Embrace Forward Motion

Wellness, fitness & personal growth


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Preparing A Bike Emergency Kit

A normal bike ride can quickly turn into an instance of a flat tire, mechanical malfunction, or worse, an injury. Read here on the key tools and items to have in your Bike Emergency Kit:

Repair a Flat Tire

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A. Mini Pump – Not all that useful for inflating a whole tire, but good for shaping new tube for easier insertion back into wheel. Usually can be attached to the bike frame.

B. Spare Tube – Find the size and valve needed for your bike. (Little advice: keep in box to prevent accidental puncture from the other tools in the bag.)

C. Tire Levers – Use these to open up tire to remove tube, and later for getting the tire back on properly.

D. Tube Patch Kit – Sometimes a patch will do the trick on a punctured tube! May come with extra glue or as stickers.

E. CO2 Inflators – Now these will get your repaired tire back to full PSI riding condition! Use if you’re stranded on the road; if at home, save these and use floor pump instead.

Mechanical Adjustments

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F. Allen Tool – These will adjust most, if not all, your bolts and screws on your bike.

G. Swiss Army Knife – Mini screwdriver, a blade, and a few other tools. May come in handy for a variety of needs!

Medical and First-Aid

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H. First-Aid Kit – May include Band-Aids of different sizes, gauze, insect bite relief, alcohol wipes, hand-towelettes, and gloves.

I. Emergency Contacts and Assistance (not pictured) – Paper with your name, allergies, date of birth, as well as names and numbers of emergency contacts. May also carry health-insurance card and AAA Card. (Certain cities, like Minneapolis, offer bike road-side service to cyclists who are AAA members and are stranded.)

Storage and Closing Notes

Most often, bike emergency kits are carried in under-the-seat saddle bags, but may also be stored in backpacks or panniers. These can be purchased in a variety of sizes in local bike shops or online.

Always remember to carry a phone, identification, and money with you. Ride predictably and notify someone of your route if riding alone. Enjoy the ride!

Want to know what else to bring on your ride? Read up on the Essential Bike Accessories.

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Exploring the Hot Drink Menu

By Stephanie Scott, RD, LMNT: Registered Dietitian and Guest Blogger

2016-02-28 00.23.07

During winter, people are drawn to those cups of hot steamy beverages. But what do we really know about these comforting libations?

Coffee and Coffee Drinks

  • Many people drink coffee and or specialty drinks (lattes, cappuccinos, mochas) on a daily basis, but during the winter months, hot coffee sales tend to increase 2-3%.  An 8oz cup of regular brewed coffee, depending on the strength of the coffee, can have between 95-200mg of caffeine, while an 8oz cup of decaf coffee has only trace amounts of caffeine, about 2-12mg.
  • An 8oz specialty coffee drink such as a latte or mocha, made with espresso can have between 63-175mg of caffeine (keep in mind most coffee shops sell lattes or mochas size 16oz or larger, doubling the caffeine).  This also means double the calories for those specialty drinks which can sometimes add up to 500 calories if choosing the larger sizes.  A standard black coffee will have very few calories (only 2), especially if not adding sugar or creamer.
  • Adding an artificial sweetener such as Splenda or Equal will cut down calories if that is a concern, and using a skim milk or light/sugar free nondairy creamer will cut down the calories as well.
  • Limit the amount of specialty coffee drinks you consume as these will contain lots of calories and added sugars which are not beneficial for a healthy diet.   For hydration benefits, a cup of black coffee still is made up mostly of water, and water is the best fluid to hydrate our bodies with.  For maintaining hydration, drinking a cup of coffee is better than not drinking anything at all, but water is the preferred beverage of choice to provide the best hydration.

Hot Tea

  • Hot tea is an excellent drink that will give you a refreshing start to your day or help you wind down in the evening.  With a caffeine content less than half that of coffee, tea is less likely to make your heart race or keep you awake at night if you are sensitive to caffeine.  While caffeine content varies based on how long tea is steeped for, a 6oz cup of black tea has roughly 36mg of caffeine, and herbal teas have 0mg of caffeine.  Some herbal teas are also useful for calming your body down and preparing for sleep.  
  • Green tea is also a beneficial drink, whether it is hot or cold.  Clinical studies have connected lower risk of coronary artery disease with those people who regularly drink green tea.  It is important to moderate your green tea intake to only a few cups per day, as green tea has high amounts of oxalate which can lead to kidney stones. 

Hot Cider and Hot Chocolate

  • Cider is basically hot spicy apple juice, and juices contain a lot of added sugars.  Any beverage will hydrate you because it is a fluid, but the high amount of added sugars in cider may cause you to feel thirstier.  High intake of drinks with lots of added sugars can also lead to problems like weight gain/obesity, and dental caries.
  • Similar is hot chocolate.  Making hot chocolate with water instead of milk will cut down on the calories you are consuming, but making your drink with milk can give you the added bonus of some protein and nutrients that milk packs.  Whether your concern is calories, added sugars, or hydration, these drinks make nice treats that are fun to have in moderation but should not become a big part of your every day diet.
  • Diluting hot cider with hot water can help lower the sugar content per cup, while making hot chocolate with skim milk or water and skipping out on whipped cream or marshmallows will help keep your calories and sugar intake under control.

Stephanie Scott

Stephanie Scott RD, LMNT, is a registered dietitian and licensed medical nutrition therapist in Central City, Nebraska.  She serves patients at a critical access hospital and residents in a nursing home, assists in managing kitchen staff, and is involved in community nutrition programs.  Got questions? Reach Stephanie at stephanie.a.scott2@gmail.com.


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Before Rushing Into New Year’s Resolutions…

It’s time for an End-of-Year Review!

End-of-Year Reviews give insight into the past year. New Year’s resolutions are more meaningful (and hopefully longer lasting) if we take time to evaluate our previous year.

Reflection is part of growth and self-improvement, so why would we want to miss out on that?

An End-of-Year Review allows you to:

  • See how you started, how you’re doing and where you’re headed
  • Record progress and personal growth
  • Compare numbers (speed/distance/time) or how you felt throughout the year
  • Notice patterns
  • Identify successes and challenges
  • Brainstorm New Year’s resolutions

Ways to get started on your review:

  • Think chronologically. Take it one month at a time. How did the year go? Which patterns, successes and challenges come to light?
  • Reflect back on last year’s resolutions. How did those turn out?
  • Identify new activities or interests you picked up. Note ones you just tried out and others you continue to do. The new keeps it fun.
  • Time to brainstorm! What would you like to accomplish in the upcoming year?

Ongoing reflection throughout the year keeps you successful. Check out how to Track Your Progress and Start a Fitness Log.

If you’re eager to get started on your resolutions, learn how to Make Physical Activity a Habit.


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Money-Saving Tips on New Gym Memberships

Embrace Forward Motion

Enrolling in a gym is like starting a relationship: you need one that you like, fulfills your needs and wants, fits your lifestyle, and will not suck all the money out of your pocket.

With that in mind, here are some money-saving tips on new gym memberships:

Initiation Fees and Membership Dues

  • Initiation fees are typically one-time payments, while membership dues are normally recurring.
  • Fitness clubs at times may offer six-month or one-year commitment discounted rates. Basically, you pay up front for a given period of time, at a lower price than the current monthly rate (if added for the length of the contract).
    • Don’t go for the long-term contract. If you have an injury, don’t like the gym, change address or end up not going as often you thought you would, you won’t be getting your money’s worth and you can’t get your money back.
    • Stick with monthly payments. Give yourself the luxury of being able to cancel if and when you need to.
    • Wait for a better time of year. If the best deal currently is the packaged offer, you are likely not getting the best deal possible.
    • Ideal Best Deal = Low (or $0) initiation fees, low monthly payments.
    • Realistic Best Deal = Special Offer initiation fee (maybe 50% off regular), and LOW monthly payments. 

Best times of Year

  • Fitness clubs will run special offers throughout the year. Popular times are summer months, right BEFORE the New Year and the end of each month. Most gyms must complete membership quotas and they cram offers at the end of the month or year if they haven’t met their sales requirements.

About Those Quotas…

  • Sales representatives (real or virtual) will approach you in with enrollment or retention in mind. Though neither is better than the other, this is what you can expect:
    • Enrollment: Most fitness clubs have sales representatives who must fulfill enrollment quotas. Simply put, sales reps must enroll X number of new members monthly, quarterly, annually, etc. If you expressed the faintest interest in joining, these people really want you to join their gym. They will call you, e-mail you, send you offers and leave messages. And then a week later they will do it again.
    • Retention: Selective fitness centers may have retention quotas instead. The sales representatives’ performance is determined by how many loyal members they keep for the long term. This means that if you are new and show the slightest indication that you may not be with them long term, they may even discourage you (in a nice way) from joining, or say that this fitness club may not be the best fit for your wellness goals.

Bargaining Tips

  • Ask people you know who are members how much they pay monthly. Use that as leverage with the sales rep for your own dues.
  • Compare prices with similar gyms and present the competition to the sales representative.

Extra Tips

  • Many gyms offer couple or family member discounts or account extensions with a low transfer/initiation fee. Ask about those if it applies.
  • Call your health insurance. Most will offer monthly reimbursements if you attend one of their selected gyms an X amount of days per month.
  • Don’t jump at the first offer. Thank the rep and say you’ll think about it. Afterwards, compare and bargain.
  • Find the best fit for the least amount of money. No more, no less!

Need help unscrambling the confusing world of gym membership amenities? Check out Gym-Shopping Stress Free: Factors to Consider.


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Gym Shopping Stress-Free: Factors to Consider

Gym

If it’s nearing that time of year when you’re thinking about joining a fitness club, or if you are interested in switching from your current one, it’s time to start gym shopping! First, figure out what you’re looking for.

Here are some membership benefits to consider when choosing the fitness club that best fits your needs:

Cost of Membership

  • Monthly membership dues can typically range anywhere from $25 to $120 a month. The more expensive a club is, the more expansive, clean and high-quality it will likely be. Watch out for initiation fees–certain clubs have fees as high as $200, though many provide special offers throughout the year with no, or lower, initiation fees. Cost will likely end up being one of your biggest factors when deciding.

Group Fitness Classes

  • Fitness classes are, in my opinion, awesome to keep you going, entertained and motivated through the winter. They are great for trying out new activities, developing skills and having fun with others. Every class will be different every time. Ask to see the weekly schedule of classes to figure out if the ones you are interested in match your availability. Small fitness clubs may have studios available with recorded on-demand workout videos, instead of on-site instructors.

Aquatics Facilities, Courts and Studios

  • Availability and quality of aquatic facilities, courts and studios may be a make-or-break deal for some people. Large complexes will have the widest variety. Don’t forget to check availability (and location) of saunas and steam rooms.

Professional Support

  • Need personal training, nutritional coaching or fitness assessments? Upscale large fitness clubs have a professional for every need and muscle group, medium-sized facilities have trainers for training sessions and floating on the fitness floor to answer questions, while small centers will typically just have trainers available when leading a personal training session. Seek places with the support you need.

Child Care

  • if you have kids and need someone to watch them while you work out, find a gym that offers on-site babysitting. It’ll be one less thing to worry about.

Location

  • Preferably find a fitness center that is close to home or work. The easier it is to get to, the more likely you’ll go. It’ll also save time commuting.

Hours

  • Maybe you need one of those 24-hour gyms, perhaps one that closes by 10 p.m. is good enough for you, or you may be in dire need of a fitness center open at 5 a.m.. Check schedules.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, start by:

  • Browsing online for gyms (and their benefits) in your area
  • Visiting a few locations
  • Asking the sales representatives lots of questions!

Remember you’re still shopping, so don’t get pressured by the sales! Check out how to find the best deals on fitness club memberships.


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Volunteering at Races: How to Get Involved and Support Runners

Medals at Women Rock 10K. Saint Paul, 2015.

Women Rock 10K Medals. Saint Paul, MN. 2015. Photo Credit: Tali Levin

Volunteers are awesome!

I had competed in half-marathons in years past, but it wasn’t until my first marathon last year that I became truly aware and thankful of everyone who helped me reach the finish line successfully. Since then, I’ve volunteered at five race events in the Twin Cities with three different organizations, and it’s been an absolutely amazing way to grow!

Why Volunteer for Races?

Every runner has a reason for participating in a race. For some, this is their first race, others compete for a personal record time, some do it just for fun, or they may run with a special someone in their thoughts. Of course, there is an endless number of other reasons!

Runners’ goals and aspirations depend on the organization’s staff and volunteers to make race day happen. Without volunteers, there is no race.

With Whom Can I Volunteer?

The Twin Cities hosts three main organizations that orchestrate year-round race series:

  • Twin Cities in Motion
    • Organizes Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and the Red, White & Boom! Half Marathon, among others.
  • Minnesota Running Series
    • Plans Goldy’s Run, Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon and Turkey Trot, among others.
  • Team Ortho
    • Known for the Get Lucky Half Marathon, Minneapolis Marathon and Monster Dash, among others.

There are many other running race organizations all over the country.

Who Volunteers?

People of all ages and backgrounds, runners and non-runners, groups and individuals.

What Are the Perks of Volunteering?

As a volunteer, you can expect to receive:

  • A volunteer shirt or apparel from the organization.
  • Snacks or refreshments (depending on organization and weather).
  • “Bones” per hour of service (Team Ortho Only): Bones act as points that may be redeemed for race entries or apparel.
  • Some leftover food at the end of the race.
  • Plenty of smiles and “Thank You”s from grateful runners and staff!

What Are Typical Volunteer Tasks?

When signing up online, you choose where you want to help and the type of responsibilities you may have:

  • Before Race Day – Prepare race packets; set-up, facilitate and take-down Expo and/or packet pick-up
  • Start Line – Set-up, bag drop, direct runners, take-down.
  • Out on the Course – Be a course marshall (enforce course and direct runners), prepare and hand out water/sports drinks at fluid stops, pass out gels (marathons only).
  • Finish Line – Set-up, prepare and pass out medals, direct runners, hand out food and drinks, give wet towels or Mylar blankets (marathons only), bag pick-up, take-down.
  • Post-Race Party – Set-up, assist in tents and activities, take-down.

How Do I Get Started?

  1. Find a race or organization.
    • Volunteering in the Twin Cities or Minnesota:
      • Follow the links for the organizations listed above and find the Volunteering tabs.
    • Volunteering in other cities:
      • Find the websites to local races you know in your area, or search in Google “(Your State) Marathon” or “(Your City) Running Races”.
    •  Use the Runner’s World Race Finder tool.
  2. Check out the volunteering opportunities for the event.
  3. Sign up and attend individually, with a friend or group!


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DO’s and DON’T’s of Overcoming Injuries: A Personal Discovery

Injuries are unexpected and inconvenient. As a typical 20-something, I sometimes feel like I am invincible. Nevertheless, a recent injury put a halt to my duathlon training. I present to you DO’s and DON’Ts, which I’ve discovered during my recovery, of overcoming injuries, as well as a narrative… because who doesn’t love a good injury story?

Two weeks ago I was out on a training run. Diverting my attention to the side, I stepped where the sidewalk meets the grass. Ungracefully, I fell and sprained my ankle. As I watched my ankle swell up and felt pain in my arch, thoughts of “well, that was stupid” and “there goes my race” flooded in. First lessons:

  • DO watch where you’re going when running.
  • DON’T put yourself down. Recognize mistakes and move past them.

After limping back home a few blocks, I dug up my ankle brace (saved from a previous ankle sprain and foot fracture on my other foot) and RICE’d up my day– Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. And of course, sadly canceled plans and sat at home at a loss of what to do.

  • DO RICE–Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate–the injured limb.
  • DO keep braces, crutches or other injury “accessories”– you may need them again.

A week went by. I used my ankle brace daily, and a crutch the first few days. After talking to trainers and runners, hearing a few “I-wish-I-would-have-taken-care-of-my-injury-when-it-happened-because-now-I’m-doomed-with-weak-joints” stories, and recognizing that I intend to continue running, I set up a visit with the podiatrist.

  • DO go see a doctor if the injury is not improving, getting worse, or you want to figure out what’s wrong exactly and treat the injury accordingly.

Doctor’s advice: Ankle ligaments will take six weeks to heal completely, and the plantar fasciitis should be relieved with stretching. Until then, no running, no biking, no race. Of course I tried to bargain on the biking, but she remained firm with her answer. After giving it some thought, I decided: I’m planning on keeping a well-working ankle for the next 70 years… relatively, six weeks is not that long.

  • DON’T rush your healing time. Cutting off recovery and rehab time will highly increase chances of reinjury.
  • DO think of your recovery time as an investment: one extra week now may translate to an extra year for your limb to properly work years down the road.
  • DO recognize your body has limits. Respect them.
  • DO be realistic about safely resetting goals.

If I had to pick my top two lessons from this experience, these are it:

  • DO stay positive.
  • DO embrace this time as an opportunity to explore new areas of personal growth and wellness.