30 Day Fitness Experiment

What can you do for your body in 30 days?

Pilates Book Giveaway 2010

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There’s been lots of jabber here on 30DayFitnessExperiment about Pilates, and even about Pilates instructors, and it’s high time for a giveaway, so here we go.

What’s up for grabs: A copy of the book Pilates for Weight Loss by Lynne Robinson.

How to enter: Comment on this post and tell me: 1. What one small change you’re going to make this month in pursuit of better health and fitness 2. What factors have affected your current state of health and/or fitness, i.e. I used to have a job where I was on my feet or physically active; now I work in an office or I had a baby and haven’t gotten back into shape or I used to play on a team and now I don’t or My mom used to cook for me and now I’m on my own so I eat fast food… You get the idea.

The fine print: You can enter up to 2 times, once by answering #1 above, and once by answering #2. Please include your email address when you make your comment (in the form, not in the comment itself, for your privacy), or your Twitter @name, so that I can let you know if you’ve won! If the prize is not claimed within 48 hours of the announcement of winner, we’ll re-draw.

The deadline: Enter by the end of Sunday, June 6th, Eastern Time.

Have fun! I hope you win!

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May 28, 2010 Posted by | Giveaways | , , , , , , | 32 Comments

The No-Stretchy-Pants-Required Challenge

IMGP0740
Image by viking_79 via Flickr

It’s time to begin Experiment No. 3.

I’m diverting a bit from the “30 Days” guideline, but it’s for a good cause! This one is a 6-week challenge, and if all goes as planned, the next challenge will be another 6-week challenge, making 3 months between the two of them.

Here it is: 100 pushups! I used to be able to do 25 or 30 consecutive pushups, but never 100. When I had the most upper body strength from sailing and doing a bit of climbing, I never tried to do pushups, so I don’t know how many I could have done then. Silly.

For more information on the challenge, go here: hundredpushups.com C’mon, do it with me!

I chose pushups for this challenge because we are in the middle of moving across country, and I felt it was the most portable exercise–even more than Pilates or other mat work, since I don’t have to wear stretchy pants and a sports bra to do pushups!

“Chancho. When you are a man, sometimes you wear stretchy pants in your room. It’s for fun.” –Nacho Libre

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May 27, 2010 Posted by | Lifestyle Fitness | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Tadpoles

At 30 Day Fitness Experiment, we’re always talking about ways to make physical activity part of normal, day-to-day life. This is as important for children as it is for adults. It used to be that children played outside regularly, running and jumping and climbing and building… but we know that’s not the norm anymore.

California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights

California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights

In response to reports that childhood obesity and inactivity are causing an alarming amount of health problems in young people, several states have enacted a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. California, Maryland, Florida and North Carolina each have their own version, and Iowa appears to be working on developing one.

Some of the basic elements include swimming/splashing in water, camping under the stars, catching a fish, learning to swim, following a trail, building a fort or sandcastle, connecting with the natural world, and celebrating their heritage.

Another common thread is having a responsible adult to share these experiences with. What can you do in your own family or community to promote children’s health and physical activity? Here are a few things:

  1. Turn off the TV. Take your family for a walk, swim, hike, or bike instead.
  2. Volunteer and become involved at your children’s school. Offer to chaperon a field trip, and offer ideas for alternatives to pizza parties as a celebration of accomplishment.
  3. Plan ahead for active vacations. Going on a trip sometimes involves renting a car, laying around reading novels, etc. But with a bit of advance planning, you can take a trip without the car, which means getting around more on your own two feet. It’s also an exercise in packing light and getting by on less, since you’ll be carrying your things with you while you walk or bike. Remember to include progressively longer walks as part of your planning. You don’t want to get exhausted because you’re not used to walking or biking!
  4. Brainstorm with your kids and make your own Outdoor Bill of Rights. Find out what interests them and make a bucket list of things to experience before their 14th birthday.
  5. Have fun! Lifestyle fitness is about sustaining an active way of life, with or without the gym or aerobics class. Physical fitness shouldn’t be a chore or a punishment for your kids. If it isn’t fun, it won’t be sustainable.
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May 26, 2010 Posted by | Lifestyle Fitness, The Physically Active Family | , , , , | 2 Comments

Market Day: 5 Delicious Ways to Use Fresh Asparagus

fresh asparagus for lunch
Image by annethelibrarian via Flickr

We’re half way through May, and asparagus is in season! This beautiful vegetable is often featured in decorative art as a sign of spring and good food. But how on earth are you supposed to cook and eat it?

First of all, choose thin, tender stalks. Asparagus starts to get tough and woody as it matures. Trim the cut ends and rinse well with water, then steam, roast, etc. Yum!

  1. Simply roast it. All you need to do is toss the asparagus with oil, salt, and pepper, and roast alone or with onions, garlic, and potato on a baking sheet for 10 minutes at 400F. (Potatoes and other vegetables will have longer cooking times, so roast them until they have only 10 minutes left, then add the asparagus.)
  2. Add it to a wrap or pita sandwich instead of lettuce. Toss the asparagus into a pot of boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes, let cool a bit and then chop. (You can also rinse under cold water to cool.) Mix into salads like tuna or chicken. Ta da!
  3. Make a simple salad. Steam asparagus in a vegetable steamer for 5-6 minutes, then toss with arugula, chopped bell peppers, minced garlic, lemon juice, and whatever other yummy greens or herbs you have on hand. Add a bit of oil or vinaigrette, and you’re all set.
  4. Enhance a simple risotto or couscous: Cook rice or couscous in vegetable broth instead of plain water, and add roasted garlic, steamed and chopped asparagus, lemon juice, and chives. A tip for making a creamy risotto: brown the dry rice in oil for a couple of minutes before adding boiling water and steaming.
  5. Use up leftovers in a creamy soup: Chop up only the stalks (saving the tips), and add to a hodge-podge vegetable soup. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor, then add the tips back in and reheat for 2-3 minutes. Presto! (Even if you don’t want to puree all of the soup, consider pureeing some cooked rice with some of the broth, and then adding it to the soup. It adds creaminess without dairy or extra fat and calories.)
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May 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Ways to Work Out For Free: No Gym Membership Required

Beach Stairs @ Opal Beach
Image by live w mcs via Flickr

Are you on a budget? Have you had to give up your gym membership in order to cut costs? That’s ok. There are tons of ways to get in shape for free!

  1. Walk. You already know it’s good for your body. Just keeping active works wonders and keeps obesity and a host of health problems at bay. But what if you want more?
  2. Do Pilates. Yes, you can do Pilates on a mat, at home, without a studio or equipment. It will improve your posture, your breathing, your core muscles (which will tuck in your tummy), and will help you relax. Don’t be mistaken, though, it’s not all stretching and relaxation! Find a DVD with the basics at your local library.
  3. Find a flight of stairs. Yes, climbing a flight of stairs is good cardiovascular exercise, that’s not all you can do with them. Try this: Step on the lowest step with the ball of your right foot, heel hanging off the step. Tuck your left foot behind your right ankle (hold onto the rail or wall for stability), and raise up onto the ball of your right foot. Lower, repeat, switch sides. This strengthens and stretches your ankles and calves. To work your triceps: Do standard triceps dips, using a stair step instead of a bench. Sit on a step, arms at your sides, palms down on the step. Scoot your booty off the step, and lower yourself by bending your arms until you’re almost sitting on the next step down. Don’t sit down! Use your arms to push yourself back up to the starting position. Ta da! There’s a great video series on eHow called “Stair Exercise Workout.” Check it out!
  4. Go hiking. Even if you’re used to walking regularly, hiking or trail walking will work different muscles and give you a totally different workout than walking or running in town or on a treadmill. Bonus: You get to see new sites, breathe fresh air, and hang out with friends and family! Throw some camping in there when you get the chance. Most stunning spot for wild and beautiful camping: Carpinteria State Beach in Carpinteria, California. But there’s a place near you, too! Check out the hiking resources, including links to State Parks and National Forests by State, at americanhiking.org.
  5. Do push-ups. Yep. They’re not just for the military, and they’re not just for your arms. Push-ups work your shoulders, back, abs, several muscles in your arms, and your chest. There’s an amazing workout program at hundredpushups.com. It covers good form, etc., and then you start out with an initial test (how many push-ups can you do in a row?) and follow the program depending on the results of your initial test. The goal is to work up to 100 consecutive push-ups by working out three times a week for several weeks. Once you can do that, your upper body is going to be in much better shape than it was when you started!
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May 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Open Forum: California's Best Biking City?

The Mister and I are in the process of moving to California, but we’re not sure exactly where. We want a place where we won’t need a car for most things. So far Davis, Sacramento, and San Diego have been suggested to us. Do you know of a more bike-friendly city in California? Help us out! We want to know what you think!

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Open Forum: California’s Best Biking City?

The Mister and I are in the process of moving to California, but we’re not sure exactly where. We want a place where we won’t need a car for most things. So far Davis, Sacramento, and San Diego have been suggested to us. Do you know of a more bike-friendly city in California? Help us out! We want to know what you think!

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Simple Fitness Sunday: Your Own Two Feet

Uncertain
Image by Brian Auer via Flickr

A few resources for starting a simple walking program:

UK: Walkit.com, the Urban Walking Route Planner, lists walking routes by city, with options like “Point A to Point B,” “Circular,” “Via,” and “direct” or “less busy.” Also contains a wealth of resources on walking for health, walking to school or work, and going green. Great articles and blog no matter where you live.

Los Angeles: 10 Best Walking Neighborhoods on RentedSpaces.com

Midwest: Chicago Park District Walking Trails, complete with maps and mileage counts. Milwaukee Without a Car includes How-To articles for biking, walking, and ride-share, safety tips, and links to trails. Go! St. Louis, “Inspiring Fitness One Step at a Time,” has tips on preparing and training for a marathon, walking for fitness, and a host of personal stories (look for “My Story” under the Getting Started tab) for all the inspiration you’ll ever need.

What area of the world are you in? What area would you like to see covered in a future post? Please comment below.

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May 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beginner's Guide to a Car-Less Commute: Public Transportation Edition

"Just use an open standard that already e...
Image by Todd Barnard via Flickr

This is Part 2 of the Beginner’s Guide to a Car-Less Commute. Read Part 1 here.

It’s National Train Day! Make plans to commute by train, bus, or subway. First of all, what are the advantages of using public transportation?

  • You don’t have to find a parking space.
  • You can read, work, knit, etc. while you commute.
  • You don’t have to pay for gas, insurance, or maintenance directly. One flat fee and you’re on your way.
  • You meet lots of interesting people.
  • Sharing the ride means fewer emissions and less pollution.

Tips to make the process flow:

  • Plan Ahead. Map out your route ahead of time, and then do a trial run. Figure out when you have to arrive at your destination and work backwards from there. This is especially helpful if your commute has multiple segments, like if you have to catch a bus and then a train. Try to do your trial run at a realistic time and day. If this is not possible, keep in mind that weekday rush hour is a lot more crowded than other times, and that trains, buses and ferries usually run less frequently on weekends.
  • Have a Backup Plan. If you plan on taking the train, keep a bus schedule with you, too. Become familiar with alternate routes. For example, in Washington DC, I’ve found the Yellow and Green lines to be much less busy than the red line at certain times of day. Know which trains or buses are going your way, and you’ll be able to quickly assess which one will get you there sooner or which one is less crowded.
  • What to Take With You: Take some reading, computer work, an iPod with an e-book, and some comfortable shoes. Trust me- you don’t want to be running around on stairs and escalators in high heels. Depending on your chosen method of transportation and the time of day, you may have to stand for chunks of time, and if you were planning on typing or knitting, you may be disappointed. So plan for something to do while standing, and something to do while sitting. You’ll also need water, hand sanitizer, deodorant and possibly a change of shoes. Keep in mind that restrooms may be few and far between.
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May 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beginner’s Guide to a Car-Less Commute: Public Transportation Edition

"Just use an open standard that already e...
Image by Todd Barnard via Flickr

This is Part 2 of the Beginner’s Guide to a Car-Less Commute. Read Part 1 here.

It’s National Train Day! Make plans to commute by train, bus, or subway. First of all, what are the advantages of using public transportation?

  • You don’t have to find a parking space.
  • You can read, work, knit, etc. while you commute.
  • You don’t have to pay for gas, insurance, or maintenance directly. One flat fee and you’re on your way.
  • You meet lots of interesting people.
  • Sharing the ride means fewer emissions and less pollution.

Tips to make the process flow:

  • Plan Ahead. Map out your route ahead of time, and then do a trial run. Figure out when you have to arrive at your destination and work backwards from there. This is especially helpful if your commute has multiple segments, like if you have to catch a bus and then a train. Try to do your trial run at a realistic time and day. If this is not possible, keep in mind that weekday rush hour is a lot more crowded than other times, and that trains, buses and ferries usually run less frequently on weekends.
  • Have a Backup Plan. If you plan on taking the train, keep a bus schedule with you, too. Become familiar with alternate routes. For example, in Washington DC, I’ve found the Yellow and Green lines to be much less busy than the red line at certain times of day. Know which trains or buses are going your way, and you’ll be able to quickly assess which one will get you there sooner or which one is less crowded.
  • What to Take With You: Take some reading, computer work, an iPod with an e-book, and some comfortable shoes. Trust me- you don’t want to be running around on stairs and escalators in high heels. Depending on your chosen method of transportation and the time of day, you may have to stand for chunks of time, and if you were planning on typing or knitting, you may be disappointed. So plan for something to do while standing, and something to do while sitting. You’ll also need water, hand sanitizer, deodorant and possibly a change of shoes. Keep in mind that restrooms may be few and far between.
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May 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment