FEBRUARY 2018

THE PLAYLIST HIIT RUNNING WORKOUT

I  get most excited and energized by blogging, running and rock music so I am always thrilled when I get the opportunity for a passion trifecta to blog about running and music. 

Welcome to workout Wednesday when each week I share a new running or strength for runners workout. This week we have a fun running workout that takes all the pressure and stress out of your runs and lets you just go with the flow, or the beat of the music. 

The idea is to create a playlist with the beats per minute or BPM in mind. We start with a song with a mid tempo BPM for a moderate pace to warm up and then alternate between higher BPM songs and medium BPM songs until the run is complete. 

We naturally match our stride to the BPM so we may feel motivated to keep up a faster pace in sync with the music. Since most songs are around three minutes long (give or take), a playlist built around BPM can be the perfect high intensity interval workout.

 The Playlist HIIT running workout. Save to Pinterest for later.

The Playlist HIIT running workout. Save to Pinterest for later.

Start off with a song with a mid tempo BPM to get started, then make the next song on your playlist an uptempo song with 155-185 BPM. Some say 180 is the perfect BPM for runners as it's been claimed that 180 strides per minute is the most efficient turnover. 

How do you find BPM of popular songs? The site songbpm.com lets you enter any song and it returns the BPM. Spotify also has playlists built around BPM, so you can pick and choose your favorite songs to build you own playlist HIIT workout around the music that you love.

If you like alternative rock like I do, your playlist might look something like mine. With this playlist we are alternating between mid tempo and up tempo songs. I created a playlist on Spotify if you want to hear my song selections. Create your own playlist with the music that you love. 

THE PLAYLIST HIIT WORKOUT

 

Against Me! Don't Lose Touch 120 bpm

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Phenomena 157 bpm

Band of Skulls - Sweet Sour 127 bpm

The Hives two-timing touch and broken bones 165 bpm

The Black Keys  Howlin for you 133 bpm

Cake the distance 183 bpm

Young the Giant My Body 130 bpm

Millencolin - Ray 197 bpm

The fratellis - Henrietta 122 bpm

The Kills Sour Cherry 160 bpm

Create your own playlist and see how it feels to run by music bpm. As a running coach I will advise you to not try to run faster than your current fitness level. If you can't keep up with the tempo of the song, it's always better to go at your own pace for safety and sanity.

I'd like to thank hubby, the drummer, for a little bit of music education as I put together this post. 

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What's the Best Diet? 5 Qualities of a Healthy Diet

When I tell people that I am a nutrition habits coach they often ask, what's the best diet? They must assume that I hold all the dieting secrets, and have the inside scoop of the top secret magic diet that will melt all their fat and therefore, all their problems away. Not so fast.

Let's first talk about the word diet. It has a negative connotation. It is becoming a dirty word in the industry. When I mention striving to eat a healthy diet someone inevitability says, "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle." I agree, the farther we can get away from food rules, the better off most of us will be. 

Your diet is what you eat. You may consume a diet of mostly Cheetos and fast food. While that certainly is not a weight loss diet, it's still a diet. People who have Celiac disease may be on a Gluten-free diet under their doctor's supervision. A weightlifter may be on a high protein diet and an endurance athlete may be on a high carbohydrate diet. Someone who is passionate about animal rights may be on a Vegan diet. Everyone is different and has different dietary needs based on personal preferences, goals and their own body.

There are a lot of weight loss diets circling around. There's the Ketogenic diet, The Atkins diet, the Mediterranean diet. There's Paleo and the Daniel Diet. You may remember once popular diets like Zone diet or the South Beach diet, and while not technically diets per se, concepts like intermittent fasting and Whole 30 have gained popularity. They all follow different protocols but they all promise weight loss results. How can that be? 

How do you know which is the best diet? What is actually healthy for your body? Which diet will cause you to lose those extra pounds once and for all? If you've tried everything from Weight Watchers to the Slim Fast diet of the 90s, you may be a little fed up with the whole process of dieting. The only way to tell what is the best diet for you is to try it, and if you tried them all (like I have) you probably have discovered that diets that severely restrict calories, food groups or entire macronutrients are hard to adhere to, and a diet you don't stick with will never work. 

The truth is almost any diet will be effective if you can stick to it over the long term. It depends on your lifestyle, your preferences and you own body. Some people thrive on a low carb diet, some people turn into a scarier version of the wicked witch of the west (raises hand!). There is no one best diet for everyone, but there may be a best diet for you. 

 What's the best diet? 5 qualities of a healthy diet. save to pinterest for later.

What's the best diet? 5 qualities of a healthy diet. save to pinterest for later.

THE BEST DIET HAS THE FOLLOWING QUALITIES

1. It's sustainable over the long term.

I would advise my nutrition clients not to waste their time with the cabbage soup diet, unless they plan on only eating cabbage soup for the rest of their lives. The problem with short term diets is they provide short term results. Even if you lost the weight on the "magic" cabbage soup diet, you will likely gain it back once you go off the diet. The best diet is one that works with your lifestyle and you can sustain it for life. Don't bother going on and off diets. Experiment to find something you like and that works for you and stick with it. 

2. Makes you look, feel and perform your best

There is nothing inherently wrong with trying a new way of eating to see if it will work for you. In fact, experimenting with nutrition is encouraged, how else can you learn what your body prefers and needs? The most important thing is to keep note of how this new way of eating makes you look, feel and perform. Don't try to force something that is not working for you. If you feel terrible all the time, your hair is falling out and you don't have the energy to exercise, then it may be time to reevaluate your diet and make adjustments accordingly. Just because something is working for your gym buddy, doesn't mean it will work for you. Everyone will react a little differently.

With that being said, I will also advise you to give it time, because dietary changes can cause temporary reactions that will pass once your body adjusts. It's like giving up caffeine. You will probably deal with terrible headaches for a few days, but it's just your body adapting to the change. Give any new diet adequate time and evaluate how it makes you look, feel and perform. Always be willing to adjust when necessary. 

3. Is well-rounded and it is not severely restrictive.

As humans, we naturally want what we can't have. Any diet that severely restricts calories or macronutrients (like fats or carbs) will be harder to stick to over the long haul for most people. A well-rounded diet will ensure that you are getting the macro and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that your body needs to feel its best. When you severely restrict your intake, the body reacts with strong hunger signals and most people will eventually cave in to the cravings and overindulge in response. Instead of a restrict/hunger/overindulge cycle, most people do best with a more moderate approach to nutrition by eating a wide variety of mostly whole foods from nature, while allowing some room for treats. Everyone is different and should experiment to find the ideal protein, fat and carb balance. 

4. Allows for indulgences and life balance

Your diet does not exist in a bubble. You have a life to live and your nutrition is a part of your life, not a separate entity. Maybe you could quit your job and live on a weight loss ranch for six months to achieve results, but most of us have lives, friends, careers and families. We have parties, business meetings and holiday celebrations. Spending time with other people and enjoying yourself is a big part of a healthy lifestyle and if you lock yourself in your room in fear of being exposed to a glass of wine or a carbohydrate, then that's not healthy either. The best diet gives you some breathing room to enjoy life. 

5. Puts you in a calorie deficit

I saved the most important point for last. You lose weight when you're in a calorie deficit. That means you lose weight when you consume less calories than you burn. No matter what diet you choose to follow, if you are in a calorie deficit, you will likely lose weight. Of course, it is not always all that simple, because our bodies are complicated, but the first place to start is with a calorie deficit.

If you eat a perfectly organic, grass-fed "clean" diet but still consume more calories than you are burning then you can't expect to lose weight.

One of the reasons that people lose weight on low carb diets is that they stop eating bread, pasta and processed carbohydrates, which cuts out a large amount of calories. One of the reasons people lose weight on low fat diets is because fats have higher calories that carbs and protein, so when you restrict fats, you naturally cut calories. There's no magic in any particular diet. If you work to reduce your calories about 500 a day below what you burn, you should see a 1-2 pound of weight loss per week. (but keep in mind that weight loss is rarely linear. It would be rare to lose two pounds weeks every single week over a long period of time. The two pound a week rule is an average over time.)

If you restrict too much it can have negative consequences. Most people with thrive on a moderate cutback of calories to lose weight. If you are reasonably active, you sleep well, work to keep stress levels low and eat in calorie deficit most of the time, you will likely lose weight. Don't underestimate the importance of sleep and stress management when it comes to fat loss. However, if you seem to be doing everything right but still not losing weight, a doctor or Registered Dietitian can help you run tests to see where there might be other issues preventing fat loss. 

WHAT'S THE BEST DIET?

You see, there is no magic shake, drink, pill or food combination that causes weight loss. The most effective diet is one that you will stick to, that makes you look, feel and perform your best, that is well-rounded and allows for indulgences and most importantly, puts you in a calorie deficit. 

As a nutrition habits coach, it is not my job to tell my clients what to eat. I help educate them on reading nutrition labels and making healthier choices. I provide them with accountability for the choices they make and help them learn to listen to their bodies so they can eat in a way the works best for them. I have clients on different types of diets that they chose based on their lifestyle, preferences and interests. I don't discourage experimenting with healthy nutrition and I certainly don't tell my clients what they should or shouldn't do. I help them figure out for themselves what version of healthy living works best for their own body. If something they are trying is not working, I help them figure out the next steps. 

If you are tired of going on and off diets, yo-yoing in weight or feeling frustrated with the conflicting nutrition information out there, my nutrition habits coaching may be a great fit for you. We build solid healthy habits over time for a sustainable approach to fat loss. Interested? Take this survey to see if you would be a good fit. Try the first month at 75% off. 

There is no magic diet, the magic is inside YOU.

Still have questions? I'd love to help. 

Like this post? Do you know someone it could help? It helps me a lot when you share with your friends and followers. 

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5 Healthy High Protein Smoothie Recipes

Happy Friday, friends! We made it through another week and it's time to relax and recover for the weekend, unless you're anything like me and you have family to attend to, friends to see, chores to get done and a race that's not going to train for itself! Weekends may offer a change from the routine but they often can be busier than the work week!

While weekends may be our chance to unwind a bit, don't let the freedom of the weekend derail all your health and fitness goals. While it is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to indulge once in a while to stay sane and happy, I try to keep my diet and exercise plan on track throughout the weekend, despite the craziness. 

5 healthy high protein smoothie recipes

 

One way to start your weekend off on the right foot is with a high protein breakfast. Consuming protein helps us stay feeling full and satisfied longer after we finish our meals. It is also necessary in order to breakdown, build and preserve lean muscle mass. If you are trying to lose weight adequate protein intake is essential. When you lose weight, you want to make sure you are losing fat and not muscle. Preserve muscle while you lose weight by Including resistance training in your workouts and consuming enough protein. Depending on your goals, aim for .5 to .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. 150 lb person may aim for 75 grams (to preserve lean muscle) to 120 grams (to build muscle) per day. If you are getting considerably less than this now, start on the low end. 

Protein shakes don't have to be boring. I wrote a post over on my other blog and since I know all my readers don't subscribe to both blogs (but please do!) I thought I would share these healthy high-protein recipes for you. These are all personally taste-tested and delicious. 

 5 healthy high protein smoothie recipes - save to Pinterest for later!

5 healthy high protein smoothie recipes - save to Pinterest for later!

CLASSIC GREEN SMOOTHIE

Sneak in a serving of spinach, you can't even taste it in this classic green smoothie.

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1 small banana
1/3 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 handful of fresh spinach
1 cup of milk or almond milk

COCOA MINT SMOOTHIE

Don't let the Girl Scouts have all the fun. Try this healthy high protein twist on the classic Thin Mint.

1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
1 banana
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
1 cup of milk or almond milk

TROPICAL DELIGHT SMOOTHIE

Close your eyes and imagine a tropical vacation complete with little umbrellas in your pineapple flavored drinks.

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1 handful of fresh spinach
1/3 cup of frozen pineapples
a pinch of coconut
a pinch of sliced almonds
1 cup of milk or almond milk

APPLE PIE SMOOTHIE

While it is almost never appropriate to eat apple pie for breakfast, you can have this healthy, high protein alternative any meal of the day. 

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1 sliced apple
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of milk or almond milk

ORANGE CREAMSICLE SMOOTHIE

Reminisce about the summers of our youth and the beloved ice cream truck while you sip on this delicious orange creamsicle smoothie. 

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1 medium orange, peeled
1/3 cup of plain Greek nonfat yogurt
 cup of milk or almond milk
 

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CORE STABILITY BALL TRAINING

Welcome to the latest edition of workout wednesday when each week I share a new running or runner-specific strength training workout. 

This week we are talking about core stability and strength. As runners, core strength is important to keep proper form, to provide a stable base between the lower and upper body and to power our stride. You don't need to spend hours in the gym or devote your life to strength training to reap the benefits of runner-specific core work. Spend 5-10 minutes on core exercises before you hit the road for your next run. You'll help activate running muscles and core training can be part of your warm up before you hit the road.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I make a small percentage of the sale with no additional cost to you. No one is getting rich here, it just helps with the cost associated with running (pun intended) this blog. Thanks, as always, for your support. 

EQUIPMENT

STABILITY BALL

You can work to strengthen your stabilization muscles and joints by providing an unstable, but controllable base like a stability ball. Some of the benefits of balance and stabilization training for runners are improved joint stability, increased flexibility, improved posture control, improved balance and coordination. 

 Core Stability Ball Training. Save to Pinterest for later. Download a printable PDF of this workout.

Core Stability Ball Training. Save to Pinterest for later. Download a printable PDF of this workout.

CORE STABILITY BALL TRAINING WORKOUT

BALL CRUNCH

Position the stability ball under the small of your back. Place your hands behind your head, do not pull on your neck, and lift your shoulders and chest up into a crunch. Engage your abs and hold for 3 seconds in top position. Slowly lower back to the starting position. For an added challenge hold a medicine ball for additional resistance. Perform 12 repetitions before moving onto the next exercise. 

BALL SQUATS

Place the ball against a wall and position the ball in the middle of your back. With your feet about hip width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead, walk your feet forward. Lower yourself into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, like you are sitting in an invisible chair. Be careful not to lean back into the ball, but use it as a guide to lower yourself. Once in the low position, press through the heels and push back up to standing. For an added challenge hold a medicine ball at your chest. Perform 12 reps before moving onto the next exercise.

BRIDGE WITH HAMSTRING CURLS

Lie on your back with the stability ball positioned under your calves. Lift your hips off the ground into the starting bridge position, engage your abs and glutes. Bend your knees and lift your hips to curl the ball towards your body. Straighten your legs back out and perform 12 repetitions without lowering your hips to the ground.

STRAIGHT ARM PLANK WITH TUCK

Position the stability ball under your thighs and walk your hands out until you come into a high plank position with your shoulders directly over your wrists and the ball under your shins. Pull your knees in towards your chest to roll the ball forward, then straighten your legs to return the ball to the starting position. Do not to lower the hips between reps. Perform 12 repetitions, take a one minute break then repeat the circuit one or two more times. 

Do you work in core and stabilization exercises into your running routine? Give this one a try and let me know what you think on Instagram, Twitter or in the comments!

 download a printable PDF core stability workout

download a printable PDF core stability workout

Did you like this post? Do you know one person who might benefit from it? It helps me grow when you share with your friends and followers. 

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How to Eat Healthy When You Don't (or Won't) Cook

You want to eat more healthfully, you just have this one limiting factor, you don't cook...or you don't want to cook. Who has the time anyway? It's just so much easier to order take out, go out to a restaurant or hit the drive-through. Right? Not so fast. Eating healthfully doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming.

I get it. Unless you have your own personal chef or are married to one (or a wannabe one, like me) then preparing healthy meals can seem like a huge undertaking. I am not a cook. My husband likes to joke that I could burn cereal. He thinks that since I am part-Italian I should have inherited amazing cooking skills passed down genetically from the generations. Not so much. It's not unusual that I call my more domesticated-skilled sister and ask her a random cooking  question that leaves her laughing on the floor. "What does it mean when the recipe says to ...."

I'm no cook, but I learned how to get around my handicap years ago. You can eat healthfully, even when you don't know how or want to know how to cook. It doesn't even take a lot of time, just a little planning. If you stick to the basics, you can eat healthfully, even when you don't (or won't) cook. 

I used to have a friend who would go all-out and make these extravagant healthy meals for her family that would take hours to prepare, but when she didn't have the time or energy to prepare those meals, she would resort to ordering pizza because it was easy. It's fine to have an occasional indulgent meal, but there is no need to use time or energy as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods. There are plenty of choices in-between that extravagantly prepared healthy meal and pizza delivery. It's not a choice between eating perfectly or terribly, we have a lot of healthy, easy to prepare choices in the middle. 
 

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MEAL PREP

Meal prep is a great way for people who don't have a lot of time to prepare their meals for the week. When you put in the effort upfront, it is easier to make a healthy decision during the week. I know what you are thinking. "Lea, I just told you I don't cook and now you're telling me to meal prep? What part of 'I don't cook' didn't you understand?" Hear me out.

If you make your food upfront you only have to cook once and you're set for the week. Bake your lean protein in bulk. I buy two pounds of chicken at a time and bake it in the oven (at 350 for 30-35 minutes, add dab of butter so they don't dry out) or I ask hubs to cook on the outdoor grill. Freeze the leftovers. You can add cooked chicken to salads, to whole wheat wraps or pair with a side of healthy carbs or vegetables.

Cook your chicken in advance then prepare and serve it different ways to avoid boredom (see below for ideas). 

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CROCKPOT MEALS

I don't watch 'This is Us' but even I heard about the Crock-Pot story. Don't throw away your Crock-Pot just yet. Slow cookers are an easy way to meal prep because you add lean meat (healthy. check.) and veggies (healthy. check.) in a pot, turn it on, walk away and it cooks all by itself. A quick Pinterest search will give you tons on recipes (i.e. ingredients to add to the slow cooker). Make more than you need and freeze the leftovers for a quick meal for the future. 

ROTISSERIE CHICKEN

Buy a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for already prepared protein to add to your meals. No cooking required.

BUFFET/SALAD BARS

My friend at work gave me this idea. She buys her cooked meats from buffets and salad bars from stores like Whole Foods or Central Market. If you don't want to or don't have time to cook it is a quick (albeit, more expensive) way to grab some healthy protein for your meals.

BUY FROZEN FOODS

OK, fine. You really don't want to do anything that even resembles cooking. Frozen foods from the grocery store may be the answer. Make sure you check the ingredient list that there are not a lot of added ingredients and preservatives, but food manufacturers are making frozen food more natural now due to customer demand! Don't trust the packaging marketing though, the words "all-natural" on the front of the package means next-to-nothing. Read the ingredient list on the back of the package and choose products with just a few ingredients that you can recognize. Again, it's not all-or-nothing, a frozen meal is still usually a healthier option than a fast food meal. We are not striving for perfection, just better. 

FROZEN VEGETABLES

Frozen vegetables are picked at their peak ripeness and are just as healthy as fresh. Buy the microwavable steamable veggies for a quick and healthy side dish. Don't be afraid to add seasonings, butter or cheese for flavor. Remember it's not a choice between steamed no-flavored vegetables or no vegetables at all. Eat your veggies. How can you make it work for you? 

FROZEN MEAT

I buy all-natural frozen turkey or chicken patties that can be cooked on a frying pan in 8-15 minutes, no actual cooking skills required. You can also buy the precooked chicken breasts that just need to be defrosted. 

EAT FRESH

The good news is that you don't have to cook in order to eat one of the healthiest meals out there, salads! Chop a variety of colorful veggies and add to spinach leaves for a nutrient-dense meal.

FOOD DELIVERY SERVICES

If you really don't want to cook you can have healthy meals delivered or make meal prep easy by using one of those services that send all the ingredients and the recipe card for an easy to follow dinner with no grocery shopping required, like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. These may be a little more expensive, but a great choice for people who are just too busy to research and shop for their own meals.

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EASY LOW-PREP IDEAS FOR EVERY MEAL

BREAKFAST

Eggs can be cooked on a frying pan in just a few minutes, hard-boiled in 12 minutes or microwaved (make sure you completely break up the yolk to avoid an egg-plosion before microwaving) in about a minute.

Protein shakes are an easy option when you don't have time to cook. Add protein powder, fruits and veggies (try spinach!) to a blender for a quick and healthy breakfast on the go, here are some protein shake ideas from my Running with Ollie blog.

Old-fashioned oatmeal can be cooked on the stove top or in the microwave. Buy the plain old-fashioned oatmeal in the canister and add fruit, berries and/or cinnamon for natural flavoring. You can prep delicious oatmeal in advance with overnight oats.

LUNCH

Whole wheat wraps with prepared chicken or pouch tuna.

Add chicken to fresh spinach and chopped veggies for a delicious salad. Premake salads for the week in mason jars for a quick healthy lunch on the go.

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Use a whole wheat pita as a pizza crust, add sauce, cheese, chicken and load up with veggies for a healthier pizza lunch. 

DINNER

Frozen turkey burgers cooked and served on a whole-wheat flat bun is a delicious high-protein healthy meal in about 10 minutes.

Add chicken to brown rice, vegetables, cheese and salsa for a mexican-style burrito bowl. You can buy microwavable brown rice for a quick meal. 

Add low-sugar red pasta sauce to chicken for an Italian-style meal. Try a (affiliate link-->) spiralizer to make noodles out of vegetables (no cooking skills required!).

Add chicken to a big bowl of fresh spinach and colorful chopped veggies for a delicious nutrient-dense meal. 

SNACKS

Cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt (flavored with fresh fruit or berries), nuts, seeds and fruits all make quick and healthy snacks.

The key thing to remember is that healthy cooking (and healthy living in general) is not all-or-nothing. Do the best you can what is reasonably available to you in the moment. You don't have to eat or cook perfectly to see results. Be mindful of your choices and try to choose 'just a little bit better' and you'll do fine overall. The choice is never just between the perfect healthiest choice or the nutritionally worst choice possible, there are a whole lot of options in the middle. Be mindful. Do the best you can and it will always be enough. When you mess up (we all do, we're human after all) pick back up and try again at your next meal. 

Need help with nutrition? Tired of diet plans that fail? Want to work from the ground up building nutrition habits that change the way you view food for sustainable results? My nutrition habits coaching program is for people who are tired of dieting and just want to learn to eat healthy. It's a year-long curriculum to change your habits from the inside out. No long term payment commitments required, just a commitment from you to give it your best effort. Try it for the first month at 75% off to see if it is a good fit for you. Cancel anytime, hassle-free. Questions? I'd love to help. 

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Coach Lea

Like this post? Do you know one person who could benefit from reading it? It helps me grow when share with your friends and followers.