Monday, May 23, 2016

12 Tips for a Healthy, Active and Safe Memorial Day Weekend and a Giveaway

Memorial Day weekend is coming up and that means summer activities, spending more time outside, and summer attractions opening up for the summer. It also means good food, temptations, and the extra push you may need to give yourself to stay on track with your nutrition for your health and fitness goals - whatever they may be. For some people fall and winter carry the greatest temptations with the vast amount of sweets and comfort foods, but for me it's the summer. Cool nights, warm days, awesome food...yes this is the time I am truly tested.

I have huge towering goals, which consist of competing in my first fitness/bodybuilding competition early next year, and I have to stay on track with my weight loss and muscle gains. With my goals... it's very important that I stay on track throughout the summer to keep myself on a good path toward my journey to the stage. I've taken the liberty to jot down some helpful tips that can help you stay on track no matter what your health and fitness goals are as well as some everyday helpful hints for just enjoying the season.

These are my top tips for having a healthy, active, and safe Memorial Day weekend and summer season!

  • Use a good sunscreen. When you are not working on your tan by the pool it is important to use an effective sunscreen. We all know that too much sun can be harmful to your skin. I love the Hawaiian Tropics line, but you can use whatever you think works best for you.
  • Keep the bugs away with a safe, yet effective bug spray. Nowadays there are so many options to choose from and you must be careful when it comes to the ingredients in the bug spray that you use, especially with children. My family and I have been using Bug Ban from NOW. First I'd just like to take a moment and compliment the scent. It is not something you would expect from a bug spray because a lot of the bug sprays have a horrible chemical smell to them which can turn people off and others despise wearing it altogether. I love that it's a safe and effective natural insect repellent and also has a sweet citrus scent. I have no issues using it on my daughter because it doesn't reek of chemical smells and ingredients. It's safe for her and we all know how kids are - they love to put anything and everything in their mouth and in my daughter's case... she loves to lick everything. No matter if it's syrup from breakfast or lotion after bath time, she will find a way to get her arm to her mouth. That being said I am less worried about this than I am about other insect repellent products, and of course I still try to make sure it has dried as much as possible before I release her to her own devices. In my experience, I find that Bug Ban lasts for about 2-3 hours and then you will need to re-apply. I also find that it does seemingly well repelling insects, but some bugs may still flock to you and hover before leaving you alone. The good thing is that they won't hang around and land and bite unless the spray has already worn off and you haven't reapplied it yet. I was able to test this spray on a suburban trail during a few of my runs, which are very buggy and a very warm day and overall it did very well. If your one of those deep woodsy types then you may need something stronger, but remember to watch those chemicals!

  • Choose healthier food options. If you are hosting or attending a cookout, and you plan to eat, then I suggest cutting corners whenever possible. Bring your own buns for hamburgers and hot dogs. I love bringing my light 35 calorie whole grain buns. Bringing your own meat is also an option as well if you are trying to stay on the healthier side of things. I love bringing my own meat for burgers or hot dogs. I love lean ground turkey for turkey burgers and turkey hot dogs. It is a much healthier option and it allows you to stay on track with your goals.  
  • Plan your cheat meal and watch your portions. If you plan to cheat a bit, like I am planning to do, then make it one meal and maybe a dessert. Make sure it is planned. When you plan your cheat meals you won't get caught off guard and risk having some sporadic unhealthy meal and the guilt that will come along with it. I plan to have ONE cheat meal during my Memorial Day weekend and taking my daughter out for ice cream for dessert. Also, even though you're planning on having a cheat meal you can still try to cut corners and calories wherever you can. A simple example would be to prepare something that's typically not on your healthy meal plan at home and avoid fast food and takeout. Not every cheat meal has to be fast food and takeout. Every once in awhile is okay though! 
  • Pack your meals. You can pack and take your meals with you if you will be away from home most of the day and you don't plan to eat at a cookout or have a cheat meal. I got a 6 Pack Fitness 3 meal bag for Mother's Day from my husband and daughter to help keep me on track this summer when I am away from home. That's not to say that I won't have a planned cheat meal or treat if I am away from home, but seeing as how it only lasts for one meal and not making a whole day out of it... I still need my other meals and snacks with me.
  • Take a good probiotic and/or enzymes supplement. Fight the bloat after the weekend cheats by making sure you are taking enzymes and/or probiotic supplements. Both of these supplements may help support healthy digestion and make it easier to break down fats, carbs and protein. They may also help to keep the bloating and digestive issues at bay. I trust and have had great experiences with Probiotic-10 and Super Enzymes, both from NOW. Probiotic-10 is my favorite way to get my probiotics when I am on the go. They come in a convenient packet to take anywhere anytime. They help me tremendously.

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking 8+ glasses of water a day and staying hydrated can not only help with your fitness and your weight loss efforts, but it also helps with digestion. I like to take my Bluewave Daily 8 1.9 liter (64 oz) water jug with me when I know I am going to be away from home for awhile.
  • Stay active. I am kicking my holiday weekend off with a Memorial Day themed 10 mile race on Saturday morning. Find some fun activities to do to keep yourself active. Choose any fitness activity you like such as football, baseball, running, soccer etc... There are literally tons of field sports, but don't limit yourself. Try swimming, running, climbing, biking, anything! Use your imagination and make up a game! Include the family, take a trip to the zoo, carnival or amusement park. Just get up, get out and MOVE!
  • Sip on some night time tea. Settle down after a long day and/or weekend with night time tea. Night time teas not only have relaxing ingredients in them, but tea does a body good! 
  • Allow your joints and muscles to rest. Recovering after a very active day, especially one that consists of intense activity, is crucial for the body. Personally, I experience joint and muscle aches to some degree after a long day of moderate to intense activity. Glucosamine lotion and a good joint support supplement are great options. I recommend Glucosamine MSM & Arnica lotion from NOW Solutions, which is a good choice to massage into active muscles. NOW Joint Support supplements are also great for added support!  

Memorial Day Weekend Giveaway

I haven't had a NOW giveaway in awhile due to my busy and demanding schedule, but things have somewhat settled down enough for me to host one! Yay! One (1) winner will receive $50 in NOW products of their choice. Read below for details!!

Up for grabs: $50 in NOW products of YOUR CHOICE

Giveaway ends on Memorial Day - Monday, May 30th at 10 AM CST.

Winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 31st.

Good Luck!

NOW Foods $50 Gift Card Giveaway

Disclosure: I have received NOW product as part of my ambassadorship with NOW. I value authenticity and honesty, all thoughts and opinions are and will always be my own.

Friday, May 20, 2016

How To Loosen Those Tight Muscles: Live Infinitely Muscle Stick Review

If you've ever walked into a running store, or any kind of sports store for that matter, I'm sure that you have probably come across a few of these weird looking sticks...I know that I have. I was always curious as to what they were and what exactly it was that you use them for. I recently got an opportunity to test and find out not only that, but also what are the benefits to using one of these odd sticks. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

5 Easy Glute And Thigh Exercises Using Resistance Bands

Resistance bands have been a well known fitness tool for quite some time. Alongside kettle bells, they are one of my favorite tools to work with, especially on glute and leg day. I get a lot of messages asking me what kind of exercises I do to work my thighs and glutes. I'm not quite as toned as I'd like to be yet, but I'm getting there! :)

Below I have included a set of exercises that I love to include on days I am working my glutes and legs. I also like to incorporate weight training, but today I will be focusing on resistance bands.

To do the following exercises you will need a resistance band. Choose a level of resistance that is comfortable to you. You'll want to make sure that you choose a level that will challenge you. I will be using the Live Infinitely loop resistance bands set.
One thing I love about this set is that it includes 5 loop resistance bands ranging from Light to XX Heavy (3-35 lbs). This set also comes with a convenient carry case, and so far it seems like a great set that will hold up. There are also non-looping resistance bands, so choose whichever bands you will feel most comfortable using. Depending on what exercises you're doing the looping bands may work better for you than the non looping ones.  I have a set of both so I mix them up depending on what it is I am doing and the range of motion that particular exercise requires. One thing that can be a bit bothersome is that the looping bands will sometimes have a tendency to want to roll up and not stay flat. This issue isn't isolated though and can happen with non-looping bands as well. You'll just have to play around with it and see.

Glute & Thigh Exercises

Fire Hydrant - Place the band around your legs right above the knees. While you are on all fours, you will lift one leg up and to the side while keeping that leg bent and slowly bring it back down. I like to pause for a few seconds while at the top before I bring the leg down. It gives you a CRAZY burn!

10-15 reps | 3 sets
60 Second Rest Between Sets

Squats - Place the band around your thighs with your feet spread a little more than shoulder width apart from each other. Slowly bend the knees and lower the legs so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Some people are not able to squat down that far, and that is okay, but make sure you have great form everywhere else when performing a squat. Make sure your heels are continuously touching the floor. Use the heel of your feet to push yourself back up to the starting position.

15-20 reps | 3 sets
60 Second Rest Between Sets

Glute Kickback - Place the band around your ankles. Slowly kick one leg back while keeping it extended and go as high as you can and then slowly bring it back down. Again... sometimes I like to pause for a few seconds before I bring that leg back down - it will wake and activate those glute muscles with a nice burn.

10-15 reps | 3 sets
60 Second Rest Between Sets

Front Raise (Leg Raise) - Place the band around your ankles. Hold onto something if you are having trouble balancing. Move one leg slightly out in front of you, and slowly raise the leg up without bending your knee and lower it back down. Repeat that 10-15 times before switching to the other.

10-15 reps | 3 sets
60 Second Rest Between Sets

External Rotation - Place the band around your thighs slightly above the knees with your feet shoulder width apart from each other. Sit back into your heels in a squatting position. You'll want to keep your weight centered as you rotate onto the outside of your feet while opening your knees and then bringing them back to starting position.

10-15 reps | 3 sets
60 Second Rest Between Sets

Give these exercise moves a try and feel the burn! Enjoy!

Disclaimer & Disclosure: I'm not a doctor, registered dietitian, weight loss coach, or fitness expert. The purpose of Huff 'n Puff to Buff 'n Tough is to share my journey, experiences and personal knowledge with health, weight loss, fitness and everything in between. As such, the content of this website is in no way meant to replace professional advice. When it comes to your health and fitness, please do your own research and consult a medical or fitness professional before embarking on any diet or exercise plan. 

I received this product to review in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are and will always be my own.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chi Town 10K 2016 Recap

Last Saturday was the Chi Town Half Marathon & 10K at Montrose Harbor. I ran the 10K. Well, more like skated! 20 degree temps, sloppy and icy trails, and gusty winds are not my ideal running conditions, but it's also no excuse in my book not to run. How silly was I to think that winter running was possibly over for Chicago in April. The day before the race, parts of Northern Illinois dealt with a variety of weather conditions. Rain, brief but heavy snow showers, cold and ice. Chicago got hit pretty hard with the brief intense snow showers making Saturday's course conditions very hazardous.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Bunny Rock 5K 2016 Recap

Last weekend I enjoyed an awesome 3 mile run along Chicago's lakefront at Montrose Harbor at the Bunny Rock 5K. It was a really great race for me. I accomplished a few goals that I have been working on since last year - actually for a couple of years if I wanted to include the year that I first started running, even though I wasn't doing it consistently because of my weight.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easter Festivities

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! This year my daughter was able to run around and participate in activities which made this the best Easter so far!

The Easter festivities started Friday night. The family and I made some super yummy Easter treats! I usually don't bake, so this was my first rodeo when it came to baking the treats. And I must say... I didn't do too bad! We made delicious bunny and egg shaped brownies using NOW Foods Living NOW Gluten-Free Brownie Mix. They turned out better than I had expected! I tried decorating them, but got extremely frustrated with the icing, so I threw in the towel with the decorating idea. I can't swear and promise you all that I will get better with the baking, but I am going to keep trying. After all, practice makes perfect, right?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

RunLites Running Gloves Review And Giveaway

Safety is extremely important and should be the number one thing on a runner's mind when it comes to running gear. There are many dangers a runner could face and come in contact with while out on a run, and even more so if they are running solo. The world is a scary place these days and you have to take every precaution possible to protect yourself and to make sure you are safe.

Monday, March 14, 2016

GoldBerg Hydration Belt Review

As I gain experience with running races and covering longer distances, the need for a hydration belt is becoming critical. I have been looking into hydration belts for quite some time, and when I was given the opportunity to review the GoldBerg Hydration Belt, I was beyond excited! I am very careful when it comes to a fitness purchase, which is why I have been in the market for a hydration belt for about five months now. I research everything extensively and I also have a very critical eye. That being said it is my hope that others who are uncertain or on the fence about this product get some meaningful insight.

Friday, March 4, 2016