Port 2 Fort — 6k

The other weekend I ran in a race that was just incredible. If my Rock N Roll Half Marathon in September has more energy than this (which I expect it will), I will be totally blown away. First off, the charity that organizes this race is Believe In Tomorrow (www.believeintomorrow.org), a Baltimore-based organization that arranges for families of children who are critically ill to receive housing, hospital services, and support. This was the race’s 18th year in existence, and it it goes around McHenry Row and through Fort McHenry (where the words to the national anthem were written) for a total distance of 6 kilometers/3.72 miles. I love races especially when they have great causes paired with them.

Before I get too further into my run, I must confess … I BROKE A RUNNING RULE! I know, shame on me!! I had some new socks that I JUST had to wear for the first time on race day (anything new on race day is generally a bad idea). But it ended well, besides — look at these socks! How could I NOT wear them?? (Amazon is a wonderful place: http://amzn.to/1kEUslH)

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The morning of the race they sang the national anthem and it was really a touching moment to kick off the race given the history of the area. I ran the race with my husband up until the last half-mile where he took off in a sprint. The weather was perfect: a chill in the air and the sun was out. During the race, there were volunteers who ran in the race and PUSHED wheelchairs with some of the kids. It was really amazing to watch and be apart of something that you actually see who is benefitting from all the donations and funds.

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I typically train at a 10-minute mile, however, when I run with my husband I am always running faster – more like a 9-9.5 minute mile. It was no surprise that my average pace at the end of the race was 9:02/mile with a finishing time of 33:24 (254/1044 overall / 36 in my age group).

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I felt great afterwards (the picture above with Mr. Strong is pre-race). The rest of the day my left knee ached a little bit, but I think it is because my sneakers are on their way out the door. Good thing I ordered a new pair!! This was my first experience racing with Rock Tape – an attempt to make sure my knee didn’t totally give out on my during the race. I am not sure if it did much of anything, but it certainly didn’t hurt either. I am a strong believer in trying something more than once. So, I will definitely give it a few more tries before I make my decision on whether or not it does anything for me. Isn’t it pretty though? Bright pink <3.

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What races have you participated in that had a great energy to them? Tell me in the comments! ~Stacey

Everybody Needs A Break

Everybody needs a break sometimes. The past few months have been full of a lot of amazing things, and lots of self-reflection. My fitness journey has continued and there has been plenty of thought as to where my journey will take me. My blog has been on my mind this entire time and now I am ready to share all aspects of my adventures with you. Over the next few weeks, be prepared for a handful of great posts that range from magazines, lessons learned, new workouts, and my goals for the rest of 2014.

My currently set of workouts has really intensified. I’m amping up what I’m doing in preparation for a half-marathon I’m running in September! I’m following a typical training program (in advance of “official” training). I’m running Tuesdays (plus lifting), Thursdays (plus lifting), and Sundays. Mondays tend to be “rest” days, on Wednesdays I dedicate my mornings to lifting and my evenings to Insanity, Fridays are hula-hooping fitness in the morning and Insanity in the evening, Saturdays are usually mostly cardio with lots of work on the stationary bike and lifting if I managed to miss anything during the week. Do I always get everything in during the week? Not usually! It is a work in progress and is subject to being tweaked at my discretion. However, I’m still feeling really good about where I’m at.

I can’t wait to share more with you soon!! xoxo — Stacey

Exciting Events

Hey all! There’s some great and exciting things coming up with Strong and Sweet Fitness. First of all, my workouts are still going strong. I have hit several personal records in the past two weeks. I blew away my 5k time while running with my husband. At my last 5k race I clocked in at about 30:35, and two Sundays ago we finished at 28:50! It was insane! Nothing is more motivating than beating a goal. Then the Sunday after that we went on another long run and completed a 5k distance in 28:42. Totally feeling on top of the world.

In conjunction with running we’ve been doing Shaun T’s Insanity on non-running days. My opinion so far as we get into week 3 is that I love and despise Shaun T haha. His workouts are so incredibly intense but it reminds me that I can always continue pushing my body and improving myself. If a workout is too easy you need to change something.

Coming up this weekend I am having professional fitness pictures taken by the incredibly talented Alissa Vanim of Informal Pictures. Have I also mentioned she’s my sister-in-law? I can’t wait to share all those photos with you all.

As many of you know, a month or so ago I joined the Train Dirty Fitness Bombshell team and am overjoyed at the support and knowledge that has transpired from that decision. I knew in my heart that it was the right thing for me and I haven’t regretted it since. Being a TDF Bombshell means so many things that go beyond the fitness world and I hope to share all of that with you. Then, today I also found out that I have been accepted as  Sweat Pink Ambassador from Fit Approach. I adore fitness and the color pink and to be accepted into a community of others wanting to spread the message is such a thrill. The opportunities to connect with others about something so meaningful is such a blessing in my life.

In December, I am taking my CPR/AED Certification as the next step closer to taking my NSCA-CPT exam hopefully at the start of the new year. I have been working hard physically and mentally as I prepare to embark on my journey of helping and encouraging others to achieve their fitness goals.

Stay strong and stay fit everyone.

Much love,

Stacey

Product Review: Quest Bars and Peanut Butter Cravings

Product Review: Quest Bars (Double Chocolate Chunk and White Chocolate Raspberry) and Quest Cravings

Let’s talk about protein. We all know it’s important and that we need at least 0.8 grams to 1.0 grams of it for every pound of body weight. I want to take this time to talk about the two newest flavors of Quest Protein Bars: Double Chocolate Chunk and White Chocolate Raspberry. Check out Quest’s website here. Quest was awesome enough to let me try these two new flavors plus their Quest Cravings PB Cups.

First: Let’s discuss the ingredients found in these bars – because nobody wants a protein bar that is all sugar, some protein, and too many calories. I hate going to my local cafeteria (convenience store, etc.) in searching of something high protein and nutritious only to discover a bar that has 280 calories, 6 grams of protein and 12 grams of sugar. I’m sorry, but that’s not enough to make me want to spend my hard-earned calories. More often than not, I find this to be an alarming trend with protein bars on the market today.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients in Quest’s Double Chocolate Chunk (DCC) and White Chocolate Raspberry (WCR):

DCC: 160 calories; 6 grams of fat; 25 grams of carbs; 16 grams of fiber; 1 gram of sugar; 20 grams of protein

WCR: 190 calories; 8 grams of fat; 23 grams of carbs, 17 grams of fiber; 1 gram of sugar; 20 grams of protein

The first thing I take note about here is the reasonable number of calories per bar, the sugar, and the protein. It seems that Quest has the upper hand in the market when it comes to protein bars that aren’t loaded up with the junk. It’s high protein, little sugar and lots of fiber to balance out the carbs. I keep looking to see if there is a rival protein bar out there that can offer this type of nutrition and haven’t found one yet.

So now you’re probably thinking that’s all great and wonderful but that means nothing if they don’t taste good, right? So naturally, I’ve tasted each of these new flavors. Protein bars can go wrong in the taste department and the idea of a White Chocolate Raspberry protein bar – well… there’s a lot that could potentially go wrong there. So, I was a little skeptical of the White Chocolate Raspberry flavor and figured there are few ways to really mess with a chocolate flavor.  Here is what I discovered:

Double Chocolate Chunk: Was very impressed with this flavor from the start. Not only can you see visible pieces of chocolate in this bar, but it has a nice chocolate taste that is enough to satisfy the sweet tooth but not overwhelm it. The texture of the bar was soft and pliable. I must admit that I’m not big on chocolate flavored stuff, but this is certainly something I’m addicted to. Great job with this flavor Quest!! Thumbs up!

White Chocolate Raspberry: I really was scared to try this one. I wanted to try it to satisfy my curiosity. The first thing I noticed when I opened up the bar from its package was the raspberry specks in the bar and the chunks of white chocolate. Not to mention it smelled exactly how white chocolate and raspberry should smell – delicious. When I took the first bite I realized I had to be dreaming. Yes – it was THAT good. It was a very natural flavor to it and nothing tasted artificially sweet nor was it overkill on the flavor. I could pick out the natural taste of raspberry (versus a fake sugary imitation) and the white chocolate pieces complemented it very nicely. I don’t know who at Quest made up this fabulous combination but kudos to you for doing it right and doing it well.

So it’s nutritious and tasty – a win/win situation! Quest has a variety of other flavors of protein bars that cover every palate under the sun. I have tried most of them and have to admit that these two newest flavors are really rocking my world at the moment.

BONUS REVIEW! Everyone knows Halloween is right around the corner and candy is everywhere. One of my favorite candies are Peanut Butter Cups. I practically lived on them during Halloween as a kid. But now that I’m more stingy with my calories I can’t justify indulging in them very often. Well, Quest not only makes protein bars but protein peanut butter cups (Quest Cravings). For a two pack of these protein PB Cups you get: 240 calories; 1 gram of sugar; 20 grams of protein; 10 grams of carbs (4 grams of those are active); 3 grams of fiber; 17 grams of fat and no preservatives. Before you criticize any of those numbers you have to compare it to the “real deal” of candy craziness: 250 calories/ 21 grams of sugar/ 5 grams of protein/ 23 grams of active carbs/ 15 grams of fat with preservatives. For a treat to indulge in – you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck as far as ingredients go in the Quest Cravings.

Upon opening this package of chocolate and peanut butter goodness I noticed that the Quest Cravings were about the same size as Reese’s peanut butter cups and packaged much nicer. They looked normal enough and when I tasted it I had to double-check the package. No tricks, it was the Quest Cravings package. It tasted just like a peanut butter cup tasted, and I imagine no sugar-crazed kid would ever know the difference. This product is amazing! Tasty and all the benefits of being a nutritious alternative. I think I will still stick to my protein bars for now for my daily snack, but these are just right for those times where you just need the taste of a piece of candy and a treat for yourself. Delish!

GIVEAWAY!

Do you want to give these bars a try for yourself? Or do you already know how awesome Quest is and want to jump on the chance for some freebies? Stay tuned to my Facebook page for the opportunity for 2 lucky people to each win a 15-bar variety box of Quest protein bars and a package of Quest Cravings peanut butter cups. When my Facebook page hits 500 likes I will post the giveaway and instructions. The sooner we get to 500, the sooner you get the chance to win! Share the love 🙂

Month 2 P90X Results

So I survived yet another month of P90X! Actually, I am cutting my P90X short by a month. It’s not because of lack of results – but with hockey season starting off it’s much easier to squeeze in an Insanity workout with my husband and train for some 5ks I have coming up. But month two had AMAZING results!

Weight:  118.0 — 117.0 — 112.8

Body Fat: 21.5% — 21.3% — 20.3%

Chest: 30.5″ — 30.0″ — 30.0″

Bust: 31.0″ — 31.0″ — 30.75″

Upper Arm: 9.75″ — 9.5″ — 9.5″

Midriff: 27.0″ — 27.0″ — 26.25″

Waist: 25.0″ — 24.75″ — 24.5″

Upper Hip: 31.0″ — 30.75″ — 30.5″

Lower Hip: 34.0″ — 34.0″ — 33.75″

Upper Thigh: 19.75″ — 20.0″ — 19.0″

Mid Thigh: 18.75″ — 18.25″ — 17.75″

Calf: 12.75″ — 12.75″ — 12.5″

Overall Results from Month One: 2.25″ / 1 pound / Body Fat 0.2% lost

Results from Month Two:  5.0″ / 4.2 pounds / Body Fat 1.0% lost

Overall: I lost 7.25″ – 5.2 pounds – 1.2% Body Fat – I consider that success!

Take a look at that! I stuck through month two and the results were well worth it. You can see it from Day 1 to Day 60 in the picture below. I was even able to work up to doing a full pull-up on my own. I imagine that if I did Month 3 I would continue seeing these amazing results without any doubt at all. But alas there are other things that require my time working out to be done with other programs.

Never give up on your fitness goals. If you keep it up you WILL see results.

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Challenged to Be Better Than Yesterday

So word on the street is that I’m hosting an online Challenge Group: Healthy for Halloween Challenge. Say what?

Yup, that’s right. I’m helping people be more proactive about making changes big or small. We all know what comes on October 31st – a day that screams of things unhealthy (no kid wants an apple tossed into his/her bag, sorry). So what is this thing that I’ve taken on for all the other days leading up to Halloween? It’s a small group of people that are ready to be supported, support others, and be accountable to their own lives of being healthier. Will they lose weight? There’s a good possibility if they remain active and participating in the challenge I fully expect them to have positive results in some manner.

So why am I doing this? Because I love helping people that want to be healthier. I want people to find the passion and joy there is in living life with as few limitations as possible. Truth is that if you commit yourself and have a group of people who support you, you are more likely to succeed. These participants are taking a step against the trend of America: unhealthy living. There is a serious problem with health and fitness across the country that would require me writing a book to fully paint my view on the subject. No, there is no magic pill, shake, drink, super food, or 2-minute a day exercise program that will do what you want. Like most of everything good, you have to put a lot of hard work and effort into what you want.

So what are these participants signing up for? A month-long bootcamp? Hardly. I want them all to be actively watching what they are eating, I’m encouraging them to sign up for calorie trackers online, encouraging daily physical activity, and giving them tools to succeed. They all come from varying backgrounds of expertise in the health and fitness area. Some are just starting their journey, some have already been working on it for a while, and it really doesn’t matter because we all need that little drive. There are days where I don’t feel like committing myself to a hardcore workout but if I have that little extra encouragement I get it done a little easier. And if they lose sight of the big picture – there is the prize incentive. They will all be gaining points for their participation in the group. Said points will be calculated and whoever has the most at the end of the 31 days will earn him or herself a prize. Incentives always work, folks. If someone had the last pint of Ben and Jerry’s on earth and said you could have it if you ran a mile faster than everybody else, wouldn’t you try?

The truth is that this group is one of many ways you can get yourself motivated to stay on track. Challenge groups often have promising results. Isn’t it Weight Watchers that says members have better results when they attend weekly meetings than those that don’t? It’s the same premise. My challenge groups isn’t just me challenging you, it is you challenging yourself. Be better than yesterday. Be stronger than your greatest weakness.

If you want to hear more on my Challenge Groups that I host, all you need to do is ask and I am more than happy to get you on track to healthy and fitter you! Limited number of spots available when each group is run.

Calorie Counters Unite!

cal·o·rie

n.

A unit of energy-producing potential equal to this amount of heat that is contained in food and released upon oxidation by the body. Also called nutritionist’s calorie.

When you start paying attention to what you eat, you generally pay attention to what your food consists of, including calories. There are “good” calories (broccoli!) and “bad” calories (I’m thinking a Snickers bar is considered bad). However, there’s a lot of confusion around the many thoughts on how many calories you should be taking in. I know I’ve certainly been confused before. Now, don’t get me wrong with what I’m about to say. I love MyFitnessPal – I really do! However their daily calorie calculations kind of suck.

I have been working out 6 days a week from 30-90 minutes a day for the past 5 months. I hardly would call that “sedentary”, but the way MFP describes someone who is sedentary is somebody who works a desk job (e.g., secretary). Well I certainly fall under that category. So with my height and weight filled in it tells me I need to eat 1200 calories day.

There it is. Did you see it? It’s right there in front of you. The “magic” number: 1200. The number that covers the world wide web as THE number not to go below in calories because you will enter into … … … STARVATION MODE. I am not a medical professional or a nutritionist and I believe that starvation mode is a very real thing. However, what I find hard to believe is that it is tied to 1200 calories. I believe it can be tied to numbers even higher than that depending on your height, weight, and physical activity. I remember eating 1200 calories a day and being stuck on a plateau for what seemed like an entire month. So I did some research and what did I find? There are better ways to calculate what you should be eating on a daily basis that are more personalized to your own body’s setup. When I used other methods I discovered that 1200 calories was not nearly enough for my body. The second I began eating more, the lower the number on the scale got.

So short of taking a trip to a medical professional to run a specialized test on your metabolism, there are other options out there. Let me explain the one that I have found to be extremely helpful in my case and I highly recommend:

Katch-McArdle Formula: BMR = 370 + (21.6 x lean mass in Kilos)

This formula, which can be done by hand or using a nifty online calculator takes your weight and lean body mass (body fat percentage) into consideration. If you don’t have a scale that calculates body fat %, I strongly suggest getting one. You can truly measure progress by watching body fat going down versus your weight which may not tell you the whole story.

First things first – your Basal Metabolic Rate (“BMR”) is calculated which is the number of calories you burn just by existing and taking up space. If you laid in bed all day, this is how many calories you would burn. Once you figure out your starting point (BMR) you need to multiply that by your activity factor to know your Total Daily Energy Expenditure a/k/a what you burn by existing multiplied by how much physical activity you engage in on average. (BMR X Activity Factor = TDEE)

The activity factor is far more descriptive than what is given in MyFitnessPal, check it out:

Sedentary = BMR X 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job) 
Lightly Active = BMR X 1.375 (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk) 
Moderately Active = BMR X 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk) 
Very Active = BMR X 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk) 
Extremely Active = BMR X 1.9 (hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2 X day training, full time training, etc.)

The actual definitions vary from website to website, but they all pretty much fall within those parameters.

Alright, you have your TDEE. If you were to stay at the same weight and body fat you would want to eat that number of calories a day. For example: My BMR is calculated as 1262 calories/day. I use the Moderately Active activity factor (1.55). So 1262 Calories X 1.55 Activity = 1957 Calories/day if I wanted to maintain my current physique. Not everybody wants to maintain though. So do you drop down to 1200 as MyFitnessPal may suggest? I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead it is recommended that you cut your maintenance calories up to 20-25%. In my own example that would put me in a range of 1468-1565 calories per day, quite a bit more than 1200 calories that MFP would suggest to me and I would go as far as to suggest much safer than MFP’s suggestion.

So now you’re probably wondering how this all leads back to that dreaded starvation mode, huh? I don’t doubt that going below 1200 calories is not only unhealthy, unsafe, and can lead to starvation mode but I believe that you can also eat more than 1200 calories and still be starving your body of the fuel it needs. As you can see by the numbers I’ve posted above, eating 1200 calories a day would put me at a 39% deficit. That is far beyond the general recommendations for cutting your calories.

So ladies and gentlemen, be smart about not only the types of calories you’re consuming but how many of them you are taking in. You need to be aware of the needs of your body and you may be pleasantly surprised that by a combination of eating the right foods in the right amounts helps you reach your goals more safely.