Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why Should I Hire a Fitness Trainer?

Whether you are new to exercise, have reached a plateau, or are looking to improve your athletic ability, working with a Certified Personal Trainer provides several advantages over working out on your own. I am certified through AFAA as a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor.  I am also insured and CPR/AED/First Aid certified.  My experience ranges from working with beginners, athletes, recreational exercisers, prenatal clients, to clients preparing for their wedding day! 

Accountability. Have trouble getting up early for a workout? Tempted to go home after a long day at the office? Weekly checkins provide added commitment to your goals and health.

Goals. What are your goals? Do you know where your current fitness level is and where you want to be? What is a realistic way for YOU to get there? A trainer will provide guidance and programming based on these factors.

Challenge.  A trainer will challenge you to reach your personal best, encouraging you to go beyond your mental and physical abilities while still achieving safe and effective results.

Variety. The body adapts quickly and the same exercises day in and day out will result in little to no progress. A trainer will vary the sets, reps, resistance and exercise methods so you are challenged physically and never bored!

Learn more about my Fuel Your Fitness Method online program by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Beet Crisp Protein Salad

The Beet Crisp Protein Salad is a delicious way to increase your protein and nutrient intake.  By making your own dressing you also avoid a lot of unnecessary added sugar.  

Spinach is a very nutrient-dense food.  It is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals.  Spinach is full of flavonoids which act as antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals.

Beets impact the liver by acting as a purifier for the blood.  They can also lower your blood pressure because of their vasodilating effects.  Beets contain betaine, a substance used in certain treatments of depression.  The trytophan in beets relaxes the mind and improves mindfulness.

The magnesium in sunflower seeds can also promote a healthy mood. Sunflower seeds also contain selenium, as essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in hormone metabolism.

Enlightened Crisps are a great vegetarian source of protein.  They are also high in fiber.  These broad beans are a member of the legume family.  Broad beans are also rich in folate and B vitamins.  

Beet Crisp Protein Salad

2 c spinach
1 3.5 oz package of Enlightened Sea Salt Crisps
1/2 c beets
2 T sunflower seeds
2 T feta cheese

1/4 c olive oil 
1 T apple cider vinegar
2 t dijon mustard
2 t honey
1 t garlic powder 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Fitness Exploration

A lot of time has passed since I was the girl in the eggplant purple, Abercrombie & Fitch henley, wearing khaki pants and an extra 40+ pounds on my 5'11.5" frame.  I came across this photo, along with some others, in recent years.  Several times I have explored the possibility of sharing them, one day, when I was "ready."  

"Ready" meant on the verge of publishing a memoir of my life story.  "Ready" meant I had established myself as a leader in the industry and was fully prepared for my moments of "fame" as I revealed the progress I have made since that photo was taken, around 1997.  As years passed and social media evolved, I was amazed to observe all of the transformations, success stories, fitness journeys and makeovers.  Before and afters fill my news feeds daily and none of these transformations are to be taken lightly.  Whether your workouts involve holding plank for an endless 15 seconds or bench pressing more than your own body weight, your progress should be recognized and respected.  If you went from ordering a burger, fries and milkshake once a week instead of five times a week, your progress should be recognized and respected.  

As I recognized these accomplishments in others I asked myself, "If these people are willing to expose their struggles and a new six pack, revealing the progress they have made, why haven't I?"  During the past 17 years of my fitness journey, I have dropped the excuses and excess weight while raising my self awareness and confidence.  Now, I am helping others do the same with my online training programs. 

To me, having a fit body is the manifestation of your goals and success, fueled by hard work and commitment.  My goal is to use what I have learned to inspire and motivate others.  

Last summer, I was given the opportunity to be featured in the Rising Stars column of Oxygen Magazine.  I have been a fan of Oxygen  Magazine since it's early stages in the late 1990s.  I vividly remember when a friend of mine introduced me to Oxygen during one of our shifts at the Illinois State Rec Center (little did I know that was the start of my fitness career AND my addiction to such a solid source of information).  My friend was more familiar with the industry and used to point out Adela Garcia when she would come in to use the StepMill.  We were one of the only gyms to feature this piece of equipment!  The machine has since received the attention it deserves, as has Adela.  I have decided to share my fitness journey, as described in the following Q&A article that was submitted to Oxygen Magazine in April of 2014.  A portion of this article was then featured in the Rising Stars column of the August 2014 issue.   

Were you athletic in your youth?  Not at all! Unless having a newspaper route counts! From the time I was about 8 years old until sophomore year of high school, twice a week I walked what felt like MILES.  It probably took about 45-60 minutes and, looking back, I am certain it helped me stay in shape.  Once the paper route officially ended, I gained a lot of weight.  In high school, I ate too much and moved too little, reaching a high of 210 pounds.

Before I began high school, my mom gave me the choice of playing golf or tennis (to encourage me to break out of my shell and become "more social.")  The golf lessons she signed me up for consisted of a bunch of grade school boys and myself!  I didn't mind the tennis lessons, so that is what I pursued in high school.  I rotated between third and fourth doubles.  If you know anything about tennis, that doesn't say much about my ability.  Going into my junior year, the coach ordered a double X t-shirt for me. THAT was a wake up call.

What were some of your athletic accomplishments?  Oh gosh.  I ran the entire 1-mile in gym class my senior year of high school without stopping to walk.  That was the first time I completed it without walking, about a year after I joined the gym.  Also, throughout four years of tennis practice, I despised the drills my coach made us do.  I strongly disliked someone telling me how hard to work.  Now, I find the motivation and discipline within to push myself and stay challenged.

When did you start working out and what inspired you to do so? My mom gave me a membership to Women's Workout World for my 16th birthday.  I was very shy, kept to myself and did not have many friends.  As a result I spent a lot of time at home, eating too much and feeling lonesome.  The gym helped me lose the extra weight I had put on, and helped me gain confidence.  To this day, I hear Gina G's "Ohh Ahh Just a Little Bit" and have flashbacks to my first step aerobics class!  It's a great memory.

Who is your role model? Why? Both of my grandmothers are my role models.  While they have passed away, they stayed active well into their 90s, one riding the stationary bike for 20 minutes a day and the other going to water aerobics class.  The quality of your years is so important, even more so than the quantity.  I'm a firm believer in brain health as well.  So although they may not have gotten their heart rates up very high, among the benefits of their activity was retaining mental awareness and social interaction.  I admire them for taking such good are of themselves and their family.

Are you more of a cardio woman or a weights gal? Why?  I used to be a Cardio Queen!  Every time I went for a run, I felt the need to run the same distance (or more) than the last time.  You can only do that for so long before your body breaks down.  In October of 2010, my back went out and I had a herniated disc.  It was the result of too much working out and not enough rest.  Now, two years post-surgery, running is a thing of the past (except when the weather is good and I need some time outside, jogging usually no more than 30-40 minutes).  In April 2013 I began working with a strength coach at Hard Pressed High Intensity Workouts.  He put me through 30 minutes of butt kicking, sweat dripping routines twice a week.  It changed my perception of what I was capable of, and I do the best I can to reach that intensity level when I train on my own.  They helped me bust through a major fitness plateau--one I didn't even know I had reached!

What is your favorite training move? Why? I am a huge fan of the split lunge and the single leg-leg press.  It's so important to focus on unilateral training to help correct and prevent imbalances.  My right leg is still weaker than the left due to nerve damage from the herniated disc.  I like explaining to clients how unilateral movements will help activate stabilizing muscles as well.  When you are not using as much muscle to move through a range of motion, you have no other choice but to focus on form and quality.

What is your workout plan like? I strength train for about 30 minutes, 5 times a week.  There are days the leg press feels like a concrete wall during the last couple of reps, and there are other days when my legs are shaking from muscle overload due to high repetition with my own body weight.  The variety is what keeps my body (and mind) stimulated.  I love seeing all of these concepts incorporated throughout Oxygen.  If you are constantly using the same training methods and principles, your body will adapt and progress will slow.  This variety also helps to prevent injury from overuse.  For cardio, my favorite machine is the StepMill.  When I'm not on the StepMill, I blast through sets of my cardio/strength circuits, usually incorporating the XBAR.   

What do you love most about Oxygen?  
I love the sense of community that Oxygen creates.  It amazes me to see so many women of different backgrounds, careers, life challenges, and life accomplishments come together with the common bond of fitness.  Before there were Pinterest boards, I used to cut out pictures from Oxygen Magazine and tape them into a notebook as inspiration.  The notebook still exists.  Via social media, it has become easier to establish connections with these women and contributors.  Two of my favorite fitness role models are Kim Dolan Leo and Emily Skye.  As leaders in the industry, it makes me happy to interact with them.  I'm working hard to influence others in my own unique way.

What's your favorite type of cardio? I write up my own routines and take over any open space with my music, notes, weights and a clock!  Using combos of cardio and strength exercises, I create about 7 "pairs" and run through the entire set 3 times.  For example, one pair might be 30 seconds of burpees (cardio) followed by 30 seconds of pushups (strength).  Another would be jumping rope and alternating lunges.  It's a great way to get the heart rate up during the cardio segments and then bring the heart rate down during the strength.  It's full body, efficient and keeps me from getting bored!

What gets you pumped up the most right before a workout? Reminding myself of my goals.  If you don't have a destination, you're more likely to go in circles!  Or pull over! And once you pull over, who knows when you'll get back "on track."  Having a competition to train for motivates me to plan my workouts, record my sets, reps, and weights and make sure that my actions and decisions today are directing me to where I want to be in the future.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?  
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not people or things.” -Albert Einstein  

Have you ever competed and if so, how long have you been competing? I have!  I competed in my first show in November 2013.  A friend in the industry told me I was doing it and started talking to me as though I had already signed up.  I went along with it, unsure if I would follow through.  About two months out from the show, when I ordered the suit, reality hit!  It took me some time to believe in myself and to build the confidence. This was a great example of showing how important it is to have a support system and establish relationships with people who believe in you.

Who has supported you the most throughout your fitness journey? My family.  They have dealt with my moodiness, peculiar eating habits, physical and emotional setbacks and more.  As you become more committed to a specific goal (of any kind), your lifestyle changes.  That sometimes means a shift in your support system as well.  When it comes to family, they're there regardless.

What are your big plans for the future? I enjoy creating a strong community of like-minded individuals through my blog and on social media.  It is a long term goal of mine to enhance my online training services and publish a fitness ebook, team up with Vitamin Shoppe, and lead the very first XBAR Fitness class.  The support system through social media is amazing and I would love to continue educating others and providing resources to help them achieve their goals. 

What piece of advice would you give to a newbie in the gym? Make sure your goals are based on your current fitness level and what is achievable for YOU.  There are so many program, methods, and specialty studios, that you can feel "lost" not only in the gym, but in the industry as a whole.  Always take into account what your current fitness level is so you can assess what a reasonable goal looks like.  Enlist the help of a trainer or knowledgeable friend if you are unsure.  From there, map a course based on your abilities and resources so you can reach that destination.  Also, I encourage you to track your progress with photos and measurements.  Even if you are not training for a specific event, this type of goal will hold you accountable and remind you to work hard and stay committed.

What's your best fitness tip (This could be related to training, nutrition, personal attitude, fitness gear, etc.)? The only person you should do this for is for yourself.  Along the way, you will likely inspire and motivate others.  This creates a positive cycle--motivating individuals who, as a result, then motivate you.  The healthier you are, the more equipped you will be to help those you care about. 

Megan is certified as an AFAA Personal Trainer and has competed in two NPC Bikini Competitions.  Upon graduating from Illinois State University with two degrees (Commercial Recreation and Program Management) along with an Exercise Science minor, Megan continued to work in the fitness industry.  Her experiences range from commercial to corporate to governmental fitness programming. When working with clients and participants, Megan’s approach features bodyweight movements and plyometrics, while incorporating free weights and resistance equipment. She has worked with athletes, beginners, prenatal clients, and more. Click here for more information about personal training and online training.

For more fitness inspiration, visit Tod at Meisner Musings.  Tod was featured as my first guest blogger and shared an introduction to his fitness journey. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

5 Thoughts to Ponder While Setting Goals

Years ago I was invited to a networking event that was taking place at Willis (forever in my mind "Sears") Tower.  Back then, we had flip phones instead of GPS.  And having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, I was confident that my map-less self could navigate along the Dan Ryan and through the city streets to reach my destination.  After all, how can you miss the Sears Tower??  Until 1998, it was the tallest building in the world.

I set out with the eagerness and excitement of a young professional, heading along 94-West and taking in the skyline as it lit up among a dark sky.  It didn't take long to realize I had no idea which exit to take, which roads to turn down.  My confidence dropped as quickly as Chicago's winter temperatures.

After a couple of turnarounds, and one pullover to ask for directions, I finally reached my destination.      While the embarrassment of this experience has diminished, the lesson I learned has stayed with me.  How many times have you had to take an unexpected turn and re-route? Regardless of your destination, chances are at some point in your life you have realized that while it's important to set a goal and keep your eyes on the prize, it's just as important to spend time revealing and understanding the steps it takes to get there.

1. Where is your starting line?  Stay focused on your experience and your skill set.  It can be discouraging to compare your accomplishments to someone else's.  Let the success of others inspire you and help provide the framework for what is uniquely yours.

2. Where do you want to be?  Stay unique. Self development will create self awareness, which then allows you to become your best self.  Being your best self creates the foundation for everything you're trying to build--for yourself and for others.

3. Plan for roadblocks and detours.  There will be potholes, red flags and slow moving traffic along the road to success.  Use your resources! Some of my favorite resources for self development are podcasts, books, and professionals in the industry.

4. Small steps.  If your biggest dreams scare you, break them down into smaller, more manageable plans of action.

5. Go with the flow.  Unsure where you're going?  Focus on your hobbies and your passions.  Network with likeminded individuals.  A lot of the most successful people didn't start off with a business plan. Their business developed because of their plan to make progress one day at a time.

Comments? Feedback? Let me know! I'd love to hear what your goals are and how you are accomplishing them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Fitness Your Fitness Method: Training & Accountability Programs

The Fuel Your Fitness Method emphasizes Activity, Nutrition and Restoration.  We place the emphasis on progression, not perfection.  In a world that overwhelms us with diet plans, new workout routines and the latest "stress-busting, abs-lusting" claims, the #FYFmethod will help you silence the distractions and focus on mindfulness, self awareness and support to reach your goals.

Fuel Your Fitness Personal Training
This includes an initial fitness assessment and customized workouts based on your current fitness level and goals.  I am available for in-home sessions and studio sessions throughout the Auburn, AL area.  Please contact me at for rates and additional information.

Fuel Your Fitness 8 Week Online Coaching - $150
This includes an initial fitness assessment an eight week program based on your current fitness level and goals. The initial assessment includes:
  • Customized fitness program you can do at home
  • Instructions for recording circumference measurements 
  • Instructions for capturing "before" photos
  • General fitness assessments (pushups and curl ups)
  • Weekly checkins via email, phone call or FaceTime
  • Access to private FYF Facebook group
XBAR Fitness System Add-On - $135
Add on the XBAR Fitness System and your program will include workouts using this portable, challenging and unique piece of fitness equipment.  Save 10% on your XBAR with code MEGANLINGE.

Fuel Your Fitness 8 Week Online Accountability Program - $250
Available as a stand alone program, or in conjunction with on site or online sessions! The accountability program is a great option if you are doing your own workouts and would like the communication with and accountability to a Certified Personal Trainer.  It also ensures success throughout on site or online sessions.  The program includes:
  • Weekly nutrition evaluations via My Fitness Pal (I am not a dietitian and cannot provide meal plans.  However, I will give insight and make suggestions based on your current habits and goals)                                                                           
  • Weekly weigh-ins
  • Weekly phone calls or FaceTime lasting 10-20 minutes
  • Bi-weekly photos
  • Daily emails 
  • Text messages, approximately 3-5/week
  • Access to private FYF Facebook group
Please contact me at for rates and additional information.  I am also available for group training and worksite wellness programs.

Megan’s fitness journey began when she was in high school, overweight and inactive.  After joining her first gym in 1997 and making changes to her lifestyle, the extra weight dropped and her commitment to health and wellness continued to grow.  During her time at Illinois State University, Megan worked at the Student Recreation Building and became an AFAA Group Exercise Instructor certified.  Upon graduating with two degrees (Commercial Recreation and Program Management) along with an Exercise Science minor, Megan continued to work in the fitness industry.  Megan's recent accomplishments include being featured as a Rising Star in the August 2014 issue of Oxygen Magazine.  

Her experiences range from commercial to corporate to governmental fitness programming.  Megan has experienced first hand the cycle of poor food choices and not enough activity.  She enjoys helping others identify and exceed their own goals. When working with clients and participants, Megan’s approach features bodyweight movements and plyometrics, while incorporating free weights and resistance equipment. She has worked with athletes, beginners, prenatal clients, and more. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Healthy Eating for the Person Who Hates to Prep: Part 2

In the first part of this two part series, I discussed methods for eating healthy while maintaining a busy life.  The majority of us do not have the time to shop for and cook elaborate meals on a daily basis.  Below, I have listed a variety of food combinations that I incorporate as snacks and meals throughout the day.   Keep in mind I am a vegetarian, so feel free to add your choice of protein to the following (egg, chicken, tuna, other lean meats).  At some point, I'm pretty sure I have eaten any of the following as breakfast, lunch OR dinner.
  • Italian Nachos.  This consists of a low carb tortilla wrap and blue corn tortilla chips topped with melted mozzarella shredded cheese, marinara sauce and spinach.  Add your choice of protein which, for me, is usually black beans.
  • Oatmeal Concoction.  This is my creative name for regular oatmeal topped with natural peanut butter.  It gets more exciting when I add fresh fruit, honey, yogurt, protein powder, chunks of Quest bars...anything!  I also add cinnamon because it is an anti-inflammatory and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.  Just be sure to watch portions because it's easy to go overboard and the calories will add up.
  • Nicecream.  I have been making "nice cream" for quite some time. But it wasn't until I discovered the hashtag that I realized there was a name for it.  Basically, I freeze bananas (break into chunks first and store in a ziploc bag), then blend with a scoop of protein and a minimal amount of almond milk.  The result is a protein shake so thick, you can eat it with a spoon. Thus, resembling ice cream.  Feel free to use fruits other than bananas!  Add protein for more flavor and nutrients!
  • Protein Jello.  Prepare sugar free jello as instructed.  Before refrigerating, add 1 container of nonfat Greek yogurt and mix thoroughly.
  • Cottage Cheese and Chips. Or cottage cheese and crackers! Veggies! Pretzels! Cottage cheese is high in casein protein, which is digested slowly and keeps you feeling full.  I've been know to add salsa to this as well.
  • ProYo Bowl.  This is a combination of nonfat greek yogurt with protein powder, mixed with some water.  This "bowl" is similar to the oatmeal recipe listed above.  Once I stir the yogurt and protein with some water, I get creative.  I'll add raisins, nut butter, fruit, Kashi cereal, etc.  Again, watch portions because it's easy to go overboard and the calories will add up.
  • Sweet Potato Fries.  Microwave your sweet potatoes, let cool and then cut into slices.  Mix with coconut oil (about 1 T. per large potato) and cinnamon.  Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 or until crispy.
  • Veggie Wrap.  Has anyone else tried those individual boxes of vegetable medleys from Green Giant?? I love them! I'll cook one and put in on top of a low carb wrap, then top with cottage cheese.
  • PBJ! A classic favorite.  I recommend using Ezekiel bread because of it's a source of complete protein.  My favorite peanut butter is Skippy's low sugar/low sodium, natural variety.  Opt for fresh strawberries or a low sugar jam.
  • Popcorn.  Using popcorn seeds and a brown paper lunch bag, I make my own! This allows you to add your own choice (and amounts) of toppings.  Place about 1/4 c. of seeds in a brown paper lunch bag.  Seal the top by folding it over a couple of times.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes or as needed.  I'll usually top with butter spray.  I have also sprinkled it with low sodium taco powder.  Ranch dressing mix is another option I have used.
  • Fiesta Bowl.  Brown rice, black beans and salsa. Add avocado for some healthy fats! Want more greens? Add spinach!
  • Quest bars!  When all else fails. 

Have you tried these snacks or do you have ones that are similar?

Comment below or tag me on social media at @inspirelingefitness.  I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Healthy Eating for the Person Who Hates to Prep: Part I

There are days I wish I spent more time "cooking." That I could fully stock my kitchen, get out the pots and pans, and bring to life every recipe I have saved on Pinterest. Every once in a while, it happens. I preheat the oven. I boil water. I chop vegetables. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen as often as I would like.

In the "meantime" I have managed to stay healthy and eat nutritiously with simple recipes that require very few ingredients and minimal prep time. I will be sharing those with with you in part 2 of this series. Until then, the following information provides a very honest overview of my eating habits and preferences.

  • I tend to snack throughout the day rather than consume an official breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
  • Overall, the goal should be to consume minimally processed, whole foods. Anything else should be consumed in moderation.  
  • Research has shown that when people have MORE food options, they tend to consume more (i.e. overeat). When people stick with their tried and true favorites, they are less likely to overindulge.  
  • These suggestions are based on what I have observed, learned and what works for me.  
  • The goal is to use them as inspiration to find a plan that works for YOU!  
Now that you familiar with some of my philosophies on nutrition, I would like to share some tips from my online client, Tod Meisner. Tod is the Executive Director of Client Leadership with Verge Pipe Media. Recently, has learned how to prioritize his health along with a career, son and personal life. The following are realistic action items that have helped him maintain his fitness and keep him feeling his best.

  • Make sure to eat breakfast, anything healthy.  I tend to have multi-grain cereal and milk or a protein bar.  That's when I take my vitamins too.
  • Try to plan ahead for lunch or, in other words, stick with your routine.  You will find yourself eating junk or picking a place to eat that's not healthy if you don't plan accordingly.  Bring a healthy lunch with you.
  • Don't be afraid to have small snacks. I've seen good luck losing or maintaining healthy weight when I have a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.  Protein and fruit is a great combination.
  • Grocery shopping--don't grocery shop on an empty stomach!  You will regrettably buy something less healthy because you are hungry.  I'm a list guy, so I suggest always having a list and making sure you have the essentials.

For more ideas regarding healthy (and easy!) eating, visit some of my favorite resources.
Ripped Recipes
Fit Men Cook
Got a sweet tooth? Be sure to visit Chocolate Covered Katie
For hundreds more of my favorites, head to my Pinterest page Reasons to Cook More Often

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Get Healthy in Your Home Gym

The very first time I began working out, it was in the living room of my mom’s house.  I was in junior high.  There were no weights, resistance bands or jump ropes.  I was not familiar with heart rate monitors and FitBits were unheard of.  My workouts were fueled by a drive for success and commitment to my goals.  Along with a VHS tape, Your Personal Best, featuring Elle MacPherson and Karen Vogt, I broke a daily sweat and moved to the beats of “Ain’t Nothin Gonna Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder.  Since then, my fitness goals have evolved, along with my home gym.  

Whether your goal is to lose weight, build strength or work toward both, a home gym can offer a solution to a busy lifestyle.  A home gym is a convenient solution whether you are short on time, prefer to get your sweat on in private, or are obsessed (like I am) with all of the latest gadgets and pieces of fitness equipment.  So how do you separate the functional from the funny-looking?  Below, I have listed six of my favorite products that I have found to be sweat inducing and results producing.  

Training with dumbbells offers several benefits that will improve your health and physique.  Similar to resistance bands, strength training improves bone density and increases your muscle mass.  Because muscle requires more energy to maintain, it improves your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.  Weights can also be incorporated into circuit workouts, which will keep your heart rate up and improve muscle endurance.  Think “dumbbell squats for 30 seconds/jumping jacks for 30 seconds,” repeating similar sets and rounds for 20-30 minutes.  Consider purchasing the Rubber Octagonal Dumbbell Single from Power Systems.

Jump Rope 

The thought of jumping rope immediately takes me back to childhood, when I was the most uncoordinated person in gym class and would have rather had my fingers rolled over by a scooter than my face slapped with the plastic pieces of an old school jump rope.  It was during a trip to New York City that I gave the jump rope another chance.  The hotel I was staying in had a fitness center with very little equipment, one being a jump rope.  I wiped away my doubt and anxiety to pick up the jump rope, only to wipe away my sweat 5 minutes later after a heart-pumping, high intensity experience.  The jump rope can be used as part of a cardio circuit, or between strength training sets to make the workout more challenging and keep your body stimulated.  The movement activates the calf muscles along with the arms and shoulders in particular. Because it is a weight bearing exercise, jumping rope also improves bone density.  You can purchase a jump rope here from Vitamin Shoppe.  

XBAR Slider Pads
Sliders make a traditional move like the mountain climber, or plank with knee drives, more challenging.  As you are in this position, holding a plank and drawing one knee in at a time (with a foot on each slider), the quads and abdominals muscles activate to draw your knee in and flex the hip. With sliders you will use more muscles to balance your body in position. Additional shoulder stability is required and your chest muscles are used as stabilizers.  Save 10% at by entering MEGANLINGE at checkout. Shipping is free.

XBAR Fitness System
The XBAR is a resistance band inspired training device that offers over 100 full body exercises.  Resistance band training is a very effective method, requiring your body to move against resistance through the entire range of motion.  Picture the motion your arm creates when doing a bicep curl.  A dumbbell feels heaviest as you curl, while resistance bands make your muscles work hard through the entire movement, especially at the top, when the band is most taut.  This also stimulates the core muscles more, particularly when doing squats or lunges with the XBAR.  

The XBAR does not require a lot of space and comes with three different levels of resistance bands and a door anchor, offering variations and modifications for all fitness levels.  Save 10% at by entering MEGANLINGE at checkout.  Shipping is free.

Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor
The Wahoo Fitness TICKR monitors your heart rate, calories burned,  and time plus distance and pace when connected to your phone.  The TICKR's dual band technology works with most smart phones and GPS watches.  By monitoring your heart rate, you are able to increase or decrease the amount of work you are doing based on your goals.  It is also a great way to track your progress.  As you become more fit, the same workload that once increased your heart rate to 140, may end up bringing it only to 130.  This is because your body has become more efficient at handling the stress placed upon it.  At that time, consider increasing the workload to continue improving your fitness level.

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Maximizing Post Workout Nutrition

Most of us go to the gym, take a fitness class, or head outdoors for a run with a specific goal in mind.  We want to increase our strength, decrease body fat and improve our well being without spending our lives at the gym and our nights preparing meals for hours on end.  Over time, we learn that various formats and intensity levels of our program bring the results. Yet, perhaps you are still feeling sluggish.  The pace of your run has slowed. Your strength workouts are intense, but you are not seeing the muscle development you would like.  While you make healthy choices when eating, you may be overlooking the importance of post workout nutrition.

Why is fueling after a workout so important?
What you eat after a workout can optimize the recovery process.  Proper post workout fuel will replenish muscle glycogen that was depleted during your workout, reduce muscle protein breakdown, and increase muscle protein synthesis. It can also help reduce cravings and fatigue.  It is important to remember that just because you ran 3 miles or completed a spin class, you do not have an all access pass to the fridge or restaurant menu.  In general, people tend to overestimate the amount of calories they have burned and underestimate how many they consume on a daily basis.  This can lead to weight gain over time--the exact opposite of what most of us want!  The following tips are suggestions that may help maximize your post workout nutrition without negating your hard work.
  • Aim to eat within 30-60 minutes after your workout. After a workout your body is in prime condition to absorb proteins and carbs, putting those nutrients to good use.
  • Avoid eating fats as they slow down digestion, which is the exact opposite of what you want to do.
  • Avoid eating salty foods.  They lower your levels of potassium which should be avoided when you have already lost electrolytes during your workout. Additional potassium will lower them even more.
  • Your snack should be in the ballpark of about 250 calories, with a mix of carbs and protein. advises 30-40 grams of carbs with 10-15 grams of protein.  Click here to use the formula for calculating your daily protein needs.
  • According to, if you are doing a cardio workout, aim for a slightly higher ratio of carbs to protein.
  • A morning workout breaks down glycogen stored in your liver, so if you workout first thing in the morning, these liver stores (in addition to glycogen stores) are depleted.  Therefore, the emphasis should be on carbohydrates (
  • After an evening workout, choose a dinner full of carbohydrates, which provide quick energy for the body.  Add protein for long lasting energy (
What kinds of foods or drinks should I have?
  • Fruit with nuts or nut butter
  • Hummus with carrot sticks
  • Pumpkin seeds.  Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc and BCAAs.  Zinc helps the growth and repair of muscle tissue.  It can also improve immune health. 
  • Whey protein.  Protein shakes are beneficial because they are convenient and do not require a lot of digestion, which may seem more appealing than a chicken sandwich right after a grueling workout.
  • Add chia seeds to your shake or snack for additional muscle repairing protein.
  • Bananas.  I like adding frozen banana to my protein shake because it creates a "milkshake-like" texture and the carbs help speed up delivery of protein to your muscles.  
  • Tart cherry juice is another great addition to your protein shake.  They contain anthycyanins, a compound that has been shown to block inflammation while reducing muscle damage (
  • Chocolate milk.  The high carb and protein content in chocolate milk make it an extremely effective post workout drink.
  • Spinach salad with sliced chicken breast
  • Greek yogurt with dried fruit  
What are your favorite sources of post workout fuel? Comment below or tag me on social media! @inspirelingefitness