Long Hair Don’t Care

Hair.  It’s the bane of existence for many of us active ladies – and even those who don’t work up a sweat on a regular basis can relate to the utter pain of trying to maintain a decent-looking hairstyle for more than the 10 minutes immediately after you style it.

I see girls in the gym with long ponytails down their back and all I can think is: how are you not getting sweaty?  I head to Spin class with a cute, flippy ponytail and within 5 minutes it’s a wet, sticky rattail glued to my sweaty shoulders.

Same applies to braids.  I look at a nice, tight French braid and think – hey, I could do that! – and then when I try, my layers stick out all over the place, the braid unravels, and I am left with about a third of my hair in a low-lying elastic band and the rest in pieces flying around my (again, sweaty) face.

Don’t even start me on those stupid 1/2″ thick rubber headbands.  For whom do these function in their intended fashion?  I have a ridiculously small pinhead (think child-size) and the second I put one of these bad boys ONTO my head, it’s already looping off the crown of my head and hanging off the bun or ponytail secured behind it.  Epic accessory fail.

So those of you who know me “in real life” know that I have exactly ONE workable workout hairdo: the wet bun.

The wet bun is not just a topknot.  Oh no, my friends, the wet bun is cemented to my scalp through the miracle of hairspraying wet hair, twisting it into the highest bun possible (so it doesn’t interfere with me lying supine on a bench or floor), and hairspraying it again for a shellac of a hairstyle that will then stay in place until a) I take it down or b) nuclear holocaust.

The wet bun works.  But the wet bun is not glamorous.  It is not trendy.  It is functional, decent-looking, and that’s about it.

I have searched high and low for hairstyles that can accommodate both my need to look like a professional human in the gym (i.e. no messy buns, loose ponytails, or half-up styles) and my need to keep sweaty hair off my face and back.  This is no small feat.  A comprehensive internet search for alternatives has revealed the following:

The braided updo.  Sure, it looks nice, and sure, it’s trendy.  But for me to get all of my hair a) braided and b) pinned into this complicated milkmaid look would take about 1.5 hours and 150 bobby pins – and would still probably fall out due to the number of layers I have in my hair.  No thanks.

The braided pigtails.  A variation on the above, this version would definitely be quicker, but I’ve worn pigtails before – and while I think I look OK in them, I also think I look a bit childish, and maybe even a bit unintentionally sexy, which is probably not great for work.  Couple that with the fact that they flip around in front of and behind my shoulders and it would take about 1/2 mile of getting hit in the face by my own hair to rip the braids out and shove them back into the bun.

The sectioned ponytail.  Apparently this one has been all over the runways of late, popular for both its relative ease (make a ponytail, grab some more hair, make another one) and its functionality (it definitely looks like it stays put).  That said, I’m not sure I like the semi-futuristic look of it all, and again, I feel like it would take more time in the bathroom than it would be worth for the ugly-cute nature of the style.

The almost-too-fancy gym updo.  A lot of styles I found were some variation of a braid/bun/twist accented with a fancy clip or headband that seemed to me like too much work, cuteness, and frou-frou for an actual workout.  Maybe these women are trying to do the whole gym-to-lunch thing that I’ve never mastered or understood?  Maybe they have permanently blocked sebaceous glands that disallow sweat from gracing their gentle brows.  I like the idea of using accessories but again, given that the tiny rubber headbands don’t really work for my head, I am skeptical of other such products even trying to stay put.

My search for the perfect sweatproof style now moves on to YOU, dear readers:

How do you style your hair when you exercise?  Do you use any accessories that you love and can recommend?  Which styles would you like to try out in the gym?

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Weekend Roundup

What’s going on around the Internet this first week of fall?  Well, I’m glad you asked!

Sometimes you just want a simple, clear picture of which body parts to work and how to work them.  This gives you that.

I don’t care if it’s lame, I still love SNL.  And these 40 moments from the last 40 years (!) will show you that you might, too.

Feminism.  India.  Sports.  It’s like all of my favorite things have converged on this one lil’ ol’ video.

Of course Lauren Conrad’s living room is amazing, just like her adorable wedding was.

If you had to lose a pound in 20 minutes, could you do it?  This woman can.

I’m a morning person – but not everyone is, and I respect that.  These tips can really help make the AM more bearable for all.

I couldn’t get past the sheep photo without tearing up.  Did you make it further?

What links have you been checking up on this week?  Any viral videos I just HAVE to see?

Power-Packed Paleo Macaroons

**full credit for this recipe, both its creation and concept, go to Paleo Expert Nell Stephanson at The Paleoista blog**

So my girl over at The Paleoista was looking for recipe testers for a few new endurance-athlete approved fixins, and I wanted to give one of them a whirl – and in true blogger fashion, I actually took pictures and did it (score one for the newcookie1bie).

The ingredients could not have been simpler – 4 eggs, separated (I put the yolks inone bowl and whites in another), 2 cups of grated carrot, 1 cup of shredded coconut, and 2 TB coconut oil.

If you want to count the “dusting” of nutmeg as an ingredient, knock yourself out, but know that you can eat these perfectly well without it (or go nuts and add something savory, like cayenne, or supersweet, like cocoa, to punch these little guys up a notch).

All you need to do is mix the carrot and coconut together in a medium-sized bowl and fold in the yolks and coconut oil (room temp, so it’s mostly liquidy).  Beat the egg whites for about a minute and add them immediately to the mix, then scoop ’em in rounded tablespoons (my recipe made 16, you could probably push to 20 if they were “true” tablespoons) on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, sprinkle with your spice of choice, and voila – your totally Paleo, totally veggie-packed, and totally tasty macaroons are ready to eat!

cookie2If you ask me, this would be the perfect thing to make as a Halloween “cookie” substitute – they’re bright orange, super healthy, and pack a nutrient punch to boot (did you know carrots are packed with Vitamin A and beta-carotene?).

Hand ’em out as gifts if you don’t want to be stuck with all 16 (believe me…you can’t eat just one!) and you’ll be the most popular Paleo proponent in your proximity (ok, I’m done).

What’s your favorite low-carb or  Paleo recipe?  How do you like to “hide” veggies in your snacks/desserts?

Motivation Nation

A common question I get from clients is this: how do you find the motivation to work out when you just don’t feel like it?

And usually I have an answer for them, which is some combination of the following: think of what’s at stake (your health, your family, your confidence, your mental health, etc.).  Remind yourself why you started exercising in the first place.  Consider why this specific workout is important for your long-term goals.  And if you’re already an avid exerciser, remember the mundanity of excellence – and go do your daily duty.

But what happens when I can’t motivate myself?

As you probably guessed from yesterday’s entry about my amazing running-wine-ing-not-so-much-sleeping bachelorette party, I have been training for an event for nearly six months (I started in April for the race this past weekend).  The event is now over.  I gave myself Sunday as a freebie, because it was the day after the race, and Monday, because I was driving home.

Along came Tuesday, and I taught my usual Cycle Sculpt (cycling-weight lifting hybrid) class, but by Wednesday I was struggling to find a YouTube video with a decent weights circuit to kick my butt into gear (I ended up following this one, BTW).  Today is Thursday and I couldn’t find a single half hour in my admittedly not-that-busy day to kick in a little workout.

I didn’t break a sweat.  I didn’t lift a weight.  I barely hit 10,000 steps – half my daily goal.  What’s wrong with me?

The answer, of course, is that there’s nothing wrong with me.  I was completely physically and mentally exhausted after the race and needed a couple good nights’ sleep to even function correctly at work.  My body feels achy and sore from the one-two punch of racing and minor injury, and is begging for rest.  My mom is in town and I have been choosing time with her over time in the gym.  None of these are mind-blowing in validity, but add ’em all up, and you can imagine that my motivation to hit it in the gym is hovering just above zero.

So what to do?

I have been in this exercise game long enough to know that even among the exercise-addicted among us, there are good days and bad.  Good weeks and bad.  In terms of racing seasons, good races and bad.  None of the bad days define us as long as we push through to the good days – and remain confident that they’ll be there if we keep working hard.

I will be back in the saddle tomorrow (literally, as I have to teach Spin!).  I will get back on track.  I have the motivation fire burning inside me – even if it’s in embers so far this week – and I will fan the flame tomorrow.

Pumpkin Power

Call me a bandwagoner, but I love pumpkin.  Like, love it.  My fiance and I keep a pumpkin pie in our fridge and freezer all year long – one ready, one on deck.  It’s a very serious relationship.

But come this time of year, everyone starts kicking into high-cal pumpkin mode – those insanely chemical-ridden pumpkin spice lattes, the Pinterest-worthy pumpkin baked goods, and even the occasional pumpkin-shaped cheese ball (say what?).  Sure, I’d love all of these treats, too.  Thing is, my waistline wouldn’t.  And so each fall I seek ways to get my pumpkin fix without completely losing the calorie battle (especially before the holiday season even kicks in!).

First of is my daily treat – the pumpkin pie oatmeal.  True story: if you put pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice in just about anything, you can convince yourself you’re having a treat.  And guys – canned pumpkin is super healthy!  The plain stuff (not the canned pie filling – steer clear!) is only 50 calories a half cup and packed with fiber.  Pumpkin IS a veggie, after all.

Need a snack?  Pumpkin mixes gloriously well with Greek yogurt for a kind of faux-cheesecake effect, which you can savor anytime of day (just watch the added sugar – you rarely need as much as the recipes suggest, and you can always sub Stevia or even raw maple syrup for a healthier, lighter sweetness).

While you have your Greek yogurt out, might as well throw it in some batter for these amazing protein-packed pancakes – seriously guys, it’s like a little piece of heaven on a Sunday morning, and combined with a healthy syrup option, you can pretend you’re having a crazy indulgent meal but staying completely on track.

And finally – I get it.  You need the whole pumpkin spice latte thing to make it through the season – I’m not gonna hate.  This one – which, yes, takes a bit of commitment but for a huge payoff – is worth your time.  You can make a batch and heat ’em up all week!

Do you have any go-to pumpkin recipes for the fall season?  How do you enjoy your pumpkin in a healthier way?

Rituals & Routines

I love routines.  Always have.  Nothing makes me happier than settling into a routine that I can maintain; nothing throws me off my game more than being, well, thrown off my game.  I love when things progress smoothly, predictably, and in order.

I know life isn’t always like that.

But what I do know is that I have total control over my schedule and time (which is the #1 thing I love about being a trainer!) and I have recently found that when I ease into my week – rather than throw myself back into 5am wakeup calls and 14-hour days right out the chute  – I have a better week overall.  And a better attitude.  And I am a better trainer for my clients and better partner for my fiance.

Mondays I don’t start work until noon (whoop!) – and although I work until 8:30pm to make up for it, I still wouldn’t give up these quiet, coffee-fueled mornings for anything.  I catch up on TV shows from the week prior (currently The Biggest Loser, Top Chef Duels, and Say Yes to the Dress, in case you’re wondering), make a leisurely breakfast, and do my computer-based work comfortably, without rushing, and without feeling guilty.

It’s total bliss.

Life changes and shifts, and the way I handle those changes is to keep adapting my routine to these little moments of sanity.  For now, it’s Monday-morning coffee.  On Tuesday nights I try to get in a bubble bath and facial mask.  I used to have hip-hop class on Fridays (gotta get back on that!) to get me energized for the weekend and I love doing restorative yoga on Sunday nights to “close out” the week with peace and serenity.  None of these little rituals last forever, but they are in my life right now, and I am grateful for them.

How do you establish ritual and routine in your daily life?  What fitness habits keep you sane?

Weekend Roundup

Yep, it’s time for my weekly collection of links from ’round the Internets:

I can vouch for Changi Airport, but now I want to visit these other amazing entertainment centers.

Yes, I’m still doing intermittent fasting, and I’m actually enjoying the challenge.  Do you think it might be for you?

One of my best friends has a blog, and it’s one of the funniest blogs I’ve ever read.  If you don’t click – well, your loss, bro.

I used to be tanorexic, but now I just do stuff like this, and it keeps my addictions in check.

Explaining what it’s like to be female to a male – and paraphrasing their responses.  Succinct and genius.

FULL DISCLOSURE: if you click this link, you might end up adopting a dog.  I take no responsibility for your actions.

This gives me hope for the next generation.

What have you been reading/clicking on this week/weekend?  Clue me in!

HIIT Me Baby…Three More Times

Unless you’re living under a relatively large rock, you’ve heard all the buzz about interval training – or its catchy acronym, HIIT (which stands for high-intensity interval training).  It’s a simple enough concept – you alternate periods of high intensity with periods of low intensity or rest, and you get stronger and fitter doing so.  But does it work?

Abso-fricking-lutely.

Besides my anecdotal evidence (I train clients using HIIT intervals every single day), there is a great deal of scientific evidence to support the fact that interval training burns more fat than steady-state training – which, by the way, is what you’re doing if you’re hopping on the elliptical for 45 minutes, or sitting down on a stationary bike to read a magazine, or strolling down the treadmill belt at a consistent 3.0 speed.

Performance-wise, interval training also supersedes steady-state training in cardiovascular benefits.  Main point: you will get fitter faster if you do intervals – which take less time than steady-state anyway, so it’s truly a win-win.

Even if I’ve convinced you that HIIT is the way, you might be wondering what exactly a HIIT workout looks like in “real life.” Well worry not, readers – I’ve got THREE ideas for you (one with weights/equipment, one without, one on the treadmill) so you can take these HIIT workouts to the bank – and watch the fat loss follow!

HIIT ME UP: WEIGHTS EDITION

Start with 1 minute jump rope to warm up, then:

  • 30 seconds push-ups / 30 seconds bench press / 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds triceps dips / 30 seconds headbangers / 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds Smith squats / 30 seconds weighted squats / 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds Smith lunges / 30 seconds step-ups w/weights / 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds bicycle crunches / 30 seconds plank / 30 seconds rest

Jump rope 1 minute to “close out” the set, then repeat 2X, ending with one last jump rope minute.

HIIT ME UP: EQUIPMENT-FREE

Start with 1 minute jumping jacks to warm up, then:

Jumping jacks 30 seconds to “close out” the set, then repeat 2X, ending with one last full minute jumping jacks.

HIIT ME UP: TREADMILL

Start with 2 minutes walking at 3.0mph, 0% incline, then:

  • 1 minute 4.0mph / 30 seconds 6.0mph – repeat 3X
  • 1 minute 3.5mph / 45 seconds 6.5mph – repeat 2X
  • 1 minute 3.0mph / 1 minute 7.0mph – complete once, then:
  • 2 minutes 3.0mph @ 9% incline / 1 minute 3.0mph @ 1% incline
  • 1.5 minutes 3.5mph @ 7% incline / 45 seconds 3.5mph @ 1% incline
  • 1 minute 4.0mph @ 5% incline / 30 seconds 4.0mph @ 1% incline
  • 1 minute MAX RUN (your choice!) / 1 minute 3.0mph @ 0% incline
  • 1 minute MAX HILL (your choice!) @ 3.5mph / 2 minutes cooldown @ 2.5mph, 0% incline

Let me know if you try these workouts – and what you thought!