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Training for the Home Stretch: Muscles and Morsels

on Mon, 04/13/2015 - 20:24

By Rhonda Markman

Well, our 5k walk/run is a couple weeks away so if you haven’t pulled out those sneakers from your closet,  it’s time.

The best way to train for an event is to have a plan.*  In personal trainer language, this plan is called periodization. Periodization not only focuses on the running, but also builds in crucial, planned rest so you don’t over do it. It’s a plan that starts out easier and gradually builds to prevent injuries. Many times, we get way too enthusiastic initially and over train. By the time the race is upon us, we are injured and/or exhausted.

I found a great link to help you tackle your running plan:

Your training should mimic what you will be doing on the day of the race. Therefore, walking or running on a treadmill is clearly not as good as walking or  running outdoors. And,  if the race is in the morning, your training should be at the same time. Obviously, life might get in the way with work, children, family commitments, etc, so do the very best you can!

Finally, you must consider fueling your body for your training. While carbohydrates seem to have a bad reputation, carbs are the best fuel for your body when it comes to exercise! The ideal time to eat is 1 ½ hours before your workout. Your food selection should always include carbs along with fat and protein. The fat and the protein will slow down the absorption of the carbs, which will be beneficial if you are exercising for longer periods of time. Here is a list of examples.

Each of these suggestions have protein, fat and carbohydrates:

  •  A bowl of oatmeal with blueberries sprinkled with nuts.
  •  French toast made with 100% whole wheat bread with ½ sliced banana (can also use berries) and drizzled with honey.  
  •   Greek yogurt sprinkled with nuts.  
  •    Peanut butter and jelly sandwich made on 100% whole wheat bread. (
  •    A vegetable omelet with a slice of toast.   

If you are training and don’t have time to eat 1 ½ hours prior, you can always turn to simpler sugars. Have a small glass of juice, a nut bar that’s drizzled with honey or ½ banana drizzled with  honey or agave. The point is, you must fuel your body prior to exercising. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see all the time—people focus on the training and completely ignore the food.

So plan your runs and plans your food. And you will be ready to go on May 3rd!

*As with any exercise regimen, please check with your doctor before starting any new program.

About Rhonda Markman

Rhonda is a Westchester, NY based personal trainer and nutritionist, who is passionate about empowering people to make lifestyle changes to stay healthy. For more information, visit


The First Lady Speaks Out About Mental Health in America

on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 14:02

White House Blog; Rory Brosius, 3/4/2015

Today, in support of her Joining Forces initiative, the First Lady spoke at the launch of The Campaign to Change Direction, a nation-wide effort to raise awareness around mental health in America. Spearheaded by Give an Hour and co-sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the campaign is designed to change the story of mental health across the nation by urging all Americans to learn the five signs that someone might be in distress.

While there has been much media attention on mental health in the military and veteran community, it is incredibly important to understand that mental health isn’t just a military issue -- it is a human issue. Mental health conditions impact our children, our grandparents, and our neighbors. Every year, roughly one in five adults -- or more than 40 million Americans -- experience a diagnosable mental health condition like depression or anxiety.
It’s up to all of us to change the conversation by encouraging everyone to reach out when a friend, co-worker, veteran, or loved one might be struggling, and to ask for help when we need it for ourselves.
As the First Lady said today at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.:
"It’s time to tell everyone who’s dealing with a mental health issue that they’re not alone, and that getting support and treatment isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. That’s something that my husband believes strongly as President. Because in this country, when you’re fighting an illness -- whether that’s mental or physical -- you should be able to get the help you need, end of story."


What to do if you're an exercise hater

on Tue, 02/24/2015 - 17:43

When it comes to exercise, here’s what I see:

Some people LOVE to exercise and actually look forward to it.

Some people HATE to exercise but push themselves to do it.

Either way, MOST people love the way they feel when they’re done. However, I’ve stumbled across a few exercise-haters who don’t seem to get the endorphin rush post-exercise. They’re just glad it’s over!

This is a tricky population for me; I can’t sell the “euphoria” that comes when the torture is finally over.
If you’re one of these people, you have to change your approach to exercise. If you’re pushing yourself to lift weights, to do cardio or to take an exercise class, you know that you’re doing it for a good reason—to stay healthy. When it’s over, you must focus on your accomplishment……the fact that you did it!

Often, exercise-haters are inconsistent when it comes to sticking to an exercise regime. This is a huge part of the problem because starting over, after a long hiatus, is the hardest part.  It takes so much MENTAL effort to psych yourself up, and this is EXHAUSTING. And let’s face it…..if you’re inconsistent, there are MANY more episodes of starting over! (No wonder why you hate it so much!)

If you push yourself to be consistent, you might find that you’ll slowly start hating exercise less. AND….. you might even find that you DO enjoy the way you feel when it’s all over.

Sometimes having a goal in mind helps. Consider registering to run or walk now. Once committed, you may find it easier to map out a fitness schedule. With a couple of weeks of regular exercise under your belt, you just might find yourself looking forward to your workouts. Hey, it COULD happen!

Convinced? Great! Here’s the link to register:

About Rhonda Markman: Nutrition and exercise consultant to MHA on the move.

Rhonda is a Westchester, NY based personal trainer and nutritionist, who is passionate about empowering people to make lifestyle changes to stay healthy. For more information, visit


The Big Deal About Breathing

on Wed, 02/04/2015 - 19:37

By Rhonda Markman

Before my first child was born, my husband and I attend a series of childbirth classes. While I can’t remember much about the classes, the instructor said something that stayed with me for all of these years:

“Whatever you do, do NOT hold your breath. Your baby needs oxygen and you do NOT want to cut off that crucial supply.”

Years later, when I became a personal trainer, I realized the importance of breathing when exercising. We need to send that valuable oxygen to our working muscles. Breathing properly makes a huge difference in performance!

Now that I’m in my 5th decade, I also see the importance of breathing for stress control. When we breathe, our inhales send oxygen to our cells and our exhales get rid of carbon dioxide. At times of stress, our breathing patterns change—we take in quick, shallow breaths. Unfortunately, this pattern disrupts the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our bodies—it can actually make us feel even more anxious and stressed. The best remedy to calm down? BREATHE.

There are many different breathing techniques. I personally like deep belly breathing, which takes some practice to get right. I found a great website, which not only explains the technique, but also demonstrates it. Please check it out!

Breathing requires no special equipment; you can do it sitting, standing or laying down, anytime and anyplace. The best thing about deep breathing is that it increases our feelings of calm and wellbeing. And let’s face it……..this is something we ALL need whether in the middle of a long run, driving in traffic or waiting in line.

About Rhonda Markman: Nutrition and exercise consultant to MHA on the move.

Rhonda is a Westchester, NY based personal trainer and nutritionist, who is passionate about empowering people to make lifestyle changes to stay healthy. For more information, visit


9 Reasons to Exercise Beyond Building Muscles

on Mon, 01/26/2015 - 16:39


Meet Rhonda Markman, MHA on the move's new nutrition and exercise expert.  Rhonda is a Westchester, NY based personal trainer and nutritionist, who is passionate about empowering people to make lifestyle changes to stay healthy. For more information, visit This is Rhonda's first piece for MHA.

Exercise energizes us, prevents disease, keeps depression at bay, maintains our brains, strengthens our bones and makes us feel good. Chemicals in the brain change after exercise. Scientists believe that exercise combats depression by enhancing endorphins: natural chemicals that act like morphine and other painkillers. There’s also a theory that aerobic activity boosts norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood. 

I think the best way for people to start exercising to focus on the immediate satisfactions—specifically, the ways exercise:

•          increases energy

•          reduces stress

•          helps alleviate anxiety and depression

•          makes you sleep better

Sound sleep, so important to mental health, is positively impacted by regular exercise. Working out increases physical tiredness making it easier to fall and stay asleep.  With better sleep, comes more energy………with more energy comes the ability to exercise.  And so this beautiful cycle repeats!

I haven’t found one article–let alone one sentence, phrase, fragment or clause that says that exercise is not a good thing. I’m not talking about high-intensity, sports related conditioning. I’m talking about regular, moderate-intensity exercise--the type of exercise that we can all do. It’s your move!


Wow! She DID it!

on Wed, 05/07/2014 - 13:58

Note: We join in congratulating Stephanie for finishing her first 5K. Here, how it was, how it felt, in her own words.

I was very nervous the days leading up to the MHA On The Move 5K.  I was prepared though.  I had done the training, I had solicited donations, I had my iTunes Playlist on my iPod and new sneakers on my feet.  My family showed up to cheer me on with a banner and the family dog. 

When the race started I remembered all the advice I had been given about pacing myself.  My training was on a treadmill so I tried to simulate the pace I'd run these past few weeks.  However, something happened I didn't expect.  I was passing people on the race route.  Passing them!  I certainly didn't expect that to happen.  My brain said it must be a fluke.  I kept running.  Then came the first incline.

 I remembered my aunt telling me to remember that it would be a struggle up hill but I'd gain some momentum when I had to go back down. She was right.  I kept running.  I looked at my shadow on the ground.  Was that me?  That skinny woman with the ponytail?  Yup, that's me.  Did I just pass that teenager?  Am I keeping pace with that super fit guy ahead of me?  Yes, I was!  As I came into the home stretch, I was breathing harder and I started counting the parking lots to the finish line.  One more lot and you're there, Stephie.  I picked up the pace.  This whole time I had been worried about finishing but as I neared the end I became interested in my time. 

My family was right there at the finish line when I entered the funnel and they took my number for my times.  They were cheering me on at how well I did.  Quite frankly, I think they were as surprised as I was.  They were about to get another cup of coffee and wait for me.  I finished in 28:48 - the best time I had done to date.  The best time I'd done in my life.  I don't think I stopped smiling for hours. 

I don't regret a thing about the MHA 5K.  It is a great cause.  It will always mean a lot to me because it was my first 5K.  My only complaint is I didn't get a medal.  Oh well, now I have a goal for next year!!

Run on!


Announcing our T-Shirt Design Contest Winners!

on Wed, 04/30/2014 - 16:48

The entries to our 1st Annual Race T-Shirt Design Contest were so good--each one creative and unique. We were truly overwhelmed!

Congratulations to our winner, Ann Palm-Reibel, who in addition to a beautiful design also came up with a great new tagline: Moving with heart for mental health! Here it is:

Enjoy, too, the work of our two runners up:  1st Runner Up, Kathleen McCoy- Psychoyos and 2nd Runner Up,Susan Weinreich. Thank you so much to all who entered!



German School to Run for Mental Health!

on Tue, 04/15/2014 - 19:57

The German School New York Running Club is excited to run for MHA Westchester!  We are a new running club that began at the beginning of this school year.  This race will be the fifth for our team and the second of our spring season.

Our team is comprised of elementary and middle school students, as well as teachers, parents, and friends.  One of the goals of the club is to give our students an opportunity to meet fellow runners and be more interactive with the Westchester community.   Running the MHA 5K and 1 mile fun run is a great way for our club to have fun, run happy, and make some new friends.

German School New York is a bilingual, international school that educates children in Pre-K through twelfth grade.  As our school continues to grow, we are looking for more ways to support the local community we are proud to be a part of, and running for the MHA is a wonderful way to do that. 

We look forward to a great race and the opportunity to share some information about our school! Happy running!

My Journey to a 5K by Stephanie M.

on Fri, 03/28/2014 - 19:04

Editors note: We love when someone is inspired to begin running with our 5K event as a goal. And we especially love when we get to hear the story behind the decision. 

My Journey to a 5K

I used to always say… vehemently… that I was not a runner.  I would follow that up with lots of reasons why I was not cut out for the running lifestyle.  The truth was, I was just terribly out of shape.  I made excuses, but deep down, I always wanted to be a runner.

My journey to my first 5K began about a year ago.  As I stated, I was extremely unhealthy.  I was obese and was on a number of different medications for weight related issues.  I had little energy and would get winded walking from my car to my office.  I was miserable and I was ready to make a change.  In July 2013, I embarked on a journey to optimal health.  For the past 9 months, I have changed my life by choosing a  much healthier  way of eating, adding  exercising and most importantly working on the emotional issues that caused me to get to such an unhealthy state.   In less than a year, I have lost over 100 pounds, am off all medications, and now enjoy a very active lifestyle that includes kickboxing, Zumba classes, bicycling and yoga.  However, running… Running has remained this slightly unattainable dream.            

Despite my uncertainty about running, I started telling people that my fitness goal for this year was to do a 5K.  Then I started running a little bit here and there on the treadmill.  I even added a little street running when out on my weekend walks.  Finally, this week, in an impulsive move forward towards my dream, I researched upcoming 5Ks in my area.  When I found MHA On the Move I thought, this is the one! I immediately registered.

Then I thought, “Oh no!  Now you’ve gone and done it!”  I had to actually get serious now about training for a race that was 5 weeks away.  Thank Google, I found a “One Month to 5K” schedule online and I have started my training.  It’s only been a day but I accomplished the first workout.  I am taking it one day at a time.  One run at a time.  One rest day at a time.  This is one of the most exciting and yet most terrifying things I’ve ever committed to. 

Like many of you reading this blog, mental health issues have touched my life.  Some of us are lucky to have great support systems and available and affordable care.  Some of us are not.  Mental health issues are very important to me so running for this cause just seemed like a natural fit.  It is my longer-term fitness goal that this will be the first of many annual runs I participate in for the MHA.  Come join me!