Running

Tools That Will Help You Meet Your Health and Fitness Goals

I was introduced to Oscar Insurance, a health insurance provider in New Jersey and New York, to write a post about tools that help me reach my health and fitness goals. Oscar recently started providing their members with Misfit bands to help them reach fitness goals. According to the Oscar Health Insurance website, “Sync with the Oscar app to count your steps and earn $1 when you hit your daily goal. We’ll personalize your goal to keep you moving. You can get up to $240 each year just for being active.” Pretty cool, right?

I thought the post was a good fit for Brown is the New Pink. I always appreciate recommendations for new apps and anything that can help me stay on track to reach my goals, and I hope that y’all will too.

Let’s start off with tools that I use . . .

RunKeeper (App)

RunKeeper is a great app for my fellow runners, walkers, or cyclists. I’ve been in the gym more as of late due to the insanely cold weather (I live in the South; what is this single digit temperatures business?!?), but I use this app when I run outside. It’s a GPS fitness tracker that measures your pace, distance, and time. The app will actually let you know your pace and distance every 5 minutes during the run, which is great if you’re aiming for a certain speed. The GPS feature also makes it so that you can turn any activity into a route to do again later.

RunKeeper tracks performance over time and notifies you of new personal “bests” and milestones. You can make detailed running plans or goals such as running 3x per week. It will send you friendly (and sometimes passive-aggressive) reminders to run. I got this same message below once, and it cracked me up. Nothing like my phone giving me a guilt trip.

MyFitnessPal (App/Website)

This app/website is perfect for tracking what you eat. MFP estimates your daily calorie need and can be used to track both intake and burning of calories. It can actually sync with other apps like RunKeeper to track calories burned during exercise.

MFP is easy to use and simply involves inputing what you eat. There is a HUGE database of foods to choose from. You can break it down by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, which is helpful for seeing what time of day you may be struggling with healthy eating choices. I can tell from mine that afternoon snacking is my toughest time of day. You can also group foods together to make meals to make your tracking easier. For example, I have a small rotation of breakfasts that I saved as meals instead of entering each individual item every time. Finally, my favorite feature is the macro breakdown. You can set specific nutrition goals based on diets recommended by your doctor or nutritionist. I’m starting to look at my macro nutrient breakdown more than my calories, as it is often more nutritionally telling for me.

Garmin Forerunner 10 (Watch)

The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a simple (and cute) GPS watch. Similar to the RunKeeper app it tracks distance, speed/pace and calories. I prefer my watch to RunKeeper for longer runs so that I don’t necessarily have to lug my phone around. The watch also identifies your personal records such as fastest mile/5k and longest distance. One of my favorite features is that it automatically alerts you with a beep and displays your pace when you complete each mile. The watch also has virtual pacer and walk/run features if you’re looking to run at a specific pace or starting out with a mix of running and walking intervals, respectively. The coolest thing about this watch is that you can  upload your runs to Garmin Connect to see your run on a map and get more detail on each mile. It even includes elevation, which is perfect if your training for a hilly race.

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Now onto a few tools I’d like to try . . .

Fitbit (Activity Tracker)

If you haven’t already seen this, Fitbit is a wearable activity tracker. During the day it tracks steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes. At night it tracks sleep. One of the coolest things about Fitbit is that it wirelessly syncs with most mobile devices and apps, including RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal. I would be really curious to see my steps, distance, and flights of stairs measured. I’m running around the hospital all day visiting patients, and it would be neat to see stats on my daily activity at work.

I got my dad a Fitbit for his birthday, and he liked it so much that he got my mom one for Christmas. Let me just tell you, my mom is definitely motivated to meet her activity goals. On more than one occasion I caught her walking in circles around the house trying to meet her step goals for the day. Haha!

Fitocracy (App)

Fitocracy is an app/website that can be used to track exercises at the gym. You can create workout plans or if your like me and need some guidance there are pre-made workouts that you can follow. Apparently the app also uses “gamification” to motivate users by assigning points based on the fitness benefits of each activity tracked. Gaining enough points helps you to “level up.” I don’t fully under stand the gaming part of the app, but I’m definitely curious and want to check it out.

*For the sake of transparency, I did not receive any gifts, money, or any other type of compensation for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Reader question: Are there any apps or tools that help you reach your fitness or health goals? I’d love to explore some new ones!

 

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18 Hours in Chattanooga {Weekend Recap}

Hello! Hope your week is going swimmingly! I wanted to pop in and tell you about my weekend. It was an absolute whirlwind.

After grabbing a quick dinner on Friday after work, Derek and I headed to Raleigh to celebrate my best friend Jenna’s birthday.

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Happy birthday Jenna!

We had ice cream cake and a couple of drinks before heading downtown to begin our Trolley Pub Raleigh adventure.

If you don’t already know, Trolley Pub is essentially a roving bar. You bring your own wine and beer and drink while you ride around the city. Trolley Pub is powered by pedaling, so instead of sitting on traditional bar stools you’re on a bike seat (with a lap seatbelt connected to the trolley).

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The whole crew on the Trolley Pub.

We had blast! I highly recommend it if you’re in the Raleigh area. According to the website, Trolley Pub is also located in Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas, Pennsylvania, and St. Thomas.

Derek and I didn’t get back from Raleigh until 2am. The next morning we woke up around 10am, got ready, packed, and headed out the door to meet my family in Chattanooga, Tennessee for Jared’s big race. My brother Jared and I signed up for the 7 Bridges and 4 Bridges Marathon and Half-Marathon, respectively. However, due to injuries I wasn’t able to run the half. Instead I decided to walk the 2 Bridges 5K with Derek, my mom, and my dad while Jared raced.

We arrived in Chattanooga around 7pm after a 7.5 hour drive. We immediately dropped our stuff off at the Downtown Chattanooga Residence Inn (which was a great place to stay, by the way) and walked across the street to meet my family at Big River Grille for dinner. The food and beer were delicious, and it was so great to see my family! By the time we finished eating/catching up and walked back to the hotel it was time to hit the sack.

Jared’s race started at 7am, so we were all up around 5:30am to get ready. We walked over to the start since it was less than 1 mile away. I was impressed with Jared’s calm demeanor; I would probably be freaking out. Before we knew it, he was off. My parents, Derek, and I waited around at the start for another half hour before our 5K started at 7:30am.

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We took some sweet pre-dawn photos on the winner’s podium.

We were treated to a beautiful sunrise while we waited.

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Our 5K only went across 2 bridges, but the course was gorgeous!

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I stopped to get a photo of this sculpture while we were walking. Chattanooga has cool and interesting art all over the city.

We finished the 5K a little after 8am.

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With about 3 hours to kill before we expected Jared to finish, we walked back to the hotel to eat breakfast, change clothes, and hang out for a bit.

On the walk back to the finish we noticed gold shoe prints on the sidewalk ever few hundred feet. It turns out that they were showing different dance steps. I took a picture of the waltz.

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Isn’t that cool? Downtown Chattanooga is awesome! I wish we had more time to explore. We all decided we should go back sometime to check it out.

My parents, Derek, and I waited at the finish, anxiously looking out for Jared. We were all so pumped when we saw him come around the corner looking strong!

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The classic victory stance of a marathon-finisher. Go Jared!

I think finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment in itself, but he finished in his goal time of 4 hours exactly. How awesome is that?!? I’m so glad that Derek and I could be there with my parents to see Jared complete his first marathon.

After we found Jared, it was time to refuel. We headed to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and beer. NOM.

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Around 1pm, after just 18 hours in Chattanooga, Derek and I hopped in the car to start the 7.5 hour journey back to Durham.

It was a crazy, hectic weekend, but we had fun. I’m proud of my brother for finishing his first marathon. It was inspiring to see him finish the race after all of his training. Congratulations Jared!

4 Bridges: Runner’s Blues

If you follow Brown is the New Pink, you may have noticed that I didn’t post my weekly half marathon training plan. I have been training for the 4 Bridges Half Marathon for the past 2+ months, and I am incredibly bummed to say my ability to race it is now up in the air.

A few weeks ago I started having trouble with my right foot. I have a history of plantar fasciitis, and it has returned. It can be painful, especially in the mornings, but it’s manageable with lots of ice and stretching. Then last Sunday I went out for my long run and had to stop after 5 miles due to intense pain in my left calf. I actually had to call Derek to pick me up because I was hobbling around on the trail. I’m guessing it’s a calf strain likely caused by me compensating for the problems with my right foot. (Something similar happened with my left IT band when I ran cross-country in high school.) I stretched and iced and rested during the week. No training runs.

This weekend I ran 1 easy mile on Saturday, and things went well. I was feeling hopeful that I could resume training. However, I made it less than 1 mile on Sunday before I experienced the same intense pain in my left calf. Unfortunately, it seems worse than last week. I limped around at work today because it hurts to walk, much less run.

I am frustrated and heavyhearted. I was really excited about completing my 3rd half marathon, and now I’m not even sure that I’ll be able to run it. I’m less than 2 weeks out from the race, and I haven’t been able to train for the last 2 weeks due to injuries. I will continue to rest, ice, and stretch, but my ability to complete 13.1 miles feels very uncertain now. I’ve put a lot of hard work into training, and I would hate not to be able to achieve the goal I’ve been working toward for months.

At the end of the day, I know it’s just a race. There will be others. But today, I’m just bummed.

4 Bridges Training {Week 10}

Greetings! How was your weekend?? I had one of those great, rare weekends when you have fun AND get a lot of things done. I spent Friday night over at my best friend Jenna’s house drinking wine and watching the Shonda trilogy– Grey’s AnatomyScandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. Saturday was spent around the house with Derek. We did a lot of cleaning and organizing, which was much-needed. We also started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It absolutely cracks me up; I definitely suggest checking it out if you haven’t already. Today we had our friends over to watch the Panthers game. The game was not pretty, but we had fun and ate a lot of delicious food. On Tuesday, I will be sharing a vegetarian chili recipe that I tried out for the party. NOM.

On a sad note, I did not run last week. My foot wasn’t doing well, so I decided to rest and just do my long run today. At first I felt great. My legs were much better than they have been in a couple of weeks. Then, around mile 4 of 10, my left calf suddenly started to hurt. It wasn’t bad at first, so I kept running. By mile 5 the pain got so bad that I couldn’t continue. I actually had to call Derek to come pick me up. (He’s the best.) I’ve been limping around since then because it hurts just to walk. I am so bummed. I’ve been training for 2 months, and I really hope things will get better so I can run on the 19th. 😦

Needless to say, I’m not sure how running will go this week. I’m hoping this is just a strain, and I’ll be good to go in a couple of days. Cross your fingers for me, please! Anyway, below is my tentative plan for this week.


4 Bridges Half-Marathon Training – Week 10

Monday: Yoga + strength

Tuesday: 3 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles or cross-train

Thursday: 3 miles + strength

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Cross-train for 50 minutes

Sunday: 10 miles

4 Bridges Training {Week 9} + Meal Plan

Less than a month until race day! Last week’s training was just OK. As I mentioned in my Week 8 post, I’ve been having some trouble with plantar fasciitis. I ended up lowering my mileage substantially last week. I ran 2-3 miles on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, and I ran about 5 miles today. I’m still experiencing some pain, but it’s definitely improving. I started doing some Runner’s World yoga classes, and it seems to be helping. I’m glad I rested some last week. I’m going to attempt to get back to my normal mileage this week and see how things go.

On a good note, I finally have a gym membership again! Derek was able to get me an inexpensive gym membership at UNC since I am the spouse of a student. We worked out together 3 times last week. I am SO sore, but it feels great to lift again.

I’m keeping things pretty simple on the food front this week. The latter part of the week is forecasted to be cool and rainy – perfect for breaking out the crock pot. I’m really excited for next Sunday. Derek and I are having friends over to watch the Panthers game, which of course means delicious food is in order. Also, I promise to share a recipe this week. I’ve been really bad about that lately. I keep forgetting to take pictures while I cook. Whoops!


 

4 Bridges Half-Marathon Training – Week 9

Monday: Yoga + strength

Tuesday: 4.5 miles

Wednesday: 3 miles or cross-train

Thursday: 4.5 miles + strength

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Cross-train for 50 minutes

Sunday: 10 miles (Double digits!!!)

Meal Plan- Week of 9/22/14

Monday: Homemade Hawaiian/Veggie Pizza + Salad

Tuesday: Turkey Meatballs + Sweet Potato Tots + Green Beans

Wednesday: Maple Glazed Salmon + Couscous + Broccoli

Thursday: Provencal Beef Stew

Friday: Dinner Out

Saturday: Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas + Salad

Sunday: White Chili + Cornbread + Snacks + Beer

4 Bridges Training {Week 8} + Meal Plan

Whew! Another week of training down. Last week went pretty well. I shifted all of my runs back a day because I was too exhausted from traveling to run on Tuesday. I’m back on track after my long run (8 miles) today though.

Unfortunately, I’m starting to have a lot of trouble with my right foot again. I have very high arches, which makes me prone to plantar fasciitis. If you don’t know, plantar fasciitis is a common problem among runners that causes pain in the heel and underside of the foot. The pain is especially bad with first steps in the morning. Fortunately/unfortunately I am quite familiar with plantar fasciitis, and I know what helps me. I wear orthotics, but it might be time to break out the old night splint. I also need to increase my stretching and start icing my heel at night. If the pain doesn’t subside some, I will cross-train more this week to give my foot a break.  It’s a bummer, but at least I know what to do about it.

On a good note, I’m back to posting my meal plans. I’m going to try to post a recipe on Brown is the New Pink soon. It’s been a while!


4 Bridges Half-Marathon Training – Week 8

Monday: Yoga + strength

Tuesday: 4.5 miles

Wednesday: 3 miles or cross-train

Thursday: 4.5 miles + strength

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Cross-train for 50 minutes

Sunday: 9 miles

Meal Plan- Week of 9/15/14

Monday: Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Sandwiches + Homemade Sweet Potato “Fries” + Salad

Wednesday: Maple Glazed Salmon + Couscous + Broccoli

Thursday: Slow Cooker Chili

Friday: Dinner Out

Saturday: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Sunday: Leftovers/Wing It

90th Birthday Celebrations {Weekend Recap}

Hope you had a great weekend! Mine was absolutely wonderful. I flew into Lexington on Thursday night to spend a long weekend with my family.

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I spent Thursday night talking and catching up with my parents. After all of the chatting and a glass of wine,  I was exhausted and went to bed early. After a restorative, glorious 8 hours of sleep, I woke up and went for a 4 mile run through the neighborhood.

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I enjoyed running in the morning. It was a lot cooler, and I liked being done with the workout early in the day. Maybe I should try running before work?

I spent most of Friday relaxing and helping my parents get ready for hosting my grandpa’s birthday dinner. (Friday was his actual birthday.) Some of his nieces and nephews (my mom’s cousins) flew in from Colorado to surprise him at the dinner. He was so shocked and excited when he saw them. It was a great way to kick off the birthday celebrations. 🙂

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We celebrated with some delicious food and drinks.

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It’s not a Friday in the Brown household without vodka tonics. Cheers!

We started out with snacks: olives, veggies, ranch dip, beer cheese, and crackers. If you haven’t had beer cheese yet, you need it in your life. It’s one of my Kentucky favorites.

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For dinner we had pork and chicken barbecue, slaw with apples, green beans, baked beans, and potato salad. I was lurking in the kitchen while my dad cooked, getting tips on how he made everything.

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I forgot to get a picture, but we had chocolate silk pie and banana pudding for dessert. I’m not usually a big dessert person, but holy cow the desserts were awesome.

On Saturday morning I went on a 3 mile walk around the neighborhood with my parents and then ran a few errands with them.

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I love driving around Lexington because of views like this.

We spent the afternoon watching the UK vs. Ohio University football game. Scooter and I took a nap during the first half.

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That evening we watched movies and rested up for the big party on Sunday.

I started off Sunday morning with a 7 mile run. The weather was perfect. It was in the low- to mid-60s, cloudy, and breezy. I felt fantastic, and the views on the run were beautiful.

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Oh hey horses.

It was the best long run I’ve had since I started training for my half-marathon.

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Still smiling after 7 miles! It was a good run.

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Excuse the blurriness. I guess I fogged up my phone camera during the run.

After the run, my dad had another gourmet breakfast waiting for me. Can you believe he makes breakfasts like this everyday? I am spoiled.

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Small omelet with apple chicken sausage and oat bran pancakes with blue berries and whipped cream.

I showered and got ready for my grandpa’s big party. We headed over a couple of hours early to set everything up at his house.

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Ready to party.

Some friends from church catered, and Ms. Kim, who also made my wedding cake, made a delicious lemon-flavored birthday cake. I’m sad I forgot to get a picture of it!

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Over 90 people showed up to celebrate my grandpa. It was amazing to see how many lives he has touched in his 90 years. I can only hope that I will be as healthy and as loved when I’m 90.

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Left to right: my dad, grandpa, mom, and brother.

I’m sad to leave my family, but it was a fantastic weekend and celebration. Happy 90th birthday, Pop-Pop!

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