Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MOVE this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, my American friends!

Thanksgiving is traditionally a day of food, family, and .... sitting around.  We sit watching the parade, we sit and catch up with relatives, we sit to watch football, we sit and eat dinner, we sit and digest, you get the picture. There's nothing wrong with taking time to relax and enjoy good company, but all this lying around can leave us feeling lethargic for days to come.

This Thanksgiving, I dare you to get up and MOVE!  

Maybe for you, that means getting in one awesome morning workout before the day begins--awesome!

Perhaps your family enjoys fulfilling a different Thanksgiving tradition of playing some backyard football.  Sounds great!

BUT there are many other ways to get moving throughout the day, too.  Here are a few ideas to try:
  • Get involved in the kitchen.  Often, holiday gatherings involve lots of home-cooked food. Whether you're the host and head chef or simply an invited guest, offer your assistance in the kitchen.  Cooking involves not only being on your feet and moving about the kitchen, but also keeps you active in simple tasks like chopping and dicing, or sometimes even more intensive movements like mashing potatoes or mixing dough.  Whatever it is, it's an improvement over lounging around!  Just be sure you don't overdo it on the taste tests :
Someone's got to peel and slice!

  • Not a sous chef? Be the server. As appetizers, meals, and desserts are served, be the one serving!  Between early crudite/dips to the final dessert, you'll be moving back and forth from the kitchen throughout the entirety afternoon/evening. 
  • Play with the kids.  Children are naturally active. They have so much energy, and they're not afraid to use it!  Whether they start up games on their own or need a bit of encouraging, you can get in a good amount of activity by playing with children.  Maybe it's a game of freeze-tag in the yard, maybe it's getting on your knees to follow around a crawling baby... maybe you play duck-duck-goose, clap through a few rounds of patty cake or slide, play with a Wii or Kinect, put on a magic show, or choreograph a dance routine...  Whatever it is, you'll probably find yourself moving around quite a bit!
  • Sign on for clean-up duty. So many dishes, so much to clean!  Again, this keeps you on your feet, keeps your hands moving, and sometimes involves a bit of elbow grease. 
  • Take movement breaks.  Set a timer on your phone/watch/timer and every hour or two, make a point of getting in just one or two minutes of physical activity.  It could be a brisk walk, some jumping jacks or burpees, a minute of squats, or a minute of pushups.  Do something to get your heart pumping and keep your muscles lookin' alive! 
  • Initiate a walk outside.  Whether before or after the main meal, invite others to join you on a walk!  It's nice to get some fresh air and stretch your legs, and others will likely be thankful for the idea and eager to join you. 
  • Plan active games. Backyard sports are one thing, but there are plenty of games to be played inside, too!  Choose a few games to offer up to the crowd: Charades and HeadsUp  are just two that come to mind, and I'm sure there are dozens more I'm not thinking of. What are your favorite active indoor games? 

How do YOU keep active during holiday festivities?

Remember, as always, to be grateful for your body and all it does for you. Continue to treat it well with nutritious food and smart activity.

Have a lovely holiday weekend! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Run on Air: Get #FueledbyZero

Runners love to run. Runners are passionate about running, and they are addicted to running. Even shorter-distance runners like me get antsy after too long off the road. And we've all got goals: we want to run better, run faster, and/or run longer.

BUT, runners also want to avoid injury.

Yes, running causes injuries. The daily pounding is tough on the joints! It's undeniable: Running causes injury. 80% of runners report being injured in the last 12 months, and 55% had to take a time-out (4+ days!) from training due to injury. Even a small-time runner like myself has experienced occasional pain in my knees and ankles while running; it's not fun and definitely has made me stop running from time to time.

Does this mean everyone should stop forever? Not necessarily -- it just means that runners need to train smarter! We can continue to build endurance, gain active recovery, and log miles, as long as we can manage impact on our bodies... and Octane Fitness is enabling runners to do just that!

Last Thursday, I was invited by Octane Fitness to Gym Source in NYC to learn all about their technological breakthrough that will rock the world of runners everywhere. The folks at Octane Fitness define themselves as innovators dedicated to a fueled world. They perfected the elliptical trainer, designed to build a better workout. And now, because they know runners so well, they've created a new tool to help runners train better, longer, and without injury:

The Zero Runner!

The new development is that the machine itself has a knee joint and a hip joint. The Zero Runner mirrors your own legs; it lets you determine the movement path. Your legs are the motor and your legs set the stride. You are, essentially, running on air.

As an indoor running trainer, how is it different from a treadmill or elliptical?

  • No motor: This machine has no motor. It doesn't even get plugged in to an outlet. The console is battery-powered but the rest is just YOU. Unlike a treadmill that forces you along and does some of the work for you, the Zero Runner only moves if you move it.
  • Quiet: In fact, the absence of motor makes it astonishingly quiet. It's practically noise-free, so it can go in any room in the house (and anwhere, because there's no cord!). You can be racing along and still hear your TV or music on regular volume.
  • No fixed stride: Unlike an elliptical machine that has limited range of motion, the Zero Runner replicates your natural running motion. Doesn't matter if your legs are short or long, the machine's stride is the same for everyone. The Zero Runner has no fixed path. It lets you do anything -- it follows where you move your legs. You can expand your stride, you can lunge, you can move any which way! The machine is made so it fits anyone's stride, without having to adjust the machine itself.
  • No impact! Your legs are free to move, and your joints are free of impact. The Zero-Impact Running (TM) is a major innovation in the world of running and fitness. You use all the same muscles as you would on an outdoor run, but without the damaging impact from hitting the ground. This reduces your risk of common overuse injury and helps you feel great during and after runs!
  • Monitor your stride: There's an app--yes, this syncs with your iPad--that allows you to monitor your stride as you run. You can watch it live or review it after to identify differences between your first miles and your last miles. You'll become very aware of your stride and your form, in a way that will translate to the road outside.

Who is the Zero Runner for? Everyone:

  • Running enthusiasts and elites can use the Zero Runner to prepare for races. Log your training miles without accounting for the impact on your joints. You do more damage to your joints in the last few miles of a long run, so you can take it inside to complete your training miles.
  • Aging or injured runners can continue exercising without risking further injury.
  • Smaller-distance runners like myself (5k - 10k) can also continue training indoors in cold or wet weather.
  • Aspiring runners can get involved, too, building up their endurance before heading outside!

No matter who you are or what your goal is, the Zero Runner can help you meet your goals and keep your running career running longer! You can train, you can prevent injury, you can do active recovery, and you can even cross train using special bands that connect to the machine for strengthening exercises, upper body posture, and other such exercises that runners know they should do but often don't.

Two hard-core runners were in attendance to tell us why they're fans of the Zero Runner:

Larry Schmidt has 83 marathons, 17 Ultra marathons, and 6 Ironman Triathlons under his belt, so I'd take his advice. He insists that this machine will make you better on the road. Instead of replacing your outdoor workouts, it supplements them.

"No one ever told us how much injury would come from our running," he said. Looking back, he wonders if he could have put off his hip osteoarthritis if he had had a machine like the Zero Runner. He's glad that runners now have a sport-specific machine to help manage impact and prevent injury. In fact, he feels so strongly about the Zero Runner that almost as soon as he tried one, he asked to work for the company. He now has two in his home where he and his wife run or walk side-by-side, enjoying a conversation or TV show together.

Olympian Carrie Tollefson has been a champion from high school (state champ) through college (5-time NCAA champ), and beyond (national champ 2004 Team USA athlete). Suffice to say, she knows a thing or two about running, and is also the first to admit that she knows about injury.

She describes herself as injury-prone, and felt that she broke down too much too soon. She, too, imagines this machine preventing it and keeping her in her sport longer.

During injury and off-days, she recalls how she loathed cross-training; she simply wanted to be running. However, she now says: "This machine, to me, I feel like a runner on."

They convinced me that the Zero Runner is worthwhile for anyone, so I was excited to hop on and give it a try!

It definitely has a bit of a learning curve, because we're so used to the fixed stride provided by an elliptical machine. Once you realize that you just need to press down with your full weight and move your legs as naturally as possible... it started to become a bit more natural.

As I tried to adjust my steps, I was amazed at how free the machine felt. It really is like running on air! It was also fun to see my stride mapped out on the iPad in front of me. It reflected every move I made to wider strides and shorter strides. Really neat, and very helpful for anyone trying to improve or maintain their stride.

When I stepped off, I felt that I had been walking on the moon! As a beginner, it was a bit of a trip, but all in attendance who had used it before seemed to be perfectly at home on this new contraption.

A few interesting details from the Q&A portion of the event:

  • How big is it? It's about the same width as a treadmill, but much shorter: 38 x 64 inches.
  • How heavy is it? It's 200lbs - but it's got wheels on one side so you can lift, tilt, and roll it to move its position as needed.
  • How long does assembly take? It's typically assembled by the agency from which you purchased it, but someone new to assembling it would only take about 30 minutes. Once you've done it a few times, maybe 15. (Someone in the audience--was it you, Cat?--joked about it sounding easier than Ikea!)
  • Cat asked about if it had safety locks--some feature to ensure that no one -- such as a child -- would accidentally stumble onto it and hurt themselves. The answer was no, not at this time, but it certainly planted the seed for adding that helpful feature in the future.
  • Does it get you to the same level of exertion as running on the road? You can use the iPad app to work on your stride, and you can also sync a heart rate monitor to track your exertion and adjust accordingly.

  • Can you get runner's high on the Zero Runner? Both Larry and Carrie promptly replied an enthusiastic YES!

So there you have it! If you are a runner looking to improve your running, seeking to prevent or recover from injury, or just want get your run on indoors during the cold winter months, you may want to look into the Zero Runner!

It'll cost you a pretty penny at over $3,000, but you can add it to your wish list and hope you've got some generous relatives this holiday season :)

See more photos and video at

Have any other questions about the Zero Runner? FitFluential is hosting a Twitter Chat about the Zero Runner on December 2nd at 9pm EST.

Follow all social media shout outs to the Zero Runner by searching #FueledByZero.

You can also connect with Octane Fitness directly on...

Thank you, Octane Fitness, for inviting me to try out this breakthrough equipment! I'm so excited that runners will have better option for training off the road.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Octane Fitness.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

say "WHOAH!"

First: WHOA--only a few days left to enter the healthy recipe book giveaway!  Get delicious recipes to help restore your health.

You may recall that my running stalled the last couple months due to illness (boooo).  I'm finally easing my way back in; I spent much of November walking on the treadmill (cold weather!), doing yoga and Pilates, and even taking a Spinning class or two more recently.
WHOA cold weather!
It's felt good to get moving again, but I didn't want to dive in head-first.  I did go to one BODYPUMP class, but my back hurt for a week after.  So... not heading back there until maybe later in December. For now, I've been enjoying simple movement, bodyweight work, and cycling--easier on the joints.

Speaking of easy on the joints, let's talk CUSHIONING... 

There's a new sneaker on the market, and it is nice.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to try it out myself (still in recovery, anyhow), but Eric did, courtesy of the kind folks at Saucony.

He was elated when his Saucony Triumph ISO sneakers arrived, and when he opened the box, it literally spoke to him: "WHOAH"!  He unfolded the panels of the high-tech box to find the shoes.  Watch how it happened below:

When he reached the sneakers, he literally said "Whoah" aloud, followed shortly by, "They're bright!"

His WHOAface was more subtle than mine:

They're lightweight, too--only 10.3 oz!! Whoah!!

PWRGRID+ Premium Cushioning Foam has 20% more cushioning than standard midsoles!

Watch to learn more about the technology:

But don't take it from me or the promo video -- let's hear what Eric had to report:

"Shoes were great" --> After taking them out several times, Eric confirms that they're really comfortable!  I hadn't primed him with any of the above info--about the cushioning, etc., but he was able to tell right away that it was a key feature of the Triumphs.

Here's what he had to say, as dictated to me:

Overall, they're good. I'll go through the negatives and positives, negatives first: 
Negatives: They're too bright, and the box was extremely annoying.  [Meredith's insert: Um... those were my two favorite parts.]  The shoes were very bright, and the laces kind of feel like they're going to fall apart.  They're stretchy, but if you stretch them too far, they feel like they might break. 

Positives: They're comfortable.  They have really good support on the heel; I feel like it's cushiony and bouncy.  The shoe is really wide and well-padded, so it's comfortable. 
I wore them to walk, run, and go to the gym [to lift weights], and they were comfortable for all three.  They're very forgiving--the padding.   
Also, I ran on the treadmill with them. Sometimes, my knees hurt when I run on a treadmill, but my knees were fine in these sneakers.   
I'm happy with them. 

Me: "Okay, they're brighter than you like, but will you keep wearing them?"
Eric: Yeah. 
So that does it!  Bright or not, he's a fan of the cushioning. As long as they support his feet, he'll keep wearing them. 

He just kept repeating how cushioned and comfortable the Triumphs are.  He's happy, I'm happy!  And now you can be happy, too!!! Learn more here, OR enter theeee.....

Want to get a pair for yourself?  Dare you to enter to win a free pair of the Saucony Triumph ISO on the FitFluential blog!!  

Get comfortable, stay warm, and good luck :D 

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Saucony. Shoes were provided for review, but no monetary compensation was received, nor does sponsorship affect the reviews reflected above. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Live Positive

Hey friends!  Popping in for a quick post, because there's a cool contest going on at I want to share with you.  They're looking to give a generous holiday gift to someone who demonstrates how to #LivePositive.

Here's how it works:

You nominate someone who is deserving of a BIG ACT OF KINDNESS, everyone votes online, and then Tommie Copper gives the winner $10,000 !!!  How awesome is that?

They're spreading the message
with the hashtag #LivePositive!

You can enter by clicking here to submit a photo or video telling your nominee's #livepositive story (and enjoy %15 off your next order, while you're at it!).  There's just three more days for nominations to be accepted, so get moving if you know someone you'd like to nominate!

Starting next week, everyone can go on and vote for the the winner (November 24 - December 7), so get ready to log in and vote for a deserving nominee who truly showed that they #livepositive.

Watch the video below to learn more, or head right on over to the contest website to enter now! Dare you to!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Try a new food: Sunchokes

Psst! Don't forget to check out last week's giveaway to win an amazing nutrition/health/recipe book, signed by the author!

It's been a while since a new food post, but I recently tried a food that was brand new to me: Sunchokes.

Have you heard of this vegetable?  I had never, but then I discovered that it's simply another name for the Jerusalem artichoke.  I'd never actually seen or eaten one of those, either, but had always assumed it looked more like, well, an artichoke (click to learn all about that "new food" dare here).

Intrigued, I gathered the details on this native North American tuber:

Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, come from a plant that looks a lot like their relative, the sunflower.  What I found, though, looked nothing like a sunflower.  It's the tuber beneath it that looks like a knobby, rough, light brown rock. It looked sort of like ginger, but I honestly questioned whether it was even edible.

Peeled, cut, and cooked, it wasn't so bad!  Its flavor resembles that of good old artichokes, hence the nickname.  In fact, many sources described its flavor as a cross between sunflower seeds and artichoke hearts.

What's inside:

  • Contains vitamins: A, B-complex, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. 
  • Source of inulin (could be good for diabetics, could be bad for people who don't easily digest it --> may cause gas and bloating, beware!)
  • Reportedly relieves asthma symptoms
  • Reportedly treats constipation

How to choose: Buy sunchokes in season during fall and winter.  You want to choose ones that are firm to touch and free of wrinkles or green or blotchy soft spots.  Before peeling, you can store in the refrigerator for up to a week or two.

Even though it's a root vegetable, it doesn't come with all the starchy carbs found in most tasty root veggies, so if you're watching your carb intake for any reason, that could make these a good option for you.

How to eat: After cleaning or peeling, enjoy sunchokes any which way you like!

  • You can enjoy them raw for a crunchy, sunflowerlike addition to your meal.  Simply slice or chop to add to salads or slaws, sort of like you might do with jicama. 
  • You can puree them to make a soup!
  • Or, you can cook them using your favorite method: roast, boil, saute, steam, fry (online recipes even exist for sunchoke chips)... the sky's the limit! Sunchokes are versatile, like potatoes, so they can be cooked in a variety of methods.

I roasted mine in the oven (seasoned with oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper).   Because I'm still figuring out my new oven's temperatures, they got a little toasty...

Still, they paired nicely with some juicy chicken for a fancy-looking meal!

My first bite:

Pretty good!  They didn't have all that much flavor (most of the flavor seemed absorbed from the oil and rosemary), but I ate them up anyhow.  Not bad!

I wouldn't say it's my new favorite root vegetable, but it's an option I'm happy to have learned about and would gladly meet again in the future.

Have you eaten sunchokes? 
If so, what's your favorite way cook them?

Sources: WiseGeek, Bon Appetit, Local Harvest, Eat the Seasons, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meet these Life-Changers -- {BOOK GIVEAWAY!}

This past weekend, New York City finally got to meet some real health and nutrition superstars!

Together, Sarah Ballantyne (about whom I've gushed before) and Stacy Toth (whom I had the pleasure of meeting once before) chat, teach, and advise on The Paleo View Podcast.  The podcast is produced by Stacy's husband Matt McCarry, and the two of them also have several books out, the latest of which is Real Life Paleo (review to come soon, after I've gotten cooking!).

Stefani Ruper was an added bonus to this stop on The Paleo View book tour.  Stefani has been a guest on several of my favorite podcasts and also has her own self-love podcast and book: Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Life-Long Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence.  After being a long-time listener of her wisdom via voice podcast, it was amazing to see her in person; she had the type of confidence and radiance that is promised from her work, so she's living proof of how to be sexy by nature.  I can't wait to read her book!

So that's the cast.  What's the plot?  BOOK TOUR Sarah, Stacy, and Matt are on a book tour for their latest cookbooks! (Check out #TPVbooktour to follow along and see if they're coming to your city.)  I was elated when I saw they'd be stopping in New York City for a cooking demo and book signing.

The event took place at Broadway Panhandler in NYC on Saturday from 4-6pm.  When I arrived at ten minutes to four, the place was already packed as everyone crowded around the demonstration table.  I sidled in to the crowd and strained to catch a glimpse.  Being short, though, I found it difficult to watch. About 20 minutes in, I and a few others squatted down to sit in the front below the standing masses.  Sitting had its own drawbacks, too, but I was glad to be able to see!

They introduced each of the newest cookbooks:
Real Life Paleo: 175 Gluten-Free Recipes, Meal Ideas, and an Easy 3-Phased Approach to Lose Weight & Gain Health (paleo tips, strategies, and recipes for those new to paleo or for integrating the paleo lifestyle into your REAL 21st century life)
The Paleo Approach Cookbook: A Detailed Guide to Heal Your Body and Nourish Your Soul (information and recipes designed specifically for nutritional healing and safe those with autoimmune conditions)

Flashback to getting Sarah's first book

Then, they walked us through cooking four of the dishes, simultaneously!
  1. Pot Sticker Meatballs (from The Paleo Approach Cookbook)
  2. Cranberry-Orange No-Bake Coconut Bars (from Real Life Paleo)
  3. Cauli-Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts and Lemon Zest (from Real Life Paleo)
  4. Olive Oil Ice "Cream" (from The Paleo Approach Cookbook)
It was fun watching them not only cook, but also chat, answer questions, and joke, just like they do in their podcast.  As they cooked, they gave little tips about why they do what they do, and how else the recipe can be done.  They also took questions from the audience about the recipe, about their books, about eating paleo, and about anything at all!

Dr. Sarah explaining the science

As each recipe was completed, they passed around samples for us to try.  I may have been so eager to eat that I forgot to snap a pic for you.  Forgive me!  The meatballs, coconut bars, and ice cream were all good, but the cauliflower gnocchi was my absolute favorite from the day!  This is what convinced me that Real Life Paleo was a must-have for #MyPaleoCollection bookshelf--immediately!!

When I told this to Matt and Stacy, they explained how the dough for the gnocchi is incredibly versatile and can be used as a base for a variety of recipes and meals.  I can't wait to get cooking!!!

Instead of lard, they were given Crisco! #faileo

After the food had been cooked and eaten, the book signing began.  I got to chatting with a few other attendees, including Lisa, who blogs at  Always fun meeting new paleo friends, from near and far!

At the receiving line, the authors not only signed their respective books, but really took the time to talk and connect with every single attendee.  Stefani Ruper gave me one of the best hugs ever, Matt and Stacy advised me on pork substitutes and how to use their gnocchi dough, and Sarah allowed me to gush over how she changed my life when she answered my podcast question about preventative measures for autoimmune disease.

AND -- good news for you -- Sarah generously offered to share a free SIGNED copy of her cookbook with two of YOU, my dare you to friends... and I dare you to enter!

Enter below through Rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of The Paleo Approach Cookbook.  A variety of entry options are provided to increase your chances.  Two winners will be selected.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to know what's inside? Head back to my reviews of each of her books: The Paleo Approach book review -- a detailed textbook that explains everything you need to know about your body, nutrition, physical activity, and The Paleo Approach Cookbook book review -- the cookbook that enables those with autoimmune conditions and additional food sensitivities to make delicious meals without worrying about nightshades, nuts, or dairy.

It was such a fun afternoon, I hardly wanted it to end!  When I bundled up and made my way to the subway, I was already flipping through my new books and mentally bookmarking everything to read, share, and cook.  These paleo celebrities didn't disappoint, so if they're coming to a city near you, dare you to go watch, listen, and learn!

Thank you for a fun, informative afternoon! 

Interested in learning more from these authors and researchers? Dare you to click below to check out their books:


Some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links, which in no way impacts the quality, price, or availability of items.