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10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Workout During the Winter
By The Plow & Heart Fitness Team
2/10/2015 1:14:00 PM  

10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Workout During the Winter

Fitness experts offer their secrets to staying on track when temperatures dip.

It's tough to stay motivated to workout when the temperatures dip. Experts recommend finding a workout buddy or trying a new fitness class to stay on track.

1) Warm up inside

“Before putting on your cold-weather layers, get some active stretches in,” recommends personal trainer CJ Cross. Some leg swings, butt kicks, or jumping jacks before your run or workout will get the blood flowing to your muscles and joints as well as reduce your chance of injury.

2) Get a workout buddy

Almost every expert I consulted said having a workout buddy is a foolproof way to stay on track. “Knowing I have someone to meet makes my workout way more fun and means I can’t bail—win-win,” says Anne Mauney, a registered dietitian and runner.

3) Try a new workout

DC Fit Crasher Meaghan Stakelin staves off boredom by trying a different workout every week. “Find a fitness class that sounds fun and try incorporating it into your workout once a week as a special treat to look forward to,” she suggests.

4) Think of your wallet

Don’t let those classes you signed up for go to waste. “If you pay for a class, you may be a little bit more motivated to make it to class since you know you have a double whammy—your waistline and your pocket book,” says Anne Mahlum, owner of Solidcore.

5) Keep a journal

Remember how awesome you felt after boot camp? How all of your stress melted away after three miles? Keep a personal log of it in a notebook immediately after your workout. Flip through the book to remind yourself why you should get to the gym.

6) Post on social media

Mahlum says telling your followers and friends you’re going to exercise “keeps you accountable in a very public way.” According to the American Council on Exercise’s health coach manual, support from family and friends is key to maintaining an exercise regimen.

7) Buy new gear

“I always buy new workout sneakers and gym clothes this time of year,” says personal trainer Chris Perrin. “Something about new swag makes getting out the door and hitting the gym a lot easier.” (Check out our guide to new cold-weather fitness gear for your best bets.)

8) Make a spring fitness goal

Spend your winter training for your first half marathon or sprint triathlon. Whatever your fitness goal, Stakelin says, “sometimes an impending deadline is just the motivation you need to get going.”

9) Invest in home gym equipment

If you really can’t bear the cold, have some simple workout gear available at home. Check out this roundup of great workout DVDs for suggestions; I’m also a big fan of the Nike Training Club app, which offers hundreds of workouts for various fitness levels.

10) Treat yourself

Did you conquer the cold? Go ahead and treat yourself. Cross recommends bringing a big thermos filled with a warm drink to your workout. “Bring enough to share, and you’ll be the most popular person in your walking club during cool-down,” he says.

-Your Plow & He♥rt Fitness Team

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Health & Fitness  
From the Plow & Hearth Fitness Team: Harvest Season is Here!
By The Plow & Hearth Fitness Team
9/23/2014 1:09:00 PM  

The Harvest Season is on it’s way!

It’s always important to choose produce that’s in season so you get the maximum amount of nutrients. See below for some must-have healthy FALL FRUITS & VEGGIES!


Pumpkin is full of nutrients that can benefit the body. It contains fiber, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C. Don’t throw away the seeds! They are full of zinc, magnesium, protein and iron. The nutrients in pumpkin can aid with digestion, immunity and eye health. Not only that, zinc has been known to aid with taste changes, which patients receiving cancer treatment may experience.

Butternut Squash

This hourglass fall staple is full of fiber and vitamin A. It is rich in folate, too. If that’s not enough, because of its high antioxidant content, butternut squash has anti-inflammatory effects. Reducing inflammation in the body has been known to reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

Sweet Potatoes

Why use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, you ask? We know white potatoes are a more traditional side, but sweet potatoes are a WAY better option. These orange spuds have a low glycemic index, which means they won’t cause your blood sugar to spike. They’re rich in and beta-carotene, which can prevent vitamin A deficiencies, promote healthy eyesight and generate retinol production. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, and when baked in their skin can pack nearly 5 grams of fiber.


Last, but not least, are apples. Though apples are available during the whole year, they are even sweeter and cheaper in the fall. Why should you eat them? Three words: fiber, fiber, fiber. Fiber can aid with digestive health, blood sugar control and heart health by reducing inflammation and cholesterol levels.

HEALTHY TIP: Traditional dishes made with these foods include a great deal of sugar, butter or cream–even though these fruits and vegetables are naturally full of sweet and savory flavors. Try using recipe replacements for the high-fat, high-sugar additives. Consider using plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, applesauce instead of oil in sweet breads, and half-and-half or evaporated skim milk instead of heavy whipping cream.

-Your Plow & He♥rt Fitness Team

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Tags: Fall, Autumn, gardening, vegetables, fruits, fitness, health, nutrition
Categories: Health & Fitness
Health & Fitness  
Lifestyle Tips from the Plow & Heart Fitness Team: Improve your Zzzzs!
By Plow & Hearth
8/23/2014 12:04:00 PM  

Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Exercise is Key to Good Sleep


Exercise can affect your sleep. "Exercise is great for sleep. For the millions of people who want better sleep, exercise may help," says David Cloud, CEO, National Sleep Foundation.


Self-described exercisers report better sleep than self-described non-exercisers even though they say they sleep the same amount each night (6 hours and 51 minutes, average on weeknights). Vigorous, moderate, and light exercisers are significantly more likely to say "I had a good night's sleep" every night or almost every night on work nights than non-exercisers.


"If you are inactive, adding a 10 minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night's sleep," says Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., poll task force chair. "Making this small change and gradually working your way up to more intense activities like running or swimming could help you sleep better."


Those who report exercising close to bedtime and earlier in the day do not demonstrate a difference in self-reported sleep quality. In fact, for most people exercise at any time seems to be better for sleep than no exercise at all.


"Exercise is beneficial to sleep. It's time to put exercise – any time – at the top of our list for healthy sleep habits," says Dr. Barbara Phillips, poll task force member.


We wish you an active, healthy week with some good rest!


-Your Plow & He♥rt Fitness Team

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Health & Fitness  
Lifestyle Tips from the Plow & Heart Fitness Team: New Sneakers
By Plow & Hearth
8/16/2014 10:30:00 AM  

Developed to be protective and add traction, running/walking shoes have  evolved to incorporate lightweight materials that cushion the foot from the trauma of walking or running. Most cushioning comes from EVA foam, a lightweight material injected with air cells designed to absorb impact.


But, like all good things, the foam eventually loses its magic, that can happen anywhere from 300 to 500 miles after the first wear. For a runner/walker doing five 3-mile runs or walks per week, that comes out to a new pair every five to six months. (Let’s hope Santa comes twice this year!).


“According to some researchers, running/walking shoes should be replaced anywhere from 300 to 500 miles after the first wear.”


Why rush to pick up a new pair? Once that foam wears out, the risk of overuse injuries increases, because the material has lost its ability to absorb shock. While some overuse injuries (like shin splints are minor, others (like tendinitis) might require more serious treatment. One good way to avoid these issues: Regularly trading in your old shoes for new kicks.


Your Action Plan

Why do experts give such a big range for the appropriate time to replace old sneaks? Every runner/walker has a different weight and foot strike, both of which affect the cushioning of shoes in various ways (For instance, a heavier runner/walker who runs or walks on their heels may wear out the shoe cushioning faster than a light runner/walker who runs or walks on their toes.). To eliminate all those miles of guesswork, here are some quick signs that those running/walking shoes need to be replaced:


  1. Try the press test. Press a thumb into the center of the shoe, where the midsole is. If the midsole feels tough and unyielding (rather than cushy with some "give"), then it may be time for a new pair
  2.  Look for signs of creasing in the sole. Look at the midsole, then use your thumb to press on the outsole into the midsole. When the midsole shows heavy compression lines before you press into it, and doesn't compress much when you press into it, that's a sign that the cushioning is pretty much worn out.
  3. Pay attention to aches and pains. While some say pain is weakness leaving the body, others say it’s an indication that something is wrong. A little twinge at the bottom of a foot could be your body's way of saying that a shoe is past its prime.
  4. Compare new shoes with old ones. Trying on an old pair of shoes immediately before trying on a new pair gives runners/walkers a direct comparison of which feels better. Once an old pair of shoes stops feeling comfortable, it may be time to change it out. 

-Your Plow & He♥rt Fitness Team

Shop all Footwear at Plow & Hearth.

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Health & Fitness  
Lifestyle Tips From The Plow & Heart Fitness Team: 4 Steps to Fitness
By Plow & Hearth
7/22/2014 2:36:00 PM  
The best diet and the best workout program are the ones you can stick with.

One Size Doesn't Fit All: How to Find the Best Health and Fitness Routine for You
It's one of the first things we learn in school: Everyone is different. Our bodies react differently to certain types of training. Our stomachs handle different foods in a variety of ways. Some of us are excited for a workout that others dread.

4 Simple Steps to Decide What's Right for You
To become healthier as individuals we need to become people who try different things, listen to our bodies, and find positive lifestyle changes that we can stick with for the long haul. There's no such thing as one-size-fits-all in the health and fitness world. There's only what works for us as individuals. It might not be easy. (It won't.) But it will be worth it.

So, how do we figure out which diet and/or workout routine will help us feel healthy for the long haul? Start by asking yourself these questions:

Do I enjoy your workout? You don’t have to be over-the-top obsessed, but you have to enjoy the exercise you’re doing enough to push past the resistance your mind will give you after the novelty of it wears off. The opposite question to ask is, “Do I dread it?” If so, it’s not the program or diet for you.  

2. Is it sustainable? We all have different schedules. A mother working 70 hours per week is going to have different availability than a student with a light class load. Even if you love what you’re doing, the time commitment has to be sustainable, or else you’ll burn out. Chopping veggies for 30 minutes every day or lifting weights for an hour might not be right for you. Start with a time commitment that's without-a-doubt manageable. You can always add in additional time later.

3. Is there a community of like-minded people to support me? This doesn’t have to be a physical, in-person community, but you should have access to some sort of community. Maybe you really enjoy bodybuilding but love working out alone with your headphones on. Perfect. There are hundreds of bodybuilding forums online where you can learn from and support other people pursuing a common goal. Without this kind of support, you can feel very isolated, and it’s easier to quit when you feel like you’re going it alone. The same goes for diet. You will benefit from a community of people eating the same way and providing recipes, ideas, and support to keep you motivated.

4. Is it working? Check your progress after two months or so by re-testing a workout you did at the very beginning of your program: Can you complete it faster? Are you lifting heavier weights or doing more reps? You can also measure physical markers like body measurements, weight, how your clothes are fitting, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. Accept that finding the right health and fitness program will involve trial and error and whatever you settle on will take work, you'll bring yourself one step closer to the lifestyle that helps you be the best you can be!

-Your Plow & Hert Fitness Team

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Categories: Health & Fitness
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