Tag Archives: hydrate

My Super Duper Foods

There are a couple foods that I eat religiously to give me super powers.  Well, super powers as in energy and strength. I feel like Mario when he gets invincible powers from a starman.  So what are superfoods?  Superfood is really a marketing term used for describing foods that are high in nutrients to give you superior health benefits.  Here are a few super duper foods that help me stay classy and fit:

KALE – Remember when Popeye eats a can of spinach he gets ginormous arms that are too big for his body.  First off, you won’t get a lot of nutrients if your veggies are in a can.  Raw is the way to go. Secondly, Kale can give you as much or more benefits than spinach.  I eat about two servings of kale 2-3 times a week.  I incorporate kale in my meals, soups, and snacks.  Kale chips are delicious, so replace those bags of potato chips and Doritos with kale chips.  Kids love them!  I can tell you I eat a big bowl of raw kale a day before a race.  No pasta for me.  With kale, I feel 100 times lighter but it still gives me the stamina I need for a race.  If you’re looking to build calcium Kale can give you more per calorie than milk.  As for iron, it gives you more per calorie than beef.  Kale is the new beef.  It’s also an anti-inflammatory food that fights against inflammatory-related issues such as arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.  I can rave on and on about kale, but this infographic says it all.

GOJI BERRIES – Growing up, Mama Chiang used to make me a nice bowl of soup with goji berries.  Sometimes she’ll make desserts or drinks with goji berries.  As a child I was told this is good for your vision and it keeps you looking young.  Well, fast forward a couple years later, I found out that it does a lot more.  Goji berries are packed with vitamins, protein with 18 amino acids, and antioxidants.  I love sprinkling these berries over salads and oatmeal.  I especially love to eat these by itself as a snack.  You’ll find that it curbs your appetite, gives you energy, and keeps your mind sharp (definitely brain food).

QUINOA – I heard that this is “God’s gift to vegans” and I totally agree.  Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein with 8 essential amino acids and it’s gluten-free.  This is definitely the type of grain you want to incorporate in your diet.  I’m slowly getting my parents to replace white rice with quinoa.  It’s versatile, so you can make just about anything with quinoa.  You can make stuffed red peppers, quinoa crackers, breakfast quinoa porridge, or throw quinoa into your salads.  The possibilities are endless.

CHIA SEEDS – Chia Seeds are tiny black seeds that are grown from a flowering plant known as Salvia hispanica.  One tablespoon of these seeds punches in a good amount of Omega-3.  For vegetarians that don’t eat fish chia seeds will give you the Omega-3 oil that you need for your body.  Athletes – chia seeds can hydrate your body longer and provides the protein that you need for intense workouts.  Simply soak the chia seeds in water and it becomes a gel like the image below.  The gel allows your body to absorb carbohydrates to slowly covert them into simple sugars, so it controls your blood sugar.  They make you feel fuller because they absorb 10 times their weight of water.  It doesn’t have any flavor, so I love to sprinkle these over my salads and soups.  I particularly like to coat my bananas with chia seeds.  There are plenty of dessert recipes that incorporate chia seeds such as pudding or baked goods.

HEMP – There are three types of hemp that I like – hemp milk, hemp seeds, and hemp oil.  It works just like Chia Seeds providing you plenty of protein with essential amino acids, calcium, and Omega-3.  It curbs your appetite, it prevents inflammation, and it’s good for your skin.  It has a nutty taste, so I love sprinkling hemp seeds in fruit such as bananas and kiwis.  They are good in breakfast bars and oatmeal.  I found blending hemp milk with smoothies help me recover faster after intense workouts.  Instead of using too much olive oil I use hemp oil for cooking and salads.

KOMBUCHA – When I was younger, I found these odd-looking jars in the basement.  From time to time, my grandpa would drink these for breakfast.  I thought it was one of his strange Chinese medicinal drinks.  I found out it was Kombucha.  Kombucha is a fermentation of a sweetened tea with cultures such as good bacteria and yeast.  This is actually known to detoxify your body, increase your immunity, alkaline your PH, and increase your metabolism.  It’s full of probiotics to help you with digestion.  Vegans – since you’re not getting probiotics from yogurt you can sure get it from Kombucha.  I love the Synergy Drinks.  My favorite flavors are Strawberry Serenity and Multi-Green.  This is a great replacement for soda and coffee.  I have soda once in a blue moon, but if you are a heavy soda drinker this is 100 times better for you.  As for coffee, it gives you the pick-me-upper you need in the morning. Amazingly this also curbs my appetite, so I tend to have a swig of this closer to 4 pm when I get hungry.

These items are found in Whole Foods, your local organic market, and Amazon.  Try it out!  I hope you feel the super duper benefits I do with these superfoods.

Heat Run

One of my shortcomings has got to be running in the heat.  My performance is poor and sometimes I can’t even finish the run, but then again the heat makes me a stronger runner.

As temperatures climb to the 90-100 degrees and humidity reaches 50-70%, I feel like I’m lifting sandbags on my shoulders.  I know it’s hot when I hear cicadas singing loud a long my path.  My mouth is dry and all I can think about is “water”.  As I see a blaze of heat down the trail, I brush the sweat over my head and I can feel a glob of salt in my hands.  The sun is beating me down like I’m in a boxing match.  I made plenty of mistakes tackling this.  Although I continue to find ways to improve, here are a few things I learned training in the dog days of summer:

Hydrate.  I drink a liter of water an hour before running.  You’ll be amazed how much water you lose in the heat.  Some runners can lose 1-4 quarts of water every hour.  I also wear a Camelbak so I can hydrate on my run.  It’s hard to find water fountains where I run, so a Camelbak was a great purchase.

Schedule your run.  My number 1 mistake is running at the wrong time.  Avoid running at times between 10 am-6 pm.  I hardly see any runners on the trail during those times.  My running experience described above was during noon or 5 pm.  Big mistake!  Try to run early in the morning or night if you can.  I also schedule my runs by reviewing the weather forecast for the week.  If the temperatures are lower on certain days that’s the day that I’ll run.  In fact, I take advantage of days when it rains.  Running in the rain feels so good from the heat.  Also, I get a major adrenaline rush when it storms.

Plan your route.  Try to find a route with more shade.  It makes a huge difference.  Some days I wish I had that red umbrella from the Traveler’s insurance commercial follow me around.

Don’t over exert yourself.  I generally slow down 2-3 minutes when I’m running in the heat.  My heart rate is off the charts when I’m in the heat, so I take my time and save my energy to finish the run.  Most of the time I have to stop and walk, but I start running again when I see an overcast.  It bothers me at times when I can’t finish what I hope to do, but I remind myself that this will only make me stronger.  Come fall, I will probably be able to push more miles out in cooler weather.

Gear.  Wear light, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing.  Avoid black.  Always wear a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.  Never forget sun block.  I always forget this and I come home looking like a lobster.  I don’t typically wear a hat because it can trap heat and cause your body temperature to rise.  I wear a thick headband, but there are running caps you can buy in any sports store.  Take your cell phone in case of an emergency.  I have my iphone with me so I can listen to motivating jams or audio books.  You can even learn another language while you’re running.  I’m going to start that next time.  It keeps my mind off the heat.

What to eat.  This section deserves it’s on blog post, because I have a lot of say about this.  Stay tuned!

I can tell you most of the time I find it difficult to finish in the heat, but there is always tomorrow.

Beach Bum Run

When I first ran on a beach I did all the wrong things. I ran in flip flops and attempted to sprint. Let’s just say I had a mouthful of sand after I fell flat on my face. Running on the beach is a little daunting after that incident. I was recently in Ana Maria Florida this past weekend and I couldn’t resist a run. It was glorious outside. To top it off, the storm from the night before made the morning cool. The waves were fierce and the wind was strong. The beach called for me when I peered out the balcony window. I picked up my Nikes, suited up, and made my way to the beach.

Running on the beach is actually very beneficial for your posture. It forces you get the full motion of a run and strengthens your lower body. My upper body was straight and I landed on my mid-foot, which is the proper mechanics of foot striking. Believe me this is not easy. You will burn more running on the sand vs. on a hard surface, so this is where you can build power. I have the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this week and thought it will be a good start to kick off my training. On a side note, my running team and I would love your support to help us reach our donation goal for the fight against breast cancer. Please visit our team page.  I was a little nervous at first, recalling my first beach run, but the scenery was too beautiful to pass up. I only made it two miles, but I felt fulfilled because my goal was to take it slow and make it a beach bum run.

Here are a couple tips to keep in mind for a beach run:

Hydrate – Consume enough water just like any other run. It’s tough, so make sure you are well hydrated to prevent cramps and heat exhaustion.

Sun block – You are running in direct sunlight, so use sun block. It’s easy to forget because you’re usually putting sunscreen when you lay-out on the beach. The same concept should go for running. Protect your skin, so you don’t come home looking like a lobster.

Take your time – There’s no need to rush. Running on the beach is not the same as running on a track. This is about strength and power training, so take your time to prevent injury.

Run with shoes – Some people like to run barefoot, but I recommend running with shoes especially if it’s your first time. If you do run barefoot get to know the surface and run closer to the water. Look out for glass pieces or broken shells. Although the beach was beautiful in Florida I noticed that there were tons of broken shells. Knowing how clumsy I am I will most likely get cut, so I decided to put on my running shoes.

Look at where you are going – The flatter the surface the easier the run, which is closer to the ocean. Watch out for waves or else you will be running in wet sneakers. If you’re in for a challenge run on dry sand. I did a combination, but mainly ran on dry sand. I noticed I used the strength of my legs to maneuver out of the sand. Be careful with this deep workout because the surface is uneven.

Enjoy the scenery and dip in – Soak in the beauty around you. Running on the beach is very peaceful and spiritual. Enjoy the view, the feel of the cool wind, and the sound of the waves crashing against the sand. After the run, rub your feet against the sand and dip in the ocean. It feels absolutely amazing.

Bend it like Bikram

About a year ago I got into a car accident.  I thought everything was alright after taking a few prescriptions and using a neck brace, so I continued my daily work out/run.  At the time, I pushed my body to its limit and it became worse.  My back is never the same.

I had to take it easy with my workouts so started to incorporate more yoga in my routine.  Just around that time, I saw a Groupon for Bikram yoga.  It’s a sign.  Bikram yoga is a form of hot yoga.  It’s a series of 26 postures completed in a heated room of 105-110 degree Fahrenheit for about 90 minutes.  Sounds like I would pass out, but I decided to take a plunge because I love challenges.  In the beginning I thought what on earth did I get myself into.  This must be the most difficult workout I ever had.  This is no ordinary yoga class with a few relaxation poses and smoothing music.  This is intense. Hardcore.  After it was all over I drove home with my windows down and felt incredible.  I initially thought it was torture and was unsure if I would even come back, but I felt amazing afterwards.  It was as if all the stress that clung on to me for so long fell right off my shoulders.  Let it go.  Physically my back felt better and as I continued to go to class the pain started to disappear.

I didn’t get much direction when I started, so want to share a few tips on how to prepare and what to expect when taking your first Bikram class:

Hydrate:  Hydrate a couple hours before yoga.  Depending on the instructor they will not allow you to drink water until specified.  Also, it’s good Bikram etiquette not to drink while in a pose.  Everybody is concentrating on their pose, so be sure to be a good neighbor.  If you are allowed to drink water, I recommend not drinking water if you are about to do any backward bends.  I did this once and started to choke.  Totally embarrassing myself. If you must take water make sure you give enough time for the water to go down.

Don’t be shy:  You will sweat in places you never imagine you would.  Everyone will look like a hot mess.  Wear clothing like you are going to the pool.  Heck I see men wearing speedos or booty shorts.  I wore capris and a t-shirt the first time and I was dying.  At the end of the day my clothes were dripping in sweat and I look like I came out of the shower.  Since I’m shy, I typically don’t wear sport bras or short shorts when I workout, but I do in Bikram.  People have to look at themselves when performing their poses, so don’t worry about who is looking at you because they won’t.  What they will probably notice is smell, so be sure to wear deodorant.

Essential Items:  You will need to bring a yoga mat.  That’s a given.  Bring a towel large enough to cover your mat, like a beach towel.  A good friend got my husband and I matching beach towels, so when I’m not at the beach the towel is with me in Bikram which I got a lot of compliments on.  You’re going to be dripping sweat, so the towel will prevent slippery spots.  If you forget one ask your studio.  Take with you a large water bottle.   You can bring a small towel to wipe your face, but I find that sweat cools me down.  Another item is coconut water which will rehydrate you quickly and put nutrients into your system after all that sweating. Coconut water is what the cool kids drink in Bikram.

Instructors:  Bikram instructors will call out poses, but they will not perform the poses for you.  They are there as your guide.  Your instructor may go around the room to correct poses.  Don’t take anything personally.  They are there to help you improve.  You know if they are a good instructor if they make sure you do it correctly so you don’t injure yourself.  Tell your instructors it’s your first time and they will take good care of you for your first experience.  Overtime you will know your instructors well.  I know who keeps it challenging and who turns the temperature high or low.  Use it to your advantage.  On days when I want to bust my butt I go to a intense instructor.

The Right Spot:  For your first time, get a spot in the back so you can watch other yogis perform the poses.  Remember to find a spot so you can see yourself in the mirror, but don’t cover the yogi behind you.  I got scolded a couple times for blocking the person behind me.

Don’t Leave the Room: Instructors will encourage you stay in the room at all times.  The reason for this is that you are in a heated room and when you leave your body temperature drops, so this can shock your body.  I stay in the room for an extra 15 minutes after the class ends so my body can gradually adjust.  Depending on your instructor, they might open the door at times for a short breeze.

Don’t Rush:  It is so important not to rush into or out of a pose. A big part of yoga is meditation and concentration.  You exercise your brain by concentrating.  When you commit to a pose you are 80% there so meditate to make that decision.  You will have an amazing feeling when you take your time. You won’t get that feeling when you rush and you can even injure yourself.   Take your time, clear your mind,  and stay in the moment.

Dessert: All I can say is the lavender scented towels is dessert. You’ll know what I mean.

Bikram does wonders for me.  It’s a special treat for my body and mind, like a massage.  You’ll hear me talking more about Bikram in other posts because this is a very important part of my workouts.  It healed me on several occasions and prevented so many injuries from my other intense workouts.  I’m not an instructor, so please consult with your studio.  I’m just offering a few suggestions since I had people ask me about it.  If you want more information go to the Bikram site.