Day 2: Mindful Eating

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With March Madness in mind, today’s focus word is mindful which always extends to our eating habits when we’re talking about our core!

It doesn’t make tons of sense to put in some good core work then blow it by eating a bunch of crap. We don’t have any restrictions this month since our No Junk Food Challenge is over but in order to benefit form the work we’re putting in, we must be mindful of what we eat!

With long runs and racing up next, we don’t want to under-eat but we do need to make good choices. The trick is to pick food that fuels our body instead of weighing us down and making us sluggish. Take it one meal at a time and make the best choices you can. Follow the guide above and drink lots of water, eat a table and not in front of the TV, eat your favorite yummiest foods last when you’re close to being full, eat slowly and feel the taste and texture of your food. Be mindful!

Day 2 exercises: 3 sets of 20

  • Plank Challenge Day 2 – 1 Forearm Side Plank :30 on each side
  • Russian Twists
  • Heel Touches
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Spinal Stretch

Bonus: Yoga for Abs – This is a nice easy flowing 6 minute yoga routine that is designed to connect us to our center and help us learn to move from the inside out. Build strength in your core, find a supportive posture and relief in your lower back. This routine is good for all of us.

Lots of runners in our Crew have back pain and even though we talk about how important it is to strengthen your core, you often look at ab workout and say nope, no way, can’t do it, that will hurt my back. Well, I promise that done correctly, today’s exercises will not cause you pain. Give it a try…build strength in your core that will help you to eliminate your back pain once and for all!

Day 2 “how to” videos:

Plank Challenge Day 2 – Forearm Side Plank – :30 each side: Great short video showing a few variations for the forearm side plank

Russian Twists – 3 x 20: One of my favorites. It’s a quick one…but will give you that good core burn. Oh and count one is for both sides…so both sides equals one rep.

If your core is not strong enough to hold your feet off the ground, you can lightly place your heels on the floor. Don’t let them sit heavily on the floor though as we want a little resistance so we can feel our core working.

Heel Touches: Make sure you have your lower back flat on the ground and pull your shoulders up off the floor. Squeeze your core as you reach for your heels.

Mountain Climbers: This exercise can be done with quick in and out movements OR you can slow it down and bring the knees in to your chest with a controlled movement. Both variations are effective.

Spinal Stretch: This is called a spinal stretch but it’s really meant to stretch our abs after a good little workout. Take :30-:60 before you call it quits to stretch out those core muscles. If you have a stability ball, this is another great way to use it. See your choices below.



Day 1: Get Ready for March Madness!

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It’s already been a tough week and March will be full of madness so we are starting relatively easy with arms on Thursday! This workout should be quick and simple with basic arm strength exercises that will get us ready for March Madness!

Don’t forget to buddy up and set a reasonable and motivational mileage goal for the month.

Day 1 exercises: Arms – 3 sets of 10 (“how to” videos are below)

  • Plank Challenge Day 1 – Forearm Plank – :60
  • Shoulder Press
  • Reverse Fly
  • Elbow Kiss
  • Arm Stretches

Plank Challenge Day 1 – Forearm Plank: Basic forearm plank for Day 1. Here’s how it’s done.

Shoulder Press

Reverse Fly

Elbow Kiss – This is a great exercise for toning our arms, getting rid of the underarm fat and targeting the back bulge around our bra area. The exercise involves spreading out your arms on either side at shoulders height with palms facing up and then folding each arm at the elbow to make a ninety degrees angle upwards.

While folded, swing the hands to the front so that they close in at the elbow with forearms touching at the sides. After that, return the arms to their initial position. Make sure you are standing tall and keeping your core engaged. Do 3 sets with 10 repetitions.

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Arm, Neck and Back Stretches – You probably don’t notice it right away. It might creep up after you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours, chipping away at your daily to-dos. Or perhaps it’s because you always carry your backpack on your right side or take calls by squeezing your phone between your shoulder and ear.

Whatever the reason, sooner or later it hits you: Your shoulders are scrunched, your neck hurts, and your muscles feel tight.

“The neck and upper back area hold a lot of tension,” says Karena Wu, a physical therapist and owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy in New York. “The amount of time spent with forward head and shoulder posturing increases the stress on the soft tissue and joints in the area.”

We are working our arms more this month and I wanted to re-introduce some arm stretches to help loosen  up our neck, upper back shoulders and arms. Here’s a few to try throughout the day today.

  1. Chin Retractions – Go ahead, embrace your double chin. This move is especially great for people who hold their neck in the same position for long periods of time (i.e., staring at a computer for eight hours a day). Move your chin forward, then slowly pull it back by slightly tucking it in toward your throat. Try to keep chin parallel to the floor and straight (not tipping it up or down). Repeat hourly up to 10 times.
  2. Neck Rolls – Tilt the head to the right and slowly roll it down (chin to chest) and to the left (making a “U” shape). Then reverse to the right. Repeat 5 times in each direction. Only roll your head and neck sideways and forward—not to the back, as doing so increases the pressure on the cervical spine.
  3. Shoulder Rolls – From a position of proper alignment, roll shoulders up, then back, then down in a fluid motion. Repeat this movement about 10 times, then reverse it, rolling forward about 10 times.
  4. Cow-Face Pose – Reach right arm straight up, then bend elbow and let hand fall behind your head. Move left arm behind the back and bend the arm, letting the back of your left hand rest against the right shoulder blade (or as close to the blade as possible). Reach to grab right fingertips with the left hand. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Standing Wall Stretch – Place both hands on a wall so they form a 90-degree angle to your body. Walk feet back until arms are straight and bow, hinging forward at the hips. (Do not push on the wall, and do not allow your arms to raise up too high, in order to avoid a shoulder impingement.) Keep shoulder blades set back and avoid scrunching shoulders around the neck.
  6. Reverse Prayer Pose – Bring both hands behind the back and allow palms to come together in a prayer, feeling shoulder blades open and keeping back straight. To make this stretch easier, bring hands behind the back and hold left elbow with right hand and right elbow with left hand.

Cow-Face Pose

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