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Triathlon Training: Mastering the Swim at Any Level

Written on September 4, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

If you’re lucky enough to come into triathlon from a swimming background, congratulations—you’re already one step ahead of most people! But if you’re just getting into it, don’t stress. You just have to brush up on the basics and dive right in. In fact, whether you’re a newbie Nemo or a seasoned shark, there are plenty of ways to improve your swimming skills and ace the first leg of your race. Jennifer Vogel, a triathlon coach and Zoot Sports sponsored athlete gearing up for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, shares some of her best tips for upping your underwater game at any level.

If you’re a beginner….

Remember to breathe.  This may sound like a no-brainer, but even the most fit people might not be able to swim the length of the pool at first. It’s not because they’re not fit enough, but it’s usually because they aren’t breathing properly. Practice bilateral breathing—turning your head to both the right and left sides—from the start to avoid forming bad habits.

Take it slow. It’s a natural instinct to hit the water at turbo speed because you don’t want to drown. But you’ll get winded and exhausted in no time, so start out slow and steady and build from there.

If you’re intermediate….

Meet with a coach. If you really want to take your sport to the next level, having someone analyze your stroke is important. It might set you back $60-$80 for a one-hour session, but that’s money well spent because you’ll get an expert eye and opinion. Ideally, they will take a video of you underwater, as well as above, so you can actually see what you’re doing wrong, rather than them just telling you. Swimming is mostly about technique, rather than strength, so nailing proper form will make you faster, require less energy and keep injury at bay.

Invest in a wetsuit. Depending on which races you sign up for and the water temperatures, a wet suit isn’t essential in the beginning. But once you know you want to continue competing in triathlons, it’s a smart investment. Not only will it make you more hydrodynamic (translation: traveling easily through water), it increases buoyancy and keeps you warm in colder water temps. Vogel uses a full sleeve option, but I opt for this sleeveless version so my arms and shoulders wouldn’t feel restricted. Check out more selections here.

Gain more open water experience. Training in the pool is easy and effective, but unless you’re racing in one, it’s best to get as much open water experience as possible. Pools don’t have a ton of waves, murky water and, well, potential fishies and seaweed lurking around. The more comfortable you are in that setting, the less pre-race anxiety you’ll have and the more energy you can put into kicking butt and taking names.

If you’re experienced…

Join a masters group. These are adult swim groups for ages 18 and over, typically comprised of triathletes or former swimmers. A masters team will provide structured workouts and drills, as well as a group setting to help  hold you accountable. It’s sometimes mentally easier when you can swim in a group setting like this as opposed to repeating laps in a pool on your own.

For everyone…

Focus on posture and core work on dry land. Swimming engages your entire core and that’s where most of your power comes from, so you need to hold it tight while keeping your extremities very fluid. It’s about maintaining this balance between effort and ease. Planks are one of the best ways to strengthen your core outside of the pool—we recommend busting out a 30- to 60-second forearm version daily or try this workout.

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CVS Officially Ends Tobacco Sales

Written on September 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm , by

Can we get a slow clap for CVS? As of today, the company is completely tobacco-free.

Now CVS Health, the corporation is wiping the carcinogens from shelves in an effort to promote healthier communities, and the decision comes nearly a month earlier than expected. “As a pharmacy innovation company at the forefront of a changing health care landscape, we are delivering breakthrough products and services, from advising on prescriptions to helping manage chronic and specialty conditions,” President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.

Lung cancer is the most preventable cancer in the world, yet remains to be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Want to help CVS raise awareness? Join its social media campaign, #OneGoodReason, and encourage others to live tobacco-free.

More from FITNESS:

Quitting Smoking: Getting Started & Staying Smoke-Free

Danger in the Air: How to Protect Yourself from Lung Cancer

Rehab Your Bad Habits Now

Take the Bus to Lose Weight

Written on September 3, 2014 at 9:55 am , by

Big city turn you into a public transit kind of gal? We know it isn’t always a great experience—strange, sweaty bodies too close to you in the summer and bone-chilling wind greeting you with each station-to-office trek in the winter.

But don’t cash your bus coins in yet. A new study found that those who commute via public transportation have less fat and an overall lower BMI than those who drive a car. Ellen Flint, Ph.D., a researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the study, says it’s the walks to and from your destination that are keeping you trimmer—an entire 6 pounds, in fact, for a 5-foot-4-inch woman.

Flint studied 7,500 men and women in the UK. Those who walked, biked, or used public transportation to and from work were not only 6 pounds lighter, but an entire BMI point lower than their car-commuting counterparts. “And that was despite adjustment for a range of other factors about the lifestyles of these individuals that we thought might be responsible for their weight status and commuting choices,” she explains. “So things like diet quality; how health-conscious a person is; income and socioeconomic status; the amount of physical activity that the person does in their job and in their leisure; their health and disability status: We really adjusted for all of those factors to try and distill the relationship between the level of activity in their commute to work and their bodyweight and composition.”

Flint hopes the study sheds light on the fact that even though riding a bus to work doesn’t seem any more exerting than driving a car, the required body-movement bursts—like walking to and from the train station, standing on the bus, and climbing up and down stairs—really do make a difference.

“On a population health level, encouraging that incidental physical activity in the daily lives of the population could really add up to something which might help combat obesity levels,” she says. “It’s quite a large weight difference. It’s one that we think is clinically significant and it suggests that there is a large untapped potential for policy makers to consider the health benefits one might get if one was to really try and promote and facilitate greater use of public and active forms of transport.”

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Buy A Pair of ASICS to Support Pediatric Cancer Research

Written on September 2, 2014 at 10:16 am , by

Nothing makes our fit-girl hearts skip more than seeing some of our favorite athletic-wear brands support really great causes. Case in point: We practically ran to the ASICS store and kicked off our old sneaks as soon as we found out the company would be teaming up with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for the second time. It’s a nonprofit organization that raises money to support research on pediatric cancer, the number-one disease killer among U.S. children.

 

 

ASICS created an exclusive, limited-edition collection for the cause and will donate $10 for each pair of shoes sold (aren’t they gorgeous?!), $2 for each clothing item and $1 for each accessory. But regardless of how many items are sold, ASICS has promised to donate at least $100,000 to the organization. Buy ‘em while you can, though, because they sold out in just three days last year!

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Cancer-Busting Bites: Recipes That Fight Cancer

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Fight Ovarian Cancer This Month With Laura Mercier

Written on September 1, 2014 at 9:12 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

For many of us, September represents the beginning of autumn, chillier temps and backyard bonfires (with s’mores in moderation, of course—yummy indoor recipe here if you so desire). For former gymnast, Olympic gold medalist and cancer survivor Shannon Miller, September means raising awareness for ovarian cancer.

Like many women, Miller had a lot on her plate prior to her diagnosis back in 2011. The seven-time Olympic medalist had just given birth to her first son 14 months prior and was busy establishing her career as an advocate for women’s health.

“This came out of nowhere—completely blind-sided me—and it humbled me in a way that I had never been before,” says Miller. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, or how many gold medals you have. Cancer doesn’t care.”

Unfortunately, stories—like Miller’s—where patients show no sign of living with ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of death in American women, are not so uncommon. “The tough thing about ovarian cancer is that most of the time, the point at which you are having a lot of discomfort is typically a later stage of ovarian cancer, which makes it very difficult.”

Claudia Poccia, CEO and co-founder of the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund (LMOCF), is no stranger to the devastating effects of ovarian cancer either—her 39-year-old sister died in 2011 a couple of years after her diagnosis. With a mission to educate women about the disease, support those undergoing treatment, and fund ovarian cancer research, Poccia teamed up with French makeup artist Laura Mercier and co-founded LMOCF in September 2012.

“Laura and I were stunned to learn the terrible truth about ovarian cancer,” says Poccia. “Diagnostic tools are limited, and women lack information on ovarian cancer prevention. We also discovered that treatment options are few and funding for research is inadequate.”

In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, LMOCF is teaming up with Miller to conduct public awareness campaigns to spread the word and educate others about this disease. Support their efforts by donating directly to LMOCF (proceeds go to programs that treat women with ovarian cancer), or by purchasing one of the four products that Laura Mercier developed: 100 percent of the proceeds will go to LMOCF. September 5 is National Wear Teal Day. Join in the movement by dressing in teal and tagging @LauraMercier, #SpeakOutForHope and #LMOCF.

Included in the product line:

1) Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks Crème Colour Palette, $48

2) Lip Glacé Peach Hope, $25

3) Bracelet of Hope, $35

4) Teal clutch, $300

Photo by Renee Parenteau

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Cancer-Busting Bites: Recipes That Fight Cancer

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5 Tips to Throw the Best Labor Day Bash (Plus 2 Recipes to Make Life Easy)

Written on August 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm , by

It’s the unofficial bon voyage to summer and one of the final days off from work before hunkering down for the colder months. Invite your friends over, crank up the music and follow these tips to making the food at your bash the star of the show—and something to Instagram for weeks after.

Shop locally. Sure, a grocery store can be easier, but visiting the local farmer’s market is a guarantee for getting fresh, vibrant ingredients that’ll really make your guests’ taste buds (and Insta photos) pop. “The produce you’re going to get is from local farmers, which means it can be picked when it’s riper and ready because it’s not being shipped across the country,” says Gail Simmons, culinary expert and judge on Top Chef Duels. And the timing of Labor Day doesn’t get much better, thanks to the transition of seasons. “It’s the ultimate time to buy fresh fruits and vegetables; it’s when there are so many incredible things available, from the end-of-summer stone fruits to the early-fall apples.”

Chat up the sellers. Remember, the people you’re buying from at the farmer’s markets grew the products you’re after. Not only are they the prime source of information on how it was grown and which ones are the best to take home, but Simmons says they often have tons of ideas on how to cook with it, too. Hit them up when you’re lacking inspiration (or check out the recipes Simmons created below).

Douse your healthy eats with flavor. Many fruits and veggies have strong, robust flavors on their own, but adding an extra twist never hurt anyone. To give your guests a fresh spin on a summer salad—and an antioxidant boost—use tea. Simmons is a fan of the Pure Leaf brand because it’s brewed directly from tea leaves, and often uses it as a dressing for the summer salad recipe below. Otherwise, she suggests incorporating tea into meat marinades (try ginger and garlic brushed onto duck for a Chinese flavor palate) or using as a cocktail mixer with fresh fruits like watermelons and berries.

Turn off the oven. “The great thing about this time of year is that there’s so much great stuff available and you don’t have to do a lot of cooking to make it taste great,” says Simmons. For a no-cook option, toss a tomato salad with fresh herbs (think basil and mint), crumbled feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste. Simmons also recommends firing up the grill for dessert—this how-to for peaches is a winner. Instead of a balsamic reduction, dilute honey with a little bit of Pure Leaf ice tea and whisk together to make the perfect caramel that you can drizzle over the fruit solo or pair with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Make a signature cocktail. Not only will you not have to play bartender all night, but friends will remember that one tasty drink you introduced them to long after the party is over. Make a big batch of whatever you’d like, or give Simmons’ recipes below a whirl.

Read more

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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 5 Strength-Training Myths for Runners, Debunked

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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 

U.S. Open Women to Watch: Fashion Edition

Written on August 27, 2014 at 9:51 am , by

Don’t get us wrong; we love the U.S. Open primarily for its action-packed matches, incredibly talented athletes and unexpected wins from the underdog. But, tennis is also one of the few sports that allows for a little personality to shine in every outfit. So when the official US Open 2014 seedings were released by the U.S. Tennis Association, we decided to combine the numbers with a little bit of their expected fashion choices—we always want to keep you 100 percent informed, after all. These are only a few of the looks that have been confirmed and we can’t wait to see what else comes down the runway court.

Serena Williams (and our May cover star!)

Never one to bore on the tennis court, Serena always keeps it fun and bright.

Seeded: 1

Country: United States

Maria Sharapova

Maria’s look is cool and sleek, keeping her focused and driven during the match.

Seeded: 5

Country: Russia

Eugenie Bouchard

As the youngest top-rated player, Eugenie keeps it bright and fun to match her age, but not too distracting: she’s out here to win.

Seeded: 7

Country: Canada

Ana Ivanovic

You can never go wrong with an all-black ensemble and Ana adds a little pop of color with her mint shoes.

Seeded: 8

Country: Serbia

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline’s look is flirty and fun, but remains trim and practical for ultimate performance.

Seeded: 10

Country: Denmark

Victoria Azarenka

The blue and white combo is always a good choice: clean and simple with pops of sophisticated color.

Seeded: 16

Country: Belarus

Andrea Petkovic

Forget orange, nude is the new black: simple, but oh so chic. Andrea is keeping her eye on the prize.

Seeded: 18

Country: Germany

You can find all items for purchase online here, so you can recreate the player’s looks yourself. Which outfit is your favorite?

Pictures courtesy of Nike and Adidas

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