click the left button to turn on the screen and it stays on for a few seconds – long enough to check the time, the date, and your stats. You can also raise your wrist (as if to check the time) and the display will appear. If that’s a total deal breaker, you might want to look into other smart watches.

It’s not waterproof. I’ve had other activity trackers that you can shower and swim with. It would make it more convenient, but it’s not a must for me. I just remove it with the rest of my jewelry before I hop in the shower and put it back on when I’m done. No big deal.

Charging. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the method of charging. You have to pop the device out of the band / unit and put it into the charging “dock.” I would much prefer wireless charging, or another method that doesn’t require disassembling the unit. But it does only take about 2 hours to get a full charge that lasts 4 days – I definitely can’t complain about that.

These future upgrades would be totally awesome

Notifications. You can get multiple notifications – text, email, calendar appointments, etc. sent straight to your Blaze. I wish you could respond to them with a touch of a finger, but you can’t. While the watch is smart, it’s a smart FITNESS watch, with fitness being the top priority. Future models could include the ability to respond and I’m sure the ratings would be off the charts.

FitStar. The watch comes with a built-in module called FitStar, which helps you to get fit anywhere through body weight workouts. You can do a warm-up, 7-minute workout, or 10-minute abs. The problem? If you don’t use the application, you can’t remove it. Is it annoying? Not to me, but I’ve seen a few complaints about it. Future models could suppress this feature.

Camera. Typical smart watches include the ability to point the camera with the phone and snap a picture from the watch. What an awesome feature this would be on the Blaze. The technology to make a shutter button is out there – think Bluetooth selfie sticks!

The icing on the cake (AKA why this is my must-have fitness gadget)

Heart Rate

  • I started tracking my stress levels and heart rate a few months ago to see if they were migraine triggers. I know that my resting heart rate is between 68 and 72, so when I’m feeling stressed or upset, I can check the watch and see if there is any elevation. Of course there usually is. I know that when my heart rate is elevated I need to practice some relaxation techniques to bring it down.
  • I can also track my heart rate during exercise to see what my average and max heart rates are and when I’m in the fat burning zone. This is also really helpful if you are looking to lose weight.

Calories Burned

  • I had another fitness tracker that wasn’t so great at the calorie tracking. I was getting so discouraged because my morning cardio workouts were only registering as 33 calories burned. I felt like I was just wasting my time. With the Blaze, I can see that I’m burning over 200 calories for every 30 minutes of exercise. That really motivates me to keep it up!

Smart Features

  • This is not just your typical fitness tracker. You can see your texts and calls, and control your music with the tap of your finger. This comes in handy at work when I need to pause my music or audiobook to take a call or if someone stops by my desk – it’s faster than pausing through the phone.

Badges

  • You can earn different badges for exercise milestones and then share them on Facebook or Twitter. When I was in Colorado in early December and we hiked up a gigantic mountain, I got a Stadium badge for climbing 150 floors in a day! I’ll probably never get close to that again, but it was a pretty awesome achievement.

 

Bottom Line: This is, hands-down, the best investment you could make for your personal health. Why? Because you will either see your fitness efforts paying off, which will push you to keep going OR you will realize how inactive you really are during the day and form better habits. I would totally recommend this to a friend.