Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen

This weekend, I participated in the third session of the Junior League's East Boston Kids in the Kitchen project!

As stated on the Junior League of Boston's website:

"KiDS in the KiTcHeN uses a physical wellness curriculum developed in consultation with adolescent nutrition, education, and physical fitness experts. KiDS in the KiTcHeN volunteers are trained to provide the curriculum without judgment in a manner that supports girls’ self-esteem and pride in their diverse cultural backgrounds."

The program runs for 8 sessions and each session has a theme. Earlier in the month, my partner and I ran a session that we had created with the theme "Be Active!" We talked to the girls about being active and discussed their favorite activities. We had a Zumba instructor work with the girls and then did different stations like soccer, hula hooping, stretching, and jumping rope. The girls then headed to the kitchen to make lunch. The girls all had a blast, and it was nice to see the months of planning and writing pay off!

With my planning portion done, I just volunteered at the last session on "trying new things." One of the most memorable parts of the session was a taste test where the girls tried beets, edamame, hummus, avocado, dates, and pomegranate seeds. It was surprising to see their thoughts!

The verdict? Beets- thumbs down (though some liked them!), Edamame- mostly thumbs down, Hummus-Big thumbs up!, Avocado- all thumbs down!, Dates- a split decision, some liked them, some didn't. and Pomegranate seeds- all thumbs up! in fact, the salad the girls made for lunch originally called for beets, but they decided to use pomegranate seeds instead, and boy was that yummy!

Four yoga instructors came in to do yoga with the girls. It was impressive seeing how adventurous the girls were! They also had great balance! One girl in particular mastered tree right away, with no problem!

Next up was lunch. We had a station for sweet potato fries, a beet pomegranate seed and goat cheese salad, and a quinoa salad. I did the quinoa salad, and it was so easy and delicious. I encourage you to try it at home!

Quinoa Salad- Serves 4

•2 cups chicken stock
•1 cup quinoa
•1 cup edamame, steamed
•¾ cup raisins
•½ cup pine nuts

1) In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring chicken stock to a boil.
2) Add the quinoa and reduce heat to low.
3) Pour in the lemon juice, add raisins and pine nuts.
4) Cover with a lid and let steam for 10 minutes.
5) Add edamame and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

You could easily make the vegan by using vegetable stock. It was delicious, but I would love to sub almonds for the pine nuts and craisins for the raisins. Yum!

The project has been so much fun, and I can't wait until our next session!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Good Form Running

I absolutely love my gym. It's an all women's gym that's not only pretty, but it they stay on top of trends in fitness and technology to offer a range of quality classes. This week is "Open House" week, so there have been a ton of special programs and classes.

Yesterday, I saw that some folks from New Balance were coming to run a "Good Form Running" clinic. I couldn't pass this up, and immediately signed-up for a session.

New Balance partnered with "Good Form Running" to make running more enjoyable for people and to help runners stay injury free. A gentleman from New Balance talked to us all about the 4 components of good form running. They are:

1. Posture
2. Cadence
3. Midfoot
4. Lean

This basically deals with making sure your body has proper alignment. You want your feet to face forward, a slight bend in your knees, relaxed shoulders, and to keep your head facing forward.

Did you know the average person has a cadence of 150-155 steps per minute? Well good form running suggests that we actually should run with a cadence of 180 steps per minute! It may sound like they're just telling you to run faster, but actually they're encouraging smaller steps and less time putting pressure on each of your legs. The speaker had a metronome that he used to show us the difference. Jogging in place at 150 steps per minute felt pretty comfortable, but the 180 felt fast! Definitely doable, but will take some getting used to.

Think about when you're walking somewhere quickly. What part of your foot is going down first? For most people, this is the heel. So it's no surprise that for a lot of people, their heel hits the ground first when they're running. This is a bad thing because it puts a good deal of stress on your knee. Plus running midfoot, forces you to take smaller steps, which ultimately uses less energy. The guy used the example of stairs, and how if you take the stairs one at a time, it's easier than if you're taking them two at a time. You want to save that energy so you can go farther!

Here our session leader had us lean as far forward as we could, until we were forced to take a step forward. Many people actually lean back when the run, and he pointed out that if you want to go forward, why would you want to fight that momentum by leaning backward? If you lean too far over and face the ground, you're sending your momentum downward. If you have good posture and lean forward, you're sending momentum where you want it.

I thought this was really interesting, and tried to keep these elements in mind when I did my speedwork on the treadmill. Definitely tough on that equipment, so I'm looking forward to testing this all out on my next outdoors run.

If you want more information on "Good Form Running" then visit the New Balance website.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Toy at the Gym

Good morning everyone! After a stressful week and a snack-filled weekend, I got things started off right yesterday with lots of healthy eating and a 4 mile run! I'm so excited to be training for the BAA 5K. I don't think I've ever really trained for a 5K before, so I'm curious if I can PR!

As part of the training plan, I did some speed work at the gym last week. I'm lucky to go to a gym that updates its equipment fairly frequently. I hopped on one of the new treadmills with a tv screen that looked more like a computer monitor. Here, I discovered Netpulse!

I'm still exploring all that Netpulse has to offer, but basically, you create an account that not only tracks your workouts but gives you access to On Demand tv options and personalized playlists.You can also dock your ipod during your workouts!
I might just be easily impressed, but this definitely makes treadmill workouts more exciting to me! I'll take anything I can get to spice up the dreadmill.

Is there anything new and exciting at your gym that keeps you coming back for more?