Saturday, March 3, 2012

Yoga Pose of the Day: Reclined Bound Angle Pose

Today's Stretch of the Day is Reclined Bound Angle pose, or Supta Baddha Konasana. Do NOT do this pose if you have issues with your knees, groin, or lower back, as it will cause further strain.

Begin in a a reclined position, back against the floor, abs engaged. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out to the side. Do not worry if your knees do not fall near to the floor. Let them come down to the level your body allows!

Use deep inhales to lengthen through your spine, and as you exhale, feel a release in your legs which allows your knees to drop further, even if just a small amount.

To make this a more dynamic movement, on your inhalations, bring your knees together, and then let them fall back towards the ground in a controlled motion on the exhales. This will deepen the stretch.

Hold this pose for several breaths. When you are ready to come out of it, bring your knees together and gently roll back up to a seated position.


Exercise of the Day: Plank Heel Touch

This exercise is great for total core training and work on your balance!

Start in the plank position. You want your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your feet set shoulder length apart from one another. 

Notes on Form: 
Make sure your back is flat! To help do this, tighten your abs, like your belly button is pressing back to your spine, and tighten your glutes. Remember it's called a plank because you want to look like a straight plank of wood from head to feet! Also, keep your shoulders back. This means keep your shoulders away from your ears, and activated, like you are holding an orange between your shoulder blades, but not tight enough to juice it.

The Move:
Bring your right heel towards your butt. As you do this motion, bring your left hand back to tap it. Slowly and with control, return back to starting position.

Repeat this motion, this time bringing your left heel up to your glutes to meet your right hand.

Always maintain tension in your core to keep your body still. You want to eliminate as much rocking between your shoulders as possible to get the most out this workout.

Do this exercise, alternating between each side, for one minute.


Fitness Tip of the Day: Sport+Store Water Bottle

Product of the Day: Sport + Store Water Bottle. This product makes me happy for lots of reasons. It's stainless steel, eco-friendly and BPA free, and comes with a storage reservoir that screws onto the base of the water bottle. This reservoir is ideal for holding keys, credit cards, money, ids, etc. so if you go to the gym, or practically anywhere, you do not have to worry about stashing your purse or wallet, and you will always know where you set your keys!

Specific reasons I like the Sport+Store as a trainer: It is especially useful when I take clients outside for a run or other activities. Not only do I have somewhere to keep any keys I may need, but I can also take band-aids, tylenol/advil/aspirin, sunscreen, and my phone, just in case something may happen outside of the gym and first-aid kits may not be readily available.

Specific reasons I like the Sport+Store in general: When I go to the gym, out for a run, or take my water bottle with me for regular daily activities, I can keep any supplements, medicine, sunscreen, my phone, etc., with me without worrying about lugging around my purse. I also tend to forget where my keys are, and this prevents that from happening!

If you want a water bottle that is eco-friendly and highly compatible to an on-the-go lifestyle and keeps your life low-maintenance, I highly recommend you check out the Sport+Store website ( to see all the options in design and color and learn more about the product!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Snack of the Day: Easy Healthy Carrot Soup

It's a rainy day here, so perfect for soup! Today I made a carrot soup that's not only delicious, but easy on the digestive system, very healthy, and minimal ingredients are required.

It's very simple to make.

Fill a large pot with six cups of water and bring the water to a boil.
To the boiling water, add about 3 cups of diced carrots (this is about one 16 oz package of baby carrots), one diced medium red onion, grated ginger from about 1 in of a root, and 1-2 teaspoons of ground black pepper (this is a personal taste). You can add salt, though I tend to avoid this. Boil this concoction for 15 minutes.

After the 15 minutes have passed, pour the contents of the pot into a blender. Blend the contents until the soup has a creamy texture, or the texture you prefer. You can add additional ginger at this point.

When you serve the soup, you can add Italian parsley for decoration, just to feel fancy or impress guests.

Simple. Delicious. Healthy.


Yoga Pose of the Day: Downward Dog with a Twist

Friday! I like to start my Fridays doing hot power yoga. It helps ease out everything that I've put my body through all week as well as clear and ease my mind from all the week's events.

My favorite stretch I did today in my practice was the downward dog with a twist. It completely helped relieve tension in my back and I could feel every muscle in my body gaining relief, especially my calves which had endured a long week of running and plyometric training.

Downward dog w twist
To get into the pose, start in the standard downward facing dog position.

*Now some people prefer to move into the next step from this exact position. Others like to walk their hands back towards their feet, still maintaining downward dog, but only half the distance between your hands and feet as normal. This is up to you and your body.

As you exhale, reach your right arm under your torso and place your right hand on the outside of the left ankle, as far as your flexibility allows. Remember to keep your hips square to the mat. The twist is NOT in the lower back/lumbar region....this can cause low back pain, and none of us want that!

Hold this position for 2 deep breaths.

As you take your next inhale, come back into standard downward facing dog.

Repeat the twist by taking your left arm under the torso and grasping your right ankle with the left palm, holding this position for 2 deep breaths.

I hope you all enjoy this pose, the strain of the week has been eased, and you are now reinvigorated for Friday!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snack of the Day: Easy, Healthy Post-Workout Snacks

Many people want to know what it is that they should eat after they work out. This makes me happy, because one really needs to replenish their bodies after a workout because your glycogen levels have decreased and your body needs to be given carbohydrates in order to heal properly and still keep you feeling refreshed.

Now before you get too excited and chow down on the list of examples I'm about to provide you, keep in mind that how much you consume post workout largely relies on how strenuous of a workout you've had and your personal body type. It may take a few "snack experiments" to figure out what you personally need.

List of Post-Workout Snack examples:
Banana with Peanut butter (my personal go-to), or any nut butter
Protein Smoothie
Peanut Butter and jelly
Yogurt (Greek if you have it) with berries, almonds, honey, etc.
String cheese, fruit, and nuts
if a juicer or blender available to you, I always like this drink:

2 bananas, a little over a tsp of nutmeg, a bit of vanilla to taste.....blend. You can add milk (soy, skim, almond, what have you) as well. SO GOOD!!!

Yoga Pose of the Day: Wall Plank


Who doesn't want to relieve their back muscles? Try the wall plank.

1) Stand arm's length away from a wall.
2) Reach from your shoulders and plant your palms on the wall.
3) Make sure your fingers are nice and wide, with your middle finger pointing straight up the wall to the ceiling.
4) Keeping length in the spine and your abs engaged, start walking your legs back away from the wall.
5) You'll begin to fold in half at the waist at this point.
6) Walk your hands down the wall.
7) You know when to stop when you form the L-shape, or a perfect 90 degree angle at your waist.

If you feel strain in your lower back, bend your knees slightly.

Push your heels into the floor while pushing your tailbone up to the ceiling. At the same time, push your palms into the wall while you stretch your back parallel with the floor away from the wall. This push and pull movement is in time with a deep exhale. Repeat for several nice and healing breaths.

Your back thanks you.

Workout of the Day: 99 Problems But a Bench 'Aint One

Microloading. For the experienced lifter it's an effective way to push past a plateau and increase strength in your muscles. For the beginner lifter it's an easy to understand, approachable, and track-able way to increase how much weight your muscles can handle overtime. Microloading is also an safe and effective way of weight training in that it only requires increasing weights in small amounts (rather than huge quantities all at once) and allows muscles to steadily make adjustments without being severely punished within one training session.

Here is a basic model for using microloading in a workout:
1) Always warm-up the muscles you are about to lift with.
2) Perform sets of an exercise at a given weight.
3) If you can perform the sets with perfect form, the next time you perform the exercise, increase your weight by about only 2.5 pounds.
4) After increasing the weight, repeat steps 2 and 3.

2.5 pounds may not seem like a lot of weight, but it adds up, trust me!

Obviously there are ways you can expand upon this basic model of microloading. For example, I like to use this method with some of my clients:

Set 1: 15 reps at starting weight.
Set 2: 10 reps with an increase of 2.5 lbs.
Set 3: 8 reps with an increase of 2.5 lbs.
Set 4: Drop back to the starting weight and do as many reps until muscles are exhausted or lose form.

The next time I use the workout with a client, the starting weight will increase 2.5 pounds from the original workout, and so on and so on.

I have seen this model do great things for clients. It is simple to explain and apply to one's own training, which makes my clients more comfortable and feeling more in control of their bodies. The improvements and accomplishments of the clients are also quantifiable overtime, which helps improve confidence, especially for those clients who tend to rely on sometimes difficult to measure physical changes as markers of success.

Happy Weight Training!

Inspiration of the Day: Today is the Day

Use it or lose it

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

St. Patrick's Day 5 Mile-St. Louis

March is here!!! That means St. Patrick's Day, and to people in St. Louis, MO, that is a BIG DEAL!

It all starts off at 9AM with the 33rd Annual St. Patrick's Day 5 Mile. This run is the definition of FUN run. People of all levels of experience, ages, and abilities are welcome and many people come dressed in the spirit of the holiday, so you'll get an eyeful of revelry. If you'd like to be a walking participant or use a stroller during the race, that is fine as well, just NO PETS! Again, the race starts at you can get a little extra sleep as compared to other fun runs which tend to start earlier in the morning.

After the race, you can stay downtown for the parade which starts at 11:30, and/or begin the celebration and party! I already know of people planning a huge BBQ when the race is over!

More information about the race and registration can be found here:

So St. Louisans and Non-St. Louisans alike, sign up or go on downtown and cheer people on......what a perfect holiday!

Yoga Pose of the Day: Tips on Frog Pose

Just had a comment about how to know whether doing frog pose correctly....

One thing that always helps me is to always do it by a large mirror that allows me to see my entire body without  needing to turn my head too much. Lay on the ground your side is what is being reflected. By seeing myself in the mirror, I can tell if my hips and knees are in one line. If your hips are too far back, the stretch is not deep enough, if your hips are too far ahead of your knees (towards your head), you may be overstretching. Also, by looking in the mirror you can see if you are rounding your back. Remember to keep your back flat: so shoulders away from your ears and active, like you're holding an orange between your shoulder blades, but not too tightly as to juice it.

Hope this helps!

Yoga Pose of the Day: Frog Pose

The Frog Pose, or Mandukasana. Glorious. Your hip flexors, groin, quads.....well, your entire legs and your entire body will thank you.

To get into the pose, get yourself into a table top position. In other words, align your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees, then flatten your back so you look like a four legged table. Next, bring your elbows down to replace your wrists so now your shoulders are aligned with your elbows. Start moving your knees out, staying even with your hips. The closer you bring your pelvis to the ground, the deeper the stretch. Don't worry about how far down you go, stick with your range of flexibility. Take deep breaths and when you exhale try to push the stretch a little further.

Try to hold the pose for at least 30 seconds. Want more stretching? Go for two minutes.

Coming out of the pose. This is super important to do correctly. GLIDE FORWARD ONTO YOUR BELLY.  Pushing yourself out of the pose in any other way is very strenuous on your joints and muscles and totally counter-intuitive to the healing you are trying to accomplish!

This move feels a little awkward at first, but the more you include in into your stretching, the easier it is to perform it, the more flexible you will become, and positive impact the frog pose has on your body only improves!


Snack of the Day: High Protein Almond Bread

Some of my vegetarian friends and clients have asked me for suggestions on new, delicious ways to add protein in their diet while still avoiding meat protein. Here's a link to a recipe for all vegetarians and omnivores to enjoy:

This bread is soooo good!!! Very few ingredients and simple instructions!


Fitness Tip of the Day: More Exercises to Relieve IT Band Pain

As soon as I post the last blog, I was sent the link for the article on "Relieve Post-Run Butt Pain." The exercises you find here are perfect! When I strained my IT band, the first exercise my chiropractor told me to do was the clam shell, and it truly does help.


Fitness Tip of the Day: IT Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band (IT Band) Syndrome is one of the most common pains experienced by runners. This pain is felt on the outside of the thigh, between the pelvis and the lower part of the knee. There are many causes for ITBS, including inadequate warming up or cooling down, excessive or endurance training with the legs, excessive squats, uneven leg length, being bowlegged, inflexibility, weak hip abductor muscles. Excessive wear on the outside of the outside heel of one's shoe can be indicative of being bowlegged, other skeletal and muscular issues, and improper running form.

You can use the RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) method to help treat the muscles, use a foam roller to help relieve tightness, and receive ultrasound treatments to ease pain as well. Obviously, consulting a doctor, an athletic therapist, chiropractor, or other muscular specialist for solutions is the best method for finding ways to heal your ITBS.

I often use foam rollers to help loosen up my IT band, and there are many stores and websites (check on for a wide variety) that sell them for home use. Prices range anywhere from $10 to $80, depending on quality, brand name, material, etc. If you are a runner, having a foam roller around may not be such a bad idea, and you can use it for prevention of ITBS, in combination with proper stretches, warm-ups, and focusing on good form. Here's a pic of what the foam roller that I own looks like:

Take care of your muscles and stretch! Here's a basic IT band stretch:

Happy Leap Day!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snack of the Day: Pasta and Fruit Salad

So today one of my favorite friends came over for lunch, and I wanted to make something simple, healthy, filling, but light on the stomach. This last part was especially important because I had to train and run right after lunch and did not want that heavy gross feeling in my stomach holding me back. The meal I made hit the mark perfectly!

I am not, by any means, going to take credit for coming up with this recipe. It is pretty much the Fruit Spring Rolls recipe as created by Giada de Laurentiis (see <>). The thing that I did differently was I took out the whole "spring roll" aspect, and just kept the recipe as a pasta and fruit salad.

Here's what you do. Boil a box of Pan Thai noodles as directed. Drain the noodles and let them cool. Chop up about 8 medium-sized strawberries into quarter slices, dice up one mango, and dice up one packet of mint. Add the berries, mango, and mint to the cooled noodles, and then add 1/4 cup of honey. Toss, and then enjoy!!  We devoured the entire dish!

This meal was perfect for lunch, I was completely satiated, but didn't feel like I had overeaten. In fact, I felt amazing while working out! It was healthy and all natural. It was simple. It is vegetarian friendly, and all of the vegans out there can simply use a vegan noodle and substitute agave nectar for the honey......still delicious and nutritious!

I cannot wait to make this very simple recipe again, especially as the weather gets warmer, because the pasta and fruit salad is completely refreshing!

Bon Appetit!

Workout of the Day: Plyometrics are a DO!

I love plyometrics. Love. "Plyometrics" refers to explosive exercises that help develop speed and power in your muscular system. Sometimes my clients look at me like I'm crazy when I add them into their workouts, but the value of plyometrics to all athletes is undeniable. Plyometrics help with injury prevention and help improve the connection between the nervous system and the brain, allowing for muscles to contract in a faster, more powerful, manner; therefore, you can move more efficiently and forcefully.

Now, that being said, plyometrics are most effective when used in combination with strength training and flexibility training. It is also important that you have a strong core and proper form when performing plyometric exercises.

Don't be afraid of including plyometric exercises into your workout. Many times, people are intimidated by complicated plyometrics that they see trained athletes performing and shy away. However, you can start simple. Exercises such as squat jumps, dynamic lunge jumps, jump rope, skipping, and hopping all help you gain the benefits of plyometrics.

So go mix up your workouts with plyometrics and start noticing improvements in your performance!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Inspiration of the Day: Enthusiasm is Contagious

One of my clients made my day today! She had a rough day at work and when she came in on her lunch break, she said she didn't really have the motivation to work hard today......luckily, I was ready to go and super excited about her work out. After her workout, she told me that she couldn't help but give it her all today because my energy rubbed off on her, and she was glad she got herself to the gym after all!

Moral of the story: the more excited you are about your job, the more excited your clients will be about working with you!

To Have or Have Not.....Post-run Beer?

Whenever I finish a race, I have never understood the people who are physically capable of drinking a post-run beer. My mind, body, stomach....everything.....tells me this is a horrible idea. Sometimes this makes me super sad, like when 312 hands out a complimentary beer at the end of the Chicago Marathon, or when O'Fallon Brewery shows up to local races and gives out samples to the runners after the race. So, the post-run beer....good idea or bad idea? Obviously its a personal thing based on your body and how it reacts to intensive physical exertion, but here's a link to a more in depth discussion:


Fitness Tip of the Day: When To Replace Shoes....

After posting about the importance of good shoes yesterday, I had several people ask me when exactly do you know if you should replace your shoes or not. According to the American Academy of Podiatric Medicine, you should replace your shoes every 350 to 550 miles (this is when having an understanding of the make and model of your shoe is important). However, shoes do show signs of serious wear before these mileage markers, so do pay attention to your shoes!

Lucky for us, Running World provided an overview of the best running shoes for you to decide before you buy!

Happy Shoe Shopping!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fitness Tip of the Day: Proper Shoes are a MUST!

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people wear shoes that are not good for their feet, both while working out and in general. A good pair of running or walking shoes is something that you MUST invest in. You are going to save yourself a world of hurt in your legs, back, and your entire body, prevent minor to serious injuries, perform better, and, based on all of that, improve your mood and self as well.

So, find a shoe store near you; I find the best results are stores that specialize in running, or some type of exercise, or orthopedics. In the St. Louis area, this includes Big River Running  ( and Fleet Feet ( There you can ask the person working to examine your foot, explain what your daily activity level is that you need your shoe to support, and they will help find the best shoe for you. Don't worry, despite how much the worker wants you to, you do not have to buy the shoe there, especially in a specialty store where the shoe may be more expensive. Just remember the make and model of your shoe, do your research, find a pair you can afford, and then enjoy the gift you have just given not only your feet, but your entire body!

Here's a website that talks about shoes bad for your feet:

When I decided to train for the Chicago Marathon a few years ago, the guys at Running Wild in Coralville, IA ( fitted me in the ASICS Gel Cumulus (, as opposed to my usual Nikes I wear when sprinting. Many of my long-distance running friends have been fitted with this shoe as well. Love this shoe!
ASICS Women's GEL-Cumulus 13 Running Shoe - Dick's Sporting Goods

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