Written on July 21, 2014 at 9:18 am , by Samantha Shelton
After three years of regularly running and 10 half-marathons under my belt (along with tons of fit-spo from the FITNESS staff), I’m going after the illustrious 26.2-mile race that every runner dreams about: the New York City Marathon. The best part, for me? Running for Team Stop the Clot, a charity running team branched off the National Blood Clot Alliance. With so many important charities to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one, but as someone who’s been personally affected by blood clots (along with nearly a quarter million other women), it was the best fit. Want to know more about my story? Check it out here.
Now that training has kicked off for me and many others lacing up for a fall race, I’ve teamed up with Clif Bar athlete and coach Stephanie Howe to take me through the ups and downs of doubling my usual distance. And before I get into what I can do right, it was very important to find out what I could do wrong—and make sure not to, ya know, do it. Take warning, friends, as these are the five mistakes tons of first-time marathoners make.
Not fueling while running. While you can get away with it on shorter runs, there’s no skimping when mileage increases. “Hitting the wall” only happens when energy stores start to run out. Your bod needs a quick hit of sugar when racing, so “take in fuel, in the forms of gels or blocks, on any run longer than 90 minutes,” recommends Howe. And be sure to try tons of different varieties to find your perfect fit, as what works for your running bestie may not for you. I love Clif Bar’s Black Cherry Shot Bloks, but avoid all gels like the plague. Everybody’s different.
Taking in fuel too late. Now that you know the 90-minute rule, you want to nail the timing. If 90 minutes pass before you dig in, you’re already too late and won’t avoid the zonk. Instead, eat one gel (about 100 calories) every 20-30 minutes. A quick trick Howe gave me, since I regularly zone out and forget about time? “Set your watch alarm to beep every 20-30 minutes, so you get that regular reminder without having to think about it.” Done and done.
Waiting to eat post-run. Are you sensing a theme here? Clearly, nutrition is a major key to success in marathon training. To nix that “oh-my-god I can’t move my legs” feeling the day after your run (or even the day after that, courtesy of delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS), make sure you eat within 30 minutes of wrapping up the pavement-pounding. “Any fuel consumed in that window will be used immediately to start the recovery process because it goes directly to your muscles, rather than the entire body,” says Howe. If you, like me, hate thinking about food immediately following a run, don’t fret: a buffet of food isn’t necessary. “A Clif or Luna bar, 8 ounces of a Clif Shot recovery drink or chocolate milk are all good options,” suggests Howe.
Running easy runs too fast. This one is key, and a mistake I’ve definitely committed more than once. ‘Cause when you’re feeling good and everything is clicking, it’s tempting to push at a slightly faster pace. Don’t do it, Howe warns. Think of it as a pacing spectrum, with “very slow” on one end, and “very fast” on the other. If you spend a ton of time in the middle, you’ll short-change your progress. “Spending time at each end will improve your fitness, teach you how to adjust to different levels of difficulty, and prevent overtraining,” explains Howe. So when coach says “easy,” she really means it.
Skimping on rest. No rest for the weary, right? Wrong, so wrong. “The goal of training is to place stress on the body that will improve your overall fitness,” explains Howe. “These adaptations happen when the body is resting, so if you skip it, you’re opening yourself up to overtraining, injury and illness.” Obviously I don’t want any of those, so coach has me resting at least one day per week. And when she says rest, that is not code for “go take a yoga class or walk all over the city with friends.” Instead, it means binge-watch Orange is the New Black or go get a massage, which Howe also highly recommends (the massage, not necessarily OITNB). Girl, you don’t have to tell me twice.
Photo courtesy of Clif Bar
More from FITNESS:
Written on July 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm , by Samantha Shelton
It’s been more than a year since Cheryl Strayed released her gripping memoir, Wild, about her solo 1,100-mile trek across the Pacific Crest Trail. The book is a New York Times bestseller for a reason, so if you haven’t read it yet, do it now. Strayed’s tale is gripping, and the honest look at herself as a person throughout her painful hike (literally painful—the speed at which she loses toenails makes me cringe) is refreshing. So when I found out Reese Witherspoon, one of my favorite actresses, would star in the film adaptation, I may have shrieked with joy.
The movie doesn’t hit theaters until December 5, but the official trailer has just been released. Watch:
Now, everyone knows the film version is rarely as good as the book, but I honestly think those working in film are stepping up their game. And while Witherspoon has a lot to live up to, I think she can handle it. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) fortunately doesn’t make us sit through two straight hours of a girl lugging a 50-pound pack through the woods, but rather bounces back to the story of why the heck this woman decided to go it alone. And believe me, that’s a twisted story you want to know about. I’ve only seen the trailer and I already see a myriad of awards in Reese’s future.
But more importantly, go see Wild because in a world of men in hardcore, badass lead roles (I’m looking at you, Captain Phillips), there’s now a strong (albeit unlikable) female in the mix doing something physically—not to mention mentally and emotionally—trying. For me, it serves as a little reminder that I don’t have to follow the crowd, and I can conquer a crazy-hard trail, and all that that comes with, just as well as any man.
But you tell me: have you read the book? Did you love it or hate it? And either way, will you see the movie?
More from FITNESS:
Written on July 15, 2014 at 11:52 am , by Samantha Shelton
I love my Fitbit Flex as much as the next girl, and I swear, it really does make me walk more throughout the day (I’m seriously addicted to getting those little lights to flash on my wrist). But let’s be honest: the bands leave a little to be desired in the looks department. Of course, there’s been improvement over the last few years, and my current pink band blends with most of my outfits, but there’s no way you’ll catch me wearing it to the fancier events on my schedule (hello, wedding season).
Fitbit heard my cries for a fashion upgrade and are answering with total chicness. Enter their new collaboration with Tory Burch, which just launched an accessories line designed exclusively for the Flex. Your options: one of two silicone bands, both of which have the iconic Tory Burch pattern and retail for $38 apiece, or a piece of jewelry—specifically, a gold-tone pendant or bangle. The latter options are a little pricier, checking out at $175 or $195, respectively.
While the costs might seem high upfront, think about how often you’ll wear the band (um, every day) and how quickly you’ll make your money’s worth. After all, Fitbit users take 43 percent more steps when wearing their trackers compared to those who don’t measure any movement. So not only will you have a new, Insta-worthy fashion accessory, but you’ll be bettering your health every time you see that flashy little reminder on your wrist to go grab an afternoon coffee.
Oh, and don’t worry if you have yet to jump on the activity tracker trend. Tory Burch is selling the actual Fitbit Flex as well, so you can pick one up along with your new band. Happy stepping!
Photo courtesy of Fitbit
More from FITNESS:
Written on July 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm , by Samantha Shelton
You watch ‘em rock the stage regularly on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but The Roots are known for a particular type of instrumentation that I’m, well, obsessed with. And that’s using quirky, unorthodox instruments to create awesome, YouTube-breaking music. Two of my faves: singing “Your Body” with X-tina and this Brady Bunch styling of “We Can’t Stop.” So it was no surprise when they teamed up with Kellogg’s at their Recharge Bar in Times Square and performed rockin’ tunes using tons of breakfast equipment—I’m talking bowls, spoons, the works. Now if only I could be that musical with my cereal bowl in the morning…
Of course, The Roots do play on regular instruments once in a while, which they’re using to create their new album. What can we expect when it drops? “It’s another concept album, and we’re showing the life of the common man,” says Questlove. “Hip-hop often celebrates the plight of the winner, those who are living the good life. But sometimes that’s misleading, and 99 percent of the people out here are living regular lives. This is their story.”
That said, I can only imagine how many will end up on my workout playlist (um, all of them). But until I can get my hands on those tracks, I’ll have to substitute this playlist. It’s what The Roots are jamming out to this summer themselves, while they squeeze in workouts on their European tour. I’ll just imagine that I’m in the same awesome locales they are.
Photo courtesy of Edelman
More from FITNESS:
Written on June 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Getting outdoors for a workout is great, especially after the polar vortex we were all trapped in this winter. But when you’re an allergy sufferer, sweating amidst pollen is, well, less than ideal, and it can wreak havoc all over your immune system. So if you’re sniffling, sneezing and coughing your way through daily routines, heed this advice from our favorite weatherman, Sam Champion. Yep, turns out weather patterns play a major role in your workout schedule.
Find the right meds. As easy as it may be, grabbing meds from your allergy-suffering bestie isn’t the best road to travel. Their allergies may stem from a different type of pollen or have high counts in a different season, or they may experience more or less severe symptoms than you. Champion suggests touching base with your doc, and shop around before settling on a solution. Whether it’s over the counter or prescription, chances are you’ll find something that provides serious relief.
Protect your peepers. You already know inhaling pollen isn’t the best, but keeping your eyes clear is just as important. “Pollen can come through any mucus membrane that’s open, so you have to worry about not only breathing it in when you’re running, but not allowing it to be absorbed through your eyes,” says Champion. Invest in a solid pair of sunglasses to keep in the clear—we like Oakley’s Break Points.
You don’t need to be an early bird. “The old-fashioned wisdom was that you need to get out in the morning before pollen counts get too high,” says Champion. But if you’re heading into windy weather, it doesn’t matter much—”pollen is still active in the morning, and wind will kick that pollen up.” Check your local pollen count as soon as you wake up to determine when it’s going to be best to sweat.
Know your area. “Pollen is very, very local and though it can travel for 30 to 60 miles easy in the wind, you need to know what’s happening in your region,” advises Champion. The Weather Channel, where Champion now works, pulls up those numbers by zip code, making it an easy search. Unfortunately, there isn’t a general scale of what’s “too high,” Champion says, but paying attention to your symptoms is key. Which leads me to my next point…
Watch your symptoms. Notice tons of, er, snot build-up going on? It may be time to head indoors. If that’s coupled with swollen eyes, your body is trying to tell you to quit. “When your body is building mucus, it’s trying to fight the pollen,” explains Champion. “It’s trying to grab that pollen and get it out of your system because it’s an irritant.” If you still want to get your cardio on, try these no-boredom cardio routines.
Run in the rain. Besides the fact that it’s just plain fun (come on, you did it as a kid!), rain is an allergy-sufferer’s best friend. “Rain is like a giant filter,” says Champion. “If you put a water filter on your tap, you get clear water out and all the gunky stuff is separated. And that’s what rain does to air; rain cleans it. So right after the rain, no matter what the pollen count is, boom—get outside and do your run.”
Keep your home clean. We’re not saying you don’t, but are you keeping pollen out of the house? I, for one, have no idea if I am. Champion’s quick tip to find out: grab one of those cute throw pillows on your couch and give it a good slap. If dust or little particles pop up and appear (you can see them really well in sunlight), then pollen is in the home. Champion uses Febreze’s Fabric Refresher Allergen Reducer to take action when that happens. “After I spray the fabric surfaces, it forms a protective shield, almost like a net. If I hit the pillow again, nothing will show up.” Basically, that shield is locking the dust and pollen into the pillow until you get around to vacuuming it, which will remove about 95 percent of the nasty stuff. Phew.
More from FITNESS:
Written on June 23, 2014 at 10:44 am , by Samantha Shelton
I know it’s a busy day, but you’re already checking this out, so do me a favor: close your eyes.
Did you do it?
OK, do it again, but this time take a deep breath and imagine you’re standing on a quiet beach at sunrise, feeling the cool sand between your toes and hearing the gentle lapping of the waves nearby. You’re wearing the cutest workout gear (obviously) and ready to take your yoga practice to the next level. Oh, and here comes Tara Stiles, world-renowned yoga instructor (and super cute to boot), ready to help you conquer that one pose you’ve been struggling with all year.
Sounds pretty marvelous, right? Now, I’m not the type to give you all these good ideas without also providing a chance for you to make all of it a reality. Enter Stiles’ partnership with W Hotels, and their #PoseWhenever contest.
With little to no time to ourselves these days, it feels like a miracle if we squeeze in a workout at all, especially when traveling and feeling all sorts of jet-lagged—and “rebel” yogi Stiles gets that. She even has a pose for that, actually. So she teamed up with W Hotels—where she often stays when globe-trotting herself—to create FIT with Tara Stiles, an in-room program with a video and tip cards that you can practice whenever, wherever. And when I say wherever, I mean it—girl has ideas for getting bendy in the bathtub! Basically, making your health a priority, even if only for a few minutes, is easier than ever.
Now, back to this yoga on the beach scenario. You want in, don’t you? All you have to do is log onto Instagram and start showing off. Simply upload your best poses and use the #posewhenever hashtag and you’re automatically entered to win a trip for two to Bali, where you’ll stay at the W Retreat and Spa for 3 nights, and flow through a session with Stiles. But hurry, you only have until July 2nd to impress Stiles and those W Hotels judges. As a yogi-in-the-making, I’ll be checking out the hashtag for some serious fitspo, and I may even enter a few ‘grams myself.
More from FITNESS:
Written on June 6, 2014 at 6:40 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Orange is the New Black is officially back for season two and I could not be more excited. And since I know I’m not the only one who will be glued to their television this weekend (because let’s be real, you can’t watch just one episode at a time), I knew we’d need a little sustenance to get us through Piper’s latest escapades. Enter celeb trainer Harley Pasternak, FITNESS’ go-to guy for healthy smoothie recipes. He’s whipped up an OITNB smoothie in honor of this momentous day, so we can quench our thirst and curb our appetites without diving straight into a bag of chips—while hopefully watching Red reclaim her kitchen. Bust your blender out, press play and happily sip away, friends.
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 large orange, peeled and seeded
- 1/2 medium frozen banana, chopped
- 1/2 serving unsweetened protein powder
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 ice cubes
Place ingredients in a blender in the order listed; add ice if preferred. Blend until desired consistency, adding water to thin out if necessary.
Oh, and if working out while you watch is more your thing, you’re in luck—you could win a trip to LA to workout with Harley! Simply snap a photo of you working out during your fave show, and send it to us on Twitter or Instagram using #tvworkout to enter. Check out the rules here, and get more details in our June issue, on newsstands now!
More from FITNESS:
Written on June 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm , by Samantha Shelton
In the FITNESS offices, National Running Day truly is a major holiday. It’s almost as big of a deal as Christmas. So many staffers love lacing up and pounding out a few miles, and the post-run high has been floating in the air all day. But there’s still a few of us who need to get their miles in, and for them—and you!—I have a few fun tricks up my sleeve.
First, if you feel like you’re slacking on motivation, my go-to cure is to sign up for a race. After all, there’s nothing like laying down some cold-hard cash to get my butt in gear. So the first thing I did today was head on over to one of my fave race organizers, Run Rock ‘n’ Roll, because as long as you sign up today, you’ll nab $20 off the registration price! And with options to run a 5K, half or full at almost all of their events (or if you’re really feeling ambitious, run more than one during a weekend and score special Running Festival bling), you can find the distance that makes your heart sing. I’ve got my eye on you, Windy City…
Now that you’re signed up for a race, feed off that excitement and hit the road today! New York Road Runners is doing an amazing job of celebrating throughout the city, so if you’re nearby, hit up one of these group events to meet like-minded rock stars:
- Manhattan: Team for Kids Happy Hour at The Parlour, 7 p.m. Runners will meet Team for Kids runners and coaches, and learn how to get guaranteed entry into the New York City Marathon. RSVP here.
- Brooklyn: Brooklyn Bridge Park Water Stop and Giveaways, 5-7 p.m. Rehydrate mid-run, customize a National Running Day bib and score a free five-borough bandana. Want to run with new friends? There’s a group leaving the water stop at 6:30 p.m. and all are welcome.
- Brooklyn: Singlets Mixer Happy Hour, 7-9:30 p.m. After you wrap up your run, head to Fornino on Pier 6, where you’ll meet people from more than 100 running clubs that you can join throughout the city. RSVP here.
- Staten Island: Clove Lakes Park Water Stop and Giveaways, 6-7:30 p.m. Same deal as the Brooklyn Bridge water stop, but for runners passing by Clove Road and Cheshire. Head to Pepper Jack Grill afterward for an 8 p.m. happy hour.
- Bronx: Van Cortlandt Park Giveaways and Group Run, 5-7 p.m. Join the Van Cortland Track Club leaders at 6 p.m. for a run from the Tortoise and Hare statue.
And last but not least, I can’t send you out on a run without some fresh tunes! Aloe Blacc is a fave artist to listen to while banging out some miles, and he just so happened to be the headliner at Run Rock ‘n’ Roll’s half-marathon in San Diego last weekend. Since I already have a ton of his music on my playlist (obviously), my friends over at RNR sent over some fresh tunes inspired by the musician. Plug in and enjoy.
More from FITNESS:
Written on May 30, 2014 at 5:58 pm , by Samantha Shelton
“I really want to lose a few pounds.”
We’ve all been there, said that, amiright? But it’s one thing to say it, and another to actually do it. What with busy work schedules, taking care of the family and, you know, maintaining some form of social life, some days it feels like a miracle to squeeze a workout in—while remembering to eat mindfully—on top of it all. So if you feel like you’re swimming in unchartered waters with your head barely above water, don’t freak out: you’re not alone. TV host and journalist Maria Menounos lost 40 pounds over the course of a year, and she did it without cutting corners. Thankfully, she also decided to write a book about it that hits shelves on Tuesday, June 3rd. After you pre-order your copy (you can do that here), take a sneak peek at some of her tips below:
Set a Deadline. You can’t just say “I want to lose weight…someday.”It’s that kind of loose talk, without a guideline, that discourages you from getting started and undermines success. My goal was to stop overeating, make healthier choices and lose weight slowly over the course of one year. Trying to rush or do crazy crash diets does not give you sustainable results. And I never focused on losing a specific number of pounds. I just knew by the end of a year I wanted to look and feel great, whatever my weight was.
Keep It To Yourself. When you tell others you’re trying to lose weight, you’re just putting pressure on yourself. Weight loss is tough enough—why make it any harder?
Avoid the Scale. Though you may have a targeted number of pounds in mind, weight loss isn’t always mathematical. There’s no way to be sure you’ll lose exactly how much you want per week. Some weeks you might only lose a pound instead of two or nothing at all. You’ll just get discouraged if you weigh yourself a lot. Plus I don’t want you obsessing about scales or numbers. First and foremost, this is about gaining long-term health. After a few months, if your clothes feel a bit looser and you can’t resist, hop on the scale. But no matter what it says, stick with the program.
Eat Your Calories—Be Sure Not to Drink Them. A lot of drinks are full of sugar. Soda is the most obvious one, but sports drinks, bottled ice tea and flavored coffee drinks are usually packed with sugar, too. You can opt for artificially sweetened diet versions but they aren’t the healthiest alternatives. When I lost weight I chopped up lemons, pushed them into jugs of spring water and drank that instead of juice or anything else. I still drink lemon water and plain hot water.
If you Like Dessert, Have It. Dessert is not forbidden. I didn’t cut it out when I was losing weight and I still have it occasionally. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eat the most decadent options. You’ll find that as you get used to eating better, heavy treats with lots of sugar will leave you feeling blah and you won’t crave them as much. To keep dessert in your life, try lower-fat frozen yogurts. Or serve plain Greek yogurt with a little honey or fresh fruit. When you’re out to dinner, order dessert for the table and let everyone share. You’ll be surprised how much a little bit satisfies you.
For more where that came from, remember to pick up a copy of The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness yourself. Want one—for free? Tune in to our Twitter chat with Maria next Wednesday at 2p.m. EST and you could win one of three SIGNED copies. See you there!
More from FITNESS:
Written on May 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm , by Samantha Shelton
You know her as the teenage private eye from Veronica Mars, the coy narrator of Gossip Girl, Jason Segel’s hilarious ex in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and oh yeah, the adorable Anna in the mega-successful Disney hit, Frozen (seriously, the animated film is now the best-selling Blu-ray…and I can’t stop singing “Love Is An Open Door”). It’s safe to say Kristen Bell is one of America’s beloved actresses, and she’s just bursting with talent. Instead of keeping it all in front of the camera, though, she took a few steps to land behind it in her first shot at creative director. Partnering with Lipton for a three-video series of short films, Bell has launched the Win an Extra SUNday campaign, and let me tell you—the prize for us busy, over-worked women is suh-weet.
But before we dive into those deets, we figured it was best to know more about the blonde beauty calling the shots of these funny vids. When she’s not working with the camera, Bell can be found taking care of her family—adorable baby Lincoln and hubby Dax Shepard. On her schedule for Mother’s Day? “Definitely watching Game of Thrones,” she says. “Otherwise, I have no idea.” But now that she’s had about a year to get her grasp on motherhood, she’s realized it’s taught her to let go of the little things. Take household chores, for instance. “I used to get very frustrated if my house wasn’t tidy and would always be cleaning it,” she confesses. “And [now] when faced with the decision of sitting with her and making more of a mess because it makes her smile, or cleaning up, I will always choose the former. I’m like, ‘There are blocks all over. Yeah, so what? She likes to throw blocks. Big deal.’”
Now you may be wondering if little Lincoln had any influence on Bell’s decision to be the voice of Anna. The answer: not even a little bit. Frozen was a three-and-a-half year endeavor (Fun fact: Bell says at one point Anna and Elsa were mother and daughter, rather than sisters), so obviously she got started well before she was pregnant. So what got her on board? Good ole’ Disney. A longtime fan who named Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmations as just a few of her faves, getting invited to play a Disney character was, well, a dream come true. “Knowing that I would have a fingerprint on something that would affect children the way those [films] affected me was really exciting and I said yes immediately.”