Fitness Feats and Foodies in This Month's Go Get It Guide

By , Alicia Capetillo, Editor-in-Chief
Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!

Sweat: Jump, Jump!

When I was in elementary school, I remember thinking the kids in the jump rope club were a cut above the rest. Here they were shredding double unders, leg overs, double Dutch and criss-cross moves during their annual assembly about exercise and heart health held in our gymnasium while the rest of us watched on in awe. I tried to give it a go myself, I really did, but after snapping my back and the back of my legs until they were bright red one too many times, though, the jump rope beat me down and I gave up.
That is until this year. As someone who is none too fond of running, I'm always looking for ways to increase my heart rate without a treadmill or the open road. When I noticed the aerobic-jump-rope prowess of fitness guru and Instagram star Kayla Itsines, I was taken back to those elementary school days with a renewed sense of purpose. Her skipping warmups are advanced, featuring a number of different jumps and a faster pace, all of which she does, literally, without breaking a sweat or missing a step. I knew it would take some time to even get close to Itsines' level, but I wanted to start small and see if I could commit to jumping for one full minute without whipping myself silly in the process.  
Before I began, though, I needed to find a jump rope. I've used jump ropes at the gym in the past and always found myself in a Goldilocks situation: This one was too wiry, that one was too big, and my just-right match was never anywhere in sight. At a small but mighty five-feet-two-inches, I always found myself talking one option and wrapping the rope around my hands to create the perfect length, a strategy that was good in theory but made executing jumps considerably more difficult. You should see the blisters I used to get. And so, to Amazon I went.
Anyone who knows me knows I do not make any decision lightly—whether it's enchiladas versus chilaquiles, or this red or that red nail polish—so it took a few days for me to land on a purchase, but I finally opted for Fitness Factor's adjustable jump rope. I travel a lot so the carrying case was a good selling point, but the rope's easy-to-adjust system sealed the deal. With 584 reviews and 4.4 stars on Amazon, it's safe to say I'm not the only person who has found their jump rope soulmate in this product.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.
Adjusting the length of the rope takes less than five minutes and the kit includes directions that even I couldn't screw up. Each handle includes enough space inside for extra length of rope, so if you cut it and realize it's too short (as I did), you can easily go back and correct your error without having to curse yourself for not reading the instructions closely enough (as I did). The foam handles are comfortable whether you're jumping for five minutes or 20, and while the rope does bite if you miss a step, the whip isn't nearly as bad as other ropes I've tried.
Comfort, portability and functionality aside, if you haven’t jumped (sorry, not sorry) on the jump rope bandwagon just yet, it's time. Not only can jumping rope increase your heart rate and the intensity of circuit or other strength-training workouts, but your body as a whole benefits when you decide to pick up a rope and jump. According to ACE Fitness, jumping rope can improve cognitive function, as well as coordination, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen how often boxers utilize this diverse piece of equipment. While it might feel as if you're only working your heart and those calf muscles, you're actually employing a lot of upper-body muscles to keep the rope steady. Plus, an article in Time magazine offers evidence that jumping rope could further improve bone density in the legs and spine.
While it might have been a kid's game back in the day, jumping rope is serious business if you're looking to exercise. Remember to start off slow—jumping for just 20 seconds at a time is an accomplishment as you're getting started. My boyfriend laughed at me for 15 minutes while I tried and failed to mimic what looked like an easy a boxing jump he'd learned in his own training. Over time you can add in more time, then different jumps and finally increase the speed of the rope. I've been jumping intermittently over the last five months and am just now venturing into double unders (note: I whip myself in the ankle every time). The key is to try, try again, and every time you get whipped or miss a jump, have a laugh, remind yourself of how happy your heart will be with consistent practice and keep at it.
As Van Halen said, you might as well jump. Jump!

Savor: Fellow Foodies, Unite!

Here's a quote I despise: "You can't outrun a bad diet." Why? Because that's all I want to do.
When people ask me why I work out so often, I always laugh and says, "Oh, I work out because I can't fathom living in a world where I can't eat cookies four times a week." While there are other reasons I'm mildly obsessed with getting my sweat on (Hello, endorphins. What's up, deadlifting a new PR!), the joke still holds a bit of truth. I love food. The first thing I plan on an upcoming vacation is where I'm going to eat. When my boyfriend surprised me with a trip to Charleston for my birthday, he made breakfast reservations at 10 a.m., brunch reservations at 1:30, light appetizers at 4 p.m. and dinner reservations at 8 p.m. The Girl Scouts at my grocery must love me for how often I swing by.
This is all to say that it's challenging for me to not give into temptation, despite my best intentions. Which leads me to our top Instagram post from last month:


A post shared by SparkPeople (@sparkpeople) on

Eating healthier and controlling what you consume is easier said than done, as I'm sure I don't have to tell you. It's what I struggle with most and am constantly working to find tricks that will keep me from grabbing every chocolate in sight the minute I get home. I've tried keeping almonds in my desk drawer, drinking hot tea any time I feel a craving coming on, sucking on mints between meals, yet nothing seems to be strong enough if I really, really want that entire box of Cheez-Its. Indulging occasionally is smart, I know, and I would never deprive myself of something because I know it leads to too much focus on a "forbidden food" and eventual binges. But it's the in-between snacking and especially late-night eating that I've been working to correct lately.
The fact of the matter is this: On the days when I fuel my body with foods that are good for it, I feel better. As the quote says, I can control what I put into my body and, more than any other trick or half-baked strategy, reminding myself of that fact and keeping healthy foods around has worked wonders to keep my mindless munching at bay. If you're someone who struggles with these same issues, know that you are not alone. Trust me, if I could HIIT and jump rope my way to my perfect body while eating cheese grits and donuts every day, I most definitely would. Finding balance between the foods you love to eat and the foods you need to eat to lose weight, maintain or persevere in your fitness goals, though, is a constant battle that I'm willing to fight in the pursuit of health.
For all my fellow foodies, these are some of the articles that have helped me most as I work to improve how I look at food:
  • 40 Things to Do Instead of Eat When You're Bored: Clutch! I refer to this list often, especially when I'm alone in my apartment without anyone around to know how many scoopfuls of cookie dough from the freezer I snuck into my mouth.
  • Stop Emotional Eating Before It Starts: Emotional eating is one of the most common problems with which we see people struggle in our community. Gaining an understanding of why certain emotions lead to cravings is the first step in learning how to combat those feelings.
  • 55 Healthy Snacks Under 200 Calories: Snacking is an important piece of the healthy eating puzzle, so learning how to get those mini-meals under control is key. This infographic offers a huge list of options, so no matter if you're a savory or a sweet, a homemade or prepackaged person, you're sure to find a snack you can grab that won't undo your hard work.
  • Is Evening Eating Destroying Your Weight Loss Efforts?: If you're in denial about having a nighttime snacking habit, this test from our registered dietitian Becky Hand will help you identify once and for all whether or not you need to rethink how you eat after the sun goes down.
Do you struggle to control what goes into your body? What strategies have you found that work?