Your Health and Fitness Questions – Answered

“There are no stupid questions because stupid people don’t ask questions”

Every year, I like to do a series on the blog. Old readers might remember My Favorite Things series; most recently, I interviewed a bunch of supercool fit people like Running with Ollie’s Lea Genders and Olympian Carrie Tollefson.

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The one time I was asked, “Who are you wearing?” This is not one of the questions I’ll be addressing on the blog.

A few years after I started running and working out, I began to notice people would come to me with their fitness questions. Since I launched the blog, the questions have continued and grown. So I decided, why not use this as my next feature on the blog.

I’ve been compiling some of the most common questions I’ve been asked throughout the years and will be answering them with a regular, dedicated blog.

If you have a general question about getting into running, eating well, lifting, balancing stress, any of it, leave it in the comments or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

To start things off, one of my favorite questions – and topics: Food.

 
Q: What Do You Eat?

A: I don’t often have people ask me what they should eat – but I frequently get asked what do I eat. I would guess it’s more general curiosity because I’m a vegetarian. But I like to think I have a pretty good balance of eating for health, performance, and enjoyment.

Here are my key players for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Hopefully it gives you some new ideas, and feel free to check out the Yum, Food page on this site for recipes and more idea.

 
Breakfast
During the week, my go-to is oatmeal with half a sliced banana. On higher protein days, I’ll go oatmeal with a scoop of Sprout Living pumpkin seed protein.

Pre-long run or before a Sunday workout, I up my breakfast game a bit and go with either whole grain toast or waffles topped with peanut butter and either banana or berries. It’s amazing.

 
Lunch
In addition to smaller portions of select dinner leftovers, a few of my favorites:

soup

Crockpot soup with extra veggies & tofu.

Veggie flax wrap. Filled up with goodies like avocado, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, and spinach.

Soup. Ideally, homemade with added veggies and tofu. Otherwise, I’ll opt for light or low-sodium veggie varieties from Progresso.

Subway flatbread with egg white, cheese, and lots of veggies. Sometimes you need to grab fast food for lunch and a healthy, protein packed option is crucial.

 
Dinner
Depending on whether I’m training for a big race, lifting a lot, or just a typical week, my dinner choices vary but there are some staples.

Zucchini and pasta. To amp up a tasty dinner without going overboard on the pasta, I usually mix one cup of pasta or spinach ravioli with zucchini noodles. As always, I’ll add a bunch of veggies to the mix – spinach, kale, artichokes, and tomatoes among my favorites.

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Breakfast for breakfast, for lunch, or for dinner, is always a win.

Burritos. Sometimes with a black bean burger and veggies. Sometimes with egg whites, black beans, and quinoa brown rice. Sometimes other stuff mixed in, sometimes larger flour burrito wraps, sometimes smaller corn tortillas.

Breakfast – at least a few times a week, I eat breakfast for dinner. Usually it’s a scramble of one egg and Muscle Egg, then a side like a sweet potato, Birdseye protein veggie blend, or my weekend breakfast waffles.

 
Snacks
Because a little in-between meal noshing is necessary.

Quality protein bars. Note the “quality” part of this one. There are tons of protein bars but, for me, I eat them to get more protein in my diet and satisfy candy cravings so I opt for two that give me the most protein bang for the buck – Quest and Pure Protein.

Cereal – love it but rarely eat it for breakfast. Usually, it makes for a nice snack. Multi-grain Cheerios, Special K, and Rice Chex are a few of my favorites.

Finally, Cheez-Its. Yep, gotta have some junk food from time to time. When it comes to indulging in my junk food treats, I try to follow the same policy as I do with holiday treats – love, not like. I give myself flex to eat the ones I love, then skip the stuff I only like. And Cheez-Its tops that list.

I eat plenty more treats than Cheez-Its. Ice cream, baked Cheetos, Reese’s Cups, Honey Bunches of Oats – I’ll occasionally have these and more. But I try to keep them to a non-regular basis.

Yum, food. I love food. That was fun.

Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask a question of your own to be answered in an upcoming blog!

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6 Reasons Why Health and Fitness Resolutions Fail

“Step up, show up, never give up”

Hands in the air if you’ve been crushing your workouts this month! I don’t know about the rest of y’all but my January workouts have been great. Clearly my strategic carb loading the second half of December paid off…

If you’re a fitness newb and have stuck to your New Year’s Resolution to work out (but judging by the rapidly declining attendance at my gym, you haven’t), give yourself a high-five.

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How working out feels on Blue Monday.

The reason for the check-in this week is it’s the week notorious for people quitting their New Year’s Resolutions. It’s actually hallmarked by its own “holiday” of sorts – Blue Monday. Apparently it’s the most depressing day of the year and the point when people have officially given up on their resolutions.

Even if the workout struggle is all too real for you, Blue Monday doesn’t have to be the end of your fitness journey. And, really, the timing has nothing to do with it – there are about a million reasons why most fitness resolutions fail, regardless of what time of year they begin.

Here are six reasons why most attempts at fitness and eating well fail – and what you can do right now to make sure yours doesn’t.

Poor Goals or No Goals
Before simply giving up on your fitness resolution, step back and examine why it has been hard to keep. One of – if not the top – reasons resolutions fail is poor goal setting.

Did you resolve to lose 20 pounds the first month? Or did you just resolve to lose weight?

Maybe you pledged to work out six days a week? Or perhaps you just resolved to work out more.

In order to achieve a goal it first, has to exist, second, be realistic, third, be measurable, and finally, have a plan to achieve. Once your goal meets that criteria, onward!

Time Management
From more time spent shopping and cooking to the sheer 30-60 minutes each day actually working out, fitness and health takes up more time in your day than not.

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Good food takes planning, time & effort – but SO worth it.

Many who start a health and fitness routine forget this piece of the puzzle. They either don’t adjust their schedule to make room for their new healthy habits or they attempt to do it all, and end up feeling more overloaded than ever before.

When you commit to a healthy and fit lifestyle, you have to sacrifice some pieces of your previous lifestyle. The good news is it doesn’t have to be all-encompassing. You may have to give up a nightly happy hour in favor of going to the gym. You may have to cut into your regular Sunday Netflix binge to grocery shop and meal prep. Figure out where you’re willing to make time, not stressing about not having enough time.

Slow Pokes
Speaking of time, this is another area that’s often skewed for fitness resolutionists and the cause of giving up.

You’ve been working out and eating well for two weeks now but seeing no results. WTF, right?

Wrong. It often takes several weeks – even months – to see results from a workout plan. In our impatient, need for immediacy, “I want it and I want it now” society, this discourages many people.

On the eating side, if you’ve truly been eating well and balanced the past two weeks, it’s likely you’ve lost from 1-5 pounds. That probably seems like such a small number but in reality, it’s the kind of weight loss that’s normal, healthy, and most importantly, sustainable.

Sure, contestants on the Biggest Loser drop 10 pounds in a week. Google how many of them gain back the weight once they try to sustain that in real life. Trust me, you don’t want to put yourself through that.

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How good I feel when eating & working out is on point.

While you may not feel like you’ve seen results, you have to at least feel better, right? Enjoy that feeling and strive to keep it!

And understand that being fit and healthy has no end point – it’s a lifelong commitment. Too often, the goal of “getting fit and healthy” is set but never achieved because of this. The fitness models in magazines, the ones that have massive social media followings – they didn’t reach that point in six weeks. In fact, they’ve probably been working on their bodies and health for years.

While you don’t have to live your life with the same level of commitment as a professional in the health and fitness world, realize that if you’re serious about it, it’s a never-ending process.

Space and Place
While likely not an initial thought, where you work out is a huge part of the equation to a successful fitness regime.

If you thought you could stick to a routine working out at home but find yourself constantly interrupted by kids or distracted by laundry, vacuuming, your DVR, or a million other things, it might be time to join a gym.

Or maybe you joined a yoga studio but find it hard to make it to any of the scheduled class times. It might make more sense to buy a mat, subscribe to an on-demand yoga channel, and give at-home workouts a shot.

Give yourself the best opportunity to succeed and it’s more likely you will.

That Damn Motivation
I know what you think. You think your biggest problem is that you’re just lacking motivation right now. Did you learn nothing from my New Year’s blog this year?!

Remember the lesson on motivation: it’s not a real thing.
Remember the lesson on working out and eating right: it’s a choice. And it’s WORK.

Remove the concept of motivation from your brain and vocabulary. When you eliminate it as an excuse, you’ll figure out the real issue.

Be Honest
Okay, time to get real. This whole working out, eating right, balanced lifestyle. Is this something you really want? Or do you have a case of the “shoulds?”

I “should” go to the gym.
I “should” lose 20 pounds.
I “should” be able to run that 5k.
I “should” be a size 6.

If you think you should do something, but you don’t really want to and can’t give any reasons why you want to do it there’s virtually no chance you’re going to do it.

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One of the places all the discipline pays off.

I remember telling someone this when they mentioned they might want to run a marathon. Their reasoning was, “I’ve done a half, I feel like I should do a full.” Yep, you for sure could do it; I mean, your body will be able to physically do it. But you have to really want to do it. If you’re going to sacrifice free time, drag your ass out of bed for a Saturday morning long run, and power through 40-50+ mile weeks, you have to really want it.

This is why I could never achieve a goal of being a bikini bodybuilder or traveling to every state. I don’t have a passion for either and I’m not willing to sacrifice other things in life to do either.

In order to reignite and get back on track for your resolution, I think the best piece of advice I can give is to forget the whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, start thinking of fitness and health as a lifestyle and ongoing process. One that fits with what you want in life, is hallmarked by small, frequent, measurable goals, and includes a plan and the commitment to stick with it.

If you’ve struggled with resolutions or simply with sticking to health and fitness in general, I challenge you to adjust your mindset and start by setting one goal – a clear, measurable, achievable goal. Then, hit me up with a comment, Instagram post or tweet when you achieve it!

How are your January fitness goals going? Share successes or struggles in the comments below or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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Why Yoga Should Be Part of a Healthy, Fit Lifestyle

“Trust the vibes you get. Energy doesn’t lie.”

Trying new things. Kinda been my jam lately.

It started with waking up early one day to see what Spinsanity was all about, continued with a few ass-kickings at JoeFitness, and most recently included a sneak peek sweat sesh at Fargo’s new Orangetheory Fitness studio.

For a gal who doesn’t often try the latest and greatest workout, I’ve been an adventurous lady as of the late. One of the best parts of all these trials is I’ve experienced each with a trusted fit pal by my side.

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Post-run yoga is always a must.

So naturally when my friend and fellow fit gal, Heather, invited me to a Yoga Sculpt class at the local Mojo Fit yoga studio, I eagerly said yes.

I enjoy yoga. I go through a quick yoga routine after long runs, always do a few moves after other workouts, and often search for new poses to address issues. But rarely do I take classes. In fact, the most recent one I remember was a good three years ago when Chris and I first started dating. I think he took the class with me to impress me with his athletic ability. Goal achieved.

Anyway, this fact alone made me interested to give yoga class another go. Plus, I know the benefits of yoga that go beyond the sheer fitness aspects.

Let’s just say I got more than I bargained for – in a good way.

The Heat is ON
One of my initial concerns with taking the class was if it was going to be a good enough workout. After all, if I was going to dedicate my Saturday morning workout to something, it better be hard and leave me sweaty. Heather assured me it was indeed both a hard and sweaty workout, and I trusted her word.

Let me tell you something. I can’t remember the last time I sweated so much from a workout. Yes, me, the aggressive sweater.

As we were in the car, driving to the yoga studio, Heather took the opportunity to inform me this class – a 75-minute one – takes place in the hot studio.

I tried to hide my reaction. Did she not know of my aggressive sweating? We talk about the gross sides of fitness all the time, surely I’ve mentioned this to her before. I laughed nervously but secretly I was breathing a huge sigh of relief that I went with the black pants versus anything that would show early signs of swass.

Upon arrival at the studio, it was nice and toasty – just as Heather described. It didn’t take long for me to work up a sweat, and things just went nuts from there. I’ll spare you all the details and just give a few highlights.

At one point I had to stop to grab a towel because a massive bead of sweat dripped into my eye and obstructed my vision.

While getting in position to do lunges, I slipped on my yoga mat. You know, because it was doused in sweat pools.

I was literally dripping in sweat. Like, I saw the drips in the mirror. And the beads on my legs were visible during our final cool-down stretch.

Yes, it was a hot and sweaty workout. Mission accomplished!

Keep On Movin
Within seconds of the class starting, I was glad I have experience with yoga poses. The instructor just began calling them out as she moved through the routine quickly, and thankfully I was able to keep up.

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My basic yoga experience came in handy.

Fast-paced didn’t just come with the warm-up poses. The entire class was fast-paced; it felt like we were constantly moving from one move to the next, from squats to cardio to overhead presses.

Not only did this keep things interesting and made the class go by quickly, it gave us a ton of bang for the buck, so to speak, making the most of the 75 minutes and taking the concept of “total body workout” to a new level.

Exercising the Mind
Speaking of total body workout, this class had it covered – and more. What I mean is it worked my mind as well. Not only did it push my focus and concentration, offer mindfulness and relaxation, it also reminded me of certain exercises that are necessary for me as a runner. And taught me a few new ones.

Again, I won’t go into detail of every cardio, upper body and lower body move. Instead, I’ll just share a few highlights.

Squats. Oh, so many squats. We did tons of variations too, which was especially great for a girl who loves squats.

We did some great single-leg moves and variations of what I typically do for single-leg moves. Both Heather and I are runners and commented to each other how great these moves were for us.

All moves were high reps with light weights. When I lift, I have a mindset of low reps as long as it’s the heaviest weight I can lift. This, while great for some workouts and pushing for gains, has gotten me in trouble before. This type of workout and mindset makes it’s too easy to push too hard, too often. Also, the problems I’ve had with hamstrings and hips make light, higher-rep lifts important to rehabbing those problem areas while making them stronger.

This was a huge plus of the workout and probably one of the best reminders for me to incorporate this style of lifts into my routine more often.

My free trial week at Mojo Fit studio continues this week, and I already have plans to take at least one more class with Heather. Going forward, I may visit the studio again, as I can see it being a valuable addition to my marathon training plan. And I’ll take away some of the moves I learned to incorporate on a more regular basis.

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Even Blitz likes her yoga fix.

For everyone else, yoga may seem like it’s not for everyone. However, it’s a great opportunity to focus, decompress, and remember that a healthy lifestyle goes beyond hours on the Stairmaster or weekly leg day. A reminder we all can use.

Fellow fit friends, do you practice yoga – basic, Bikram, or sculpt/cardio-focused classes like the one I took? How has yoga helped you in terms of fitness, mindfulness, and all-around balance? Comment below or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

 

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What to Expect From Your New Year’s Resolution to Get Fit

“Expect the unexpected”

Every year, I try to do new features on the blog that coincide with holidays. Certainly, the New Year is a big one. Some people do a “Year in Review” type approach (I did this last year). Others make “Top 10” type lists (I did something similar to this two years ago). And some offer tips, tricks, and advice for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions.

Unless you’re brand new to the blog, you know how much I hate New Year’s Resolutions so I’m certainly not going to take the “How to Keep Your Resolution” approach with my first blog of 2017.

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Ready to crush your goals in 2017?

But, I promise you this blog isn’t going to be anti-resolution either. In fact, I’m going to really put your mind in a pretzel and actually cater my first post of the New Year to the Resolutionists. And I’m going to do it without giving you false “This year, you can do it,” comfort or the generic, way overdone “New Year, New You!” vibe.

Instead, I’m going to share with you five unexpected things to expect on your new fitness journey.

Because I want you to succeed.
Because you have no excuse not to succeed.
Because we both know you really can succeed.

From navigating the gym to a revelation of what motivation actually is (and isn’t) that you’ve likely never heard before, here are five unexpected things to expect when fitness is your New Year’s Resolution.

Motivation Isn’t Real
I’m wasting no time; I’m going to jump right in and blow your mind – either for good or bad – when I tell you this: Motivation doesn’t exist. Yes, “that” motivation.

That motivation you need to do things (I just need to get motivated)
That motivation you wish you had (I wish I had your motivation)
That motivation you often can’t seem to find (I’m just not feeling motivated)

Sorry, folks but motivation is nothing more than a word; a made-up concept that either gives you false hope or gives you an excuse.

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A new fitness goal is a lot like being a newlywed – new & exciting right away but you know hard work lies ahead.

Motivation is not something a few of us are born with, something we magically acquire over the years, or only the lucky ones can find the same way we find our car keys when rushing out the door.

Especially when it comes to fitness, I hear “motivation” thrown around all the time. But a fit lifestyle isn’t about having, finding, or stumbling into motivation. It’s about making choices, every day.

You’ve just made a resolution to get fit. Right now, I know you think you’re feeling really motivated. You’re not. You’ve just made a new choice and everything’s fun and exciting when it’s shiny and new.

Flip side, the excuse of not having motivation is bullshit. Instead, you’ve become bored or de-prioritized fitness, and are simply making the choice to no longer make the effort to do it.

I tell you this not to crush your newfound “motivation” and feelings of excitement. I tell you because you need to know that going to the gym, cooking a healthy meal, doing yoga – all of those actions are simple choices. Either you do them, or you don’t. It’s up to you, not motivation.

There Are Rules to the Gym
In the event you make it past the “motivation” hurdle and keep going to the gym in February and beyond, you’ll start to learn the little idiosyncrasies and rules of the gym. But because many Resolutionists are first-timers in the gym, it’s important to know these things the first day you set foot in this new little world.

If you want to get more in-depth on good gym etiquette and expectations, I wrote a blog dedicated to 10 Commandments of the Gym. Below are a few key highlights.

Dress appropriately – good workout clothes and shoes
Don’t be an equipment hog – especially on busy days
Clean up – put away weights, wipe down machines
Use machines for what they’re intended – if you don’t know, just ask
Respect fellow members – their space and their goals

Meal Prep Won’t Save Your Life – But It’ll Come Close
Everyone out there who strives to live a fit and healthy lifestyle knows about and wants to meal prep. You know it takes time, effort, and planning so I don’t need to tell you that. It’s totally worth it and will pay off big time, obviously, so I probably don’t need to tell you that either.

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Temptation will still be everywhere – plan for it & give yourself room to #TreatYoSelf

What I’ll say here, like the motivation discussion, boils down to choice. Even with all the good foods and properly portioned options at your fingertips, you still have to make the choice to eat them.

In addition to your meal prepping plans, have plans for how you’re going to balance the food you eat so you’re nourished, satisfied, and your choices make you feel good.

To Buy and Not to Buy
Like anything worthwhile, living a fit lifestyle costs money. Don’t worry; it pays you back big time in health, happiness, and billions of other ways.

When I talk about investing in your healthy lifestyle, I mean more than the cost of the gym membership, home workout equipment, or exercise videos; there are some “hidden” costs to health and fitness – and some unnecessary costs, too.

On the workout side, good workout clothes are a must. The good news is you don’t have to go crazy. A few moisture wicking shirts or tanks, some comfy capris or shorts, plus one quality pair of workout shoes and you’re set.

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Good kicks – One of the only things you need

Just as you don’t have to buy out your local sporting good store’s Under Armour section, you also don’t need a lot of expensive fitness-related goodies. Step trackers, heart rate monitors, Fitbits – you don’t need them. They might make you feel like you’re taking control and being conscious of your health but they just trick you into thinking you’re working out more and getting fitter with every step.

You also don’t need apps or fancy programs to track your healthy efforts. A simple spreadsheet on your computer or – brace yourself – a good ole fashioned notebook will suffice.

On the eating side, if you don’t have decent cookware, get some, and you’ll absolutely need quality Tupperwear. Buy good stuff that will last through weekly washings, microwavings, and being thrown in your backpack or computer bag to and fro the office.

As for the food itself, quality food doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I know fresh food seemingly costs more than junk food but the truth is you can make fresh foods go far with the right meal prep and portion strategy. The real cost comes from gimmicky foods – things like organic, gluten-free, all-natural. Unless you have specific dietary restrictions that require specialty versions of foods, skip them. They’re not necessary or worth the added cost.

Some Days Are Fat, Gross, And Just Plain Suck
Even the fittest, healthiest person out there has “one of those days.” You know, the one where you were just minding your own business at the staff meeting and somehow you’ve eaten three doughnuts. The one where you just can’t make the gym happen. The one where you’re overly stressed, crabby, and feel like you’ve lost the war on healthy and happy.

Those days are out there.
I’m here to tell you so you’re not caught off guard when one smacks you in the face.
I’m here to tell you so you know tomorrow will be better.
I’m here to tell you do you don’t get discouraged.
I’m here to tell you so you understand you’re not the only one.
And I’m here to tell you they happen more often than any of us wants to admit.

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Not every day gets a thumbs up.

All we can do is do our best and work at it every day.

To all you making New Year’s Resolutions to get fit and healthy, I wish you the best. You’re picking, in my opinion, the absolute worst time of year to start your journey but you can do it. I hope these tips help and don’t hesitate to comment or tweet me with any questions.

Fellow fit friends, what advice or inside info would you give to fitness Resolutionists? Are there things you wish you would have known when you began your healthy lifestyle journey?

If you like this post, please share on Facebook or Twitter. And as always, be sure to let me know what you think. Leave a comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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Orangetheory Fitness Reviews – Lindsay’s Turn

“Orange is the happiest color.”

Orangetheory Fitness has arrived in Fargo!

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Orangetheory Fitness Fargo

Last October, I shared with you all that Orangetheory Fitness was coming to Fargo and I would be among the lucky locals to try it out before it officially opened. At the time, it sounded like such a great idea and fun too. Fast-forward to December 29 and the actual day was here – and I was an anxious ball of nerves!

What if I couldn’t keep up?
What if my heart rate didn’t get into the ideal zone?
What if I looked a fool?

My worries were quickly put to rest, as the staff was friendly, energetic, and full of optimism for all us guinea pigs. Plus, having my fit partner in crime, Mallory aka KJsFitMomma, by my side made this first-time Orange experience a million times better.

Without further ado, my experience as a first-timer trying out Orangetheory Fitness.

The Positives
Overall, I really liked the workout, trainers, and atmosphere of OTF. I got a good workout, felt challenged, yet like I could do what was expected, and left nice and sweaty.

Plus 1 – Cardio and Strength
One of the things I liked right off the bat about OTF is the focused mix of both cardio and strength exercises.

For the first half of the one-hour class, it was focused treadmill intervals. As a runner, I loved this – for those who loathe running and even walking as cardio, you might hate this but know it’s good for you.

The second half of the class rotated us between short sprints on the rower – which I loved and wished there were more of – and various two-to-three exercise combos. For example, one combo was dumbbell shoulder presses and TRX jump squats. Then, we closed out with core work. I hate core work and avoid it like the plague but I know it’s crucial and I’m glad it was part of the workout.

Plus 2 – Heart Rate Monitoring
The foundation on which the entire OTF concept is built is monitoring your heart rate, and getting yourself into various zones. Starting at Gray, no effort, up to Red, maximum effort, and targeting Orange, the level just below Red and the one that’s ideal for calorie burn, and the much-desired “after-burn” effect.

While this concept is valid and encourages accountability, it didn’t work well for me. I quickly found out that, either I push myself incredibly hard during virtually every cardio workout (unlikely) or something was off with my monitor (likely). I spent nearly my entire run in the Red zone. While I would expect this during my top tier intervals where I pushed to all-out pace, I was surprised to see this during my lower interval, base pace, and mid-range interval, push pace, especially considering I have a super-low resting heart rate from being an avid runner.

The goal is to only spend a short amount of time in the Red zone, as it’s meant to be your all-out, maximum effort pace. During most of my Red zone, I was comfortable, occasionally chatting with Mallory, and feeling as I do on normal runs.

One of the trainers who had been watching us said she was surprised by my results, and more than one mentioned that sometimes it takes a few workouts and understanding of each individual’s body to get real accurate readings. Something to note for all you first-timers out there.

Plus 3 – Quality Through and Through
The workout is led by one primary trainer who watches the clock, calls out instruction, and checks in with each group regularly. He did a great job and, although I missed one of his interval calls, I never felt like I was lost or confused with what to do.

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This place is legit.

In addition to the leader, at least two other trainers walked around to watch participants, correcting form, making suggestions, and answering questions.

The equipment is all high-quality and user-friendly. The treadmills even boasted built-in fans (throw your hands in the air if you’re an aggressive sweater!) and one-touch buttons to quickly switch pace. The dimmed, tinted orange lighting made for a great atmosphere and a pretty cool one, too.

That’s the gist of the workout and facility. I enjoyed it and would give it a really good rating. The running part was similar to a speed interval run I’d do on my own. The rowing was new and felt great. And the core portion was just right in that I could do three rounds of all three exercises in the allotted time, yet I was spent at the end (in comparison to the core portion of other workouts that are too intense to the point I’m not able to keep up so I truthfully give up on really trying).

 
Drawbacks
Everything in life comes with positives and negatives, and naturally I encountered a few less-than-ideal pieces to the OTF puzzle.

Minus 1 – More Muscle
What I felt was lacking a bit was the strength training. There were only 2 upper and 2 lower exercises each included. While I understand that the class is designed for a total-body workout, it didn’t meet my needs for what I’d consider a solid lift.

This is also the primary reason I wouldn’t be able to do OTF more than 2 days a week, as it would eliminate both the previous and following days as opportunities for long, heavy lifts.

Minus 2 – Heart Failure
Back to the heart rate issue; as mentioned above, I spent nearly the entire first half of my workout, the run portion, in the Red. I even considered titling this blog post, “I worked out at Orangetheory Fitness and all I got was Red.”

I’ve done some reading on target heart rates and what I gather is that if you’re constantly in the Red zone, either your workout is way too intense or you’re out of shape.

I’m honest with myself that I have a gut, my nose is way too big for my face, and my laugh is sometimes better described as just a loud noise. So when I say that I know I’m not out of shape, you can know that I’m being honest with myself.

And believe me, I know I push myself hard with workouts. I run for sometimes ridiculous lengths of time, I do speed intervals on the Stairmaster, and I often choose heavier weights over light. But I know I don’t work out at a super-high intensity level all, even most of the time.

Even though the trainers were surprised by my “Red” results, I left OTF feeling a little disappointed and confused as to why my numbers were so off. I felt great during the class, like I was challenging myself and doing an awesome job pushing through the workouts – not like I was about to pass out and feeling horribly out of shape.

It also made me question the formula for how those target heart zones are calculated. Every person, every body, every fitness level is so different from another, I have a hard time believing a formula can accurately figure every individual’s heart rate zones. This gets into deep exercise science at a level to which I’m not nearly educated enough to speak so we’ll just leave it as is.

Minus 3 – Burn Baby BURN
The foundation of OTF’s heart rate concept is to burn calories during the workout, and really, to get the much-desired “after-burn” created by the science of Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (those unfamiliar, Google it). Basically, the body burns more calories several hours, even the day after, a good workout.

That’s great, right? Who doesn’t want to burn calories from a workout? Believe me, I struggled with putting this in the Minus column because it’s hard to knock a workout that does what it says, and does what so many people want and need from a workout.

The thing that bothers me by the huge focus on burning calories is it leaves little room for focus on athletic performance, stress management, or any other general health benefits. Most of the Facebook posts talk about calories, fat, and burning, and I had to dig into the website to finally see something that mentioned noticeable improvement in power, strength, and speed, if performance is your goal. It also feeds into the perception – and one that I hate – that the only reason to exercise is to burn calories and fat.

Before I go on, let me say that I get it that I’m not like most exercisers. I’m totally in the minority here in that I don’t work out because I want to lose weight (if I wanted to lose weight, I’d diet – horrifying). I work out to maintain my weight, but also to improve my athletic fitness, relieve stress, feel balanced, and because it genuinely make me feel happy.

That being said, I totally get why OTF has successfully built its company on the “Burn Baby BURN” concept. OTF is smart; its core people know the overwhelming majority of exercisers want to lose weight. That’s all. How do you lose weight? Burn calories! It makes sense, it’s appealing to most people, and it’s smart.

And I’m confident the structure of the workouts and classes does lead to increased strength and improved health of members so, at the end of the day, this Minus leans more towards a thumbs-up than down.

Final Verdict
Would I go back to OTF? Absolutely! It was a great workout and a reason for me to change things up and try something different. And even though the classes are scheduled and always one hour, I could make that work enough to get value.

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Overall, a great experience.

However, would I pay for a member to OTF? No. And for the same reason I’ve never joined JoeFitness despite loving him, trusting him, and believing in his process: money.

I’m not willing to give up my membership at the good old-fashioned gym.
I love the freedom to run for an hour on the days I want to just run.
I love the access to cables, squat racks, and a full range of free weights.
I love that I can show up anytime that’s convenient for my schedule any given day.
I love that I can dedicated as much – or as little – time to my workout as appropriate for the day.

As much as I’d love to have another membership where I could do these different, challenging workouts, and I know I’d use it, I’m just not willing to shell out another $75 or $100+ per-month fee for it. I admit it, I’m cheap. I used to call myself frugal or even money-wise to make myself feel better about it, but the bottom line is I’m just really cheap. Thanks for that, dad.

Overall, the Orangetheory Fitness workout, facility, and staff are legit and I would definitely recommend it to most, at least to try. If you’re resolving to get fit this year or you’re one who struggles to consistently stick to a workout routine, or you find it hard to push yourself and try new things at the gym, OTF couldn’t be here at a better time. It’s an awesome workout, and is set up in a way that builds in accountability and encourages sticking to a schedule.

Side note, KJsFitMomma has signed up for a membership so if you’re curious to see a real-life experience, follow her on Instagram where she always shares her workouts and will no doubt show plenty of quality Orangetheory Fitness results.

 
Have you tried Orangetheory Fitness near you? Do you love it or is it not something that worked for you? Please share your experience in the comments. Or, tweet me about it or any questions about my experience @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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Shenanigans and Memories for an Unforgettable Honeymoon

“Jamaican me crazy”

Chris and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Jamaica – wonderful, with a few hiccups. For those of you interested in reading about it, continue past the next paragraph to the very end.

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It took longer than expected but we made it to our swim-up pool bar.

For those of you more interested in something seasonally-appropriate and my typical straight-up, no-nonsense fitness advice, read this throwback post about diet and weightloss red flags to look for, especially this time of year. I like this post; it has 5 solid points and good reminders that health and fitness is a lifestyle that takes a little bit of work, every day.

 
Getting There Is NOT Half the Fun
If you’re a fan of National Lampoon movies, you know Clark Griswold famously said, “Getting there is half the fun,” as he loads up his family into the family truckster and schlepps them off for a cross-country road trip.

While I love the Griswolds, I do not agree with Clark on this one. From the very moment our trip began, getting there proved to be the worst.

First, our flight from Fargo was delayed the night before we left. No biggie, 15 minutes extra sleep. Our second delay out of Fargo, that’s what really did us in. Because of a mistake made by someone or multiple people at the airport, our plane left nearly an hour and a half late, causing us to miss our first connection in Minneapolis, and sending us into a full day of delayed travel that landed us a “bonus” night in Atlanta where it was a balmy 35 degrees and a delightful Ruby Tuesdays was the only restaurant in sight.

Thanks, Fargo. You screwed us out of a full day of our honeymoon. Best part: it seems no one, not the airport, not the airline, not the resort, has to reimburse us for that lost day we pre-paid for and lost due to no fault of our own. Awesome start to the honeymoon.

 
Honeymoon Means Nothing
Bumped up to first class. Special lounge privileges. Upgraded to a deluxe suite. When Monica and Chandler (Friends reference coming) go on their honeymoon, a fellow honeymooning couple gets all these perks while the Bings miss out on the special treatment. It falsely led me to believe I’d get any sort of special accommodation for being on my honeymoon.

This started immediately when we finally arrived in Minneapolis, way overdue to catch our connecting flight to Atlanta. We begged and desperately tried to get the Delta “help” desk to find us any sort of rerouted flight plan that did not require us staying overnight in a hub, anything they could do to get us to Jamaica that day. Not only was the help desk incredibly unhelpful, using the honeymoon card proved to be as effective as using the thigh master machine at the gym.

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Thanks & thumbs-up for all the help  & accommodation. At least snorkeling was a blast.

We even tried using it to get a seat upgrade for our troubles. While we didn’t get that, we did get seats that WEREN’T EVEN TOGETHER for both our remaining two flights. Strike two for the honeymooners.

This un-special treatment continued at the resort, where we found out, not only did we not get any sort of upgrade or accommodation for our lost day, we did not qualify for any of the standard honeymoon perks because we weren’t married in the last 30 days. Apparently only the first 30 days of your marriage is the honeymoon phase. Seriously, does the universe hate all honeymooners or just us?

 
Honeymoon Still Means Nothing
You’d think the un-honeymoon treatment would have ended at the beginning of our trip. But you’d be wrong, as it followed us on our return as well.

When I heard my name called by the Delta gate agent on the last flight of our trip, I thought the time had arrived. We were finally getting something special! First class, here we come! As Coach Corso says, “Not so fast!”

I actually received the unpleasant notification I had been randomly selected for additional screening. Instead of stepping on the plane first and watching all other passengers go by with a mimosa in my hand, I stepped to the side and everyone got to watch me go through a search that left me feeling like a reformed convict.

Oh, but the fun didn’t end there. While going through customs, we were flagged and led through a special line to go through a special booth. We had literally brought back nothing from Jamaica, and Chris leaned over to me and whispered, “This is either really good or really bad.” Apparently there’s a warrant out for someone who shares his name with my husband so they had to make sure we weren’t in fact on the run from the law.

While I wouldn’t say that was exactly a win for us, we did bypass the longer, non-criminal suspects line. So, there’s that.

 
Math? On Vacation?!
Don’t worry, this post isn’t completely void of something fitness related. Did you know the treadmills are set to metric system in Jamaica? I sure didn’t – not sure why I wouldn’t have expected that tho. Stereotypical spoiled American here.

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Never again will I see 13.0 speed on the treadmill.

My first run of the trip came with a surprise math lesson. As I bumped up the treadmill to my usual 7.6 MPH pace, I noticed how slow and easy it felt. Could it be my lungs were just THAT much better in Jamaica? Or did the prior evening’s disco dancing warm up my legs really well? Perhaps Red Stripe and strawberry daiquiris are some kind of secret speed weapon for me?

Not shockingly, none of the above were true. I quickly began to suspect the speed was off on the mill. Then, after seeing “1” come up way before I knew I had run one mile, it dawned on me. Ah, the metric system.

Luckily, I run enough to know that 5k is 3.1 miles so I had an accurate point of reference for my distance. And shoutout to my pal, Terry, from Canada for confirming the pace I ended up choosing – after a few “ks” of trying to do mental math – was right on par with where I’d normally be.
OMG I’m such a horrible brat, right? How ungrateful can I be about a week spent in paradise with my new husband?

I’m sharing this story with a, hopefully obvious, large dose of humor. A reminder that sometimes a lot of stuff goes wrong, goes bad, and goes horribly un-according to plan. A reminder that, when everything does seem like a mess, that’s just life. A reminder that it makes a type A, super-planner, not go-with-the-flow gal like me crazy, but it all ends up good in the end.

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Our vacation tradition begins.

And seriously, all the random shenanigans aside, Chris and I had a wonderful vacation.
We made memories and made friends (Chicago, Houston, and Nashville, Georgia, SoDak, and Wisco, you know who you are).
We got tan and got fat (ugh, me anyway).
We created beach artwork and created a new tradition (building stuff).
We swam in a cave and jumped off a cliff (scary but fun!).
We spent our days by, on, and in the water (ocean and pool).

It was a great trip! Now the only question is: Do we go back to Jamaica or find a new adventure?

What’s the best place you’ve ever vacationed? Would you go back or is it more fun to trying someplace new each time? Comment or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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It’s Back – the 12 Days of Fitmas

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is signing loud for all to hear”

Depending on when you’re reading this, Chris and I are either about to head to or enjoying ourselves on a white sand beach in Jamaica. The blog will be quiet until our arrival back to the frozen tundra of Fargo.

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Making ugly sweaters look good.

As we will be returning just in time for Christmas, I wanted to sneak in one more blog to wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

Also, in the spirit of the season, I invite you to read my 12 Days of Fitmas blog. Originally posted last year on this date, I just re-read it and it’s still spot-on. The only thing that has changed is my ugly sweater for this year’s annual party we call #happyhammerdays (naturally, I’ve included a photo from this year’s party).

Enjoy the 12 Days of Fitmas, sing it loud for all to hear, be jolly at parties with family, friends, and coworkers, and I hope the rest of your holiday season is merry and bright!

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