Saturday, April 26, 2014

Getting Fit #1, Plus 3 Protein-Packed Breakfasts!

TOA: Happy Saturday, everyone! For the next couple of months, I'm going to be featuring my friend Crystal on Saturdays. She's a rock star figure skater and oatmeal lover, as well as my new personal trainer. Crystal, can you introduce yourself and your fitness background for the readers?

: Hi Everyone! I'm Crystal and I blog at, though it's not nearly as cool as I love reading, writing, figure skating, all things British, and oatmeal. I'm obsessed with fitness and healthy eating. For the last fourteen years, I've been a competitive figure skater and am the 2013 US Collegiate National Junior Ladies Pewter Medalist. Throughout the years, my workouts on and off the ice have varied. At present, I skate between one and half hours to three and a half hours a day, five days a week. I work out with a personal trainer twice a week and do interval sprints two-three times a week. When I have time, I also do Pilates, Body Barre, yoga, and Zumba. Living in Colorado also gives me access to marvelous outdoor recreation. During the winter, I love skiing at any of resorts and in the summer, I enjoy hiking or doing the famed Manitou Springs incline. 

TOA: Okay, so I want to have a more active lifestyle. I'm not trying to lose weight or anything like that. Ever since I went veg*n, my extreme symptoms from IBS have basically disappeared; however, I still experience obnoxious bloating. Apparently this is a common IBS symptom that has little to do with the food you eat. Instead, everyone I've consulted (aka "the Internet") recommends cardio.

I've tried jogging a mile or so after dinner, and it really works. I went to bed feeling great and woke up the next morning feeling light and focused.

But I HATE working out. I work 10-hour days and don't have much energy (...or time...or ambition) by the time I get home. I am turning to you because 1) I need someone to motivate me and hold me accountable, and 2) I was hoping you'd have some tips for me.

What can I do to jumpstart this whole "active lifestyle" thing?

Crystal: The most important thing about being active is simply getting started! There are days when I am so tired that I think I cannot possibly drag myself to the rink, let along skate a senior freeskate! Exercise (cardio in particular) actually wakes me up and gives me energy for studying, work, or more skating. What do you typically do for exercise now? 

TOA: Just some uninspiring jogs around my neighborhood. I slowly worked up to a mile and recently managed a full two miles!

Crystal: One great thing about cardio is that it doesn't take much time to receive the benefits. If you're tired, try walking or lightly jogging. Who knows, the endorphins might give you enough energy to keep going! Whether starting out or a marathon runner, the most important part is the mental commitment. If you plan on completing 20-30 minutes of cardio (a good starting point) don't let yourself skip it even if you've had a long day at work. Once you mentally make exercise a habit, it will become easier.

I suggest starting with two-three days of cardio per week. As great as cardio is, to feel the full benefits of fitness, resistance and strength training is equally important. Here is my recommendation for your week one training plan:

Day One: Walk/jog/run for 20-30 minutes then complete some basic resistance exercises (these can be done on a comfortable surface or by taking a yoga mat outside!) Try to do two sets of each: 20 crunches, 10 pushups, 10 squats, 10 dips, and a 30 second plank. Listen to your body! It is okay for it to feel challenging, but you should never feel physical pain. Also, be sure to stretch after each run. (I can give you some stretches if you need it). Day Two: Cardio for 30-40 minutes followed by stretching Day Three: Cardio for 20-30 minutes followed by the above mentioned resistance exercises.

Does this sound doable? Do you have any questions?

TOA: Two questions. First of all, is it acceptable to do modified pushups with my knees on the floor? I legit can't do a real the moment. Is it better to do 10 pushups the wimpy way, or fewer authentic pushups?

Crystal: It is totally acceptable to do modified pushups! Even from your knees, you can still get a great range of motion in your upper body. It is better to ten the modified way. It's not "wimpy" as long as you're giving your full effort!

TOA: Sweet. Second question: what in the world are dips?

Crystal: Dips are another way to work your upper body! Sit on your mat with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Lean back slightly and place your hands beneath your shoulders, facing forward. Now adjust your weight so that only your palms and feet are on the floor. Bend your elbows and lower your weight as low as you can without touching. Raise yourself back up and repeat.

TOA: Alright, I lied. I have another question. What is the need for the strength and resistance exercises anyway? That's not what I signed up for.

Crystal: While cardio gives your body great benefits, you need to be strong enough to receive them! If your muscles are not used to the exercise of running, we need to build them up so you can run faster and longer. Remember, your heart is a muscle too so we want it strong and healthy while running.

TOA: Ohhh, that makes sense. Okay, I'm going to try this next week and I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks!

Crystal: Great! Let me know if you have any questions. I'm excited to watch your progress!

To go along with this new Getting Fit series, I have compiled three protein-packed oatmeal recipes to start your day! As a vegan, people constantly ask where I get my protein. The answer? The same place elephants, cattle, buffalo, horses, hippos, rhinos, and many other animals find theirs: from plants. When was the last time anyone worried about how rhinos got their protein?

Even the humble oat provides some protein. ;)

Because peanut butter.

Crunchy and full of flavor, this oatmeal is speckled with delicious
energy-giving nuts!

Did you know spinach is composed of 47% protein (per calorie)? That's pretty legit
for a humble salad green. Combined with a banana, peanut butter, and oats, this
recipe is a great way to boost your energy in the morning!

**You can also find hundreds of other oatmeal recipes (as well as tons of other meatless recipes) on my Pinterest account!  You can also like The Oatmeal Artist on Facebook. Thanks!


  1. Great post! Love the ideas for resistance exercises. I've started working out again after baby #4 and have the cardio down, but need to add in more. I'm addicted to the pb baked oatmeal!!

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