Peak Week OCR Gym Workout + Spartan Strong Life Time Fitness

This post is sponsored by  Life Time Fitness, however all opinions, workout suggestions, and enthusiasm are strictly my own. 

In a perfect world, obstacle course racing training would happen in the great outdoors. What could be more magnificent (and challenging) than charging up a mountain, leaping across creeks and hauling around rocks and logs? But, let’s be real, for many of us, it’s hard to get to Mother Nature’s gym on a regular basis. Towel Pull Ups Life Time Fitness

Between work schedules, kid’s activities, inclement weather (cold and hot), and too many accidents running in the dark, I’ve redirected about 75% of my obstacle course training to the gym. I’ve been a member of Life Time Fitness for several months now and have never been at a loss for equipment to get a fierce solo workout accomplished, for a fun and motivating group fitness class to join, or for other amenities to keep me strong, adaptable and resilient for my upcoming Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe on Sept 30.  Read on to get my Peak Week Spartan Training Gym Workout and also find out about some ways that Life Time Fitness is helping me reach my athletic goals – and can you too! Continue reading

Abs, Core, Pelvic Floor Problems + How to Bounce Back (and stop peeing your pants) Post Pregnancy

After growing, giving birth and nursing three babies, I came to appreciate my body in a whole new way extending far beyond what it had done for me physically in my running career.  I enjoyed (most) every minute of being pregnant and the sweet months of new motherhood following. With each pregnancy, I allowed myself to step away from my type-A training schedule and expectations of how quickly I should be bouncing back in both athletic ability and appearance. These physical and mental respites were a blessing that helped keep me healthy, happy and centered.

Abs Core Pelvic Floor thefitfork.com

What wasn’t a blessing were the progressively worsening issues I experienced as a result of these big babies, average weight over 9lb pounds! Embarrassing problems like incontinence and bladder prolapse related to pelvic floor weakness and dysfunction and, to a lesser degree, Diastasis Recti, a muscles separation in the abdomen that can contribute to mommy pooch. My doctors were pushing surgery, but I was scared and unsure, so I researched ways to self-correct with specific exercises and have been feeling great for years. I recently discovered the team up between Natalie Hodson and Dr. Monique Middlekauff, a specialist in pelvic floor dysfunction, to create a 30-day program called Abs, Core & Pelvic Floor. This easy-to-follow, at-home program includes many of the things I did and LOTS more, and I am excited to recommend it! Read on to get the details! Continue reading

How to Age Proof Your Abs – Diet, Workouts, Wellness for 40+

The plain truth is, as we get a little older, it’s harder to make muscles and convince them to stick around, especially in the abdominal area. The potential for maximum muscle mass lasts until the 30s, after that it’s a small gradual decline in mass month by month, year by year. Gasp, experts say a sedentary lifestyle can result in a 3 to 5 percent decline per decade! This loss of muscle is often replaced by a little extra padding around the middle or “muffin top,” even if you are in good or reasonable shape overall. Plus, the hormonal changes brought on by peri-menopause or full-on menopause don’t help matters much.How to Age Proof Your Abs in 40s 50s and beyond

The quest for a flat mid-section or six-pack abs in middle age or older shouldn’t be about rocking a bikini or turning heads at the gym, although I guess these are nice side benefits – but, haven’t we moved past this ego feed?!  Instead, appreciate what a strong core through functional fitness can do for your daily living. Strong abs help improve balance, stability, back strength and posture, and, in my opinion, can make you feel and look 10 years younger.  A strong core also lessens the chance for injury from actual exercise or random stupid stuff, like twisting the wrong way while holding a bag of groceries, keeping up with your kids, or even playing with grand kids.  Read on to get the tips on How To Age Proof Your Abs Continue reading

All the Holiday Health Tips “Yule” Ever Need!

All the Holiday Health Tips "Yule" Ever NeedGuzzle before Goodies: Drink a big glass of water and, if the meal or party is going to start after a scheduled meal time, eat a protein bar or other small protein-rich snack (around 200 cal) to tide you over. Time after time, I’ve read “eat a meal before heading out” as this will fill you up so that will not be tempted to overindulge on drinks and goodies at a holiday party. Um, unless you have willpower of steel, this doesn’t work – at least not for me. I always end up giving in with the “what the heck, it’s only once a year mindset” and, while it’s okay to splurge every now and then, but having consumed a full dinner (even if deemed “healthy”) just means you’ve gotten a head start on over-eating.

The Gift of Protein: Make sure you are not just using your entire calorie budget on all the wonderful baked treats of the season at the expense of eating enough protein. While pancakes, homemade breads, cookies, pies and more deserve a little attention this time of year, you can’t fuel a healthy lifestyle without adequate protein. Aim to get at 25 to 30 grams at EVERY meal, starting with breakfast, and also a couple 10 gram-ish protein snacks if you’ve been active during the day. Research has shown that consuming adequately timed and spaced protein not only helps with muscle management, but can moderate hunger and help you avoid over-snacking later in the day or evening.

cutting-sheet-pan-maple-beef-sausageBy the way, you have to check out my new Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage recipe — it’s a less mess, less stress way to make a batch of protein for a holiday crowd. It tastes yummy and sure beats slinging bacon or links all morning.

Moderate your Mixology: Drink in moderation or, even better, don’t drink alcoholic beverages, heavy eggnogs or sugary punches at all. Wine, beer and other adult beverages are very high in carbs and calories, partying all night will take its toll in so many ways . . . I won’t preach. If and when I decide to have a drink, I limit myself to one and then turn to sparkling waters with a splash of juice or infused with fruit. I have also turned ONE drink, into two by halving the liquor or wine portion and topping off with a low-cal liquid.

Exercise Anywhere: Regardless whether stuck in a car travelling or in your mother-in-law’s lair, find a way to move about and sneak in a little exercise – even if just in 5 minute increments.  We always pull over every hour on the road (for potty stops) and to bust out some roadside jumping jacks and burpees – I’m not kidding.  When visiting relatives and out of your normal fitness routine, suggest that the group head out for a walk to see holiday lights or start up a friendly game of flag football. There are also lots of home workouts that need little or no equipment when snowed it. Also, check out my 40 Fitness Hacks for the Holidays or my Wrapping Paper Tube Workout  – a graphic below, but also a video (seriously)!

Wrapping Paper Roll Workout - TheFitFork.com

Let Go of the Guilt: Despite the tips, the biggest tip is to enjoy the season and the quality time with family and friends. Many of us striving to live in the healthiest way we know how, often forever deny some of our past pleasures. If you want a slice of chocolate cake, have it! If you want a steaming mug of strawberry honey white hot chocolate, have it! If you’ve missed a few days or even a week of  your normal workouts, fuggetabout it! We all deserve a break and time to recharge – a short time of splurging and relaxing over the holiday season isn’t going to set you significantly back (if at all).

What are your holiday plans?! What are you doing to stay active? What is your favorite splurge (mine is banana bread with absolutely no healthy modifications 😉 Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer  

20-Min Kickboxing Workout to Punch Monday in Face

Jennifer thefitfork handstand in kickboxing class Sometimes it can be a real fight to get daily exercise accomplished. No joke. Ready to get it done and get on with the day? This 20 minute, high-intensity (HIIT-style) workout gives you heart-pounding cardio combined with working every muscle in the body. It’s a real calorie-torcher and productive way to relieve stress before your day begins or as it ends.  There are NO handstands as the above picture implies, I’m just flipping out and having fun after finishing my workout! 20 Minute Full Body Kickboxing Workout engages every muscle in the body and kicks up the cardio too! What you need: In addition to 20 minutes, you’ll need a visible clock with a second hand to keep track of the intervals / rounds. Also, you’ll need access to a free-standing punching bag or one that hangs low enough that you can throw punches from a seated, sit-up position.  Don’t forget to gear up with a pair of kickboxing, sparring or boxing gloves. Explanation of Rounds

  • Jab & Cross Punch:  Throw straight punch from front hand followed quickly by straight punch from back hand.
  • Round House Kick: Step forward with front leg and foot rotated outward as far as possible. Rotate hips and kick leg to shoulder height while lowering torso.
  • Upper Cut Punch: Throw a rising punch that moves upward with palms facing chest, alternate arms.
  • Sit Up with Hook Punch:  Sit with legs wrapped around bag base, lean back into prone position and then sit up quickly delivering a rounded punch to the bag with an arching motion with one arm, quickly followed by the other arm.

I hate wearing the sweaty, stinky kickboxing gloves from the gym . . . so I just got these!

Do you like to kickbox? What is your alternative cardio workout on days you don’t want to run? Did you have a race or run this weekend, please share in comments – XOXO, Jennifer 

Soccer Strong Workout, Injury Prevention + Giveaway

Fear Nothing. Give Everything.  I love this attitude of Storelli Sports, a really awesome company that makes next-gen sports protection gear for professional and amateur athletes.

TheFitFork.com SoccerThis company’s main market is soccer; you know how crazy those soccer players get – I’m being serious! Bodies crashing into each other, dives onto the turf, abrupt lateral movements, unwanted head-to-head, body-to-goal or ground contact and more.   I’ve got a kiddo who plays soccer (or you may call it football) – he also is into the rough and tumble sports of lacrosse and American football. So, it’s safe to say that sports injury prevention is always on my mind.

Storelli Next Generation Soccer Injury Prevention Gear

All this thrashing about on the soccer field sort of sounds like a day spent doing Spartan or another obstacle course race – and I’m thinking that some of their products may help me give 110% at my next race with  less worry of bumps, bruises, cuts, contusions and concussions. Yeah, that’s right I said concussion – the perfect reason to wear the Storelli ExoShield Head Guard, a comfortable and stylish soccer head guard that reduces incidence of cuts and bruises on covered areas . . . and may help lessen risk for concussion.

goose egg advilPlease note that there is no conclusive evidence on the concussion reduction, but I say “better safe than sorry,” seeing as I have given myself a concussion RUNNING (it was an epic fall) and also at the last Spartan Beast I slid through the mud and into a tree limb for a beauty of a  goose egg (and thankfully nothing worse).

Honestly, the Storelli ExoShield Head Guard (below) is so comfortable and weighs only about 8 ounces; you’ll quickly forget you’re armored up!

Storelli Soccer Head GuardStorelli Soccer Injury Prevention Gear

The BodyShield FP Sleeveless Undershirt makes you look like an intimidator showing off those guns and also offers innovative technology to help control long passes with the chest, along with protection on the ribs, to reduce the impact caused by physical clashes with opponents.  You may like this armor for trapping hard shots and reducing rebounds, I’m making sure my son wears this to every match. And then, I’m going to steal it out of his gym bag on race day to really help protect my chest and ribs as I hurl myself up onto some of the 10 foot walls on an obstacle course race or army crawl my body over craggy rocks.

Here is a great video rundown on how Storelli Soccer Gear can help you if you play a field position (also a video for goalie).

Did you know 50 percent of soccer players miss at least one game a year because of injury?  Wow, that’s half of the players out there, don’t let it be you — #InjuriesSuck .  Head over to Storelli Sports and check out their next generation soccer protection gear – right now you can get $10 off a purchase when you sign-up for the Storelli newsletter.

I also have a Soccer Strong Workout that will help keep you in tip-top shape for a healthy and productive season.

soccer strong workout

Do you or your kids play soccer”? Have you ever been sidelined with an injury in any sport? What preventative measures do you take to stay injury-free? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

All Watermelon, All Summer! Crazy Pool Workout #LivingOnTheWedge

It's all watermelon, all summer at TheFitFork.com! Come visit for healthy recipes, nutrition tips, watermelon workouts, family fun and other ways to make my favorite fruit part of a fit and fun lifestyle!I am so happy that June is here, it’s officially the kickoff to my summer-long binge of watermelon. Those who know me understand and accept that I am a watermelon worshiper and those who are visiting for the first time will quickly come to realize the magnitude of my affection for this fruit. Last year, I celebrated watermelon with a week full of undivided attention and am including those links at the bottom of this post – please visit! This year, I am spreading out the watermelon love with an entire summer of #LivingOnTheWedge – twice a month, I’ll share my best creative and unique ways to make watermelon a part of a fit, flavorful and fabulous lifestyle.

Watermelon Pool Workout #LivingOnTheWedge - TheFitFork.com As crazy as it sounds, today I have a watermelon and am ready to workout. Last year, I shared a WOD using a watermelon in lieu of a medicine ball – this year, I taking the action to the swimming pool so we can all stay cool! In terms of weird and wacky workouts, Prancersize doesn’t have anything on this!  In addition to the graphic, I have a video demo further down (you’ll definitely laugh).

Watermelon Pool Workout #LivingOnTheWedge - TheFitFork.com

A couple great things about exercising in the pool (other than staying cool) are that it’s easy on your joints and offers extra resistance for easy toning and muscle-making! Watermelons come in a variety of sizes, for this workout, I’ve used a seedless watermelon that weighs 30 lbs and a personal-sized watermelon weighing in at 10 lbs — adjust to meet your fitness level.  One of the perks of working out with a watermelon is that you get to EAT the equipment afterward! #EatTheEquipment 

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greased watermelon footballI have another idea for watermelons and large bodies of water! If you’re having a pool party, keep the kids (and grown-ups) thoroughly entertained and active with a game of Greased Watermelon Football.  Just lather up a good-sized melon with petroleum jelly and toss it in the pool. When the whistle blows, everyone jumps in and the first person to emerge on dry land with the watermelon in hand is declared the winner. A greased watermelon, along with its awkward-to-grasp size and a jumble of underwater arms and legs, makes this end goal much harder than it sounds.

After the watermelon water workout and spirited game of greased watermelon football, I’m just going to kick back and relax on my new pool float. How awesome is this — a slice of heaven!Watermelon Pol Float

watermelon pinterest boardRemember to check back all summer to take part in my great big celebration of watermelon – I’ll have posts on picnics, celebrations, special recipes, health benefits, family fun, a giveaway and (maybe the most fun of all) the first-ever running of the Watermelon Mile. I feel like a world record is going to be set! In the meantime, check out my “Living on the Wedge” Watermelon Board on Pinterest filled full with watermelon recipes, facts, health benefits and all the wacky watermelon things that catch my eye. I’d love for you to follow the board and if you have recipes, tips or anything watermelon-related, please follow the instructions to join as a pinner to the group!

 

#LivingOnTheWedge 2014 Posts

Have you ever worked out in a pool workout or used anything “alternative” for an exercise weight? Please share in the comments below! XOXO Jennifer 

The post is sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. However, the opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) shared are my own and NWPB did not tell me what to say or how to say it.

How Stress Affects Running and Workouts plus Mood-Boosting WOD

Stress Relief and Exercise - TheFitFork.com

Regardless of your life stage or what precautions you take, stress can pile up with an assortment of family, work, school, health and money issues.  That’s just life. Over the years, I’ve managed my stress through running, working out and, more recently, yoga. Exercise helps me take my mind off problems (most of which are out of my control anyway) and focus on living in the moment. Plus, the physical aspect of exercise creates endorphins and other happy hormones that help the brain and body cope better with stress. Research has shown that physically active people have lowered levels stress, anxiety and depression –even just a brisk 10 minute walk can alter your attitude.

Bloody Knees - TheFitFork.com

Bloody knees after box jumping while grumpy and distracted.

So, while it is a GOOD THING to exercise in the name of stress management, there are certain things to look for and precautions to take to ensure that you remain safe and injury free.  The British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that elite athletes were more likely to get hurt if they competed while angry, confused, fatigued, tense, or depressed.  This translates to use everyday athletes as well – goodness knows I’ve been tired, used bad form, tripped and fallen resulting in tweaked muscles, bloody body parts, several bad cases of road burn, contusions,a concussion, gashes requiring stitches and just plain turning up sick a few days later.

Are you wondering why? Well, when cortisol levels are elevated for too long, putting you in a state of chronic stress, your muscles and immune system won’t function at their best. You also won’t sleep well, creating day-in and day-out fatigue that can negatively impact exercise and performance.  So, before I hit the trail or the gym, I like to get myself into a ready-to-workout mode with a bit of calming yoga, taking deep breaths, and engaging in a little positive visualization of how great my workout out or run will be.  I also make sure I’m eating well and getting as much quality sleep as I can – people who know me well are probably tsk-tsking right now, because sleeping is one of my biggest challenges

Stress Less to Be My Best - RESCUE

RESCUE Pastilles are another little trick I have in my tool kit for stress relief.  Completely natural and homeopathic, RESCUE Pastilles help me to stress less, stay calm and, ultimately, sleep better. I don’t take them before a workout, but rather during the late afternoon or early evening when all my little life stressors are peaking – the pastilles combined with the five minute time-out I take to suck on them helps me get back into that happy place I need to be. There’s nothing habit-forming or concerning about these doctor-developed candies that have been around for nearly a century – they are alcohol-free, sugar-free and the ingredients are a gentle and safe blend of flower and plant remedies.

rescue tinI also love the apothecary-like tin of the RESCUE Pastilles– it has vintage charm and is convenient to stick in my purse or gym bag. You can find these at Walgreens, CVS, Sprouts, Whole Foods and other find retailers – along with other forms of the product like RESCUE Sleep Liquid Melts and RESCUE Pearls.  You really need to try RESCUE out, here’s a coupon to get you started.

 

I’ve also put together a stress relieving workout that will help you keep everything that life throws your way in happy balance.  Enjoy!

Stress Relief Workout - TheFitFork.com

 

What do YOU do to manage your stress? Please share in the comments.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.