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Marathon Musings: Why You Should Run a Race for Charity

Written on August 29, 2014 at 5:48 pm , by

People run marathons for a lot of reasons: to accomplish a new goal, take their running to the next level, prove something to themselves, etc. Some even do it because they like to travel. Yes, it makes sense—all ten of my half-marathons have been in a different state, and I firmly believe exploring a new place by foot is one of the coolest things to do. But the main reason I’m tackling my first marathon is about more than just me: it’s about helping a cause raise funds and awareness.

Sure, it takes extra work, but fundraising for the National Blood Clot Alliance and running as part of Team Stop the Clot has been more satisfying than any other race I’ve trained for. Here’s why:

You relate to the cause. When people find out I have a blood disorder, blank stares usually follow. That, coupled with the fact that nearly a quarter million women are affected by blood clots—and 100,000 people a year die from Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism in the U.S. (read more on that here)—makes me passionate about informing the general public in any way I can.

It pushes you to train. When you’ve had a really long week and all you want to do is sleep in and eat bagels on Saturday, knowing an entire team—and organization—are counting on you is enough to get out and run that 15-miler (or whatever distance). Best part? You still get to eat that bagel, and it’s totally guilt-free.

Fundraising is fun. Sure, $2,500 is more money than I’ve ever raised for a single cause, but seeing friends, family and complete strangers come out of the woodwork and contribute to a cause you care about is heart-warming. And throwing a few fundraisers—think a party, 50/50 raffle, and workout at a local fitness studio—is a great excuse to bring together friends that you haven’t seen in a while because you’re busy pounding pavement.

It guarantees entry. This isn’t the most important benefit, but let’s be honest—it’s a definite perk. Opting to fundraise for a charity is a lot of work, but it means I’m definitely able to run one of the most iconic marathons exactly when I want to. Being mentally ready for training is just as important as being physically ready, and this was the year I wanted to be singing “New York, New York” on the Verrazano bridge. Being a part of Team Stop the Clot has allowed that to happen.

You’re a part of a team. Sometimes I miss the good ole’ days of high school and collegiate sports, when I regularly had a team of athletes to lean on when the going got tough. We all had a common goal in mind, which helped boost morale. Now that I’m a part of Team Stop the Clot, I’ve met new people—in real life and on social media—and when I need a reminder about why I’m doing this, I just go to our fundraising page and read all of the inspiring stories from my teammates. And if I get lackadaisical about fundraising, I’m only one quick click away from seeing how the rest of the runners are doing. When their numbers go up, it only fuels the fire to make sure mine do, too.  

For more information on how to become a member of Team Stop the Clot, go to the application page. If you’d like to make a donation, visit my fundraising page.

Photo courtesy of the National Blood Clot Alliance

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Eat Like CrossFit Champ Camille Leblanc-Bazinet

Written on August 29, 2014 at 9:38 am , by

When the fittest woman on earth tells you not to weigh yourself, you should probably listen.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, 25, nabbed the title last month after her killer performance during the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games. She’s 125 pounds of pure muscle and believes—just like us—that strength is what’s sexy. Yeah. We’re already obsessed with her.

“For me, beauty is confidence, achieving your goal and becoming a better person,” she says. “I had a dark moment where I fell into being anorexic, and in my head, beauty was being as skinny as you could be. Now I see women who are successful because they work hard and they dedicate themselves to things that they believe in. In my eyes, those types of people are the most beautiful ones by far.”

But moving out of the “thin” mindset required a total diet transformation. Now, the Canadian beauty eats clean, simple, protein-packed foods that keep her fueled through the grueling CrossFit workouts she does five days a week. Her seven go-to superfoods: kale, sweet potatoes, blueberries, papayas, spinach, organic meat and avocados.

“Our body is like a little machine and I want to know exactly how to fuel it,” she says. For breakfast, she usually has three eggs with kale, strawberries and almond butter, and lunch and dinner are typically a combination of her fave superfoods with the occasional plate of salmon. Sometimes she’ll swap her blueberries for bananas, but you’ll generally find the same grub on her plate. “I like making salads with kale, blueberry, and chicken with some avocado slices.”

Feeling intimidated by her ridiculously clean diet yet? Don’t. The CrossFitter recommends making one small change to your meal plan each day, as going from a high-fat, high-sugar diet to nothing but lean, green plates overnight isn’t realistic. And cheat meals aren’t off limits. Even she allows herself a treat once a week—hello, ice cream!

“I think what people need to understand is I didn’t start as the fittest woman on earth,” she explains. “When I started CrossFit, I started like anyone else. I had to learn how to eat better and change my life habits. I think it’s really just taking one step at a time. So if it’s incorporating more greens into your meal, that’s one step. And then once that happens, you can go to the next one, but it’s a long process. If you can make one better decision every day, that’s already a winning situation.”

Images courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.

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Burn and Firm: CrossFit Circuit Workout

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Triathlon Training: Beauty Essentials

Written on August 28, 2014 at 10:18 am , by

Being a beauty editor at FITNESS magazine is, in my humble opinion, the best job in the world because I get to combine two of my greatest passions: beauty and fitness. Not surprisingly, these two worlds collide quite often, but it goes to a whole other level when I’m training for a triathlon. I recently spent weeks preparing for and completing the New York City Triathlon and take it from me: training across three different disciplines does wonders for your body, but it can wreak havoc on your hair and skin. As one of the more equipment-heavy sports out there (think: goggles, swim cap, bike, cycling shoes, helmet, sunglasses, running sneakers, etc.), it only seems fitting that triathlon would also require a bundle of beauty products that are essential to prepping for race day. Here are my tried-and-true training must-haves:

Lady Anti Monkey Butt Powder ($6, drugstore.com)
Despite the cheeky name and packaging, this powder protects your bum and thighs from chafing on the bike and during the run by absorbing moisture.

Blistex Medicated Lip Balm SPF 15 ($2, dugstore.com)
My favorite balm is a lip-saver during long training rides, stashes easily in my jersey pocket and offers sun protection, too.

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Gels ($30, skyniceland.com)
I’ve been obsessed with these hydrating, soothing pads for years. They’re my secret weapons for fading goggle marks around my eye area after countless laps in the pool.

Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen with CRT SPF 30 ($19, supergoop.com)
Even when I’m dripping with sweat (which is always), the super lightweight and water-resistant formula of this sunscreen protects my face without stinging my eyes.

Coola Unscented Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 ($32, coolasuncare.com)
The spray-on application is quick and easy before rides and runs and won’t leave behind a greasy residue.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($6, drugstore.com)
Use this on your chamois to prevent saddle sores or apply it to the back of your heels to ward off blisters. Since it’s oil-based, you don’t want to use this with your wetsuit because the heavy oils will start to degrade the neoprene. Instead, I use a water-based product like Body Glide for Her ($8, drugstore.com) to prevent chafing.

Swim Spray ($15, swimspray.com)
As mentioned here, this 100% natural, vitamin C spray neutralizes the odor of chlorine on your skin, hair and suit so you don’t have to walk around all day smelling like a walking pool.

Venus Embrace Sensitive Razor ($13, drugstore.com)
A fresh shave is key for both swimming (so you don’t have any embarrassing stubble and your wet suit slides on and off easily) and biking (some think silky smooth skin makes you more aerodynamic which is why even many male cyclists shave their legs). This keeps my skin soft and stubble-free without any irritation.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Crème Intense Hydration ($27, kiehls.com) and Avène After-Sun Care Lotion ($21, dermstore.com)
Needless to say, pool time and multiple showers dry out your skin. These two moisturizers (Kiehl’s for face; Avène for body) help relieve that tight, dehydrated feeling instantly.

Pantene Pro-V Damage Detox Weekly Rehab Crème ($7, pantene.com)
Even with a swim cap, the chlorine still manages to dry out your hair. This once-a-week treatment saves my strands from feeling like straw.

First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy ($36, sephora.com)
I use this eye treatment to de-puff and brighten my under eye area after early morning training sessions.

More from FITNESS: 

Triathlon Training: 4 Tips for Transitioning into the Sport

Triathlon Training: Meet Zoot Sports Athlete Jennifer Vogel 

Gear Up for Your Triathlon 

We Tried It: What It Takes to Be A U.S. Open Ball Person

Written on August 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Tennis is an incredible sport, and the athletes are OMG-powerful, but there are some people involved in tournaments—specifically the U.S. Open—who don’t get a big spotlight on their athleticism. But man, they should. I had no idea what I was agreeing to when I accepted an invitation to participate in the U.S. Open ball boy—er, ball girl—tryouts, but I figured I could hack it. Spoiler alert: I can’t.

“How difficult can it be to run over and pick up a tennis ball?” I wondered. Too bad I didn’t think about the fact that a ball person is expected to do his or her job perfectly, while going unnoticed, during intense televised matches that are played by the best players in the world. Oh, right.

My first task during tryouts:  throw the ball across the court to a receiving ball person, without it landing inside the playing court boundaries. Just to clarify, it’s pretty freakin’ far. Like, 128-feet long. While I have decently accurate aim, my upper-body strength just wasn’t cutting it (and I have been working on my push-ups ever since). If by some freak accident I would have been chosen, my ball would have ended up hitting Serena Williams. As a former FITNESS cover girl, I’ve seen how tough she is. So obviously that would not be okay.

Next challenge: testing agility and speed, and doing it without causing a distraction.

At this, I was pretty good. But, knowing that there were about 400 ball-person hopefuls auditioning for just four coveted spots, I was pretty certain that at least half of them would be better at running cross-court to retrieve the balls “with two hands,” following an ended play or missed serve. Either way, the directions for getting the job done were simple: Stand with your hands behind your back, and when the ball hits the net, run, retrieve the ball and sprint to the sidelines. On it.

The tryouts lasted about 15 minutes, and I definitely had a ball (sorry, couldn’t help it). Down to the last second, I had a smile on my face as I worked up a sweat, and enjoyed an experience that I had never before considered. Granted, I didn’t get a callback for round two of tryouts, but as I watch the 2014 U.S. Open from home, which takes place through September 8th, there’s no doubt that I’ll be giving those ball boys and girls a second look to see who’s got the athleticism I’m after.

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Little and Mighty: Lauren Davis Heads to U.S. Open

Written on August 25, 2014 at 9:38 am , by

When pro tennis player Lauren Davis is in the middle of a losing match, she takes one deep breath to get her head back in the game.

It’s clearly working, because the 20-year-old, 5’2″ Ohio-native is currently ranked among the top 50 players in the world and is competing in the US Open for the third time this week.

“I know a lot of people would die to be where I am, so I try to make the most of it and enjoy it,” she says. “It’s really just a great experience—traveling the world and meeting new people and seeing all of these different places and cultures and doing what I love every single day—it’s pretty incredible.”

During training, Davis runs twice a week and lifts weights three days a week. “I’m smaller than a lot of the other girls so I have to be in really great shape,” she says. She stays away from gluten (her father is a cardiologist and believes wheat contributes to numerous health issues), packs in protein (fish, steak and chicken), and when she’s not feeding her Chipotle obsession, eats lots of small meals throughout the day (usually fruit, yogurt, veggies and Kind bars).

Even though you won’t find many tennis stars as young as Davis snagging a spot on the big court, she still appreciates her normal-girl downtime, typically  filled with reading, journaling and spending time with her friends and her grandfather—the guy she looks up to most.

“He’s had a tough life and yet he remains so optimistic,” she explains. “He always puts things in perspective. One time I lost and he texted me right after and he goes, ‘Let’s just go play golf.’ That’s just something I’ve always remembered. He’s one of my favorite people.”

Be sure to watch Davis on the court—and her grandfather on the sidelines—tonight at 1 p.m. on ESPN. And if you’re feeling as inspired as we are, check out Lacoste’s new free app for New Yorkers, Lacoste City Tennis, which tells you the best places to try your hand at the game and potential players around you to practice with.

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Summer Gear Guide: The Best Tennis Gear

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Jillian Michaels Dishes on Her New IMPACT Clothing Line, How to Stay Motivated and What’s on Her Playlist

Written on August 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm , by

Jillian Michaels is officially our idol. She won us over when we first met her as the tough-but-lovable trainer way back when on The Biggest Loser, continued to impress us with her ever-growing health and fitness empire, and now she’s completely blowing us away with her latest endeavor: a new activewear line IMPACT, available at Kmart. Not only is it cute and practical, but it’s completely affordable—the highest price comes in at $37 for a yoga tote! If these clothes help us work out even half as much as Jillian does (seriously, do you see those arms?), sign us up!

Why don’t you tell us about your line and why you decided to work specifically with Kmart?

Honestly, a cool, athletic apparel line is something that we’ve been trying to do at my company for about 8 years now. It’s been so hard to find a partner that is going to give my customer accessibility and affordability, and also really care about more than just a profit. I wanted a partner to care about whether these clothes are really performing, are they cool-looking, do they make the customer feel confident and empowered?  The Kmart people were like, “We really want you to do your thing and get involved.” So it’s a really good home for my brand.

What were the most important aspects to you when developing the apparel itself?

It really did have to have these three things equally: it needed to perform, it needed to look cute and it needed to be affordable. I’ve just grown very sensitive to the reality of women in poverty and there are so many women who are honestly one paycheck away from bankruptcy. So, I mean, to turn around and ask people to spend $100 on a pair of capris that you know is costing that retailer $5 to make, is disgusting. These women need to be healthy too, and they might only be able to afford one or two things so I need those things to last. They can’t wear those capris like twice and then wash them and then they’re see-through, they’re falling apart, they’ve lost their elasticity. So, I just really need my customer to be able to afford at least one or two pieces that will last. I’m just super sensitive to that right now.

What is your typical workout routine right now?

Personally, I like to mix it up. So we created a program called Body Shred, which is quite honestly my best offering. It’s a holistic workout because it hits every muscle in the body and it changes consistently. There are over 300 different exercises in the program’s repertoire so the trainer has the ability to create the program, so it has a format and a science and therefore the customer never adapts and plateaus. It hits on every fitness modality and, to me, that’s really important. So I train very much in that way. You know, I don’t just do yoga, I don’t just do endurance training or I won’t just do boot camp. I train with every modality; I hit my muscles at as many angles of push and pull as possible. I change my workout constantly because I think that’s best way to get in shape and the most functional in your life to prevent injury and to stay healthy. It’s critical that you constantly shift things. So if you are a person who loves yoga, try a CrossFit class. If you are a CrossFitter, I think you need to get out and do a yoga class. Just be sure to mix it up.

How do you motivate yourself on those days when you’re just not feeling like working out?

I really tell people that they need to establish a why in life. So for example ‘I want to be healthy…’ What does that mean to you? What does it look like in your life? You know, does it mean you’re running triathlons to bond with your 20-year-old son when you’re 50? Or does it mean that you’re 20 years old and you want to wear a two-piece instead of a one-piece at Spring Break? What does it mean to you? So you have to really establish and identify what health looks like as it manifests in your life and when you have that why to live for, it makes the how way more tolerable. You know, I don’t love chicken and broccoli, I don’t love working out at the gym – I really don’t love it – but then I think about when I am able to pick up my son and spin him around, or wear my skinny jeans, or wear that two-piece instead of that one-piece, all those things do matter to me and it pushes me. You know, in life, work with purpose is passion; work without purpose is punishment. So really establish a detailed and defined why and that’s going to be your lasting source of motivation to tolerate those things that quite honestly aren’t always pleasurable in the moment.

Current favorite workout song or playlist?

When it comes to music for working out, I like to listen to a lot of EDM, so Alesso, Avicii, Tiesto – they’re my favorite for pumping up and pushing myself. But, at the moment, just in general, I love Sia’s new album. I’m obsessed with her song ‘Fire Meet Gasoline,’ it’s like on repeat. She has a killer new album.

If you could give one piece of health/fitness advice to our readers a whole what would it be?

Live the life you want, not the life you think you should. I think when you follow that advice it all works out. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

Check out Jillian’s full line at Kmart.com and if you need a crank in your calorie burn, get ready to sweat with Jillian. FITNESS readers can access week 1 and 2 of her Shred program for FREE, courtesy of FitFusion. But no procrastinating—you’ve only got two weeks!

Week One:

Week Two:

Photo courtesy of Sara Jaye Weiss

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Wish You Could Go Back to Summer Camp? Now’s Your Chance!

Written on August 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm , by

Oh, summer camp. The words alone instantly bring to mind nostalgic memories of swimming in lakes, late-night campfires filled with s’mores and wonderful friendships that last a lifetime. In a world that constantly has us glued to our devices and planning every second of our time, wouldn’t it be nice to retreat to the simple days of camp? Just unplug and relax for a weekend free of technology, responsibilities and the nonstop bustling of life? Soul Camp is the answer we’ve been looking for!

Taking place from September 4-7th, Soul Camp is a 3-night adult sleepaway camp that allows you to hit your reset button and reconnect with nature. The team behind the camp promises that you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated, renewed and inspired to make your everyday life the one you’ve always dreamed of.

Each ticket includes 3 meals per day from an organic menu (with vegan and gluten-free options), as well as all daily activities with approximately 300 other campers, like yoga, boating, nature walks, aerobic classes, organic farming, arts & crafts and more.


Plus, as a special treat, the women behind the weekend are offering all Fitness readers $100 dollars off ticket price if you enter the code SOULFULSUMMER at checkout! Go to www.soulcamp2014.com for more info and to reserve your spot. Ticket sales end on August 25th, so get them quick! But really, what are you waiting for?

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Triathlon Training: 4 Tips for Transitioning into the Sport

Written on August 21, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

Maybe you swam on your college swim team, you’re a runner looking for a bigger challenge or you’re addicted to spin class and want to take your cycling skills to the next level. Whatever your reason for being interested in triathlon, getting into the sport can be a little tricky and sometimes intimidating. Zoot-sponsored athlete Jennifer Vogel and I put our heads together to come up with the best advice for breaking into the sport.

Study up and train hard. 
One of the most valuable things I did before my first triathlon was research the sport like crazy. I wanted to know everything I could to be as prepared as possible. Once you’re armed with some basic information, like a starter training plan and transitioning tips, you can use your workouts and experience to figure out the rest. There’s a lot of info out there, so take advantage of reputable sources and then put what you know into action during your workouts.

Don’t overestimate yourself in one sport. 
Vogel points out that many tri-newbies are runners first. But just because you can run a sub-2:00 half-marathon doesn’t mean you should skimp on training for those final miles. The same goes for naturally gifted swimmers and bikers. Everyone has their favorite and strongest leg, but you still need to practice pacing yourself through three different sports and mastering the bricks (transitioning from one sport to the next).

Ease into the equipment.
Triathlon is a sport that requires a lot of gear. Gear costs money. But don’t let the initial investment scare you away; instead, start small. Vogel suggests easing in with short sprint races that you can do without expensive items like a wet suit or tri-specific bike. True story: I did my first tri in a sport bikini and borrowed my brother’s old bike! Once you get a better idea of how serious you’ll become and what kind of goals you have, you can invest in better equipment little by little along the way. Not sure of the essentials? Check out our go-to list here.

Join a tri group. 
It’s the easiest way to make new friends with a common interest and you’ll have an instant network of triathletes to train with and ask questions. Vogel notes that a group helps keep you accountable and makes it fun, too. I’ve done all my training and races solo and quite honestly, I wish I joined a group early on. Trust me, during those long training days, you’ll be happy to have the company and fellow finishers give you more reasons to celebrate during your post-race party.

Photo by Kevin Steele

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The Prancercise Lady is Back!

Written on August 18, 2014 at 12:53 pm , by

Prancercise creator Joanna Rohrback just added some major accessories to her fitness wardrobe: horses. They’re completely fitting, given the creatures are what inspired her to invent the ”springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse’s gait and is ideally induced by elation,” which she demonstrates (flawlessly, of course) in her new video.

We listed Prancercise as one of the biggest fitness moments nearly a year ago (the original video—uploaded in December 2012—has over 10 million views). Naturally, this is a much-needed entertainment break for a Monday, even though the horses look miserable (scared?) the entire four minutes and 30 seconds of the video.

But at 62, Rohrback looks pretty amazing, so the galloping, skipping and frolicking through fields must be working for her. That said, we don’t necessarily encourage canceling your gym membership or calling your morning runs quits anytime soon. But when you want to let it all out, find a park and prance, girl. You won’t find any judgment here.

More from FITNESS:

The Top 10 Health and Fitness Moments of 2013

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Cardio Workout Guides

 

We Tried It: Swerve Fitness

Written on August 15, 2014 at 10:10 am , by

What it is: The latest boutique studio to make its mark on indoor cycling, Swerve Fitness caters to those who want a blend of popular studios like SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports, or anyone who grew up participating in team sports.

Good for: Anyone who loves to get their heart rate up, work as a team and sweat—a lot. This workout is perfect cross-training for runners in the midst of training for a race (marathon season baby!) since it provides the analytics you crave after each workout. There’s also a healthy portion of upper body work incorporated into the class, so your arms get a hit of firm-and-burn power.

Where you go: The Flatiron District in New York City, specifically 30 W 18th Street, with plans to expand throughout the city.

How it works: Riders are divided into three team colors—red, blue and green—that compete against each other during class. Your bike is hooked up to a monitor to track personal metrics (think energy output, miles biked, calories burned, RPM), and the team’s average scores are displayed on boards at the front of the class. Riding on the beat is heavily emphasized, and you’ll encounter a 3- to 5-minute arm workout about halfway through class. Otherwise, there’s a ton of interval training throughout, alternating speeds and positions in and out of the saddle.

What you need: Comfortable, form-fitting clothing. Since you’re inside, we usually opt for capri leggings and a tank top (it can get hot in there!). Remember to bring a water bottle if you don’t want to pay for one, but good news: clip-in shoes are included in your class purchase.

Bonus feature: A smoothie bar is within the studio and you can either place your order pre-ride or right after. That way your refueling drink is ready as soon as you’re ready to go, or it’s prepared while you shower.

What it costs: $30 per class, but first-timers score 2 classes for the same price. Keep an eye out for their special deals online too, like their wedding package you can purchase with your sweetie or the refer-a-friend program. Don’t forget to share your #swervescore on social media too. Every time you do, you’re entered to win prizes like a free drink from the smoothie bar or a free class.

What we think: Love it! Whether you’re competitive with yourself or others, this class taps into that inner drive. If you’re more of a team spirit, seeing your color’s average swerve score will drive you to keep up the pace so you’re not letting the other riders down—and seeing someone else in your pack take the leader spot is enough motivation to pedal harder. More the win-it-all type? Every sprint race will kick you into high-gear, as the screens in the front of the class update which team is in the lead (thus winning more points). And if you just like to improve on your own terms, we recommend saving your Swerve Scores, which are emailed immediately after class. Can you go further in 45 minutes than last time?

Photos courtesy of Swerve Fitness

Want us to test another workout? Post a comment to let us know and you may see it in a future We Tried It! 

More Workouts We’ve Tried: 

Body Conceptions

JumpLife Gym

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