The Novice Foodie

Just eating real foods, lifting heavy things and learning about it along the way

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something that scares you

When I first heard about the Warrior Dash, I laughed and said “no way.”
Months later, I found myself drenched in mud at the finish line of the Carrolton, OH Warrior Dash in September 2010 thinking that it really had been “the craziest fricken day” of my life.

In winter of 2011, when I first heard about Crossfit, I also wasn’t sure if it was for me. But I was growing tired of swimming, running and my weight room routine, and by February I had decided to give it a try.

At first I only went once a week in addition to my old routines, and I was usually sore that entire week between workouts. By April I was completely hooked. Today (2/17/13) is my first year anniversary of Crossfitting and now I WOD almost every day and can’t get enough of it (still sometimes with the soreness, but to a somewhat lesser degree).

Competitions on competitions on competitions

It has been said: “If your workout doesn’t scare you, it isn’t hard enough.” Crossfit workouts are different every day, making it pretty hard to get complacent. A year later and they still get me nervous sometimes.

What I like most about Crossfit is that there’s a never-ending list of goals you can push yourself toward on so many levels. Mostly, I want to do well in the metcon- get a good score while maintaining good form. Usually for me that means scaling back the weight. There’s so many movements that I currently scale and modify that I want to work up to and complete Rx.  Beyond that are  lifting PRs. There are so many opportunities to reach a goal as opposed to a more singular sport like swimming or running for a certain time (both of which I have much experience with…it took me about 3 years to break a minute in the 100 freestyle, talk about frustrating,) or a team sport where personal goals are often dependent on teammates and are more difficult to define and measure. But beating your best time applies to Crossfit too– repeating workouts is a great way to check your progress, and every workout is you against the clock.

365 days ago, I stepped into Crossfit SEO in Athens, Ohio, wearing my Asics and not knowing what a power clean was. Today, I’ve just registered for the Open and have begun my second Paleo challenge. What I’m trying to say is don’t ever let intimidation prevent you from trying something new. Most of the time, the attempt turns out to be more rewarding than not. And maybe you’ll even find your new favorite hobby.


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My favorite Pilates moves

I generally prefer more active workouts like running and Crossfit to slower-paced ones like Yoga, but doing Pilates is a great compliment to high-impact training by increasing flexibility and improving core strength–both of which may improve performance in other forms of exercise. Personally, I can never get enough ab work and I could definitely use a little help with flexibility. I also find that Pilates has just the right balance of activity and relaxation. That being said, here’s a compilation of my top five favorite Pilates mat exercises*:

*Disclaimer: This is simply a list of exercises that I look forward to during a Pilates workout. I would recommend incorporating this list into planned routines that involve the whole body. This is not a comprehensive workout and the exercises are listed in no particular order.

1. Toe Dips

I like this exercise because my hip flexors do not like many abdominal moves (which probably indicates that I need to do them more often.) This exercise, though, strengthens my core without making my hip flexors too angry. 

2. Double Leg Kick (and single leg kick)

These exercises are great compliments for abdominal work. The back is an often neglected part of the core, and these moves engage the lower back while getting a good stretch through the hamstrings. I love how this exercise embodies the Pilates goal of strength and flexibility all at once.

3. Rolling Like a Ball

If I’m being totally honest, this one is just really fun.

4. Double Leg Stretch

This is a great abdominal challenge. I like exercises that I can feel working right away–instant gratification.

5. Anything with the Pilates ring (aka Magic Circle)

A little equipment can add variety to mat exercises. Most can be performed without the ring, but I find that using it helps take the edge off of my hip flexors when used between the thighs and adds a little extra toning to my arms when held between the palms.

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“Spynga,” an all-around exercise combination

In my daily exercise routines, I typically aim to combine cardio with strength training. My roommate and I will complete a strength-training type group fitness class like Pilates and head over to the ellipticals to finish out our workouts. Now, it seems as if this combination of fitness class + cardio has become a national trend.

In a unique combination, a Canadian-born fitness trend combines Spinning and yoga, or Spynga.

The workout begins with a Spinning class, and then transitions into a Yoga class to finish out the workout.

It seems to me that it would be quite a complicated transition.

One time before a yoga class, I used the elliptical just beforehand. My muscles were so tight and shook with every position we were told to hold. I can’t imagine coming straight off of a Spinning bike and onto a yoga mat.

Although, I would bet that it would be a great cool down for mind and body. Muscles get a great stretch and your mind can relax and de-stress. It seems like a smart combination of exercises!

In an article from the National Post, one Spynga instructor says:

“It really is a yin-yang approach to fitness. You’ve got the cardio of the cycling and then you get off the bike and find that same intention and mindfulness for yoga. You release toxins, de-stress and find that sense of balance.”

Read about a typical Spynga experience here

A fitness studio in Cleveland Heights, OH (Buddahful Spin) offers Spynga classes, while it originated in Canada. I wonder how far the trend will extend?

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The Necessity of Warm Down

In all of my experience with exercise, I have always been advised to begin my workout with a warm up and end it with a warm down (a.k.a. cool down), whether that means an easy 200 yards in the pool or an easy 2 laps around the track. So coming across this article from the New York Times surprised me.

The idea of the cool-down seems to have originated with a popular theory — now known to be wrong — that muscles become sore after exercise because they accumulate lactic acid. In fact, lactic acid is a fuel. It’s good to generate lactic acid, it’s a normal part of exercise, and it has nothing to do with muscle soreness. But the lactic acid theory led to the notion that by slowly reducing the intensity of your workout you can give lactic acid a chance to dissipate.

Yet, Dr. Foster said, even though scientists know the lactic acid theory is wrong, it remains entrenched in the public’s mind.

“It’s an idea we can’t get rid of,” he said.

I’ll admit, I always wished this was true. After a long swim practice, I never wanted to warm down. I can recall skipping out on many a lap because I just wanted to get out and get going.

Today, I beg to differ. After a swim meet a few weekends ago, I did little to no warm down at the end of the day. The next few days were very sore ones.

One might also consider how warm down benefits a person after an aerobic workout versus an anaerobic one. Would a short and intense weight-lifting circuit require less warm down because the muscles were engaged for only a short period of time? Or would it require more stretching to loosen the muscles for the next workout?


Why I Love Wellness

High school was extremely influential for me. It was the height of my independence and the beginning of the rest of my life in more ways than one.

First of all, it was in high school that I found journalism. I found the place where writing, layout, pictures and computers came together in one place. My brief yet very extensive introduction to the field prepared me for at least all of my introductory journalism classes in college thus far.

And second, high school was when I began varsity swimming. Although I had been swimming for my neighborhood team since age three and began competitively swimming for a USA sanctioned club team in eighth grade, high school swimming took my life to a new level. It taught me about time management, discipline, self-motivation and fitness. Varsity swimming made me a better person, and I loved every minute of it.

Most importantly, swimming taught me so much about exercise. To this day I remember and often complete high school work outs on my own in the pool or the gym. From sets to abdominal workouts, to cords to the weight room, I learned almost everything I know about exercise from my high school swim coach.

After five years of 24-hours-a-week of practice, my body naturally craved exercise. Today, although a member of the OU Club Swim Team, a majority of my workouts are on my own. Although I have rehearsed and replayed the techniques and work outs I learned in high school, I am ready for a change. I crave new, challenging workouts to target my problem areas and increase my fitness level. The feeling after a great workout is indescribable and something I cannot live without.

This is the challenge I embark on today. In my free time, I tend to research workouts and try them out, then evaluate their effectiveness. A new discovery is Self Magazine’s work-out trackers and tips about foods and other exercises. My plan is to compile the most effective workouts and interesting nutrition tips here, from Self and other various websites or other sources.

So, it begins.