NASM Tips and Tricks

I have received multiple emails and comments about my experience with NASM, so I figured I would go ahead and dedicate a post to answering them all for you!

1. Why did you choose NASM?

Like I mentioned when I announced I signed up for the exam, I chose NASM for the forward thinking. It is not the same type of strength training like it used to be. I think the different stages that NASM teaches trainers to use (Stabilization, Strength, & Power) is vital in making a safe and effective workout. The stress on the scientific background of teaching clients correct form while working out is a great part of NASM as well. I am very, very happy with my decision!

2. What did you buy when you signed up?

When I signed up for the course, I purchased the book, test, and online workspace, which is the PRO package. I didn’t want to commit to going to a live class, since I have such a hectic schedule, and knew that I could fit the studying in on my own. I also didn’t think the extras were necessary. I liked being able to access the text-book online, since you can search it by term, which really helped into the days leading up to the exam.

3. How long did you study for?

I signed up for the test back in mid-June, and I didn’t take the test until November 2nd. I definitely took more time than I needed. If I would have been more dedicated to the studying, I could have definitely taken the test in August/September. It simply came down to me knowing that I had until December to get it done, so I wasn’t in a rush. I read a chapter per week – sometimes 2 if they were short. I pretty much did this on the weekend, and would read sporadically during the week. What worked the best for me was as follows:

  • Read the Book
  • Do practice exercises online after each chapter
  • Make notecards for important key terms
  • Complete the practice exam at least 10 times
That was honestly all that I did. At the beginning, I was taking very diligent notes, but soon realized that I just did not need to be doing it. I was digesting the information really well, and didn’t even look at any of the notes that I took since I had my notecards. Just reading through the book and studying the diagrams and charts really helped me. I am a visual learner, so I knew this would be my best method to study.

4. What are the online study resources like?

In the online space, there are activities after each chapter, along with video explanations. I only watched the videos if I was confused on a movement or exercise. Otherwise, I thought it to be too repetitive. The activities were great because it helped to reinforce the information in a much more interactive way.

5. Any helpful tips and tricks?

Don’t think that any part of the text is too small. I remember thinking that some of the easier information was not important, I didn’t review it, and then it confused me on the exam. The biggest advice I can give you is to be sure to know the muscles that are shortened and lengthened when certain muscles compensate for others. It is so important. Also, pay attention to the practice test. Multiple practice questions showed up on the final test.

If you have any other questions, please let me know in the comments, or email me at foodfunrun [at] gmail [dot] com!

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

With last week being Halloween, I was able to make a fun treat for a party that I went to. It was such a hit at the party, that I went ahead and made it again over the weekend when I got together with my triathlon team. We wanted to hang out to do some non-athletic bonding, so we had a football game potluck, and had a blast. I brought a few little pieces of heaven – Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls!

I found the recipe online a few weeks ago for a variation of the treat, but I decided to put my own spin on it. Here is everything that you need:

6 cups of popcorn (popped)

1 cup of peanut butter M&M’s

1 large bag of big puff marshmallows

1 Tbsp of butter

Sprinkles for garnish

Non-stick spray

Directions: In a large sauce pan, melt the butter on very low heat. Pour in the bag of marshmallows, and stir frequently while they melt. Be careful not to burn them!

While the marshmallows are melting, pop the popcorn, place in a large bowl, and pour in the M&M’s.

Once the marshmallows are completely melted, let them cool for a couple of minutes and then pour over the top of the popcorn. To mold the balls, make sure your hands are well-greased with the cooking spray. This is very important! Be careful getting too much of the marshmallow mix on your hands, as it is still pretty hot at this point. Roll the popcorn and M&M’s into the size of a golf ball, and then coat with sprinkles for garnish.

If you want your popcorn balls to be less gooey, just add more popcorn to the mix. It is pretty darn simple! From start to finish, this recipe takes about 10 minutes. They are they perfect mix of salty and sweet, and are not a heavy, rich dessert. I am pretty sure these might become my staple party dessert. So simple, easy to store, and even easier to eat!

Do you like to have popcorn as a dessert to compliment salty and sweet, or are you just all sweet, all the time?!


I made a small update to the blog this morning. It is pretty hard to notice it, unless you are really looking for it. Can you guess what it is…?

My disclaimer went from this:

To this:

See the difference?! Yep, I passed my NASM personal trainer exam!!

I have been studying for this for the past few months, and I am thrilled to have completed (and passed!) the exam. I will share with you all my thoughts on the program and why I chose NASM over other programs, but for now, I am going to throw these out and enjoy the rest of my Friday!

Have an amazing weekend!



Achilles Runners

With the New York marathon only days away, the thousands of participants are all doing one thing – waiting for the race in anticipation, even more so this year than usual with Sandy wreaking havoc on the city. There will be all kinds of people who toe the start line – young, old, experienced marathoners, newbies, and everywhere in between. There is one group that I want to point out that is truly exceptional – The Achilles Runners.

If you have ever ran a marathon, you have most likely seen them. They are runners that may not be able to complete the race by themselves, so they have the aid of a guide on race day. They could be blind, an amputee, or have a number of other disabilities. Here is a little bit more about them, from the Achilles International website:

“Today, this non-profit organization has chapters and members in over 65 locations within the United States and abroad. Every day, in parks, gyms, and tracks all over the world, Achilles provides athletes with disabilities with a community of support. Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners come together to train in an environment of support and community. Within this community, runners gain measurable physical strength and build confidence through their sense of accomplishment, which often transfers to other parts of their life.”

The reason that I am writing today’s post is to give a shout out to a good friend of mine, Dee. She is running the NYC marathon this weekend for the 3rd time – not to earn a PR, but to be a guide for an Achilles runner. She is going to give it her all on race day to help get someone else across the finish line. Someone who may not have ever dreamed they could do such a thing.

I am so proud to call you my friend Dee and can’t wait for you to finish another marathon! If you are running the New York Marathon or spectating, look out for all the Achilles’ runners and guides and give them a shout. They are doing something pretty amazing!

Have you ever been an Achilles Runner, or anything like it? Would you consider it in the future?

Role Reversals

My role as a Zooma Florida Race Ambassador kicked off this weekend, as Rachel and I hosted a fun run to really start off the training. There were a total of 7 of us that showed up for a nice and early 6 mile run on Saturday morning. We chatted for a few minutes about upcoming races and our current paces. Most of the ladies were able to find a buddy to run with, which made it even more fun. I can’t wait to hear how everyone does in their upcoming races!

Zooma was nice enough to send over some goodies for all of the training run participants to have. Thanks so much for the Muscle Milk, Cytomax, and t-shirts! Everyone loved them!

Then, on Sunday, we had a bit of role reversal! Marcus competed in a triathlon and I was the one on the sidelines, cheering! It was so much fun. We travelled about an hour and a half north to Inverness, Florida – a tiny little town that was hosting the Tri-Cooter triathlon! The race is on the tail end of a huge festival held annually – the Cooter Festival! There are lots of vendors, street parties, no open container laws (!!) and a whole lot of fun! Needless to say, some of the merchandise for an event surrounding a cooter can get quite interesting! A cooter is a turtle if you were wondering… get your minds out of the gutter ;)

Our best friends actually live up there, so we were able to stay with them on Saturday night for a nice  and easy commute on race morning. They live about half a mile from the start, so we were able to just walk there. It was quite the stroll as the sun came up!

We had the first weekend of true fall like weather, and the temperature was pretty cold (for us) actually! It was in the 60’s for the race start, which meant a pretty chilly race. The water was 72 degrees, so it was actually warmer than the air. Marcus said that it actually felt good getting into the water, but once they finished the swim and hopped on the bike, it was freezing!

The swim was different than the triathlon I completed because it was in a lake, which meant that it was less buoyant for the swimmers, and it was an in water start. AKA – it was a legitimate 400m swim (no running in and out to make up some of the distance). Marcus mentioned it was pretty difficult, but he did great. He came out of the water at 8:22.

Like I mentioned a minute ago, the bike was probably the hardest leg for Marcus. He spent the least amount of time training for it, and he couldn’t seem to warm up. He also had an issue with his shoes – he tried to get his feet out of the shoes before dismounting, which caused them to get caught up underneath the pedals. A word of advice to everyone – if you do not practice something before the race, it probably will not turn out to great when you actually try it during the race ;) He finished the bike at 39:20, a 17.5 mph average.

Once he was on the run, he really felt like he was in the groove. It was an out and back run course, so it wasn’t very spectator friendly, but we were able to see the best part. Marcus was very strong at the very end, and was able to pick off a seasoned triathlete.

He really sprinted it in, and looked like such a rockstar! He finished the 3 miles in 23:33, for a 7:51 average pace! His overall finish time of 1:12:59 was good enough to earn him a top 3 spot in his age group!

He walked away with a great medal to show off his accomplishment! I loved watching him compete, and it was even more fun to see him kick butt! Great job Marcus!!

Do you enjoy spectating instead of racing? Or do you need to be the one crossing the finish line?