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A Coconut Water Addiction and 20 Minute Treadmill Workout

9 Feb

I happen to love all things coconut, so naturally when coconut water first blew up on the market two years ago I was extremely excited. Coconut water is the kind of thing I only expected to get when on vacation in the Bahamas from a street vendor (which I always do, except I add a little rum in there, heh).

If you’ve never had coconut water, I’ll try to describe it to you: it has the consistency of water, with a coconuty taste–but not at all like the super sweet artificial coconut flavor that you might expect. It’s a much more delicate, subtle taste, almost as if you were smelling it instead of tasting it, if that makes sense. Because it’s not overwhelming, it’s actually quite refreshing, and as it turns out–BONUS!–an awesome post-workout drink.

coconut water

Let’s look at the factors of awesome:

  • The juice is packed with simple sugar, electrolytes, and minerals to replenish hydration levels in the body. Could that mix be any more ideal? It’s like a natural gatorade.
  • The electrolyte content is more than double that of traditional sports drinks with about ½ the carbohydrates. Bam.
  • Research studies suggest that cytokinins (e.g., kinetin and trans-zeatin) in coconut water showed significant anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic effects. So if I drink a serving a day I’ll turn back time? Sweet, no big deal.
  • Coconut water has been generally offered to patients with diarrhea in many tropic regions to replace fluid loss from the gastrointestinal tract and reduce the need for intravenous therapy. Upset stomach, diarrhea? Move over pepto. Actually… you can stay.
  • If the coconut is ripe the nutrient composition changes and becomes less desirable therefore most commercially available coconut water is extracted from young coconuts to retain the most advantageous nutrient content. Aw, so we’re eating coconut babies?
  • Source, and source, and source

After my workouts, I’ve become addicted to drinking coconut water. Back when I first started doing high intensity interval training workouts, I used to be a slug around work all day after the gym. Coconut water used to really help me pull myself up over that body exhaustion somehow and help me recover into mid-morning aliveness. True story. And in case you’re wondering, no this is not a sponsored blog post, though I wish it was. Coconut water companies, if you’re out there, get at me :) .

20 Minute Cardio Workout

Here’s a great workout to do when you’re short on time, and want to focus on a solid cardio sweat. If I have days when I’m too sore to do anything else, or I just don’t feel like doing any push ups, this is my go-to. I gave it to Dave to do once too, and he said it was a solid workout. So, male and female approved.

This workout was inspired by Fitness Sista. The basic idea is to spend the first half at a steady pace will raising the incline for an uphill, lower body & cardio workout, while the second half focuses on a faster pace–working your legs in a different way while still getting in good cardio. You can use any type of cardio equipment you want–treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster, bike–you name it. You can also go walking or running outside with this in mind as long as you have a little watch to keep time (and if you don’t have a hill to run on an incline, just focus on raising your pace a little every minute).

Here’s a treadmill version:

  • minute 1-2: run at 4.5
  • minute 2-3: bring it up to a speed of 5 (you’ll be steady there for a while), and up to an incline of 1
  • minute 3-4: Raise the incline to 2
  • minute 4-5: incline of 3
  • minute 5-6: incline of 4
  • minute 6-7: inlcine of 5
  • minute 7-8: incline of 6
  • minute 8-9: incline of 7
  • minute 9-10: incline of 8
  • minute 10-11: incline of 7
  • minute 11-12: incline of 6
  • minute 12:13: incline of 2–TIME FOR SPEED NEXT!
  • minute 13-14: raise the speed to 5.5 and lower to an incline of 1
  • minute 14-15: speed of 5.7
  • minute 15-16: speed of 5.9
  • minute 16-17: speed of 6.1
  • minute 17-19: hold at a speed of 6.3
  • minute 19-20: speed of 5.7

Annnnnd done. After burning out your legs on the incline, the speedwork for the last half of the workout will feel really nice (I swear). You’ll feel like a rockstar, and all it took was 20 minutes. No need for 40 on the treadmill–you hear me? Spend that time reading an awesome book or getting a drink with a friend :) .

How do you get your cardio in at the gym? I’m not opposed to long workouts, just prefer to get in and get out.

Reader Spotlight: Mike Reaches 512 Push Ups in the Push Up Challenge

14 Dec

Hello Mel Runs readers!  I’m Mike and I took Mel’s Push Up Challenge put forth on Thanksgiving.  She asked me to share what I learned and experienced while taking the challenge.  So I actually started two days late, but felt motivated by all the other participants who were already on Day 3 and pumping out 4 push ups.  Right then and there I dropped to do my 1 push up.  It felt good, though a bit unsatisfying. Just one?  Well I exercised my patience (which is woefully out of shape) and went about my day.

Day 2 came around and I needed a reminder before getting down to do my two push ups.  I finally realized on Day 3, after my four push ups, that I needed an end-game.  Without a stopping point we’d be looking at over 32,000 push ups in one day before the next episode of Top Chef: Texas.  Living in Austin, my goal was obvious: 512  (For the non-Austinites, 512 is the area code here.)  That would mean on Day 10, I’d need to do 512 push ups.  It’s funny, when you think about something like that, 512 is just a number.  Who knows if they can do 100 push ups?  200?  1000?  What’s my ceiling?

I had been following the other challenge-takers on Twitter via retweets.  Seeing others persevere is what kept me motivated day in and day out.  Day 8 (128 push ups) was the first day that required planning.  On all previous days I could knock them out in a single set, up to 32 at a time.  But for 128 I needed to space them out over the course of the day, doing 25 at a time.  It didn’t prove too tough overall, but was always present in my mind.

At last the big day was getting close.  I fell into a bit of a trap with Day 9 to do 256 though.  I was so focused on my big 512 that I got complacent and left about 150 push ups to be done after dinner on Day 9.  It wasn’t pretty, but I cranked eeked them out.  Due to some travel, I postponed my big 512 by a day until I got home.  I actually wrote out a game plan that I tried to follow to get me to my goal.  100 before work, at least 200 at work, and then 200 at home.

I left the house with 112 finished.  Throughout the day I awkwardly stepped into empty conference rooms for about a minute and pumped out 25 push ups at a time.  Unfortunately I only got up to 275 total by the time I headed home.  I found that recovery from each set was taking longer and longer, but while watching TV I’d do two sets of 25 during commercials.  It may have taken until 11pm, and broken into sets of 10, but I finally got all 512 push ups done.

Thanks again to @MelRuns@AustinFit@ATXPierogiTruck@Nicole_Johnson, and @MauroPilates for the support throughout the challenge, and everyone else who participated but wasn’t on the Twitter stream.  No question, without the group holding me accountable, there would be no way I would have kept pushing.  To be honest, I’ve fallen back to my non-push up ways, which primarily focuses on running.  But during the challenge, it felt good to be doing something as part of a group.  I learned that I could do something above and beyond the norm, but it’s just so easy not to.  With the challenge and the group, I was able to do bust through my lazy thoughts and did something pretty cool.  Thanks again!

You can check out Mike’s blog, A Mike’s Life, or follow him on twitter @MikeGalante, to tune into all of his running and eating adventures!

How To Design a 12 Minute Workout

13 Dec

I love helping people discover how to get a great workout in almost as much as I love chocolate (almost). High intensity interval training is such affective type of workout that I’m not sure I can ever go back to just running or spinning classes. Recently, a friend of mine told me she was getting bored at the gym, and didn’t really know what to do there anymore. She wanted to tone up, but hated going from machine to machine–plus she didn’t really know the machines. It sounded exactly like the way I used to think of the gym.

Excited by the opportunity to help her, I grabbed a pen and paper, wrote down six exercises (completely inspired from my bodyrock experience), and told her the timing plan. She tried it that night, and emailed me saying “OMG! I NEVER KNEW SQUATS COULD FEEL LIKE THAT!” Victory!! Now she’s addicted :) . Here’s what I did. I chose 3 exercises that get the heartrate up , and 3 exercises that strengthen different parts of the body.

Her workout looked like this:

  • high knees
  • push ups
  • alternating jump lunges
  • v-ups
  • mountain climbers
  • dumbbell squat press

She did each exercise for 50 seconds, rested for 10 seconds, then went on to the next one. I told her “Do as many reps as you can–eeeeeek out that last one!” She completed the ciruit twice and then was done. This type of training makes you sweaty, burnt out (a good thing if you’re trying to build muscle), and gets out donezo in less than 15 minutes. Amazingness.

Wanna make your own personal high intensity interval training workout? Mix and match from the list below.


  • Choose 3 cardio exercises, and 3 strength exercises. You can do the same cardio exercise 3 times if you’d like, but change up the strength moves based on the areas you’d like to target.
  • List out your choices in an alternating fashion, i.e.: #1 cardio, #2 strength, #3 cardio, #4 strength, #5 cardio, #6 strength
  • Complete your custom workout by doing each exercise down the list. Do the first one for 50 seconds, then rest for 10. Move on to the second one for 50 seconds, then rest for 10, etc.
  • Push with everything you’ve got for each exercise! You really want to push through that last impossible rep and give 110%–this is how a 12 minute workout can be so effective.
  • Complete the whole circuit twice, for a total of 12 minutes of burrrrn baby!

I’ve only listed a few exercises so that I don’t overwhelm you, but I’ll create one big list and have it always available on my site in the future. All of these either require no equipment, or a set of dumbbells (or you can use soup cans, a full backpack, water bottles… get creative!). When creating your workout, you can choose the exercises that target the areas you want to tone up most–but I always try to incorporate squats or lunges, and push-ups–because they’re kickass change makers.


  • burpees
  • jumping rope
  • jumping jacks
  • low jumping jacks (knees bent while doing it–extra leg workout)
  • mountain climbers
  • high knees
  • plus the *starred* exercises in lower body


  • abs
    • bicycle crunches
    • V-ups
    • plank jacks (in plank position, jump legs in and out)
    • vertical knee raises
    • side plank (obliques)
    • straight leg raises (while laying on back–try to keep your lower back pressed into the ground, and lift your legs up and down slowly)
  • lower body
    • *squat jumps (if it’s too hard for you, you can skip the jump)
    • *alternating lunge jumps (step one foot back and squat, then jump and switch the other one to the front–the switch happens mid air. beginners can skip the jump if it’s too hard)
    • lunge forward with alternating legs
    • sumo squats (good for inner thighs)
    • side leg raises (good for outer thighs and booty)
    • side squats
    • squat pulses (in squat position, come halfway up then back down, repeatedly. oh the burn!)
  • upper body
    • push-ups in any variation are an amazing exercise
      • from your knees for beginners (I had to do it this way for 2 weeks until I could do a regular one)
      • with one leg crossed onto the other (alternating)
      • bringing one knee to your elbow on the way down (alternating)
      • elevated feet
      • 3 mountain climbers then into 1 push up (and repeat)
    • dips- either at a dip station or off a bench
    • dumbbell squat press (combo move)
    • mountain climbers and burpees from the cardio list also work arms
    • jump lunge while holding a medicine ball and punching out when in mid-air (combo move)

*Note: I am not yet a certified personal trainer, so please do consult a doctor before engaging in these activities. Thank ya.

Which exercises would you choose?

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