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Nike Training Club App

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One of my favorite fitness apps is the Nike Training Club; I’ve been a happy user for the past five years! It’s a free app with over 100 premade workouts, instructed by Nike-sponsored athletes, such as new World Cup Champions Ali Krieger, Sydney Leroux, and Carli Lloyd, as well as artist Ellie Goulding, Olympic gold medalists Shawn Johnson and Gabby Douglas, tennis champions Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, skier Julia Mancuso, and so many more strong and empowering female athletes.

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IMG_4426The NTC app is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch models and can also help track your fitness if you use a NikeFuel band (similar to Fitbits, Up bands, Garmin Vivofits and other activity trackers). The workouts range from six minute workouts to forty-five minute workouts and different between area-specific workouts (arms, legs, core, etc), strength workouts, toning/definition workouts and lean/cardio workouts. Another great feature in the app is the option to build a four week workout plan, which organizes a certain amount of workouts given to be completed within a time frame. For example, the “beginner” program designs a training plan with four to five workouts over a month, the “intermediate” program designates two to three workouts per week for a month, and the “advanced” program averages to three to five workouts per week for a month.

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Upon selecting a workout from the list inside of the app, you are shown the recommended equipment to complete that particular workout (think step, dumbbells, kettlebell, medicine ball, yoga mat), the total duration (in time) it takes to complete the workout fully, and the approximate amount of calories burned by completing the workout (as well as the approximate NikeFuel points). From this screen, you are also able to set up background music to listen to while you complete the guided workout, see a list of all of the times and exercises that form the workout and set up AirPlay, if you want to sync your phone to your TV or tablet.

IMG_4425Once you begin a workout, the trainer, or Nike athlete, will talk you through each of the exercises, as well as keep track of time, so you’ll know when to switch to new exercises within the workout. If you need more help understanding how to correctly complete an exercise, there’s a short video of each exercise showing the trainer of your workout completing a few reps. Another awesome feature in the NTC app is that you can connect with your friends to help motivate you to complete your workouts. Also within the NTC app, there is a “Sport Feed” tab or page where you can motivate or get motivated by other NTC users and Nike athletes.

I have added a few screenshots from within the app, so you can better understand what I just explained in this post! Also, there are new workouts added to the app frequently, so you’ll never become bored with the existing exercises, workouts or “trainers”/Nike athletes. The app doesn’t take up a lot of room, storage or data on my iPhone or my sister’s iPad, and you can download workouts on wifi before you go to the gym or outside and you’ll be good to go! Every workout you complete, you earn points, the longer the workout that you complete, the more points you earn for completing it, and the points help earn “Minute Milestones”. For example, after you complete a cumulative sixty minutes in NTC workouts, you can earn your very first milestone! If you’re big into sharing things via social media, you are also able to easily share your milestones on your “Sport Feed” with your NTC friends.

I hope you will be willing to download the NTC app and check it out for yourselves! 🙂

My Body My Ideal

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A few of my other athlete friends at school began a Facebook page and I guess you could call it a movement, towards having a healthier body image by being happier with your own body. I was extremely surprised at the high participation among not only female student athletes at W&M but also female athletes from other school programs and even regular students from both my school and other schools. It’s very cool for such a big group of girls to come together and be happier with our images!

How it worked was that there were seven athletes from my school that started up “My Body My Ideal”, a swimmer, a tennis player, two volleyball players, a cross country runner, a track runner and a lacrosse player. They all posted a photo of them to the group and captioned it with physical characteristics that a “typical” model would have, or how a young female “should” look, followed by traits that they did have and were proud of. Of course everybody’s bodies shapes and sizes are different and everyone views themselves differently from others, but being about to watch so many people publicly post pictures of themselves (in most cases a sports bra and spandex) and actually write down their insecurities was amazing. Also in the caption was a “challenge” to their friends to do the same thing and to then challenge their friends to keep the reaction rolling.

One of the project’s founders was one of my housemates, so naturally she had challenged me and our other two housemates, along with some of her teammates and regular student friends. Because this project moved me in how awesome its cause is and how successful it was attracting young women to also post pictures of themselves while following through with their challenge, I decided to share it with all of my lovely readers!

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A lot of girls would use something from their sport as a prop in their picture to help easily identify what sport they played, so here was the picture I posted to the group. Just me in a sports bra and shorts (I don’t ever wear spandex unless I absolutely have to – or if I’m wearing a tennis skirt or running skirt) with my sneakers (shoutout to Under Armour for the awesome and comfortable Speedform Apollos) and awkwardly holding my field hockey stick. The basement of William and Mary Hall is the home to the Varsity Athletic Training Room, the Varsity Strength and Conditioning Weight Room (look out for blogs about these in the future!), and the locker rooms for the Varsity sports teams. There are also these cool, black, inspirational/motivational signs every eight feet or so that apparently were all installed as some sort of project for Tribe Athletics like ten years ago? I’m not completely sure, that’s just something I was told one time. As a lover of all quotes or inspirational or motivational value, I’m obsessed with (the majority of) these little signs. I mean almost all of them are very cool but some of them say things like “Fall seven times, get up eight.” Very original am I right?!

I digress; so on the My Body My Ideal page, I posted, “I’m a sophomore on William and Mary’s varsity Field Hockey team. I don’t have a thigh gap, thin legs, curves or tan skin. However, I am strong, happy, motivated and resilient. I think it’s definitely important to promote a healthy body image, especially since recently the media is playing such a huge role in portraying the ‘right’, ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ body image.”

I strongly believe that it is extremely essential for everyone (girls and guys) to have a positive self image and think positively of his or herself both physically but also as a person in general. If you want to look into the project a little more – or maybe even throw the page a like or share! – the link to the Facebook page is here!

Whole30 Love

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As I was explaining what the Whole30 is to my friend the other day, I realized how “cult-ish” the lifestyle change is. If you’ve never been enlightened as to what this thing “Whole30” actually is, here’s the extremely brief and general low down: it’s basically a program or cleanse, not a lifestyle and not a diet, which you complete for only 30 days (although if you’re really into it – you can stay on it for as long as you want!)

How my journey began. My mom is a huge healthy-eater and active-lifestyle type of person. She originally bought “It Starts With Food” for the family as a Christmas present for my family (who are all also healthy eaters and very active human beings). Her and I spent the majority of the next few days after Christmas excitedly reading it; anxious to get started on this thing called the “Whole30”. We have countless fitness and nutrition books casually laying around our house, but this one was new and somewhat different, not claiming to be a diet nor a lifestyle adjustment. Then what is it? And what makes this any different than all of those other books? As I’ve stated before, the Whole30 is a program, claiming that after 30 days you can live a healthier life. We accepted this challenge of “changing our lives” – as an entire family on January 1st, 2015. Later that afternoon, my two youngest sisters became frustrated that they couldn’t eat desserts, cereal, chocolate or cheese sticks (cheese sticks have always been the greatest snack at my house). They pitched to both of my parents that they were still growing and needed all of the aspects of the food pyramid. My mom agreed and let them off of the hook. Later in the first week, my dad and other, only slightly younger, sister also gave in; all that was left was my mom and me.

Fun fact: my mom and I are the most competitive members of my family. Although the bread and foods that the rest of my family was indulging in was off-limits to us, we both resisted the urge to cave in and break the Whole30 guidelines.

Here are the basic eating guidelines in cheat sheet form:

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To be 100% honest, not eating grains for 30 days was the hardest part. During my first few days of the Whole30 I am convinced that I went through a physical withdrawal from my delicious breads, pastas, cereals, granolas, and let’s face it, all other types of grains as well. Two of my little sisters had the flu at the time so I legitimately thought I was contracting it as well; only my symptoms disappeared after about three days, whereas theirs obviously lingered on and ran their course. I had flu-like symptoms, REALLY strong cravings for grains and a constant headache after removing them from my diet. A few times I would wake up in the middle of the night, while dreaming about sourdough bread and frosted mini wheats, with their tastes in my mouth.

Although after talking to multiple other people, sugar seems to be the most common food that they crave. This includes desserts, sugary drinks, and literally sugar on fruits or whatever else people coat sugar with these days.

My all-time favorite Whole30 quote has to be “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your ‘struggles’.” (See more at: http://whole30.com/2012/04/sometimes-it-is-hard/#sthash.X2J2dEIo.dpuf)

Okay so now that I’ve removed all of the good kinds of food, what is there left to eat??

The good stuff! Whenever you have to think is this Whole30 compliant? Just ask yourself if it had a barcode. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, fish and meat don’t exist in nature with barcodes. Chips, cheese, cupcakes, sugary cereals, chocolate cakes, english muffins and alcohol all 1. Don’t exist naturally – humans have to make them and 2. They all contain barcodes. This makes categorizes compliant and noncompliant foods a little bit easier, right?

So what exactly can I eat? Here are some examples of meals that are Whole30 compliant, delicious and easy to prepare. (If a college student-athlete can make these and complete her Division I training living only “off of the land” you surely can try to do the same!)

Here are a few ~*sample*~ meals. Please note that I ate a wide variety of different and healthy foods while completing my Whole30 and these few pictures, unfortunately, cannot depict them all.

BREAKFAST:

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Most of my breakfasts consisted of a bowl of fruit, a glass of orange juice (read the ingredients and make sure that only oranges were used to make the juice), vegetables (broccoli, spinach, celery, peppers, tomatoes, avocados), eggs (no butter and no cheese!), and on days with harder, more intense and demanding workouts, I would also and another protein like sausage, chicken, steak or fish (just read the labels and make sure there’s no added sugar – you’d honestly be surprised at how many meats are packaged with sugars).

LUNCH/DINNER:

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Lunch and dinner are pretty interchangeable meals on the Whole30. Most of these meals consisted of a salad (with dark, leafy greens, spinach, zen mixes, kale, or multiple combinations of any of these) topped with vegetables and usually a protein egg, tuna, chicken, steak, salmon or other fish. If you quickly become sick of eating salads constantly, or if you decide to go out to dinner with your friends or family, the safest best is to always make, or order, a piece of meat with vegetables and water (or club soda if you want to change things up!)

Key things to look out for:

  • If you have a salad, make sure the dressing doesn’t contain sugar – to be safe, I always used, and still only use olive oil and vinegar
  • If you marinate meat or want to use sauce to put on top of anything, it also can’t contain any sugars (95% of BBQ sauces contain sugar – why else do you think it tastes so sweet?)
  • No dairy; this means no cheese in your salad, on your vegetables, no milk (sadly for me, no chocolate milk after workouts)
  • No grains; obviously no pasta, bread, granola, cereals, dinner rolls, croutons on your salad etc.
  • Golden rule: Read the labels. If it lists sugar as one of the ingredients, you can wait 30 days to have it again. Trust me
  • If you have to question yourself on whether something is compliant or not, ask yourself if it can be found in nature

Three reasons why I have gained a deep love for the Whole30:

  1. There are just so many benefits! I have keratosis pilaris or “chicken skin” on my arms and have tried so many different things to get rid of it, and nothing had worked until I was about halfway through my Whole30; they just disappeared! I slept so much more soundly while eating healthier. I was able to concentrate and focus for longer periods of time. I HAD SO MUCH ENERGY IT WAS CRAZY. Not in a bad way; I live a very busy life and I was able to complete all of my daily tasks and activities with great quality and without my usual afternoon power nap. Even though I never really had skin or acne problems, my face was completely clear (and I SWEAR it even glowed a little 🙂 ) Overall I just felt healthier and happier while eating on the Whole30. If this wasn’t enough to persuade you to look more into it, read some of these testimonials from other people who also absolutely LOVED their Whole30 experiences too.
  2. It has made me more aware of what I eat. After neurotically reading labels at every meal for an entire month I know know what foods are “Whole30 compliant” and what foods aren’t . Example: I like Chick-fil-a. I could still order the grilled chicken bites, with a side of fruit and water for a drink and still be obeying the Whole30 rules. And I’m 100% not lying when I say that to this day, whenever I go there with my friends to eat, this is still the meal that I order.
  3. Everyone that I’ve read about and talked to has lost weight. If this is your goal, the Whole30 is a surefire way to achieve it. I’m a relatively fit person with a medium-sized frame who eats healthy. I lost 12 pounds. Yep, not a typo, twelve pounds – it’s basically the weight of an infant human child. My mom and I are almost positive it was “bread-weight”. I kid you not when I say I eat a loaf every two to three days. Before my Whole30 I would have two to three slices of sourdough toast, for lunch I would eat two more slices on a sandwich, for a snack I would eat one or two more slices and for dinner I would either have bread and butter or another piece of toast. In an average day (pre-Whole30) I would consume roughly six to eight pieces of bread. After taking that away, yes, of course my body missed it and informed me of that by giving my shakes, sweats, headaches, fatigue and nausea.

P.S. I don’t mean to brag, but I did also influence two of my collegiate teammates to also give it a whirl!

Back to my story from the beginning of this post: The most challenging part was being away from my mom because the competition was no longer in sight. We did both manage to survive until the end of the thirty day period without eating or drinking anything that wasn’t Whole30 compliant. How she celebrated: getting drinks and eating non-compliant food with her friends the night the thirty days was up. How I celebrated: Getting blueberry french toast and a chocolate milkshake at a coffeeshop in CW the morning after the thirty days was up with my friend and teammate. How we both felt after eating things our body wasn’t used to: miserable, gross, slow, and sick. In the book it talks about how bad everyone feels after breaking their “fast”, of course neither of us believed the stories because what’s greater than grains, sugars, alcohol and fried foods?! We’re okay now, but both still eat foods and drinks that are healthier for our bodies, which just so happen to all be Whole30 compliant. Coincidence? I think not.

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I don’t want to write for too long and bore all of you, however if you want to try out the Whole30, learn more about it, or want to know more about my personal Whole30 experiences, comment on this post and I’ll be happy to share more!

Last paragraph, I swear! If you’re too shy to comment, or don’t want to commit to giving up a mere 30 days of your long life to live a happier and healthier life, you should also check out the Whole30 books and website: “It Starts With Food” (this is the original and the book that got me hooked), “The Whole30” and whole30.com

Garmin Forerunner GPS Watch

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Back in 2011, my mom got me the Garmin Forerunner 10 Watch (in green – my favorite color!) and I’ve worn it consistently since then until about a week ago. If you follow my account on Instagram, or pay attention to the Instagram pictures that are posted on the homepage of my blog, you’ll already know that my watch strap sadly broke apart. See here for the picture I posted previously on Instagram.

Because I loved my Forerunner, and didn’t feel the need to upgrade to the newer Forerunner 15, I sent Garmin a courteous email stating that I’ve always been a big fan of Garmin products and I have loved and used my watch for over four years. The customer service people reached out to me within minutes and asked for a few details about the watch and the best way to contact me. Once the weekend ended, I received another email on Monday morning tell me thank you for my patience, and that they would send me a new wristband replacement kit, COMPLETELY FREE. It definitely made my day.

Tonight I played field hockey with my friends on our field and returned home around 8:30 to a package at the door. Currently I am living here with only two other subletters for the summer and was trying to mentally guess which one of the two girls I most expected to receive a package. I was honestly so surprised to see it was from me, and after opening it up inside the house, I was ecstatic to learn that I can repair my watch (which took maybe two minutes tops) and be able to wear it again starting tomorrow for my daily workouts.

Here is the repair package which came in the mail earlier today:

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My good, old, trusty watch now has newer and stronger bands keeping it together and hopefully I can get a couple more years out of it before having to buy a new watch all together.

Overall, I am very pleased and impressed with the outstanding service that Garmin has provided me regarding my broken watch band. It is very rare for such a large company to respond to emails within the same day and have the entire problem cleared up within a week. Because of this, I hope if you are ever looking for a dependable running or fitness watch to purchase,  I hope your consider Garmin and all of their products.

Be on the look out later this weekend and next week on posts about healthy eating, weight-lifting, field hockey, and my experiences and journey with living with and managing my chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

Sorry this blog is super short, but look out for even more blog posts and Instagram picture posts this weekend and later this week!

Easy Smoothies in 5 Simple Steps

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It all started when I babysat for a family last summer who had one. These are literally life-changing if you like smoothies. I love experimenting when making smoothies and better yet, drinking them after I’m done. 🙂 There are many different brands, but the idea is all the same. And it’s revolutionary.

They’re called hand blenders. For someone who would be forced to make a humongous batch of smoothie every time I was in the mood for countless years and was then responsible for cleaning out the entire blender and lid, I started to slowly dislike smoothies a little more every time I was forced to make awkwardly too much smoothie and then clean out the large, audacious blender. It’s one of those things where you wished you had thought of something like this before yet simultaneously you’re incredibly thankful that they even exist in the first place.

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Basically, as you can see in the picture, hand blenders are constructed from two parts; the bottom half is mostly metal and houses the blades, hidden inside slash under the rounded bottom part, and the top half is where you hold in your hand and control the speed of the blades. I own the Cuisinart model (shown here); and mine has two speeds, high and low, something I can easily change depending on what I need to blend. The bottom half detaches so when you’re done preparing your deliciously healthy smoothie, the only mess you have to clean up is the cup you drank your smoothie from and the shiny bottom half of the handheld blender. WOW, only two things to clean up??! It’s a dream come true!

To me, the coolest part is that you actually make the smoothie in the same cup you want to drink from to further eliminate any unnecessary mess.

Making a Smoothie in 5 Simple Steps:

1. Pick out what cup you want to drink your smoothies from. Pro tip: I love using my Tervis Tumbler cups because they come in awesomely fun designs and keep your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot. (I’ll post more about Tervis Tumblers in the future.) *NOTE: check out how great my little Tervis Goldfish cup is in the pictures below!!*

2. Put all of the smoothie ingredients directly into the cup you chose during the first step. For some ideas, I like using frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries) so you don’t have to put in ice and water down your smoothie. I also put in regular-temperature fruit, sometimes yogurt, almonds, peanut butter, spinach, broccoli, and natural fruit juices (think orange juice, pineapple juice, or coconut water).

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In this particular smoothie from a just this morning, I blended together frozen blueberries, pineapple, natural orange juice (no added sugars), spinach and raspberries.

PRO TIP: For those of you who are hesitant at the thought of drinking vegetables, or mixing them with your delicious fruit in homemade smoothies, if you mix them with an acidic fruit, the two flavors will cancel out, and you won’t be able to taste the spinach distinctly. (Disclaimer: if you add A LOT of vegetables or greens and the smoothie now tastes like you did, even if you mixed in a little bit of orange, lemon, or lime juice, please use your common sense and realize that you created an imbalance of the flavors, giving you a more vegetable-y taste (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!!) If you’re still not sold on the whole putting vegetables in my fruit smoothie idea, I suggest you just start with a few pieces of spinach, broccoli or any other vegetable of your choice until you realize how much you actually don’t even taste it. Then you can keep adding more until you’re happy!

3. Plug the hand blender into an electric outlet in the wall.

4. Put the shiny, metal end of the hand blender into the smoothie cup with all of the ingredients and turn it on, while still holding on to the exterior of the cup. If you have anything frozen, either fruit or ice, the blender works better on higher speeds, otherwise a low speed will work just fine.

5: When the ingredients are all blended to perfection, disconnect the bottom half of the hand blender and quickly and effortlessly clean it off and enjoy your healthy and delicious smoothie with hardly any mess!

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Since excitedly purchasing my hand blender, I’ve made significantly more smoothies. Even if you’re not a huge smoothie person, either this magnificent product will change your mind, or you can also use it similar to a blender (without the painfully large mess to clean up afterwards).

Also, please note, this blended picture is the result of mixing the ingredients listed after step 2 earlier in this post. The gross, sewage looking color is from mixing the greens with the orange from the orange juice, the yellow from the pineapple, the blue from the blueberries, and the red from the red raspberries,. You should also expect a brownish colored smoothies if you make one with almonds, peanut butter or any other green-colored vegetables.

As you happily drink your smoothie you can smile and think about the big blender that you DON’T have to clean because you’re smart and bought a hand blender!

Summer is the perfect time to try new smoothie combinations and cool off by staying healthy and hydrated. Be sure to leave a comment with any of your favorite smoothie ingredients or combinations!

UNDER ARMOUR TEAMMATE

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Just like how I failed to talk more in-depth about field hockey until yesterday’s post, it dawned on me earlier today that I haven’t really mentioned another aspect of my life. Yep, you most likely read the title to this post first and know exactly where this is headed. And if you didn’t read the title before starting to read the blog post, I know for a fact that you just skipped back, up to the top of the post to read the title and now for certain know where this post is headed.

I’m originally from Maryland, near Baltimore and Annapolis and grew up surrounded by Under Armour products. Being a Maryland-founded company, their gear and product was every uniform for every sports team I participated in, I always had Under Armour shorts and shirts and sweatshirts to wear to my practices, to school and just hanging out around the house too. I wasn’t the only one wearing mostly Under Armour, I’m talking about maybe 80% of kids from around my area in Maryland owned more Under Armour clothes, headbands and backpacks than any other athletic brand (Nike, Adidas, Asics, Puma, etc).

My love for the company has only grown in the past two years. I’m obsessed with their over-arching theme for innovation; Under Armour is constantly gathering feedback and collecting data/completing analyses on their products to figure out how to make their gear even better for the athletes (and regular humans) who wear it. Because Under Armour is stationed so geographically close to my house and I had a burning passion for their company, I applied to work as a Sales Associate at THE original Under Armour store. (Our store code is literally 101 – we were where it all began…. kind of) I’ve been an enthusiastic and proud teammate since then.

I don’t want to bore you all too much by basically proclaiming my interest in the company as a whole and where I see it moving to in the future or on why I believe Under Armour is better than any other athletic clothing brand in so many different categories, but just as a quick statement, if you go back through a lot of my pictures, both on my blog and from my instagram, you’ll notice that the majority of the time I’m happily sporting my awesome UA gear!

On a related note pertaining to my love for this Maryland-raised company and what spurred my idea for this post tonight was because I stopped by the Premium Outlets earlier tonight to check out if the Factory House at these outlets housed any product different from what my store was selling when I left to come back down here for class. And naturally I can’t just walk into an Under Armour and not purchase anything (or befriend the working Sales Associates and Managers), I bought (treated myself to) a few new pieces of workout gear. Were my purchases completely necessary? No. But is retail therapy a real thing? Yes. And what’s a better store to spend money in than the one you love and work for, and as a plus sells athletic clothes when you just so happen to be an athlete? Lastly, can a girl every have too much workout clothes? The answer is most likely yes, however for my sake and mental well-being right now, I’m making the answer “No.” 🙂

Here are a few pictures of my newly-purchased gear!

For other hard-core and die-hard UA fans out there (or those of you who are just curious), here’s the names of the product so if you like something you can look it up and get some of your own! And maybe even fall in love with UA gear and also passionately spread the word on how great Under Armour is!

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Capris:

Gray and Black: StudioLux Perfect Capri

Black and Pink: Shatter Capri

Gray and Yellow: Heatgear Alpha Capri

Shirts:

Orange: Velocity Tee

Magenta: Transit Long Sleeve

Sports Bra: Heatgear Armour Mid-Impact

Underwear: it’s one size fits all, but super comfy and there’s actually no panty-lines!