How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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The New York City Triathlon – Before the race

The New York City Triathlon – Before the race

Traveling for races is always exciting, but the opportunity to race in my favorite city in the world, caused an overwhelming explosion of emotions that may have actually hindered me.  I will explain that last part a bit later, but let me start from the beginning.

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In order to race in the NYC Triathlon from out-of-state, a lottery is performed and in February of this year I  was notified that I had been chosen to race.  At the time I was not quite sure about it, as my race schedule was already pretty full, but I had heard great things about the race, so I decided to go ahead and put it on the calendar.  How many times was I going to be chosen via a lottery…right?  I have entered the lottery for the NYC Marathon for the last 3 years and was never chosen, therefore I felt like this may be a one-time opportunity.  I made my arrangements immediately, and found some inexpensive accommodations at Hotel Belleclaire which ended up to be a very nice boutique hotel on the upper west side of Manhattan, beautifully positioned directly between transition and the finish line.

The challenge I had was, how do I transport my bike to NYC.  I had a few choices.
1) Tri-bike Transport which was $300 each way.
2) Take my bike completely apart and take it with me, then take it to a bike shop to be put back together for $75 and again when I returned, not to mention possible oversize luggage fees at anywhere from 75-150 bucks.
3) Use shipbikes.com and buy a reusable AirCaddy for $100 and then ship my bike via FedEx, directly to my hotel and back home for $100 each way with very minimal dis-assembly of my bike.

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I chose option 3, which turned out to be very convenient.  The Air Caddy came in a very flat box and was assembled in 10 minutes and my bike was then placed in the box within 5 minutes and ready to ship.  It comes with a fork plate that stabilizes the bike in the box and then a series of other corrugated cardboard is placed around the bike which secures and stabilizes it even more.  The only small adjustments that need to be made are to remove the saddle and seat post together, and fold down the aero bars.  Each is just the loosening of two allen screws.  I only had to bring my small bike tool with me in order to tighten them back up upon re-assembly.  I taped up the box, added the label which is purchased through shipbikes.com and then called for a FedEx delivery representative to come by and pick it up.  Easy breezy.  It all happened like clockwork.  Of course since this is the first time I was shipping my bike I was a little anxious, and I was going to be, until I re-assembled in NYC.

I left Friday Morning two days before the race and was so excited I could barely contain myself.  Not just for the fact I had the opportunity to race in my favorite city I have ever been to, but I was also going to spend some time with friends I hadn’t hung out with in what seemed like forever.

HbellAll of the pics online of Hotel Belleclaire were of course beautiful, but in New York City it is sometimes a crap shoot.  The marketing pics look great, but when you get there, sometimes you get a room that a little worse for wear.  Hotel Belleclaire was absolutely beautiful and the service was first-rate.   I was in my room for about 30 minutes when the front desk called just to ask if everything in the room was alright.  I was a little shocked because I never experienced that before.  It is such a simple concept to give a 30 second call to the guests and it made me feel kind of special.  Before I knew it, there was a knock at my door and there was a bellman with my bike.  Talk about service.  After I put my bike together I phoned the front desk and requested that they store the box since the room was small.  I didn’t really care about the size of the room since it was just me, but the box and my bike took up a little more room.  It turned out that they could not find anywhere to store the box, so instead of just saying “Sorry, we cannot do anything about it”, they upgraded me and put me in a larger room to accommodate the box.   That, was to me, an amazing touch.  On Sunday after the race, I boxed up the bike and the concierge told me to just leave it in my room.  Monday morning I received a text from FedEx notifying me my bike was picked up and that the estimated date she would be back home was Thursday.   If you are going to be in NYC on the upper west side, I highly recommend the Hotel Belleclaire.  I think you will enjoy it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program(after my little endorsement).

After I checked in I planned on going to the expo at Hilton Midtown, so I started walking.  The hotel was onIMAG0189 77th St. and Broadway and the Hilton was on 55th and 6th so it was 22 blocks south and two blocks east.  No big deal, and it was nice outside so I decided to walk.  Here is where I started with a little hinderance.  I saw my favorite hot dog place in Manhattan.  Grays Papaya.  OMG!  Now remember that I am about 90% paleo and I haven’t digested a slice of bread in over a year, so you can imagine how my system was going to react to a couple of white flour, processed, buns with grilled hot dogs and all the trimmings.  They sure tasted good going down, however they left me in a lurch later that evening.  Grays Papaya is famous in the city for their hot dogs and papaya drink.  I had both and they were sooo good.  It was like a sin to eat something that tasted that good as processed as it was.  I always talk about balance right?  Well, I figured I hadn’t had one in so long,  it wouldn’t hurt.  WRONG!!!!  I will spare you the details of what happened a couple of hours later.

Inside the Host Hotel.  I just had to take a pic.

Inside the Host Hotel. I just had to take a pic.

I called a good friend of mine, Michael who moved to the city almost four years ago.  Michael and I used to to perform in plays and musicals together semi-professionally.  Michael was keeping the dream alive in New York while I turned to health and fitness.  To my surprise he was willing to go to the expo with me so I could check-in.  The New York Triathlon required the attendance of all the athletes at a mandatory meeting in order to verify everyone had the information in the Athlete Handbook.  In order to get your packet you had to attend a meeting and get your hand stamped.  Because I had been to so many races prior and never usually went to the meetings, that I would be a little annoyed but the person whom MC’ed the meeting was hilarious and had us all in stitches.  He also was great about getting the info out specifically and succinctly, so all of us whom attended could have our hand stamped and out of there in about 25 minutes.  The rest of check-in was a breeze.

expoentThe expo was, well…interesting.  Mainly because I was in a different part of the US, it had different vendors.   What I did notice was that Zicco Coconut Water was a huge sponsor.  They were giving out coconut water like it was, uh…water.  Even in our SWAG there was one of those huge liter bottles that usually sell for around $9.  I love Zicco so I was beyond freaking thrilled.   The only unfortunate thing was that they only were giving the original version and I know that the chocolate flavor is amazing, but I enjoy the natural flavor too.  The rest of the expo was what you would expect of a triathlon which is minimal compared to marathon’s and big road races, but it still had that great race aura and energy.

Michael and I hung out for a bit and caught up and then headed to Restaurant 44th&10th which is located, can you guess?  You are correct.  44th st and 10 Ave just about 20 more blocks from the hotel.  The place is a corner of a set of stores and is decked out in white with colors used as accents on the walls and cushions of the chairs.  The food was amazing.  I had the grilled tilapia with steamed spinach and a sweet potato, butternut squash mash.  Deliciouso!   For desert was a dark chocolate flour-less cake which tasted more like mouse, and an organic banana sundae.  WOW!  It was an outburst of flavors that stimulated my taste buds with the cool essence of banana, chocolate and toasted marshmallow.  O-M-G was it good!

Now all fat and happy, Michael and I headed off to my hotel, so I could drop off all the swag from the expo and that, ladies and gentlemen, is when Grays Papaya decided to fight for control of my digestive system away from my incredible food from 44th&10th.  That is all I have to say about that.  Needless to say after a couple of syndicated comedies, conversations about theatre in the city and dealing with my stomach I wasn’t going anywhere else that night.

I woke up Saturday feeling a lot better.  I took a shower, put together everything I needed for transition, johns-pizzeriawhich didn’t open until 2 pm, and headed out into the city.  Around 1 pm I stopped at my favorite pizza place.  The restaurant will remain, forever, a planned event whenever I am in NYC.  The place with the best pizza on the planet.  John’s Pizza on 44th St between 7th an 8th avenues.  This place has the absolute best pizza with all natural ingredients I have ever tasted.  The thinnest flakiest crust with a spicy tomato sauce, mozzarella that strings to ceiling if you let it and the best ingredients ever resting on top.  Personally, I am a minimalist so I prefer a nice pepperoni and fresh garlic, but my friend Jorge Acosta whom joined me for this amazing meal, was all about the pineapple and Canadian Bacon.  I never tried it, but I have to say it was pretty good too.

This part of 44th st is a kind of home to me.  It is where all the best theatres are located.  Across from John’s , Phantom was playing.  Directly next door, Let it Be.  A little further down and across the street was Lucky Guy with Tom Hanks and two doors down was the famous Sardis of which Jorge and I headed to afterward to continue catching up.  Jorge is one of those guys who has had such an amazing life that we can just talk forever.  If I wasn’t participating in the triathlon the next day, we would probably still be talking.  He is an amazing and talented guy and I am so excited he is making it in NYC as an actor.  Knock on wood, he hasn’t needed another job to get him by.  That is how talented this guy really is.

I left Jorge and headed back to the hotel to grab my bike and head to transition in Riverside Park.  There areIMAG0201
two transition setups for the NYC Tri.  Yellow and Red.  My wave was in the Yellow which was schedulted to start at 5:50 am on Sunday and included the pros and elites along with half the Age Group athletes, while red didn’t start until 7:20.  The transition setup was just like any other triathlon, no
frills with metal rods to hang the bike from the seat.   The only somewhat different protocol was the  transparent bags that were handed out and highlighted during the mandatory meeting.  This was new after the incident

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at the Boston Marathon.  Instead of bringing in a transition backpack like I usually do, now a plastic transparent bag is the only thing allowed to bring gear into the transition area.   I didn’t want to leave anything besides my bike, so I personally didn’t bring anything at this point but my bike.  I left my bike with a plastic bag covering the handlebars and seat and headed out to meet another friend of mine from high school, Kyle.

 

Kyle, a professional Opera singer, is just as interesting.  He had just opened a show, so we were able to meet  just outside of Lincoln Center for a bit before he needed to be at the theatre.  Kyle has an amazing wife, Laura and an eleven year-old prodigy daughter.  A prodigy in what?  It would probably be easier to tell you what she is NOT a prodigy in .  She is incredibly smart as well as an Olympic swimmer in the making.  Maybe I can get lessons from her?  Kyle and I talked for an hour about his shows, my races, Alana’s talent and Laura’s singing as well.  When it was time to head out Kyle said something to me that made me so proud.  He started with, “I know you will probably taught this but Laura and started doing this ‘Insanity’ workout and I feel better, taller and stronger than I have ever been.”  I praised him, because I use the Insanity workouts and I am a Beach Body coach.  I was so excited to hear about his and Laura’s results.  He went on to tell me about how everything was better.  He was singing even better, he felt taller, slept better and was craving the workouts.  It made me smile when I heard about it.  Right here was proof, that with a child that needed to be brought to school, activities, swim practice, his daytime rehearsals, night-time performances, and Laura’s full-time job,  they both still found time to workout six days a week.  Remember that living in New York City means taking even more time for transportation as well.  There are very few people that are as busy as Kyle and Laura and they still find time, six days a week.  No excuses.  I love it.

That finished my day.  I went back to the room, took a shower and fell into bed exhausted.  I know it would feel like no time at all, before the 3 am alarm would go off and my phone would remind me again at 3:10.  I would try, but I wouldn’t get as much sleep as I wanted.

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My room prior to the move.

 

Goof Race Recap – Climb for Air

Goof Race Recap – Climb for Air

What a weekend!  I raced with Team Foley Saturday during the Fight For Air Stair Climb in Tampa at the Bank of America building, then I did my first triathlon of the season at the HITS Ocala Olympic Triathlon.  Needless to say come Monday morning I was a little stiff, but full of rigor because of what I accomplished.

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Saturday morning the alarm went off at 5:30am which actually was about 45 minutes later than during the week.  (WOO HOO!  I got to sleep in.)  I had no trouble jumping up, taking a quick shower to wake up, and heading into downtown Tampa for the Fight for Air Stair Climb.  These stair climbs are sponsored by the American Lung Association and are held all over the country.  The Tampa event consists of a team event, an individual event and a firefighter event.  The Team Event, incorporates an undetermined amount of members on the team, and is scored with the top 3, lowest times.  The members of teams, and athletes not members of teams, are entered into the individual event which incorporates the common age groups and is scored based on the individual’s performance.   The firefighter event, is strictly for active firefighters sporting their full protective gear.  Boots, pants, coat, helmet, tank and mask, while then racing up the 42 flights.  It is an incredible site.

I have been a member of Team Foley under the leadership of Captain Lisa Jamison for the last couple of years.

Lisa, Our Fearless Leader

Fearless Leader
Lisa Jamison

John Foley was a good friend of hers whom passed due to lung cancer, so our team has always dedicated our performance to him.  The last two years we finished first and won the team competition, but unfortunately a team named “7 Minutes of Pain” ended up winning, but we finished a close second.

The event starts with the normal registration and announcements outside the building and then the teams are brought in by their predetermined time, to the stairwell.   The bibs we are given have timing chips built in and a couple of steps before the first set of stairs is a start mat with the finish mat at the top to capture the times.  We arranged ourselves from fast to slow, so their would be very little passing that would cause a delay in any team member’s time or interrupted strategy.  I was positioned right behind Eric Scola, a CrossFit instructor and friend who was in obvious excellent shape.  He took off as I waited required 10 second gap in-between athletes before I started my journey to the top.

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First Flight

For such a short race, it feels like forever.  There are different strategies to running the stairs.  Last year I blasted up 15 flights, before my lungs decided they had enough and I had to slow down.  This year I decided to take the same pace all the way up.  I found a rhythm of pulling on the rails and double stepping almost the entire way.   I did take a few single steps about 4 times during the duration of the race, but I mainly stuck with the double.  It ended up working for me with a time of 7:22 which was just about the same as I did last year, but I felt better and recovered faster.  In 2012, my lungs started really burning around floor 30 and it was very difficult to continue and it lasted almost 30 minutes after I completed the climb, but this year I ended up at the top feeling pretty good.  That is, until I sat down.  The burning sensation caught up with me as I was recovering in a small room at the top with a bottle of water.  It was very uncomfortable.  Thankfully they did not allow us to stay as long as we did in the past and shooed us back downstairs.  With the fresh air, I ended up recovering in about 5 minutes from the moment I exited the building.

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Finish

There is no ventilation in the stairwells or humidity for that matter and I believe after using maximum effort without regards to heart rate or respiration rate, it leads to that burning sensation for me.

After recovering an drinking some more water I found myself feeling really good.  It is the longest 7 minutes of my year, and I am so happy I have the ability to fund raise and compete in this race for Lisa and Team Foley.

 

Do you want to join us next year?

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Carpe Viam!!

So here we go!!

It’s January 9th and I have been trying to provide a base now since November 6th.  I think I am doing pretty well.  I couldn’t swim 600 yards without changing up strokes from freestyle to sidestroke, to breaststroke.  Now I can go about 800 yards with strictly freestyle..at least in a pool.  Yesterday, January 8th 2011, I ran the Disney Half-Marathon without stopping in 1:59:32.  It is not great, but not that this is an excuse, but it was extremely crowded and I was in the very back of the pack.  Last week I cycled 40 miles, with a 5K run at the end.  I think as far as my endurance factor goes I am a little a head of the game.

Background
Just to give the story as to why.  People think I am nuts…why train for an event where you swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles and then run a marathon?  It started two years ago.  I had been working my ass off 12 -15 hour days including weekends.  I was feeling drained and I was due for a physical with a complete blood workup.  Dr. Gold basically said I was in horrible shape.  My cholesterol was high, my triglycerides were high, my good cholesterol was low, my sugar was high…I am sure the picture was obvious.  This was only 3 years after separating for the second time from the military.  I couldn’t believe I let myself get so out of shape.
Kim and I were walking around Hyde Park Village about three weeks later and we walked past Lifestyles Family Fitness.  There was a poster in the window for a Boot Camp Class. We went in and contracted to use the gym, I enrolled in Boot Camp and Kim hired a personal trainer to get her started again.  Well, from the first class I was hooked.  They had these teasers prior to the beginning of the real class and it was an intense 35 minutes of cardio, strength training, agility, stability and core exercises.  I loved it, coming from a military background where this is what we did everyday.  The difference was the emphasis on form and injury reduction. Well, the instructors, Nicole Sturtze, and Zach Thompson were a hell of lot nicer than my drill sergeants.  Two days a week for an hour I put 100% effort and sweat-ed profuciously and loved it.  One Monday morning, my eyes popped open at 5:30am and I was wide awake.  I thought, eh why not go for a run.  I ran for four miles and felt like a million dollars.  The next day after boot camp I saw a flyer for another class called Punch & Crunch, and thought, eh why not give it a try.  Melissa Trinidad was teaching, and I knew she was one of the top trainers at the gym, not to mention she was really cute.  Again, I was hooked after the first class.  Boxing paired with cardio and core was awesome.  Within a month of starting to work out twice a week, I had now more than doubled my workouts to 5 days a week.  Monday, I ran or worked out on my own, Tuesday & Thursday was Boot Camp, Wednesday and Saturday was Punch & Crunch, Friday and Sunday I took off.  Next, a friend in Boot Camp told me about this Hot Yoga down the street from the gym.  I never sweated so much in my life and felt so rejuvenated afterward.  Now I was at 6 days a week.  
Next came the game changer – Scott Bragan, another Boot Camp friend, started mentioning the Chicago Marathon and how he was doing it for charity.  The PKD foundation.  Perocystic Kidney Disease.  His mother-in-law had a transplant, his wife was diagnosed with it, and his daughter had a 50/50 chance of coming down with it because she carried the gene.  My need to help kicked in, so I decided to talk to him about it, and before I knew it we had 10 members of Team Tampa PKD and were starting a plan to fund raise to a goal of $25,000!!  With that we also trained together.  Two six week sessions of boot camp, combined with Punch & Crunch, and Yoga allowed my first training run, to be 9 miles.  I couldn’t believe I was starting to train for a marathon and I could already comfortably run 9 miles.  I was jazzed.  
Well, Scott also mentioned another activity he did…Triathlons.  I had partaken in a couple of triathlons in high school and I enjoyed them, so I thought, what a great way to break up the training for the marathon by swimming and biking and participating in a couple of sprint triathlons as well.  I ended up participating in two that summer, the Mease Plant Point and the Top Gun and loved them…well…except for the swim.  I just wanted to get that over with. 
We did end up raising the 25000 bucks and then some and everyone finished the marathon with decent times, except for me.  I ended up injuring myself two weeks before with a herniated disc at L5/S1 and was in recovery during the marathon.  I did go to Chicago that weekend and I did take some great pics, and cheer on my team, but I was really bummed.  That was October 2009.
Since then I have been in a few more small races, 5Ks and 10Ks, a couple of half-marathons, three more triathlons and have continued to train.  I have not missed a boot camp session since then and I feel I am pretty good shape.  Last November a friend from a running group I have been running  with, the Blue Sharks, told me she did a couple of Full Ironman Triathlons.  I was really impressed.  She then mentioned she was going to volunteer at the Florida Ironman and asked if I wanted to go.  I thought it would be really cool to see all these elite athletes do this incredible event.  I went and had an awesome time and got hooked.  I was in the transition tent from the Bike to the Run and the Pro-athletes came in and they were systematic and quick.  Then the age-groupers came in and some of them were the same as the pros and some of them just took there time, had a break and then continued on to the run.  I was enthralled at the amount of people, and all the types of people that were going through this event.  Of course the next part is what really hooked me.  About 9pm we all decided to hang out at the finish line.  Let me preface this by saying the race started at 7 am, so this was 14 hours after the start of the race…Four…teen…..hours! Teresa (the culprit who hooked me into this) said this was the best part of the race because this is the “regular” people finished.  The people who had regular jobs, kids, responsibilities that had to fit all this training in apart from that.  Coming over the finish line were women and men in excess of 280 pounds, a blind man, a disabled man, men and women in excess of 60 years old, and my favorite a 16 time age grouper that was 76.  Yes, that’s right SEVENTY-SIX years old and he came over the finish line before the cut-off of 17 hours.  There are those people like myself who do not look there age.  There are seventy-six year olds out there whom look fifty or even 60.  No…this guy looked the all of seventy-six he was.  This is what got me hooked…if they could do it…I definitely could do it.   
The plan
I have to mention that I really do not want to be racing for 17 hours.  If I finish it in 16 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds…I will be happy that I completed it, but I really do not want to be racing for that long.  I found a guy Ben Greenfield who is an awesome athlete and a very knowledgeable athlete whom has developed a plan to get average joes like me through the Ironman with an acceptable amount of training hours that might not completely infringe on my responsibilities.  I also have met with a swim coach, my doctor, my chiropractor and a license massage therapist whom is also a bio-mechanics expert and a USAT Level 1 certified trainer.  With all this support, I hope to conquer this quest.  
At the moment I am doing my own base training right now, with an emphasis on getting comfortable in the saddle of my bike, and becoming relaxed and efficient in the water.  Ben’s plan is a 36 week plan, so it does not actually start until the last week in February.  I have increased my weekday workouts from an hour to two in order to get my body used to working hard longer, and continue to do boot camp.
Here is to hoping my plan works out, and no injuries or re-injuries will stop me.
Live Strong, Finish Stronger!!!