5 ways to stay active (and have fun) on vacation

When going on vacation, exercise is often not a top priority. However, maintaining an active lifestyle on vacation will help to reduce or eliminate vacation weight gain and maintain motivation once the vacation is over. Vacations are meant to be a time off from regular routine so eliminate the stress of exercise by having fun with it!

5 ways to stay active on vacation


1. Sightsee on foot

This seems basic but walking is an excellent source of exercise while on vacation. If a sight is a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute metro ride, choose to walk. Not only are you exercising, you get a chance to sightsee at the same time. This will often lead off the tourist track where you can truly get a sense of the place you are visiting. I love walking around neighbourhoods, window shopping little shops and checking out neat cafes and restaurants I might want to visit later.

When Tom & I were in Europe, we walked a lot. While many major cities would offer hop-on-hop-off bus tours of major attractions, we chose to forgo those and walk between sites. This was our main form of exercise. The minimum we would walk in a day was around 5 hours. At max, one day we walked 10 hours.

Additionally, running as sightseeing is a great way to get out and see a city. Wake up for an early morning run and you will see the place you are visiting in a whole new light.

mykonos run

2. Take the road less travelled

Have you ever walked out of a subway station, got onto the packed escalator then looked beside you and saw that one person walking up the stairs? Be that person! Staying active on vacation doesn’t have to be specifically putting on work out clothes and working out, it can be finding ways to get your heart rate up during the day and burning a few extra calories.

Taking stairs is one of the easiest way to get your heart rate climbing plus when you are that person walking up the stairs passing those people standing on the elevator, you get the right to feel a little self-righteous. I know I did, especially when Tom and I were carrying our 30 pound backpacks and still chose the stairs.

judging gif


3. Hotel gym or circuit workouts

If you want a more conventional workout, you can always see if your hotel has a gym. Planning ahead and choosing a hotel with a gym can help with your fitness goals. However, if your hotel doesn’t have a gym don’t fret! You can always do a hotel circuit workout. I love Julie from Peanut Butter Finger’s no-equipment circuit workouts. You can do a quick 25-30 minute workout when you get up in the morning and then you leave for the day already feeling accomplished.

workout motivation

4. Join a fitness challenge

Before you leave for vacation, join a fitness challenge. There are always challenges such as squat challenges, plank-a-day challenges, etc. Joining a challenge will keep you motivated while you are away. Keep your progress updated on Instagram, Twitter or whatever social media you prefer. Keep it fun by doing a plank in front of a monument you are visiting or doing your squats in a famous park.

Just don’t do this type of planking challenge…



5. Look up local workout classes

Being on vacation means you are trying new things and new experiences. Check out if the area offers any fun drop in classes. Maybe there is a yoga in the park you could take part in or you could try out something unique like hotel Aria’s Indoor Hike in Las Vegas.

There are so many ways to keep fit on vacation, do whatever works best for you!

hiking greece

What’s your favourite way to work up a sweat on vacation? Do you judge people on the elevator when you are taking the stairs?

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New York City Marathon Training

So remember a while ago when I told you I got into the New York Marathon this year?

NYC marathon

Well now that I’m back from vacation, reality has set in and I realized it’s only 21 weeks away.

home alone gif


I need to get my butt in gear and start training. First thing I started doing was researching training plans. There are so many different training plans that you can find online but I couldn’t find a single plan that suited my needs. So I combined a couple of plans into my own unique plan. When making my training plan I considered:


As I started looking through the plans, I noticed almost all of them had one thing in common, the longest run that you complete is 20 miles (32km). When I saw that, I almost fainted. So I’ll have to run 10km longer than I have ever run before ON race day. I thought the golden rule of running was never do anything new on race day!

I looked into this further and there is actually a lot of reasoning for the 20 mile mark. When training, it’s important to balance preparedness with injury risk. Running past the 20 mile mark doesn’t increase aerobic capacity that much but does increase injury risk. I have a pretty long history of injuries so I know I don’t want to push it too far. However, the idea of showing up on race day having only ran 20 miles gives me a mild huge panic attack.


Ultimately, I’ve decided to run to 22 miles. I feel for my mental preparedness I need to go a little further than 20 miles. Of course, we will see how my training goes and that could change.

Rest Days:

Training plans differ on the number of running days from 3-6. I knew for myself 5-6 days of running is too much. I feel comfortable running 4 days a week. That also gives me a chance to do some other things that I enjoy like strength training & yoga.



Speed/Hill Training:

A lot of beginner marathon training plans that I read didn’t include any speed or hill training. For me, I want to ensure that I am used to running hills as New York is a hilly course. And I would definitely like to work on my speed so including some interval training is important to me. For interval training I decided to give the Yasso method a try.

Planned Races:

I had already signed up for two half marathons before I got into the New York marathon.Therefore, I had to incorporate those into my training plan and ensure that I allow a bit of a recovery period after each race before increasing my mileage further.

So with all these factors in mind and the multiple marathon plans laid out in front of me, I came up with this training plan:

*Note all distances are in miles. Yes, I am Canadian so the metric system would make more sense. But for me, it’s a mental thing, 20 miles seems like less than 32km.*

new york marathon training program

I’ll be updating my training progress every week so follow along to see how I do on my road to New York.

What training programs have you used for runs? What’s your favourite type of run – long, tempo, hills, other?

Calgary Marathon and 30 Days of Summer

Hello and Happy Monday! I promise my Europe recaps are coming, I have one all ready for tomorrow but first I figured I would recap my weekend and the 10km run I did yesterday.

Before that, I also wanted to tell you about a 30 day photo challenge I’m joining. For the 30 days of June, I will be posting pictures on Instagram showcasing my summer. The challenge is sponsored by Staples. I and many other bloggers will be playing along with this challenge and you can too. Just hashtag your pictures on social media with #30SummerDays

Each day there is something new for you to post:


1 – Rabbit, Rabbit! What brings you good luck?
2 – Monday, ugh! What’s keeping you going today?
3 – Who made you smile today?
4 – Look up. What do you see?
5 – #TBT (throw back Thursday) Share a photo from a past summer trip!
6 – National Doughnut Day! Snap a pic celebrating! Or, what did you have instead?!
7 – Saturday! What are you up to?

8 – Time to relax before the start of the week. What does relaxing look like to you?
9 – Manic Monday! What’s giving you a case of the Mondays?
10 – Is the sun out? Snap a pic! If not, what’s it like out there?
11 – Get over the hump of the week. How were you productive today?
12 – Treat yourself, it’s almost the weekend!
13 – Friday the 13th! Are you superstitious and ducking for cover, or out and about?
14 – Flag Day! Got one flying in the warm breeze?

15 – Happy Father’s Day! Snap a pic or share one of an awesome dad!
16 – Monday motivation. What motivates you?
17 – Got a pet? Share them with the world!
18 – Stretch those legs mid-week and go outside or for a walk. Snap and share!
19 – #OOTD, what are you wearing? Got your summer clothes on?!
20 – Happy Friday! You made it! Smile and say cheese!
21 – HAPPY SUMMER! Take a picture of what summer looks like to you to celebrate!

22 – Sunday Pancakes! Do you have a Sunday breakfast routine?
23 – Got those sandals out? What’s your favourite pair?
24 – What made you happy today?
25 – Are the flowers blooming? Take a picture of your favourite!
26 – Wehew, it’s hot out there. How are you cooling down?
27 – Last Friday of the month, what are you up to?
28 – Is today a beach day? Snap a pic and make everyone jealous!

29 – Go out for a picnic! Make sure to take a picture!
30 – Last day of June, how are you sending it off?

And if those don’t work, get creative! It’s your summer after all! Make sure you follow along with me and see how my June plays out.

Anyways, back to my weekend…

I had a very busy weekend! I headed to my sister’s in Edmonton right after work on Friday. I got there in just enough time to see my little nieces for a bit before their bedtime. Having them run up to me excited to see me just makes my heart melt every time! Then I got a chance to talk my sister’s ear off about my Europe trip. I felt like I was yammering on forever. But she said she likes to get to me first so that I’m not all talked out and just say it was “good”.

Saturday we headed to my other sister’s who was hosting my nephews grad party. And I totally was the worst blogger ever as I forgot to take even a single picture. But the weather was great and we had a great bbq. Then I headed back to Calgary, but not before taking the wrong turn leaving my sisters and getting stuck in road construction for half an hour before I could turn around.

road construction


Sunday I ran the Jugo Juice 10km which was part of the Calgary Marathon.

Last week I picked up my race packet at the expo. This year is pretty cool because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Calgary Marathon. They had some great retro outfits for display and a big tarp you could sign.


calgary marathon

My signature:


The best part of the expo was seeing John Stanton! I was still jet lagged and like a zombie walking through the expo. I didn’t think I could have any intelligent conversation with him so instead, I just snapped a creeper picture of him.


Sunday morning I woke up for the race and sooo badly didn’t want to go. As I mentioned, I didn’t exactly run on vacation as planned. So I knew running a 10km was going to be a bit challenging. I even considered not going and just pretending I was sick. But eventually I dragged myself out the door and of course, I was happy that I did. As soon as I got down to the stampede grounds, the energy level got my spirits lifted and I was ready to race!


I decided I wasn’t going to race this run considering I wasn’t properly trained. I planned to do my usual run/walk and just go at whatever pace felt comfortable. I mostly just wanted to go out and have a good time.

I have never been in a race this size so it was really cool to feed off the energy of people all around you. There was never a point where you were alone. It was definitely good practice for the New York Marathon which will be about 100 times more crowded.


The crowd support on the race was pretty good. A lot of the neighbourhoods came out and had a lot of supporters with some great signs. Since I wasn’t racing I was just having a great time on the course, I was taking pictures, texting selfies of myself to Tom and high-fiving as many kids as I could






My official time was 1:03:43. I was really happy with that considering I wasn’t racing. Overall, the organization of the Calgary Marathon is fantastic. It was such a great day and I’m sure I’ll be running again next year.

jugo juice 10km

The only downside to the race is that one of my biggest fears came true again. Another injury!

According to my Web MD diagnosis I have hip bursitis. So right now, though I was planning to be starting my marathon training I have to work a bit on resting this injury. Luckily I already have an appointment with my physio next week so he will help me through this.

Do you prefer big races with crowds or small races? Have you ever had hip bursitis – any tips?

Mindful Movement

I’m so excited to be here on A Pretty Little Grub! I have always enjoyed Jen’s posts and her combination of nutrition and makeup information (I may know fitness, but I know NOTHING about makeup :)! My name is Jessica Valant and I’m a physical therapist, Pilates instructor and owner of Harmony Pilates & Physical Therapy. I’m also a wife and mama and recently moved from Hawaii to San Diego with my family. My goal has always been to educate people about their health and encourage them to find the fun in being healthy! Jen asked me to write a post for you all on how to move with mindfulness. I know you are already eating purposefully through her amazing tips and recipes, and I hope this helps you move that way as well….


“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt


When I think of mindfulness, the first word that always comes to mind is “purpose”. We all move every day in some way, shape or form. We walk, run, ride bikes, climb stairs, take the bus, drive, sit, stand, bend, sleep, crawl, skip, hop or jump at some point every day. Most of the time in our fast-paced society, we tend to do these things on auto-pilot. We get from point A to point B, but we aren’t really sure how we got there. We go through the motions, but never stop to actually ask ourselves “why”, “how” or “how does that feel?”

I have been in physical therapy and Pilates for 13 years, and the biggest difference I see in my clients who improve and stick with a program versus those who don’t is whether they move with purpose. It’s not how strong they are, how smart they are, how fast, how skinny, how pretty, how much time they have or how much money they make. It’s whether they make purposeful decisions about whether to move and how to do it. The other thing I’ve noticed is how unbelievably hard that can be. There are three things that need to be done in order to move with purpose:

1) Acknowledge the thing that holds you back

Is it fear? Fear of pain – if you are in chronic pain, fear of that pain can immobilize you. You may want to do something, but you don’t know what you can do without the pain coming back. Fear of failure – maybe you’ve tried to lose weight over and over again and it’s never worked, and you are afraid to even try again. Fear of how you’ll look – I want to try a workout called Orange Theory but it involves running on a treadmill in a class setting. I am a horrible runner and am somewhat fearful of falling on my face in front of everyone. Fear of gaining weight – sometimes our body is telling us to walk instead of run or to take a day off of exercise, but we don’t listen. Is it something in your past? Do you not believe in yourself? Do you have an unsupportive partner? Do you think you are too busy? We all have something that we are constantly battling, and it’s important to realize what it is.

2) Let it go

We all have “that thing”. That thing that whispers in our ear, that nags us, that keeps us from trying new things or moving forward. We play tug of war with that thing all day long. It pulls and fights, and then we pull and fight back. What happens if you let go of the rope when playing tug of war? The other side falls down. No one wins in a tug of war if both sides just keep pulling. You might pull harder than the other side, but you still fall on your butt. The only way to really win is to LET GO of the rope. I’m not saying it’s easy, and you may need to let go over and over and over in a given day. But until you acknowledge what’s holding you back, and then be willing to admit you don’t need it in your life, you can’t move on.

3) Chose

Make a purposeful choice to move and how to move. Make the choice for YOU – not for anyone else or their expectations. Not because of fear. Are you running because you love to run or just because people say it’s a great workout? Are you doing ballet because you think you should do something “feminine” but what you really want to do is obstacle courses and bootcamps? Are you working out only so that you hit that magic “caloric burn” number? Are you doing yoga because someone told you to meditate, but you are simply bored the entire time? I see a night and day difference in my patients who come to PT because their doctor, insurance or work is making them versus those who searched us out and chose to come to us. Movement needs to have some kind of purpose and be something you are choosing to do. (Notice I didn’t say “want to do” 🙂 Sometimes we make a conscious choice that we know is good for us even if we don’t want to do it in that moment!) Make the choice for you. That is the only way to really own your body.


Once you start to put these things into practice, your relationship with your body will change drastically! It can be a slow process, so be patient with yourself. Just start by noticing how you actually feel when you move or workout. Put down your phone or magazine and block an hour of time that no one can reach you and you don’t have to answer any questions. Make the time only for you, and actually be aware of what your feet feel like on the ground. Are you breathing? Is your jaw tense? Are you aware of your form or do you put your attention anywhere but on yourself? Don’t judge and don’t get impatient. Just see what it feels like to actually pay attention to your movement or exercise. By moving with purpose, you will help prevent future injury, see results that actually last, have more fun and take ownership over your body and movement.

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you! You can find us on our blog, instagram @harmonypilatespt or our You Tube channel (Harmony Pilates & Physical Therapy). We have two Pilates & Physical Therapy studios in Hawaii where we offer PT, Pilates and barre classes and private lessons. If you are ever in the area, stop by and say hi!


Spring Revival

Hello ya’ll! I’m Shaye and I like to live a life of passion.  My family is my main source of joy but I like to consider myself a renaissance woman as well.  Diving into any and all things that bring me joy head first!  I hail from the great state of Wisconsin and couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place.  If you enjoy what I have done for Pretty Little Grub you can follow me as well at www.simplyshaye.wordpress.com.  Thanks!

The time of year has come for me to pack away my alarm clock because the sound of birds singing is more than a welcome sound to awake to each morning.  Spring has sprung and it’s time to shake off those winter blues and get ready to enjoy the warm months ahead.  It can be a slow process for some but I have a few tricks that I use that seem to make the transition much easier.

Clear Mind, Healthy Mind

Above all else I like to get my mind in the right state.  In order to do that I need to declutter my thoughts.  On a warm day I like to try and meditate.  I remove myself from distraction and head outdoors.  Find a comfortable place to sit and breathe deep.  Let the fresh breeze come over you while you relax.  Focus on all the things that make you happy.  Separate all of your work anxiety from your social life.  A clear division between them will allow you to be more peace and enjoy those events out of work.

Remove Mental Pollution

To help keep my mind at ease as well I try to limit my media intake.  I’ll still keep up on the news but when it comes to evening programming I try to cut it down to a minimum.  Instead I look to a good book.  Sitting on the back porch in the evening reading a great book is an amazing way to escape.  Getting lost in a narrative with the beautiful weather around you is an amazing way to melt away the stresses of a day.  Breathe deep, dive into the narrative and let the words on the page take you over.

Bust a Move

It’s common to see more and more people begin to exercise once the weather improves and I am one of them.  When it’s cold outside I tend to lose motivation but as the weather warms up so does our disposition on exercise.  I find that the best times to try and sneak in some exercise is either at sunrise or dusk.

I personally wake up and hour earlier than normal and take off on a morning jog.  The sun is up earlier which makes it so much easier for me to get out of bed.  The morning air seems to help me clear my mind and prepare for the day.  If you’d rather wait until dusk that is fine too.  A brisk walk is the perfect go to as the day comes to an end.  It gets your heart rate up, isn’t too strenuous and allows you to enjoy the nature around you.  These are just a few easy ideas to get you up and moving.

Kick the Caffeine

Over the winter my dependance on coffee skyrockets.  I try to move away from coffee all together come springtime.  If I need a jolt of caffeine I turn to tea or if I’m desperate a large iced coffee is my savior.  I seek out alternative sources to energize myself come the warmer months, such as a glass of water with a touch of lemon.  The lemon adds a large dose of electrolytes to the water giving you a natural energy boost.  It also helps to keep you hydrated which is just a great general health tip on its own.  

Eat Seasonally

My diet also changes this time of year.  Fruits, greens and other vegetables make up the majority of my meals around this time of year.  Mostly fresh crisp salads.  A bed of greens full of produce topped with grilled steak or chicken is my favorite go to.  From time to time though you have to allow yourself to indulge.  

My favorite way to soak up all spring has to offer is with a picnic.  Peace and tranquility along with enjoying the outdoors and some great food as well.  I don’t always bring healthy foods along, I mean after all this is my reward.  Sweets, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, are my downfall.  That is why I always bring some sort of goodie with me on my picnics.  Anything from dark chocolate bars, to cake pops, to oatmeal raisin cookies usually accompany me.  I can’t deprive myself completely!

Spring is here! It’s time to get out of the house and enjoy all the glory that comes with the changing of the seasons.  What ways do you like to kick start your spring season?

Quick strength training workouts that will benefit runners

Hi everyone! Jen has given me the opportunity to be a guest blogger and I wanted to begin with a big thank you! My name is Courtney and I am an online personal trainer, running coach, Google Helpout expert and fellow blogger. I’m also a mother of two little ones, wife to a traveling husband and fitness enthusiast. As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) I love to bring the science of exercise to our everyday life.

I thought I’d talk about strength training exercises that are beneficial for long distance runners. Many distance runners are not sure what type of strength training routines to add into their programs. Strength training workouts provide the benefit of adding cross training into your routine which in turn will help to avoid overuse injuries.

First, what is a long distance runner? Pretty much anyone from a 1 miler to Marathoner. Once you get past the marathon distance you can stick a big “ultra” in front. 😉 For me, I’m training for the Big Sur Marathon which is next week! After that I plan on scaling back and running distances from 5K to half marathons for the summer.

I currently do strength training workouts twice a week. The first day is a group exercise strength training class I teach and the second is on my own. I’m an advocate for being able to do most workouts anywhere and not needing to have a gym membership. You will need exercise cords for the first workout. These can be purchased at any sporting goods store. I would suggest using a light and medium resistance to begin. The second workout is simply using body weight, but trust me, that’s all you need.

I have put together two workouts that I know are beneficial to any long distance runner. When you work on increasing your strength in your core as well as hips this can help to prevent injuries that are common in runners due to repetitive movements. These workouts can be done on cross training days or added to a short running day. They should take approximately 30-45 minutes at the most. They are a circuit style workout, meaning there is not much rest built into the routine and you go directly from one exercise to the next . The second workout is fun to do with a friend too!

*Always consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. Begin the workout with a dynamic warm up and end with a cool down of static stretches.

WORKOUT #13 sets
Traveling Wide Squats x 12 ea side
Cross Over Lunges x 12 ea side
Single Leg stand ups x 10 ea side
Bands 15 reps each x 3 sets
Shoulder Press
Standing Back Row
Chest Press
3 sets
Crunches x 20
Hip Lifts w/ 1 foot in air x 15 ea side
Lower Back Extensions (super man) x 30
WORKOUT #2Dirty 1/2 Dozen (start at the top of the list and work your way down by adding an exercise then going back up the list. Begin with 10 of each exercise and decrease the number each round until you complete all the exercises)
Push Ups
Hands to Elbows
Sit Ups/ Crunches
Tricep Dips

Give these a try and let me know what you think. After 6 weeks of these workouts you will need to change up the routine. So check in with me if you’d like a personalized program!

5 Tips on Balancing Strength Training and Running

Hi everyone! I’m Patty and I blog over at Reach Your Peak. I’m a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and avid runner. Which leads me to today’s topic: balancing strength training and running.

I’ve ran 2 marathons with my mom, and a few half-marathons, and each training round it never got easier to balance both of those things. Strength training can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and who wants to do that after a run? But strength training is also a crucial component of training for races.

Lifting can help you get stronger, get more powerful, and prevent injury. Your glutes and hips are especially important. According to a few studies quoted in Runners Connect,

Weak hips can often be the cause of IT band pain, patella tendonitis
(runner’s knee), piriformis issues, sciatica, and a myriad of other
common running injuries.

 As you can see, it’s important to maintain a strong core. Core doesn’t mean just abs, but also includes your hips and gluteals.

So how should you balance both lifting and running? How can you make time for both? Here are 5 ways to do just that.

1) Schedule lifting days on your hard running days. Another study found that after lifting, your body needs 24 or more hours to recover. Meaning if you lift, then want to do a track workout the next day, you won’t be at your best. That’s why you should lift after your hard days. You might be tired after a tempo run or long run, but those are the best days to get some strength training.

2) Keep it short. We want to maximize your time, especially if you’re lifting after a run. Focus on key muscle groups and don’t take long breaks. An example of a quick workout you could do could be 3 sets of 12 reps of these exercises: Pushups, dumbbell rows, dumbbell step-ups, dumbbell deadlifts, medicine ball twists.

3) If you only have time for one thing, make it running. Running is what will make you better at running. Yes, it’s a bummer if you can’t lift that day either, but getting in the run is the most important. If you’re short on time, at least do 3-4 sets of an ab exercises.

4) Listen to your body. If you are just starting with incorporating strength training, start slow. Start with 1-2 days a week and work up to 3 days a week. If you feel really tired or sore, don’t worry about taking a rest day or taking it easy the following day. You’re working your body hard!

5) Incorporate it all into a workout. If you’re short on time, why not try doing a speed workout with strength involved? For example, sometimes I like to run 400 meters at 5k pace, then do 20 squats. Rest, and repeat.

If you can get in 1 quality strength day during the week, then you’re on your way to building a strong, injury free body. Shoot for 2 times a week if possible.

Make sure to follow my blog for weekly workouts I post, both running and strength training related!

Do you lift AND run during training? What tips would you add?