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The Fit Stop

A New Fitness Band That’ll Shock You…Literally

Written on July 24, 2014 at 9:53 am , by

With more and more specialized gyms popping up around the country, and weight-loss guides sprawling across the shelves in just about every bookstore, trimming down is no longer a secret, and giving up is no longer a solution. Yet even with an abundance of tools and information, more than 25 percent of Americans still don’t exercise willingly, according to the CDC’s State Indicator Report on Physical Activity. Two words: Mind. Boggling.

While we won’t try to understand the laziness phenomenon that refuses to leave our country, we can guess that it’s why a new do-it-all fitness band is about to be released. And it’s so on top of making sure you achieve your goals, it’ll shock you—literally.

Set to release in 2015, Pavlok rewards you when you accomplish a goal and punishes you when you don’t (enter: shock factor). As of now, you can use the Pavlok app to choose from three goals: wake up earlier with the EarlyRiser alarm clock that shocks you when you hit snooze; increase productivity with Pavlok Focus, which will buzz, beep and eventually shock if you have too many tabs open on your computer (studies show too much multitasking doesn’t do you any good in the long run); or increase your gym time with Pavlok Fit, which tracks your sleep and activity levels.

“We’re not just trying to track data,” says Pavlok co-founder and CEO Maneesh Sethi. “What we’re trying to do is take data that other people are tracking and use that information in order to help close the loop and change the behavior.”

Sethi says he and the team will eventually create a wider selection of goals for users to choose from. They’re also working to create a money pot where users can win money when they go to the gym, for example, and lose money when they don’t, much like a few other apps we love. But to take it a step further, if you fail to hit the gym, you might get a nice little post on your Facebook wall that tells all your friends you didn’t go. Ouch.

The Pavlok app will initially be available on iOS, and the team hopes to have it working on Android devices by the end of the year. You can order a prototype now for $50, or wait for the final bands to be released, which will range between $149 and $229.

Image courtesy of Pavlok

More from FITNESS:

The Fitness Gear You Don’t Have (But Really Need)

Fitness Trackers Unite! The New Fitt App Creates a Battle of the Bands

Make It Happen: Solutions to Common Fitness Obstacles

Hello, Mr. Vice President: Meb Keflezighi is Ready for More Running—With You!

Written on July 23, 2014 at 5:03 pm , by

Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern

When you’re an athlete, there’s nothing more golden than getting tips directly from the pros before the big day. As an aspiring runner, I’ve always admired Meb Keflezighi, not just for his incredible win at the 2014 Boston Marathon a few months ago (he was the first American to win it since 1983), but for the power, drive and passion he brings with him to every competition. And as a silver medalist of the 2004 Olympic Games (and countless other marathon wins), we’ve got the feeling he probably has some valuable training advice.

So we were pretty stoked when Competitor Group Inc.—a company that sponsors some really awesome sporting events like Run Rock ‘N’ Roll—announced Meb as the new vice president of running (side note: Can I have that title? It’s gotta be an awesome resume booster). Meb will use his passion and advice to help us mere mortal runners by developing training plans for us to follow to a T, popping up on social media with extra tips, and, of course, participating in a bunch of events—he’s already rocked (and rolled) at RNR San Diego, and you’ll find him lacing up for the Strip at Night, too. Basically, you can train like Meb and run with him, too. Umm, amazing!

So whether you’re nervous about competing in your first-ever marathon (like assistant web editor Samantha) or just eager to go out there and eat up the miles, Keflezighi has your back. Stay tuned for details on which races he’ll be at, and don’t forget to check out CGI’s website for updates.

Image courtesy of Competitor Group Inc.

More from FITNESS:

Ready, Set, Run! Training Plans for a 5K, 10K, and Half-Marathon

15 Best Marathons for First-Timers to Run

From Non-Runner to Marathon Runner

American Ninja Warrior Contestant Kacy Catanzaro Has Guts—And Is Going for Glory

Written on July 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

By now, it’s likely you’ve caught wind of 24-year-old Kacy Catanzaro, the first-ever female to qualify for the finals of NBC and Esquire Network’s sports competition show, American Ninja Warrior. After completing a nine-part obstacle course during the Dallas qualifying round (and making it look like a walk in the park), the former gymnast proves she packs a real punch as an athlete and competitor. And after speaking with her, we’re convinced that this girl really is a ninja—all 5 feet and 100 pounds of her.

Congrats on your awesome run for “ANW!” How did it feel?

It is definitely a lot of pressure stepping out there. There are a lot of lights, cameras, and you know the whole world is going to see it on TV eventually. Before I run, you can see that I’m kind of bouncing around and a little bit anxious. It’s funny: Once they count down and they say, “3,2,1, go,” it’s like a wave of relief washes over me. Then I just kind of take it one thing at a time. After I finish one obstacle, I just calmly take a few deep breaths and get ready to attack the next one.

How has your gymnastics career prepared you for ANW?

I started gymnastics when I was 5 years old and then I got a scholarship to a Division I school—Townsen University in Maryland—and I competed all four years there. So from the time I was 5 until the time I was 22, it was my whole life. Gymnastics really mentally prepared me for the course: being able to take that kind of pressure and not let it affect me in a bad way, but actually use it as fire to get excited and to get out there. And if things don’t go my way, it doesn’t mean it’s over. I just have to overcome them by making adjustments in order to make it happen.

How do you stay in such amazing shape?

I try and strength-train anywhere from four to six times a week, based on where life is taking me or what is coming up. Brent Steffensen—my boyfriend, coach and an ANW veteran—and I train together and do strength-training and bodyweight-circuit training on a regular basis. We do lots of bodyweight exercises in a row—pushups, pull-ups, lunges, squats, lots of abs—to really build strength and endurance. For the obstacle courses, we want to be as light and lean as possible, and doing exercises with your bodyweight is the most efficient way to get there.

What’s your diet like?

I just try to eat as clean as possible—greens, veggies, fruits, nuts and things like that. For my protein, I like fish a lot because it is lighter and cleaner. Definitely stay away from anything that is processed and avoid eating too much sugar. So if I can’t read an ingredient listed in an ingredient label, I try to stay away from it. It’s so important to be aware of what you are putting into your body and what good or harm it will do.

What motivates you to stay fit?

I’ve always had a competitive nature—I love getting out there and competing—but one thing people don’t realize about fitness is that people don’t just work out out to look good. Obviously it’s very nice to look good and to have that body you dream of, but the most important thing about fitness and living healthy is being able to get the maximum out of your life. If you are as fit as you can be, you can do more and you aren’t held back by your weight. I think that staying fit, not being held back and being able to go out and try to accomplish whatever it is that I want is the best part of it.

In case you missed it, check out Kacy’s crazy performance below, and be sure to watch the St. Louis finals tonight at 9 on NBC.

 

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Fit Blogger We Love: Style of Sport

Health-Food Fight: The Healthiest Buys at the Grocery Store

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Marathon Musings: 5 Mistakes First-Timers Make

Written on July 21, 2014 at 9:18 am , by

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 

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Follow Our Marathon Training Plan!

Everything You Need to Ace Your Race

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Bad News for New Moms: Could Interrupted Sleep Be As Bad As No Sleep At All?

Written on July 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm , by

When groggy mornings and frantic coffee runs become staples in your daily routine, followed by nights of constant wake-up calls to change diapers or give feedings, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your sleep patterns. Or just say hello to motherhood with a newborn. While we know not sleeping well negatively affects your mood (there’s a reason these signs exist) and brain’s ability to function, what’s more alarming is that a new study found that several nights of interrupted sleep might be just as harmful as not getting any.

Before you panic, moms, keep reading. We spoke with clinical psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D., who says that although disrupted sleep definitely has an effect on you the next day, it’s not going to ruin your life in the long run.

“Some sleep is still better than no sleep, but you don’t want to keep it up on a regular basis,” he says. “If you get woken up one, two, three times a night, well, that’s actually fairly normal. If you get woken up six or eight times a night, are you going to wake up feeling refreshed? Probably not.”

So what’s a parent to do? Breus recommends alternating on-call days with your partner. Designate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to waking up when baby does, but let hubby take the reigns on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Or if you wake up with the sunrise and he’s awake well past sunset, compromise that way. “I’m more of an early bird and my wife is more of a night owl, so even on the nights when it might’ve been my turn to be on call, she’ll tend to the baby so I can go to bed early.” Creating a schedule that plays on each others’ more wakeful hours will provide you both with happier mornings, so try a few options to figure out what works best for everyone.

Regardless of your parent status (non-existent or otherwise), Breus says maximizing sleep begins with daily exercise. If you find that exercise really revs your engine, make sure your workout is done at least four hours before bedtime. Otherwise, two hours prior is your cutoff. But if you’re still lacking serious mojo in the daylight, make sure sleepiness isn’t being confused with muscle fatigue. “Sleepiness is, ‘I can’t keep my eyes open.’ Fatigue is, ‘Ugh, I just want to lie down because everything hurts,’” explains Breus. If fatigue is what you’re feeling, take a rest day so you can jump back in with a full bout of energy.

And last but not least, try adding banana tea to your nightly routine. “Bananas themselves have a large amount of magnesium in them,” explains Breus. Chop the top and bottom off of a banana and toss it (peel included – there’s about 3x more magnesium in there) into 2.5 cups of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. “You can put a little honey or cinnamon in it,” he says. “It’s quite delicious and it’s literally like taking a sleeping pill.” We know what we’re drinking tonight!

Photo by Sara Forrest

More from FITNESS: 

Sleep Well: What to Eat for Better Sleep

The States That Sleep the Most, Plus Other Sleep Stats to Know

6 Realistic Rules for Better Sleep

Birth Control’s Newest Form Is Crazier Than You Think

Written on July 17, 2014 at 11:19 am , by

Oral birth control? So two years ago.

That’s what Bill Gates thinks, anyway.

The do-it-all man has been planning to fund the development of a remote-controlled birth control ($4.6 million-worth of funding, to be exact!), and now a Massachusetts startup company called MicroCHIPS is bringing the concept to life using technology invented by MIT engineer Robert Langer in the ‘90s.

Placed under the skin of the upper arm, butt or abdomen, the microchip releases levonorgestrel—a birth-control hormone currently in many contraceptives—but only when you want it to. You can turn the device on and off with the flip of a switch. When on, an electrical current melts a part of the chip and 30 micrograms of the hormone is released each day. The chip supposedly lasts up to 16 years, and the MicroCHIPS team wants it on the market by 2018.

“Thirty micrograms sounds low and sounds like it might not interfere with ovulation but might interfere with implantation,” says Sarah Berga, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and associate dean of women’s health research at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “The question I would have is what does it do to your estrogen levels across time and would they be too low?”

A contraceptive that only interferes with implantation might not be as effective, but it would be safer, says Berg. “You would be interfering less with ovarian function and potentially less with estrogen levels, therefore promoting better bone health, better mood, and the kinds of things that we think estrogens are good for,” she says.

Carolyn Westhoff, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and obstetrics and gynecology professor at Columbia University, says the microchip is an “interesting idea with lots of potential,” but that more work still needs to be done to evaluate the chip’s safety and effectiveness. Pre-clinical testing is scheduled to begin next year, but the chips will need to be encrypted to secure wireless data before MicroCHIPS sends an application to the FDA.

What do you think? Would you use remote controlled birth control over the more traditional varieties?

Photo courtesy of MicroCHIPS

More from FITNESS: 

Your Guide to Choosing the Right Birth Control for You

Are Your Birth Control Pills Hurting Your Sex Drive?

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Why You Need to See—And Read—”Wild”

Written on July 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm , by

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:

 The Top Fit Moments in Film

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Fit Blogger We Love: Style of Sport

Written on July 16, 2014 at 12:42 pm , by

Written by Mary Christ Anderson, deputy editor

Being an editor at FITNESS, I’m always looking for scoop on what’s now and next for the sporty lifestyle. One blog I make a must is StyleofSport.com. I think I’ve settled on a cute beach tote when —poof—my new favorite pops up in the Style of Sport newsletter. SOS’s founder Claudia Lebenthal always nails the haute and cool mix of picks because she has an eye for design. “There’s a definite intersection of sport with fashion, art, news and culture and I see it everywhere: in magazines and movies, on ski slopes, at the gym or a photo gallery—you name it,” says Lebenthal. (She was a visuals director at both Women’s Sports & Fitness and Self—I know because we worked at both together!—before she set her sights on, well, sites.)

“At first, I wanted to have a store that sold the sporty chic clothes I loved and worked out in,” she says. “That sparked me to bring together my collection of what I was craving online instead.”

Much like planning the spreads in magazines, Lebenthal scouts the season out and plucks the best gets for SOS. And you can tell she’s the real deal from her exploits—paddle boarding, flyfishing, kite surfing, back country skiing—all of which she shares, along with other profiles and tidbits. (You’ve got to read the essay she penned for FITNESS to be inspired. Readers wrote to us that they had co-opted her you-can-do-this mantra in that essay: It’s your level now.

“My goal,” says Lebenthal, “is to appeal to both the athlete and fashionista. Performance is the bottom line but style is what makes it fun!”

More Fit Fashion: 

The Sneaker That Takes Minutes Off Your Mile 

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Fitbit and Tory Burch Launch a Fit Fashion Collection We Love

Written on July 15, 2014 at 11:52 am , by

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: 

Do Activity Trackers Actually Work? 

The Best Running Apps for Your Phone

The New Fitt App Creates a Battle of the Bands

 

Music Monday: Making Music with The Roots

Written on July 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm , by

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

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 Flo Rida’s Make-You-Sweat Playlist

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